Looking Glass, P.I: Coins and Crowns

by Kavonde

Chapter 1

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It all started on a slow, muggy afternoon in downtown Fillydelphia. I was leaned back in my chair, hooves kicked up on the desk, staring at a half-empty bottle of apple brandy and the stack of unpaid bills it was keeping company. My ceiling fan creaked steadily as the two remaining blades spun through their orbit like a couple of bellicose drunks. I was staring at the brandy, weighing the pros and cons of finishing it off, when I heard the groan of a hoof sinking into the floorboards outside my office. A moment later, the little bell over my door rang, and she stepped in.

She looked like the kind of filly who made her living by being pretty. Her cherry coat shimmered slightly, and her dark red mane was expertly tousled to look respectable or inviting, depending on her expression. Some type of long-petaled pink flower bloomed on her flanks. She paused halfway through the door and looked around my office with surprise.

“Excuse me,” she said, “this is the office of Mr. Glass, yes?”

“Sure is,” I replied. I swung my hooves down from the desk and rested my elbows on it instead, trying to look a little more businesslike. “How can I help you, miss?”

“Well,” she said, still looking unsure, “it's just that I had heard some marvelous things about your work, and I rather expected... ”

I self-consciously took the bottle of brandy and stuck it in a drawer. “It's not a glamorous life, miss, but it generally pays the bills. How can I help you?”

“Ah, yes.” She cleared her throat and stepped fully into my office, butting the door gently closed behind her. She inspected the ancient wooden chair I reserved for my guests and wisely decided to remain standing. “I am given to understand that you specialize in missing pony cases.”

That wasn't strictly true, but they were the main reason anypony knew me. “That's right, miss. Is somepony missing?”

“Well... yes.” Her lips pursed and I could clearly see the strain in her sapphire eyes. “It's my fiancé, Mr. Glass. He has been missing for two days.”

A lonely little part of me sighed at the word “fiancé,” but I nodded. “Just Glass, miss, if you'd prefer. Have you already contacted the police?”

“Well... no,” she said. Her hoof scratched the floorboards nervously. “I mean, it's just, he is a very important pony, you see, and it simply wouldn't do to have a common policepony searching the city for him.”

That was a new one. These Manehattan-wannabe types tended to indulge in their classism, but this was ridiculous. Granted, I didn't have the utmost faith in the cops around here, but I had some good reasons. “Miss, the F.P.D might not having a sterling reputation, but I’m sure they could keep it low-profile. I have a friend on the force with some pull, she might be able to... ”

“Mr. Glass,” she interrupted sharply, “I do not wish the police involved. Is that clear?”

I let out a breath. “Miss, may I ask you a question?”

She hesitated a second before she nodded.

“Why come to me?”

“I’m sorry?”

I leaned back and looked her in the eye. “You’re obviously wealthy. Your mane, your coat, your voice, they all say money. There are other P.I’s in Fillydelphia, miss; hell, I know a mare uptown who runs a whole freaking agency. She could have half a dozen gumhoofs swarming this town for any sign of your fiancé. I’m just one colt.”

Her face was a mask. “Are you saying that you will not take the case?”

I shook my head. “I’ll take it, and I’ll do everything in my power to find your stallion, but I need to know I’m not getting involved in something shady. If you can’t be honest with me, there’s not a lot I can do to help you.”

“Fine,” she said after a moment. “I do not have access to my fiancé’s accounts, and my personal fortune is significantly less robust. You have a good reputation and reasonable rates. And so I am here.”

“Ah.” Interesting. I hadn’t taken the filly for a gold digger; she pulled off the “old money” routine pretty well. “Well, thank you. Now, I need to ask you some questions about your fiancé.”


I dug into my top drawer for a notepad and pencil. "Whaf hif num?"


I spit the pencil out. “What's his name?"

"Silver Coin. Perhaps you've heard of him?"

“Sorry, miss, but I don't often get to brush shoulders with the Fillydelphia elite.”

She quirked an eyebrow at me. “Don't you read the newspapers?”

“Uh... parts of them.” I waved vaguely towards the paper on my desk. “I'm not a big fan of politics. I've got enough to worry about in my own little corner of Equestria. Could you describe him?"

“He is a large stallion, four and a half hands tall, with a gray coat and a silver mane. His eyes are gold. His cutie mark consists of three stacks of silver coins, the central one tallest.”

I wrote that down. "When waf the laft tum you faw hum?"

She tried to cover a grin. "The pencil, Mr. Glass."

Dammit. "When was the last time you saw him?"

“Two nights ago, at supper. After we dined, he told me that he was going to the Horn and Feather for a nip. He did not return.”

“Does he go there often?”

“Yes, he occasionally meets some of his business acquaintances there.”

“Do you know who he was meeting this time?”

“Not specifically, no.”

I quirked an eyebrow at her. “Unspecifically?”

“Probably the same group he met with regularly,” she answered with a shrug.

“Does he have any enemies? Old rivals? Debts owed?”

“He's a rather successful pony, Mr. Glass. He has stepped on a few hooves to get to where he is. But he's a good stallion at heart, I assure you."

I picked the pencil back up and scribbled down some notes. “How is your relationship with your fiancé?”

“I beg your pardon?” She sounded a bit offended..

“I'm not trying to be too intrusive, but this sort of information can help in an investigation. You two are living together?”

“Yes.” She looked a little uncomfortable with this line of questioning.

“Have you been living together long?”

“Since shortly after we were engaged.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Six months.”

I nodded and scribbled down some more notes. “Has there been any trouble in your relationship recently? Any fights, arguments? Maybe suspicions of diloyalty?”

A hint of a grin touched her face. “I am fairly certain that Silver wasn't cheating on me, Mr. Glass.”

I had to admit, anypony who threw her to the side was blind or stupid... but hardly ruled the possibility out. Well, no sense breaking her heart just yet. “Sorry, miss, but we have to explore every possibility here. Are you absolutely certain?”

“I'm sure if he'd decided to run off with another mare, he'd have left a note or something.”

“Sure.” Because stallions are always so polite in situations like that. I took a moment to scribble down the basics of what she'd told me. Silver Coin. Horn and Feather. Rich. Potential enemies. Probably ran off with some filly for the weekend. “I'll start looking into this right away, miss.”

“Ah... about your fees,” she began, her cheeks flushing a bit.

“Standard rates are fifteen bits an hour, plus expenses. I'll keep a log of everything and give it to you along with the bill. How should I contact you?”

“We reside at 3803 High Canter Boulevard. Ask the doorcolt for Miss Calla.”

I wrote that down as well, and then trotted around the desk to place my hoof reassuringly on her shoulder. “Don't worry, miss. I'll find your fiancé as soon as I can. Should I call you a taxi?”

The simple gesture looked like it had almost brought her to tears, but she swallowed them and shook her mane. “I will be fine. Thank you, Mr. Glass.”

I offered her my best smile, and leaned on the desk as I watched her leave. I had to admit, there were worse ways to spend time. Then I threw on my coat and hat, stuffed my notepad and pencil into a pocket, and set out to find where Silver Coin was spending his time.

Next Chapter: Chapter 2 Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes
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