aring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone
As Daring Do trekked through the tropical jungle, the wet heat sapped her energy and slowed her every step. If only she could escape this oppressive atmosphere and fly up into the cool blue sky. But her crash landing in the jungle had injured her wing and she was grounded for a few days. Few days... it might as well be a few months, or a few years!
The mosquitoes buzzed loudly. The macaws cried from the high trees. Yet all of these distracting noises were not enough to cover the sound of the predators following her every step.
As a glimmer of sweat crawled its way down her muzzle, Daring Do turned to survey the area, coming in direct contact with an orange beast. A tiger with black stripes and orange fur, large jagged teeth that were like knives that glinted in the light of the tropic air as it snapped at Daring Do. A well placed duck saved her tail, as well as dodging back over a log nearby to put some obstacle and distance between her and the animal.
This might actually be interesting, with a damaged wing it would be difficult to get out unscathed, but what is adventure without some risk. The very thought itself raised a smile to the mare’s face; a smile admittedly that didn’t last long as suddenly the other predators caught up, and she found herself confronted at her flank by a ferocious panther!
Turning for a way out, she found yet another danger in her path, a lynx with a menacing yowl, swiping at the air in warning for her to not get too close. And as she turned to assess her last exit of escape, Daring Do saw a third beast join the fray, as a deadly spotted cheetah landed nearby.
Blocked on all sides with little to no escape, it was a single ‘meow’ from nearby that gave the opportunity. Daring Do turned to see a last chance, a single direction only blocked by a small white housecat that seemed to be attempting to mimic the large beasts in ferocity, and only succeeding in becoming slightly cute.
Dashing rapidly over the housecat, Daring Do charged down a slope, dodging and weaving the trees and jungle foliage, all the while, keenly aware of the chasing predators behind her. The chase was on, and it was exhilarating!
Just when things seemed to be almost fun her path was blocked once again by a stroke of bad luck. A huge gorge lay before her, the ravine seemed to be up to twenty meters long, far too far to jump, but all was not lost.
As the beasts approached, she made a quick calculation of what needed to be done, and diving off headfirst, her muzzle latched onto a vine that hung long and low into the ravine, soon followed by her hooves wrapping tightly around her saviour. Glancing back with a profound smirk at the shocked looks upon the predators faces, she gave them a salute as she swung across the entire gorge!
Safely landing on the other side, Daring finally allowed herself a moment to breathe. She turned around to find herself face to face with the long lost temple that she had sought tirelessly for over sixty days and nights!
The smell of decay and danger hit Daring Do as she peered into the dimly-lit entrance of the ancient temple.
From the corner of her eye, slight dashes of red here and there were seen from the blackness within the skulls that lined the walls, blood red, like the glowing eyes of deathly monsters!
Walking along the dusty floor she looked up and down the ancient walls, a few things did not sit right. For starters, the torchers lighting the ancient temple were lit, a factor that not only filled Daring with concern, but also excitement of what she might discover.
Bugs littered the ground as the smell turned from decay to the old stale scent of dust, and with each step the dust got worse as more and more was kicked up from the slightest movements. It was one of those movements that seemed to almost seal her fate!
A trap below her hoof was set off, and with reflex’s that surpassed even the best of ponies, and experience which was coveted by many an adventurer, Daring Do ducked. Three sharp battle-axes suddenly flew from a trap in the wall, striking a few short distances from Daring, right where her head had been. Just as she tried to reassess her situations, shocked at how her life had almost been forfeited, the floor gave way!
The tiles below slid out of place revealing a chasm below, diving forward away from the chasm proved a smart move as the hole was suddenly engulfed in flames. But this was only the beginning of her troubles; the moment she landed from her jump, the corner of her eye and instinct told her to duck once more, slamming herself to the ground she looked up into the snapping jaws of three monstrous alligators. Determined not to be dissuaded from her mission, she crawled below them out of reach, their breath fouling the air with its stench and droplets of their saliva messing her mane. The moment she found herself clear she realised her trials were not yet over. Jumping high to avoid a slicing pendulum from the ceiling she landed only to duck as a dart from the holes in one wall almost struck her muzzle, as another sliced near her feet she clambered over it, keeping her head down as another dart struck overhead. As three more darts came her way, she jumped on the first to hit the wall and used it as momentum to jump out of the way of the other two, landing and turning, poised to fend off any more dangerous foes that may challenge her. But with a quick glance she saw just in time a circular area on the floor near her back, a rapid arch of her spine allowed her to narrowly avoid a large black spike that could have done her some nasty harm.
To her dismay the floor was riddled with spikes, jumping frantically to avoid one after another, she saw at the end of this corridor was a stone door that was open…but rapidly closing!
Realising she didn’t have much time, Daring dashed forward and galloped for the door!
The spikes were fast, forcing her to weave left and right, but her fear soon turned to an adrenaline fuelled determination to exceed and surpass such obstacles, and with a final light jump, she landed on her back, skidding in the dirt and coming to a halt halfway through the closing stone door. With only a single moment’s pause, she looked up to see the stone baring down on her face, several tons of stone death that would have ended her adventure permanently, were it not for her fast reflexes and managing to pull herself from under the door at just the last moment.
Taking a single moment to breathe easier she wiped the sweat from her brow, feeling mighty pleased with herself. This may be a heavily fortified ancient temple with traps and dangerous foes, but for Daring, it was just another day on the job!
Smiling smugly she began to take a step before suddenly the place erupted in tremors, stone and rubble falling from the ceiling she looked around and couldn’t help but let out a groan of frustration, simply wanting the traps to be over. A part of the ceiling caved in and vicious monkeys hung down on low hanging vines from the roof, crawling out of the new hole. Daring tried to dodge the rubble as the monkeys shot darts at her, she dashed for the door, and flipping up her hat she used it to take the hit of several darts, carrying it in her teeth as she galloped through the door just as it closed. Sighing she brushed the darts from her pith helmet, annoyed at the holes that her favourite attire now sported.
Her hat was something she didn’t like being messed with, so by this point she felt herself becoming rather annoyed with this particular temple, but as she was already well on her way through the ancient structure, she had to continue the adventure, so found herself turning around to look at the room.
As she turned her head, as if guided by a force unseen, the light from an oculus hole in the ceiling glided its way along the room and coming to rest on the pedestal in the centre, the pedestal harbouring what she had been searching for all this time.
Daring Do stood at the entrance to the central temple chamber. At last, she was face-to-face with the legendary Sapphire Statue!
She was about to take a step before she stopped herself and looked down at the ground. Of course, another trap. The ground was bronzed and littered with a cross section design, with each square in the cross section harbouring a different image.
Looking around for signs of what the trap might lead to, she saw holes in the walls, likely more darts, and she wasn’t sure she’d be able to dodge them all this time. To test her theory she looked by her feet and found a small rock or piece of rubble, its origins didn’t matter; it would be useful as a test. Kicking it into the room she watched as it activated one of the floor stones. With a mechanical whir the stone sunk into the ground and arrows shot from the wall in the hundreds. She looked at the result of a wall covered with arrows and realised she would have to figure out the proper way to get through this trap rather that galloping headfirst. Looking down at the images on the ground she tried to assess the possibilities.
“Huh, there must be a pattern here.” She found herself saying aloud, looking over each of the pictures. “What do all these animals have in common?” She asked to herself, she could see there was something, and it didn’t take her mind long to piece together the clues. “Ah hah!” She cried joyously at her own skill. “These animals are all predators!” She remarked, looking over the pictures on the ground until she found one in particular. “Except…RATS!”
Putting her theory to the test she eagerly sent her hoof down to the nearest stone with the depiction of a rat, slowing her hoof at the last second out of hesitation she gently tapped the stone, and applied pressure.
Sweating profusely in nervousness, fear and quite a bit of excitement at the adventure, she breathed a sigh of relief when the rat stone held her weight and set off no traps, which in and of itself was a nice change considering the last fifteen minutes of darts and alligators.
Climbing onto the stone entirely, keeping all four hooves in line, she looked for the nearest other rat stone, and jumped to it confidently, making sure she kept her balance. Precision leaping wasn’t usually an issue, but with a damaged wing her balance was off, and while she found herself doing well, she felt a little more unsteady than usual.
Hoping, skipping and jumping from one to another she found the gaps between each rat stone getting larger and larger, almost overbalancing herself at the last she leapt onto her front hooves and kicked off, and flipping in the air to land with graceful poise on the steps nearby in safety.
Despite the unusual difficulty of such feats without the balance of her right wing, she found herself grinning through the sweat that slid down her face, knowing that even with a broken wing, she was still awesome!
Arriving face to face with the blue sparkling statue she observed it. The blue sapphire sent shimmers of reflective light over the ground and walls, the twin jackal design was elegant and fierce…and the pedestal was OBVIOUSLY booby-trapped.
But how to get the statue without setting off the trap? That was always the hardest part.
Rubbing her hooves together she looked around the pedestal and took a deep breath, wiping her brow she prepared to commit the hardest act her adventure would likely conjure up. She took a deep breath, smiled slightly…and yanked the statue away in her maw. Stashing the statue in her pith helmet her smirk faded when she turned to the pedestal. A long piece of the rock in a perfectly cylindrical shape rose from where the statue had once sat. It shook for a moment before falling through leaving a circular hole in the top of the pedestal.
The place erupted in quakes!
Realising the place was about to come down on her head she tried to run the way she’d came, only to find the floor break away at her touch to reveal boiling lava. The heart permeated the entire room and made it hard to breath, her mane was singed slightly just from being so close and for a single moment she felt concerned she may not make it out of the temple.
The lava began to rise and backing up on the stairs she realised that it was getting increasingly difficult to find a way out, the roof was caving in, the heat made it hard to think and boiling magma didn’t do good for the complexion of mares such as Daring Do.
Jumping to the top of the stares and even climbing onto the pedestal seemed to best case as the lava rose ever higher and concerningly fast.
Opportunity and sheer luck however changed her fate as a pillar from the wall became loose and fell, smashing into another to create a decent climbable structure near the oculus in the ceiling.
The heat was unbearable, the air was barely able to be breathed, and with a broken wing she had little balance, constant pain and sweat hanging from her brow making her feel stuffy and constrained. But every inch of her was determined to survive!
She dived onto a nearby fallen pillar and from there to the other fallen one near the oculus. She ran up it and gazed up into the freedom the oculus provided, if only she could reach it.
Just as the last edge of her safe heaven on top of the fallen pillar became engulfed by the lava, Daring jumped!
She dived for the oculus and with quick reactions caught on the edge with her teeth and muzzle, struggling momentarily only before pulling herself up out of the stifling heat and into the jungle air, but as she was about to pull herself from the oculus entirely, a backdraft eruption of volcanic pressure rushed up from below her, launching her into the air. She fell a short way away, landing face first, the sapphire statue falling from her hat and landed in a standing position nearby. She looked up, feeling dazed only to find before her the being known as Ahuizotl blocking her way.
His voice struck the air like the chords of a deep musical instrument, but the melodic words were all but poison to Daring’s ears.
"You thought you could evade me and capture the relic for yourself, but you are sadly mistaken, Miss Do. And now, you shall meet your doom!" He says, grasping the statue Daring had only just acquired.
As Daring Do attempted to crawl towards him, Ahuizotl blew on a whistle in the shape of a ginger cat, a high pitched whistle sounding out into the forest.
In less than a second the mare found herself surrounded on all sides by the monsters pets, the lynx, cheetah, tiger and panther, all harbouring weapons in their muzzles, weapons like clubs, ropes, and flails. Even the small white housecat was there, snuggling up against the tiger’s feet, the great orange beast paying the kitten no mind as he glared at Daring, growling darkly.
With a dark and menacing laugh, Daring Do knew she was captured.
Lying upon the altar of an ancient temples main chamber, Daring Do struggled with her bonds.
“You won’t get away with this, Ahuizotl!” She shouted, glaring at her captor.
With a sneer her captor simply shrugged.
“But I already have.” He said nonchalantly as he turned towards a wall, grasping a red handled lever and pulling it down with a mechanical click.
The ground began to rumble and shake and dust fell from the ceiling as it felt like once again, she was in a collapsing temple.
“Ugh, not again!” She huffed in frustration as Ahuizotl took it upon himself with his pets to leave the central chamber with a wave to Daring Do, whom he assumed was about to meet her doom.
The walls at either side of Daring Do suddenly erupted in huge spikes and both walls began closing in on the mare at rapid pace. Trapped in a shaking temple, dust and rubble falling down, tied to an alter while spiked walls came at either side was not usually the kind of adventure Daring Do wanted to have, but it was unfortunately a reoccurring scene in her chosen profession.
As if that wasn’t enough, as the spikes got closer, spiders began to crawl out and around the spikes, all of which venomous, and out of a hole in an ancient design on the wall near her head, cobra’s slid out and into the room. Trapped on all sides by spikes, closing walls, and deadly creatures Daring couldn’t find a single way she’d be able to escape this, and only hoped that like in the previous chamber, an escape would present itself of its own accord.
As though the universe were trying to simply make it seem completely hopeless, the final nail to seal the desperation of the moment occurred when Daring realised the altar was sinking.
“Quicksand!” She exclaimed, looking down to see the evidence of her own words. As the sand rose higher and higher, and the walls got closer and closer, she tossed and turned to try and find a way to break her bonds, her hat falling onto her chest. She thought for a moment and looked around, looking at the spikes and the stone design where the snakes had come from.
Realising she only had one chance to pull this off; she hooked her lower hoof into the pith helmet and latched onto the other side with her teeth. Stretching the hat like a rubber band she aimed and let it go. Bouncing off of a spike at the perfect angle it flung at the design, striking it and spinning momentarily from the collision, the hat fell, striking another spike only to bounce off and hit another. As though with a perfect pinball effect the hat flung around the room as the chamber got smaller and smaller with each passing moment, Daring found herself being forced to hold her breath before she became engulfed by the suffocating sand.
The hat managed to bounce just right and strike the same handle Ahuizotl had used, switching its position. The walls rapidly retracted once again enlarging the room, the alter rose from the sand and with a gasp of air she wrenched herself up and out of her bonds, spitting sand to the ground. Knocking sand from her ears she looked to a stone door that rapidly opened to reveal a perfect blue sky and jungle beyond. She found herself smirking.
“Another day, another dungeon.”
Meanwhile, stroking his white housecat who purred happily in his lap, Ahuizotl laughed to himself as he relished in his belief of Daring Do’s demise.
“With Daring Do out of the way, the world will suffer mightily at my hands.” He said mirthfully. “I am Victorious!” He shouted happily, cackling to himself as he held the twin jackal Sapphire Statue up with his tail.
It was during such a laugh that suddenly the statue was taken from his tail, with the words, “I’ll take that!” Punctuating the air as Daring Do used a rope to swing away with the prize.
“What?” He called out as she landed a distance off on a ledge. “No!” He called out after her, shaking his fist in rage.
With a prideful smirk Daring Do looked down upon her foe.
“Better luck next time Ahuizotl!” She shouted down to him after stashing the statue in her bag. With a tip of her hat she galloped away to the resounding cries of her enemy behind her. “Curse you Daring Do!”
And so, with Ahuizotl defeated, and the sapphire statue secured...the world was safe and sound once again, thanks to Daring Do!