• Published 25th Apr 2012
  • 4,336 Views, 28 Comments

Daring Do and the Ivory Idol - Fedora

If adventure has a mane, it must be Daring Do!

  • ...

Chapter 3: Ascending the Mountain & Nightfall

To the north was a large mountain,which was a dormant volcano. On the side of it was a small mining village that was operated by ponies native to the South Equestrian mainland, who made their living by digging volcanic rock and gem stones out of the mountain. It was there that the idol had apparently been taken, and it was there that Daring Do and Scootaround were trying to go.

If only it wasn't for the damn trail disappearing, Daring thought, Then we might've been on our way by now... The two ponies were following a very old trail that had not been used in many years. It's disrepair showed, as it was overgrown in many places by gnarly vines and brush that seemed to swallow up the trail and make it blend in with the rest of the forest floor.

"This is bull!" Daring remarked, as they came to a ravine. It cut through the forest and left a wide gash in the landscape, one that could not be crossed by simply jumping. She looked at Scootaround hopefully, but Scootaround shook her head. The filly looked back at her wings woefully as the tiny things fluttered, but failed to lift her with the steadiness it took to fly. Daring rolled her eyes, and made a motion with her hoof to her own back. Scootaround understood, and leaped onto Daring Do's back, being careful to leave her wings plenty of space to flap. Daring's strong wings lifted both ponies off, and the archaeologist pony flew low enough to avoid hitting branches as they crossed the ravine, landing safely on the other side where the trail head picked up. Scootaround dismounted, and Daring leaned against a tree.

"Take a break here for a minute, kid,” said Daring, "Take a swig of water and go off the trail if you need to." The archaeologist pony took a water canteen out of her bag, and unscrewed the cap with one hoof. She tipped it up, gulping down some of the fresh water. She still had half a canteen left, she hoped the ponies at the mining village would be kind enough to let her and Scootaround refill. She'd prefer doing that than taking the time and effort to boil water out of a stagnant pool.

Daring looked up the mountainside, hearing a low rumbling. She could hear branches being snapped, and a grinding sound that seemed to be growing louder. Her eyes widened as she saw a great boulder tumbling down the mountain, bouncing off a bit of rock and sending sprays of dirt and gravel flying as it continued rolling down, heading right towards her.

"Hit the deck!" shouted Daring, diving out of the way of the imminent boulder and pushing Scootaround as far from her as possible. The boulder passed her by, but Daring felt a jarring pain as her right side was struck a glancing blow. She was thrown to the ground, and she groaned. The boulder continued bounding down the mountain and out of sight through the brush, leaving Daring Do hurt and Scootaround freaked out.

"Holy smoke Dr. Do!" Scootaround shouted , helping the pony up onto all four hooves. Daring staggered, wincing. Scootaround took the bag off from her, and rummaged through its contents until she found an emergency first aid kit.

"It's my wing..." Daring groaned, motioning to her right wing. Scootaround wrapped the bandage around the injured wing, keeping it tight to the body in a sling. Daring assisted her in instructing how it should be tied, and helped finish off the treatment by securing the ends of the bandage.

"Thanks, Scoot," said Daring, "I owe you one." She looked at her injured wing in remorse. She could still walk alright, and even run, but with only one wing she would be unable to fly across ravines or up to any great heights. It was clear that Scootaround was thinking along the same lines when she asked her next question.

"How are you gonna cross gorges now?" Scootaround asked, eyeing the wrapped wing.

"I've been injured on adventures before, kid." said Daring. "Last time I was in the area I had a nasty plane accident that left me stranded in the jungle with a busted wing. I've got something that'll help me cross pitfalls, don't worry."

"What's that?" Scootaround said. The two ponies continued up the trail warily, not wanting to come across any more falling rocks.

"Well, my grandpa had a farm way back when. I inherited his old bullwhip. I don't use it for whipping anything, but it's a very useful tool in this kind of situation." She demonstrated, by uncurling the whip from her bag in a fraction of a second. The hoof grip strap was on and the whip lashed upwards with a loud cracking sound, grabbing onto a tree branch. Daring pulled her hoof down, and the branch bent. A couple of fruits fell from the branch and onto the ground before them.

"There you go, have some dinner." said Daring, as she curled the whip back up. "Better eat while we can, the sun will be down by the time we get to the mining village."

Daring ended up being right. When the sun was beginning to set, the two ponies made it to the outskirts of the village. It was perched on the side of the volcano, where the mountain had a natural cliffside flat area. The trees were cleared, and Daring could see the orange glow to the west as the sun set over the horizon. The ground had a dusty parched quality, which was unusual for a tropical island. Perhaps the elevation and heavy use had worn down the terrain. The archaeologist pony looked around in a confused manner, upon seeing nopony around the town. She made eye contact with Scootaround, who shrugged.

"Maybe they're all making supper," Scootaround suggested, throwing her thought out there with an unsure smile.

"Maybe," said Daring. She tapped her chin with a hoof, and then proceeded towards the door of one of the buildings. Many of the buildings were built low, and resembled wooden cabins. They were thatched with branches from trees, and the wood was clearly that of the island's forest. Whoever had made the buildings had made them out of the material on hoof, but they appeared to have been around for some time.

Once Daring had reached the door of the building, she extended a hoof and rapped several times on the door. After several seconds of silence, the door was opened. A male pony's head appeared in the doorway. He had a somber looking face, and appeared bluish, though his color was noticeably tinged gray.

"Hello, I'm Daring Do, and this is Scootaround." Daring said, motioning to the filly. "We're looking for the captain of a boat, have you seen him?" She stood in front of the door, trying to make eye contact with the stallion. The stallion didn't want to make eye contact, though, and stared seemingly off into the distance.

"No." said the male pony. "There has been nopony like that here. Goodbye." and with that, he slammed the door in Daring's face. Daring stood in the doorway, unsure of what to say about what had just unfolded.

"That was rude." Scootaround remarked, raising her cap. "He just closed it right in your face."

"Yeah..." said Daring, biting her lower lip. "I'll give 'im the benefit of the doubt, though. C'mon, let's try to find somewhere where we can stay. The sun's gonna go down soon."

Daring and Scootaround walked towards another building, which was slightly larger and stood several meters from the house of the rude pony. Daring knocked on the door of the house, and this time it was immediately opened. The pony who answered the door was a mare this time, and appeared slightly purple, however there was still a definite grayish tinge to her coat. The pony still did not make eye contact with Daring.

"Hello, my name is Daring Do." Daring said, extending a hoof to shake that of the other pony. It was not returned.

"Anyways, I was wondering if there was anywhere me and this filly could stay the night. We're looking for our captain, but he's missing. We're in need of a place to stay the night." said Daring.

"You are welcome to stay here." said the pony, with a very flat voice. She still did not make eye contact with Daring, even as she held the door open for her and Scootaround to enter. The odd behavior of the ponies in the village made Daring feel rather uncomfortable. She felt as if she knew what was going on in the back of her head, but she couldn't put her hoof on it yet. She hoped that her inkling was wrong.

The night fell and Daring Do with it. The exhaustive effort put forth during the day had made her tired, and she needed to get some rest if she wanted her injured wing to heal anytime soon. Scootaround had stayed up only slightly later than Daring. She had found a leather ball inside of the small room they had been afforded. She had thrown it against the wall, hitting it again as it rebounded, until the point where boredom overcame her, and she climbed up into her bunk. The bunks were arranged vertically, in the form of a pair of woven hammocks. The hammock that Scootaround had was on top, since as a filly she was much lighter than Daring. She lied inside of the hammock snugly, staring up at the ceiling of the hut. Sighing, she pulled her newsboy hat down over her face, mimicking the way that Daring do would often pull her pith helmet down over her face when taking a nap. It was not long before the filly herself was fast asleep.

The sound of two ponies sleeping filled the hut for some time, as the night stretched on. It wasn't until a considerable time later that the silence was broken as a floorboard was shifted aside, and a stallion's head poked out from it. He had a grayish tinge to his coat, and his eyes were sunken and lined with droopy bags. The stallion climbed out of the passageway that had previously been obscured by the floorboards, making as little sound as possible. It did not disturb the sleep of either ponies.

The stallion leaned over the hammock of the larger pony, peering in at her. She wore a pith helmet over her face, and had a greenish khaki vest. Her cutie mark resembled a compass. The stallion tapped his hoof against his chin. She matched the description of the target he had been given. Focusing his attention, he lifted the device that he had brought up with him. It was strapped around his right hoof firmly, and the base was connected to a chain, which dragged for a length and ended with a spike-studded metal ball. The mace definitely looked intimidating, but to the sleeping Daring Do, it might as well not even existed, for she was obviously dreaming.

The stallion grunted lowly, and readied the mace. He would build up his power before striking, making the blow lethal and making multiple attacks unnecessary. He adjusted his stance, placing his back hooves onto separate boards and raising his front end in the air. As he did so, a floorboard let out a loud wooden squeak, and to the assassin's horror, Daring Do was woken up. He saw the pony's eyes widen, and swung the mace quickly, slamming it down into the hammock. It ripped through the canvas, but Daring had already leaped off. She slammed her back hooves into the torso of the would-be assassin, sending him stumbling back, dragging the mace along the floor.

The assassin wasted no time in swinging the mace around, this time striking home and slamming the spiked ball into Daring's side. Daring yelped as the mace tore a hole in her vest and poked into her side sharply. She backed off quickly, tearing the hole in the vest larger but avoiding getting sliced by the mace. She miscalculated her distance, and wound up flopping backwards onto the torn remains of the canvas hammock as the assassin towered over her, mace once again at the ready.

"What's going on, Dr. Do... WHAT IN THE...!!!" exclaimed Scootaround, having been woken up by the commotion. The stallion was momentarily distracted as the filly startled him, and a moment was all Daring needed to plant a swift kick to the jaw, making the assassin grunt in pain and sending him toppling to the ground. Immediately, she leaped onto him and struck his forehead, sending the would-be assassin into a state of unconsciousness.

Daring breathed heavily, recovering from the fight and drenched in a cold sweat. She shook her head quickly, stepping away from the assassin. Her eyes darted around the room, taking in every detail she could. The mace was laying on the floor. The hammock had been ripped and torn. Several items of furniture lied smashed around the room. One of the floorboards had even been overturned.

The last one made Daring think. She didn't remember asking about floorboards, but now that she thought about it, it was awfully odd to install floorboards in such a primitive one-floor building. Moving in closer, she could see that below the moved board was some kind of space, where the stallion had presumably been hiding. But why did he want to kill her?

"Something's going on here," Daring remarked, "Somepony knows we're trying to retrieve that Ivory Idol that got stolen from the Tapirs, and they're willing to murder to keep us away from it. This is much more than just a little scuffle between natives and settlers."

"What's going on, Dr. Do?" asked Scootaround, startled but still fatigued from being so rudely awoken.

"Well, I'm not exactly sure..." said Daring, as she looked down the hole. She observed that it was mostly rock and dirt, but it seemed to continue sideways into the ground, like a tunnel. Perhaps the tunnel led somewhere secretive? Maybe that's where they hid the Idol they stole from the villagers, thought Daring.

"You gonna follow that tunnel?" Scootaround asked, stepping over and reaching the same conclusion that daring had made moments earlier.

"Yeah." said Daring. "Bring your stuff with you, Scoot. Just in case."