• Member Since 12th Nov, 2013
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Noble Thought


I sometimes pretend I have a posting schedule other than "sometime near the end of the week."

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A holiday mystery in Canterlot, unsolved for as long as anypony can remember, leads a teenaged Twilight to ask a simple question: Why steal cake?

As her favorite detective has discovered in every book of the Sable Sleuth series, it's often the simplest of questions that will lead a pony down unexpected paths. As Hearth's Warming Eve approaches, and the deadline for the next theft looms, will Twilight Sparkle be able to unravel the mystery behind the Cake Thief?

Cover Art by the talented Simbaro.
Editing by Minds Eye

Chapters (12)
Comments ( 72 )

... why is there no comedy tag for this?

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Because it's not a comedy. Despite the premise lending itself towards a comedic take, I promise this isn't one. There might be a joke here or there, but it's not the focus of the story.

Let's start somewhere in the middle. The rumor of a third slice being missing is completely true. Now, what does this mean? I say that it is the result of a change. It is natural to suspect that the number of stolen slices corresponds to the number of ponies benefiting from the theft. The question is, are they aware of the slices being stolen goods? Likewise, is the thief(es) one of the benefiters or a 3rd party?

The rules of a mystery novel say that the detective can't be the perpetrator. It seems as if this story follows this rule, since Twilight is genuinely not aware of the mystery before this story.

There is lots of potential ways for the story to go here. The blatantly obvious way is for it to be princess Celestia herself to be the thief. Yet, this does not on its own account for the number of stolen slices. If the theory of multiple benefiters is true, then who else? The numerous references to the mare in the moon suggests that's one likely pony. Now we return to where we started, in the middle. There was a change. What are the known changes? There are only two know changes in this time period. One is Twilight herself. She would certainly be able to connect the dots if she was the one given the third slice. The other change here is Cadence.

I will not speculate further on which change is the important one. There isn't enough facts yet to support either theory.

Now, we go back to the theory for self review. There is one detail that was rushed past. If the second benefiter is indeed the mare in the moon, that serves to point out one glaring problem. How? We know that she's unable to commit the theft due to her imprisonment and it is difficult at best to get a slice of cake to the moon. I propose a drastically different explanation. The second slice is not eaten by the mare in the moon. Instead, it is sacrificed in her honor.

TL;DR: Celestia steals cake to honor her sister.

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That is some very impressive reasoning. Thank you so much for taking the time to think it out and write out your theory! I really do appreciate it.

I hope you understand that I can't really confirm or deny any of your reasoning at this time, but I will say this: I knew folks would guess Celestia immediately, given her... uh... fandom interactions with cake. The real question I wanted Twilight to go after was the most important question in our arsenal of questions. Why?

This is going to be soooo good! Looking forward to more.


I wish there was more in this chapter, I really don't know what to make of it.
With the tone of the chapter it certainly seemed like its going for comedy/humor or something but its just tagged mystery.
Huh, funnily enough, I'm curious to see what this story actually ends up being tone-wise. I guess I'll just keep an eye on it till there's more there to have a crack at.

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So... Yeah. Apparently it is rather comedic, even if the comedy is rather light. The whole piece was meant to have a light tone, not the typical dark mystery. The rare tag change happens.

Thank you to my editor/prereader for pointing it out. I didn't think it had enough of a focus on the comedy to warrant the tag, honestly.

Very interesting setup for a light mystery :pinkiesmile:
It is clear that Twilight's curiosity - despite herself - is activated and she will try discover or debunk the cake thief... Why I have the feeling that the thief will do a cat-and-mouse game with Twilight?

Curiosity: why are you using "Sable Sleuth" as the fictional detective of the in-story book series instead of "Shadow Spade" (mentioned in Rarity Investigates")?

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Truth be told, I actually started writing and planning this long before Rarity Investigates, and Sable Sleuth was the corny dime store novel name I came up with for a series that young Twilight Sparkle would love to read. Sable's design - or her trenchcoat - comes from Tales from the Nightside, about a private investigator who wears a white trench because it's stylish.

And for the coloration, white trench and sable (obsidian black) coat is strikingly stylish and appropriate for a dime store mystery novel heroin (even though a white trench is laughably impractical for most of what Sable Sleuth actually does - the sneaky stuff).

As for the rest... You'll see. :pinkiesmile:

This is a great combination of mysterious and adorable. One question: Why not add the Derpy/Muffins tag, since she seems to be a recurring character?

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I might, actually... She does appear more in coming chapters, but I was kind of on the line between thinking of her as a secondary character and a background character.

6694975 I mean, she's had more lines than Spike, Celestia and Luna at this point, unless this story is planning to go really long and zig-zag significantly, it seems like she will at least be a recurring character, so I think she's worthy of a fifth tag.

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And done. Thank you for pointing that out.

6695122 Thanks for being responsive and considerate! (And also writing a fun story while you're at it.)

Very interesting so far - the slice-of-live touches of Twilight's life in the castle were nice to read.

The Sable Sleuth narrative as a side story would be nice (and why I imagine that Twlight will end using a Sable Sleuth costume until the end of this fic? :derpytongue2:)

I'd read a Sable Sleuth pocket novel. Wait... ponies don't have pockets. Um... saddlebag novel? :twilightsheepish:

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More of those touches are coming! And not just around the castle.

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If I do another story about Sable exclusively, it won't be the Noir Nadir - that's already in use in this story as sort of a mirror. But look for more Noir Nadir fun!

Twilight drew her hoof back, and crossed them both on her stool. “N-no. I do want to hear a story. It’s just that, statistically speaking, it’s more likely to be struck by a meteorite than it is to be coltnapped by a… hmm. What classification of creature would you call The Mare in the Moon?”

hmmm....Alicorn, perhaps?:trollestia:

“I see.” Cheek still twitching, Raven unfurled the scroll again and reviewed the contents, tapping a hoof as she did so. “As it so happens, the Princess had allotted up to an hour of time for—” Raven coughed, seeing the words "Twilight is coming!" written there.
“Expected unexpected events this morning.”
Twilight paused, staring. “How can you expect unexpected events?”
“By expecting the unexpected, of course.” The scribe gave her a tight smile, sighed, and ducked into the sitting room, leaving Twilight standing outside, smiling at the familiar guards stoically at attention.

That should so be a meme from Game Of Ponies:twilightoops:

ooooh....Travis Morgan has taught Celestia well, I see :trollestia:

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Hmm. A comic book I haven't seen. But... you know, I figure that somepony that's lived for a thousand years has learned to set aside some unexpected time. If that time gets filled with something, then it's a surprise. Otherwise, it becomes a time for catching up or slowing down for a little bit.

An admitted "I have no idea what will happen from this point in time to the next appointment. But, whatever it is, I'll be surprised."

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1. Cover and leave plot to stand overnight to thicken.
2. The next day add the Guinness and mix thoroughly again.
3. Place the plot into prepared bowls.
4. Place grease proof paper over the top of the bowl and secure just under the rim of the bowl with a large elastic band. Repeat this step with the foil. Place lid on bowl securely.
5. Place a large pot on the hob. Put an upturned saucer in the bottom of the pot. Place the plot bowl on the saucer in the pot and pour in boiling water to come half way up the sides of the bowl. Cover with a tight fitting lid and boil for 4 1/2 – 5 hours.
6. Ensure the level of the water remains the same at all times.
7. When the plot is ready carefully remove from the pot and allow to cool completely.
8. When cool remove the damp papers and recover with fresh double grease proof paper (not greased), replace the lid of the bowl and store in a cool dry place.

So, since the other cakes didn't have their cutie mark emblem removed, it had to be a circumstance unique to the case. Knowing of course that most ponies would not interfere with what appears to be a nearly 1000 year tradition, we are left to assume that the culprit both had some connection to Twilight, be it good or ill, the ability to ignore social customs and a craving for sweet things.

My current line of thought : Spike, why did you eat that cutie mark? I do not yet have enough evidence to find the culprit for the original cake theft though.

Well...the "why" is still a good question. However, the "how" also points very solidly at a few potential suspects, and if Twilight had considered that, she could very well have a lead to pursue and might give her the answer to "why".

The fact this has been going on continuously for nearly a full 1000 years points to only four individuals:

One of those potential suspects isn't even known to Twilight, and most likely forgotten by the other three suspects, as her arrival takes everyone by surprise just a few years after this...
Another two potential suspects have .... well .... rather air-tight (or perhaps best to say "rock-tight") alibis: one who has been collecting lots and lots of pigeon offerings; the other is considerably cleaner but has just been floating above it all...
Leaving only one suspect who's very much closer than Twilight can believe:trollestia:

Anyone else who might match the requirements probably wouldn't fit in the kitchen to begin with, so that dismisses any blood relatives of Twilight's foster brother:moustache:

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Sorry for getting back to you so late.

I usually respond much quicker, but vacation, and work messiness...

Anywho... I very much enjoyed reading these theories. Who knows! You may be subtly changing the story as it moves forward, too! I love reading these. It gives me ideas for red herrings, for ways of subtly hinting who may be involved, who's to blame, and even ideas for bits of comedy.

The weird thing is, before this chapter the author had a blog post about how this would be the "Muffins chapter," and how cute and adorable she would be. And indeed Muffins was cute, but I feel like Spike really stole the show instead, with his vocabulary practice and his Power Ponies references, he came off as even cuter! :moustache:

For the record, I believe the term for male dragons is drakes, and the term for female dragons is dragonnes. But I love the idea that "baby dragon" is something Spike negotiated Twilight down to from something even more embarrassing.

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I think there's a ton of different ways to call dragons dragons, and my editor pointed that out, too... but I decided that drake would be for a teenage male dragon. Dragonette for a female teenage dragon.

I loved the way this chapter came out. Muffins, Celestia, Crunchy Crust, Spike... They were all fun to write.

I'm glad I finally read this. I still don't think much of her canon name, but Best Pony was fantastic this chapter. Definitely looking forward to further developments in the mystery.

Curious to see if this is still ongoing!

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I am working on it. Slowly, but I'm working on it. Life has been... interesting. I haven't had the opportunity to sit down and work the outline into more chapters in a while.

“What? That’s perfection. Now finish that confection.”

Zecora approves of this, the advice shouldn't be dismissed!

Calling it-cake thief is Celestia.

There was a test in that offer, Twilight knew. Everything was a test. Subtle or not. She gnawed on the answer, and her lower lip, staring at the muffin. It looked so familiar. The golden glaze on the top, the sweet, sweet blueberry batter scent filling the space between her and it.

Thank you for summarizing what I hate about stealth mentors in one simple passage.

Twilight, there's such a thing as overthinking.

I thought it was Shadow Sable, not Sable Sleuth.

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Nope. Sable Sleuth from chapter 1 on. It already sort of means Shadowy Sleuth, Sable being another word for black, or just darkness in general.

“That’s because you don’t sleep through the trouble. Really, Twilight, you should try being a dragon. It’s very relaxing.”

Heh! Spike's got a great attitude, there! :rainbowlaugh::rainbowlaugh:

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I'm having a lot of fun having him be a foil when Twilight gets too, er, Lesson Zero.

Well, that's certainly one way to hail a cab. Also, five bucks says that trunk came within inches of hitting Celestia as she was lowering the sun.

Twilight and the Lunar cake thief...

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