• Published 25th Apr 2012
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Daring Do and the Ivory Idol - Fedora



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

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Chapter 9: More Traps

The next set of stairs that Daring Do was met with led up of another ledge like the one she had been on a moment before. The two ponies seemed to be at the very top of the chamber, as they could look up and see the ceiling above them without any more ledges or bridges. The floor down below them was very far, and a fall would likely result in death. The stakes were more serious as Daring looked about for a way to cross the chasm yet again. On the opposite side, she could faintly make out another passageway leading to another part of the palace. There was no bridge this time to help her and Scootaround cross. There was no narrow ledge lining the wall, and no bridge. She squinted, trying to see if there was anything she could grab with her whip to cross the chasm like a vine or an ornate hook, but her view was obstructed by a tall pillar.

The pillar was constructed on the side of the chasm that she and Scootaround occupied, and was tall enough that it made looking across a difficult task. Indeed, the pillar seemed to reach up towards the ceiling, but it did not afford enough horizontal space to make it at all useful to crossing the chasm.

"Well, this is unhelpful," said Daring, approaching the pillar. On the side of it were some odd markings, but they weren't pictographs. They were some kind of written language with actual letters and some symbols, but without proper lighting or something to compare the text to, Daring was left in the dark as to its meaning. She looked up towards the top of the pillar. There was a small protrusion jutting out from the side that Daring thought she might be able to get a secure hold on with the edge of her bullwhip.

"Sit tight for a second," Daring said, "I'm gonna see if I can't get a better view from the top of the pillar." Daring took out her whip, and slid the chain down over her right hoof. She swung back, and then swung it forward and up, cracking it back at just the right moment. The very end of the lengthy whip wrapped around the cylindrical piece of stone jutting out from the top of the tall pillar, and wrapped back around itself. With a tug, Daring secured the end of the whip, ensuring that it would support her weight. Daring placed her back hooves on the side of the pillar, and used her other front hoof to keep the chain from sliding off as she slowly began to climb up the side of the pillar using the taught whip as support. Going straight up put stress on her back legs and her spine, but Daring Do was a strong pony. She sweated and strained, but she was able to reach the top of the pillar without much incident, and looked out over the top. She was at the highest point in the chamber, her head only a yard or so from the roof. Some weeds and vines grew down through the cracks, but none reached across and none looked secure enough to grab onto and swing across. Daring looked across to the other side of the chasm, barely able to see the other side and the passageway leading onwards. There wasn't anything to grab onto to swing across there, either. Defeated, Daring got ready to descend the same way she came. she shifted her weight on the pillar to get ready to get back down. To her surprise, the pillar wobbled slightly, and she spread out her hooves to try and stable it and keep it from falling with her on top.

That gave Daring an idea. If the pillar was unstable, perhaps it could be useful after all. She started descending down the pillar the same way she had come, but when she got to the middle she stopped. Daring took a deep breath, and jumped backwards. The end of the whip above didn't come loose, and when she swung back towards the side of the pillar she kicked hard with her back legs. The pillar lurched forwards, leaning slightly towards the other side of the chasm. Daring repeated the previous step, jumping backwards and kicking hard on the side of the pillar when she swung back. This time, something cracked, and the pillar swung forwards towards the opposite ledge with sudden speed. Daring felt everything shift suddenly, and then it all stopped with a loud CRASH as the stone on the top of the pillar hit the ledge on the opposite side of the chasm. The tall pillar was now stretched horizontally across the chasm, reaching both sides. Daring had just created a makeshift bridge.

"Alright, try coming across now," said Daring, as she walked across towards the other side. She walked the rest of the pillar's length, reaching where the top had been and stepping off onto the solid ledge. Scootaround was with her in a moment. Daring leaned in and uncoiled the whip's end from the protrusion, coiling it back up and placing it into her bag.

"What're you gonna do for light?" Scootaround asked. Daring looked about, looking for a torch. There was one stuck in a holster on the wall, but the previous experience made her wary of grabbing a torch. She looked at the floor beneath her. It was solid, with no holes. Inside the passageway the floor was lined with holes, with holes also lining the walls. Daring took a closer look at the passageway. The ground was littered with pieces of torn cloth, and several broken skulls and rib cages lined the edges of the passageway. If she pulled the torch out, spikes would probably come out of the floor and walls, rendering the passageway unusable and deadly. But Daring had an idea.

"Stand close to the pillar and look away for a second, Scoot. This is going to be kind of gross."

Scootaround obliged, and looked the other way. Daring nodded, and approached the inside of the passageway cautiously. The walls were slimy and wet. Apparently some of the water from a mountain stream ran above that part of the palace, as the walls were covered with a green algae growth, which made them slimy. Daring leaned in closer to one of the skeletons. There was a skull, and a ribcage. The leg bones were strewn across on the other side of the chamber. Daring didn't want to even think of how they had ended up all the way over there. Resisting the urge to vomit, Daring picked up one of the leg bones, and pulled at the radius. It came right off with a sickening pop. Taking the radius with her, Daring returned to the outside of the passageway. She turned her attention towards the torch, which she lifted free with her unoccupied hoof. The torch came free, and Daring placed the radius back in it's place in the holster. She pressed it down, getting the peg that had sprung loose when she had removed the torch to press back down. She placed the torch on the ground, and took out her flint, steel, and char cloth. She placed the square piece of char cloth over the tip of the torch, and readied the steel piece and the chunk of flint, when suddenly the spikes in the chamber shot up, and the radius bone popped up.

Daring stopped what she was doing. Why hadn't the radius been able to keep the peg held down? Perhaps it wasn't heavy enough to counteract the spring. Daring looked back to Scootaround, who was still turned around, idly fiddling with her newsboy hat.

"Give me another minute or so, Scoot. Apparently I need some more weight," said Daring. She set the flint, steel, and char cloth aside and picked up the torch. She went over to where the radius was sitting in the torch holster, and replaced the radius with the torch. Almost immediately the spikes retracted from the floors and the walls of the chamber.

"That's odd..." Daring noted, looking at the radius. She'd need to get a heavier bone. Going back into the moist passageway, Daring looked for something heavier. She looked at the broken skeleton, and decided that the femur would be her best bet. She looked towards where the hips were on the corpse, and pulled out the femur bone. It was gross, but if it allowed her and Scootaround to get through the passageway without meeting the same fate, then it was worth it. Taking the femur bone back to where the torch was, Daring swapped them out. The femur barely fit into the slot, but it was heavy enough to keep the peg held down. The spikes did not shoot up again.

"Alright, Scoot. You can turn around now," said Daring, returning to her flint and steel kit and lighting the piece of char cloth with a spark from the flint and steel. The char cloth grew into a small ember, which Daring was able to use to light the end of the torch. Fire and illumination in tow, Daring and Scootaround proceeded into the passageway ahead of them with caution.

****

As Daring Do and Scootaround continued along, they entered an adjacent passageway that was much drier. No light was let in by the outside, and it was only the burning torch that allowed either of them to see what they were doing. The archaeologist pony and the little orange filly made their way into a side chamber that seemed to have no way out. There was an area that seemed like it was meant to be a threshold, but it was sealed off by a stone door that would not budge. The darkness was oppressive, and there seemed to be no way out of it.

"Where's the way out?" asked Scootaround, pressing against the stone door with her hooves. Daring looked around the chamber, feeling the tiles on the wall, small troughs that protruded from the wall on every side about halfway up on all sides. She was looking for some kind of release lever, but she couldn't see anything of the sort.

"I dunno." Daring said, "I want to say that this slab will slide down and let us pass through, but I've got to find some way to release it." She still couldn't find anything on the walls that looked like some kind of release lever. Perhaps it wasn't a lever?

"What's this trough thing?" Scootaround asked, leaning over the edge of the trough lining the wall on the left side of the chamber. She placed her hoof inside, feeling the edges. With her hoof she could feel that the inside of the trough was filled with some kind of grainy material, similar to sand.

"Dr. Do, there's something in here," said Scootaround. Daring came over to look at where she was, and leaned over with the torch to look into the through. Scootaround removed her hoof and peered over the top, looking down into the illuminated trough. She was able to see some kind of black grainy material, but as soon as she saw it a spark leaped from the torch and landed within the grain, and fire erupted up with a sudden burst, causing the surprised filly to leap backwards.

Within moments the fire had spread along the line of the trough on both sides of the room. There was a ring of fire around the two ponies, and the fire went up and over the doorway. What had moments before been a dark room was now an inferno on all sides, but it was a contained inferno. The fire did not spread from the trough.

"Very interesting," noted Daring, "The fire burns the powder, and then the powder concentrates near the door and-" almost as soon as she had reached that point in her sentence, the stone slab fell free suddenly, slipping down into a slot in the floor below it.

"Good work, kid," Daring said. Together, the two ponies continued towards what was ahead. Ahead was a much more spacious chamber. The troughs containing the flammable powder continued into here, and the same ignition had started the fuel burning in this new chamber. A stone walkway ascended, lined with fire on each side. At the very pinnacle of the chamber there was what appeared to be some kind of pedestal made out of gold and encircled with burning flame. There was a stone walkway around the pedestal, and the edge of this walkway dropped off into a deep chasm that descended below them into darkness.

"This is it," said Daring, "This is where we've got to put the idol. See, the flames are all symbolic of the rebirth of the phoenix. It all makes sense now."

"Rebirth of the phoenix?" said Scootaround, as she and Daring made their way up the stone walkway.

"Yeah. When a phoenix dies, it dies in a burst of flames. But then, a new phoenix is born from the ashes. The sudden burst of flames is the death, which gives rise to new life and the continuing cycle." said Daring. She reached into her bag, taking out the ivory idol of the phoenix, looking as proud and protective as it ever did.

"Well, this is it." said Daring once again, looking at the phoenix statue. It seemed so odd, to think that simply placing an idol of a phoenix carved out of ivory would be able to free and island of ponies and tapirs. That such a simple motion of placing it down onto the pedestal would solve everything. Daring approached the pedestal respectfully, giving the torch to Scootaround to hold onto while she lifted the ivory idol in front of her. She reached over the flickering flames around the pedestal, and placed the ivory idol...

WHAM!

Daring was suddenly struck by something heavy. Her head was spinning, and she could feel the bump rising. She tried to get onto all four of her hooves, but she was far too dizzy from the sudden blow to be able to maintain coordination. She tried to shake it clear. Where was the idol? It was lying to her right on the stone floor. Daring reached over to try to grab it with one hoof, and was blocked by a thick leg, belonging to a tall, slender, white unicorn with a scary demeanor.

"So we meet again, Dr. Do," said Bloodhorn, grinning that evil-looking grin that Daring was quickly learning to despise.