• Published 1st Jan 2014
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Stormsinger - Airstream

After four hundred and fifty years of uneasy peace, the balance of power in Equestria has shifted.

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In Which Bad Decisions Are Made

The tunnels in use by the West River Gang were well-equipped, as far as hideouts went. The facilities manned by the outlaws and their families included a recreational center in which friendly games of chess, dice, and other such activities could be performed, a small hospital manned by a really rather friendly Changeling who was loved by all and thus never charged for her services, and an armory in which several very illegal weapons were kept, such as demon glasses, fire wands, and thrall collars. However, the biggest draw in the West River Gang was also the one that cost ponies the most. It was run by an old mare named Sugar Spoon, who nominally owned a bar, and it was the downfall of many a hardworking pony. It was known simply as the Den, and it specialized in more than alcohol.

It was towards this most dubious of establishments that Cobblestone was dragging herself, still upset over the dressing-down she had received from Chipped Bit earlier. By her side, as always, was Ivy, who had taken it upon herself to chaperone her friend and mentor through the inevitable bender that was soon to come.

“It’s not like I don’t bring in more each time!” Cobblestone ranted, her temper running away with her common sense. “But each time it looks like I’ll be able to start putting money aside, he raises his damn cut again! Pretty soon I’ll have nothing to spend on food!”

Ivy rolled her eyes. “Maybe if you didn’t spend so much at the Den, we wouldn’t be having this conversation?” she suggested gently. “You’re almost free of debt. Just give over the last payment you have, and you’re good to go. Chitin would help you with cleaning up if you’d let her.” Chitin was the name of the Changeling.

The older unicorn snorted. “I told you, I’m fine. I can quit whenever I like, and I’ve got enough coin with me to have a good time tonight before getting back to work tomorrow.”

The duo rounded a corner, heading downward through an old storm drain that had not seen use in nearly fifty years. Though the drain itself was too small to house many, it served as an adequate antechamber to the actual living quarters that had been dug into one side of it. It was here that most of the criminals slept, in simple hammocks strung together from the ceiling, or cots clustered around the edges of the walls. What few possessions they had were kept in small footlockers, and they were often trapped to within an inch of their lives to protect their contents.

“And besides, it’s not like I can’t function while I’m on Dragon’s Kiss.” Cobblestone said. “It just makes me think faster, is all. I can calm down better while I’m on it.”

Ivy shook her head. “I don’t know, Cob. That stuff can’t be good for you.”

Cobblestone groaned. “Will you relax? I’m fine, really.” Her horn sparked with a pale blue light, and the chest near her cot clicked open. Had anypony else tried to open it, they would have been on the receiving end of an unpleasant amount of electricity. She withdrew a small stash of coinage from within, and added her recent haul to it before unfastening her cloak, folding it neatly before setting it inside the near-empty box. She shook the coin pouch and smiled at Ivy. “If you’re going to come with me, I wouldn’t mind the company. I’ll even buy you a drink.”

“That go for me, too?” a voice called out, before a young Pegasus flipped out of his hammock, landing on all four hooves with a graceful click. He grinned roguishly, flicking a lock of black mane out of his eyes. “Please say yes, Cob. I’ve been up top all night, and I’m parched.”

Cob snorted. “No free rides, Lucky. I owe Ivy for services rendered.”

The Pegasus clutched at his chest, grimacing in mock pain. “That hurts, Cob. Here I thought we were friends, too. I’m pretty sure that we’ve worked together enough that you wouldn’t begrudge an old friend a drink?”

“Look at you, using big words like ‘begrudge’. Where’d you learn that, the Collegia?” Ivy asked dryly.

“I could very well ask you the same, little Miss Runaway.” Lucky shot back, his grin widening. “Awfully full of yourself for somepony who’s been at this for less than a year.” He hopped a bit closer, putting a wing around her. “Of course, if you wanted, and asked nicely, I could give you some ‘extra lessons’. What do you say? Eyah?”

“Nayeh.” Ivy replied coolly. Lucky’s reputation as a flirt was all too well known. “Go chase somepony else’s tail.”

“Fine by me.” Lucky said with a pout. He waggled his eyebrows at Cobblestone. “What do you say, Cob? Up for a bit of fun?”

Cobblestone laughed. “As if, Lucky. Unless you think you can keep up with me in the Den. Bring your own coin.”

The Pegasus’s wings fluttered in a distracting manner, and as if by magic, Lucky produced a pouch similar to Cobblestone’s own. “Alright, then. But isn’t it a bit early in the day to be drinking?”

Cobblestone smirked, turning around. Not entirely by accident, the end of her tail flicked him on the nose. “Firstly, I’ve been up for fourteen hours. I’m ready for a drink. Secondly, it’s not just a drink I’m after.”

Lucky’s eyes widened, and he nodded understandingly. “Well, it’s not my regular, but I’m not exactly adverse to a bit of Kiss. That’s just me, though.” He eyed Ivy. “And what about yourself? Are you going to be throwing away your money like the rest of us?”

Ivy sniffed primly. “Of course not. I’m here to make sure Cob doesn’t get into too much trouble.”

“Good to know I have somepony watching out for me, then.” Lucky smirked.

Ivy cuffed him on the back of the head, not too gently. “Did I say anything about you?”

“Oyeh!” Cobblestone called from the doorway. “You two coming, or what?”

As the two ran to catch up with her, Ivy gave the room a final look. For some reason she couldn’t quite place, she had the feeling that it would be the last time she would see it in such a fashion again.

The Den was nothing if not cozy. The air was redolent with the scent of tobacco and opium, soothing away the troubles of every wretched soul that wandered into its seedy clutches. Laughter was common here, both the bright laughter of drunkards and the soft chuckling of those who were lost in their own drugged haze. Brightly colored tapestries hung on the walls, taking the edge off of the damp and allowing heat to build up inside the room. A long bar took up one wall, with tables scattered around the floor, their seats nearly all taken despite the “early” hour. In another corner, there lay piles of stained cushions and ratty blankets on top of which were sprawled the lonely dozers, lost in their own dreams.

Sugar Spoon offered anything that could be gotten in Crescent City, legally or illegally. Her walls were lined with the best and worst liquors, from rum to absinthe to the worst of rotgut moonshine. She even managed to get ahold of Apple Family Cider, despite the prohibitively high cost of importing the stuff. Of course, this expense was reflected in the cost of each drink. But it wasn’t just alcohol she served, as evidenced by her more relaxed customers. Many an hour was spent in her bar, as ponies paid exorbitant amounts for her wide variety of narcotics, hallucinogens, and opiates. The most popular of these was Dragon’s Kiss, and it was this foul brew that Cobblestone enjoyed the most, and had been enjoying for the past hour.

“Ivy, you still there?” Cob asked, blinking blearily.

The younger unicorn nodded patiently. “Still here, Cob. Are you alright?”

Cobblestone smiled groggily. “I’m fine. I can see all sorts of stuff, Ivy. I can see the magic coming off your horn, did you know that?”

The effects of Kiss were well known to Ivy. It accelerated the mental processes at the cost of reaction time, making everything appear to be moving at a fraction of the speed it actually was. In addition to this, it had an odd effect on unicorns. Attached as they were to magic, in high enough doses, it gave them the ability to see magic like never before. The magic inherent in enchanted items, the magic thrumming through sacred groves, the magic rolling underneath them as Earth ponies tilled the fields, or soaring above them with the Pegasi. The colors were said to be spectacular.

Lucky grinned. Though he was not able to see the magic Cobblestone could, he enjoyed the occasional cup of the bitter tea himself along with his drinks. However, he was nowhere near as inebriated as Cobblestone was, and as such was able to handle himself better. “I think she’s had enough, Ivy.” He said, looking at his companion with some concern.

Ivy nodded in agreement. “I think so too.”

Cobblestone waved them both away roughly. “I’m fine, I’m fine. I can do one more.”

Lucky shook his head, looking at the empty purse on the table next to her. “No you can’t, Cob. You’re just about to pass out, and you’re out of money.”

“Already?” Cob asked muzzily. “Could have sworn we’ve only been here an hour.”

Ivy snorted. “We’ve been at this table for nearly three hours, Cob. You’ve been incoherent for two of them.”

Cobblestone groaned. “Again? Shit.”

Lucky waved over the proprietor. Sugar Spoon began to clear away the cups as the duo lifted Cobblestone up, supporting her weight on top of them as they lurched for the exit. As they walked, Cobblestone kept talking. “Y’know, you’re a good kid, Ivy.”

“I’m only a year younger than you, Cobblestone.” Ivy replied wearily. “Don’t call me kid.”

“You’re too good for this.” Cobblestone said. “Why are ya’ here? What’s so bad at home that you couldn’t have just stayed there?”

Ivy was silent for a while. And then she spoke. “It’s complicated. You wouldn’t understand.”

Cob shook her head weakly. “Don’t give me that. You got a family, which is a damn sight more than most of us got. I’d love to have a family, parents to look up to, a sister to look after.”

Lucky grimaced. “Careful, Cob. You’re starting to sound sentimental.”

Ivy said nothing as Cobblestone thought. Finally, the thief reached a conclusion. “If I had the money, I’d run off. Try my hoof at somethin’ different. Maybe…maybe I could stop taking the Kiss.”

The younger unicorn looked at her mentor strangely. “Do you really mean that? Would you leave like that?”

Cobblestone shrugged. “Maybe. But we’d need money. Somethin’ big to tide us over until we could figure out what to do, where to go.” She broke off, seemingly fascinated with the sound enchantments in the corridor, which dampened noise.

Lucky snorted derisively. “Come off it, Cob. What would you possibly do? Where would you go?”

Cobblestone was lost in her own world. “Go to Starfall, maybe. Get a job there, learn a trade. Buy a house. Have friends instead of acquaintances.” Her head lurched, and she almost retched before forcing it back down. “Be something good, not bad.”

“But you’d need money first.” Ivy said. “Something big.”

Cobblestone nodded. “You and me, kid. Shit, we could even take Lucky. If he wants to come.”

Lucky contemplated this. He shared Cobblestone’s mindset about wanting to go his own way. Most of the gang’s pickpockets and house thieves were children, the small ones who could reach tight places. Pretty soon, he’d need to find new work. Not that he couldn’t find it, the gang was always in need of muscle, or smugglers, or any other number of jobs that would have him knifed inside of five years. He was a bit better off than Cobblestone in that he wouldn’t be forced into anything, but he only had so much time before he would need to make a choice, or leave the gang entirely.

It was a hard thing, though, to leave this place. He had been here since he was eight, and Cob for even longer. This was the closest thing to a home either of them had, the closest thing to a family they were ever likely to get. It may have been horrible, and they may have been scum, but at least here, they knew ponies, could expect a friendly smile every once and a while, could know where they were going to sleep that night. Leaving the gang gave all of that up. And once they left, they were gone for good. There was no coming back.

Cobblestone moaned. “I feel like I’m about to pass out. Are we close to the rooms?”

Ivy looked at Lucky. An understanding was reached. They would be talking later. “Yes, we’re almost there, Cobblestone. In fact, we’ve just arrived, see?”

The duo helped Cob into bed. As her eyes fluttered closed, Cob looked at them both. “Hey? Ivy, Lucky?”

They both looked at her. “Yeah, Cob?” Lucky asked.

“What I said earlier? I meant it.” Cobblestone said. “I want out. We need to find a mark first. But I want out, and soon.”

Ivy nodded, tucking in her friend, who was lost to incoherence. “Alright, Cob. We’ll talk about it more later.”

As her two companions left her to sleep, Cobblestone began to drift away. Soon enough, she was drifting in a drugged stupor, and outside in the corridor, her two companions were talking.

Lucky blew air out through his nose. They spoke quietly. “So,” he said. “What do you think?”

Ivy shook her head. “I’m not good enough at this to make a choice. Is what she says reasonable? I always thought that, well…”

“There was no way out of the gang?” Lucky asked.

Ivy gave a quick, jerky nod. “It just doesn’t seem like a good idea. Wouldn’t Chip get angry?”

“Chip’s smart. He knows that he can’t con a con artist, or steal from a thief, unless they let him. Being in the gang has benefits. Security, resources, all that. Anypony unhappy with the way he does things can leave. Most are content enough to stay, so they do. Easy enough to let the troublemakers sort themselves out elsewhere.”

Ivy thought about it. “So what kind of haul would we be looking at?”

“A huge one.” Lucky said. “And that means dangerous stuff. Breaking into a house, not waking up the occupants, and taking a serious amount of wealth. You’d need three ponies at least, lucky for us. One lookout to give a signal if it looks like something’s going to go wrong, and two to do the actual stealing. Some stuff is heavy, you know.”

Ivy leaned back against the wall. “What kind of place would we need to hit?”

“Either one of the big houses on the other side of the river, or one of the businesses there. There are a couple places that could prove to be beneficial. The only problem is territory.” Lucky said quietly. “Across the river, our gang has no turf. Plus the constables are up there in force, which makes things more difficult. If we get caught up there, either by them or another gang, we shouldn’t expect any help. Hope for constables, if that’s the case. We’ll get sent to a state house, and then an indentured contract after. Other gangs will kill us all, and take their sweet time.”

“Don’t get caught, then.” Ivy said. “Good to know.”

Lucky stretched, rolling his shoulders with an audible popping noise before flexing his wings. “I think we should get started right away,” he said, peering into the room where Cobblestone slept. “After all, there’s no telling what could happen in the next few days, let alone weeks. The sooner I can pick a target and get us out of here, the happier we’ll be.”

Ivy nodded. “I’ll stop by the Den and pick up some things like bread and a few traveling flasks. Hopefully, Cobblestone will be ready to go by the time you’re back. How long will it take you to find a place for us?”

Lucky gave her his best smile, all cockiness and reassurance. “Why do you think they call me Lucky? I’ll be back by nightfall. And I’ll have the perfect place for us to case.”

Serale shifted uncomfortably under the illusion Libra had cast on her before they had stepped off of the ship’s boat. The feeling of magic against her skin, cool and shimmering like a second skin made of water, drove her half-insane. She could almost feel it seeping into her, there to be used but unreachable. Plus, it gave her the chills, and the weather was already turning cold. She drew the coat closer about her. It had been a gift from the Khan of the Minotaurs, lined on the inside with seal fur and warmer than anything she had ever worn before.

“Penny for your thoughts, Serale?” Libra asked, as they moved through the crowd.

Serale glared at her. “I thought we agreed not to use my name while we’re out here?”

Libra waved an airy hoof. “Plenty of ponies named their children after the daughter of Lady Everstar. Relax.”

Serale forced herself to do so. She was used to being in a controlled environment, even during her voyage the atmosphere on the ship had been one of gentle deference to her wishes. To be on her own with nothing more than a chaperone, in the second biggest and most dangerous city in the Evening Kingdom, was a feeling both terrifying and intoxicating. She inhaled gently, taking in the smells of the city.

It was mostly putrid, the stench of filth and sweat and closeness that managed to pervade the air in every city, regardless of how clean its citizens managed to get it. But underneath the overlying stink of the place, one could smell the things Crescent City had to offer. Spices from the market two streets over, the scent of fresh bread from a bakery up the street, the odd hint of cologne or whiff of perfume from ponies passing by, there was a lot to take in.

“I was just thinking of how long it’s been since we’ve been here last.” Serale said. “I remember thinking when we arrived that this place was so much bigger, so much more alive than Starfall. But that’s not it at all. It’s just that it’s bigger than what I was used to.”

Libra nodded thoughtfully. “And now?” she asked. “After seeing different cities, and the way they were different?”

“It feels…smaller. Diminished, but familiar.” Serale said. “Like an old shirt that might be a bit too small for you, but you know how it should fit. It’s comforting, in a way.”

This garnered a smile from Libra. “Speaking of shirts and time, do you know what day it is?”

Serale shook her head, puzzled. “Not a clue. Mid-autumn, but that’s about it.”

Libra’s smile got wider. “It’s your birthday, dear. Your sixteenth, to be exact.”

This was certainly news to Serale. “Are you sure?”

“Absolutely, Serale. Today is the sixteenth anniversary of the day of your birth. I was reasonably sure before we left the boat, but I confirmed it with the captain before we left.” Libra nudged her gently. “So, from me to you, happy birthday.”

Serale grinned. “Thank you. Shall we celebrate?”

“How so?”

Serale indicated a bakery. “I’ve not had fresh bread in a while, and it looks like they just took something out of the oven. I’ve got money.”

Libra raised an eyebrow. “Paying on your birthday? I think not.” She withdrew her own purse, shaking it to gauge how much was inside. “Today, it is on me.”

Soon enough, the two of them were sitting outside, hot cups of tea in hoof and fresh sweetrolls in front of them. Serale sighed, sinking back into her chair. Blowing on her tea to cool it, she allowed her gaze to roam over the crowd, taking them all in. “You know, I’ve missed this.” she said, watching throngs of ponies lazily pass by.

Libra nodded. “It is nice, to be around new ponies after so long away. After so much time among the other races, it feels good to be home.”

Serale nibbled at her roll delicately before taking a sip of tea. “I’m sad to see the end of it.”

Libra tilted her head. “How do you mean?” she asked.

“Come off it, Libra.” Serale said. “As soon as I get back to Starfall, it’s going to be right back into the cage with me. I’ll be back on my own until I can come up with some other excuse to get out of the castle in a few years and go take a tour of someplace else. No more excursions, no more new faces, no more discoveries.” She laughed bitterly at the prospect of attending Court once again. “At least I know I can trust you, right? That’s one friend I’ll have in my mother’s house, busy though you’ll be. Aren’t you supposed to be taking an apprentice soon?”

Libra snorted. “Don’t remind me. Apprenticing the odious, entitled little brats the noble houses offer will be chore enough without having to dwell on it. They’re either incompetent or entitled or both, not an actual Mage in the lot of them.” As she said this, her voice took on that iron tone that Serale knew very well from years of watching her deal with supplicants in Court.

“Neither of us is looking forward to seeing the Evening Court again, are we?” Serale asked quietly.

Libra sighed. “We both have duties, child. And it is a sad thing, to see you unhappy to return home after so long away. Your mother will be there, isn’t that a good thing?”

Serale smiled sadly. “I suppose it is a comfort. I’m looking forward to hearing Mother’s voice again.” She turned to Libra, about to make some joke, but before she could, there was a commotion from the crowd.

“Stop! Thief!” a voice cried. A young colt, perhaps eight years old, was weaving precariously through the crowd, clutching an apple to his chest, his wings flapping frantically to garner lift for him to escape. Behind him was a burly stallion wearing an apron. He was gaining on him.

It was a matter of moments before he had caught up to the younger pony, catching him up in a terribly strong grasp. He ripped the apple from his grasp before tossing him to the cobblestones, where the young one landed in a heap. Snorting contemptuously, he aimed a well-placed kick into his ribs.

“Think you can steal from me, laddie? Think again!” he shouted. Another kick landed square in the gut of the young colt, who whimpered in pain. “I’ll teach you to try and take me livelihood away!”

Serale sighed, putting her cup down and getting to her hooves.

“Serale…” Libra said warningly, reaching out for her to sit down.

The young Lady paid her no mind, pushing through the crowd towards the space that had cleared. The stallion was continuing to hurl invective at the would-be miscreant, punctuating his tirade with the occasional blow. Making her way through the final ranks, she trotted over to the young colt, standing over him protectively. The stallion looked down at her contemptuously.

“What do you want, ye blithering idiot?” he asked her.

“Why are you beating this colt?” Serale demanded, keeping her voice level.

The stallion sneered. “Tryin’ to steal from me fruit stand, he was. That sort of behavior needs to be straightened out.”

Serale nodded. “I agree completely. But that’s a matter for the authorities, not yourself.”

This garnered a chuckle from the stallion, and a few snickers from the crowd. “Is that so, wee lass?” he inquired, bending over to meet her, eye to eye. “And if I decide to get in my own punishment, before yer ‘authorities’ arrive?”

The younger mare didn’t budge, meeting him unblinkingly. “Then, as dictated in the Equal Protection Act of 387 AE, I am within my rights to render any assistance necessary to preserve the well-being of this individual, so long as I do not infringe upon the rights of any witnesses to the action, up to and including involving them in the confrontation.”

The stallion blinked. “What?”

Serale rolled her eyes. “It means that if you don’t quit beating him, I stop you, so long as I don’t hurt anypony else. Got it?”

The stallion’s eyes widened, and then narrowed. “I’d like to see you try, lassie.”

Serale smiled. “I’d love to show you.” she replied. “Fortunately for both of us, the authorities have arrived.”

And she was right. Two constables in burgundy coats had arrived, batons at their side and peaked hats cocked to one side. The larger of the two, an Earth pony, glared at the scene in front of him.

“Right.” he said, taking it all in. “What’s all this, then?”

Serale smiled at him sweetly. “We were just resolving an issue, officer. The stallion seems to be a bit confused about payment. The young colt here didn’t have quite enough to cover his purchase, and left without realizing it. I was just about to offer enough to make of for the difference, plus a few extra, seeing as this fine gentlecolt has such excellent merchandise.” She turned the same smile on the stallion in the apron. “Isn’t that right?”

The stallion, nonplussed, tried to understand what was happening. A moment ago, he had been in control of the situation. He had been stolen from, and had attempted to redress the issue as best he could. Then, this mare had shown up, taken control away, and involved the authorities. Now he was being offered an opportunity to recoup his losses, plus extra, and get on with his day. Reluctantly, he arrived at the only conclusion he could.

“That about sums it up, officers.” he managed weakly. “She hit it on the head.”

The irony of this statement was not lost on Serale, who produced her money pouch, counting out a few coins. “Here, this should be enough to bring it up to a half dozen. And keep the change to smooth out the misunderstanding.”

The stallion’s eyes boggled at the amount, and he rushed back to his stand as the crowd dispersed to fill her order. Serale managed to catch the collar of the young colt, who had been slinking away.

“Not you,” she said, looking him in the eye. “You stay here.”

The stallion returned, a bag full of apples in hoof. He offered them to her. “Here you are, miss. Sorry about the misunderstanding.”

Serale nodded appreciatively. “You need to maintain a profit, I understand,” she said, smiling a bit. “But it’s not me you should be giving those to.” She indicated the colt. “They’re his fruit.”

The stallion’s smiled soured a bit, but he managed a bit of politeness as he handed the bag over to the young colt before returning to his stand. Crisis resolved, Serale turned to the smaller Pegasus, cradling the bag near her hooves.

“And what was that all about?” she demanded. “Stealing from an honest business owner, and one so much bigger than yourself. What could drive you to do something like that?”

The colt sniffed, looking up at her. “P-please, miss,” he sniveled, eyes watery and big. “It’s for my family at home. I’ve got a sister, and money’s tight, and…”

Serale rolled her eyes. “Don’t lie to me, I can see right through those. What’s your real story?”

The tears dried in an instant. The colt gave her a grin. “Fair enough, then. Food’s for me mates, back up the street. We’re cutting purses, but can’t stop for lunch, so I thought I’d swipe a few things to help keep our strength up.”

Serale sighed. “You know I could call the constables back, right?”

The Pegasus scoffed. “But you won’t, will you? You want to avoid them for some reason. You don’t want them poking at you too much, maybe you want to avoid being pinched for something?”

Serale found the cheek of the young stallion to be amusing, at least. “You’ve got me there. I’d tell you to not do it again, but I don’t hold out much hope, so I’m just going to go with this.” She tossed him the remainder of her coin, pouch and all. “Here, take an early day. And at least try to reconsider your life choices.”

“No can do, Miss. Got to eat to live, got to steal to eat. Otherwise we might get along, hey?” he said. “But you’ve done me and mine a favor, so I’ll do you one. I’ll let the others know about you, they’ll keep their hooves away from the rest of your valuables, at least for today. And you’ve got my thanks, miss.”

And with that, the young colt wove back through the crowd, vanishing into its tides with ease. Serale watched him go, shaking her head, before returning to her seat and picking up her tea. It had cooled to just the right temperature. She could feel the eyes of Libra burning into her from across the table, but ignored them for as long as she could. Finally, she could take it no longer. She looked up, meeting her companion and mentor’s eyes.

“Yes?” she inquired.

“I hope you realize that was foolish.” Libra said. “You could have been hurt, or discovered. And then I’d have to help you, and any hope of anonymity you would want to preserve would have disappeared like so much smoke.”

Serale took a bite of her roll before washing it down with more tea. “Hurt? Not likely. I’ve faced worse in the past year, and we both know it. Besides, I need to get back into practice for the Court. Thinking on my hooves will be essential.”

Libra sipped at her tea. “But that’s just it, Serale. You are a noble of the Court. And that was not thinking, that was throwing yourself into a situation and then bluffing your way back out of it. In the Court, that’s tantamount to suicide.” She took note of Serale’s disinterested gaze before making one last attempt to hammer some sense into her still-young charge. “At least consult with me before you go off like that again. Please?” she asked. “Let me help if it comes down to it.”

Serale sighed. “Fine. But for the rest of the day, you and I are going to not worry about the consequences. Time enough for that when we get back. Deal?”

Libra agreed without hesitation. “Deal.”

Lucky watched the pair in the café from his rooftop spot, and he knew he had his perfect mark. Anypony throwing money around like that was bound to have more of it, and lots of it. And they looked like travelers, though without being able to hear them he couldn’t be sure. Travelers meant easy to carry things, things both valuable and portable. And an inn was much easier to break into than a house.

The Pegasus nodded to himself, sure in his choice. These two were perfect. He’d follow them to where they were staying, and be back with plenty of time to get Cobblestone and Ivy and make the robbery. It was turning out to be a good day after all.

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