• Published 7th Apr 2017
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The Amulet of Shades - Sparkle Cola



Unfortunately, the Nightmare Moon Incident had one further complication...

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Chapter Five: Manehattan Mayhem

She should have teleported away as soon as she knew Meadow was safe. Tempest quickly ducked back behind the parapet edge as she started to breathe faster. There was now a skilled unicorn on her trail that could magically track her position, at least if she was keeping a distant spell active through a mana stream. That was a magical ability she had never seen.

Tempest quickly looked to her hooves to ensure the invisibility spell was still active. It would not do to have law enforcement see her and associate her with the events at the library. Would he teleport up? Could he teleport this far? No sense in waiting to find out. Tempest channeled more magic through her horn as she teleported onto a building one block away. The action broke her invisibility charm, but that was expected. She immediately renewed the spell.

Getting her bearings and making sure the roof was deserted, she crept towards the edge to peer down at the roof of the building she had been standing on. From her position she watched as the unicorn on the ground completed his own teleport spell, landing not too far from where she had been standing before. Without any mana stream maintaining an active spell from a distance, he wouldn’t be able to track her, right? She hoped she was right.

Tempest smirked, as she watched his horn start to glow again. “You’ve got nothing to track this time mister,” she muttered under her breath. Almost as if he had heard her, the unicorn suddenly turned his head, as if he was looking exactly at where she was standing.

“No—!” Tempest murmured. “How could he—?“

The unicorn completed his second teleport spell, and was now standing only twelve meters away, looking around to survey his surroundings. With a rising sense of panic, Tempest reviewed her options. She didn’t want to cause this pony or anypony harm, but her hesitance in dealing with this threat decisively was now greatly increasing her chances of being seen or even caught. She had promised herself that the ends would justify the means, but when it really came down to it, how could she just reach out and harm another pony?

No. Not harm. Just incapacitate a little bit.

She supposed she could draw upon the Eye again, but after what happened to the librarian, she didn’t want to try that yet. Alternatively, she could try stunning him with a magical blast but escalating the situation like that would definitely dissolve the delicate invisibility charm, making her visible not only to him but to any other ponies that happen to be at a vantage point to watch an impromptu magic duel. There was always teleportation, but again, channeling that many Thaums of magic would dissolve her invisibility, leaving a chance for her to become completely visible before the spell was completed.

Paralyzed by indecision, Tempest kept quiet, almost holding her breath as she watched the unicorn pace back and forth, something like a caged tiger. She cursed herself for her hesitance.

“You are probably wondering how I did that,” the stallion smirked, his voice lazy and confident. He continued to look back and forth, scanning the area. “If you turn yourself in, I promise I’ll let you know.” He turned in place slowly before retracing his steps, coming closer again. “I might even teach you the spell—it takes some powerful, highly specialized focus... but you seem to be up to it.”

Tempest grimaced at his taunting, scanning the roof for any other option. The area was rather barren, except for a fenced in area housing some type of mechanical equipment, and two small structures with featureless doors, likely hiding stairway access points. The view past the edge of the building was an impressive scene, marked by a chaotic jumble of buildings of variable heights, shapes, and styles. Only a few were taller than the building she was on, but the whole display would have made for a spectacular view if she were here to take in the sights. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of anything she could use for a distraction in the immediate vicinity. The roof surface was coated in a dark, pitch-like substance with some loose gravel and dust on top. Wrinkling her nose, she noted that even taking a single step could create a visible disturbance or an audible scuff.

As Tempest watched him, she racked her brain to think. He could obviously track teleportation windows, but this ability was likely only usable in the immediate moments after a teleport, before the residual magic energies would have had a chance to disperse. She was more interested in how he picked up on her mana stream. Tempest gently pulled her hood back over her head with her magic. It was silly, because she knew she was invisible, but the action still made her feel safer.

The unicorn was close enough that she could now read his name badge, confirming the name she thought she had heard through her Eavesdrop spell. This was Officer Rebus Hunter, head of the Crime Investigation Unit for Manehattan, Eastside Precinct. He turned his head slightly to speak into the device pinned to the lapel of his uniform.

“Rebus to dispatch. I am 10-23, in pursuit of potential lead involving the library incident. Location: roof of the Bank of Equestria building. Code 10-78, request backup, including air support to encircle and scout.”

Whatever she decided to do, Tempest realized that she was running out of time. The officer was pretty convinced she was still there on the roof, diminishing her hopes that if she just remained quiet he would lose interest and search elsewhere. Sure enough, Tempest noticed a few airborne specks changing directions and heading towards their location on the roof, likely pegusi officers.

“Um, hello? Sir or ma’am?” The stallion cleared his throat and began scanning around again. “If you’re still here, anyway. It’s my best lead, and I’m not leaving until I have exhausted it…” He continued in a louder voice. “You don’t need to draw this out—you know how it will conclude. If you are concealing yourself, it’s best you just drop the pretense and come peacefully. We can talk about this—no need for things to get too exciting.”

Maybe I could do a more risky maneuver. I just need to be out of his line of sight for a second and he won’t get a glimpse! Then I can teleport well out of his range.

Tempest couldn’t believe she was considering a freefall teleport. The professors at Sisters’ School had been emphatic that such a maneuver was a terrible idea. Even a full second while accelerating back to Planet Equus was enough time to impart some significant velocity, and the focus required to do so while falling is extremely difficult. She remembered the day Professor Ward actually challenged the class to try it—during a visit to the local lake. There were a few students cocky enough to try, and they all landed in the lake with considerably more velocity than planned. Half had successfully teleported, but only after free-falling for a few seconds. Tempest did not want to go out that way. Leaving a pony shaped splat on the ground certainly wouldn’t help Luna.

While Tempest stood there watching Rebus, his magic lifted a small transparent bag out from a compartment in his utility belt. The substance in the bag was pure white, but it seemed to be malleable as his magic lifted it above his head. Rebus looked up with a smirk.

“Ever heard of dusting for hoofprints?” Tempest’s eyes widened as she realized what Rebus was about to do.

With a flash of his horn, Rebus ripped the bag open and began shaking the powder out. His telekinesis moved the bag in a search pattern, crossing back and forth in overlapping rows, and closing in on her position. It was a clever maneuver: even if the powder ran out before he reached her position, her options for movement would be nil, as stepping across the fine powder was sure to leave hoofprints. Unfortunately, based on where he started, he was likely to reach where she was standing with powder to spare.

Trying not to panic, Tempest drew upon her own magic to push the air across their path, blowing the powder to the side. It wasn’t on the level of what a skilled pegasus could do, but it did manage to blow the powder to the side, causing Rebus to curse under his breath and pull the bag back towards him before he lost any more. Unfortunately, the use of her magic caused her invisibility status to flicker.

The stallion smiled, turning his head towards his transmitter. He began to speak into the device, but his eyes never left her exact position. Tartarus, he had seen her. “We have a 10-75. Converge on the roof.” Rebus looked up. “Okay, Ms. or Mr. unicorn? You can go ahead and drop the spell now. Just come with me—we don’t need to make this more complicated than it has to be.”

Tempest pressed her lips together. Now that she had been seen, she didn’t want to reveal anything else, like the extent of her magical skills. A long-range teleport would probably do that. Perhaps some misdirection? The Lunar Guard anciently specialized in deception, infiltration, and misdirection. Mavis once described to her a double teleport maneuver unicorns could do, causing their opponent to believe one was at one location while vacating to another. The key was to have credible bait, or even an illusion. All she needed to do was evade Rebus Hunter’s sight for a moment. If it worked, she would have the entire police force running entirely the other way.

* * *

“How long before the sedative wears off?”

Doctor Epsilon Saltz lifted an eyebrow before turning to look at the smaller mare, shrugging with his wings with a smile. “Well, the subject got hit by a law enforcement tranquilizer dart at around 1:32 PM. Given the known potency of their darts, and the patient’s weight, we should still have about twenty minutes. If you’ll just take her vitals, I’ll administer an antidote to the sedative afterwards, and then we can get started with her psyche assessment.”

Dr. Saltz was six months into his residency with Manehattan General Hospital, having completed his medical degree at Mount Eris University. It was going to be a while before he became board-certified and licensed as a psychiatrist, but that didn’t deter him from being rather full of himself. Most of the staff looked up to him at Manehattan General, but that was mostly due to his hippogriff stature.

They turned down the psychiatric wing of the hospital, and then he continued. “However, I’m not sure we are going to even going to need you after you finish with her vitals, but the head doctor on staff insisted.”

Merry Rhymes furrowed her brows, trying to keep her expression neutral. She had been working as a nurse for Manehattan General for almost twenty years, and she was one of only two individuals that had additional certifications in treating magical maladies. It was rare she got to use this particular skill set and she would rather not be kept out of the loop just because a young hotshot doctor had something to prove. “Whether you end up needing me or not, I can scan for magical phenomena that most ponies would miss.”

Dr. Saltz turned to face her. “Yes, yes, you have some background knowledge in caring for magical maladies.” Nurse Rhymes flicked an ear at his dismissive comment. “But such things tend to be extremely rare. This is probably just another mental breakdown of a pony under too much stress, only a little more violent than is commonly seen. Once things have simmered down, I am sure that poor Ms. Sigil will be more concerned about the restraints she is wearing and the ponies she hurt than what was she was stressed about.”

“Hmm.” Nurse Rhymes didn’t chance more than that to reply. She normally gave ponies the benefit of the doubt, but it sounded like in order to be a good shrink, Dr. Saltz would need to get his own head shrunk down a little bit—or at least his ego.

Dr. Saltz held up a claw, studying the backs of his talons before continuing. “I am sure she is a gentle and a soft-spoken mare that just ended up having a really bad day. Furthermore, she didn’t use any type of magical attack other than telekinetically throwing books around.” He put turned and began walking towards the patient room again. “Hardly life threatening, in my opinion.”

“If you say so.” Nurse Merry Rhymes’ tail flicked as she turned to follow him. She considered that if she used her own telekinesis and launched one of Dr. Saltz’s medical compendiums at his head, he might suddenly ascribe to a different medical opinion. In her own assessment, reviewing the facts of this particular case, she noticed a few things that struck her as off. In her twenty year career as a nurse for Manehattan General, she had seen many weird things, and a crazed librarian slinging library books at her patrons didn’t even reach the top ten. What bothered her more was how the police seemed a little on edge, and how they described her as something… feral.

Doctor Saltz looked over his shoulder and gave her a suave smile as he smoothed out his lab coat. “And if you are worried about the eye-witness reports of our patient growling and snapping at the patrons, well…” He made a scoffing noise. “Ponies can embellish a little when they are frightened by something.”

As the two rounded the corner, the taller hippogriff dodged to the right as he nearly collided with a pegasus mare in police uniform. He then slowed to a full stop as he looked past the mare at the door of the patient room. There were two more police officers stationed on either side of the door, almost as if they were trying to impersonate some of the Canterlot Castle Guard. Nurse Rhymes looked over at Doctor Saltz, who had stopped so suddenly that his stethoscope rapped against his azure chest on the backswing.

“Oh, they were totally embellishing,” Nurse Rhymes snarked. “Those officers must have heard it was free donut-day or something, right?” The police mare just behind her gave a snort of irritation while Dr. Saltz twitched his tail in annoyance. Nurse Rhymes turned back to the offended mare, giving her a placating smile. “Um, no offense, ma’am…”

Finally inside to look at the patient, Nurse Rhymes noted that the mare in question was exactly as the medical reports from the E.R. had described her: middle aged unicorn mare, unremarkable for any physical feature, no visible signs of injury or pathology. Moonlight Sigil could have been any other pony asleep in the bed, except for the restraints on her wrists and fetlocks. Dismayed, Nurse Rhymes also observed the steel-reinforced muzzle restraint fitted on the patient’s face. Surely such a thing was excessive?

Nurse Rhymes looked back at Dr. Saltz, raising an eyebrow when she noticed he was still hanging back by the door. “Shall we begin?” She studied him for a moment, noticing an actual look of concern. “Doctor?”

“Y-Yes.” Dr. Saltz shook his head before he walked forward, pulling a vial of medicine out from a pocket in his lab coat. “But—let’s make sure those restraints are extra secure before I administer the antidote, okay? In fact, I’m going to administer it as a low drip, instead of injecting it all at once. Wouldn’t want to discomfit the patient…”

Nurse Rhymes quirked an eyebrow. “...right.”

“Just… take her vitals and do your job, then let me do mine.”

“Right away, Doctor.”

Nurse Rhymes wrapped the blood pressure cuff around the patient’s left foreleg, listening to the slow rhythm of her deep breaths. Once the velcro closure was secure, she activated the air pump in the wall with her magic. As the little motor whirred, filling the blood pressure cuff with air, Merry noticed something was off. The patient’s foreleg had moved away from the edge of the hospital bed and the binding was under a large amount of strain. Looking up into the patient’s face, Merry saw that Moonlight Sigil was looking at her. Just a momentary glance filled her heart with ice, as the baleful look of hatred this mare was giving her made Merry shiver in her scrubs. She flinched back as the restrained mare lunged for her, instincts of self-preservation taking over as the restraints drew taut with a snap.

* * *

Two pegusi officers were closing in from the North. Tempest wasn’t sure, but among the normal pegasus traffic in the air, she thought she could make out two more several blocks away change directions and heading this way.

Tempest swallowed as she sensed the noose growing tighter. It was true that she had made a foolish attempt on Celestia back so long ago, but that had been out of a singular drive of anger and desperation. And stupidity. But back then, she was the hunter. Now she was the hunted, and she didn’t like it.

Perhaps she would need to grow accustomed to it? No! That was why she was trying to evade being seen, to not give the police any more info to use in tracking her down! She would need to lie low and work from the shadows until she could spring her own trap, but first she had to get away.

Preparing her magic to make a double teleport, she added the elements of an elaborate illusion spell in order lead the ponies away. She was only going to get one shot at this. She wasn’t sure how much of her invisibility cover flickered, but she wasn’t going to wait around any longer. Tempest activated her spell in a burst of light, easily breaking the invisibility charm from the mana output, and landed at the base of the building across the street. Tempest had chosen this exact location to allow Rebus to visually see her location, before running past the corner of it, breaking his line of sight.

Once she had crossed what she estimated to be his visual boundary, Tempest triggered her second teleport spell, landing on the roof of the tallest building on the next block. From that vantage point, she would be able to have a good field of vision to direct her spell appropriately, drawing all of the police after it as far down the avenue as possible.

An orange burst of light flashed as Rebus Hunter materialized where her image had just been but by then she had already animated it to move away from that position at a gallop. As soon as Rebus had oriented to where she was and spotted the running figure, he took off after it, yelling something inaudible into his communication device again.

Tempest smirked as she watched watched her plan work beautifully. All of the attention would be directed at stopping her doppelganger, and eventually they would be several blocks away, allowing her to disappear without a trace. She was careful to not look away from her image for too long. Tracking it carefully would make the illusion far more real, and of course reactive to whatever was happening around it. Kind of important in the middle of a chase.

Risking a second Eavesdrop spell, Tempest split her attention and called up the necessary enchantment again, this time centered on Rebus’s utility belt as the auditory pick-up focus. As soon as her spell connected, she was able to listen to his instructions mid-stream.

“I said funnel her down a side alley! And get those ponies off the street… I don’t care, either get them off, or get her off, I don’t want any kind of casualties! We are dealing with at least a beta-level unicorn here!” The unicorn paused, listening to something before muttering some colorful swears before continuing. “ —Then she’ll have to be delayed! Tell the mayor she can park her rosy flank and wait! I need a class 2 magical barrier and at least six fliers, preferably before we get to the next intersection if not before! Failing that, at least get me a net!”

Rebus’s horn flashed as he sent a couple of magic blasts towards the fleeing illusion. Tempest flinched as she directed the illusion to dodge to the left with her eyes, but then she blinked, thinking about where he had been aiming. Either the lead investigator was a really poor shot or he was missing on purpose.

In a moment, two pegasi glided up to Rebus’s position from behind, and slowed their flight to his current speed. This confirmed Tempest’s suspicion.

“Yep. They are trying to funnel me towards something.” Tempest whispered. “C’mon, then. Let’s see what they have for me.” Suddenly, Tempest’s brow furrowed before she blinked twice. “Is that what my flank looks like from behind—?”

Tempest started to study the area ahead, about two more blocks distance, until she noticed a few ponies milling about near the intersection. Ironic, that by trying to appear inconspicuous, they had made themselves altogether too obvious. Scanning the area a little more carefully, she noticed the nose of a white vehicle parked just out of sight and around the corner of the building there. She would bet her left hoof that was a police vehicle. Fortunately, on the other side of the street, there were a few fruit stands that seemed to be abandoned.

Smirking, Tempest ran her image at a diagonal, crossing the road and heading straight for the fruit stands at the corner. This was apparently not according to the police team’s liking, because the maneuver caused the pegusi trailing her to move up rapidly, shoulder-fired net guns at the ready.

Two more pegusi flew in from the left, obviously attempting to redirect her back towards the police vehicle and whatever else was waiting over there. Tempest gritted her teeth and hoped she could make her illusion dodge in a believable manner, because she really wanted to make it to those fruit stands.

Unexpectedly, the first pegasus simply cut across her path dropping a large payload of black liquid. He was a green colored stallion with an impressive wingspan, and dropped the substance in a rapid flash, his blue tail trailing out behind him. Tempest animated her image to jump across, hoping that the leap wasn’t too exaggerated but still able to clear it. Mid air, Tempest realized her mistake as she saw the second pegasus fire a net from her hovering position. The pink mare had a manic grin as the net deployed, and she tossed her frazzled cornflower mane as her net struck.

Tempest wasn’t sure which was the bigger trap, the oily substance or the mare with the gun. Either way, she had to act fast. As the net struck her image, Tempest rolled the image shoulder over tail in a desperate attempt to make it appear like the net had clipped her and caused her to fall.

“Feathering… Tartarus take them all!” Tempest gritted out. Her horn flashed as she added a light show to her image, causing the image to appear as if it had teleported out from under the net and back to running, almost upon the fruit stands. She made the image dive into an orange vendor’s fruit stand, and with another burst of magic, she pushed the stand back with a massive telekinetic shove. The stand tipped, causing oranges to roll everywhere and hopefully making it look like she got buried.

Tempest chuckled as she watched several uniformed officers dive into the rolling fruit after her. The scene would have been comical had she been reading about it in a story. Stopping the flow of her mana stream to the illusion and the Eavesdrop spell, Tempest noticed belatedly that Rebus had stopped running and his horn was glowing again.

“It was an illusion. I am on the roof of the Novaintellus Corporation building with the suspect. Repeat, 10-75 with the suspect. Request immediate backup.”

Tempest was stunned as she spun around, making full eye contact with Rebus Hunter for the first time. He seemed to be breathing heavily, almost completely exhausted. She wasn’t sure if that was due to recent magic expenditure on such a long teleport, or more from his galloping after her image. Perhaps both. But how had he seen through her illusion and found her so quickly?

“So!” He breathed out in between gasps for air. “That was a nifty trick with the illusion there, ma’am—you have some serious skills. You are obviously not self-taught. Where did you study?”

“H-how?”

“The illusion was flawless.” Rebus chuckled, as he wiped the sweat off of his brow with a hoof. “Very well done. Is that your special talent?”

Tempest pursed her lips, watching him bring up a ring out of a pocket in his utility belt. Most likely a magic dampening ring.

“Eh. No matter,” he said. “Your mistake was your teleport. I know teleports. I know what they look like, what they feel like… and an illusion can’t teleport. Illusions can only put up light shows. Once I realized that, I realized you had an active mana stream going again. You were quick to shut it off, but not before I saw where you were standing.”

The pegasus officers were nearly upon her. It was time to get out. There was nothing for it now. This pony may know teleports, but he wasn’t about to follow her at this distance.

“Well, it has been a pleasant afternoon. Sorry I can’t stay and chat with your welcoming party.” Tempest felt a massive pull on the magic around her as she drew deep into her reserves for a long-range teleport. Her horn flashed her trademark brilliant green, but then the light intensity rapidly exploded into blinding white before she blinked and was gone.

* * *

Kicking her legs back and forth on the seat she was waiting on, Meadow took in the rather spartan surroundings of the interview room she was in. The police officer that accompanied her to the precinct had stepped out for a few minutes, but promised she would be right back. Talking with Marigold was helpful in taking her mind off of the harrowing scene she had just witnessed at the Manehattan Library. Marigold was a soft-spoken earth pony with a saffron colored coat and a bronze mane styled into a no-nonsense bun. She had been gentle and understanding, but she did convince Meadow to testify as a witness with the promise that the information might also help turn up her missing friend.

Meadow shuddered as her mind drifted to the events she had just seen. To see such a sweet and grandmotherly mare acting like that: growling, salivating, screeching—and to see her bombard library patrons with books! She wasn’t sure why she was so willing to simply run into the scene. Somehow she just felt like she needed to help, but she never thought her martial arts training would ever be useful in that way. She was glad her earth pony strength came through for her when she kicked that bookshelf over. The distraction allowed her to pull the other two ponies to safety, but then all she could do was bar the door and hide along with them. The mother had looked so scared!

Swallowing quickly, Meadow hopped off of her seat to pace around the room. She didn’t want to think about it any more, so she distracted herself wondering what could have happened to Tempest. She observed the large window situated behind the table she had been sitting in front of, and guessed that it was for observation. She couldn’t see much else other than her reflection, but she had read enough police and mystery novels that she knew what the window was for. She wondered if she were actively being observed right now.

Having circled the room for a third time, the door suddenly opened, causing Meadow to jump back with an almost inaudible “eep!”

Nosing her way into the room, it was obvious that Marigold had been studiously going over something on a clipboard held in her left hoof, but she looked up with an apologetic smile. “Ah, sorry about that Ms. Meadow. I was just collecting all of the um, pertinent info on this case, and more info has been coming in.” The mare chuckled weakly, and Meadow noticed with some distress that Marigold’s mane had become rather unsettled since she had seen her only fifteen minutes ago. “Anyway, I didn’t mean to make you jump. Would you like to take a seat?”

Meadow nodded silently, climbing back onto the stool that seemed to have been built for a pony of a larger stature than her. As she watched Marigold, she found further evidence that the mare seemed stressed, if her flicking ears were any indication.

“So, I know you just witnessed some disturbing things back at the library, Ms. Meadow, but we do need to ask you a few questions.” Marigold got comfortable behind the desk, framed by the observation window behind her, and and dropped her voice almost to a whisper, setting her clipboard down. “Would that be okay, Ms. Meadow?”

“That would be fine.” Meadow Lark replied in a small voice. She wondered if her face displayed how distraught she was feeling.

“The mare that you saw in there, the one… growling, and throwing the books—” Marigold looked like she had bit on something sour before taking a breath and letting it out. “—That mare is the assistant librarian for the Manehattan Library. Her name is Moonlight Sigil. She... her police record is completely clean. Has never even broken a city ordinance. Never been fined. Not a violent or aggressive bone in her body.”

Meadow nodded her head silently. What could she say? Oh, wait, she hadn’t been asked any questions yet. “Tea?” Almost on cue, a pegasus stallion walked in with a tea pot and some place settings. He set them down, along with a tray of pastries, and without a word, he nodded to Marigold and left.

Blinking her eyes absently, Meadow automatically reached forward, pulling one of the teacups towards her and hoofing the teapot. “What would make a nice mare do… that?”

The saffron mare behind the desk sighed, pouring herself a cup of tea as well. “What indeed?” Marigold took a sip from her teacup while watching Meadow Lark intently. “How long have you known your new friend?”

“Tempest?” Meadow responded. “Well, I met her during the passenger ship voyage we were on from Griffonstone to Manehattan. She seemed to be so aloof and pensive—and she looked like she could use a friend—so I introduced myself. Friendship Day is next Friday, after all, and I promised myself I would make a new friend to celebrate.”

Marigold looked at her tea for a moment, pressing her lips together, before looking up at Meadow again with a sad smile. “That sounds wonderful. I’m glad you take Friendship Day to heart.” Meadow smiled in response. “And... what kinds of magical skills does this Tempest possess?”

Meadow’s smile broadened as her ears perked up. “Well, she is really good with teleportation.” Meadow suddenly sat up straighter. “Y’know, she could have just teleported out when that librarian became violent!” Feeling some relief, Meadow hoofed a pastry, before looking up to find Marigold looking at her oddly. Why was she looking at her that way? Meadow had been feeling some relief, but now she was starting to feel an odd anxiety that was building in the pit of her stomach.

Marigold continued to study her, expressionless. “Have you seen any other examples of this pony’s magic, Ms. Meadow?

“Um. I’ve seen her telekinesis, but, um… no?”

“And this pony never used any magic on you that you can recall, is that correct? Ms. Meadow?”

Feeling a dawning realization, Meadow leaned forward, placing both hooves on Marigold’s desk. “You… you think that Tempest had something to do with it?” Meadow’s voice ended on a squeak. “She couldn’t… she wouldn’t! There’s just no way!”

Meadow’s mind raced, as she reviewed earlier conversations and activities she did with Tempest. Sure, Tempest had said some pretty odd things, like when she was talking about amulets and asking about unicorn horns, but that was just because she had never been to Equestria before… right? She was starting to get a gnawing feeling in the pit of her stomach.

Meadow looked back up to make eye contact with Marigold, her voice full of concern. “You didn’t see Tempest after the library incident? Did you?”

Marigold ignored her question. Her voice sounded a bit more direct. “What were your plans for later, my dear? You were headed back to the library, perhaps to meet with your friend again? What were you going to do next?”

Meadow’s eyes began to fill with tears. “We were just going to meet up again, and join my cousin for dinner! We were just going to relax and… and have dinner.” She sniffled and rubbed a hoof across her muzzle.

Marigold got up from her seat and crossed over to Meadow to give her a soothing hug. “Oooh, of course, my dear, of course.” She stroked Meadow’s back with a hoof. “And perhaps you still can. Why don’t you go ahead and visit your cousin? I am sure your cousin would be glad to see you. And thank you, by the way, for you helping to answer some of our questions. Your assistance has been very helpful.”

Wiping her eyes, Meadow returned the hug. “You’re welcome. Just… I hope you can find my friend.” Not knowing what else to say, she broke the hug and wiped at her eyes, giving a heavy sniffle. Marigold walked her to the door, giving her a hoofkerchief when they arrived at the entrance.

“Just call us if there is any trouble, my dear. If you see anything suspicious… please call us.” She hoofed Meadow Lark a card. “We would like to help if we can.”

“Sure. Thank you… G’bye.” Meadow mumbled, before she turned and trotted back towards the street. That conversation had left her a little shaken, so visiting with her cousin Coco right now would be just what she needed. Now that she knew that Tempest was a top suspect in this crazy case—maybe because the magic store owner had reported something strange in regards to her as well—it filled her with anxiety. Surely her new friend wouldn’t be capable of anything malicious like that! She had to find her: and then they would talk, mare to mare.

Author's Note:

Much thanks to Darth Pegasus and BlazingMoon for their excellent work on pre-reading, comments, and edits. You guys were a heck of a lot of fun to work with. Also thanks to Wolf Lord Eric Longtooth for his comments as well. And thanks to Tillie-TMB for whipping out a quick picture in a very short period of time b/c I was like "I wanna publish I wanna publish!"

Also, the pic idea came from Darth Pegasus. We got a little cartoonish there, but why the heck not? Police piling into crates of oranges is always funny...

Until next time - love you guys. And as always, comments welcome and appreciated.

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