• Published 28th Jan 2017
  • 1,739 Views, 54 Comments

The Tome of Faust - DungeonMiner



In the age of Equestria's founding, the world is not at peace. Dangers wait at every corner, and the shadows of the old world wish it dead. And yet in all of this, one pony just wants to live a normal life.

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Chapter 12

The sword hit Sap’s desk with a clang, echoing against the walls of the cistern-turned-office that the large earth pony had taken for his own. “One sword of a local hero,” Mouse said, leaving the short sword before leader of the Baltimare gang.

Sap blinked, the fog of his latest high clearing as he tried to focus on the newest acquisition. “You got it?” He asked, sounding more surprised than he probably wanted.

“I did,” Mouse confirmed. “How much do I get?”

“Um…” Sap said, still navigating through a haze. “I...I can’t pay you yet…”

Mouse sighed. “Fine, whatever, I’m going out.”

“Hey, wait! You can’t just leave all the time!”

“Can you pay me?” Mouse asked.

Sap blinked. “Uh...no I—”

“Then you owe me, so I can do what I want until you get me my bits,” Mouse grunted, before he left without giving Sap a chance to argue any further.

As Mouse left the tunnels that hid the Baltimare gang, he soon found himself staring at Dusk. “Hey, there...Mousy,” he greeted, smiling wide.

Mouse rolled his eyes, but quickly secured his pockets, not trusting the pegasus pickpocket to keep his hooves to himself. “Hello, Dusk. What are you doing here?”

“Just came to say hello is all,” the pegasus said through a smile.

Right, and the sky is quite obviously green, isn’t?

“Well, hi,” Mouse said, keeping his bag close. “Do you need anything in particular?”

“Oh, no, no,” Dusk said, continuing to block the way out. “It’s just, you know...you’re the new guy, Shade and I are Sap’s top dogs, so it’s supposed to be our job to get you familiar with everypony here, but, well, let’s be honest, we all got off on the wrong hoof, so let’s try again, alright?”

Mouse didn’t believe that one either.

“So where’s Shade?”

“He…” Dusk began, before his eyes shot over to behind Mouse’s shoulder. “He’s back in the canteen, setting up a party for you.”

And sugar rained from the sky.

He felt a hoof against his flank, and Mouse kicked back, striking on instinct. His hoof slammed into Shade’s face, and the earth pony staggered under the blow. Mouse lurched forward, not leaving the pegasus ahead of him a chance to move, and bowled him over.

With the earth pony stunned and the pegasus sprawled across the floor, Mouse wasted no more time.

He ran, down the tunnels, and up the stairs, bursting into the Highwayman’s Alehouse. Pale Ale watched him go, an eyebrow raised, but otherwise let him pass without so much as a word.

Now that he was in the streets and free of the other thieves, Mouse continued on to the Fox’s Heart, where he had a date with breakfast and watching the guards run about like mad. After all, it was the only thing to really look forward to today.

This last really didn’t sit well with him. He could ignore the other jobs, most of those were really about annoying the guards for him but robbing the grave a pony who just wanted to help left a bad taste in his mouth.

“So now it matters?” a voice in his head asked. “You didn't seem to mind when you could plaster your name all over it. Or were you going to ignore the fact that you robbed an innocent pony blind in your little crusade against the guards you hate so much?”

Yes, honestly. The less he thought about those ponies the better.

Yes, they...probably…didn't deserve to be robbed, but it wasn’t like he wanted to steal for a living. It was all he could do, really.

“Yes, yes. Your problems are always more important than everyone else’s, right? Whether in the prisons or out in the ‘civilized’ world, your problems always took priority.”

Mouse moved on, trying to avoid the thought and moving on towards his favorite inn. Hopefully the sight of the guards running about would get his mind off things.

The guards helped far, far less than he expected. They were more gathered now, standing tall and proud on every street corner, but keeping their eyes peeled for any movement.

Honestly, the show was kind of dull, but not five minutes in, their saving grace appeared: Golden Shield. The second she came around the corner, Mouse felt his mood lift, and his smile widened as he sipped his tea.

She stomped forward, growling as she approached.

This was what he was waiting for.

“Hello Officer, can I help you?”

She glared at him, as though her gaze would stick him between the eyes and drop the unicorn dead. “So, Mouse is it?” She asked, venom dripping from every word.

“Mouse?” The thief asked as he sipped his tea. “Why what a strange name. It sounds like the name of a very talented thief, but that couldn't be me, Officer. I simply don't have the constitution to be a thief.”

Golden Shield’s eyes narrowed, almost to the point where Mouse was sure that if they narrowed any further, she wouldn't be able to see. “I hate you, so much…”

“Well I’m terribly sorry for whatever it is I’ve done to earn such a reputation,” Mouse said, before he raised his tea cup once again. “Perhaps we can talk it over?” he said, motioning to the chair on the other side of the table.

She glared at him, seething through her nostrils before she spoke. “You know what? I will!” She turned and sat in the chair opposite him, glaring at him the entire time.

Mouse blinked.

That was...not what he expected. What was this? Some kind of power play? An attempt to throw him off? That had to be it.

Mouse lowered his teacup and motioned for the waiter.

“Yes sir?” the waiter asked as he approached.

“Tea for my friend here, if you please,” Mouse ordered.

“Of course, sir,” he answered, before backing away, leaving the two ponies to stare at each other.

“Rather generous of you,” Golden Shield noted. “I have to wonder if you are simply making up for some past deed, or if you never learned the value of a hard-earned bit.”

“And what are you implying by that, Officer?” Mouse asked. “Because I assure you, I worked hard for these bits, perhaps not as hard as you work trying to catch this criminal that’s been plaguing your city, but then, it’s hard to compete with a master.”

“Master?” she asked with a smile. “You do him far too much credit. He’s hardly more than a nuisance, a piece of street scum that’s hardly worth the effort. For now, he’s lucky, and that’s the only thing that’s keeping him on the streets.”

“Well, luck can only take one so far,” Mouse argued. “Some of it has to be skill, surely. But let's forget that for a moment, after all, I’m sure the last thing you want to talk about is the thief that has been giving you the run around for so long.”

“Yes, yes, after all, I’m here to talk about you,” Golden Shield growled.

“I’m flattered.”

“Don't be,” she said flatly. “You, sir, are a pathetic little gelding of a stallion, and if I could prove that you are responsible, I’d have you hung.”

“Hung?” Mouse repeated. “My, that seems a bit excessive.”

“Excessive?” she repeated. “You tried to steal a family’s Tome of Ancestors, a book which, by its very nature has no intrinsic value to anyone but that family. So I can only assume that you were going to hold the book ransom, forcing them to bend over backwards for your sick pleasure, and you call that excessive?”

Mouse stared at her, staying silent as the waiter approached with another cup of morning tea. He smiled as Mouse nodded his thanks.

“You know, despite being fairly knowledgeable about the goings on of this thief's job, it surprises me how wrong you are.” Mouse said.

“Oh, really? Then what, exactly were you planning to do with a book that can’t be sold?”

“Oh there would be someone who would buy, you know there has to be,” Mouse said. “But I’m sure the thief didn't want the book, anyway.”

Golden looked the thief over. “You didn't want it?” She repeated, incredulously.

“Let’s say, and this simply hypothetical, but let’s say that this thief’s employer wanted something that the family alone knew the location of. I mean, if that were the case, then the thief would have no choice but to read this tome you speak of to find what his employer wants.”

“Employer?” Golden asked, as though the thought hadn’t occurred to her.

Mouse smiled. “Oh, dear. You didn't know, did you?” he asked, grinning all the way. “Yes, I hate to break it to you, Officer, but the thief you’re looking for is just a cog in a much larger machine.”

Golden blinked, before she turned away. “You have an employer…” she muttered. “This is…”

“Out of your hooves, sadly,” Mouse said. “I’ve heard that he’s someone from the Old World, he’s out to break Equestria and he has enough ponies working on it to do a decent job.”

Golden’s eyes turned back to him. “Why are you telling me this?”

Mouse smirked. “A couple reasons. The first is that, despite the fact that Equestria hates me, I kinda like it here. I don't want to see it go down, and, well, my coworkers and I are having a bit of a spat. This, along with the fact that the rest of the gang think that something is wrong with the branch, means that we might have need of your services, and if handing over a bunch of ponies that hate me gets you off my back, all the better.”

Golden frowned. “I am not making a deal with you.”

Mouse shrugged. “Fine, after all, the second reason I’m telling you is so that you know that you’ve wasted all this time and effort on someone who doesn't really matter. I’m a nobody, and while you may think that this is some terribly petty vengeance, it makes my day, and that’s all that matters to me.”

Golden glanced at him, very unamused. “I need to go. Enjoy your breakfast.”

“Not going to enjoy your tea?” he asked.

She grabbed the teacup and filled her mouth with a large gulp of the still-hot tea. She swallowed, the hot tea passing her through her throat without a worry about the burning flesh that now roared down her neck.

Mouse sipped his own tea, watching as Golden walked away.

“Good riddance.” Mouse thought to himself, before he went back to his tea. Hopefully she would spend the rest of her days running around uselessly, chasing her own tail as she tried to bring this “new threat” to justice.

And that’s when another pony approached his table. “Mouse, we need to talk.”

“Cut?” the unicorn said, surprised to hear the Canterlot thief head out in the open.

“We need to go,” Cut repeated, giving mouse a push out of the chair. “Sooner rather than later.”

“Why, what’s going on?” Mouse asked, concerned.

“The Lord Prig is fobbing the mob. He’s saying you’re shoulder tapping and hauling supplies out of the ken, biting the pie behind their backs. It’s only a matter of time before the Lord tells the Prince, and they’ll cry beef for ya. You’ll be a leaf if you don’t crawl in a hole.”

It took a second for Mouse to mentally translate, but it got worse with every word. Sap was telling the gang that he had betrayed them, that Mouse had been stealing the thieves’ supplies while they weren’t looking and beating up the others. Sap was going to tell the Head Thief, and Mouse would be exiled, and turned over to the guards. He had to hide, or he’d hang.

“But I didn’t eat anything!” Mouse said. “I never had a piece of the pie. I may have played a bit rough with one or two, but I kept my hooves off the pie.”

Cut nodded. “I might have something to do with that,” he said, before opening his cloak to reveal the sword that Mouse had delivered just this morning.

Mouse blinked, shocked. “I...b-but why?” he asked.

“There are some jobs that just aren’t worth taking,” he said. “There was chance this was going to happen anyway, but I thought for sure Sap didn’t have a reason to point you out as the glutton. I thought he wouldn’t have the hoofprints to fob the mob, but next thing I know there’s a quarrome, a beaten eye who says you crashed a bob, and the lord saying that you’re the one that took the pie.”

“Someone’s dead?” Mouse asked, his voice whispered and shocked.

“Smooth, smooth, Mouse,” Cut said, reminding Mouse to be quiet, before leading Mouse away into a nearby alley. “Yeah, one of the Gentlemen have crashed. The eye says you did it, is that true?”

“No!” Mouse whispered back. “I played rough with Shade and Dusk, but I didn’t crash anyone.”

Cut stared at him for a long time, staring into Mouse’s eyes as the moment stretched on and on. “Alright, I believe ya, I’ll do what I can to let the Prince know it’s not your style, but your work in Baltimare’s over for now. I’d invite you back in, but I can’t without your name being clear, So you’re going to have to be a lone wolf for a bit.”

Independent thievery? He barely wanted this job when he had a whole system of thieves, fences, and the safety net already set up. There was no way he could set that up on his own. The next time he went out to make a living, he’d be back in jail.

And you can only break out of a jail like Baltimare’s once. The next time he’d be moved somewhere worse, somewhere more secure, somewhere like the Canterlot prison. Then it’d be over, he’d be locked away, forgotten to rot in a cell that would not let him go.

“It’s a shame, Mouse. You would’ve done us some good. Now, before I go, I have a favor to ask.”

Mouse nodded, trying to keep the thoughts of his future at bay.

“Take me to the grave.”

Mouse led Cut deep into the forest, heading quickly to the tomb of Warhawk. Mouse quickly pointed out the strange, living-wood mausoleum, and Cut approached the tomb with a reverence that Mouse had never seen the thief possess before.

The pegasus passed inside, keeping his head low as he came near to the stone sarcophagus. A moment passed with Cut standing next to the tomb solemnly, before he laid the sword back in its resting place.

He muttered something that Mouse did not catch, before he left, meeting Mouse back in the dead clearing that he had discovered merely hours before. “Thank you, Mouse, this was...incredibly important to me,” his voice was calm, and quiet, and the simple, ever-present smile that Cut wore had slowly faded as soon as he came here. Mouse had never seen him so serious before.

“It’s...it’s not a problem…”

Cut gave him a smirk. “Well, let’s not go that far,” he said before his smirk faded. “I’m sorry this happened, Mouse. I shouldn’t have gotten you involved.”

Mouse sighed. “Well, serves me right for thinking I could make a living, right?” he laughed.

Cut offered him the most sympathetic look Mouse had ever seen since Ole’ Punch saw him back at the Howling Dragon. “I’m sorry,” he offered.

Mouse said nothing, as dread began to fill his heart.

“What will you do now?” Cut asked.

“I...I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe I can find a job pulling wagons or helping out at an inn. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually find a job out there, now that I’m not in Canterlot anymore.”

Cut nodded, before he pulled a bag from his side. “Here, this is for the job you were doing for me, it should help you until you can get on your hooves.”

Mouse caught the bag as Cut tossed it his way. “Thanks,” he said, “at least I’ll have the chance to be an honest pony like I always wanted.”

“Actually, Mouse, if you want, I have one more job for you,” Cut said.

“I’m not going to risk being thrown in jail without someone to bail me out,” he said.

“No, Mouse, trust me, with what I have for you, there’s no way you can go to jail.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Sap’s thrown you out of the gang, so the least you can do return the favor.”

It was midday, but Mouse could hardly tell for the darkness that surrounded him as he stepped deeper into the gang’s hideout.

He had to go the long way around, entering from the sewer grates and heading deeper toward the hideout as he waded through rainwater, seawater, and sewage.

His mission was simple: sneak in, find Sap’s personal ledger, and steal it. There had to be a paper trail, Cut insisted. Whatever he’s taking from the gang is too well hidden to be random. He was positive that Sap had a ledger somewhere to keep track of his work, and it was Mouse’s job to find it.

It was simple enough for a final job, Mouse figured, but the reasons behind it were what really got his blood pumping. He was working against the underworld, against the darkness, it was almost like he was working with the law.

There was a strange, and not unwelcome thrill in knowing that this was the closest he had ever come to working an honest job.

Sliding through the tunnels, he made his way closer and closer to the hideout, knives drawn, and shimmering like twin moons in the darkness. He moved swiftly and silently, with only the stench that clung to him as a sign of his passing.

It was almost time. He’d be there soon. Sap would not have the last laugh here. Mouse would not let him go.

There it was, the wall that the thieves erected to keep the sewer out of the hideout. Mouse quickly pushed himself up against the wall, and began searching for the wall that was nearly invisible from this side. Of all the things that Mouse remembered, he was glad that the secret entrances were safe in his mind, rather than, say the names of his fellow thieves.

The coolness of the other thieves would come against them, today. None of them had welcomed Mouse, none of them had really spoken to him. Instead, they had kept Mouse at arm’s length, and today, Mouse would use that to his advantage.

He would not deny that he was angry against the other thieves, but he was surprised by the frustration he felt. He could have sworn he hadn't cared a day ago…

He pushed the thought aside, he had more important things to think about.

His hoof clicked against the hidden switch, and the door in the wall opened up, and Mouse slipped inside.

He had to focus now, move silently. The thieves should be asleep now, resting for the night of crime ahead of them, but he couldn't count on that.

Casting his invisibility spell, he moved forward, into the hideout.

Hugging the walls, he did his best to plan his movements. He’d have to carefully make his way through the mess hall, and around the storage rooms, before he’d finally come to Sap’s office and quarters.

This was arguably the clearest, if longest path through the hideout, with the hardest part to move through the storage room. Sap made sure that the storage room was always under guard, even during the brightest hours of the day, when most of the thieves were sleeping.

Getting past those guards would not be easy, but if he took it slow, he could get past.

The other option was far shorter. He could take a right just ahead, and cut through the bunkhouse that the hideout was built around. He’d have to slip past twenty sleeping thieves, weave through the beds, and come out on the other side without waking a single pony. The second a single pony woke up, the entire gang would be on top of him. He’d have to face dozens of blades, hooves, and very angry ponies.

He came to the fork, a right would take him into the room full of sleeping ponies, while moving straight ahead would take him through the actively guarded storage room.

One shorter, one longer. One safer, one more dangerous. Both with risk that would bring the entire gang down on his head.

He looked right.

He looked ahead.

Well, he was no coward, and if it meant he could drop his spell for a bit, all the better. “Save your strength,” as the old stallion used to tell him, “fight another day.”

He slipped down to the right, taking a short corridor down to the bunkhouse, and was soon surrounded by sleeping ponies. His hooves glided against the flagstone floor, not even making a sound as he passed by.

The snoring thieves offered nothing as he passed, not a stir, not a yawn, not a flutter of an eyelid.

They were whisked away to the dream realm, and perhaps Luna smiled on him still.

Past a sleeping thief.

Past another.

No one had moved and he was already halfway through the room.

He smirked to himself. “This is too easy,” he thought to himself as he slipped past the sleeping thieves.

And then he heard a voice and a set of hoofsteps echoing off the walls ahead of him.

“I can’t believe he killed him,” the voice said, getting closer as the hoofsteps heralded the pony in the hallway ahead.

Mouse, out in the open and easy to find, felt his heart leap up into his chest, before he quickly looked for a place to hide.

“I can’t believe he killed Dusk!” Shade said as he burst into the room. “That little worm killed him!”

A handful of thieves jolted awake, before they noticed the ranting right-hoof stallion, and did their best to sleep though the ranting.

“You don’t mess with Shade and Dusk and get away with it!” Shade cried as he stormed across the bunkhouse. “I’ll murder him! I’ll rip him to shreds!”

Mouse stayed silent, laying in a nearby cot with his back to the ranting earth pony.

“He’s a coward! Stabbing a pony as he lay sleeping on the floor!”

Stab? Mouse didn’t stab anyone. He gave Shade a good kick to the face, but he didn’t stab anypony, especially not Dusk. Still, he said nothing, letting the insult go unanswered so that he had the chance to make his move.

Shade continued to rant, moving further and further down the bunkhouse. Mouse simply waited, trying to keep breathing as calmly as possible while Shade continued his rant before finally, finally he could move.

He stood up, rolling out of the cot and scurrying out of the bunkhouse, and down towards Sap’s office. He quickly slipped into the hallway, past the door, and into the office. It was dark, dank, and smelled faintly of blackglass. Now, to find the ledger and get out of here.

He started with the desk, going through the drawers like a madman, ripping through pages as he tried to find the presumed ledger. He flew through the drawers, skimming each page.

Nothing.

Nothing.

Nothing.

He turned away from the desk, annoyed that the desk offered nothing. “Come on, where would Sap hide his secret paperwork?” he thought to himself.

The sound of hoofsteps in the hallway gave him pause, and his eyes locked onto the door handle. His horn began to ring as he prepared to cast his invisibility spell.

He waited, with baited breath, hoping that the ponies beyond the door passed him by.

A long moment passed.

Then another.

Before finally, the hoofsteps passed him by.

He released a breath he did not know he was holding, before he swept through the room once more. Bookshelves were filled with garbage, strongboxes with coins, the walls behind the paintings had no secret, yet oddly predictable safes.

Nothing.

Mouse quietly fumed in frustration, eyes dancing across the room as he tried to find any sign of the damning papers.

And then his eyes fell on the door to Sap’s personal quarters.

Mouse really, really, didn’t want to go in there. Sap was a big pony, and with such tight spaces, it would mean that he’d be splattered against a wall the second that Sap got a good hit in. If it were out in the open, Mouse might have a chance, but with so little room to duck and weave around the blows, his own talent for speed would mean nothing.

Then again, Mouse did have a lovely pair of enchanted daggers.

He sighed, before he carefully pushed into the gang leader’s room. The leather hinges creaked slightly as the door swung open. As his view of the room expanded the further the door swung open, the massive, softly breathing form of Sap came into view.

He was laying on his side, facing the door from his large, goose feather bed, and if it weren’t for his closed eyes, Mouse would have bolted out of the room. Instead, the thief held his breath, staring down at the sleeping form of Sap, before he noticed the smell.

The almost coppery scent of blackglass was strong in here, stronger than it had been in the office, and Mouse raised an eyebrow. Normally the smell of the drug was unnoticeable, it was soft and a smell this strong could only mean Sap had to be using whole panes a day.

That...couldn’t be right. Yes, Sap used drugs frequently, and Mouse himself had seen the scars to know that he did enjoy Blackglass, but there was no way he was using that much. He was normally lucid, mostly drugging himself in the morning before he went to bed, or during feasts like the day of mourning.

The only...the only way he could be using that much glass was using large shards. Blackglass had an odd property that the larger shards had greater durations, but weaker highs, while grinding the shards into dust offered the shortest, yet most potent high.

Could...could Sap of been high the entire time? Could he have been riding out the weakest highs for the entire day, every day? That was…

He pushed the thought aside.

He had to focus on the ledger.

He slid through the room, shuffling from one end of the room to the other, checking the shelves, the bookcase, the mirror and washbasin.

And then a sound hit his ears.

Mouse’s ears twitched, and he turned around to see Sap twist and turn. His sleep, now obviously and suddenly troubled, barely held him in the realm of unconsciousness.

Mouse quickly prepared his spell, throwing himself into invisibility, in case the leader of the gang roused from his sleep. By luck, he was just covered in the cloak of his magic, before Sap sat up, eyes wide and breathing heavily.

Mouse slowly backed up against the wall as Sap stood, groaning as he got to his hooves and stumbled towards his washbasin. He knelt down, reaching for the flagstones, before falling to his knees and landing hard.

He groaned, before his hoof dug underneath one of the flagstones and pulled it up, revealing a hole beneath it, and a metal chest set neatly into the recess. Unlocking it with a key from a pouch around his neck, he clawed it open, and inadvertently gave Mouse a clear view of the contents. Several pane of Blackglass, a hoofful of shards, and a small, leather bound book.

Sap grabbed a large shard, and drew it across his fetlock, creating another future scar to join the latticework that sat there. It took a minute or two, but finally, Sap’s breathing slowed, and he dragged himself up to the washbasin and mirror.

He splashed the cold water in his face, before he leveled a cold glare into the silvered glass in front of him. “You are scum, you know that?” He asked.

Mouse nearly jumped, sure that Sap was talking to him, before Sap continued.

“You said you’d quit. You said it wouldn't affect your work, but here we are, still unable to sleep, and a damn-good thief kicked out because you're too paranoid to let one of Cut’s best get too close,” he grunted, before dragging a hoof across his face.

Mouse stayed quiet, listening as the leader of the Baltimare gang verbally abused himself in the mirror. “Let me guess, going to quit again, for real this time?” he asked before he sighed, and sobbed.

“I can't keep doing this,” Sap muttered. “I can't keep bribing them. Can’t keep them all looking the other way. One of them’s going to crack. Can’t keep doing this...”

He muttered the mantra over and over, replacing the loose flagstone automatically, before returning to his bed, tired and sobbing.

Mouse waited, focused on keeping his spell up as Sap fell back to sleep, and only when he heard the soft breathing of a sleeping pony did he move. He rushed for the flagstone, and the hidden chest beneath it. The wet earth and the metal chest were cold to the touch, and Mouse quickly clicked it open with a lockpick spell.

The chest opened softly, and Mouse quickly grabbed the book, and began to skim it’s contents. Bribes of blackglass to members, killing the ones who didn’t comply, fraudulent numbers, empty crates and missing shipments all lay before him, written in a meticulous, careful hoof. It was never enough to warrant attention, but just enough to supply every one of Sap’s needs.

It was all Mouse needed.

He shut the book and shoved it into his bag, before he closed the chest, re-locked it, and set it back into the mud.

“Now for the hard part,” Mouse thought, as he looked over to Sap sleeping form. He reached back into his bag for the little gift Cut had gotten for him, and snuck forward towards the sleeping earth pony.

Using every ounce of his skill, he reached for the small bag that hung around Sap’s neck. He carefully, cautiously opened it, sliding the token inside.

And then his hoof brushed against Sap’s fur.

The gang leader’s eyes snapped open.

He turned, staring Mouse in the face.

For a single second, Mouse stared back.

Then he bolted, crashing through the door into the office, even as Sap leapt out of his bed, screaming.

Out of the office, up the stairs, Mouse ran for the entrance to the Highwayman’s Alehouse.

Sap chased him, running up behind the thief screaming. “I’m going to kill you!” he roared, and Mouse knew he certainly meant it.

The smaller thief burst into the alehouse, and charged through the tables, sending them rocking before Pale Ale called after him. “Hey, enough of the running!”

Sap followed a second later, throwing the tables out of his way as he followed after Mouse, roaring a wordless, furious scream.

Mouse careened out into the street, hooves digging into dirt road outside as he took a hard right. His eyes were searching the side streets for the sign he was hoping for.

Sap tore into the dirt, vision red as he chased after the pony. He had to kill the spy now. He had tried to steal the key for his chest, tried to expose him to the Head Thief, he had to die.

Mouse took a corner, taking it hard, and rushing towards the docks with Sap following close behind. His eyes checked every side street, searching for the signal that she was holding up her side of the deal.

There.

He ran down the street, keeping his eyes forward, before the sound of crashing metal rang behind him.

He slowed to a stop, turning around to face Sap, who. Was buried beneath four, heavily armored guards. They pinned Sap's legs, holding him to the dust as he growled and grunted, trying to get closer to the thief who sold him out.

“Search him,” another guard ordered, even as Golden Shield walked up next to Mouse as he stared down at the gang leader.

“So this is the leader?” She asked.

Mouse smiled. “No, my dear, Officer Shield. This is the pony that's been taunting the guard all this time.”

One of the guards reached into Sap’s pouch, before he pulled a silver amulet from the bag. “It's Lady Ruby’s signet amulet.”

“What?” Sap asked, pulling his gaze from Mouse for the first time. “No, that can’t be! I’ve been set up!”

“Sure you are,” one of the guards said, “and the message scrawled into the Lady’s wall just showed up this morning, right?”

“You idiots!” Sap yelled. “This is a set up! You have the wrong pony!”

Mouse smiled as he turned back to the Officer. “So, as we agreed, you catch a much bigger fish than me, you get the credit for taking down the infamous taunting thief, I make sure he stays in jail, and you get a mess out of my name, and I get off clean. Everypony wins, am I right?”

She gave him an uncertain glare.

“Oh, cheer up, Officer. This’ll probably get you promoted.”

Golden Shield stared at him, silently.

Mouse shrugged. “Ah well, I must be off. Don't want you turning the deal sour on me,” he said, before he began to leave.

“Why did you do it?” she asked as Mouse took his first step away.

Mouse looked back at the officer, eyebrow raised.

She waited for an answer.

“There’s one thing I hate more than guards, Officer. Traitors. And traitors deserve no loyalty.”