• Published 24th Mar 2015
  • 326 Views, 20 Comments

Manehattan Takes Rarity - NeuroSparkle

When the Pony Everypony Should Know is found shot in a back alley, it's up to Beckett and Castle to solve the case.

  • ...

Chapter 3

When Castle finally arrived at his apartment, he decided to do his best to sneak into his office past his mother to ensure that she wouldn't come up with any ideas of involving him in her class, and lock himself up for the rest of the evening to work on the chapter of the upcoming Nikki Heat novel he was expected to hoof in. It was rather early; he generally tended to stay at the Precinct late, depending on how intense the investigation was, but that day he managed to be home even before Alexis, who was still out with a couple of friends. It was to his great annoyance when the first step of this plan failed.

“Oh, Richard,” the writer's ever vigilant parent exclaimed upon his entrance, despite being occupied with the class.

“Mother, may I ask you why this needs to happen in my living room again? Especially at such ungodly times,” he complained, slightly frowning.

“This performance calls for something personal,” she replied, “plus, who knew you were going be to home this early.”

“Early, mother? It's 7 PM, the least one would expect is some peace and quiet in one's very own home.”

“Why are you here, anyway? Easy case?” At this point, the two were surrounded by a dozen other ponies who were staring at Castle. He wasn't one to be dismayed by attention, but right now, it was getting the better of him.

“Let's just say that some of us had other plans for tonight instead of working ponycide,” he stated rather formally. It didn't take his mother long to catch the hidden message.

“I'm so sorry, darling,” she said, with genuine compassion in her tone.

“It's okay. Now if I could proceed...” With these words, he shoved a (rather pretty, but that is beside the point) purple coated mare aside and marched to his own personal working place. He slammed the door behind him and took a moment to appreciate how he didn't have to review Martha's class' art. Then the novelist layed down on his comfortable couch and, sinking into the soft cotton, levitated his laptop upon the desk in front of him, happy to finally commence typing.

Or rather, he intended to do so. The words just wouldn’t appear in his mind, that is, nothing he considered worthy of noting down. Castle admitted to himself that he didn’t even truly feel like trying right now, thus he trailed off into deeper thoughts, about the case, Beckett and other similarly existential topics. It was when the screen somewhere in the corner of his vision started flashing with the sequence of words he hated the most, “You should be writing”, a screensaver he regretted establishing every time it deployed, that he completely gave up on the idea of creating anything productive this evening. ‘How very ironic,’ he thought, commending himself on the flawless use of the word. Surrendering his mind to a natural stream of contemplation, his weariness, which accumulated throughout the day, took over. Not even relocating himself somewhere off the couch, the writer finally gave in to his desire to suspend his tired consciousness.


Castle opened his eyes. At first, everything appeared to be just as black as it was before, then he suddenly began to recognise the shapes of familiar objects. It was now that he noticed that it was explosive gusts of icy wind that woke him up. The writer cringed. What inconvenient circumstances to rise from his well-deserved nap. His trusty couch was located in the middle of a dark alley in the shady districts of Manehattan, one that seemed vaguely familiar at that. As if all that wasn't enough to displease Castle, large raindrops began falling from the black skies. There was no light except the pale glow that a huge, rising moon, wrapped in gentle blue mists, radiated.

Castle was taken by surprise by the sounds of hooves pacing down the pavement. The unicorn raised an ear, trying to place the strange noises that the steps were accompanied by and it dawned on him that whatever pony was headed towards him was pulling a carriage. There it appeared, a huge dark bulk, at the other end of the alley, blocking most of the scarce light. The writer cowered upon the cotton surface, hoping with all his mind and praying to Celestia not be noticed — and it worked: the black clad pony, as well as the carriage, passed him by, almost touching his hooves, and stopped just a few metres further, at the end of the impasse. Now that the noise from the movement was finally silenced, he seemed to filter a different source of sound out of the night: faint music and voices from the windowless facade on the opposite side of the alley.

Castle focused upon the carriage again. The vehicle wasn’t inexpensive; the reflections in the obsidian varnish indicated that somepony was rather concerned about taking care of their ride. The side door opened, another black clad pony stepped out, but they were dragging something behind them — or rather, somepony.

Castle felt a massive urge to jump up from his point of observation and scream, do something, as he saw the numb body of the gorgeous, white unicorn being pulled out of the carriage similar to the rubbish bags that it was placed among, but he couldn’t. One of the ponies raised a gun in their mouth and pulled the trigger. Twice. Only a quiet noise, almost swallowed by the wall of sound from the opposing building, was heard. The silencer did its work. Seconds later, the carriage was already on its way out of the dead end, soon to disappear around the corner and never to be seen again.

In his desperation Castle didn't even consider examining the victim of the murder he just witnessed. He finally jumped up, and he ran for the light — in this case, it meant the end of the alley. Reaching it, the writer stopped, panting, and gazed up to the moon. Something was changing about its surface: its thin, foggy veil seemed to create a picture, a mare's head, as Castle identified it.

As his gaze finally loosened from this lunar image, he noticed surroundings that he had not previously perceived at all. The alley behind him seemed all black now; instead, he stood on an empty street, one side of which was facing the river, the other dead facades. There, by the only street light, on the other side of the road, he saw someone sitting on a bench. Castle stumbled a few steps towards it, then finally sat down besides the mysterious mare. Her jacket's raised collar and fedora did a good job at concealing her identity. The mare must have noticed that Castle was staring at her, because her hat magically floated up and relocated, releasing her dark blue, sparkly mane to flow into the cold wind and exposing her face.

“Princess Luna?!” The intricate construct of emotions he had been experiencing until now was entirely replaced by uttermost surprise.

“It's nice to meet you, too, Mr Castle,” she replied with a grin.

“I'm sorry, Princess, I just... wasn't expecting this,” he stuttered. Luna sighed in return.

“Whatever I do, my subjects still keep forgetting about me, don't they. I am the Princess of the Night; It is my duty to watch over dreams.”

“Does that mean this is a dream?” He paused. “I'm legitimately having a Princess appear in my very own dream, how cool is that!” He cleared his throat, noticing Luna's silently judging glance. “Excuse me, Princess.”

“Oh, call me Luna,” she replied, “this is a rather personal environment after all, isn't it?” The writer nodded in acknowledgement, then another idea hit his mind.

“I read somewhere that upon realising that you're dreaming while in a dream, it automatically becomes lucid. Does that mean that if I imagine the rain to stop and a hot coffee...”

“Don't bother, Castle,” the Princess replied with a smile. “I'm the only one who has admin rights here, but I think your requests are manageable.” The rain did miraculously cease and two paper cups with steaming coffee, glowing with a pale blue from being levitated with Luna's magic, materialised in front of them. In addition, Castle's clothes suddenly felt dry again.

“You are too generous, Luna,” he noted, thanking her. At this point, his curiosity regarding as to why this was happening finally took over. “But, may I ask just why you decided to visit me in particular? There must have been some reason.”

“No, why, I just felt like chatting with somepony,” she answered, taking a sip from the coffee cup. “These nights can be so long and lonely at times, it's simply awful. And the folks at the Canterlot Castle are so dull, especially those morons from the Royal Guard who are the only ones up at this time of day.” The writer was still rather perplexed, having a hard time believing this explanation.

“But surely I’m not the most interesting person you could think of, now am I? Somepony as regal as you...”

“You're the Manehattan Times' Most Desirable Bachelor #7, you can't be too boring,” the Princess replied. “The other ones were all rather witless I confess, but if your books give any insight on your personality, this might be rather... fun!” she then added, with a genuinely amused smile.

“Just, let me clarify this for a second: you went through the entire list?”

“Oh, I see I'm being judged,” she replied, switching to a theatrically sulking pose.

“It's not that,” Castle said, slowly, “but I almost hoped you could help me with something...”

“Anything, for a well-mannered young stallion like you,” the deep blue Alicorn replied, finally tossing aside the paper cup.

“You see, before you appeared, I dreamt about a murder I'm currently working on.”

“Oh, I saw that. Very fascinating! I even tried matching my attire, but I'm not sure if I can pull off the 40's PI look,” she said, looking down at her jacket and flapping her wings a few times to adjust the clothes.

“That compliments you perfectly, by the way,” the writer noted.

“You're too sweet,” she smirked.

“The thing is,” he continued, “that it's about a Miss Rarity. Your sister thinks that she was vital for homeland security.” Luna's eyes widened at first, then she looked away.

“I didn’t realise you were working this case. Yes, I knew Rarity. Pretty, smart girl. But I'm afraid I mustn't tell you just why she is so important. It really kills the romantic moment, I know.”

“There's something else you could do, though,” Castle said, praying that the Princess would agree to do him this favour. “Whoever killed her, or was differently involved, might still be haunted by the experience in their dreams. Knowing just what those dreams are about could provide vital information to the case.”

“That's really the least I can do for her, isn't it,” Luna replied. “I'll just disregard the fact this is warrantless and unauthorised abuse of state resources and invasion of privacy.” She disappeared with a flash, only to rematerialise a few metres away seconds later.

“Did you catch something?” Castle's anticipation peaked.

“Even better, dear, I can get you a visual.”

A flash of light later, Castle found himself in a dark alley once again. This time, he was cowering behind a dumpster. Princess Luna was right beside him.

“This is someone else's dream, I'm leaving it unaltered,” Luna whispered, seemingly reading Castle's thoughts on how a change of scenery would be rather welcome. “Look there!”

Castle saw three figures walk along the street, one of which seemed to be carrying a rather large bag. The faces were entirely concealed by a variety of hoods and scarves.

“What is this, an exchange of some sort?”

“I don't have a slightest idea. But I'd love to get a glance of who these ponies are.” Castle soon found out that no movement on his part was necessary. He saw the bag being given from one pony to another. Then a lot of things happened all at once.

The ground seemed to tilt by some 50 degrees, the ponies were somehow struggling, he saw one of them gallop past, in a way that threw the hood of his head, shots were fired. Then, a black void took place of everything surrounding Caste and the Princess.

“He woke up,” Luna explained.

“That's perfectly fine,” Castle said, with a content grin, “because I saw who that pony was who tried running off.”

“Well, glad to see I was any help,” the Princess said, not without a note of melancholy in her voice, “you guys go get whoever did that. In the meantime,” she lowered her head and shook off the hat and jacket, “I'll just leave I suppose.” Castle caught the fedora, which was now aimlessly floating through space, and placed it back on Luna's head.

“Since you helped me out so much, the least I can do is offer you a drink inside a dream, right?”

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