• Published 29th May 2020
  • 548 Views, 136 Comments

Murder at the Rarity Boutique - Coyote de La Mancha



When Rarity is accused of murder, there is only one stallion who can prove her innocence. And yes, he is exactly the pony you’re thinking of. But he isn’t who you imagine him to be.

  • ...
2
 136
 548

Introduction.

Alone in his chambers, Blueblood frowned.

Where, he thought, in my extreme cleverness, did I put my ivory cravat?

He had put it away somewhere safe, it seemed. Safe even from him.

How irritatingly clever of him.

Still frowning, he picked up the cravat he had been able to find. It was a very fine material, eggshell with just a hint of off-colour in its lace, and it would do, certainly…

But he had distinctly awakened in a mood for ivory.

He gave the offending garment a last accusatory look and then tossed it aside, plunging back into the ramshackle abyss that was his wardrobe. Surely it had to be in here somewhere! No… no… that wasn’t it… no… not that either…

He paused, looking at the old waistcoat he’d inadvertently fished out. He hadn’t worn it for quite some time, actually. Strange, it was one of his favourites. He held it up to the afternoon light, turning it this way and that. The dark charcoal complimented his coat, and the tie he wore with it brought out his eyes beautifully. Plus, it was comfortable as sin… and come to that, why the deuce hadn’t he worn it? Why, even the old frosting stains had come out perfectly—

Ah, he thought with a sigh. Ah, yes. That’s why.

Gently, the white stallion folded the garment again, placed it carefully in its drawer and closed it.

Perhaps today wasn’t fit for ivory, after all.

There was the merest of knocks on the double doors before they burst open, allowing the two mares entrance. They cantered in side-by-side, exchanging conspiratorial smiles as they surrounded him, their usual frilly maids’ outfits rustling gaily as they did.

“Now, Yer Grace,” the green earthmare drawled, “Y’know you’re supposed ta be waited on. Part a’the whole royal business an’ all.”

“Miz Akane speaks the truth, mon chere,” her ebony counterpart joined in. “It iz nearing ze time for late brekky, an’ you must be properly dressed, non?”

“Yes, I’m perfectly aware of that,” he protested, “but I’m quite capable of dressing myself... now just a moment… I was doing something over there… wait, why are we by the mirror… no, I had a thing I was… now see here, ladies…!”

Outnumbered, still protesting, Blueblood found himself gently corralled by the two mares towards the end they had devised.

And then, with new suspicion, “What’s in that box…?”

“Come, come, you know ze new fashions, zey await for no stallion, yes?” Hepzibah chided him happily. She tossed her black-and-white mane as she added, “A stallion of your station must ‘ave ze very latest an’ best in garmants, even for ze brekky!”

“Yes, and I was going to wear my black waistcoat and ivory cravat---”

“Zat old rag? Poof!” The ebon unicorn dismissed the idea with a wave. “I give him to ze travelling salespony, for to keep warm at night.”

Blueblood stared in horror. “You didn’t!”

Side by side again, the couple exchanged a sly look.

“He’s so cute when he’s scaired,” Akane chuckled. Then, to Blueblood, “Naw, Yer Highness, we didn’t toss out yer napkin—”

“Cravat,” Blueblood corrected, rolling his eyes. “Also, my waistcoat.”

“Well, whichever. They went out with th’ cleanin’, early this mornin’.”

“Leaving you wiss nossing to wear,” Hepzibah joined in again. “A true tragedy, I am sure. Fortunately for you, we are having ze solution. Viola!”

The creases of his brow reforming with a new frown, Blueblood dubiously removed the garment from the box Hepzibah had proffered with her customary flourish.

It was certainly well made, of course. And its colours and design were above reproach. But wait, were those…?

“It has tassles,” he observed.

“Oui, it has,” Hepzibah nodded happily

“Yep,” Akane agreed, giving one of the little balls of fluff an experimental poke. “That’s what they are, all right.”

Blueblood regarded them both, eyebrow raised.

“You’re not serious.”

“But, mon cher ami, why would we not be ze serious?” the black unicorn protested. “You would be so très charmant in zis! It wants only for ze final fitting.”

“She ain’t lyin’, Yer Grace,” Akane added. “That there’s an attire fit fer a prince. You’d look good in it, an’ that’s a fact.”

Blueblood’s look became a knowing, teasing one as he focused on the earth mare before him.

“Are you saying my looks are in need of aid?” he purred.

Akane sighed and looked up, blushing furiously. “No…”

For a second, Blueblood grinned, his victory assured. But during that second his guard was down, and that was all that Hepzibah needed. With the precision of a ninja and the unhesitating stealth of a master surgeon, she pounced, slipping a sleeve over one foreleg. Even as Blueblood managed an indignant “Hey!” Akane also leaped into action, her own motions complimanting Hepzibah’s perfectly.

“Now, wait just a moment, ladies… I have a certain amount of autonomy, here…!”

“But of course you do,” Hepzibah grinned.

“An’ we’re jus’ autonomissin’ the heck outta ya,” Akane rejoined with an identical grin.

At length he sighed, balanced on his hind hooves, helplessly imprisoned by the bustle of beautiful mares.

“I’m not going to win this one, am I?” he asked to the ceiling.

“Oh? You have won one before?” Hepzibah cooed, contentedly making chalk marks on his garments. “When was zis?”

“Yeah, where were we?” Akane grinned through a mouthful of sewing pins.

Even as Blueblood opened his mouth to respond, he was suddenly released by the flurry of hooves, pins, and chalk that had held him upright. Catching his balance as he spun, he landed on all fours again, his reflection staring back at him in the full length mirror.

Both mares behind him waited anxiously, bouncing slightly in anticipation. He scrutinized the magnificent stallion in the looking glass, examining his attire this way, then that.

Finally, he hung his head in defeat.

“And…?” Akane prompted.

There was a pause, then he turned and gave them both a mock glare.

“Alright, I like it,” he grumbled. “Damn it.”

There was a moment’s silence, and the three of them burst into laughter.

“Okay then, we’ll get this getup back t’the tailor,” Akane smiled as she carefully helped him out of the pinned layers of cloth.

Blueblood shot her an amused glance. “Wait. We don’t have a tailor?”

Akane chuckled a little. “Not yet.”

“Indeed, mon ami, ze tailoring is ze one profession our famille d'amour seems to not have,” Hepzibah added.

With practiced ease, she folded and replaced the garments back in their box.

“Well, that an’ carpentry,” Aakne observed.

“Ooh! An’ ze mason!” Hepzibah added excitedly.

“Could use a painter, fer portraits an’ whatnot.”

“An’ why not ze sculptair, as well? I hear zere is a fair one, down in ze village...”

“Ponyville ain’t a village, sugar.”

Ignoring this minor detail, Hepzibah turned back to Blueblood.

“Plainly, you have ze work cut out for you,” she said pirmly, her eyes twinkling with merriment. “Best if you are getting busy sooner zan later, non? You just get out zair an’ get us what we need, you. Go on, vite!” She punctuated her command with a shooing gesture.

Blueblood raised an amused eyebrow. “Oh, I see. And just out of idle curiosity, what am I supposed to wear while on this little prowl of yours?”

“Oh, poof,” Hepzibah waved his concerns away. “You are having ze wardrobe of ze lions an’ sorceresses, wiss nossing to wear? C'est ridicule!”

“Y’still got’cher collection a’ smokin’ jackets,” Akane winked. “Mighty fetchin’.”

“Le rowr,” Hepzibah agreed, touching her collarbone with a smoldering look.

Blueblood grinned. “You two are no help.”

“None,” Hepzibah chirped happily as she turned to go, her box floating before her in a sky blue glow.

“You’ll figger somethin’ out,” the earth mare assured him. “I got faith in ya.”

Blueblood shook his head, chuckling. “You are so fired.”

“Fired!” Hepzibah cried to Akane as they headed back to the doors. “Ah, mon bien-aimé! Wherever shall we go? Whatever shall we do?”

“Aw, it ain’t no matter,” Akane replied. “He’ll rehire us tomarra, at double the rate.”

“Zis is true,” Hepzibah shrugged as they passed through the doorway. “Aftair all, whatever would he do wissout us?”

As the doors closed behind them, Blueblood shook his perfect mane. Then he chuckled again, speaking fondly into the empty air.

“I honestly have no idea.”

Sighing happily, he returned to his wardrobe, sifting through its contents anew. There was the same assortment of garments, and they were just as haphazardly arranged. But somehow, their colours were a bit brighter now, their fit just a bit more pleasant. And the sunlight, still filtering through the same window panes, seemed just a little more cheerful, with birds he hadn’t heard before singing as they soared about outside.

It was going to be a beautiful day, he thought as he searched. A day filled with hope, wonder, and promise. Nothing could go wrong on a day like this. He could feel it.


“PRINCESS CELESTIA!”

The Princess of Day blinked, the anguished cry snapping her eyes back in focus. The committee before her had been droning on for easily an hour, about the proposed additions to various policies to cover dual citizenship between Equestria and other nations. And greater trade between them. And immigration. And customs.

And, and, and.

She had just been thinking that she would rather be dealing with something, anything besides the tone-deaf ramblings of the dull bureaucrats before her when the Princess of Friendship had burst into the throne room in full flight, eyes wide, plainly in a state of barely controlled panic.

I must be more careful what I wish for, Celestia thought to herself.

But out loud, the diarch simply said, “Give us this room,” standing as she did.

In seconds, she and her former student were the only ponies in the room. Even the ceremonial guard ponies had filed quickly through the main entrance, closing the massive doors behind, while Raven vanished through her customary entrance to the side.

Celestia descended the dais as Twilight landed before her, gasping, her words barely coherent.

“Princess… it’s Rarity… she didn’t… but they… and now… they won’t… I can’t…!”

Swiftly and gently, Celestia enfolded the youngest of the princesses in her wings.

“Take a moment,” she said. “Breathe.”

“But there’s… I can’t…!”

“Twilight, breathe in.”

Obediently, the violet alicorn took in a long, shuddering breath.

“Now, let it go.”

Twilight exhaled, her shoulders shaking slightly less.

“Now then. Tell me what happened.”

Twilight finally looked up into her mentor’s gaze, her own eyes filled with tears.

“It’s Rarity,” she said. “She’s been arrested for murder.”

“WHAT?!?”

“I know,” Twilight sniffed. “”She was working on something for a new museum of some kind, I don’t know anything else, she’s involved in so many charity projects, I don’t… they wouldn’t tell me anything! I almost… I should have…”

Twilight looked away for a moment, struggling. Then, she continued in a cracking voice, “She was at home. A constable brought Sweetie Belle to me. That’s how I found out. Sweetie was hysterical! I got her to calm down a little, got her to Sweet Apple Acres through the tesser – the other CMCs are with her, plus AJ – and then I went to see Rarity, she’s down in the dungeons, awaiting trial…”

Then, suddenly, Twilight’s expression went dark behind her tears.

“I should have taken her out of there!” she exclaimed, squeezing her eyes shut. “I should have! It would have been easy, nopony could have stopped me!”

“Twilight…”

“How could I just leave her there--!”

“Twilight,” Celestia said gently, “you did the right thing.”

For a moment, neither of them spoke.

“Twilight. Please. Look at me.”

With effort, Twilight dragged her eyes back to Celestia’s.

“You did the right thing,” Celestia said again. “There are certain things that even a princess may not interfere with, or else the very foundation of our society will collapse. You know that. And criminal process is one of them.”

“But…”

“The law must apply to all,” Celestia said firmly. “Otherwise, it applies to none.”

“But she’s still down there!” Twilight insisted. “And they’re saying all the evidence is against her!”

“Then that’s all the more reason to proceed carefully,” Celestia replied. “Any government functions upon the faith of its people, or else it becomes a dictatorship. If we are to be just, we must also deserve the faith of the ponies we rule.”

“But I’m not a ruler--!”

“Not in the way your fellow princesses are, perhaps,” Celestia admitted as the two of them began walking together. “But a good ruler guides and guards her realm and her people. And you are a protector of Equestria, and a guide to its people.

“And you have chosen a realm to protect, Twilight: the realm of friendship. In a sense, you carry a far greater burden than the rest of us, for by definition your realm knows no boundaries. So, you must keep the faith of not only the ponies of Equestria, but those of all other lands, as well. Even of the speaking folk throughout the world, who you might one day seek to aid.”

While Twilight stared, Celestia continued, “As the Element of Generosity, Rarity is also a guardian. And, in a sense, a guide as well. She’s saved us all numerous times, and almost nopony will want to believe her guilty. At least, not at first.

“As a result, the law must proceed even more meticulously than it would with most ponies, especially considering the rare nature of the crime. Everything must be above question, above suspicion of bias. Even in retrospect, even years after the fact.”

“What can I do, then?” Twilight demanded. “I’ve never studied law! I mean, sure, I am now, but…”

“Firstly, you can get her home again,” Celestia said. “They should be done questioning her by now. No matter how many bits they ask for, your reputation should suffice for her bond.”

Twilight looked at her uncertainly. “Sooooo, you’re saying my word is her bond?”

“That is where the expression came from,” Celestia nodded.

“But--!”

“Re-unite her with her sister, and let them know that everything will be alright. Then, see them both home. Be there for them, so they know they aren’t facing this alone.”

“Of course, but... how can everything be alright?” Twilight demanded. “If even you can’t help, then how…?”

“It isn’t that I can’t help,” Celestia smiled. “It’s that I can’t interfere. What Rarity lacks right now isn’t a friend, or a barrister, or even a princess. She needs an experienced problem solver. Someone skilled in law, negotiation, and deduction. Someone who can’t be accused of twisting the facts for her out of politics, or gratitude, or personal feelings.”

With a glint in her eye, Celestia added, “And I think I know just the pony she needs.”

Twilight looked at her old teacher suspiciously. Ever since Luna’s return, Celestia had re-discovered a sense of humor that, growing up, Twilight had rarely suspected. And for that, she was immensely glad. But every now and then, Celestia showed a Discord-like streak that Twilight found just a little unnerving.

So, for all that she knew her former mentor wanted only the best for Rarity, there was something about the mischief in Celestia’s smile that Twilight did not completely trust.