579 replies and 13 files omitted.
Her beak slowly curls back
"What is it?"
Amber makes her way down the stairs, through the marble hallway, into the lobby, past the brass-lined doors, and onto the road. Sometimes ponies lope past in twos and threes. Sometimes wearing blue, sometimes green, sometimes black, and sometimes grey. And sometimes, she is all alone, trotting through a hallway with half of the lights on, and half off. Outside, the moon and stars are gone, and large raindrops fall sporadically. The wind blows much colder than before. The same armored car, and the same few soldiers are there as before, with a flood light on. One soldier wraps a blanket around himself. None pay any attention to the small, well-wrapped mustard-filly.
“Yes. Somepony just swooped by and took everything.”
"Did you sleep well last night?"
Her heart races as she makes it outside without further incident. She briefly looks back at those soldiers, once protective, now persecutory if they knew what she hid under her dress. She keeps walking steadily onwards, shuddering as the car's light pans over her briefly.
Once she is well out of the scene and the adrenaline fades from her body, a wave of exhaustion overtakes her. It could be closer to dawn than it is to midnight, and part of her yearns to go straight home and get some well-deserved rest. However, holding onto those papers for any longer than necessary makes her uneasy, so she blearily trots in the direction of the nightclub, not really looking where she's headed.
It's a straight walk up Traveller Street, and then a few blocks westward to the nightclub. Let us only hope Amber recalls the exact number of blocks.
There are fewer lights on in the buildings, and fewer ponies to be seen. The rain and the absence of the moonlight makes the walk a bit different than before. Amber is up perhaps a block and a half when a police automobile pulls over near her. It's driver leans over to roll the window down. He seems to be a darker grey earth pony stallion of slightly above middle age, and he says to Amber
"Where are you headed, little pony?"
As she's approached, Amber thinks to herself, I'm not a bad pony, I have nothing to fear, and it's probably for the better they're here in a neighborhood like this.
She comes up with an explanation somewhat close to the truth, that she agreed to meet her "coltfriend" at the nightclub, giving its name. Although she got caught up in something and had to set out very late, she hopes she can still find him there. The number of blocks is a bit foggy so she asks for directions.
"Oh, that place? Well that's a night club. It's about a mile away. Would you like a ride? I can't imagine you'd want to walk all that distance by yourself in the rain."
Amber is tired, still a little jittery, getting a bit damp, and she doesn't like being in this strange neighborhood at night, so she accepts and thanks the officer.
Just open the passenger side door, enter, and probably roll the window up. The officer takes the car out of park and puts it in gear, driving straight down Traveller street. He's definitely just a little on the older side. He turns occasionally to make small talk to Amber:
"You're going to meet your coltfriend? Well that's sweet. I remember having to stay over night in a cold train station with my special somepony way back in the day. So what's his name?"
"How long have you been together?'
"Where did you meet?"
And those sorts of little questions as he pries curiously..
>>151716Wasn't it customary in the 40's for patrol cars to have two policemen? Think "Car 54, Where Are You?""His name is Mustard Trim, and we met just a couple of days ago because we work in the same restaurant, a purty fine establishment. He looks a bit like me, as you might guess. I work as a hostess and he's a waiter and we got off work late today, but we decided we might meet there to enjoy a dance."
Her answers are short but friendly, and she fondly recalls to herself the dance they enjoyed before that stressful assignment.
>>151717I don't think it's a 40's thing, but it's definitely a common thing to have two officers rather than one. As BPD probably had half of their officers volunteer or get drafted into the war, and then many quit once the police became part of what was effectively a collaborationist government, it isn't entirely unlikely they'd send some vehicles out with one officer.
"Oh, that's really sweet! Reminds me of when I met my Sunday . I was late coming home from school that day, haha. And I invited her to the dance-"
He goes on like this.
The ride is short, maybe four minutes if even that. The officer tells Amber
"Now be careful around here. There are a lot of bad folk around these kind of establishments at night. And the ponies who run them ain't always the best folk either. Enjoy your dance, but I wouldn't stay too long and too late if I were you."
>>151718I can see that. Not specifically 40's but generally up to recent times. Nowadays cop cars have one officer with a computer setup in the right seat. Woah, technology!"I understand, mister. I'll be headed off in not too long."
She thanks him sincerely and waves him off.
"Be careful now." He raises a hoof in a wave, and drives off.
Amber does not have to look far for Dark Denizen - not at all.
To the right of the revolving door front entrance are Dark Denizen, and to her left, the diamond dog, with the latter holding a sledge hammer. The wall is significantly damaged, with bricks lying on the ground, and wood and bricks dislodged in a rectangular section next to the door.
"A few more hits" Dark Denizen says, staring at the wall. A light outside the door provides some illumination.
"Make sure it's up to regulation
She is standing just outside of an awning, and is exposed to the rain. Her back is fairly wet, and water drips off of the thumb of her left wing. The diamond dog, who is just barely within the awning, is mostly dry.
The diamond dog pulls the sledge hammer back, and makes a swing, knocking two bricks loose. A pair of stallions leaving the night club turn around, look back at the scene, and then walk away in the opposite direction.
Neither seems to have noticed Amber or the car.
Amber grimaces at the scene, bemused as to why anyone would be doing renovation like this at night. She walks up slowly. "Um, Ms. Denizen?"
she asks, her voice practically squeaking.
Her head swiftly turns, and she glares at Amber.
"Oh. You. Do you have it?"
She turns her whole body more fully towards Amber, and the Diamond Dog places the hammer in a resting position.
Amber nods feverishly. "Yes, I do."
She repositions herself under the awning to not get the papers wet, then with her mouth undoes a couple of front buttons and fishes out the document.
Her entire expression changes as her cat-like eyes become wide, and she looks down, focusing on the papers. Her mouth hangs slightly open, exposing her fangs.
"I see. Let's go back to my office." She turns to the Diamond Dog, and points a hoof
"Keep it up. If that cocksucker comes by in the morning thinking he can write us a citation, show him a 'regulation' door. Someone's got to tell me what his face looks like"
She starts moving towards the revolving door, and she motions with her wing for Amber to follow
"I might even stay up late enough to see it myself."
She tucks the papers away safely and follows the owner, feeling awfully conspicuous behind the no-nonsense mare. Once she enters the building she looks back and wonders, Are they really breaking a hole through the wall?
This thought is a nice break away from the apprehension of entering her office again.
Perhaps Amber enters with a delay behind her to make the association less obvious. Dance music plays, evidently from a phonograph. If she looks to her left, Amber can see the griffin viol player packing up on stage. Looking to her right at the wall next to the revolving door, Amber can see that yes, they are indeed breaking a hole into the wall at 2 AM on a Saturday morning when it is raining, and during business hours. There are flecks of paint and wood on the ground, and the wall on the inside is pretty badly damaged. A waiter speaks and nods to a male not far away from the hole, and it seems he is a concerned customer.
Dark Denizen continues forward, back to the hallway, and back to her office.
Amber notices that although the gramophone is playing pleasant music, a mere recording lacks the charm and energy of the viol player's playing. He spent the last couple of hours doing what he loved,
she thinks to herself. She looks back at Denizen and then back to the viol player. I'd hate to keep her waiting, but it's not like I'm leaving the building, and this is the last chance I'll get tonight to talk to him.
She trots up to the musician and greets him politely, smiling broadly.
As the walkway around the dance floor is rather large, this takes a moment.
Amber approaches the area just below the stage, where the griffin is picking up his case. He is rather old with grey feathers the color of rain-laden clouds, though something about his appearance implies there were either much brighter, or much darker when he was young. He turns his head to look at her with milky blue eyes.
He looks at her with a plain, or even hardened expression, and blinks his eyes. Small twitches and movements imply age has been unkind to him.
"Danke, uh, thank you" he says, after what seems to have been a deliberate delay. He speaks very slowly, seriously, and with an atrocious accent:
"I play the... klang and the melodie given to me with the biggest respect, as you should all music."
"My life and more" He replies, looking to the side for a moment, and then locking his eyes back on Amber
"To play for a crowd" he shakes his head "That is not the sign of love of music. To play for a crowd is to make money and to pay rent." He pauses again
"Practice more. Practice in the night. Practice, and the Bragi may bless you."
She pays heed to his words. "Thank you, mister.
It was a pleasure to get to meet you."
She pauses, in case the old gryphon has anything more to say.
He does not say anything to her. He looks away, wearing an expression of uncertainty, or perhaps sadness, and picks up the case, trying to hold it over his shoulder.
Despite her respect for this skilled musician, his demeanor gives her second thoughts. Is this really the result of wholehearted devotion to music, a melancholic life ending in playing to a gruff audience just to get by? Playing nightly at a club would be alright as a stepping stone of a career, but that dismal reality being all that awaits at a summit is not what she hopes for.
Her mind less at ease than it was before, she trudges to Dark Denizen's office.
Amber doesn't make it far before a waitress approaches her
"Huh. He doesn't normally talk to ponies." And after a pause
"Get back here. Denizen is impatient. She's in a bad mood because of the fire regulations."
She trots very quickly, leading Amber back to the office. When Amber enters, Denizen, standing up next to her desk rather than behind it says,
"Did you get lost on the way to my office? Where is it?"
Amber blinks. "No, ma'am. I have it right here."
She nervously approaches the desk, digs up the documents like before, and leans over the desk to deposit them. She then retreats backwards and waits for her reaction.
She reaches out her hoof, then quickly withdraws it to wipe her hoof off on a cloth. She again extends her hoof, takes the envelopes, and looks into them, going through the documents one by one, looking at them intently.
The young orange mare bites her lip in worry. What if he had picked out the wrong papers when he gave them to her? What if something is missing? What if there is something in there she doesn't like?
She stops suddenly, and raises her eyes to Amber
"Was there anything else?" She asks
She looks down, presses a set of something into an envelop, slides an image out of the other one, stares at it, and then slams it back in.
"Then it is done." She says
She breathes a sigh of relief. "You probably want your gun back, too,"
she says. She makes no move to pull out the weapon, in case her guards might get alarmed.
>>151745I think Amber abandoned that
Dark Denizen simply looks up curiously
Thank you, now I remember!
Amber clarifies, "I gave the gun as 'evidence' to be let in, and I was allowed onto the second floor. I told them I found it by a dumpster near Hoebuck."
"Hoebuck? Where Customs killed all of those griffins?"
She curls her nostrils
"Finally they've done something useful. Anyways, hopefully they'll believe that. I would have preferred to have the gun back, but no one ever thought we'd be out of this situation for free. That was quick thinking, I suppose. Anyways, Did they suspect anything?"
She shakes her head. "Nuh-uh. Hanging around long enough to get the papers was a little suspicious, but Scabbard knows how to talk his way out of a situation. I had to pretend to be his fillyfriend."
She scrunches when she says that last sentence.
"Heheh" She laughs at Amber's misfortune
"That sounds like him. I'll tell him you're too young for him. He'll be coming for his payment soon enough, I am sure."
"Let us hope that was all
of the relevant information. And that nothing finds its way back to you, or to us. This could grow to become very much out of hoof. You should hope you never understand just what is at stake here."
"The what now?" She says to Amber's last word. She pauses for a moment, then laughs.
She leans forward, moves a hoof across over the table, and invades Amber's personal space in a way she hasn't experienced in almost half an hour. She ruffle's Amber's mane
"You'll be fine. If anything, you've done well for your first night, little country filly."
She's not sure if she wants to work for this mare again, but she managed to get out uninjured and is not an outlaw...yet. Still, she's ill at ease and shows it.
Dark Denizen either never notices Amber's ill ease, or (more likely) doesn't care. She is still giggly, which if anything is a refreshing change from literally knocking down her own building with a sledge hammer.
"I suppose... I'll have your debt erased."
>>151756"You can do that?"
she asks, blinking. She thinks for a moment, and continues, "You know about it?"
She tilts her head down slight, and forms a small, almost malign grin
"You didn't think we looked into who you are before approaching you?"
Amber retracts with a pensive look on her face. "I suppose you would, but I didn't think it would be possible with me hardly knowing anypony around...."
She gets the sense it would be a bad idea to get this lady mad at any point, as it would be hard to hide.
"I just know what I was told, and that is that a filly with the same name as you, and the same adorable expression and coat, borrowed some money from someone else a few days ago. We can have that debt erased. I sort of assumed that was why you were here."
"You will be released from that. Who will eat the cost, we will figure out later, but you will be released. And to keep silent about all you have seen here, all you have done here, perhaps another 200 bits."
For the first time since she has entered the office, she smiles at this news. She feels a nagging at the back of her mind about how this is illicit money and she shouldn't accept it.. It's just a piece of paper, I wasn't hurting anypony. Plus, I won't have such a rocky start to life here."Thank you, ma'am."
She opens a drawer, and pulls out notes. The mare scrunches, and Amber can see why. All of the currency produced is of the red paper money that High Sewn disfavored at the store.
She counts out some amount, and tenders it to Amber by pushing it across the desk.
"Again. Do not
. Go telling ponies, even those you trust, about what you've done and seen tonight."
Amber stares at the bills. They're not shiny gold, but they still say bits on them, so why are ponies unhappy with them? As soon as Denizen's hoof leaves the table Amber picks up the cash and slowly stows it away."You needn't worry about that, ma'am. I know how to be confidential,"
she says with a nervous smile.
She watches as Amber takes the bills.
"Very well" she says
Amber looks at the thestral. "Thank you. Is there anything else?"
“Oh, yes. One of the waitresses said this was left for you.”
She pushes over a piece of paper with writing on it
She picks up the piece of paper and starts reading it intently....
"Sorry I had to leave. Had a great time with you tonight. Hope to do it again. You can contact me at 410-0837, or at 1110 Summervale.
- Mustard Trim"
“She’ll be there on your way out” she says, and blinks
“I need a doorframe…” she says to herself
Amber doesn't tarry but trots out, looking for the waitress on the way.
She is staring at Amber almost as soon as she exits. The flaxen colored mare, with the black, tied back mane. It’s the same mare who served Amber the Hurricane, who talked to the guests when Amber entered, and who directed her to the back room.
"You're welcome" she says
She blinks again
Amber wishes her a good night and leaves the establishment to set out for home.
The flaxen mare, however, has a question for Amber
"What did he say to you?"
>>151778"He had to leave, but wants to meet up again sometime and he gave me his address."
Amber is relieved that the flaxen mare didn't read the note, though she doubts Dark Denizen shares the same scruples.
"No no." She says
"The griffin viol player."
"I suppose" she says
"I didn't wake up. I'd call that good."
"I haven't seen him talk with... well, almost anyone. Denizen likes him. But even she can't get more than a few words with him. I don't think he likes.... playing for, well, playing for other creatures. I mean... like it's alien to him, or beneath him."
"I don't know if it's that" she says
"There's this rumor going around that he was the private musician for the Von Katerinbergs, and fled when those two counties fell. Some one else says they passed by his apartment and heard him playing with a whole orchestra. I don't know, I just... I wonder, some times.."
Amber tries to recall who the von Katerinbergs are....
Knowledge (geography): [1d20+4 = (5+4) = 9]
Somewhere over in the Griffin lands. It's sort of in the Empire but not really. There was this young girl who was not just a despot but literally insane, and an older male in a different kingdom who was murderous towards the ponies there.
>>151790Griffin is squeezed
"No. I mean... like a classical orchestra. Playing notes and songs he had never heard before. Sounding almost like chords from heaven. He couldn't really describe it. Of course, he doesn't know music very well."
"Yeah, that's exactly what I would like to know too. I don't know, he just seems a little strange."
"Heh. That's what Dark Denizen thinks. I think a swing, or jazz band would probably be more popular with the patrons."
"Are you sure you are okay?"
"Well... you and her. Maybe that's why he'll talk to you and her, but not me or the other staff.">>151798
"I don't know. But I'm still here, aren't I?"
She smiles back, showing teeth
“Thank you. Where did you come from?”
"I just worry about you sometimes, my dove."
She leans into him, until most of her weight presses into him.
Silver holds her weight, standing strong against this onslaught.
She leans into him a little more, tilting her beak so that it buries in his fur.
"I will be your support, dove."