Hope and Shadows
Chapter 10 "Poison Most Foul."
By Steven Little
My Little Pony © Hasbro
In the upstairs apartment of Bonbon's Sweets and Treats, two mares lay out across their bed sweating and panting heavily. "Oh Bonnie, you really know how to make a mare feel young again." Lyra said, trying to catch her breath.
"Good." She said, equally out of breath. "So, no more drama about turning forty-eight?"
"I don't know." Lyra said, smiling seductively at her wife. "I may need a little more convincing."
"I guess I'll just have to remind you again that your sweet flank isn't getting any older." Bonbon rolled over and starting nibbling on her ear when they heard a loud knock at their front door.
"Ignore it, maybe they'll go away." The mint green unicorn whispered. The knock came again.
"Oh, this is ridiculous, I'll go see who it is and get rid of them, then you and I can get back to more pressing matters." Bonbon said as she trotted out the door, shaking her rump at Lyra as she left.
Lyra snuggled with her wife's pillow. 'I'm such a lucky, lucky mare!' She thought to herself.
The knock sounded again as Bonbon entered the business portion of her home. "Coming." She said as sweetly as she could despite her irritation. Opening the door she came face to face with two ponies she did not expect to see so early in the morning. "Princess Luna, Princess Twilight; what brings you here so early?"
"My, aren't we being formal today?" Luna asked with a smirk.
"Oh, sorry about that. We're not open yet but please come in." The two alicorns followed the slightly plump earth pony to the upstairs apartment. Upon entering, she waved them over to the couch. "Make yourselves at home, I'll be back in just a moment."
The two Princesses sat down as Bonbon galloped toward her bedroom. Not meaning to listen in, they could hear everything said in the back room. "Who was at the door?"
"Lyra, get up, Luna and Twilight are here?"
"What are they doing here so early?"
"I have no idea." Bonbon gave out a loud squeak. "Lyra, what are you doing?"
"I'm hungry and your juicy flank is exactly what I'm hankering for."
"But they'll hear us." Bonbon argued.
"Lyra Heartstrings! Get your flank out of that bed this instant!"
"Fine." After a short while, both ponies joined Twilight and Luna in the front room.
"Sorry Lyra, we didn't mean to interrupt your breakfast." Twilight apologized with a smile.
Both of the lovers blushed wildly. "Sorry about that. What brings you two around this morning?" Lyra asked.
"It's about Tootsie actually." Twilight stated.
"Is she okay, my baby's not hurt is she?" Bonbon asked franticly.
"No, no, nothing like that." Luna said. "It seems she's taken a liking to our son."
"Dusk, really, are you sure?" Lyra asked.
"From the way she looks at him, I'd she she's head over hooves for him." Luna clarified.
"Yes, I win!" Bonbon shouted.
"Win? What do you win and why?" Luna inquired.
"Oh, sorry. Lyra and I had a wager concerning whether Tootsie would like stallions or mares."
"What were the stakes? Twilight asked.
"Well, if Lyra won she'd get a lap dance from me anytime she wanted for a month."
"Oh, very nice." Luna said. "And now that you've won, what will you receive?"
"Lyra has to use her, uhm horn trick on me when ever I ask for the next month."
"Horn trick?" Twilight asked.
"You might as well tell them Bonnie." Lyra sighed.
"Lyra discovered a way she can use her ability of levitation and shielding to give herself a uhm, a colthood made of magic and energy."
"A what?" Both royal ponies gasped.
"A penis made of magic." Lyra said. "It feels real but it's only magic and energy. As soon as you loose focus it disappears."
"Lyra, I'm going to want you to show me exactly how you accomplish this but back to the task at hoof, Tootsie and Dusk." Twilight said.
"The wedding of my three crusaders is coming up and I have a way to get these two together." Luna leaned toward the other two mares. "Here's my plan."
In Canterlot, a carriage approached the Echelon Estates, a collection of high priced mansions in a gated community. "Daddy, are you sure you want to do this? They made it fairly clear they wanted nothing to do with us." Sweetie Belle said.
"I know Angel, but this has gone on long enough. For your mothers sake, I need to try to make peace between her and your grandparents." Spike stated.
"Belle's right Father but there's something else too; if they were worked up because Belle was born out of wedlock, how are they going to feel about her marrying a Dragon?" Garnet asked. "Or Belle marrying another mare for that matter?"
As the carriage came to a stop, the driver called to his passengers. "Sir, we've arrived at the Filigree residence."
After unloading from the carriage, Spike paid the driver and the walked up to the large double doors of the rather impressive looking house. The purple dragon pulled a long tasseled rope the hung just to the right of the door; they heard the chiming of bells and waited.
A completely white earth pony with a black mane and a smarmy attitude answered the door. "Can I, help you?"
"Yes, you can. Are your masters at home this morning, we would have words with them."
"And you are?" He asked.
"Sir Spike Swift-talon."
"Right this way sir." The butler escorted them into an expansive foyer. "Only master Reginald is here at present. If you would be so good as to stay here, he will be with you shortly." Spiked nodded to the pony as he left the room.
As the servant left the room, Garnet and Sweetie Belle looked to their father. "Daddy, in the seventeen years you've had that title, this is the first time I've ever heard you use it, why now?"
"To be honest Sweetie, the pony aristocracy seem to respond to titles far better than common names. In this case, my title got us in the door." Spike was cut off by the sound of hooves quickly approaching the foyer. The unicorn that entered the room was pure white from horn to hooves with a vibrant blue mane and tale. His eyes were a similar color as his mane. On his flank was an image of a simple gold and diamond ring.
The unicorn slowed his speed as he approached the trio. "Sir Swift-talon, I am Reginald Filigree; it's so very good to make your acquaintance. If you and your entourage would follow me, I have a lovely morning tea set up in the conservatory."
"Our carriage trip was quite trying, thank you for your generous offer." Spike said. They followed Reginald to his conservatory and each sat at one of the provided places. The servant, whose name turned out to be Buttle sped around, placing a small platter of cucumber and watercress sandwiches in front of Spike and each of the ponies.
"Please, please help yourselves, you must be famished. We can talk after we've eaten." Reginald invited. The food was rather agreeable, especially to Spike who had never tasted watercress before but decided he like it quite a bit. When they were finished, they sat around the table drinking tea amongst the many plants in their host's conservatory. "Sir Swift-talon."
"Please, just Spike will do." He said
"Indeed and please, since we're not standing on formality call me Reginald." He said smiling. "Now, Spike is it? I must admit that I do not recall having any acquaintances that had dealings with dragons. And since I do not know you personally I can only assume that either you are a friend of my wife Devinia or you were sent here on behalf of some mutual acquaintance that I cannot for the life of me recall at the moment. What is it I can do for you?"
"Well, I think the best course of action is too clear the air a bit." Spike said. "The first thing I'd like to say is that the reason you do not know me is because you and your wife did not attend my wedding with your daughter Rarity." Reginald was shocked; he sat there staring with his jaw hanging open. "My entourage, as you call them, are your grandchildren. The stallion to my right is Garnet and I believe you are already acquainted with your granddaughter."
Reginald turned and for a long moment he studied the features of the white unicorn mare in front of him. "Sweetie Belle, can that really be you?" He asked. "The last time I saw you…"
"Was when you and your wife kicked my mother out when she was only fifteen and I was barley a week old." Sweetie Belle said trying to hide the contempt in her voice.
"What? I did no such thing, Rarity left with you to go live with my cousin Carlton and his wife Fran in Ponyville again." He informed them.
"Again?" Garnet asked.
"Yes, when she was only seven she lived with them for a little over a year after her school caught fire. After she left with you Sweetie Belle I never heard from her again." Reginald said. "I've written so many letters, sent messengers only to get nothing in return."
"I've been getting the mail everyday for the last twenty two years and I've never received a letter from you." Spike stated.
"Did you ever try to go to Ponyville yourself sir?" Garnet asked him.
"Yes, more times than I can bally well count but every time I tried to get away, there would be some emergency at work or Devinia would become quite ill. Please, you must understand, I thought that Rarity had written us out of her life. Had I known…"
"How could you not know?!" Sweetie Belle began to yell. "Mom's marriage to Daddy was the only thing ponies talked about for weeks, it was in all the papers! There was a live radio broadcast from the wedding! Princess Celestia herself was there officiating the wedding because her sister, Princess Luna was also getting married to our family's friend Twilight Sparkle!"
"When was this?" Reginald asked.
"In four months it will have been exactly eighteen years. Why?" Spike asked.
"Please follow me." Reginald got up and walked through the house to his office. Reaching into a filing cabinet he flipped through file until he found the one he was looking for, a light blue file folder. Flipping through it he found a particular entry. "Here it is. I was admitted to the hospital around that time and stayed there for several weeks."
"May I look at that sir?" Garnet asked.
Reginald gave the folder to him and sat back against his desk. "How is it that I knew nothing of this? It's true, we haven't gotten out much since we seem to be on everyponies black list these days but to not know about a royal wedding? It's all so strange."
"Not all that strange sir, I believe I know what's going on here but there a few questions I need answered from your wife. Do you have any idea when she will return?"
"She should be back later this morning. May I ask, what is your profession dear boy?" Without looking up from the folder he was reading, Garnet reached back into the black belt around his waste and pulled out a black cloth case and hoofed it to Reginald. Opening it carefully, his eyes shined of the silver badge and the lettering emblazoned on it's surface, 'Uphold the law, Protect the Innocent, Lead by Example. Ponyville Sheriffs Office. SHERIFF.' "You're a law enforcement officer?"
"That's what the badge says."
"Garnet, be nice. Can't you see he's having a hard time with this? He's you're grandfather too." Spike chastised.
"About that." Reginald said." Were you adopted Garnet or did Rarity have another child before meeting Spike?
"No, Rarity is my mother and Spike is my father in every meaning of the word." Garnet clarified.
"It's a long story." Spike said.
"We seem to have some time before my wife returns. Please make yourself comfortable. I love a good story."
Buttle was putting out lunch when Spike finished his tale. "That was some story. Garnet, I can see how jolly well proud Spike is of you and I think any father would be proud to have you for a son. I know that I am proud to have you for a grandson. And you Belle, are you still singing?"
"No, I've retired from singing so that I can have a life again outside of the public eye. I've put this off too long, Scootaloo deserves better and before you say anything, I don't really care if you or any other member of the so called nobility approve of it or not."
"Why, because you're marrying a mare? Hardly. While I'll admit, many ponies from the old nobility would scoff at the very idea. I for one have always been a bit of a romantic; if you love this Scootaloo, then who am I to stand in your way. This Apple Bloom you spoke of Garnet sounds intriguing. Does she work with you at the Sheriff's office in Ponyville?"
"No, she's recently been appointed as the captain of Princess Luna and Princess Twilight's personal guard." Garnet informed him
"And Scoot and I are two of her lieutenants." Belle added.
Everypony in the office heard the front door open and close as Buttle entered the room. "Master Reginald, Lady Devinia has returned."
"Thank you Buttle. Now maybe we can get to the bottom of this." Reginald and the others walked out into the central hall. "Devinia, we have guests today." Devinia was a white unicorn with a royal purple mane and a cutie mark depicting a painter's pallet board. She did not recognize the two younger ponies but the dragon; she knew exactly who the dragon was.
"You! Get out of my house you despicable creature!"
"Devinia, these are my guests. Do you know who this is?"
"Yes, I know who it is. Let me guess, Rarity has run out of bits and has come crawling back?" Devinia asked.
"Between her work and Sweetie Bell's savings, we have more money than you." Spike responded. "Didn't you notice the gowns the Princesses were wearing at the last Grand Galloping Gala? Rarity made those and half the dresses being worn at the Gala and the Canterlot Garden Party three months before. Fancy Pants himself ordered a new suit from her."
"You honestly expect me to believe those lies?" Devinia asked.
"Don't dare impugn my honor!" Spike shouted, flames erupting from his mouth. Devinia took a step back. "You were the one who cast out Rarity and your newborn granddaughter."
"What do you want dragon?" The unicorn asked in an offhoofed manner.
"Whatever the problems between you and Rarity, I want it to end today." The dragon stated resolutely.
"I assume you have proof of your claims?" Devinia asked.
Sweetie Belle reached into her saddlebags and pulled out a heavily wrinkled letter and gave it to Reginald. "I need to step out for a moment. I would say happy reading but theirs nothing happy about it." Belle stepped out as Reginald began to read.
Walking out in front of the mansion, Sweetie Belle breathed in the fresh air. Placing a hoof over the moon pendant she wore she pressed it against her chest and concentrated hard. In her mind, she could hear the Princesses of Equestria. 'Your majesties, I am sorry to be contacting you in this manner but I would do so if it was not important.'
'What troubles you Sweetie Belle?' Princess Celestia asked.
'I am here at my grandparent's residence with my father and brother. Father has insisted on confronting my grandparents concerning their problems with Rarity. I think my grandmother is about to be revealed as a pony that not only has tampered with mail but may have also endangered her husband to keep him from contacting Rarity. I know this sounds confusing but I need help. I have a feeling she will not go quietly and I may need some assistance. If you could send a few guards, it would be helpful.'
'We will do all that we can Lieutenant Belle. I am sorry that you should have to deal with this so close to your wedding.' Luna offered.
'Thank you Princess, I should get back inside in case something happens. My thanks to you all.' Belle sighed deeply and slowly walked back inside to catch Reginald finishing the last bits of the letter.
"How could you?" Reginald yelled at his wife. "You would dare involve me in this deception? It's no wonder Rarity hasn't tried to contact us since you threw her out!"
"Don't be so naive. Her tryst with that stallion not only hurt our standing in what is left of the nobility but our entire family has been damaged by it. Haven't you wondered why we haven't been invited to a single event in nearly twenty-two years? We've lived like hermits, surviving off our individual accounts. When was the last time you got an order? When was the last time one of my paintings hung in a gallery let alone sold? She did this us, both of us!" Devinia yelled.
"Actually, everything you accused your daughter of you did to yourself." Princess Celestia informed her from where she stood in the foyer. "The elite of Canterlot have taken quite a liking to your daughter. I must admit that while some of her fashions are a bit adventurous for me she has a way with a needle. I have stayed out of it until now but those ponies like Fancy Pants have officially black listed both of you from any social gathering in Canterlot because of how you've treated your daughter.
"That can't be true. What about your letters Reginald? Have you received a response to any of them in these thirty years?" Devinia asked in a panic.
"Of course he wouldn't." Luna said walking into the mansion with Twilight by her side. "We checked with the postmaster as you asked sister. They caught a mare by the name of Fleet Wing destroying mail six days ago. Some of it hadn't been burned yet. Here is one of the letters." She said, giving the correspondence to Reginald.
"I wrote this two weeks ago. Have you been doing this the whole time? Having a pegasus intercept my letters to our daughter and then burning them?"
"What was I suppose to do?! If it got out that you were still in contact with her it would have made our situation worse! We had to cut all ties to her, I tried to tell you but you wouldn't listen!" Devinia shouted.
"There's only one other thing to address and that is Reginald's three month stay in the hospital during all the hub bub concerning the royal wedding. Princess Twilight, could you take a look at this and give me you learned opinion." Twilight looked over his shoulder at the folder, specifically blood test results listing the chemical names for the impurities found in the blood.
"Arsenic Sulfide?" She asked a little confused.
"You don't suppose it could be Orpiment do you?" The Sheriff asked.
"Yes, if enough of it was mixed into his food, it could very well give concentrations in this level. Look here, it says there was also high levels of zinc which is a common white pigment instead of lead." Twilight explained further.
"That's what I thought. Devinia, if we went to your art studio would we find any White Orpiment paint, or did you use it all to poison your husband?" Garnet asked.
"That's preposterous, any number of painters could be using those paints!"
"That's certainly true but because of the poisonous properties of the paint it's been all but banned and those ponies who can legally order it are tracked. I wonder just how many more use the paint. It's no wonder the doctors overlooked the obvious cause of Regin… Grandfathers illness."
"Guards, seize her!" Celestia called out. Two guards came in from their posts outside the mansion and stood on either side of Devinia.
"What's the meaning of this? You have no proof that I tried to poison him."
"You're correct." Garnet said. "But you have admitted to tampering with the mail and that carries a two year prison term and while you cool your hooves in the cells, we'll have the opportunity to discern whether the paint that poisoned my Grandfather came from your supplies or not." The guards led her off. "Grandfather, you will need to decide what you want to do, she can be held without bail for two weeks but then she will go to trial. If we find evidence that she did poison you, you'll have to decide weather you want to press charges. Until then, would you like to visit with us in Ponyville until the wedding? I'm sure mother would love to see you again."
Reginald realized the Garnet was referring to him as his grandfather now and it brought him no end of joy. "Yes, I'd like that very much."
"All right everypony, gather around me. I've been meaning to spend some time with my niece after recent events."
"Join us Buttle, you could use a break too." Reginald said.
"Yes sir, as you wish." The butler said smiling. Celestia spread her wings and the group of ponies and one dragon vanished from the mansion. In the background, two of Celestia's guards were careful to lock all the doors and windows before leaving.
The small group of ponies and one dragon appeared in what used to be the main reading area of the Ponyville library. "What was that?" Reginald asked in shock.
"My apologies." Celestia said. "Teleportation can be a little disorienting for first timers."
"Teleportation?" He asked. "Where are we?"
Spike walked the aged pony to the front door and opened it for him. "Reginald Filigree, welcome to Ponyville." The elder pony looked out the door and saw below the small hill that the library sat on, was Ponyville's town square. Off to the right looked lie the entrance to a small group of shops with a central market off to the right. Directly in front of him, he could see city hall and the founder's fountain. "Far off to the left on the other side of the river is our place. You think you're up for a short walk?" Spike asked.
"Wouldn't mind a long walk, this town looks absolutely charming." Reginald told him.
Luna tapped Sweetie Belle on the shoulder. "Are you still performing at the Wine Club tonight?"
"Of course, why wouldn't I?"
Reginald turned away from the doorway to face his granddaughter. "I thought you said you were retiring from the stage?"
"Oh, I have but I still want to practice my singing from time to time. That, plus Berry Punch offered to cater all the wine at the wedding for free if I preformed tonight."
"Now that sounds like a Filagree if ever I heard one, thrift and sense." He said.
Sweetie Belle sighed softly. "Reginald, I undestand what happened and my mind tells me that you were a victim in this as much as me and mom but my heart isn't ready to forgive just yet. Please understand, for the last eighteen years I lived under the idea that with the exception of my mother, Spike and Garnet, my family wanted nothing to do with me. I felt shunned and hated and I decided that if I weren't good enough for you then you wouldn't exist to me. That's a lot of anger and hate to simply drop all at once."
"I understand Sweetie Belle, take all the time you need, I'm a patient stallion. I hope we can at least be friends for now." He said hopefully.
"I'll try." She said with a small smile.
Princess Luna smiled at the scene paled out before her when she remembered her plan. "Belle, The reason I asked if you were still performing was because Dusk and Tootsie may be in attendance and I was wondering if I could go over your song selections."
"Playing matchmaker again?" Sweeties Bell giggled. "Sure thing Princess, why don't we go into the dining room and see if we can't find a song for them."
Sweetie Belle and Luna left the room as Garnet headed for the door. "Wish I could stay but I have some, uh, paperwork to finish up."
"You're a terrible liar son but whatever you're up to I trust that no harm will come of it."
"All right, I'll see you later tonight. If I don't come in for a fitting, Mother will kill us both." He said smiling.
The dragon and the elder pony stood there watching Garnet gallop off into the distance. "I suppose I should get you over to the boutique. Rarity's going to absolutely flip when she sees you, or flip out. It's hard to say really, one or the other, or possibly both."
"Do you really think it will go that badly for me old boy?"
"Hard to say sir. Rarity is a pregnant mare. It's hard to judge their emotional state."
"Yes, I do seem to remember something like that when she was carrying Sweetie Belle. Well, there's nothing for it. Forward the buffs and all that! I'm fairly excited to see my Rarity after all these years. Devinia hated how much attention I lavished on her but now if she'll accept me, I'm going to abso-blooming-lutly spoil her rotten." Reginald stated resolutely. "Lead on my good dragon. Come Buttle we'll get settled and then you can get started you're vacation"