• Published 12th Dec 2013
  • 1,644 Views, 140 Comments

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.

  • ...

Past Learners

July 11, 9:27 AM
Everfree Forest
Northern Timberline

It's not easy sharing a border with the Everfree Forest. It's like having a shady neighbor: You never know what it's gonna do. However, you wouldn't know that by the way we in Ponyville conduct ourselves. Sure, we warn everypony that going into the forest is not a good idea unless you have a really good reason, but apparently, that doesn't apply to the area immediately outside the freaking place. Case in point, the northern timberline.

The northern timberline is actually a great boon to jewelers setting up shop in Ponyville. For some reason, it houses a nigh-unlimited supply of gem deposits. And of course, a massive supply of raw materials means we don't have to worry about running low on inventory. True, we have other gemstone suppliers (like Rarity), but it's good to know that we have this place to fall back on in tough times.

But that doesn't mean those gem deposits are simply up for grabs. Any unclaimed land that has gems is considered to be Diamond Dog territory (according to Karat at least), and the northern timberline is no exception. Granted, they don't usually cause too much trouble, as they like to stay underground and keep to themselves most of the time. But when they do decide to start something, they can be very tricky to deal with. And seeing that I was trying to look for them, I had to be on my guard.

As I walked around the rocky plains of the timberline, I kept my eyes peeled for any holes that would lead to the underground network the Diamond Dogs called home. I knew that if I had any hope of confronting these mutts, my best bet was to take 'em by surprise. Considering that they could've been right under my hooves at any moment, that was gonna be easier said than done. Despite my nerves, I continued my search, making sure not to make a sound as I did so.

After a while of searching, I felt a slight tremor in the earth accompanied by a digging sound. Thinking quickly, I took cover behind a rock formation and kept a close watch. Sure enough, three bipedal canines sprang from the ground. One was a short fellow with pug-like jowls and tan fur. The second was a larger one with a red vest and glowing green eyes. The last one was larger still with dark blue fur and powerful-looking jaws. Thankfully, none of them seemed to notice me.

"Alright, let's get to work before you-know-who shows up," said the red-vested one. "Spot, you and I will start digging. Fido, keep on the lookout. We can't afford to have any more thefts."

The pug sniffed the air a few times and wrinkled his nose. "Boss, something doesn't smell right," he said.

The red-vested dog sniffed the air himself and scowled. "You're right, Spot. Something has already been here," he said. "Fido, check it out while Spot and I get to work."

The large dog saluted and began sniffing around. I felt my heart pound against my chest. This was something I didn't count on. If they found me, I wasn't gonna stand a chance. I had to act fast.

So, before the large dog could pick up my scent and locate me, I used my magic to lift up a pebble and toss it away. While he was distracted, I leapt out from my hiding place and startled him. This of course brought the other two running, but I stood my ground.

"Fido, report!" the red-vested one barked. "What is...?"

He trailed off when he caught sight of me. Soon, all of them were staring right at me. I arched my back and snorted.

"Alright, you mangy mongrels," I growled. "I've got a bone to pick with you, and..."

"Gah! Don't hurt us!"

Now it was my turn to be caught off-guard. Much to my surprise, the Diamond Dogs were cowering at my feet. I really did not see that coming. I don't think anypony would have.

"Um, what?" I asked, staring blankly at the trio.

"W-we weren't going to kidnap you! Honest!" yelped the pug. "And we haven't kidnapped any other ponies! Please leave us alone!"

"Wait, who said anything about kidnapping?" I said, getting even more confused.

"We gotta get out of here, Boss!" yelled the large dog. "She might start whining at any moment!"

"Didn't you hear her, bonehead?! She said she's mad at us!" the red-vested one snapped. "Whatever it is, we'll do anything to apologize! Just don't start whining!"

I, started to have my doubts about my initial suspicions. I mean, the real culprit wouldn't just beg for mercy like this, would he? Still, I couldn't just let them off the hook. After all, I had evidence.

"Okay, time out," I said, gesturing with my hooves. I then took out the ransom note and levitated it in front of their faces. "Does this look familiar to any of you?"

The Diamond Dogs stared at the note for a long time. The red-vested one started scratching his head.

"Who's 'Anonymous?'" he asked.

"That's what I want to know," I said. "Someone's trying to shake me down for gems, and I think it's one of you guys."

"But, there's no one in my pack named 'Anonymous,'" said the red-vested one.

Now I was really starting to have my doubts about these guys being the culprit. If he didn't know what "anonymous" meant, he couldn't have possibly written the ransom note (not to mention that I had a feeling that these guys weren't exactly the sharpest tools in the shed). But even so, I still couldn't trust them.

"Okay, I want to ask you guys a few questions," I said. "I promise not to hurt you or, whine, as long as you cooperate. Deal?"

The Diamond Dogs huddled together and began muttering amongst themselves. After a while, they broke the huddle and turned to me.

"This is, acceptable, pony," said the red-vested one. "We apologize about before. We've, had a bad track record with kidnapping ponies in the past."

"But we won't do that to you!" the pug added hastily before being smacked upside the head.

"Quiet, Spot!" the red-vested dog hissed. "Do you want her to get suspicious?!"

I rolled my eyes and sighed. "Look, I just want some information, okay?"

"O-of course, pony! We'll tell you whatever you want!" said the red-vested one with a nervous chuckle.

"Right," I said, taking out the collar. "This morning, I found that the jewelry store I work at was ransacked. This was found at the scene. Does it look familiar?"

Spot walked up to the collar and reached into the pocket of his vest, taking out a jeweler's eyeglass. He then observed the gem on the end very closely. His brow then furrowed.

"Boss, this collar belongs to the Silvervest pack," he said darkly.

"The Silvervest pack?" I parroted. "What's that?"

After a pause, the Diamond Dogs huddled together again. When they turned back to me, they all looked rather serious.

"We shouldn't talk out here," said the red-vested one. "Fido."

"Yes, Boss?" asked the large dog.

"Escort the pony to the main chamber. Spot and I will go on ahead," said the red-vested dog.

"Hang on," I said with a snort. "How do I know I can trust you?"

Spot gulped. "W-well, you know what they say, pony. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Heh heh..."

I sighed. "Alright, fine. But if any of you try to hurt me, I start whining, got it?"

"Got it," said the Diamond Dogs in unison.

"Good," I said. With that, the red-vested dog and Spot disappeared underground. This, was actually going easier than I expected. I'm wasn't entirely sure why these guys were afraid of me, but this was a good chance to get some information out of them.

"Okay then. This way, pony," said Fido as he began digging.

"Oh, and one more thing," I said. "My name is not 'pony.'"

"Oh, right. Sorry," said Fido sheepishly. "What, is your name then?"

"Amethyst. Amethyst Star."

July 11, 9:41 AM
Underground Network
Redvest Territory

When we finally got to the underground network, I have to say it was like nothing I've ever seen before. It was just a massive expanse of tunnels going every which way like some kind of crazy labyrinth that went on forever. This was certainly not a place anypony would want to get lost in. The other thing that struck me was the smell. It was like rotten eggs mixed with skunk spray and timberwolf breath. It took sheer force of will to keep myself from gagging. How the Diamond Dogs managed to live with it is beyond my understanding.

Fido led me to a large central room where Spot and the red-vested dog were waiting.

"Good to see you, pony," said the red-vested dog. "Can we get you anything? Some water, perhaps? I mean, it's not sparkling, but..."

"No thanks," I said, cutting across him. Yeah, I wasn't gonna take any chances with these guys. I still didn't fully trust 'em yet.

"O-okay then," said the red-vested one, clearing his throat. "Anyway, you were wondering about Silvervest, yes?"

"Yeah, your friend mentioned the Silvervest pack when he saw the collar," I said. "What's that all about?"

"Well, you see, we Diamond Dogs live in packs," said Spot. "Each pack is named after their alpha, who is defined by the color of their vest. For example, Rover Redvest here is alpha of the Redvest pack."

"I see," I said with a nod. "So, what's so important about this Silvervest pack?"

Rover sighed. "The Silvervest pack is one of the most powerful and influential packs known in the underground network. They have more gems than any alpha could ever dream of, and they know it. But they're also a nasty bunch, even by our standards. Especially their alpha, Sykes Silvervest. They say that those who displease him meet a bad end."

"And, their pack is located near Ponyville?" I asked.

"Oh, no. The Redvest pack is the only one here for miles," said Rover. "But even in this remote region, we cannot escape Silvervest's influence."

"Why not?"

The Diamond Dogs all cast their gaze upwards and began shuffling around uncomfortably.

"Well, it's a bit of an embarrassing story," said Rover, his cheeks starting to match his vest. "You wouldn't be interested, pony."

"First of all, my name's Amethyst Star," I said. "Second, if this Sykes Silvervest is trying to shake me down for gems, I want to know why."

"But we don't know why, po— I mean, Ms. Star," said Fido. "Sykes Silvervest just does whatever he wants. He can, you know."

"Besides, this story wouldn't help you in the slightest," Spot added, wringing his paws.

"Let me decide that," I said firmly. "Now tell me this story, or I'm gonna start whining."

"No! Anything but that!" yipped Rover. "We'll tell, we'll tell! Just, don't tell anyone else, alright? The Redvest pack's reputation is bad enough as it is."

"I'll, think about it," I said. "That's the best I can give you. Take it or leave it."

"W-we'll take it, po— Ms. Star," said Rover, clearing his throat. "A-anyway, it's like this. The Redvest pack is, in debt to Sykes Silvervest."

I raised an eyebrow. "In debt? What do you mean?"

"It all started when we found this pony who could find gems better than we could," said Rover. "We tried to take her and force her to work for us, but she was just impossible! All the whining and the crying and the criticism, raagh! It just wasn't worth it!"

"So, we let her go," continued Fido. "But that mistake cost us a lot of gems, and we were losing our standing with the other packs. What's more, that pony was still the better gem hunter. And as long as she was around, we couldn't even begin to make up for it."

"So, what happened?" I asked.

"Sykes Silvervest said that he'd bail us out if we paid him back," said Spot. "And in our weakened state, we couldn't possibly refuse. The problem now is that we're forever indebted to him. For every five gems we find here, three of them have to go to the Silvervest pack. It's been that way for many moons now."

"And, you think he's after me now?"

Rover's face darkened. "If he is, you'd better do as he says, pony. No one dares to cross Sykes Silvervest."

I took a moment to process this. This Sykes Silvervest sounded like the kind of guy with enough clout to threaten me. But one thing just didn't add up. Why did he remain anonymous? If he was as infamous as these Diamond Dogs said he was, wouldn't he mention all that to force me to comply instead of making me play this guessing game? And furthermore, that still didn't answer why he was interested in me. I never even heard of him before, so how the hay did he know who I was?

"Mr. Redvest, I want to ask one more question," I said.

"Of course, po— Ms. Star," said Rover.

"How would I go about meeting this Sykes Silvervest?"

Rover's eyes nearly popped out of his skull. "Wh-what?! You actually want to meet him?!"

"Well, yeah," I said. "Is there a problem with that?"

"Of course there is! You can't just meet with Sykes Silvervest!" Rover barked. "He has to come to you. It's the only way not to displease him."

"Regardless, I want to meet him," I said, standing my ground. "He has to answer for this."

"Um, we hate to disagree with you, but no. No, he really doesn't," said Spot. "Sykes Silvervest can get away with anything. He's too powerful."

"So powerful that he doesn't have the balls to tell me who he is while demanding tribute from me?" I retorted.

That seemed to stump them for a while. Again, I had a feeling that they weren't exactly all that bright. Finally, Rover spoke up.

"I'll speak to him," he said. "If he wants to grant you an audience, then he'll do so. If he doesn't, then he doesn't. Come back tomorrow, and we'll tell you how it went."

I wasn't sure about this, but really, I didn't have many other options at this point.

"Alright, fair enough," I said. "I think that's all for now."

"Thank you, po— Ms. Star," said Rover with a bow. "Fido, show her back to the surface."

"Yessir," said Fido with a salute.

As we made our way back, I continued to reflect on what these Diamond Dogs just told me. I still didn't trust them, but by this point, these pathetic schmucks couldn't possibly be the culprits I was looking for. Apparently, it was this Sykes Silvervest guy, whoever he was. And to be honest, I couldn't be sure it was him, either. For all I knew, Rover could've been exaggerating his power because of the debt he owes. So really, I was an inch away from being back at Square One.

The hardest part, of course, was going to be sharing this information with Dinky. I still didn't want to rope her into this, but after making that Pinkie Promise, I had no choice. Well, there was still some time before lunch. Hopefully, I could get some more answers before then. But the way things were going, I had a bad feeling that was just wishful thinking.