• Published 8th Jan 2017
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The Lunar Chalice - Spirals95

A magical chalice prized to Princess Luna has resurfaced in the collection of a wealthy Griffon family. To retrieve the enchanted cup, she sends one of her followers and his friends. But some of Equestria's enemies have plans for the chalice.

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Chapter 8 - The Detective's Report

Chapter 8

The train was at rest again in Canterlot station, the four ponies disembarking from the front of the train feeling as if they had truly come back to square one.

“All we need to do now is take a connecting trip to the Crystal Empire,” said Techorse, leading the way, “I'll get us some tickets and we'll be off.”

“Are we going to spend most of this journey sitting around on trains?” groaned Flaming Ivory, “It's starting to really get to me.”

“Well sorry,” apologized a clearly not sorry Techorse, “we don't have a reliable mean of teleportation right now, Midnight couldn't get us that far, and my own device would only be a one way trip thanks to energy demands.”

“Maybe you should consider buying better batteries,” grunted the musician.

“That's not how...” trailed Techorse before realizing he was being messed with, “nevermind, let's just get the tickets.”

They didn't make it very far in the busy train station before they were spotted by Ignitus, who moved in to intercept the group as they came off the platform and headed back for the ticket booth at the front of the massive station. Midnight Blaze saw his father approach from the newspaper stand he was pretending to be interested in, and he began to feel anxious.

Oh no...

The tall red unicorn stopped the travelers, stepping in front of them. Techorse looked up and into the intimidating stallion's eyes, sensing the same air of authority and gruffness he felt whenever Captain Arbiter got serious.

Ignitus's form relaxed as he extended a warm hoof and a rare smile to Techorse, “Ah, hello, you must be Mr. Techorse. It's good to meet you, son. My name's Detective Ignitus.”

Placing his own hoof out to greet Ignitus and participating in the hoofshake, Techorse relaxed, “Good afternoon, detective.”

Ignitus hadn't forgotten about his sapphire-coated son, who was trying to cower behind Shadow Breeze and Flaming Ivory. He finished shaking with Techorse and returned his strong hoof to the floor.

“I see you're doing a good job taking care of my son Midnight,” he said condescendingly, “I'm glad you've decided to mentor him on how to be a hero.”

Why do you have to embarrass me like this?” cried Midnight Blaze on the inside.

Techorse smiled humbly, “Mentor him? Midnight's my friend, sir. I don't think I'm exactly a hero, anyways, so why does he have to be one?”

“You really are just like Arbiter said you'd be,” laughed Ignitus in response, “unsure of yourself yet preachy. I can see why he likes you, you've got a good heart and a strong fighting spirit.”

“Hey, don't patronize Techie,” growled Flaming Ivory, stepping forward, “make your point and get outta here.”

“Easy Flaming,” warned Shadow Breeze, stopping him with his right wing.

Ignitus continued his amusement, his seriousness mixing poorly with his happiness, “Sure, I'll explain. My son here wouldn't join the Equestrian Guard despite it being family tradition. A fine soldier he'd make, if only he had the right influences, so I'm pleased he's around brave friends like you.”

Techorse stepped up to the insult, “You know Ignitus, my whole life I've been trying to avoid being cast as a soldier. Any fight I take is out of defending another I care about, or myself.”

“But in all honesty that's what being a good soldier is really about,” countered the older unicorn, looking down at Techorse, “you're there to protect the good of Equestria and its ponies. Midnight has no concept of serving others, and you're a good influence on him. Consider it a compliment.”

Understanding he wasn't going to be able to get Ignitus to stop thinking erroneously, Techorse switched tracks, “Anyways, what are you doing here?”

“To get more information on the status of the chalice,” he explained, his aura from his horn removing his notepad from underneath his coat, “I'm reporting back to Princess Luna. She believes the chalice is lost.”

“Unfortunately Princess Luna's right,” sighed Shadow Breeze, “the chalice got stolen by a zebra. He's running off to the Crystal Empire with it.”

“Good information,” nodded the detective, a pen from his jacket levitated over the pad as he wrote down the text, “anything else?”

Midnight Blaze bravely spoke up, “That's just about it, the duke and his family are safe now, but we lost the chalice to Ross, er... Rosseth. We put up a good fight though, he summoned several magical illusions of himself and I got a couple of them with some energy attacks.”

The blue unicorn had decided to gamble by telling his father about his role in the fight. Maybe he'd think he was moving ever so closer towards military service and would finally shut up.

“Is this true, Mr. Techorse?” asked the father.

“Yeah. Midnight put up a good fight and helped us destroy the illusions, but by the time the fight was over the real Rosseth was gone, taking the chalice with him,” he answered, “the griffon mercenaries he hired decided to talk and let us know he was headed for the Empire.”

“Oh, interesting, I'd love to hear about that more,” said the detective curiously.

Midnight was excited his plan was working, but Techorse's awkward look tipped him off to how much time that would take.

“Uh...” he said quickly, “well dad, you gave me that leather notebook, you can read about it in there.”

“Good,” Ignitus muttered gruffly, “I'm glad to hear it.”

“Good save,” whispered Flaming Ivory, nudging the other unicorn and smiling.

“Now,” continued Ignitus, pretending he didn't hear Flaming's statement, “since we know our perpetrator, Rosseth, is headed for the Crystal Empire, we should head there right now. I'll have a carriage take you there since the next train won't leave for three hours. I have to report back to Princess Luna and let her know the chalice has been taken, chances are she will bring me and possibly her sister to the Empire to offer support in the case. You'll find the carriage to the Crystal Empire outside the station shortly, I'll hail it for you.”

“Sounds good,” Techorse replied, “we'll see you at the Crystal Palace. It was nice to meet you, Ignitus.”

“Yes, it was good to meet you too,” he answered, “continue to listen to this stallion, Midnight, and you'll be everything you need to be.”

Ignitus' parting shot pierced Midnight's feelings like a spear, and the unicorn felt a mixture of anger and sadness. Once the detective was well out of sight and had blended into the crowd, Flaming Ivory immediately let loose.

“Man what a jerk,” he groaned, “I'm sorry Midnight, but what the hay is wrong with your dad?”

“It's ok Flaming, long story short, my dad's always told me I have some kind of debt to repay and I need to be a soldier in service to Equestria to do that!” he explained, mocking the tone of his father, “Maybe if he explained why, I'd be happy with it.”

“Well you're not the only one with disappointed parents,” comforted Shadow Breeze, hoping Midnight would perk up, “my parents wanted me to be a musician. They still love me though, and offer support.”

Midnight's ears sank in depression, “It's not that he doesn't love me... I think. I don't really talk to him much of course, we get in fights when I'm not around other ponies.”

“Oh wow, sheesh,” stuttered Flaming Ivory, “you think he's stopped loving you?”

“Yeah, probably. Can we not talk about it, guys?” he said to end the conversation.

Midnight was just not in the mood to have the typical talk about how parents still love you even if they don't approve of what you do. That notion was total horsefeathers to him. All that mattered was getting Ignitus off his back and out of his life as soon as possible so he could continue his arcane projects in peace.

“We'll shut up,” assured Techorse.

“Thanks,” muttered Midnight, “let's just grab the carriage, ok?”

By the time Ignitus had returned to the throne room, he opened the throne room door, only to be pushed aside by a pair of police officer ponies exiting. The detective ignored the rude shove, and entered the throne room to find Princess Luna and Captain Arbiter, the princess's eyes downcast and fixed on the floor. Princess Celestia stood by the largest window in the room, a harsh, brooding look on her face.

“Cousin,” called out Ignitus to Arbiter, “what's happened?”

The pegasus stood up, walking over to confront him, “Those police officers just informed the princess about a skirmish in at a ski resort near the Crystal Empire. Apparently our chalice thief is a zebra named Rosseth, and he was making a bargain with some artifact smugglers. He wasn't too intent on paying, though.”

“I can't imagine why,” sighed Ignitus, “what happened?”

“The police managed to arrest two of the smugglers, but one of them was defenestrated by the thief using some kind of battle amulet,” Arbiter answered, anger in his remaining eye, “we weren't able to find the victim. Princess Luna is heartbroken somepony did this over her chalice, and Princess Celestia... is thinking of recalling Twilight Sparkle and her friends to deal with this.”

“Seems strong hoofed,” argued Ignitus, “we don't need to bring everypony in over just one possible murder.”

“I don't think it's about that, there's evidence the smuggler who fell might have gotten away,” continued Arbiter, “it has more to do with what the zebra stole from them. A lead and crystal lined containment device was found in the room, whatever they were selling to him was something very powerful, and very dangerous to be around.”

“Something radioactive?”

Arbiter shook his head, “Dark magic, cousin.”

Ignitus looked around the throne room for a bit before sighing, “I have a report to give Princess Luna. We can discuss this later.”

“Very well,” answered the captain, stepping aside.

Princess Luna's mane didn't wave as fast as it usually did, and she stared at the red carpet in front of her elegant throne as Ignitus approached her.

“Your Highness, I just got my report from Techorse and my son,” he said, “since Arbiter was kind enough to inform me you're already aware the chalice has been stolen, I want to fill in the details.”

“Please do,” she said, lifting her head up, before looking over to her sister.

Celestia's eyes went unmoving from the windowsill.

“Our suspect is headed for the Crystal Empire,” explained the detective, “now that he's in possession of both a dark artifact of some kind and the chalice, I have good reason to believe he's going to the Empire to try and steal energy crystals as the next requirement for his plan. Whatever that might be.”

“And the boys?”

The detective tipped his hat, “I hired them a cab, they're on there way to the Crystal Palace. We didn't discuss it much, but Techorse will likely warn Princess Cadance and then intercept the zebra before he's able to steal energy crystals from the residents.”

Princess Luna stood up from her throne and shouted, “You mean you sent them to confront a dangerous criminal with a dark artifact?

Celestia turned around from the window, and walked back over to her sister, trying to calm her down.

“Luna, the detective didn't know about the threat until just now,” she said, “perhaps we should go to the Crystal Empire ourselves to offer support.”

“No, that's a mistake,” cautioned Arbiter, “the instant we arrive, the Crystal ponies with their stupid paparazzi behavior will demand answers as to why you arrived. If they find out there's a zebra with a dark artifact around, they'll panic, and that's just what that criminal wants.”

“Techorse and his friends have little time left on their own,” Luna said sternly, “it will be a full moon in just two nights. By then the thief will be able to use the power of the chalice to craft horrible potions. Princess Cadance must be told so that we can retrieve the chalice.”

“With all due respect, Arbiter is right,” said Ignitus, “we need to get the message to Cadance and Shining Armor without the Crystal Ponies catching on that something is wrong.”

“Would both of you be willing to take on this task since our appearance would be a problem?” asked Princess Celestia.

Captain Arbiter smirked, “Is that an order?”

“Suppose it wasn't, don't you wish to see the young stallions get home safe?” questioned Luna.

The pegasus chuckled, “Yes, of course... except Techorse.”

Both the princesses scolded him, “Arbiter!”

“It was a joke!”

Arbiter packed his bags and bid his cousin farewell, as he would be taking a separate route to the Empire in order to stop and collect his own gear. A simple suitcase containing a change of cape and eyepatch, and a few toiletries, and he was on his way to the gates surrounding the cliff side castle. The sun was beginning to set, and it would probably be dark by the time he got there, but it didn't matter to him. This trip was going to give him a chance to catch a threat to Equestria, his usual obsession that had previously gotten him in so much trouble.

The captain stopped suddenly as a sharp whoosh of air was heard, and a dark kunai embedded itself into the path ahead of him in the castle courtyard. Arbiter jumped back, and drew his sword, the gemstone floating the blade near him.

“Who was that? Show yourself!” he demanded, moving the sword around in case he needed to block another throwing knife.

“Relax, it's just me, Arby,” laughed a strong, female voice.

A baby blue pegasus mare with a dark-blue mane edged with a neon take on the same color jumped down from a nearby tree. Her reddish-purple eyes looked up at Arbiter from behind flight goggles, which she loosed with her hooves and placed on her head. Most notable about the pegasus was her smaller left wing, clearly shrunken and damaged.

“Lieutenant Limpwing,” groaned Arbiter as he re-sheathed his sword, “how nice of you to scare me with a throwing knife. How'd you get past the guards?”

“Easy,” she mocked, swooping up the stuck kunai with her good wing, “I bribed the guards with snickerdoodles. I think I see why the changelings got in here.”

Captain Arbiter appreciated Limpwing's moxie, and scoffed with a smile on his face, “Why I ought to court-martial them for accepting bribes from beautiful mares!”

“Hey, you know what they say, Arby, a way to stallion's heart is through his belly,” she said, rolling her eyes, “speaking of which, got plenty of cookies left for you.”

“This wouldn't happen to have anything to do with my objectives for the next few days, would it?” he answered, ignoring her “flirting” he secretly enjoyed.

“Maybe,” Limpwing teased, “I might have just happened to spy on the throne room after I got in. Have to keep you on your hooves somehow.”

Arbiter started walking past her to head for the main gate, Limpwing staying at his side at a playful trot,

“I suppose it's pointless to tell you no then?”

The lieutenant said sarcastically, “Look at it this way, I get to use the skills you've taught me this year, and you get have your best friend with you, the totally trustworthy, honest spy who can't possibly be in this for the wrong reasons!”

“And what might those reasons be, Limpwing?” he asked.

“Getting to see Techie embarrassed when we have to rescue him again,” she answered.

Captain Arbiter laughed, “I think we're too hard on the lad.”

“But picking on Techorse is so much fun! And you know he can take it.”

“I suppose it's a good thing he can take a joke and relax, unlike some others I know...”

Limpwing immediately caught on, nothing was hidden from her, “So this is about that big dork in the trenchcoat, huh?”

“That 'big dork', is my cousin,” grunted Arbiter, giving her a dirty look, “Ignitus really needs to remove his grasp from his son's withers and let him be.”

“Ah, I see. He kind of reminds me of you before you got your sense of humor,” she said.

“I do not like where you're taking this.”

Limpwing stepped in front of him and sang annoyingly, “And we know who gave you youuuuuuurs!

“Yes, Limpwing, we both know Techorse helped me lighten up,” he said, “doesn't mean we're friends.”

“Of course not,” she giggled, “hey, maybe your cousin will learn from Techorse without needing to try to cut his head off.”

“Did you come here to go with me, or to just make fun of me?” he asked angrily.

“A little of both,” answered Limpwing, “gotta keep that ego of yours in check too, Arbiter.“

“Fine, so maybe we're not so different,” agreed the captain reluctantly, “I'd like to not talk about it very much, thank you.”

“No problem,” she said as they reached the outer limits of the castle, “I'll keep quiet about it. I'm just trying to figure out what's going on, it's my hobby.”

“I thought bribing my guards and interfering with my personal life was your hobby,” teased Arbiter, stopping her before she could walk out the gate.

Limpwing turned around, “What's the difference?”

“Well, it seems you've taken a specific liking to how I'm doing.”

“Maybe I am,” she answered, “or maybe I'm just looking for an excuse for an adventure. Guess we'll find out, huh?”

Arbiter shook his head in disbelief and followed her out of the castle grounds to go catch a ride to the Empire. The princesses didn't need to know the spy mare was with him, he figured, and he really did want the company. They boarded another carriage headed out of town, where Limpwing took out her concealed box of cookies and attempted to feed the captain a couple of the treats. Arbiter hated cinnamon, but he didn't really notice the flavor. There was something about getting a cookie from Limpwing that made him like it anyways.

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