• 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!

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Chapter 7: Escape

"Run, Scootaround!" was the breathless shout that burst from Daring Do as she herself bolted at breakneck speed. The two were running through the mining facility, technological contraptions and broken conveyor belts darting past them in a blur as they galloped as fast as their hooves would carry them. The angry mob of cult ponies were behind them less than a stone's throw away. Daring knew because she kept getting pelted by rocks and other objects as the ponies who were pursuing them tossed whatever they could find in their direction.

Scootaround saw Charlie get out of the way, pushing himself against the wall, eyes bulging. Daring held out a hoof as the two of them skidded to a stop, hooves digging into the gravel below. They were on the edge of an area that had been dug out of the rock, and sloped down in a tunnel. Daring couldn't see any side chambers branching off of it.

She looked back behind her, seeing the other ponies growing ever closer. Neither she nor Scootaround really had a choice, this was the only way to get away from the mob.

"Here goes nothing!" shouted Daring, nodding to Scootaround. The two of them leaped off the edge, falling down onto the slope. The rocky walls of the mine slipped past in a blur, and Daring's hooves felt warm with friction as she dug them into the rock and gravel to slow her descent down the tunnel. Scootaround was having a much easier time skating down the gravel slope of the tunnel. Scootaround had much better balance.

Daring looked back for a brief second. None of the other ponies were following them. She grinned, but the grin was wiped right off her face when she saw something else bounding down the tunnel. A large rock was bouncing down the tunnel behind them, closing the distance with frightening speed.

"Look out, boulder behind us!" Daring shouted . "Find somewhere to pull off to the side!" The next few seconds were a frantic mess of motions, as Scootaround and Daring stopped dragging their hooves and started galloping down the steep slope. The transition was less than graceful, and Daring tripped, tumbling head over hoof and slamming into the side of the tunnel. The boulder continued bounding down behind them, and by the time she had regained herself it was almost behind her, threatening to crush her like a bug under its massive weight. Daring gasped as she bolted ahead with all the speed she could muster. Scootaround was ahead of her considerably, and she seemed to be going sideways. The tunnel was switching right! Daring bolted around the corner, and just in time, too. The boulder slammed against the edge, and cracked against the stone walls of the tunnel. Daring sighed, and sat down for a minute. Her heart was racing, and she was sure Scootaround was in similar shape. She panted, wiping sweat out from beneath the brim of her pith helmet.

"You ok, kid?" asked Daring. Scootaround nodded, but she seemed distracted. She tipped her head to one side, and took off her newsboy cap so that she could listen with exposed ears.

"Do you hear that noise, Dr. Do?" Scootaround asked , looking back to Daring with a cocked head, as her right ear was raised into the air. Daring couldn't see much, as the tunnel was very dark as there was no source of light. She couldn't see what was ahead. She did hear something, though. She listened more closely. Yes, it was there. It sounded kind of like....

"Water," Scootaround noted, returning her cap to her head.

"Running fresh water..." said Daring, tapping her hoof against her chin. "It empties into the river, and then into the ocean! This is it, Scootaround, this is the way out!" Daring was excited by the revelation.

"Here, feel about for wetness with your hoof. I'm sure there's some kind of stream bed cut through the rock somewhere," said Daring. She couldn't see much, but she felt her way over to the rocky wall of the tunnel, running her hoof up and down the edges of the bumpy surface. She walked forward, keeping her other three hooves firmly planted to avoid slipping and sliding down the tunnel slope.

"Dr. Do, come here!" Scootaround exclaimed . Daring followed the direction of her voice, almost bumping into the filly. The sound of flowing water grew louder and louder, and she reached out her hoof, feeling the wet spray of running water.

"This is it!" said Daring. She stepped forward, feeling the boundary of the other tunnel that the water had bore through the rock long ago. She straddled the stream, planting one hoof on each side of it.

"Get on my back, Scoot. We need to make sure we stick together, I don't really know where this leads..." Daring said. Scootaround climbed up and onto Daring's back, being careful not to press her injured wing.

"Ready?" asked Daring, and Scootaround replied in the affirmative. Daring kicked off strongly, bending her hooves and landing waist-deep in the running water. It lapped up against her mane, and she felt the sudden rush of inertia as the current swept her and Scootaround away. It was kind of like being in a log flume ride, only the rush of excitement was longer, and the bottom of the stream bed was bumpy. Scootaround let out an excited shriek, which echoed through the walls of the cramped tunnel as they sped downwards at lightning speed.

"This is kinda fun!" said Daring, having to yell over the sound of the rushing water. She laughed, grabbing her pith helmet to avoid losing it as they were swept sideways. The slope was starting to level off now, and they proceeded downwards still. Ahead they could see a shaft of light, but it was shimmering and waving in an odd way. Daring knew what that meant.

"Take a deep breath and hold on tight, kid," Daring said, Scootaround gulped for air at the same time she did, and immediately after the two ponies were plunged headfirst into deeper water. Daring's eyes were shut tight, but once she and Scootaround were submerged she opened them. The light was due ahead, and she took several broad strokes to aim them in the right direction. The hole in the rock face gave way to bright dazzling sunlight, and the hot humid air of the island, which seemed much crisper and cleaner than the stuffy air inside the mine.

The current took Daring and Scootaround along in semi-deep water. The bank was not far on either side, but they were making good time. Daring looked to the sides of the stream, watching the brush move by at a leisurely speed. The bright greens of the ferns and the low lying shrubs were a welcome sight after the dull monochrome of the chaotic cult. Daring tilted her head back, laughing lightly. It felt so great to be alive.

Soon, she and Scootaround pulled ashore when the stream had thinned out to the point where they were scraping the bottom with their flanks. It was now time to travel on hoof. Daring and Scootaround both shook out their headgear simultaneously. Scootaround returned her newsboy cap almost immediately, but Daring kept her pith helmet off for a moment more to shake off her mane, sending droplets of water everywhere.

"Knock if off, you're getting me soaking wet!" shrieked Scootaround, raising her hooves to avoid getting splashed by the droplets as Daring shook her mane.

"You're already sopping wet, kid!" Daring said, laughing. Her mane was still wet, and she brushed it off to one side with her hoof before placing her pith helmet back onto her head. She turned to look at the volcanic mountain behind them. They had really placed some distance between themselves and it! In fact, if she was correct in her understanding, they were not far from the Tapir village.

****

Upon entering the village, Daring was surprised to see that the situation had not improved by any means. The villagers seemed as run-down and beat as ever, though there were a few more that were out and about then there had been previously. Daring walked through the main village, looking again at the squat huts and the withered gardens. Ahead of them was a hut that was slightly taller and slightly more ornate, housing the chief of the tapirs. Daring reached the door to the hut, Scootaround following in her wake. She tapped on the hollow bamboo, and a moment later the door opened, and the chief looked out. His grayed beard descended almost to the dusty ground, and he smiled with a kindly expression upon seeing Daring and Scootaround. Daring dug into her bag, revealing the idol and placing it at the chief's cloven hooves. The elderly tapir looked at it, his expression lightening. He began speaking to Daring, pointing at her and making odd gestures.

"I'll translate, kid," Daring said, once the chief began speaking. Scootaround nodded, digging her hoof into the dry and trampled soil beneath her.

"He says that he's very grateful that we have returned," translated Daring, "He's glad we made it out alright. There is one issue, though."

"Issue?" said Scootaround, looking up from the small trench she had been idly digging.

"Yeah. He says that he fears the raiders will come back and take it again, and that next time there won't be enough food to last until somepony can go and retrieve it, if somepony can even retrieve it," said Daring. The tapir shook his head. Daring tapped a hoof on her chin, thinking for a moment of how to pronounce the message she wanted to give. She blinked once she thought she had figured it out, and spoke to the tapir in a similar language to the one he had been using. Once Daring had finished, the chief nodded, and stroked his beard. He looked like he was deep in thought, or contemplating the outcomes of something.

"What'd you say, Dr. Do?" asked Scootaround.

"I told him there was a cult of ponies affected by the curse set on the island, and if there's anything we could do with the idol to help them. I was figuring if they were rescued from being captive to chaotic behavior, they might not return to raid the village again. Besides, the captain of the boat is one of them. I'd rather we not just leave him here with them." After Daring had finished explaining things to Scootaround, the Chief had gotten an idea. He drew an oblong shape in the dirt with one of his cloven hooves. The shape tapered to a point at the bottom, with the top being slightly larger and bulbous. In the center of this shape he drew an ellipse.

"It's the island," explained Daring, nodding as she understood. The chief made a mark where the village was, on the lower left of the island. He then traced a path from the spot where the village was to a point on the side of the ellipse, which Daring understood to be the mountain.

"That's not where the mine is..." Daring said, looking at the drawing carefully. The chief beckoned for her to lean in closer. Daring did so, and he began to speak very quickly in a quiet voice. She nodded as her eyes widened. Scootaround tried to lean in and listen to what was being said, but she couldn't comprehend any of the words, as they were in a language unknown to her. Once the chief had finished speaking, Daring leaned back out, looking towards the mountain with an odd expression.

"What is it, Dr. Do?" Scootaround asked, anxious to know what was going on.

"He says that thousands of years ago the tapirs used to live on the east side of the mountain, and they had a whole palace constructed in honor of the phoenix that protected them," said Daring, "The east side- that's the complete opposite of where the mining stuff has been happening. Nopony would have discovered it yet."

"What's so important about the palace?" asked Scootaround, raising an eyebrow. "It's just some old moss-covered ruin by now."

"Don't you see, Scoot?" Daring said, "They had to abandon the old palace and the old village because of Discord's curse! Whatever happened must have driven them out, and the removal of the ivory idol allowed the curse to sweep over the whole island, and now it's just the small area around wherever the idol is that's protected. If the idol could be returned to its proper location..."

"Then all of our problems would be solved?" asked Scootaround, her eyes lighting up.

"Maybe," said Daring. She asked the chief a question, and he replied solemnly. Daring's expression changed, and her smile started to fade.

"What's the matter?"

"Well, it's the palace," Daring explained, "According to him, the palace was partially destroyed and booby trapped to stop anypony who was loyal to Discord from getting in there and ransacking the place."

"Good thing we won't be going to ransack the place!" said Scootaround, smiling. Daring held a hoof to her forehead.

"No, kid. Booby traps and pitfalls can't distinguish between who's good and who's bad. We might have a chance at putting that idol back in it's rightful place, and if we're lucky it will clear up the minds of those poor miners. But getting there's gonna be one hell of a task." Daring said. The chief held the ivory idol up, motioning for Daring Do to take it back. She did so respectfully, carefully placing it into her bag as before. She nodded at the chief, who smiled back.

"Take the next five minutes to do what you gotta do, kid. Get something to drink, use the bathroom, whatever. But we've got a long afternoon ahead of ourselves, so be ready." said Daring, tightening her pith helmet down over her head.

"Okie Dokie, Dr. Do!" was Scootaround’s cheerful reply.