• Published 18th Sep 2013
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My Little Investigations: The Silent Dirge - Metool Bard

Some maniac is aiming to silence every musician in Equestria. I, for one, will not stand for it.

  • ...

Confrontation: Pan

April 11, 10:30 AM
Lincolt Center
The Whinnyton Maresalis Theater

True to his word, Slick Licks made sure that everypony was gathered at the theater at the time I requested. I stood onstage alongside Vinyl, Fiddlesticks, Sapphire Shores, and my ensemble. There was a general muttering of confusion in the audience. Understandable, since I doubt any of them knew what was going on. Well, it's now or never. I stepped forward and cleared my throat to get everypony's attention.

"Fillies and gentlecolts," I said. "As you are no doubt aware, there have been a series of incidents at this year's Manehattan Music Festival. Many ponies have gotten hurt due to the actions of a saboteur. And that saboteur is in this theater at this very moment."

There was a collective gasp from the audience, followed by a series of nervous cross-conversations. I was expecting that to be their reaction, but that didn't make the situation any less uncomfortable. I have a bad feeling that this whole experience is going to feel this way.

"You called us all out here just to shove your crackpot theory down our throats?!" Star Maker bellowed. "You really are crazy, Ms. Octavia!"

"If y'all actually bothered to see the performances, you'd know that it ain't no theory," Fiddlesticks snarled. "Now hush up an' let her talk."

"Thank you, Fiddlesticks," I said. "Now then, I'm not sure who the culprit is, so I ask that you all cooperate with me in order to assist me with solving this mystery. With that said, I would like Mr. Pan to join me onstage."

Another collective gasp was heard, along with more cross-conversations. Again, I saw this coming. Pan is a national icon in the music world, even if ponies by in large don't know about his Music Code. Mind you, I wasn't accusing him of anything nefarious, but nopony else really knew that.

"Ms. Melody, whaaat exaaactly are you implying?" inquired Pan, stroking his beard and furrowing his brow. It was rather hard to tell what he was thinking, which immediately raised some red flags for me. Pan is not going to simply give me the information I require. I need to force it out of him through a battle of wits.

"Pan, just do as Tavi-doll says," said Sapphire brusquely. "We know that you want to put an end to this just as much as everypony else. It's in your best interest to help us."

Pan closed his eyes in deep thought for a while. After a pause, he nodded.

"Very well theeen," he said. "I'll play alooong."

He then walked up onstage as more ponies began to mutter amongst themselves.

"Thank you, Mr. Pan," I said with a bow. "Now then, I just want to ask you a few questions."

"Whaaat kind of questions?" asked Pan.

"Let's start with what happened the day before yesterday," I said. "Both you and Lyra Heartstrings disappeared for most of the day. And the next day, Bon-Bon received a letter from you that led her back to Lyra. I do believe that warrants an explanation."

"How is thaaat relevant, Ms. Melody?" said Pan, raising an eyebrow.

"I think you know how it's relevant," I retorted. "As such, I'd like you to indulge me."

Pan shrugged. "If you insiiist. But if it does turn out to be irrelevaaant, I won't let you off easy."

"I understand," I said with a nod. There's no two ways about it. Pan is definitely hiding something. I may already know what that something is, but I'll have to prove it in order to get him to come clean.

Testimony: Lyra's Rescue

"I got wiiind of Ms. Heartstrings's disappearaaance whilst looking for Silenus," said Pan. "The reason I disappeared waaas to search for her. I found her thaaat night at the Marerriot Hotel in a vaaacant room. From there, I took it upon myself to reeescue her. It haaas nothing to do with the sabotage."

"What about the kidnapper?" asked Vinyl. "If you rescued her and kicked the guy's flank, I think some of us would've heard it."

Pan bleated out a chuckle. "Believe me, Ms. Scratch. You'd be surpriiised by what a little diplomacy caaan do."

"So, you know who the guy is?" said Vinyl.

"Alaaas, no," said Pan. "It doesn't maaatter, anyway. Like I said, it's irrelevant to the saaabotage."

Except that we all know it's not. Pan's excuses would've been believable if they weren't so convenient. He's lying through his teeth; I know it. And I knew just how to set the record straight.

"Mr. Pan, you seem to stand by your claim that this has nothing to do with the attacks," I said. "However, I don't think that's the case."

"Whaaatever do you mean?" asked Pan.

"I managed to have a chat with Lyra just yesterday," I said. "She told me that the kidnapper was trying to protect her from being attacked, and that he knew the death threats were real. That right there is all the connection you need, is it not?"

Pan nervously fiddled with his panpipes as sweat trickled down his face. "Th-thaaat never caaame up in conversation. I-I didn't know the kidnapper's motiiives."

"Really now?" I said. "Because I have some evidence that says otherwise."

"Y-you caaannot be serious," said Pan nervously. "N-no such proof exists."

"Is that so?" I said, adjusting my bow-tie. "Mr. Licks, do you still have that ransom note Lyra left?"

"Sure do, kitten," said Slick Licks. "Mike, if you would."

Mike Check walked up onstage and gave me the letter in question.

"This right here is the link that connects Lyra's kidnapping with these attacks," I said, showing Pan the note. "It reads as follows: 'If you ever want to see me again, give into the demands. PS: Whoever is reading this, do the opposite of that. Don't worry about me.' Now, tell me, Mr. Pan. What 'demands' would Lyra possibly be talking about in this letter? The death threats, perhaps?"

"D-death threats?" stammered Pan.

"Don't play dumb, Mr. Pan. Everypony here knows that those threats are real," I said sternly. "There is nothing else it could be referring to."


A shrill note sounded from Pan's panpipes as he recoiled from my logic. It seems I hit a nerve.

"Th-thaaat's still very tenuous!" he sputtered. "Th-there's no way to know for sure thaaat this letter was written by Ms. Heartstrings!"

I smirked. "Actually, you're right."

Pan blinked. "Whaaat?"

"Lyra shared something else with me, Mr. Pan," I said. "She said that she doesn't remember writing a ransom note. In fact, all she remembers is hearing a pleasant sound, blacking out, and then waking up in a dark room. She doesn't even remember you rescuing her. She fell asleep, and then woke up on a park bench in Coltlumbus Circle. Do you have an explanation for that, Mr. Pan?"

Pan swallowed. "I-I don't know whaaat you're taaalking about."

"Oh, I think you do," I said. "You disappeared along with Lyra, only to reappear along with her the next day. There's only one good explanation for that."

"Whaaat's thaaat then?"

"Mr. Pan, you were Lyra's kidnapper!"


Another shrill note sounded from Pan's panpipes. It appears I was right on the mark.

"P-Preposterous!" Pan roared. "You haaave no way to prove that it waaas me!"

Nnngh. I hate to admit it, but he's right. The only evidence I have pertaining to the kidnapping are the ransom note, Lyra's testimony, and the blueprints for the Bass Cannon. None of those are especially helpful, especially not Lyra's testimony. She doesn't even remember half of what happened, and that casts a shadow of doubt on the entire thing. But I shouldn't back down. Pan being the kidnapper is the only way this scenario makes sense.

"Hold on there, Pan."

Sapphire Shores stepped forward with a stern look in her eyes.

"You can't pull the wool over our eyes that easily," she said.

"I-I told you before, I haaave no idea whaaat you're taaalking about," said Pan.

Sapphire shook her head. "Pan, I'm not mad at you because of what you did. I understand, or at least I think I do. I'm mad 'cause you're lying about it."

"I-I'm not sure whaaat you're getting at, Sapphire," said Pan meekly.

"Then allow me to jog your memory," said Sapphire. "Tavi-doll, you said something about Ms. Heartstrings's testimony that caught my attention."

I tilted my head. "What might that be?"

"You said that she heard a pleasant sound, and then blacked out," said Sapphire. "I think I know what that sound was."

"H-how could you?! You weren't there!" Pan protested.

"Maybe not, but I can make a educated guess," said Sapphire with a sly smirk. "Remember that spell from your Music Code that you taught me?"

Pan's face lost all color. "Wh-whaaat does that haaave to do with anything?"

"Everything," said Sapphire. "That song saved my life last night. I hummed it to myself in the hospital, and now I'm the picture of health. Now then, who's to say that you didn't use a similar spell on Ms. Heartstrings to knock her out?"

"Similar? Those spells are nothing alike! They're comprised of completely different..."

Pan trailed off the moment he realized he slipped up. Sapphire's smile broadened.

"You were saying?" she said slyly. "You can't deny it now, Pan. You might as well be honest with us."

And this is why you shouldn't write Sapphire Shores off as a mere pop singer. Not only is she very friendly and easy-going for somepony so famous, but her mind is rather sharp as well. Maybe she should've done the investigating in my stead.

"Thank you, Ms. Sh- Sapphire," I said.

Sapphire chuckled. "Not a problem, Tavi-doll," she said. "I leave the rest to you."

"Right," I said, clearing my throat. "Now then, Mr. Pan. We know that you were the one who kidnapped Lyra. From that, we can infer that you knew about these attacks ahead of time. Do you deny that?"

Pan sighed and hung his head. "No, I do not deny it," he said sheepishly.

"Then let us dally with the truth for a while," I said. "Tell us the whole story, and spare no detail."

"As you wish, Ms. Meeelody," said Pan with a bow. "But be forewarned: This tale is nooot for the faint of heart."

"Believe me, Mr. Pan. I've been through quite a lot in this whole mess," I said. "I think I can handle this tale of yours."

Pan smiled. "I'm haaappy to hear thaaat."

Testimony: Pan's Tale

"It aaalll started with a letter I got long before the festival," said Pan. "Someone waaas after the secrets behind my Music Code once agaaain. But this foe waaas going to even greater extremes thaaan ever before. Silenus aaand I haaad to maaake sure he didn't succeed. Indeed, I kidnaaaped Ms. Heartstrings and made her write the ransom note to that end. Aaand while I searched for clues to unmask the villain, Silenus keeept security occupied so thaaat I could work in peace."

So the whole thing with Silenus pestering Point Dexter was a ruse, as was Lyra's ransom note. However, this still sounds wrong note to me (no pun intended). I can't quite place my hoof on what, but maybe Pan has some more details.

"Tell me, Mr. Pan. Was there anything preventing you from using your Music Code to, say, make the villain confess? Or stop the attacks before they happened?" I inquired.

Pan snickered. "If only it were thaaat easy, Ms. Meeelody. My Music Code only haaas a finite number of speeells; none of which can grant me omnipotence nor omniscience. Mooost of it is common satyr maaagic, such as curing poisons and hypnotism."

"So, that's how you had Lyra write the ransom note, and why she doesn't remember doing so," I mused. "Your spell lulled her into a trance."

"Correeect," said Pan.

Well, that answers those mysteries. However, it doesn't really get me any closer to the culprit. Perhaps if I approach this from a different angle, I'll find out more.

"Tell me, Mr. Pan. Do you know who the culprit is?" I asked.

"I haaave a rough ideaaa, but I caaannot say for certain," said Pan, stroking his beard in thought. "Silenus said he found a major clue, but he looost it."

I'm not sure what that clue could be. It couldn't be Mare-Do-Well; I already convinced Silenus that she was here to help us. Besides, Pan doesn't know of her existence. Or, does he?

"Mr. Pan, do you recognize this?" I asked, showing him the note I got from Mare-Do-Well.

Pan grabbed the note from my hooves and read it over. His eyes went wide. "Wh-where did you geeet this?"

"It was given to me last night by the one who received it," I said. "You know that shadow Silenus has been chasing around?"

"Whaaat, thaaat nonsense?" said Pan, raising an eyebrow. "Thaaat was juuust an act. I thought we weeent over this."

"Maybe to you," I said. "But for a time, Silenus believed that he was on the trail of the culprit. But, as it so happens, the shadow's intentions were quite the opposite. I won't reveal who she is, for I'm sure she wishes to remain anonymous. But she is the one who received her letter, as well as the one who has protecting us from the culprit's attacks!"

"Silenuuus! Get up here right noooow!"

Pan's face turned bright red, and it looked like steam would be coming out of his ears at any moment. I wonder if this happens all the time with those two. Silenus walked up, his head hanging low.

"I-I'm shorry, Pan," he apologized. "I-I didn't know the shadow wash helping ush. But Missh Octavia shet me shtraight, right?"

"Perhaps so, but I think Mr. Pan still has a reason to be mad at you," I said. "You misplaced a vital clue leading to the saboteur's identity, didn't you?"

"I-I didn't mean to!" yelped Silenus. "I-It wash an acchident! I wash drunk!"

Pan deadpanned. "Thaaat's not an excuse, Silenus. You're almost always druuunk."

"Let's get back to the topic at hand, shall we?" I said. "Because I want to bring up something important in the note you sent to our mysterious guardian, Mr. Pan."

"Whaaat might thaaat be?"

"The note said, and I quote: 'Music is an expression of creativity, not a weapon of war.' From this, I infer that you believe that our culprit was after your Music Code to turn it into a weapon. Am I correct?"

"You aaare," said Pan. "The letter I gooot haaad a military seal on the envelope. Silenus, do you still haaave thaaat?"

Silenus blinked. "Have what?"

I smacked my forehead. "The envelope, you twat."

"Oh, rightrightright. Sure, hang on."

Thankfully, Silenus did have the envelope. And just as Pan said, it had a very formal-looking military seal.

"So, let me ask you this, Mr. Silenus," I said. "This clue that you lost. Do you remember what it was?"

Silenus hemmed and hawed for a while before letting out a frustrated snort. "Crap, I forgot. B-but I do remember where I found it!"

"Hey, better than nothing," said Vinyl with a shrug. "Lay it on us."

"I found it on the floor in thish here theater," said Silenus. "It musht've fell out of shomeone'sh pocket."

Well, that didn't help. It really could be anything at this point. But, what? What?! Nnngh, I have no idea!

"Don't tell me you're giving up already, Tavi."

I turned to Vinyl, and saw that there was a distinct twinkle in her eye.

"I-I'm not giving up, Vinyl," I said. "I-I just don't know what the clue could be."

"You were on the right track, Tavi," said Vinyl. "But I think you gotta step back and think outside the box for a minute. This is a clue that Silenus misplaced, right?"


"And it can prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, who the culprit is, correct?"

"So he claims. What are you getting at?"

"We've got that clue, Octy."

I stared blankly at Vinyl. "We do?"


"Well, what is it?"

"Think about it, Octy. What has the culprit been using on us?"

"Sound-based weaponry. What does that have to do...?"

I trailed off. This was a massive leap in logic, but I guess that's what Vinyl meant by thinking outside the box. And if this was correct, well, that cracks this whole case wide open.

"Mr. Silenus, I believe we have the clue you were looking for," I said. "Vinyl, if you would."

"You got it, Tavi," said Vinyl, taking out the blueprints for the Bass Cannon. "Lyra said she woke up lying next to this when Pan returned her to Coltlumbus Circle. Look familiar?"

Silenus tilted hit head this way and that, narrowing his eyes as he studied the document. "Huh. Sho that'sh where that went." he said.

"You gaaave it to Ms. Heartstrings?!" Pan boomed. "Whaaat were you thinking?!"

"I, washn't," said Silenus bashfully. "I wash drunk, remember?"

Pan pinched the bridge of his nose. "You aaare simply incorrigible," he groaned. "And furthermore, whaaat kind of clue is this?"

"A damn good one, if I do say so myself," said Vinyl. "These are blueprints for a kickass weapon. I know what you're thinking: How does that connect to anything? Well, hear me out. What if these are military blueprints?"

Her query was met with a collection of blank stares.

"That is perhaps the craziest thing I have ever heard," said Frederick.

"Well, that's because you don't live with her," I said. "However, let's say that she's correct for the sake of argument. These are military blueprints, meaning that they belong to the one behind the attacks. Mr. Silenus, do you remember when you picked this up?"

"Hmm. I think it wash two daysh ago," he said, stroking his chin and knitting his brow. "I kinda remember dishtracting shecurity at the time sho that Pan could protect Missh Heartshtringsh."

That right there caused something to click in my brain. I think I know who the culprit is. I mean, I'm not sure how or why, but really, there's no one else it could be.

"It looks like you've got something to say, Tavi-doll," said Sapphire. "Mind cluing us in?"

I took a deep breath to calm my nerves. If I was right about this, then the endgame is surely upon us.

"There is only one person in this theater who could be the mastermind behind everything that has happened," I said, pointing an accusatory hoof into the crowd. "And I believe that person is you...

"Mr. Point Dexter!"