• 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.

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Dragons 101

July 11, 11:03 AM
Ponyville
Carousel Boutique
***

What can I say about Carousel Boutique? You know, without sounding like I'm blatantly promoting Rarity's business. Trust me, that's not an easy thing to do. I hesitate to say that this is what put Ponyville on the map because I can't possibly credit Carousel Boutique alone. However, this is a place where even the stuffiest of Canterlot nobles get their garments from. And really, they have good taste. If you see a dress made by Rarity, you know right away that it's nothing short of a work of art. In fact, I can't picture buying clothes from anywhere else. Although, that's mainly because I'm not exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to clothes shopping in Ponyville. I guess you could say I lucked out on that front.

As I mentioned before, one thing that makes Rarity's designs special is her use of raw gems. Yeah, you heard me right. None of the gems in her clothes have been treated in any way, shape, or form, and yet they still look gorgeous. Also, as you're no doubt aware, she hunts from them herself, so she actually can charge a lot less than big-time manufactures do. And take a wild guess where she usually hunts for them. That's right, the northern timberline of the Everfree Forest. And if Dinky's hunch was correct, that meant she probably knew something about what happened to Derpy the day before.

When I got to the boutique, I saw through the open windows that there didn't seem to be anypony inside. Of course, that didn't mean that Rarity wasn't there. Most likely, she was upstairs working on a new creation, or in the back doing laundry. Yeah, did I mention that Carousel Boutique also doubles as Rarity's house? I'm not sure why she decided to do that, but hey, it's not the weirdest thing I've seen in this town.

Seeing that she wasn't manning the store, I rang the doorbell. A few seconds later, Rarity opened the door.

"Oh, Sparkler. What a pleasant surprise," she said sweetly. "I do apologize, darling, but the boutique is not open for business right now."

"That's alright. I'm not here to buy anything," I said. "I just thought I'd drop by and say hello."

"Oh," said Rarity. "Well, that's quite neighborly of you, Sparkler. To what do I owe the pleasure?"

I, didn't know how to answer that question. Not only was I trying not to arouse her suspicion, but I didn't want to freak her out, either. She actually has a reputation around here for being the Drama Queen of Ponyville. If something is causing her distress, the whole flipping town knows it. As far as I knew, this mystery was only affecting me, my family, and my employer. And I was planning to keep it that way.

"Um, no reason, really," I said with a shrug. "I mean, I've got nothing doing right now, so..."

Rarity pursed her lips and stroked her chin for a moment. "Well, I was just about to fix myself a small brunch, and I hate eating alone," she said. "Would you care to join me, darling?"

"Um, are you sure I'm not imposing?" I asked.

"Oh, don't be silly, Sparkler. We're practically business partners," said Rarity with a laugh. "I'm actually surprised you haven't dropped by before."

I gave an awkward laugh of my own. "Yeah, well. I've just been rather, busy," I said.

"Of course, of course," said Rarity. "Well, don't just stand there, darling. Come in, come in!"

Honestly, that was a lot easier than I anticipated. "W-well, thank you. Thank you very much," I said as she led me inside.

"I, uh, heard about what happened at the jewelry store from the Mayor," said Rarity, giving me a concerned look. "I'm, terribly sorry about that. Are you alright?"

"I'll be fine," I said. "We should have enough funds to make repairs, and nothing was taken. It's not as bad as it could've been."

"Thank Celestia for small favors, I suppose," said Rarity with a smile. "Well, you let Karat know that if you need anything, I'll be more than happy to help."

I sighed. "Rarity, I couldn't ask that of you."

"Oh, pish posh. It would be no trouble at all, darling," said Rarity with a dismissive wave of her hoof.

"Thank you, Rarity. But I think we'll manage," I said.

"Of course," said Rarity. "Well, just know that the offer's still on the table."

"Right," I said. We then made our way to the kitchen, where Rarity had already prepared some cucumber sandwiches and a pot of tea.

"Just have a seat, darling," said Rarity, taking another plate, teacup, and saucer from the pantry.

"Uh, thank you," I said as I did so. I then watched as Rarity set the silverware in front of me and poured me some tea.

"Sugar?" Rarity asked.

"Yes, please. Two lumps," I said. "I'll stir it myself, thanks."

Rarity nodded, and plopped two lumps of sugar into my tea. Using my own magic, I levitated the small stirring spoon on the table and idly stirred the sugar in. After a pause, I cleared my throat.

"So, Rarity. You planning on doing any gem hunting today?" I asked.

Rarity sighed. "Alas, no. Well, I was, but something came up," she said as she set a few cucumber sandwiches in front of me. "It's a shame, too. I was planning on taking Sweetie Belle to help me. She's been so eager to spend time with me, and I really feel bad for letting her down."

That matched the information Dinky got from Sweetie Belle to a T. There was no doubt in my mind at that point: Rarity definitely knew something. I decided to press her for more information.

"What came up?" I inquired.

"It's, a bit difficult to explain," said Rarity, sitting down across from me and taking a sip of her tea. "See, I couldn't in good conscience take Sweetie Belle on a gem hunting expedition right now. It's far too dangerous."

I raised an eyebrow. "Isn't it always dangerous? I mean, this is the northern timberline of the Everfree Forest we're talking about here. Not to mention the Diamond Dogs you have to contend with."

"Oh, those ruffians don't bother me," said Rarity with a giggle. "They know better."

I then remembered what the Diamond Dogs said about a pony they tried to make into their workhorse, but only ended up driving them nuts. I had a pretty good feeling that Rarity was the pony they were referring to, seeing as she's probably one of the only ponies who hunts for gems in that region. At least, she's the only one who's so good at it that it would get their attention.

"Huh. You don't say," I said, taking a nibble out of my sandwich. "So, if it's not the Diamond Dogs you're worried about, then what is it?"

Rarity's face darkened. "Are you sure you want me to tell you, darling? I'm all for morbid curiosity and gossip, but I certainly wouldn't want to raise a panic."

This coming from the pony who screams at the top of her lungs when she loses a ribbon. Then again, I can't remember the last time Rarity's melodrama ever caused a panic.

"I won't tell anypony unless I have to," I said. "Promise."

"Thank you," said Rarity, dipping her voice. "Anyway, the thing I'm worried about is, dragons."

I had to stop myself from doing a spit take. What was Rarity talking about? I was at the northern timberline not two hours ago, and I didn't see any dragons.

"Um, dragons?" I parroted after swallowing my tea.

"Yes, darling. Apparently, there's a whole bunch of them in the mountains," said Rarity.

"How do you know that?" I inquired.

"Well, it happened yesterday after I had concluded my gem hunting expedition," said Rarity. "Spike and I were getting ready to leave when we saw a large group of shadows passing by overhead. It was indeed a group of dragons, but they didn't seem to notice us. So, I paid it no mind until this morning, when Derpy was delivering a package for me."

"What do you mean?"

"I noticed that she had quite a few unsightly burn marks on her coat," said Rarity. "When I asked if she was alright, she simply told me not to worry about it; that it was just an accident from yesterday."

"That sounds like my mom, alright," I said with a sigh. "So, you think it was a dragon that attacked her?"

"I've seen dragon fire burn things before, darling. Those marks could only have been caused by a dragon," said Rarity.

I wasn't going to doubt Rarity on that. Part of what makes her a great fashion designer is her attention to detail. This is the kind of thing she could pick up on easily. So, maybe Dinky's theory was correct. Maybe the culprit was a dragon. But, that still didn't answer all the questions nagging at me.

"Why weren't you concerned about the dragons when you first saw them?" I asked.

"I happen to know from Spike that there are some dragons that live in the Everfree Forest," said Rarity. "Such a sight is not uncommon."

Just then, the doorbell rang.

"Oh, speaking of Spike, that must be him now," said Rarity. "Please excuse me for a moment, darling."

"Oh, sure. Take your time," I said. Well, this was certainly lucky. Not only did I manage to get some helpful information from Rarity, but now I had a chance to ask Spike a few questions, too. I really felt like I was making some progress. Not a lot of progress, but it was certainly better than nothing.

A few moments later, Rarity returned. Sure enough, Spike was right by her side.

"Hey, Sparkler," said Spike with a wave. "Rarity told me you were just dropping by for a visit."

"Yeah, well. I didn't have much else to do today," I said with a shrug. "What brings you here?"

"I was planning on having brunch with Spike here before you came along," said Rarity. "It's alright, darling. You can still join us."

"Um, thank you," I said as Spike hopped up onto a chair and took out an assortment of gemstones. He seemed to be a bit disappointed (I'm guessing it had to do with me), but he didn't voice it.

"Anyway, Sparkler and I were just talking about the dragons that have made their home near the northern timberline," said Rarity.

"Oh, those guys? What about 'em?" asked Spike.

I sighed. "We, kinda think that they attacked my mom yesterday."

Spike's eyes went wide. "For real?! But why?"

"Well, did you see her coat this morning? It was a disaster!" Rarity said melodramatically. "She had those grotesque burn marks, and those could've only been caused by a dragon!"

Spike snorted. "I bet it was a bunch of teenage dragons pulling some mean prank."

"Teenage dragons?" I asked.

"Yeah. Bunch of no-good jerks," Spike growled. "See, baby dragons can't fly, and full-grown dragons usually keep to themselves unless they're provoked. Only teenage dragons would stir up trouble just for kicks."

"And you know this, how?" I inquired.

"It's a long story," said Spike, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. "All you need to know is that I will never be like them. I swear on my honor as a noble dragon."

"Well, that takes a load off of my mind, I guess," I said with a shrug. I took a moment to try and piece this together. I now had another suspect: A group of rowdy teenage dragons pulling a prank on me. If that was the case, it would certainly answer a lot of questions, such as why the ransom note made no sense. But, was that really what was happening? I still thought back to the attack on the jewelry store. No gems were missing, nopony saw these dragons wrecking the place, and there was still the matter of the Diamond Dog collar found at the scene of the crime. Not to mention the fact that these dragons apparently knew who I was. I still couldn't draw any conclusions yet. I needed more information.

"Actually, I was passing through the northern timberline this morning to kinda clear my head," I said. "I didn't see any dragons while I was there."

"Yeah, we were pretty surprised when we saw 'em, too," said Spike. "It's not often that ponies get to see a dragon, after all. Well, a grown dragon, I mean."

"But still, I'm surprised they ignored you," I said. "Weren't you carrying a wagon full of gems?"

Spike furrowed his brow. "Huh. That is weird," he mused. "I guess Rarity and I just got lucky."

That was very likely, but something in my gut told me that it wasn't that simple. After all, nothing else in the mystery was simple; why the heck should it start now? It was time to get some more sleuthing done.

"Well, I'd better get going," I said, finishing off my tea. "I don't want to take up any more of your time. Thank you again for letting me have brunch with you, Rarity."

"You're very welcome, Sparkler. Feel free to drop in anytime," said Rarity. "And give your mother my well wishes, would you?"

"I'll be sure to do that," I said. "Seeya 'round, Rarity. Bye, Spike. It was nice talking to you two."

"Yeah, seeya," said Spike.

With that, I took my leave. With no other course of action, I decided to go back to the northern timberline one last time. If there really were dragons lurking around in that area, I wanted to see 'em with my own two eyes.

...

No, I wasn't planning on confronting them like I did the Diamond Dogs. I'm not an idiot, y'know. It's just that all of the evidence I had at that point was severely lacking, and I had to take what I could get.