• Published 20th Mar 2019
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Frame by Frame: A Detective Rarity Mystery - RB_



Brushes with death aren't usually this literal.

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The Magnificent Miracle of the Meticulous Mortician

Rarity stormed into the office block, a death glare on her face. The crimson folds of her coat billowed out behind her. The devil herself had walked into the room, wreathed in fire, and she’d brought her very best fashion sense.

And her prismatic assistant, of course, who came flying in shortly after.

“M-ma’am!” Lieutenant Stickler stammered, looking even smaller than usual. “I told you before, I cannot let you—”

“Where is Mr. Piega’s body!?” Rarity demanded.

“What?”

“Mr. Piega’s body,” she repeated. “It is not in that room. Where is it?”

“A-at the funeral parlor!” he said. “How could you have possibly known—”

“Never mind that,” Rarity said. “The funeral parlor? Then he is being prepared for a ceremony? Already?”

“Better be a closed-casket one,” Rainbow muttered.

“Erm... not quite, ma’am.” Stickler said. “His will requested that he be cremated. He wanted his ashes scattered off of the edge of Canter—”

“Cremated!” Rarity exclaimed. “You cannot be serious!”

“Now, ma’am,” Lieutenant Stickler said. “While it might not be universally accepted by all religions, cremation after death is entirely ethical, and ultimately it was his choice—”

“Not that!” Rarity said. “If his body is burned, then we won’t be able to examine it!”

She spun about and ran for the exit.

“Hurry, Rainbow Dash!” she cried. “Before we’re too late!”


They were too late.

Rarity watched with dismay as the table was pulled from the brick-lined oven, covered with ash in rough outline of a pony.

She really, really didn’t want to think about the smell.

“I’m very sorry,” the funeral technician said, as she retrieved a dustpan and brush and began to sweep what remained of their victim into a neat little pile. “If I’d known that you wanted to take a look at him, I would have held off.”

“It’s...” Rarity swallowed. “It’s alright. You couldn’t have known.”

In truth, though, it was far from alright, and she knew it. First no crime scene, now no body. Today was not going well for Detective Rarity.

“I assume you, at least, got a good look at him before...?”

The technician nodded. “That I did. A bit too good of a look, if I’m being honest. I’ve never had a gunshot victim in here before, and I can say with all honesty I never want to see another one.”

“So he was definitely shot, then?”

“Well... see for yourself.”

The technician fished something out of the ash pile and held it up. It glinted in the light. Rarity’s horn lit and brought it closer, but she already knew what it was.

“This is the bullet, then,” she said, turning the lump of metal over in her magic.

The technician nodded. “Must have stayed in his skull.”

“So he was shot in the head?”

“Oh yes,” the technician said, sweeping the last of the ashes into an urn. “Right through the left temple. Would have gone straight into his brain, I’m guessing. He would have died almost instantly.”

She blushed. “Er, well, I think anyway. I’m no doctor.”

“Still, that’s very helpful to know,” Rarity said. “Thank you.”

She cast a glance to the side, at a folded pile of fabric on one of the countertops.

“Were these Mr. Piega’s clothes?” she asked.

“Oh—yes,” the technician said, blushing again. “We’re supposed to burn those too, technically, but it just seemed such a waste...”

“Oh, I quite agree,” Rarity said, approaching them. Delicately, she lifted up the top article—a grey lounge jacket—and inspected it. “This is an Ariamaspi original, pure wool! Burning it would be a crime against fashion.”

She cast a glance back at the technician.“Would you mind if I took a look at these?” she asked.

“Knock yourself out.”

The technician returned to her tasks. Rarity began going over the jacket in detail, examining every inch with the experienced eyes of a tailor. Rainbow, who had kept quiet up to this point, decided to ask the obvious.

“Do you really think we’re going to get anything from the guy’s clothes?” she asked. “I mean, without a body, we’re pretty much sunk, right?”

“Not necessarily,” Rarity replied, examining the jacket’s sleeve. “I’ve always said that one can learn a lot about a pony by the way they dress. Hopefully, in this case, they can tell us something about how one died.”

She quickly examined the other sleeve, unfurling both cuffs, then moved on to the shoulders. There was quite a bit of blood, here, particularly on the left shoulder and down the front. Rarity stifled a gag; whether this was due to the blood or the desecration of such a fine article of clothing was anyone’s guess.

Rarity raised the suit’s collar, and her eyebrows raised with it. There was a bloodstain under the lapel—quite distinct from the messy splatter on the outside of the jacket. This one was in the shape of two parallel lines, both on the inside of the fold, marking its entire length. What’s more, on closer inspection, a crease in the fabric became clearly visible, marking a third line running between the other two.

“It seems it has something to say after all,” she murmured.

Continuing on, she began looking through the jacket’s pockets. The outer ones yielded nothing, but the inner one...

“Hel-lo,” Rarity said. “What have we here?”

She carefully turned the thing inside out. The inside of the pocket bore several odd, off-colour stains—bizarrely so, as apart from the bloodstains, the rest of the jacket was impeccable. Lowering her muzzle, Rarity gave it a quick (but dignified) sniff.

“Machine oil,” she declared. “And recently stained, too. With the number of times I’ve had to chastise Pinkie for getting it on her dresses, I’d recognize it anywhere.”

“What’s Pinkie doing with machine oil?”

“I hope I never find out.”

Rarity proceeded to examine the other articles of clothing with the same keen eye, but besides proving that Mr. Piega had been a snappy dresser, they yielded nothing out of the ordinary. They thanked the technician for her time, and then they were on their way again.


“There is one other thing about our client I feel I should mention,” Rarity said. They were on their way back up to the mansion, along the same path they’d taken twice earlier.

Rainbow raised an eyebrow. “How come you didn’t bring it up before, then?”

“Because it’s hardly the type of thing one would talk about in polite company,” Rarity said. “Still, it may be relevant.”

“Alright,” Rainbow said. “Lay it on me.”

“Mr. Râtelier supposedly suffers from a rare form of impotency,” she said.

“...O-kay, starting to see why you didn’t bring it up.”

Rarity scoffed. “Magical impotence. Really, Rainbow, you must get your mind out of the gutter.”

“You did that on purpose.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, darling,” Rarity said, smiling with all the innocence of a newborn car salesman. “Regardless, his magic is perfectly normal, but the range at which he can cast spells is woefully small—not much more than a meter, or so I’ve been told.”

“So he has trouble getting his horn up,” Rainbow said. “What’s this got to do with the case?”

“Well, it occurs to me,” Rarity said, “that it would be somewhat difficult to pull a revolver off the wall from the other side of the room if you cannot lift things from more than a leg’s-length away. And if Mr. Piega was shot in the side of the head while at his desk, which faces the wall that the revolver was supposedly mounted upon...”

“Then it’s impossible for Mr. Râtelier to be the killer,” Rainbow finished. “Piega would have been shot from the front!”

“Well, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible,” Rarity admitted. “But it does seem unlikely that Mr. Piega would turn his head towards a bare wall if our client had a gun pointed at him.”

“We’ve gotta tell the Lieutenant!” Rainbow said. “We can wrap up this case right now!”

“Let’s not be too hasty,” Rarity said. “For now, I think it’s about time we tracked down Mr. Râtelier’s assistant.”


“I understand you worked for Mr. Râtelier,” Rarity said, settling into her chair. They’d taken another one of the offices as their interview room. This one was much closer to Rainbow Dash’s foalhood memories. She approved.

“That’s correct,” the mare sitting on the other side of the desk replied. She pushed her glasses—thin, wire-framed things—further up her muzzle with her magic. She’d introduced herself as Rubinda Rose, and it was easy to see where she’d gotten her name: her coat was a striking crimson.

“In what capacity?” Rarity asked.

“Secretarial, mostly.”

“Would that include sorting his mail?”

“It would.”

“Mr. Râtelier claims he received a letter from Mr. Piega two days ago, inviting him to come to the Bottega,” Rarity said. “Can you confirm that?”

“Dark grey envelope, hand-written address,” Rose said, giving a curt nod. “I remember it clearly. Mr. Râtelier doesn’t usually receive mail from this part of Equestria.”

“And the contents of the letter?” Rarity asked.

“I do not know,” she said. “I don’t get paid to read my employer’s private mail.”

“But you are in the habit of joining him on trips to the countryside, it seems.”

“Only in a business capacity, I assure you.”

“Fine, then,” Rarity said. She leaned forwards and propped her hooves up on the desk. “What were you doing at the time of the murder?”

“I was waiting for Mr. Râtelier in the entrance hall of the Bottega,” Rose said. “As he had instructed.”

“Mr. Râtelier said he met with Mr. Piega for almost an hour,” Rarity said. “You were there the entire time?”

“I do not get paid to wander off on the job, Miss Rarity.”

“Did you see anyone while you were there?”

“Two ponies,” Rose said. “The first was a stallion, on his way out. He seemed to be in a hurry. Not long after, I heard the gunshot, and shortly after that a mare ran past. I asked her what was happening, but she didn’t seem to notice me. She returned a minute later, and it was from her that I learned what had happened.”

“And then what did you do?” Rarity asked.

“I went to see if she was telling the truth. She was.”

“So you visited the crime scene, then.”

“Not for very long. The smell of blood makes me nauseous.”

Rarity nodded. “I see.”

She leaned back in her chair and steepled her hooves. “Tell me, what do you know about your employer’s feud with Mr. Piega? I confess, I’m a bit short on the exact details. Perhaps you could shed some light on the circumstances of their rivalry?”

“I don’t know much about it,” Ruby said, pushing up her glasses again. “I wasn’t in Mr. Râtelier’s employ at the time.”

“Oh, come now. Surely you’ve at least heard rumors?”

“I… may have heard the older staff discussing it, once or twice.”

“And?”

“All I know is that Mr. Piega loaned Mr. Râtelier several pieces for an exhibition on good faith,” she said, “and that those pieces were never returned. Something about a ‘Démone Arc-en-ciel’, if that means anything to you. It doesn’t to me.”

Rainbow coughed. Rarity cast her an odd glance, but said nothing. Instead, she turned back to their interviewee.

“One last question?”

“If you must.”

“Were you aware that it was Mr. Râtelier who sent for our services?” Rarity asked.

This seemed to catch the mare off guard. For a split second, her lips, which had remained up to this point persistently pursed, loosened into an O.

But she regained her composure just as quickly. “No, I was not aware of that,” she said.

“Really?” Rarity said, leaning back in her chair. “You would be just as surprised as I was, then, that he sent his niece to our office to request my assistance?”

“I... yes,” she said. “I am. Is there a point to any of this, Detective?”

“I’m just surprised he would send an estranged relative to run this particular errand, rather than his own assistant,” Rarity said. “Surely you would have been the more convenient choice, if not also the more reliable.”

She fixed Rose with a measured stare.

“So why didn’t he send you?”

“I have no idea,” Rose said. “How should I know what goes on in the mind of a murderer? I don’t get paid to—”

“Yeah, I think we get the idea,” Rainbow said.

“The mind of a murderer?” Rarity remarked. “So you think he’s guilty, then?”

Rose glared at her.

“No comment.”


“I understand you were the second person to make their way to the scene of the murder?” Rarity said.

“That’s correct,” the stallion replied.

Her interviewee this time went by the name of Palette Knife. He was a tall stallion, muscular and lean, and though he lacked a mane or tail, his coat was immaculately groomed. It was easy to see how he could have restrained their client—he looked more like a fitness guru than an artist.

“You were nearby, then?”

“I was working in my studio,” he said. “It’s the first one past the offices.”

“Working on...?”

“Actually, yeah, I don’t get this whole ‘Bottega’ thing.” Rainbow cut in. “ So he pays you to paint in his workshop? What’s up with that?”

“The Bottega offers a place to work in peace, surrounded by like-minded ponies,” Palette Knife explained. “And all the tools and facilities one may need to pursue one’s passions. It’s... freeing. Many ponies would pay a small fortune to spend time here. Fortunately, Mr. Piega was willing to pay us for the privilege instead.”

“And in exchange, Mr. Piega gets full distribution rights to anything created on the premises,” Rarity said. “Quite a lucrative little scheme, as it turns out.”

“Well, I, for one, was grateful for his services,” Palette Knife said, indignation creeping into his voice. “Money be damned. Mr. Piega was a good stallion, before that monster—your client—murdered him in cold blood.”

“Yes, and let’s get back to talking about that monster, shall we?” Rarity said, smoothly. “What sent you running to the office in the first place?”

“The gunshot, of course.”

“How did you know it was a gunshot?”

“I recognized the sound,” he said. “After all, I was the one who gave Mr. Piega those pistols in the first place.”

A moment of silence, then:

“You what?” Rainbow Dash blurted out.

“They were a birthday gift.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s the first thing I think of when buying birthday presents for my friends,” Rainbow said. “Hey, Rares, your birthday’s coming up. How about I get you a shiny new guillotine? That’ll get ponies’ heads turning!”

“They are all the rage in Prance,” Rarity mused. “But I believe we’ve gotten a bit off track, darling.”

She turned back to Palette Knife. “I presume, then, that you are an enthusiast for this sort of thing?”

“I’m a collector, yes.”

“Then, as an earth pony, you must have a firing brace, yes? Could you bring it here?”

He nodded, and stood up. As he left the office, Rainbow leaned over.

“What’s a firing brace?” she asked.

“It’s a special tool that lets earth ponies and pegasi use griffon firearms,” Rarity explained. “They’re designed for talons, not hooves, so it’s a bit difficult to use them as a non-unicorn.”

“This all seems kinda complicated,” Rainbow said.

“Well, what did you expect, darling? Ponies to hold them in their mouths?” She chuckled. “If that were the case, it’d make our job a lot easier—we’d just have to look for anyone missing half their teeth!”

Palette Knife returned shortly, carrying a wooden box on his back. He deposited it on the desk, then retrieved a keyring from one of his pockets.

“You keep this locked?” Rarity asked.

“Always,” he said. “I had to get it custom-made by an expert in Prance. I’d rather not have to replace it.”

The lock snapped open with a click, and he pulled the lid open. Inside the case, surrounded by velvet lining, sat an elaborate contraption of straps, brass, and cord. A series of pulleys guided a string to a little lever that sat where a trigger might have been.

Rarity lifted the brace from the box and examined it, turning it over and over in her magical grip.

“And the key to this box,” she said. “You had it with you on the day of the murder?”

“Of course.”

She gave the brace one more looking-over, but it yielded nothing of note. Delicately, she lowered it back into its box and closed the lid.

“Tell me, what did you do, once you’d arrived at the office and found Mr. Piega dead? I presume it was you who gave our client that horrid black eye?”

“There... may have been a quick scuffle.”

“Miss Willow told us you restrained him.”

“I dragged him out of the office and tied him to a chair, yes.”

“And I presume you waited with him until the police arrived?” Rarity asked. “And neither of you re-entered the office until afterwards?”

He nodded. “And Miss Willow can support that.”

“Very interesting,” Rarity said. “Thank you. You may go.”


“Things just seem to get stranger by the minute, don’t they?” Rarity remarked, once Palette Knife had left.

“No kidding.”

Movement in her peripheral caught Rarity’s attention; she turned just in time to watch the caretaker walk past their door.

“Ah, Miss Willow!” Rarity called out, standing up. “A moment, if you would?”

The two of them stepped out into the hall to speak with her.

“You said you were cleaning Mr. Piega’s office just before Mr. Râtelier arrived, yes?” Rarity said. “Those two revolvers that were mounted on the wall—how long had they been there?”

“Oh, several months, now,” Willow said.

“And were they both in their mountings that morning?”

She blinked. “Well, now that you mention it, no, they weren’t.”

“No?”

“One of them was missing,” Willow said. “I thought it was strange—but I asked Mr. Piega, and he said not to worry about it, so it slipped my mind. Oh, you don’t think—”

Rarity nodded, grimly. “One more question? You were nearby at the time of the murder, yes? Did you have a clear view of the hallway?”

“I did,” Willow said.

“Did you see anyone else going into, or towards, Mr. Pieta’s office?”

“Not a soul,” she said. “Well, apart from Thimble, but he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Rarity raised an eyebrow.

“Thimble?”

“Mr. Pieta’s secretary,” Willow explained. “Well, he was supposed to be, anyway! Mr. Piega treated him more like a servant. It’s left him very high-strung.”

“And what exactly was he doing in the hall?” Rarity asked.

“Well, he passed through a couple of times,” Willow said. “The first time, he was carrying a bucket of ice and a bottle of champagne—this wasn’t long after Mr. Piega and that dastardly Mr. Râtelier went into the office. Then, a while later, Mr. Piega called for him, and after that he left in a hurry.”

“Then this ‘Thimble’ may have been the last person to see Mr. Piega alive,” Rarity mused. “Apart from Mr. Râtelier, of course.”

“Well, we’d better talk to him, then,” Rainbow said. “Any clue where he is?”

“He’s right behind you, actually,” Willow said, pointing. “Trying to sneak into one of the studios.”

Rainbow and Rarity turned around. There was, indeed, a stallion there, frozen halfway through one of the doorways.

Rarity stared at him.

Rainbow waved.

He winced.

“W-well,” he said. “Phooey.”


“So,” Rarity asked. “Mr. Thimble. What were you doing at the time of the murder?”

Thimble swallowed. He was only a colt (on the older side of his mid-teens, perhaps), but he was tall for his age, and scrawny. Some might have said that he looked like the proverbial mouse who’d just been cornered by the proverbial cat, but given how little meat was on his bones, it’s unlikely the proverbial cat would have bothered.

“I-I was running an errand,” he said.

“An errand,” Rarity repeated.

“There’s a rope, i-in Mr. Piega’s office,” Thimble said. “It rings a bell in the hall—it’s how he usually calls me when he needs help with something. He called for me, just a few minutes before t-the... the incident.”

“And what did Mr. Piega need help with?”

Thimble fluttered his wings, in that way that all pegasi do when they get flighty. Being a close friend of Ponyville’s resident anxiety attack on wings, Rarity recognized it instantly. So did Rainbow.

“See?” she whispered, patting the desk and leaning over so Thimble couldn’t hear. “Look how intimidated he is!”

“Hush.”

“Well, it wasn’t Mr. Piega who needed help,” Thimble said. “It was the pony he was meeting with—Mr. Râtelier—who answered the door.”

“Really?” Rarity asked, leaning forwards. “And what did he want?”

“He asked me to go out to his carriage and get a bag for him,” Thimble said. “He said he’d forgotten to bring it in.”

“And you didn’t see Mr. Piega at all?” Rarity asked.

“No.”

“I see,” Rarity said. “And then?”

“I went out to get his bag,” Thimble said. “I was halfway down the drive when I heard the gunshot.”

His wings quivered again. “I thought it was some kind of firework, at first. But then Miss Willow came running out, and she said that—said that—”

“And then you went to fetch the police, yes?”

He nodded. His eyes had begun to tear up, and his bottom lip was quivering.

“I don’t suppose anyone else was out there with you?” Rarity asked, in as gentle a tone as she could muster.

N-no,” he stammered. “It was cold out; everyone else was inside.”

“I see.” Rarity nodded. “Tell me, had you ever encountered Mr. Râtelier before?”

“No, never,” Thimble said. “I met him briefly when he first arrived, but I’d never seen him before. I didn’t even know who he was until h-he introduced himself! And right afterwards, Mr. Piega sent me to fetch a bottle of champagne for them—I barely spoke more than a few words to Mr. Râtelier, I swear!”

He seemed to be in quite the panic, now. Rarity, ever the tactful one, leaned back in her seat, content to wait for him to calm himself down a bit before embarking on a new line of questioning.

Rainbow, ever the blunt one, decided it was time to throw tact out the window.

“Alright,” she said, rearing up and slamming her hooves on the desk; the impact made Thimble flinch. “What are you so nervous about, huh? And why’d you try and run away from us earlier?”

“I-I had nothing to do with it!” he said. “I promise!”

“That doesn’t answer my question,” Rainbow said. “Spill it!”

“I-I didn’t do anything!”

Rarity laid a hoof on Rainbow’s shoulder.

“That’s enough, darling,” she said, gently pulling her back into her chair.

“Mr. Thimble,” she said, speaking calmly. “While I do not necessarily agree with my assistant’s methods, I must admit, I am also quite curious what it is you’re so afraid of. To put it in a manner as blunt as she typically is—”

“Hey!”

“—you are acting extremely suspiciously.”

She fixed Thimble with a wary gaze.

“It would be in your best interests, I think,” she said, “to come clean. I am here solely on the business of Mr. Piega’s murder. If whatever it is you don’t want to tell me isn’t related to that, then you have nothing to fear from me.”

Thimble looked at her. He looked at Rainbow Dash. He looked back at her.

“Of course, if you don’t ‘spill it’, as my friend so adequately put it,” Rarity added, “I will have no choice but to spill what I know to the police...”

He sighed.

“I guess there’s no point,” he said, hanging his head.

Rarity smiled.

“Good,” she said, leaning back in her chair. “That’s a relief. Given the general competency of the policemen in this town, I rather doubt that would have gone well for either of us.”

“So, what is it?” Rainbow asked, getting impatient. “We don’t have all day, y’know!”

“Well, technically we do,” Rarity said. “But that’s besides the point. Now, what is it you were so afraid we’d find out about?”

Thimble sighed again. “I’m...”

He squeezed his eyes shut.

“I’m a runaway,” he said.

“A runaway?”

“I ran away from home a year ago.”

“Really?” Rarity said. “And why was that?”

“I wanted to be a painter,” he said. “It’s... it’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was little.”

He snorted. “But my parents, well... my dad’s the proud owner of a chicken farm. And when I say proud, I mean very proud. Like, eggs-three-meals-a-day proud. Roll-of-chicken-wire-for-your-birthday proud.”

Rarity winced. “Proud is... certainly one way you could describe that.”

Thimble rubbed the back of his neck with a shoe-clad hoof.

“As you can imagine, he w-wasn’t very happy when I told him I didn’t want to take over the family business.”

“So you needed to get away from your parents,” Rainbow said. “I can, uh, sympathize with that.”

“As can I, to an extent,” Rarity added. “So, you came to the Bottega after you, ahem, flew the coop?”

Thimble nodded. “So I could, y’know... paint.”

“But that isn’t what happened, is it?” Rarity asked.

“No, it isn’t,” he said. “Mr. Piega wouldn’t take me as an artist—it was only after I told him I’d run away from home that he offered to let me be his assistant, so I could get some experience in the art world. Of course, I was willing to take whatever I could get.”

“I’m guessing Mr. Piega didn’t pay you much, either,” Rarity said. Thimble nodded.

“Three bits a week,” he said. “That was our arrangement. I was desperate...”

He looked up at them with pleading eyes.

“Please don’t tell the police about me!” he begged. “They’ll send me back to my parents, I know they will!”

“I understand completely, darling,” Rarity said. “Rest assured, your secret is safe with us.”

“T-thank you,” Thimble stammered. “Can I...?”

“You may go.”

Thimble nodded appreciatively, and headed for the door. It fell closed behind him with a soft click. The clicking of his shoes faded slowly into the distance.

Rarity turned to Rainbow Dash.

“And that, darling,” she said, “is why I don’t need a desk.”


“So, what now?” Rainbow asked. “Do we keep interviewing ponies?”

“We’ve interviewed everyone who was directly related to the murder,” Rarity said. “Hopefully that will be enough, for now.”

“Phew!” Rainbow hopped out of her chair and stretched like a cat, arching her back and spreading her wings wide. “I was starting to worry we were gonna have to interview every artist in this place. I dunno how many more of these artsy types I can sit through.”

“You seem to forget that I am also one of these ‘artsy types’,” Rarity said, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah, but you’re, like, cool n’ stuff.”

“What a wonderful compliment, darling,” Rarity said, dryly. “I shall treasure it forever.”

“Yeah, you do that,” Rainbow said. “So, you figure out who framed Mr. Pencil-Stache yet?”

Rarity bit her lip.

“I... have my suspicions,” she said, “but I also have a lot of doubts.”

“Well, then I guess I have you beat this time!” Rainbow said.

Rarity raised her other eyebrow.

“Come again, darling?”

Rainbow puffed out her chest. “I already figured out who killed Mr. Râtelier.”

“Oh, did you, now?”

“I did!”

Rarity stared at her for a few seconds.

“Well?” she said. “Are you going to tell me who it was or not?”

“No way!” Rainbow said. “You never tell me who it is when you figure it out.” She stuck her tongue out. “You’ll just have to wait.”

“Turnabout is fair play, I suppose,” Rarity said, sighing. “Very well.”

Her frown turned to a smile.

“How about a little wager, then?”

Rainbow, who was never one to turn away from a competition, perked her ears up.

“I didn’t know you were a gambling mare.”

“You’d be surprised,” Rarity said. “When the time comes, we shall both announce our theories. If I am correct and you are not, then you never get to complain about my choice of decor ever again.”

“Fine,” Rainbow said. She grinned back. “But if I’m right and you’re wrong, then you have to remodel!”

Rarity nodded. “Of course, if we both get it right, it’s a draw.”

“What if neither of us is right?”

“Oh, darling,” Rarity said, chuckling. “I think between the two of us, there’s hardly any chance of that. Do we have a deal?”

“You’re on!”

They shook on it.

“Still,” Rarity said. “I’m quite surprised that you’d be so confident in your answer, given everything we know.”

“Well, I dunno, it seems pretty obvious who did it to me,” Rainbow said. “There’s only one pony it could have been!”

“Yes, it does seem obvious...” Rarity said. “And yet, there’s one little detail that simply doesn’t fit with the others.”

She steepled her hooves, her gaze focused somewhere off in the distance.

“Just one little detail...”

Rainbow waited for her to speak again for approximately twenty seconds (ten more than she would have given most ponies), then gave up and wandered off.

When she returned some twenty minutes later, Rarity was still in the chair, but her gaze was fixed firmly in the foreground.

“Oh good, you’re back,” Rarity said. “How well do you remember what you saw of Mr. Piega’s office?”

Rainbow blinked. “Uh... pretty well, I guess. Why?”

“The painting, on the easel,” she said. “Could you see a signature on it?”

Rainbow thought about it for a moment.

“Yeah,” she said. “It was just initials, though. ‘S.B.’”

“Was it a large painting, then?”

“Yeah,” Rainbow said. “Maybe... a meter wide?”

“And the sheet that was draped over it,” Rarity said. “You said it was stained?”

“Yeah?”

“What colour?”

Rainbow blinked. “Well, uh... a few different colours. Blues and greens and browns. But it was light—not like it had been painted on.”

Rarity nodded. “And the paperweight—the one on the desk. Could you describe it for me?”

“It was one of those glass ones,” Rainbow said. “Y’know, the round ones, with the wavy patterns inside?”

“And how big was it?”

“I dunno,” Rainbow said. “About the size of my hoof?”

Abruptly, Rarity leapt from her chair. There was a shine in her eye, and she was wearing that grin, that famous grin, that I-know-something-you-don’t-know grin that always seemed to make Rainbow’s heart beat just a little bit faster.

She stood tall, and she grinned that grin, and she looked at Rainbow with those sparkling eyes, and she said, “Rainbow?”

“Yeah, Rares?”

“I believe that I have found our devil.”

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