• Published 4th Mar 2012
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The Dresden Fillies: False Masks - psychicscubadiver



Sequel to the Dresden Fillies: Strange Friends. Everyone's favorite wizard returns to Equestria.

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Chapter Four

The Dresden Fillies: False Masks

Written by: psychicscubadiver
Edited by: frieD195 and Silentcarto
Story Image by: wyrmlover
Beta-reader: SA

Disclaimer: I don’t own The Dresden Files or My Little Pony, that is Jim Butcher and Hasbro, respectively. This is a fanfiction only. This story takes place before Discord’s return in MLP and between books six and seven in the Dresden Files.

Chapter Four

Hawkeye was eighty-four years old. She had served the Order Triune for sixty-five of those years and had been named Advisor, privy to all its secrets, two decades ago. But in all her time protecting Equestria from hidden dangers and cruel shadows, she had never truly expected this day to come.

He was back. The Black Scourge. The Master of Death. The pony that the Order Triune had been founded to defeat.

Obsidian the Undying.

Hawkeye stared at the reports on the desk in front of her. Her eyes were still sharp enough that she needed only the small lantern hanging from the stone ceiling to read them. She almost wished she couldn’t, that she didn’t have to confront the truth they held.

Romana had met him, and her description wasn’t promising. He was a tall, black unicorn nearly overflowing with power. His body was covered with scars, several that were mysterious in shape and origin, and one hoof was burned and cracked. Despite all that, he had been handsome in a roguish sort of way, and Twilight Sparkle had seemed fond of him. Romana’s word alone wasn’t enough to condemn him, of course, but Wind Whisperer had gotten close enough to eavesdrop on a sensitive conversation. What he had heard explained Obsidian’s seemingly innocent behavior and the trust the Princesses and Elements of Harmony had in him.

He was pretending to be a reformed pony, and according to Romana he was quite a convincing actor, but beneath that veneer he was more depraved than ever. He spoke to his familiar, some sort of demon contained within the skull of an ape, about destroying his enemies, cannibalism and corrupting the Element of Magic.

He was supposed to be dead. Finally, truly dead this time. His last appearance had been almost seven hundred years ago, more than two centuries longer than any of his other reappearances. Most of the Order, including Hawkeye, had been convinced he was gone at last.

She glanced at the clock and bit back a curse. The Earth pony gathered her papers and her resolve at a speed that belied her age. This was one meeting that she had to make on time.

Hawkeye moved to a completely mundane portion of her office wall, pressing against it in just the right spot. A section of wall swung open, the door blending in so seamlessly that she couldn’t have fit a sheet of paper into the cracks when it was closed. She went inside, and the secret door closed quietly behind her. Complete darkness gripped the room, but Hawkeye knew the way by heart. She went exactly ten steps left and opened a trapdoor that was indistinguishable from the other eight present in the room. As soon as it opened she could hear the dull roar of running water. A lot of it.

She tightened the straps on her waterproof saddlebags and cursed the foresight and paranoia of the engineers who had built her path. Though treaties had been drawn and promises made between the Three Tribes, few ponies truly trusted their new neighbors in those days. The Order had been formed out of necessity, not fellowship, and that distrust had ensured that certain precautions were taken by each group when building their stronghold in the caves beneath Canterlot.

Hawkeye climbed down the narrow stone steps, stopping for a moment at the bottom. This part of the tunnel was lit by crystals whose weak glow reflected off the near-solid cascade of water that poured across the passage ahead. Her predecessors had somehow diverted an underground river to form the Earth’s Tears, the relentless curtain of water in front of her. They had been brilliant in their mistrustful way; not only would such an obstacle wash away the power of any spell and prevent Pegasi from flying, but the flow was fast and strong enough that few without the strength and resilience of an Earth pony could withstand passing through it.

Such precautions hadn’t been necessary for more than a dozen centuries, but even if the rules hadn’t stated that she must meet the rest of the Triumvirate within the Neutral Grounds, tradition would demand it.

And tradition was everything to the Order Triune.

After several deep breaths Hawkeye finally took the plunge, grimacing at the endless hammerblows of the pounding stream. Her world became nothing but drenching water, and even the heavy stone grill beneath her hooves seemed inconsequential to the raging power around her. She no longer heard the roar of the waterfall, she felt it in her very bones instead. Every one of her movements was slow, each step forward a battle.

She was getting too old for this nonsense, but there were more important matters at stake right now. Eventually she passed through, shaking and drenched, but otherwise unharmed. As she had ordered, there were towels waiting for her in an antechamber, and she relished the chance to dry off. While she may be required to soak herself to reach the meeting, there was nothing to say she had to show up looking like a drowned Diamond Dog.

She opened an iron door into a small, plain room lit by a single large crystal overhead. Three doors, each made of one of the three symbolic metals, and the flag of Equestria were the only adorments aside from the circular table in the center. Like the one in the larger meeting hall far above, it was formed from wedges of silver, iron, and aluminum. The silver side was already occupied by a distinguished looking unicorn, his bright gold mustache and goatee neatly offsetting his dark teal coat. He was waiting for her, sipping tea out of steaming cup. He made a small show of pulling out a gilded pocket watch and checking it.

“You’re late, Advisor,” he declared, hiding his smile by taking a quick sip of tea. Hawkeye snorted and eyed the much younger pony. Arcane Mind was one of the best spellcasters in Equestria, and he was quite proud of that fact. Æther Shade had hoof-picked him to be her successor, but he was still far too young to hold one of the highest offices in the Order in Hawkeye’s opinion. After all he was barely forty, and only had a paltry twenty-three years of service.

She was tempted to call him ‘Lord Mind’ just to annoy him, but protocol was to be respected. “That precious clock of yours must be wrong, Mage. I’m on time, you’re early. Probably because you only had to go through a few fancy doors.”

He arched an eyebrow and filled a second cup with tea. “I’d hardly call the Crystal Gates ‘a few fancy doors’. My path isn’t nearly as easy as you seem to think. Tea?”

Hawkeye nodded and reached for the delicate cup. “Thanks.” She took a sip, considered the flavor for a moment before adding a dollop of amber liquid from a flask in her saddlebags. Arcane winced as the earth pony slugged back the resulting mixture without regard for the temperature. “Mmmm. That’s tasty.”

The dignified unicorn sighed. “Must you add cider? Tea should be drunk naturally with nothing more than sugar to complement the blend.”

Hawkeye grinned internally, but didn’t let the expression reach her face. “Then there shouldn’t be a problem. Good cider complements everything.” Arcane Mind’s face twisted in an exaggerated grimace and the two verbally sparred for a few minutes. Hawkeye wouldn’t have admitted it to anypony, but she did enjoy Arcane Mind’s company. He was one of the few ponies who wasn’t intimidated by her glare. Add his quick wit to the mix, and it wasn’t surprising that she liked him despite his aristocratic habits.

Arcane Mind looked at his watch more causally than before and frowned. “It’s five past the hour. The Soldier actually is late.”

Hawkeye glanced at the aluminum door and tried not to worry. Tornado Watch had always been a strong flyer, as a life-long military pony she was more than a match for any common pegasus, but she was still almost sixty. The Tunnel of Spikes was an unforgiving path, and more than one leader had failed to cross it when they grew too old.

At last the door opened and a steely-blue pegasus walked through, hale but obviously tired. Her lilac mane was a windblown mess. Hawkeye regretted putting her friend through such hardships, but it was necessary. All of Equestria could hang on this meeting.

“Sorry I am late. I hope I did not inconvenience either of you overmuch.” The stoic pegasus declared as she approached the table. Over the years, Tornado Watch had almost managed to lose her accent, but it still wasn’t difficult to tell she was a Stalliongrad native. “What news calls the Triumvirate to council?” Among other clues was her utter bluntness.

Arcane Mind nodded to Tornado Watch. “Well, my dear Soldier, you’ll have to ask our Advisor about that. I’m afraid I’m rather in the dark as well.”

Hawkeye silently slid a copy of both reports and a summary of her own to each of her fellow leaders. Arcane Mind raised an eyebrow at that, but gamely began reading. His jaw dropped and Tornado Watch cursed before they finished the first paragraph.

Arcane Mind turned to Hawkeye, his jovial tone completely absent. “If this is a joke, I’m afraid it’s in very poor taste.”

Tornado Watch was more direct. “Is this true?”

Hawkeye sighed. “I wish it was only a joke, but I’m afraid it is true. Obsidian is back despite everything we had hoped. I’m sure you both heard the rumors and speculation about the events two months ago.”

“Of course.” Tornado Watch said, making a dismissive gesture with one hoof. “However, there are always rumors of one kind or another. I gave these little attention.”

Hawkeye nodded. “As did I, at first, but I directed our Agents to investigate anyway. We finally received confirmation earlier tonight.”

Arcane Mind had turned back to the reports carefully reading through both Romana’s account and Wind Whisperer’s. “Couldn’t we simply tell the Princesses the truth? If we confront him directly, it will be … costly.” Hawkeye nodded, but Tornado Watch just snorted.

“You mean it would be a slaughter. Even in the olden days he was a monster, and we have grown weaker this past century, believing him gone.” Arcane Mind glared at the pegasus, who returned it in kind.

“Enough!” Hawkeye said, giving them both a look far more fearsome than the one they had shared. “We cannot tell the Princesses. He has already fooled both of them, and they wouldn’t trust us anyway.”

“But it’s been a thousand years since the Order’s involvement in the Nightmare War.” Arcane Mind protested.

Tornado Watch sighed. “Yes, but alicorns have long memories. The Sun Princess does not love us for trying to kill her sister.” Hawkeye shivered. That had been the Order’s darkest hour. In those days they had worked with the Princesses, striving openly for the good of Equestria. But Nightmare Moon’s vicious attacks and the backlash from their retaliation had driven them underground. Driven them to secrecy and a stronghold unused in centuries.

Hawkeye broke the table’s silence. “This is actually better. Obsidian thinks he has gained an advantage by appearing to be innocent, but he doesn’t know that we’re already aware of him. He can’t use his full powers so long as he wishes to fool anypony, but our forces can hunt him in secret. If we can catch him unawares, we just might succeed without engaging him in open battle.” She turned to her comrades, her determination hardening. “Despite his bastard form of immortality, he’s as vulnerable as any unicorn. One well-placed knife could end this quickly and cleanly. I say we must rid Equestria of his evil once more. What say you, Mage? And you, Soldier?”

They mirrored her expression, both of their mouths set in grim lines. Arcane Mind spoke first. “I will notify the Keepers and begin searching the archives for ways to combat his spells.”

Tornado Watch nodded. “And I will prepare our Slayers.”

“Let the Agents try first. Even if they fail, he may still be unaware of our intentions.” The Earth pony drew herself up as the three made their decision. They would face the darkness without flinching and do what they must. Hawkeye sighed. “And so, the Order Triune goes to war with shadows and hidden knives. May Harmony guard us all.”

………

Pinkie Pie bounced happily down the street. Most ponies weren’t as energetic as her in the morning, but then most ponies didn’t have a friend waiting for them after not being able to see each other for two whole months!

The sun was just beginning to poke its sleepy head above the horizon. For now the air was crisp, but Pinkie could tell that today was going to be hot once the sun got going. It was still pretty darn early, though, and she waved at one of the newspaper delivery ponies as she went by. Other than that hardworking pegasus, the streets were empty, most ponies just now starting to get up.

It had come as a surprise to a couple of her friends that Pinkie was always up so early, but that was silly. Everypony wanted to have delicious treats for breakfast. To make sure everything was hot, fresh and ready for those hungry ponies, bakers had to get up extra early. Pinkie didn’t mind; after all, she got to see the sunrise almost every day. How many ponies could say that? Well, obviously Princess Celestia, but c’mon, she doesn’t count. She’s the one raising it.

And it came in handy sometimes! Right now, for instance. Twilight had gotten back into town last night and she’d brought a new pony with her! Well, he wasn’t a new friend, but he was definitely a new pony! Pinkie was bringing over some breakfast, four of her most scrumdiddlyumptious turnovers. An apple one, a chocolate one, a snozzberry one, and a ruby one just for Spike. She also had some coffee, but Dresden was the only one who would want any of that.

Pinkie made a face and stuck her tongue out just thinking about what was in the thermos she was carrying. Coffee was waaaay too bitter, and it wasn’t even the fun, tangy kind of bitter. It was just plain old yucky. Mrs. Cake had always tried to discourage Pinkie from drinking it for some reason, but she didn’t have to worry there. Dresden was welcome to it.

She frowned. Come to think of it, Twilight said we weren’t supposed to call him Dresden. There was another name everypony was supposed to call him while he was a pony, but what was it?

Marty McFly? No. Professor Layton? No, not that either. Foo-foo Cuddlypoofs? Pinkie giggled. That was just silly.

A tiny Pinkie Pie made of felt appeared on her shoulder and said in a teensy, piping voice, “It’s Blackstone, you silly filly!”

Pinkie gasped. “Of course! How could I forget?” She beamed at her fabric double. “Thanks, figment of my imagination!”

Her tiny copy smiled back. “You’re welcome, Pinkie. Just call whenever you need me.” Then it disappeared in a little poof of pink fluff. Pinkie turned her attention back to her journey. She couldn’t help but smile thinking about reuniting with her odd friend. Later this evening she would finally be able to throw Blackstone a ‘Welcome to Ponyville’ party. She had already reserved Sugarcube Corner, but she would have to make sure he didn’t stop by and ruin the surprise.

She finally rounded the last bend before she reached the library and was surprised to find another pony already approaching it. Pinkie carefully snuck up on her unsuspecting victim, moving quickly and quietly on tippy-hooves. Finally, when she was in range, she pounced.

“Good Morning, Bon-bon!” Pinkie chirped loudly.

“Eeeee!” Bon-bon squeaked, jumping in the air like she’d been stuck with a pin. She whirled, coming face to face with a Pinkie who was less than an inch away. Bon-bon gulped and offered a wide, fake smile, though a cold sweat broke out on her brow.

Pinkie wondered what had her fellow confectioner so nervous. “Whatcha doin’ at the library so early? Twilight won’t open it up for another couple of hours.” Then she spied a small bag on the doorstep with a little note that said ‘Welcome to Ponyville’ on it.

“Ohhhhh.” Pinkie said giving Bon-bon a knowing smile. “Looks like somepony is sweet on the newest pony in town.” She pretended to swoon and shifted into a melodramatic tone. “But what will become of Lyra? How could you do such a thing to her? She’ll be crushed.”

Bon-bon flushed and lost some of her anxiety to anger. “For the hundredth time, we’re just roommates! Besides, I was just being neighborly. You know, a bag of candy to welcome him to Ponyville.” She paused and bit her lip. “Please don’t tell anypony? They might get the wrong idea, too.”

Pinkie knew that Bon-bon was still talking, but she stopped paying attention at ‘bag of candy’. Within that small bag sitting only a couple feet away were some of Bon-bon’s delicious, delightful, delectable candies. Pinkie felt her mouth water just thinking about it. Surely, Blackstone wouldn’t miss just one piece, not one little piece out of that whole bag. But she couldn’t just take one with Bon-bon watching.

Pinkie gasped dramatically and pointed behind Bon-bon with one shaking hoof. “Oh no,” she whispered, her pupils shrinking in fear. “It’s a distraction!”

“A what?!” Bon-bon cried, spinning around. Pinkie took the opportunity to filch a piece of candy (thankfully not wrapped) and quickly stuffed the sweet into her mouth. It was a piece of hard candy, thick with sugary goodness and flavored with a hint of raspberries and cream.

But there was something wrong with it. Beneath the sweet taste there was a harsh, almost metallic tang. It was faint, but Pinkamena Diane Pie knew her candy, and there was definitely something wrong with this flavor.

Bon-bon turned back around slowly, still confused. She opened her mouth to ask a question, but when she saw Pinkie considering the lump in her cheek with a thoughtful, slightly perplexed expression, the color drained from her face. “Pinkie!”

Caught in the act, Pinkie spat the jawbreaker behind the bushes and stuck out her tongue. “Bleagh. I don’t wanna hurt your feelings, Bon-bon, but I think there’s something wrong with that batch of candy.”

Bon-bon swallowed and gave a nervous laugh. “I-I guess I made a mistake.” She picked back up the bag and tucked it into one of her saddlebags. “Please, don’t tell anypony about that. I don’t want everypony to think I make bad candy.”

Pinkie winked. “Of course not, it’ll stay between us. I promise.”

Bon-bon heaved a sigh of relief and turned to go, but hesitated for a moment. “You’re looking pretty worn out, Pinkie. You might want to go home and take a nap.”

Pinkie waved the suggestion off. “I’m fine. I just had trouble sleeping last night because I knew today is going to be so much fun! Catch you later, Bon-bon.” The candy-making pony looked troubled, but she forced a smile and trotted off. Pinkie felt sorry for her. She had probably wanted to surprise Blackstone with those candies and snag him before any other mare had the chance. Good stallions were hard to come by with so many mares in Ponyville.

Pinkie stifled a yawn and tried the front door; it was locked, of course. She could have knocked, but she didn’t want to be rude and wake anypony that was still sleeping. She had her own way in, anyway.

Standing in the main room of the library, Pinkie rubbed her chin. Now, if she were a battle-hardened inter-dimensional wizard that had recently been transformed into a pony, where would she be? The guest room, of course! Pinkie began sneaking up the side staircase that led to Twilight’s small spare room, stifling another yawn.

That’s odd, she thought. Maybe Bon-bon was right. Yawning or not, though, Pinkie still managed to slink into the room without waking its occupant. She looked over her sleeping friend, humming a small tune to herself. Dresden made for an interesting pony, especially since so many of his features had carried over to his new form. He was tall, with long legs and an angular frame marred by several scars. He was a unicorn, of course, and his horn came to a wicked point. Even after being turned into a pony, he still looked lean and dangerous, but there was something about him now that softened it. The wizard had always seemed on edge, like a spring that was wound tightly and just waiting to let loose. But now there was a serene cast to his face, as though he’d had a weight lifted off of his shoulders. Really, it was almost shame to disturb him when he was so peaceful, but if he didn’t wake up, how could he enjoy her turnovers?

Pinkie stared at the prone unicorn, wondering how she should wake him. Cymbals were a classic, of course, but he might react badly to that. Spike had almost burned down the library when she did that to him, and Pinkie remembered Blackstone having just as much affinity for fire.

The party pony frowned, trying to come up with something that would be surprising, but not too surprising. She pondered that for a moment, fighting drowsiness, until something in the corner of one eye caught her attention. She spun around, but the orange lights in the eyes of the strange skull on the dresser winked out so quickly that Pinkie wasn’t sure they had actually been there.

Keeping a careful watch on the suspicious cranium, Pinkie approached it. It stayed motionless even when she carefully poked it with a sharp stick. She prodded it again slightly harder, but there was still no response. Pinkie frowned.

It had passed the stick test with flying colors, but there was still something about it she didn’t like. Somehow, the skull was setting off all of her instincts. She stared into its empty eyeholes and made a decision. She tapped one of her own eyes then pointed at the skull, her face set in grim determination. “Don’t you go anywhere, Skully McSkullerson. I’ve got a bone to pick with you.”

Pinkie turned, but stopped as she heard a quiet but distinct chuckle coming from behind her. She spun back around, eyeing the now quiet skull. “You may think you’re clever, but don’t get ahead of yourself.” There was a flicker of orange in the black recesses of the eyes and another ghostly chuckle.

Pinkie grinned in satisfaction. She knew she’d seen something, but if it laughed at her jokes it couldn’t be that bad. “Hi, I’m Pinkie Pie. What’s your name?”

The orange lights brightened, filling the whole eye sockets and banishing the darkness inside the skull. A pleasant male, baritone replied. “Well, ‘Blackstone’ over there calls me Bob. So that’ll do.” He turned in place, examining the room. “What happened to the stick?” he asked in a confused tone of voice.

“What stick?”

“The one you were poking me with. Where did it go?” He sounded unhappy, like somepony had pulled a trick on him that he didn’t think was very funny.

Pinkie shrugged. “Hay if I know.”

The skull stared at her intensely, as if he might somehow solve all the mysteries of the universe if only he stared hard enough. “But you can’t just...” he began before lapsing back into silence. He turned and murmured something to himself. Pinkie couldn’t hear all of it, but she did catch, “that way lies madness” among the mumbling.

“Are you okay?”

The skull cleared a nonexistent throat and faced her again. “Just fine. Though I have to ask what you’re doing sneaking into the room this early.”

“Oh, I was just bringing Blackstone a sweet little something to get his morning started off right.” Pinkie replied, pulling the bag of turnovers out of her mane. Bob, however had already started laughing. He was obviously trying to stop but just as obviously failing. Pinkie grinned curiously. She liked to make ponies laugh (even though Bob wasn’t exactly a pony per say), but she preferred it to be when she said something funny. She giggled along with him as his fit wound down, but her joviality was interrupted by another yawn.

Pinkie rubbed her eyes. The excitement over meeting Bob had kept her tiredness at bay, but now it was coming back in force. “I don’t know why I’m so tired. I guess I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Maybe I need a nap.”

Bob stared intently at her again, but this time there was some different about it. Something Pinkie wasn’t sure she liked. “You know,” he said very casually. “You could take a nap here. Even with Blackstone and Mouse on the bed, it has more than enough room for another pony. And I could keep an eye on your ‘sweet little something’ if you’d like.”

Pinkie frowned, but she was getting more and more tired. “Are you sure he wouldn’t mind?”

Bob chuckled. “Of course not. Blackstone is your friend, isn’t he? He’d be happy to help you out.” Pinkie yawned again and tried to kick-start her quickly clouding mind. There was something odd about Bob, but the bed really looked too comfortable to pass up. She stumbled over to the downy temptress, pausing only to set the bag of turnovers and thermos of coffee on the nearby nightstand. Pinkie eased into the bed carefully, trying hard not to wake Blackstone.

It wasn’t easy; he was in the center, so she had to get really close just so she wasn’t falling off. But she managed and let out a sigh of relief as she relaxed. Pinkie finally stopped fighting her exhaustion and let her eyes slowly close. Within moments the only sound in the room was the light snoring of two sleeping ponies. Bob laughed to himself, his eyes glimmering with anticipated mischief.

“And now we play the waiting game.”

………

Pinkie awoke to a startled, almost horrified gasp which was quickly followed by the sound of shattering ceramic. She sat upright, blinking and trying to remember why she was in a strange bed, cuddled up to somepony who definitely wasn’t Gummy.

Everything came back to her in a flash. Pinkie suddenly remembered baking some special treats to welcome Blackstone to Ponyville, coming over to the Library, and taking a nap when she got sleepy. She glanced around; Blackstone was still asleep and Bob hadn’t moved, but Twilight was standing in the doorway and kinda starting to hyperventilate. There was a broken tea cup on the floor at her hooves in a small puddle of steaming tea. The clock on the wall read seven ten; she’d slept for about forty minutes.

“Good morning, Twilight!” Pinkie chirped, stretching. She felt much better now. That little bit of rest had really hit the spot.

“Pinkie?” Twilight asked. Her breathing had slowed down, but the purple unicorn’s face was still upset. Pinkie wondered if maybe she should have asked Twilight before sleeping over. “What are you doing?”

Pinkie blinked in confusion. Wasn’t it obvious? “I was sleeping with Blackstone.” She giggled. “I didn’t mean to, but I came over here extra early to welcome him, and one thing led to another and it just kinda happened.”

Twilight’s jaw dropped and her face heated up. Her expression flickered through confusion, disbelief, and betrayal before finally settling on anger. Twilight’s eyes began to narrow dangerously and her horn glowed as she cast some sort of spell on herself. Pinkie only had to moment to wonder before Twilight demonstrated an amplification spell the equal to any of Luna’s.

“WAKE UP, BLACKSTONE! YOU’D BETTER HAVE A GOOD EXPLANATION FOR THIS!”

The black unicorn yawned and slowly sat up. He stared blankly at his surrounding, Pinkie still next to him in bed and Twilight glaring daggers, or maybe swords, at him. In a strangely calm voice he said, “Well, this makes an interesting change from flames and demons. I’ve got to hand it to them; my nightmares have gotten more creative.” Then he turned over and settled to go back to sleep.

Bob was convulsing with repressed laughter, but Twilight wasn’t nearly so amused. Her horn began to shine once more, and she yanked Blackstone out of bed, her purple aura glowing angrily. The former human stared into her enraged eyes and seemed to come to a realization.

“Oh, damn. I’m not dreaming, am I.”

Twilight either didn’t hear him or didn’t care. “How … how dare you. In my house! In my guest room! In my guest bed!” She shook her head, grinding her teeth. “I don’t know how they act where you’re from, but in Equestria what you did is inexcusable.”

Blackstone broke out in a cold sweat. “But I didn’t do anything! I went to sleep last night and didn’t wake up until just now. I have no idea how this happened!”

Twilight shook him in her fury. “Don’t lie to me!”

“OBJECTION!” Pinkie cried slamming one hoof down on the nightstand and pointing dramatically with the other. She was standing on her two hind legs behind the end table like it was a podium. The sudden shout and gesture startled both unicorns, and Twilight dropped Blackstone in her surprise. He managed to land on all fours, but not without a few muttered curses.

“Pinkie,” Twilight began. “What do you mean−”

“I mean,” Pinkie interrupted, “That my client is innocent and I can prove it.” She may not have understood just what Blackstone was being accused of, but she knew he was innocent. After all, he had been asleep the whole time. The party pony ran one hoof through her mane, dragging it into a set of slicked back spikes. She smiled confidently. “The prosecution has made its case. Now it’s my turn, and I call Bob the Skull to the witness stand.”

“Bob?!” Twilight and Blackstone said in unison. They both turned toward the surprised skull on the dresser.

“Me?” He asked incredulously.

Pinkie nodded toward the skull. “Yep, let’s hear some testimony. What exactly happened when I came over?”

Witness Testimony
What Happened when Pinkie Came Over

“This is ridiculous, but fine. I’ll do it if I have to.”

“I went to sleep shortly after Blackstone did. It was around 11:30 last night.”

“I don’t know when Pinkie Pie came over. I was asleep until Twilight freaked out.”

“HOLD IT!” Pinkie yelled slamming both hooves onto the nightstand.

“Pinkie!” Twilight snapped. “Please, don’t break any of my furniture. Again.”

Pinkie grinned. “Don’t worry, Sparklesworth. The only thing I’m going to break is the witness’s contradiction.” Pinkie shook her head slowly, still smiling. “That’s an interesting story, Bob, but you made one fatal mistake.”

Bob snorted. “What, just because I knew your name? Sorry, honey, but Blackstone told me all about you and your friends. Even if the description wouldn’t have clued me in, Twilight just called you Pinkie two minutes ago. That narrows the field pretty drastically.”

Pinkie made a tsking sound. “Looks like somepony needs to pay more attention to the profiles in the Court Record.”

“The what in the what?” Blackstone blurted, but Pinkie had too much momentum to stop and explain.

Pinkie nodded “Somepony knew a name they shouldn’t have, but it wasn’t you.” Bob blinked in surprise, then realization began to dawn on him. “It was me. If we hadn’t already met, how would I have known your name? Blackstone never told us about you during his last visit. Something which Sparklesworth herself can confirm.”

All eyes in the impromptu courtroom turned to the purple unicorn, and she nodded grudgingly. “True, you must have spoken to Bob, Pinkie.” She admitted, but with a glance at Blackstone her anger flared back to life. “But that doesn’t prove he’s innocent.”

Pinkie waggled one hoof back and forth. “Don’t get ahead of yourself. I just needed to prove Bob was lying so we could get to the real testimony. If you’d tell the truth this time, please?”

Witness Testimony
The Truth

“Okay, I didn’t want to snitch on either of you, but if you’re going to force me to…”

“Pinkie came over at about 5:30 this morning.”

“She and I talked for a bit then she climbed into bed with Blackstone.”

“I think she brought the pastries and coffee so she could pretend she had just arrived.”

“But Twilight woke up earlier than she expected and caught you two in bed together.”

At this news, Twilight’s anger went up another notch from ‘barely contained rage’ to ‘unbridled fury’. Flames were beginning to lick along her mane, and she was just seconds away from exploding. Blackstone wasn’t a lot calmer himself.

“You lying little bastard! I’ll get you if it’s the last damn thing I do.” The black unicorn stared down the skull with eyes that burned like red hot coals.

“Oh, you’re right about that being the last you ever do.” Twilight bit out, stalking across the small room toward the object of her anger.

“Wait, Twilight!” Pinkie commanded. “Bob’s lying and I can prove it! Or my name’s not Pinkie Wright.”

Twilight frowned in confusion. “But your name isn’t−”

“No time for that, now. Bob, when did you say I came over?”

The skull somehow seemed to frown. “5:30.”

“Oh really? TAKE THAT!” Pinkie shouted. Everypony in the room stared at her piece of evidence.

“It’s a bag of turnovers.” Blackstone said.

Twilight frowned. “I’m sure they’re tasty, but what do they have to do with anything?”

“It’s not the turnovers that are important. It’s what came with them.” Pinkie whipped a small slip of paper out of the bag and brandished it at the smirking skull. “Specifically, a receipt. I had Mrs. Cake ring me up for the turnovers at 6:15 this morning. A full 45 minutes after you claimed I arrived. I didn’t make my appearance at the library until 6:25 and I didn’t take my nap until 6:30.”

Twilight’s mouth dropped open. “Take your nap?”

Pinkie nodded. “Blackstone was sleeping like a log when I arrived, and if he had gotten up during my nap it would have woken me up, too. Therefore, he could not have done whatever he is being accused of!”

Twilight flushed until her face was a bright red. Her anger disappeared as quickly it had come and left only an awkward silence in its place. While Twilight was busy trying to figure out how to apologize for her accusations, Blackstone was doling out some justice of his own.

“Come on, boss. You know it was a joke. Just a joke.” The skull’s eyes were darting back and forth. “Besides I didn’t lie, Pinkie did get in bed with you. I never said anything else happened, did I?” Blackstone was technically smiling, but somehow the expression wasn’t very happy.

“That’s okay, Bob,” he said through clenched teeth. “I understand completely. Just like you should understand that you’re going to spend the next three months locked in the smallest, most uncomfortable box I can find.”

“Hold on, Blackstone.” Pinkie said, her happiness marred with a small frown. “I know Bob wasn’t being very nice, but please don’t be too mean to him.”

Blackstone’s eyes flickered to her, and he seemed to consider her plea for a moment. Then he came to a decision and gave a much happier grin, this one sparkling with mischief. “I tell you what, Bob. If you can beat Pinkie here in a game of Tic-Tac-Toe then you’ll be off the hook. If you can’t, then I don’t want to hear any of your backtalk or perverted ideas for the next month. Agreed?”

Bob gave a laugh of relief. “Really, that’s it, sahib? Okay! Sorry, Pinkie, but the boss man says I’ve got to beat you. Have you got some paper?”

“Uh-huh!” Pinkie said quickly grabbing a sheet and a pencil. Almost nopony wanted to play her in Tic-Tac-Toe, but now she finally had a new challenger! She had just finished drawing the familiar grid, when Blackstone went downstairs, followed by an excited doggy and an embarrassed Twilight.

Pinkie turned to ask him something, but Bob made his opening move and her attention darted back to the game. She studied the move carefully, so intent on her latest opponent that she completely forgot her question. Just what crime had Twilight had been accusing him of, anyway?