The both of you made your way past the eastern archways into the city.
There were torches lit up all around the area, with the main part of the city dead ahead.
"So what do you know about stealth, kid?" Daring Do asks as she approaches the next archway
"Don't get caught, use the shadows, be aware of enemy search patterns...Metal gear..."
"..What?" She looks back at you, confused
"Uhm, I mean. just don't get caught and use the shadows."
Daring Do comes towards the first building near the last archway and presses herself against it, You follow close behind as she whispers to you. "That's only the basic idea. The problem is that it's clear Ahuizotl is waiting for us and probably has the whole place closely guarded."
"But it's night, surely we can get to him and the map if we're really careful...right? All we gotta do is stick to the walls and stuff. Pretend to be bushes and...woah" You see a giant spotlight sweep by
"Kid, not everything you read in books work. But don't worry, I know where his camp is, and a way to get to it." Daring Do says as she lifts her hat to pull out two straws. She tosses one towards you. "This place has a self dug river system going along the major parts of the city, Including the temple. All we have to do is swim to where we need to go. We just need to get past that searchlight." Daring Do leaned back and opened her wings "Which shouldn't be a problem. Hop on, and don't make a sound."
whatever works "Ok"
You hop on, and then Daring Do waits to make her move. "So, quick question since we have about forty or fifty seconds. Have you ever dealt with a situation where you've been spotted?"
"How did you handle it?" She asks you
You ran..or in the case of the griffons.. "How do you think? I dealt with it. Like when I dealt with those griffons"
"And you did that with your horn, right?"
"....I mean, yeah...But still, I mean, why are you even asking, like, right now?" It’s not like you couldn’t come up with something.
You felt like she didn't believe in you at all. You thought you proved you were capable.
"I'm asking because this is really dangerous. I've learned that sometimes I can't do this alone, and I know that this isn't really your fault. And given the situation, things are more tense than I expected. So, what I'm getting at is that I need a partner, not a foal, and certainly not a cocky hot shot. Because once we do this, and I'm serious, we have to be perfect. So tell me kid, can you do it?"
Partner? She was willing to see you as a partner? that quickly? "Man.." you snicker "Getting rid of those guards really impressed you, didn't it?"
Daring Do looks back at you with a hard stare
..scary "Ok ok, sorry. Yeah, I've done the whole partner thing before. You can count on me"
"Good, also..get ready. Because here we go!"
"Ok, I'm RERFdfdn-" You weren't ready as she kicked off and flew low towards the river. You nearly gave away your position with your yell, but a quick dip in the water muffled it quickly.
The water was a tad murky, but you could see well enough.
You also forgot to take your breath. And quickly began to feel the urge to breath.
You were going to die. If you went up now, you'd be caught and...
Daring Do once again gave you a hard stare as she pointed to her own straw. And then put it up slowly above the surface of the water to breath.
...Right...she JUST told you that.
You follow suit, and begin to swim behind her.
It was a tiresome swim towards your destination. Meanwhile, Daring Do was an expert, using her wings to help push her along without tiring her out.
When you both reached the inner sanctum of the city. Daring Do did some hoof motions for you to stay where you are as she popped her head up to peer around.
After a moment, she pointed up. signaling for you both to emerge.
She emerged without an issue, and very silently.
As for you? You were tired as shit and began to pant and wheeze. Daring Do had to quickly put her hoof to your mouth to keep you from breathing out too loudly. You both slowly made your way closer and closer to where the map had to be.
Before you was a huge tent by the temple, lit up by lanterns, with tons of supplies and barrels at the side of it. Daring Do pointed to the barrels and snuck towards them and hopped behind them. Again, you following suit, despite being fatigued.
She then began to whisper once you both found a good snug spot to hide in. "That could have gone better. How could you be so out of shape?!"
"I mean, I'm not that bad...It was a long swim. And you used your wings...That’s sorta cheating."
"Kid, when I was your age, I could swim two times longer than that without my wings. I still can do that. You look like you're going to fall over any second."
"....Don't we have more important things to worry about?" You say as tense up, trying to not seem as tired as you were. But dammit, you hated that she was calling attention to this.
"We do, but I'm trying to tell you. As somepony who doesn't want to read about how the hero colt kicked the bucket because some villain ran up a flight of stairs, just do some regular exercise, ok? And eat a little more. I'm sure some fillies think your cute or something. But you're small, and kinda a toothpick." Daring Do says, while keeping in mind how ridiculously hard your head is. She internally wondered how that even came to be. Clearly thats where all your muscle went.
....god, she was like a mother. A really naggy one. "..Yeah yeah, I have something lined up with Rainbow Dash. Which...I'll get to eventually a-"
Daring Do put a hoof over your mouth. The silence quickly being broken by the goon leader and Azuihotl entering the tent.
"I can't believe you let such a runty foal get away! This city is crawling with your ‘Best ponies’ and yet they couldn't keep a foal from coming in or escaping." Ahuizotl sounded pretty pissed about this.
"SILENCE! I will not hear any more excuses! no doubt he's escaped and already told Daring Do."
"Boss, I...I was thinking. What if he was telling the truth? What if he doesn't know Daring Do?"
"Then he should have been even easier to catch, no? You listen to me. I want him here, I want him to PAY for what he's done to me! Nopony gets away with bucking my unmentionables, NOPONY! I will have him, and Daring Do. And with the right eye, I shall make her...one of my pets. She will meow for me, She will raise her head to allow me to scratch under her neck, And she will pur when I pat her head. Oh yes, Miss Do will know what it will be like to finally be bested for the rest of her life." Azuihotl painted a pretty nice picture there.
You looked at Daring Do for a moment and blushed. With a collar, a smile, and her going for upsies to sleep on your lap. And maybe...
suddenly you hear a slam that breaks your thoughts
"WHAT ARE YOU STILL DOING HERE?! FIND THOSE TWO AND BRING THEM TO ME! OR ELSE! I DON'T WANT TO BE DISTURBED ANY LONGER! I NEED TO STUDY THIS MAP, I NEED TO MAKE SURE EVERY PATH WE TAKE IS CORRECT. BECAUSE.....because.." Suddenly his voice becomes sinister. "If I have to second guess myself, you'll be the first to test a path in the maze. Do we understand each other?"
"Y-Yessir" The Goon leader says with a gulp, before dashing out of the tent.
"What an imbecile, clearly the advice of others has turned out to be a laughable joke and...NGH" Azuihotl suddenly grunts in pain "Wait! Hold on.....ugh. I should have asked him for a bag of ice. Ngh...that foolish colt. How dare he...ngh....ok...ok..fine, since they're useless. I'll just...walk over to the storage tent..and get some ice myself"
You then heard Azuihotl stumble out of the tent.
"....You hit him down there?" Daring Do asked you with a smirk.
"I did. Why, too dirty a hit?"
Daring Do stifled a snicker "No, I just kind of wish I had saw it myself. Ok, but serious time. I need you to do something important." She puts her hooves on you "This is really important,Anon. Can you do this for me?"
If you knew your cartoons right, you knew exactly what she was going to ask. And yes..you knew it was actually important. "You want me to stand guard, right?"
"...Y-yeah..how'd you..heh" Daring Do smirked "Ok, definitely have been underestimating you. You're pretty smart, you know that?"
Hah! Yes, she recognizes your genius "Yep, I know. I'll make a bird noise or something if anypony gets near the tent."
"Ok good, we're on the same wavelength. The moron probably left the map on the table. So I'll grab it, and we'll get out the way we came. We won't even go back to camp, we're just going to dart right back to civilization. Got it?"
You smirk back at her. "Oh, I'll do you one better. As I mentioned, I need the map back. If we toss it in the river, it'll take us straight back to my house."
"...Wow...looks like I'm going to get to see what the Spirit of Chaos's home looks like. I have to admit, you got me curious. Always kind of wondered what kinds of treasure the guy has."
"It's nothing much really, anyway, good luck, Daring Do"
She nods, and turns around. Saying nothing more as she climbs over the barrel, leaving you with the responsibility of taking guard.
Man..this was too easy
And you and Daring Do? You both were a fucking team.
You kinda wished you had the horn. But then she would have mocked you for needing it. You've done well enough so far to gain her respect and....
....Wait..why is there a kitten on the barrel next to you all of a su- "Shit!"
You jumped at the kitten and wrestled with it. The damn thing was feisty and was ripping you apart with it's deceptively sharp claws.
you moaned and groaned in pain. Eventually getting angry enough to just slam the kitten's face into a barrel and knock it out.
You were panting as you tried to remain still, gasping as low as you can from all the pain caused by the cat’s claws. "O-oh..s-stupid..c-cat...f-fucking..c-cats. They...a-a-are..the most retarded..s-s-shittiest..most idiotic and......a-aaah....s-shit" You were suddenly surrounded by the rest of the mob of jungle felines. "..fucking..really?"
Before you could make another move, you got pinned by the cheetah as the tiger roared for it's master.
The cheetah's paw was tight on your neck, preventing you from screaming for help.
That fucking kitten. That fucking....
"Well, well, well. We meet again, my little friend" You are suddenly pulled up by Ahuizotl's right hand as the cheetah moves its paw away from you. He brings you up to eye level as he gives you a stoic look.
You say nothing. Moreso from the fact you were still in pain. But then, from your silence, he just gives you a violent shake. "What's wrong? Nothing to say? Hmph! you have been very elusive, my little friend. But given what you have lost, it would only make sense for you to come back into the hands of I, the soon to be KING Ahuizotl".
Daring Do was still in the tent. Surely she knew you were in danger.
You wanted to yell for her. But then he'd know where she is, you weren't that stupid....
So you smirked at him."King? I thought you were a queen. Or does the little doggies still actually work?"
"Why you!" He began to shake you violently, even contemplating throwing you to the ground. But instead..he stopped. and once again held you up as he looked at you with a displeased look "Lucky for you, I'm in a good mood and in need of some good company to go along with it. Tell me where Daring Do is. Or you will suffer most terribly for what you've done to me!"
Whatever, all you had to do...was stall "I-I told you...I don't even know her. Just give me my map back. That's all I want"
"hmph! so defiant!" He gave you a smile befitting of even Chrysalis herself "I know what I shall do with you. I will make you dress like a filly, and you will like it and call ME father. I will leave some of your mind to yourself, so you will forever suffer knowing that I've conquered you"
"Wow, what's wrong there dog breath? Gotten sick of losing to me so much that you have to pick on a colt to feel better? That's just sad. Kind of makes me want to just return this to you just so you'll have a taste of what victory is like" That voice...
"....Ahhhgrrrrrr" Ahuizotl growled as he looked behind himself, seeing an arrogant yellow pegasus holding the map. "Daring Do! You...YOU'LL BE THE ONE TASTING VIC-....GRRR I MEAN DEFEAT!"
"Nearly slipped up there." She chuckled at him "But you'd be wrong about the kid. I just met him today. I admit, it was an honor to meet the son of Discord. And now I got to see what this map is all about too. Pretty nifty, already memorized the whole maze. So I won't be needing it any more. So...how about a trade?"
Was she bluffing?...She had to be bluffing.
No...right..she was. She’d be insane to trade you for the map.
Ha! That was probably a fake map. Hell, just looking at it. You could tell it wasn't yours.
And just as you thought he'd fall for it… "I don't think so Miss Do. This foal needs to learn his lesson, you see. As for you? I know you'd never leave a foal behind. You're simply too good, while I am too clever. Yes....I think I have a better deal. Surrender to me, and I will not harm him. But if you wish to flee now..." He holds you towards his jungle cats, which eye you with a lust for chomping you into bits. "Then at least I know my pets will have a hearty treat this night."
...Oh shit! Oh shit shit shit! "Geez...This just isn't my day....down kitties. down"
"You know, Ahuizotl. We've been doing this for a long time. We usually end up making a trade where we trick one another. Or you try to take both items at once by force. Or it's just a trap to capture me. Which is flattering to say the least. But this is downright low, even for you." Daring Do says as she starts eyeing him, aloof about the whole thing.
"The stakes are high, Miss Do. I do what I must to fulfill my ambitions" Ahuizotl locks eyes with her. Making sure not to drop his guard.
"Nah, the stakes aren't that high." Daring Do whips out a match, and immediately lights it and torches the map before anyone could make a move. "Now the stakes are high"
You gasped, Ahuizotl gasped, the cats gasped, even the encroaching goon squad gasped.
"MY MAP! WHY!? WHY WOULD YOU DO SUCH A THING?!" Ahuizotl was astonished at this act.
Was it your map? Was it a bluff? Could your map burn like that? You didn't fucking know. But she was looking pretty damn serious now.
"Because, now I'm the only one who knows the path through the maze. So here's the deal. I'll take you to the eye. But you gotta let the kid go, sound fair?"
"You can't just burn my map and expect me to-" Ahuizotl was pissed as he shook you about. clenching his fists and crushing you as your face turned various colors from lack of breath. Dammit Daring Do, don't piss him off anymore. For the sake of your lungs.
Daring Do cuts him off. "You don't have a choice. If something happens to that colt, then I have no reason to stick around. And I'm the only shot you have! Make your choice, I know you want me and that eye really badly."
Wew, that tension. It was nearly sexual.
Ahuizotl went silent, he was contemplating hard. Even bringing his hand to his crotch for a moment as he balanced the want to avenge his nuts over getting the right eye. Then he growled and tossed you aside, making you roll to the ground "Deal....I'll simply have my revenge on him once I have the eye. As for you Daring Do, this has been a very long time coming. I plan to enjoy every second" He cackled with a sinister smirk.
You groaned as you picked yourself up, dusting yourself off as you silently murmured "Asshole..."
"Good. Now, I also believe I get a last request, right?" Daring Do looks to Ahuizotl, with more pathetic eyes this time. She really was giving up.
"I suppose I can allow it. A lifetime as my pet is all you have to look forward to after this" He says as he checks his fingernails, acting smug as if he won.
"Good, hey..Anon, come here" ....Surely she had a plan. Right?
You approached her slowly as the reality started to hit you.
This was your fault.
If you had just found a way out.
If you had picked up your map....
If you hadn't made fun of Discord's idea. "....Daring Do, I'm sorry..."
"For what?" She looks to you with a soft smile
"For this, for messing things up. I let a flippin kitten take me down for Celestia's sake.."
It really hit you hard. It was like all the fun was over. And that Daring Do's fate was your fault.
But she took off her hat, and placed it on your head as she gave you a rather motherly smile. "It's all part of adventuring, kid. You win some, you lose some. This isn't the first time he's captured me, you know that"
But she interrupts you again. "Look, no matter what happens, keep your chin up. things always work out in the end if you just work out the puzzle of the problem. Got it? The solution is always closer than you think"
"Touching, but I know you, Daring Do. " Ahuizotl snaps his fingers. His cats, along with the kitten, who was still dizzy from your head bash, surround her as the goons follow suit. "You had your word and your touching moment. Now is the time to lead me to my prize.” He then points to you “ And should YOU interfere, I will make due on my word. Consider yourself lucky, you impertinent brat."
You stick your tongue out at him. But he just turns his head to the side with a harumph, as Daring Do is shoved and pushed ahead into the temple, eventually leaving you alone where you sat. "DAMMIT! FUCKING! SHIT!"
You started to stomp the ground in a rage. How could she be so calm?! She couldn't have a plan to escape that many guards. And what if she didn't have the maze memorized?! She'd burn to death in hot tar!
But what could you do?! You shirked off training, you didn't have the horn, you couldn't even get back home! "WHAT DO I DO?! HOW DO I STOP THEM?! IF IT WASN'T FOR ME...GRRRR DAMMIT!"
You grabbed Daring Do's hat from your head and threw it to the ground. "...Daring Do...I'm sor-....wha?"
As it span along the ground, you noticed a piece of parchment sticking out. "...Is that....."
....The hat stopped spinning, only to reveal… "THE MAP!"
You quickly grabbed the hat and took the map in your hooves, holding it up high and humming the zelda tune. "Dananana motherfuckers! It's horn time! Don't worry, Daring Do! I'm coming!"
You put the hat on and gently curved it to help it fit more snugly on your head. You then rushed back to the river and tossed the map in, and made a jump.
But what you found at the other side of the portal was...rather abnormal.
In the fact it was....normal