• Published 12th Dec 2013
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My Little Investigations: The Gemstone Godfather - Metool Bard

Some jerk is trying to shake me down for gems, but he won't tell me who the buck he is. Why me of all ponies? I have no idea.

  • ...

The Dragon's Hierophant

July 12, 1:01 PM
Everfree Forest
Northern Timberline

"Alright, Ammy. What are you planning?"

Something about the way Derpy said that made me uneasy. She hadn't said a word to me since we parted ways with Dinky after lunch, so the fact that this was the first thing out of her mouth was more than a little disconcerting.

"Wh-what are you talking about?" I asked, turning to her.

Derpy folded her forelegs. "Ammy, don't try to pull a fast one on me. You and I both know that those Redvest Diamond Dogs aren't gonna have any new information about those dragons. So, what are we doing back here?"

Crud. It's so easy to forget that Derpy isn't as dumb as some ponies make her out to be. Then again, mothers always seem to know when their daughters are up to something. I sighed.

"Well, I'm thinking we should pay Dodger Dragonvest a visit," I said. "He's our only other suspect."

"Uh-huh," said Derpy. "And, when were you going to tell Dinky about this?"

Double crud. "Um, I-I just didn't want to worry her, Mom," I said meekly. "Y-you know where I stand on this."

Derpy sighed. "Ammy, you're a grown mare; I'm not gonna tell you what to do. But lies aren't going to protect Dinky from reality. Just keep that in mind."

Great. As if I didn't feel guilty enough already; now Derpy's quoting the Zen of Dinky at me. I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.

"Mom, let's not discuss this now," I said. "We should keep our eyes open for the dragons."

"You mean those dragons?" asked Derpy, pointing with her hoof.

I looked where she was pointing, and saw three winged figures silhouetted against the sun. Speak of the draconequus.

"Crap! Get down!" I exclaimed, dashing behind a rock and pulling Derpy with my magic. From our hiding place, we watched as three dragons descended from the sky. One was a tall red one with a square jaw and orange wings. To his left was a rotund brown one with a large chin and a club-like tail. To his right was a lanky purple dragon with orange hair that obscured his eyes.

"Alright, boys. We have our orders," said the red one. "Let's get to digging."

"Man, this bites," complained the purple dragon. "Why do we let that dumb mutt push us around? All those tasty gems are just going to waste."

"Must be a Diamond Dog thing," said the brown dragon, smashing the ground with his tail. "The fact is that he's got Kohryu on his side, and what Kohryu says goes."

"Pfft, Kohryu," the purple dragon huffed. "That's all I've been hearing about ever since we let that mongrel become our leader. Kohryu requests this; Kohryu decrees that; blah blah frickin' blah. I never knew eastern dragons were so pushy."

"Look, Fume. I don't like it any more than you do," said the red dragon. "But I'm not gettin' on his bad side. If you want to, be my guest."

"Yeah, we'll be sure everyone remembers you as the greatest martyr of all dragonkind," scoffed the brown dragon.

"Oh, hardy har har. Very funny, Clump," said the purple dragon dryly. "Let's just get this over with. I don't wanna be down here digging any longer than I have to."

I'm beginning to see why Spike hates these guys. There was a subtle repulsiveness to their speech and mannerisms that kinda made me sick. Is this typically how wild dragons act? 'Cause if so, I'm wondering why anyone would want to recruit them for anything. They might be powerful dragons, but they sound like they're impossible to work with. Heck, they don't even like their so-called leader.

"Despicable," Derpy whispered. "Didn't their mothers teach 'em any manners?"

"Shh! Quiet, Mom!" I hissed. "We don't want them to catch us!"

"Man, this is taking forever, Garble!" Fume griped. "How Diamond Dogs do this all day is beyond me."

"I hear ya, Fume," said the red dragon. "Hey, Clump. Bust down that big boulder over there."

"On it," said Clump.

"Big boulder?" mused Derpy, keeping her voice low. "I wonder what they're talking abou—"

Her thought was interrupted when our hiding place was smashed to pieces. I had a feeling that was the case. Ugh, ponyfeathers.

"Hey, Garble! Look what we have here!" said Clump. "It's a couple of namby-pamby ponies spying on us!"

Garble walked over to us, a sinister gleam in his eye. "Well well well. Isn't this a surprise?" he said. "It's been a long time since a pony had the balls to spy on us."

"Heh heh, yeah," said Fume, pounding his fist into his palm. "What's say we rough 'em up a bit?"

My mind and heart raced in unison. Part of me wanted to grab Derpy and run away as fast as I could, but another part wanted to prove Sykes Silvervest wrong and stand up to these mooks. After a few seconds of inner debate, fight won out over flight. I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and looked Garble in the eye.

"I'm not afraid of you punks," I said as boldly as I could. "I'll show you just what this namby-pamby pony can do."

The dragons stared at me for a moment, and then started laughing.

"Y-you think you can take us on?!" Garble roared between guffaws. "Bahahahahah~! Yeah, right! Sure!"

"Wanna try me?" I said, arching my back and pawing the ground. "As it just so happens, I've got a major bone to pick with you and your boss."

The dragons stopped laughing and glared at me.

"Oh, do you now?" growled Clump. "Well, the Boss isn't gonna like that."

"Yeah," said Garble. "We'd better take care of this loudmouth before she becomes a problem. It's obvious she has a death wish, anyway."

"And here I thought this was gonna be a waste of time," said Fume with a sneer. "Any last words, pony?"

"Ammy, we should get out of here," said Derpy. "I-I don't like this."

I didn't, either. But, where exactly were we going to run? We couldn't bring these guys to town, and getting lost in the Everfree Forest wasn't a good idea, either. We were kinda stuck unless Mare-Do-Well came in to save the day. I swallowed. I knew this probably wasn't going to be my best idea, but I never thought it would be this bad.

"And just what do you think you're doing?"

A harsh, raspy voice suddenly echoed throughout the plains. In a flash of blue light, a creature appeared behind the trio of dragons. It appeared to be a long blue snake floating in midair, but it also had short, stubby claws that were similar to those of a dragon. Its face was also dragon-like in appearance, with the exception of two wiry whiskers sprouting from the middle of his snout and what looked like a greenish-blue lion's mane around his neck. I honestly never saw a creature quite like it before.

"Piss off, Seiryu," Garble snarled, not bothering to turn around. "This is none of your business."

"I beg to differ," said the creature. "The Great Kohryu has not marked these equines. Their lives are sacred."

"But they were spying on us, and she's askin' for it!" Fume roared, pointing at me. "Are all of you eastern dragons a bunch of sanctimonious pricks?!"

"Commenting on that is beneath me," said Seiryu haughtily. "But continue to raise my ire, and I'll gladly take this up with the Great Kohryu. Either that or feed you to the timberwolves for supper."

"Um, I'm sorry to interrupt, but we're kinda confuzzled," said Derpy. "What exactly is going on here?"

Seiryu looked down at us and raised an eyebrow. "I do believe we're the ones who should be asking questions, equine. For starters, what exactly were you doing here?"

At this point, I recovered from the shock and quickly shook myself.

"Well, if you must know, we were planning to meet with Dodger Dragonvest," I said.

"See?! They were spying on us!" Clump exclaimed.

"Peace, Clump. Allow me to handle this," said Seiryu before turning back to me. "Now then, why do you wish to see the Great Kohryu's hierophant?"

"Hiero-whatzit?" said Derpy, tilting her head.

"His high priest," Seiryu clarified.

Ah, that explains a lot. It doesn't explain anything useful, but at least I know why he seems to like talking about this Kohryu fellow as if he was Princess Celestia or something.

"I want to talk to him about this," I said, levitating the ransom note in front of Seiryu's face. Seiryu furrowed his brow.

"And, which one of you is Amethyst 'Sparkler' Star?" he asked.

"That'd be me," I said.

"I see," said Seiryu with a nod. "Well then, allow me to introduce myself. I am Seiryu, the Azure Dragon as sharp as the timber, and one of the Great Kohryu's acolytes. On behalf of the Great Kohryu, allow me to apologize for these three. They were out of line."

"Um, sure. Whatever," I said. "Look, can I see Dodger Dragonvest or not?"

"Unless he is communing with the Great Kohryu, he can see anyone," said Seiryu. "So yes, you can."

Well, that was easy. "Great. Let's go."

"One moment," said Seiryu. "I ask that you close your eyes as we travel. Outsiders are not allowed to know the location of the hierophant's lair."

Just my luck. Dodger Dragonvest had to be a paranoid nut, too.

"Sure, alright," I said with a sigh. I then did as he asked.

"I thank you," said Seiryu. "Garble, Clump. Take these ponies to the hierophant."

"Oh yeah? What if we don't wanna?" Garble growled.

"Then we can take this up with the Great Kohryu," said Seiryu simply.

I guess that was the end of that argument, because the next thing I knew, a pair of claws dug into my haunches, and I felt myself being lifted up into the air.

"Ow!" I yelped. "Hey, careful!"

"Be glad you're still alive, pony," Garble snapped. We then took off in some direction with Garble grumbling all the way.

July 12, 1:28 PM
Everfree Forest
Dragonvest Territory

"Open your eyes, Amethyst 'Sparkler' Star."

When I did so, I have to say I was pretty amazed by the setup. We were in this large cave furnished with all sorts of gemstones and trinkets. It looked like a treasure trove straight out of a Daring Do book. And sitting in the middle of the room was the same shaggy Diamond Dog that attacked the Redvest pack yesterday.

"Dodger Dragonvest, I presume," I said.

"You presume correctly," said the Diamond Dog. "Please, sit down and set a spell. Seiryu tells me we have a lot to talk about."

"Indeed we do," I said, sitting down next to Derpy. "First, let me introduce myself. My name is Amethyst Star, and this is my mom, Derpy Hooves."

Dodger raised an eyebrow. "Do you bring your mom with you every time you do this sort of thing?"

"Um, I guess?" I said with a shrug. "I've never had to do this before."

"And it shouldn't matter, anyway," said Derpy curtly. "Ammy's in danger, and I'm making sure she's alright."

"Alright, alright. You don't need to get on my case about it," said Dodger. He then started fiddling with something in his paw. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was a set of crystal orbs; one red, one blue, one black, and one white. "So, why have you come to see the Dragon's Hierophant?"

"This is why," I said, showing him the ransom note. Dodger read it over carefully and shook his head.

"Bummer," he said. "You seem to be in a pretty tight spot, Momma's Girl."

My eye twitched involuntarily. He was probably trying to get under my skin, and well, it worked.

"Don't call me that," I growled through gritted teeth.

"Then don't make it so obvious, Momma's Girl," Dodger retorted.

"You're asking for a black eye, pal," I said, feeling my body become tense.

"Hey, hey. Cool it," said Dodger. "We're all friends here, aren't we?"

"That's still debatable," I said, taking out the Diamond Dog collar. "Yesterday, the jewelry store I work at was attacked, and I found this at the crime scene. Does it look familiar?"

Dodger took a good look at the collar and nodded. "Yep, it does. But I'm afraid that's from the life I left behind. I'm a new dog now."

I found that hard to believe. "If you left that life behind, why are you after your old boss?"

Dodger sighed. "It's simple, Momma's Girl. It's because he has sinned against Kohryu, and thus has been marked."

"Who exactly is this Kohryu we keep hearing about?" asked Derpy.

Dodger lowered his shades. "You mean you don't know?"

"Um, no. We don't," I said. "Ponies know next to nothing about dragons."

"Well, you should know about this one," said Dodger. "Kohryu is a legend amongst dragons. There isn't a dragon alive who can match his power nor his wisdom. He can even do something that most dragons don't have the brains to comprehend."

"And that is?"

"He can perform magic."

Well, that was unexpected. "What would a dragon need with magic?"

"Ah, that is a typical western dragon mentality," said Dodger, wagging his finger. "All they think about is their instant gratification. But eastern dragons are a much more civilized lot. They think about more than eating gems and amassing wealth. They are scholars and philosophers. And Kohryu is the greatest of them all."

Maybe it's because I've only met one eastern dragon thus far, but I'm having trouble picturing a dragon as a great philosopher. I guess you learn something new every day. Now I need to learn something that's actually useful.

"Why has Kohryu marked Sykes Silvervest?" I asked. "What did he do wrong?"

Dodger's face darkened. "Sykes Silvervest is a monster. He doesn't care who he hurts as long as he can stay at the top. He disregards the lives of anyone beneath him. This has angered Kohryu. And that is why he has chosen me to be his hierophant: To overthrow the Silvervest pack."

Something about this story reeked to high heaven. Maybe it's because I'm getting this dock-hole vibe from Dodger, but I don't think he's being straight with me. Not that I can prove it right now. Instead, I decided to try and get some more information.

"How did you meet Kohryu?" I asked.

"Now that is a tale I love to tell," said Dodger whimsically. "I was working for Sykes Silvervest in the mines one day, just doin' his dirty work. When all of a sudden, I stumbled upon these bad boys."

He held the orbs in his paw aloft.

"I didn't know what they were, but I knew I couldn't give 'em to Sykes. So, I hid them away. Then, that night, I had a vision. I was visited by Kohryu's four acolytes: Seiryu the Azure Dragon, Suzaku the Vermillion Phoenix, Genbu the Black Tortoise, and Byakko the White Tiger. They told me that one of my own had committed a terrible sin by exploiting the misery of others. They told me that Kohryu had chosen me to right this wrong. Of course, I knew they could only be talking about one Diamond Dog."

"Sykes Silvervest," I said.

"And give the Momma's Girl a prize," said Dodger with a toothy grin. "So, you probably know the rest. I broke ranks with Sykes, and now I'm aiming to make him see the error of his ways. It is as Kohryu has decreed."

Okay, that explains Dodger's beef with Sykes, but it doesn't really help me any. I was still no closer to finding out the identity of the jerk trying to get a gem tribute out of me.

"So, is there any reason Kohryu would be interested in me?" I asked.

"I'd have to ask him myself," said Dodger with a shrug. "I certainly didn't get any memo about you, Momma's Girl."

"What about those other dragons?" inquired Derpy. "They don't seem to like you."

"Well, I needed an army to take on Sykes, and with Kohryu at my side, it made recruitment easy," said Dodger. "I know they're not exactly thrilled, but hey, beggars can't be choosers."

This wasn't getting anywhere. I decided to cut this meeting short.

"One last question," I said. "Do you have any idea who's after me?"

Dodger stroked his chin in thought. "Your guess is as good as mine, although it does sound like something Sykes would do. I'll ask Kohryu and see if he knows anything."

I raised an eyebrow. "How would he know anything?"

"Kohryu has never steered me wrong before," said Dodger. "I should know. I'm his hierophant. It is most likely that he has an answer for you."

Okay, I'm getting kinda sick of this preaching. Princess Celestia during the Summer Sun Celebration doesn't get this much praise! It almost makes me want to see this Kohryu guy for myself, just to see if he's all he's cracked up to be.

"Well, alright," I said. "Thank you for meeting with us."

"My pleasure, Momma's Girl," said Dodger. "Take care now. Garble, Clump. Escort these fine ponies home."

He's gonna keep calling me that no matter what, isn't he? And the worst part about that is I might have more questions for him later. That's not gonna be fun.

But as I was carried off, I thought about something else. As painfully obnoxious as Dodger Dragonvest is, he might not be the culprit. In fact, there's a chance that his hired goons aren't all that loyal. Once we get back to the northern timberline, I think I'm gonna need to ask a few more questions. I just hope Mare-Do-Well has my back in case things go south...