• Member Since 7th Jan, 2012
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Puzzle Piece is the premier information broker in the infamous nation of Freeport, leading one of the most powerful and wealthy organizations in the islands. However, after months of absence from Freeport, he returns to find everything he built in shambles and his lieutenants fighting over the remnants. With chaos reigning in the streets, the Council tells him to get his house in order or see his life’s work swept away. Unfortunately for Puzzle, there are forces in Freeport that don’t want to see him succeed. Nobody can be trusted, nothing is safe—not even his deepest secrets.

A chronological sequel to Northern Venture.

Chapters (13)
Comments ( 269 )

2 chapters at once nice

also that's a blade runner quote for the title nice

Congrats on the new story, and good luck as always:twilightsmile:

This one is sure the Shimmer-mare will be able to calm any disquiet the Council is currently feeling.

Technically, introducing a new, much larger source of disquiet counts.

In any case, Puzzle has a lot of work ahead of him. This is going to be rough, with or without any further assassination attempts.

and here everything hits the fan

also how old is puzzle cause interesting fact in humans we start to physically slow down past 33 so if he is past that than blackwing isint wrong puzzle is losing some of his edge eventually you get so old that experience needs to take over

It sounds like everything Puzzle was afraid might happen, has. There is infighting in his organization, there seems to be something large at hand, and no doubt with a falling out, his competitors have moved in. And I agree that it is odd that the Council didn't deal with this situation decisively. I wonder if that has something to do with the 'large thing at hand.'

Not surprised the council is panicked, though they try to not show it. The very symbol that brought the Council to power may very well be used against them, given that a lot of people do not like the way the Council is running things. Gotta love it when history repeats (not really, it usually means everything is screwed up). And it also looks as if the council is divided over Sunset's possession of Chainbreaker. The Skeptic is obviously upset, but the Historian certainly seems excited.

Of those in the prologue, I'm hoping there are at least 2 specifically that remain loyal. It would be disheartening if his oldest companion and his secretary will not work with him. That would be a particularly hurtful betrayal.

Looking good, can't wait for more. Puzzle has always been my favorite anyway.

I wonder which situation is worse, Puzzle trying to save what's left of his organization or when he was forced out of Freeport originally years ago. Puzzle probably still isn't without resources even now (Sunset would be willing to lend money) but this isn't a simple bank statement to pay off.

Funny that Puzzle missed just how important Sunset's link with Chainbreaker is now. Well, Puzzle's always been the practical sort, but in the other story, a certain someone probably got it right when she said Sunset will be mentioned alongside Ushabti and Torch Charger. And even if an outright revolution is unlikely, the mere existence of a new Torch Charger will still upset the status quo, even if Sunset didn't already want to improve Freeport.

Poor Puzzle, so close to really moving forward with his plans and now this. It'd be hard to call the trip up north a complete waste but definitely far from his expectations. And disturbingly enough, possibly the biggest mystery is why the Council hasn't just wiped out Puzzle's organization yet to clean things up. Especially given who the Skeptic probably is. Unless the Skeptic set off Puzzle's fall and just wants him to try and fail to save what's left, not a pleasant thought.


Alya? Nice to see her again. Given how they met, I'm not too surprised she ended up working for Puzzle. I forgot she was a zebra, though.


Hmm...given the Council's reaction to news about Sunset and Chainbreaker, and how they flipped their collective shit when she summoned it, I wonder if that will be catalyst for some major change to Freeport. Namely, the (re?)establishment of the Archonate and Sunset filling the role.

His organization falling apart is rather sad. It was always a possibility, but he worked so hard on it. I wonder what caused it, and who, if anyone, remains loyal. And I wonder if the "Skeptic" is the Free Mind who became the Mask and exiled Puzzle to begin with? I don't remember his name.

I have him be about in his early thirties by this point.

Okay, the Skeptic is Puzzle's old rival from the Mask, who is still being a petty little bastich, all these years later. :flutterrage: (And that insane, convoluted conspiracy theory ... Starlight, Sunset, Puzzle, Argentium & Celestia are all plotting together to overthrow the Council, and willing to burn ColdHarbor and unleash Blightspawn to do it? Really?)

And I personally find it unlikely that Puzzle's organization would collapse to the point of murdering members of rival factions in less than a half-year without his oversight unless some third party was manipulating events.

I nominate the Skeptic as first suspect. (And as the one who hired the assassin.)

Hm can't wait for another masterpiece Ponibius.

I said it before and I'll say it again: DDT, PONIES!! SPRAY EVEYTHING WITH IT!!

It's the only way to stop the cherngelerngs! :pinkiecrazy:


Oh god, this is going to go so badly.

Have a feeling this story's title is based of this.

Interesting. I think outside force has affected his group


I don't even think I can wait for this story. I'm so excited to find out everything that happens!

Awesome! I can't get enough stories in this universe. I eagerly look forward to the next update.

Maybe they can't clean things up. Puzzle's been away long enough not only for a force to tear apart his organization, but to quietly usurp a good part of the Council's authority. And any party doing that would know to not completely destroy any power base in the city that the Council hasn't been able to rule out as a suspect.

*gather the lieutenants, let it slip that the organization is going to be changing directions significantly, allow them to get riled up in competition of each other, leave town for 6 months*

*finally come back home, everything is on fire*

Insert Surprised-Pikachu.jpg here.

An assassination attempt the moment Puzzle shows back up in Freeport is not a great start.

This dude is a little too fond of fire.

The Skeptic ended up being the one leading the hearing. “Your report was lacking in many aspects, Puzzle. We want you to fill in the gaps.” Despite the mask distorting his voice, there was something about the way he said that that made it sound a touch familiar. If he was who this one thought he was...

Oooo, Puzzle has theories on Council member identities.

“The reason this one didn’t bring Chainbreaker home with it is because it has bonded with the Shimmer-mare,” this one explained. “It played no small part in how she managed to break Blackfyre’s prison when she’d been captured, and how she defeated the dragon.”

The Councilor leaned forward eagerly and even her mask couldn’t hide her excitement. “It has?! That's incredible!”


So is the use of proper name titles like Skeptic, Historian, and Minister.

Fact: Freeport was filled with the disadvantaged and those unhappy with the status quo. Between indentured servants, the destitute, those struggling to get by day-to-day and those with grievances with how the Council ruled, there were a lot of people who wanted someone to solve their woes and change the status quo. What if people saw the Shimmer-mare, the new bearer of Chainbreaker, as that savior—a Torch reborn?

Yeah, that does seem like something the Council might react badly and proactively to.

“So you claim,” the Skeptic sneered. “But we all know the Magus has a rebellious streak.”

A mile wide.

Internal Council divisions with one side pro-Sunset and the other anti-Sunset might provoke a conflict neither Sunset or Puzzle has any interest in starting themselves.

Another Councilor spoke with scorn in their tone. “And you've been quite busy in Northmarch by all reports. Whatever the case, you need to put a stop to the infighting. Buildings have been burned, bodies found in the street, and people are becoming upset at the chaos. This is intolerable. Fix it. Immediately.”

That's not good.

There was another buzz of conversation, and then the Minister straightened himself. “We will forward our reports to you once they've been reviewed.”

That should be helpful, though.

I wonder if the Skeptic is the fellow spy that ran Puzzle out of Freeport intelligence way back when.

Great new story. Can't wait for more. And I think some of the people who worked for Puzzle know Sunset will not be amused by what's happening to her partner and friend. Not to mention his mare friend

I am most curious to see what exactly has been going on. I mean I imagine the changeling probably started this, or at least did a lot of the early damage. Then again maybe not. So many options!

Plus, we don't even know who will quickly return to Puzzle's side or not!

I feel like this story is going to be the pay-off to a few long-running threads from all the other Puzzle Freeport fics. Knowing all we do about Puzzle's enemies and relations with the Council, plus with the ominous atmosphere the story sets as soon as he returns, I'm expecting some scores to be settled and for things to go very wrong.

While I get Puzzle's reasoning for keeping lieutenants solely focused in one area of the business (so no one has all the puzzle pieces to overthrow him as boss), I have to wonder if it might've contributed to this problem. If a rival organization took out just one of the lieutenants, the other branches wouldn't be able to compensate for the loss, causing collapse from the inside. It'll be interesting to see if that does indeed play a part!

Thank you for the great start to a new story!


Funny that Puzzle missed just how important Sunset's link with Chainbreaker is now.

Emotional and non-logical thinking are a bit of a blindspot for Puzzle, something he's quite aware of. He's more than capable of imagining people acting emotionally or in a non-optimally way, but his baseline assumption is that people will generally act in their own self interests and a sensible way. So when he looks at Chainbreaker he tends to see it as a fancy sword with historical relevance, not a sign that a new messiah has arrived in Freeport. But how the downtrodden and unhappy who want changes in Freeport will see Chainbreaker and the fact that it has a new wielder...

And disturbingly enough, possibly the biggest mystery is why the Council hasn't just wiped out Puzzle's organization yet to clean things up.

This is a good question.


And I wonder if the "Skeptic" is the Free Mind who became the Mask and exiled Puzzle to begin with? I don't remember his name.

You're referring to Cold Comfort.

Puzzle's organization isn't perfect, and that will certainly come up in future chapters.

Unfortunately for Puzzle, there's a surcharge for troublemakers when it comes to making friends. Still, I'm sure he'll be able to drum up some business.

Also, that gallery... I had thought Puzzle planned on making his way into the Council, but now it seems like he's plotting destroy Chrysalis. Or at least Cold Comfort. Either way, that's a lot of intel on changelings. I suppose we'll see where this goes from here.

He could hire the Doos. He likely has good relations with them.


Blackwing, Blackwing.....name rings a bell, but I don't remember off the top of my head who he is. A rival of sorts? This whole thing is very weird. The Council taking no action, ordering the condottieri to leave him alone, Merry not running to a safehouse....I think the biggest question right now is who stands to benefit the most from this.

Blackwing is one of Puzzle's lieutenants.


Right, thanks for that. I'm not the greatest at remembering details it seems.

One has to wonder what each of the lieutenants goals are. Are they all trying to take control of the entire organization, or is at least one just trying to hold things together till Puzzle gets back? Do they know Puzzle is alive? How many people in their factions would side with Puzzle if he made himself known? Someone hired the assassin, but Blackwing instructed his agents to observe, not attack. Very curious. And definitely curious about which “friends” Puzzle intends to procure the companionship of.......

This is an awesome story so far and it has kept me on the edge of my seat. I feel like I'm in the middle of a huge mystery and I'm always curious how those will turn out.


I wonder what sort of sentimental value the broken log holds. Assuming it isn't some crazy magical artifact, that's a strange thing to just keep around.

Hmm... sounds like things started very sudden, if Merry Penny was unable to act on her instructions. I wonder if she was not taken by any of the lieutenants, but other interested parties. The Masks, for one, would have a great interest in what's going on.

So Puzzle's main base is already gone, as well as his secretary. Well, that's assuming she wasn't in on it (with a staged kidnapping), whatever this is. At least Blackwing didn't send assassins (this time?). Still too many unknowns. At least the condottieri haven't arrested Puzzle yet (and even they are still waiting for something).

Huh, sure looks like Puzzle is preparing for war against Chrysalis. Information on changelings is one thing, but books so old even Daring Do can't read it (easily), whoa. And that's one of his two great plans? So where's all the stuff for his other great plan? Reforming Freeport now sounds a lot easier by comparison.

Hopefully Puzzle's money is still safe but even if it is, it won't rebuild his street cred so easily. I'd almost worry that changeling minds can be read, considering how it looks like almost everything Puzzle has built has been compromised. Well, Freeport has no shortage of mercenaries but I doubt even a small army could fix things easily. The Sulidae was one of the best but not sure he'd be interested in this kind of affair.

I'm surprised the business wasn't named Puzzle Piece's Problem Preventers. I guess changelings don't have any penchant for alliteration.

Edit: Given the only people to seek Puzzle out are assassins/thugs, assumedly all of his lieutenants have turned on him or any loyal ones are incapicated/dead/in hiding. Or that only one person has figured out he's back.

Though someone went out of their way to burn down P.P.P.S instead of just taking it outright. I guess Merry was taken because she knows the operation.

Burning down the building on the way out looks like a move one of the lieutenants would pull, unless Merry did it to destroy sensitive documents.

Judging by the contents of Puzzle's Vault, it looks like "Option B" is to declare war on Chrysalis ... but given that she is indestructible as long as even a single drone survives, I'm not sure how much effect he could have ....

Little error:

Either way, this one rewarded her with a coffee of scalding hot cup of coffee to the face.

One too many coffees there. Otherwise this was a very good chapter. Loving the spy thriller feel to it.

Puzzle's dad was a Private Eye, neat.

Exiting the trap room brought this one to the heart of it all: The Vault. It was here that this one was bringing everything together for one of its two great plans.


Oh, well, I guess we already knew about that one.

This one put on the mask of an apologetic stallion who was sorry to disturb the busy mare, it smiled unnaturally and spoke with a degree of hesitation. “Um, hello? I’m sorry for bothering you, but I just got into port and I was looking for Puzzle’s Problem Solvers .” This one grimaced as it glanced back at the door. “But I have a bad feeling that building that was burned down was where I was going.”

Technically, all of this is true.

Puzzle has too many extra organizatioal contacts and resources for this whole mess to work particularly well for his rebellious lieutenants in the long run.

I'm curious just what Puzzle could be planning that requires so much research on changelings, considering he is one himself. He could simply be looking for a way to take down Chrysalis, but I don't think that's it, mostly because we know Chrysalis is still around and seemingly unharmed by the present time.

I could be mistaken, but I almost get the impression that he's trying to replicate some of her abilities. Is he trying to become a hive mind himself? Because that would be an extremely useful ability for reforming a city like Freeport and making the changes stick. And if that's his intention, it suddenly makes a lot of sense why we haven't seen Puzzle in any of the future stories, despite him apparently still being around; he'd be a massive walking spoiler if he's now an immortal body-jumping hive consciousness like Chrysalis.

The rabbit hole deepens. Possibly leading to a magma chamber. With all the intrigue flying around, I can only imagine how Puzzle gets his house back in order, to say nothing of whatever remodeling takes place to ensure nothing like this happens again. He does have that legacy to think about, after all...

Also, I choose to interpret the Companions as an entire merc company of Captain America-themed pirates, because it amuses me.

Hmm... Platinum herself may be the ally on the Council she speaks of. How would she know that he only had "an" ally without either being that ally or working closely with them? Given her legacy, as she put it, and how far back it goes, she would be a prime position to be a member. Also, her focus on legacy? I think she might be the Historian: only someone so focused on legacy would be so enthusiastic about an heirloom (Chainbreaker) becoming current history rather than ancient. The continuing of a Legacy.

Someone on the Council is my best guess for the elimination of the assassin and thugs. There are few people out there with the right kind of influence to get that deep into the condottieri, and that deep of pockets. Since the primary employer for the condottieri is the council, it would be easy for a member to have their own personal eyes, ears, and hooves/claws/whatevers within the organization.

Uuuugggghhhh getting as frustrated as Puzzle.

I actually would have loved to see a Puzzle and Gander buddy cop adventure. Alas, it isn't meant to be. Can't help but feel a little bad for Gander though. She seems like she's one of the only members of the condotierri who doesn't dirty her hooves. Must be lonely to be a principled idealist in a police force where taking bribes is not only accepted, but often required. She'd make for an interesting protagonist of her own story.

I'm loving all the Puzzle backstory we've been getting in this story. Last chapter gave us a glimpse of who his father was, and this chapter revealed a bit of his mother's history. Can't wait for more!

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