• Published 29th May 2020
  • 544 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.

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Chapter 9: Laws and Revelations.

“Thanks for the help, Rainbow Dash,” Spike said as he descended the stairs.

“No problem,” Rainbow grinned as she glided down above him. “You want all the windows closed tight tonight. A sudden rain with this little notice, iiiiit’s not gonna be gentle.”

Meanwhile, among the shelves of tomes and scrolls in Twilight’s reference library, another discussion was going on.

“You sure y’oughtta be here for this, sugar cube?” Applejack asked Diamond Tiara. “I mean, I get it, but…”

The young mare nodded as the Cutie Mark Crusaders surrounded her in support.

“Dad was the kind of stallion who would laugh at funerals,” she sighed. “It always drove Mom nuts. But it wasn’t out of disrespect, that’s what she never got. He was remembering the good times, celebrating the life of the pony being buried. And now…”

She shook her head, her voice brittle. “I can’t cry any more. I ran out. But I know he wouldn’t have wanted any of this. The trial, the funeral, all of this is so wrong, and… and I need to see something being done right by him. I need to be here.

“And anyway,” she added with a sigh, “I don’t have anyplace else to go but home.”

“Which reminds me,” she said, turning to Pinkie with huge eyes. “Miss Pie? When this is all over, my dad needs a wake. A real one. A fun one. I don’t care if my mom hates it, it needs to happen. I… I know you didn’t know him super well, but…”

In an instant, Pinkie was hugging her, along with the three friends who had also suddenly embraced her.

“I promise,” she said.

Moments later, as Spike and Rainbow were rejoining their friends, Twilight paused her search to poke her head from around the corner of a stack of books. There, keeping company with his pony friends, was Discord. Humming to himself, happily attaching and detaching his lion’s paw and eagle claw from his elbows.

“You know, Discord, you’re welcome to help out,” she said. “Any time would be fine.”

Discord cocked an eyebrow at her. “Excuse me?”

“Oh, come on,” she said, waving a hoof for emphasis. “Every time you’re involved with a problem – unless you caused the problem, of course – you end up doing something that supplies some secret or hint that just happens to help us find what we need. And we never get to piece it together until later!”

“Do I, indeed,” the draconequus said, looking more amused by the second.

“Yes,” she nodded emphatically. “You do. So, this time, with all that’s at stake, I’m asking you to just put the Fool card stuff aside. Just tell us, this once, what we’re looking for. Or where it is. Or whatever. No games, no tricks, just answers.”

Discord sighed, giving her a sour look.

“I think you may be disappointed, Twilight,” he said. “I’m not some rogue member of a nigh-omniscient race that transcends time or anything. I just play one on TV.”

“What’s teevee?” Sweetie asked, looking up at him. “Is it like a stage?”

“Kind of,” Discord shrugged. “But it’s one you never outgrow.”

“See?” Twilight accused. “That! That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about! That may have sounded like some offhoof word salad, but I know an inside joke when I hear one! You have access to insights the rest of us don’t, however random! Knowledge of worlds undreamed of! Universes unexplored!”

Darting forward to press her muzzle against Discord’s, eyes locked, she vowed in a low voice, “And one day, your knowledge will be harnessed!”

For a moment, she continued to stare into his startled eyes with the determination of an angry sphinx, thunder rolling low in the distance. Then, as suddenly as she had arisen, she veered away on violet wings.

“In the meantime,” she concluded as she began searching the shelves, “If you’re not going to help, please try not to be a distraction. I have a book to find.”

Discord rolled his eyes. “Oh, goo-dee.”

Unfortunately, while he was rolling his eyes they happened to bounce and spin under a nearby book shelf, prompting Twilight to shudder slightly and move her search to a different set of stacks across the room. And while Discord was conjuring a broom to fish them out again and Pinkie and the younger mares were giving a chorus of Eeeeewwwww!, he was left vulnerable to more questions.

“Hey, wait a minute,” Rainbow Dash said, hovering over the Lord of Chaos. “Discord, you know whole a bunch of stuff, right?”

Discord continued blindly knocking his broomstick around under the shelf. “That is what nigh-omniscient means, Rainbow Dash, and I believe we just covered that. Oh, more dust bunnies. Excuse me, little ones…”

“Well, okay, why not just cut to the chase?” the blue pegasus said.

Meanwhile, small, long-eared balls of dust hopped out from where Discord searched and scattered across the room, eliciting some giggles from the foals, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy.

“Do you know what happened?” Rainbow demanded. “I mean, if you do, just tell us who did it!”

Fluttershy looked upwards with a gentle, “Oh, dear.” Behind her, Spike suddenly belched a small burst of greenfire, deftly catching the scroll case it produced.

As for Discord, the draconequus had turned to consider Rainbow with his empty sockets as she shuddered away, tapping his chin slightly while he contact juggled his newfound eyes.

“Well,” he grinned, “I guess that depends on which who-did-it you’re talking about.”

“What? What’s that supposed to—”

“Don’t.”

This last was from Twilight, turning to face them again with an ancient and massive tome held in her violet aura.

“Just… don’t. Trust me on this one, Rainbow,” she said as she settled the book on a reading podium. “Just let it go.”

“But…”

“Just let it go.”

Rainbow Dash started to object further, then caught the look of absurd innocence that Discord was giving her, his eyes suddenly restored.

“Yyyyyeah, okay,” she said slowly, eyeing the draconequus suspiciously.

As if to dispel all doubt, a golden halo suddenly appeared above Discord’s head.

Rainbow Dash flew away from him, perching on top of one of the far bookcases, not catching the wink that Discord gave Fluttershy. Then, while Fluttershy giggled some more and Pinkie Pie and the fillies exchanged whispers, Twilight held up a small, charred object.

“Okay. So, anyway. This is the murder weapon,” Twilight said quietly. “Not to be too morose, but it was found in Filthy’s body.”

All giggling and whispering stopped. Rarity winced as if in pain. Diamond Tiara paled, and Sweetie squeezed her hoof tighter.

“Yeah, I know. And I’m sorry,” Twilight said in the same soft voice. “But Blueblood just sent it over with a note, asking if anyone here could identify what it was. The prosecution says it’s a sewing weight. Does anypony have any other ideas?”

Reluctantly, Rarity examined the offensive thing more closely.

“Well, I imagine you could use it as one,” she said at last. “Smaller than I would prefer, though its being silver gives it enough weight, I suppose. Its shape would be an odd choice, however. Something this oblong would tip and roll far too easily.”

“May I see?” Discord asked.

Rarity looked at the draconequus with surprise. “Oh! Well, of course.”

Taking it in his eagle claw, Discord studied the blackened silver object, turning it this way and that.

“Hm. About the size and shape of a large thimble, actually. Only it’s solid, not hollowed out. Interesting.”

Pinkie Pie cocked her head. “What’s a thimble?”

“It’s um…” The draconequus studied the ceiling, suddenly uncomfortable, then tossed the object back to Twilight. “It’s what you give a girl when you really like her. Like, say, when she’s helped you find your shadow.”

Applejack considered this, then whispered to Fluttershy, “So, Discord ever give ya a thimble?”

Looking down, Fluttershy blushed happily.

Applejack smiled. “Attagirl.”

“Okay, so we know that it might be a sewing weight, but probably isn’t, due to its impracticality,” Twilight nodded, leafing through her tome as she spoke. “Does anypony know what it is?”

Silence.

“Great,” Twilight sighed. “Well, I think I found that ancient law that Blue invoked. Uh,” she looked again at Sweetie Belle and Diamond Tiara. “Are you sure you want to be here for this?”

Diamond nodded.

“He was my father,” she said. “I need to be part of this.”

Twilight sighed. “Okay, if you’re sure.” Then, she turned her attention fully to the situation at hoof.

“Blódsihtan is a law that’s held over from the First Realm,” Twilight explained. “First Realm is a little bit of a misnomer, it actually lasted lots longer than the Graven Age, which isn’t saying much. Time was still pretty soft, but the Graven Age is usually estimated to have lasted an equivalent of between two and ten years, relatively speaking.

“Of course,” she mused, “technically it would be more accurate if they were both called periods, even though they were both significant as major points of history separated by dramatic change. After all, there was a consistent calendar by the time the First Realm started. In fact, Star Swirl the Bearded and Stygian once co-authored a paper suggesting...”

Applejack cleared her throat slightly. “Um, Twilight?”

“Oh! Right! Anyway, the point is that during the First Realm, much like the Graven Age, it was just assumed that all ponies, everywhere, were the subjects of Luna and Celestia. Whether they, um, wanted to be or not.”

Clearing her throat, she continued, “H-Hmm! Anyway. It was right after the Graven Age, so the Sisters had just abolished the priest class. But they were still keeping mostly hooves-off regarding laws, only ruling over the most major of problems. Meanwhile, the former priests had founded the first noble houses, and were still trying to rule Equestria themselves as much as possible.

“It was a pretty barbaric time,” she went on. “And magistrate law was just one example. The magistrates were mostly from the nobility. So you can imagine the power they wielded in the Two Sisters’ name, and how hard it could be to get justice if you were a common pony.”

Applejack rolled her eyes. “Well, that figgers.”

“The magistrates were like a combination of town mayor, judge, and jury,” Twilight went on. “Ponies could be whipped on the spot for contempt of court, or in some circumstances even tortured. Plus, short of direct puppeteering, there were almost no limits on what magic could be used on accused ponies to make a magistrate’s case. And you had to confess to be found guilty, but if they accused someone and couldn’t get a confession, the magistrate suffered whatever penalty the accused would have. So, they had incentive to get you to confess. By, um, any means.”

All her friends stared.

“That’s… messed up,” Rainbow Dash said at last.

“Yeah, well,” Twilight shrugged. “There were some checks and balances to it, but long story short, the First Realm ended when Luna found out how the courts actually worked, and what nobleponies were doing in her and Celestia’s names.”

She grinned, adding, “No records have survived on exactly what she said or did, but I think we can all imagine.”

While the rest of the ponies chuckled, she went on, “Then she and Celestia started overhauling the legal system and getting more involved with things, which in turn led to the First Enlightened Age.”

Looking back to her tome, the alicorn continued, “There are a few holdover laws here and there, but for the most part the laws from the First Realm were either softened or completely purged. Blódsihtan is one of the exceptions. From what I can tell, it was originally intended as one of those checks against the magistrate’s power, so… I guess that might be why they kept it at the time?

“But once the court swears them in, the blódgeótendes has full, unfettered access to everything that the court knows, which in modern court means files from both defense and prosecution. They can also conduct their own investigations however they see fit with a full magistrate’s authority, which nowadays I guess means Blue has a lawyer’s access with a police commissioner’s…? Hm.”

She shook her head. “I’m not sure. I’m not done with my legal studies yet. Anyway, blódsihtan translates from Old Ponish to ‘the flowing of blood,’ obviously, and blódgeótendes to ‘the shedder of blood.’ So, his initial declaration translates roughly to ‘my blood is her blood,’ or ‘we are of the same blood,’ depending on context.”

Seeing her friends’ puzzlement, she clarified, “The feminine form used to also be both neutral gender and plural, except for ships. Old Ponish had some funny rules.”

She shook her mane again, diving deeper into the book.

“So, let’s see,” she muttered to herself. “…can be invoked at any time… only by family or by those who rule and protect by right of birth… full cooperation… nothing new… nothing new… oh, the defendant can’t be tortured into confessing once it’s invoked, that’s nice…”

Twilight turned the page, then paled, wide eyes staring at what she had found.

“Twi?” Applejack asked uncertainly. “Honey, what is it?”

“Oh, dear,” Fluttershy whispered. “This can’t be good.”

Reluctantly, Twilight looked up again.

“The obligations of the blódgeótendes are… really strict,” she said. “And there are a lot of them. Mostly dealing with loyalty to law and crowns, no lying, no falsifying evidence, that kind of thing.

“But in invoking blódsihtan, it looks like Blue took onto himself the magistrate’s burden of proof. And, I think he’s expected to take on all investigations and present all arguments without aid.

“But his last obligation is in the event of his failure to prove the accused’s innocence. If he can’t prove that Rarity didn’t do it, then he’s vowed to share her sentence.”

Rarity took an astonished step towards Twilight. “What?!? But… but I’ve been accused of sapientcide! Why, he’d spend years in the palace dungeons, perhaps decades!”

For a moment, the room was silent. Then, Applejack stepped forward, putting a hoof on her friend’s withers.

“Sugarcube,” she said softly, “Y’all ain’t accused of sapientcide. You’re accused a’murder. An’ while I ain’t sure what the difference is, exactly…”

“The difference is that murder is deliberate, or at least involving actions showing a degree of premeditation,” Twilight said. “It’s a matter of criminal intent. That’s why it’s so rare today. The sentence for murder used to be death, but in the First Enlightened Age they abolished all executions.”

“So what is it now?” Rainbow demanded.

Twilight took a deep breath.

“The penalty for murder is imprisonment in Tartarus,” she said.

Eyes down, she closed the book, her voice faded to a whisper.

“Forever.”

For an instant, Rarity simply stared at Twilight. Then, she looked around herself at her friends in mutually growing horror.

Suddenly, all four foals rushed to her as one, hugging her fiercely. The sobs broke loose from her then, choking, refusing to be contained, as her friends and family came together around her, holding her in a tight embrace until all their tears had run their course.

Author's Note:

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“Just… don’t. Trust me on this one, Rainbow. Just let it go.”

When reading the interactions betwixt Twilight and Discord, please remember that in this verse, Twilight never went to Gaia / the human world. Sunset had fled through a different mirror, and her shenanigans led to a very different adventure for Twilight, indeed.

That being said, Stygian’s Lament exists in both of the Sister Timelines, and thus Star Swirl the Bearded is historically more known to have been associated with Stygian here than in the main canon.

(The chapter linked to above for Stygian’s Lament takes place in a different timeline. But the story of Stygian and the Pillars, and the tradition that has followed since, are identical in both worlds.)