• Published 2nd Dec 2016
  • 793 Views, 121 Comments

Unhinged - SirNotAppearingInThisFic



A collection of short stories inspired by Magic cards generated by RoboFoME. No understanding of Magic is required to read these.

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(Daring Do and the) Flawless Horseshoe [Adventure]

Not every adventure made for a great story. Daring Do’s job had her hunting down a lot of artifacts, and not all of them were exciting. Well, she found each and every one of them exciting, at least in part, or she wouldn’t have devoted her life to hunting them down. It was the other ponies – like the ones who would read the books that funded her dangerous escapades – that mattered, at least when considering which adventures to make books out of.

Her current mission had already started off on the wrong hoof. Sure, she was no stranger to embellishment, but some artifacts were harder to work with than others. There was even the occasional time where the artifact in question turned out to be nothing more than generations of storytelling and layers of traps, but she didn’t exactly advertise those moments, even if she still enjoyed the less adventurous archaeological insights that they offered on foreign cultures. At this moment, she was flying north to a little Equestrian town by the name of Podunk, in search of a special horseshoe.

Unsurprisingly, Podunk didn’t get a lot of travellers, so she had no reason to expect more than, say, the one pony who told her about it to have travelled to the southernmost reaches of the pony population where Ahuizotl enacted most of his evil plans. Still, the account of a single pony was always a dubious way to obtain information about precious artifacts, even if he hadn’t rank of anything fermented at that time.

“A flawless horseshoe,” he had told her, “enchanted, even! It brings the bearer great luck.” He went on to claim that he had seen its wonder, felt its magic, and talked to its protector – a large pony who kept to himself, but had a bad temper. Given how much her informant talked (and talked, and talked), she wouldn’t have been surprised if he had just gotten on the pony’s nerves.

As far as a potential book opportunity went, this one was pretty much dead-on-arrival. There were no ancient monsters – yet, at least – she had a massive lead over Ahuizotl (which tended to make it less ‘exciting’), and she hadn’t been able to think of a better title than Daring Do and the Flawless Horseshoe. Still, if she filed it away with the rest of her smaller escapades, she might be able to get away with publishing a compilation for the more devout fans of the Daring Do series. So far as she could tell, there wasn’t anything they wouldn’t be willing to buy, think... or do. She did her best to avoid contact with them.

She wasn’t always successful.

Daring shook off the thought before it could lead anywhere else. Podunk was only a few minutes’ flight away at that point, and she didn’t want to veer off course and miss it.

* * *

Ponies. They were everything she didn’t like about her job, and the only reason she had one. The best cultures were dead, not completely alive and full of ponies willing to drag you inside where they can tell you stories about their children. Shortly after landing, it had only taken seconds and the brief mention that she was looking for a ‘large pony’ for some nearby old mare to do just that.

“... to keep the poor dear from trampling my flowers on accident. Nowadays he brings back potted flowers of all sorts for my garden whenever he visits. I’m so proud that he’s grown into such a sweetheart. Do you want a tart, dear?”

Daring blinked and refocused her thoughts when her subconscious suggested that her host might be at the end of another story. A tray of warm cheese tarts now sat on the kitchen table. Uncomfortable with the implication of how long she had already spent getting nothing done, Daring picked one up and considered it.

“So, Mrs. Shoes, is he still in town? He might have something important that I need to talk to him about.” She nibbled her tart.

Mrs. Goody Shoes smiled her proudest yet and picked up a tart of her own. “He spends so much time at the rodeos, doing his job, and he always comes back to visit when he has the time. He got here only a few days ago, and he never spends less than a week.”

Daring’s tart was already gone, to her surprise, and embarrassment.

Mrs. Shoes picked up on her tart-troubles before she had a chance to ask a follow-up question. “Oh, don’t worry, dear. Have another one!”

Another tart in-hoof, Daring proceeded with her question. “I don’t suppose you could tell me where I could find him?”

“He parks his cart down the south path a little ways. The poor dear’s a shy one.”

Daring nodded and got off her chair. Her rear legs started to protest, given that they had fallen asleep. “Uh—”

“No need, dear.” Mrs. Shoes slid another tart into a small paper bag and offered it to Daring. “Have one for the road.”

“—thanks. I, uh... yeah. Thanks.” Daring nodded, and started for the door.

“He’s shy, but he’s such a sweetheart – you’ll see. All he needs is a lovely mare like you in his life to really blossom.”

Daring swallowed – or gagged (she wasn’t quite sure) – after turning to make sure her reaction wouldn’t show to Mrs. Shoes.

“Heh...”

Dead cultures didn’t have tarts that simply vanished under one’s nose because they tasted surprisingly good, but they didn’t try to pair her up with a special somepony, either, and that made the tradeoff totally worth it.

Besides, her fans already did that plenty.

* * *

“I suppose it’s just my luck that Mother’d be the first pony you run into.”

Her informant hadn’t lied about one thing, at least: Trouble Shoes was a large pony. The back of Daring’s mind suggested that his mother’s baking might have encouraged his size. His cart seemed spacious enough for a normal pony. With his size… the layers of patchwork done on the walls and floor made a little more sense.

“Yeah… and I’d rather not think too hard on the experience,” Daring said. “In any case, I’m looking for a certain… horseshoe, and somepony mentioned that you had it.”

Trouble Shoes sighed, deep and long, then he nodded. “Yep. I do. Some old fellow gave it to me after a show. Said it was his lucky horseshoe. Figures he must’ve been looking for a good bloke to rid him of it. It draws in the strangest ponies.”

Daring shifted uncomfortably. She didn’t really like the implicit comparison between her and her informant, as well as who knows whom else might have approached him about it already while he travelled Equestria. Unfortunately, as she had suspected at the start of her trip, the horseshoe likely bore no archeological value whatsoever. Regardless, there was at least one blabbering fool that claimed it to have potent magical properties, and that was still enough to warrant trying to secure it before Ahuizotl could. “Do you know the pony who gave it to you?” she asked.

Trouble Shoes shrugged. “Not a clue.”

“I don’t suppose I could… see it?”

“You can have it if you want.” Trouble Shoes looked right at her. “That’s why you’re here. Who wouldn’t want a lucky horseshoe if the luck was magically guaranteed?”

She tried not to grimace too much. “Well, my plans involve either a museum or secure vault, specifically for that reason. I’m a treasure hunter for archeology, not personal gain.”

“Well wouldn’t ya know...” he said.

After several seconds, Daring raised an eyebrow. “Uh, not really, no.”

“I don’t doubt somepony told you all about how lucky the horseshoe was,” he said. “Truth be told it is a lucky horseshoe, but it ain’t all good luck.”

“Weird. Wait. You mean…?”

Trouble Shoes nodded. “Yeah, a lot of it is bad luck, and I know all about bad luck.”

Daring recalled a few snippets of Mrs. Shoes’ stories. “I heard—”

“It’s not all bad luck,” he continued. “Some of it is good luck. Just not very much. That’s probably why you’re here: usually I get stuck with luck like this – it’s what my cutie mark’s for, and it does wonders for makin’ a fool of myself as a rodeo clown – but for once I get some good luck my way and somepony comes to take a problem off my hooves.”

“So you want me to take it?” Daring asked.

“Well… It’s also kinda bad luck. If you take it and lock it away, it’ll be the last good luck I see.”

Daring took a moment to be sure that she understood what he meant. In short, it seemed his good luck was also bad luck because the very act that his good luck had caused in turn would take away his good luck, if she took the lucky shoe. “Huh.”

Trouble Shoes got up, shaking his cart-home, and walked to the far wall (all two of his steps away). From a set of average-looking horseshoes hanging on a couple of pegs, he picked one that looked perhaps slightly newer.

“Lost a shoe a few months back, and I didn’t have time to get another custom made for weeks, so I just wore three and shifted my weight when I needed ‘em. I s’pose some more good luck would have it that it fits me.”

He set the horseshoe on the table. So far as Daring could tell, it didn’t have any overt flaws, but there wasn’t a single remarkable thing about it.

“Do you mind?” she asked, gesturing towards it.

Trouble Shoes shrugged. “No. If you want it, keep it, but you might want to stay in town for a day, in case you change your mind.”

Daring picked it up. It felt like an exactly normal horseshoe. Maybe magical, but it was hard to tell. At least, until her chair spontaneously and violently disassembled beneath her, sending her sprawling backwards and into the wall, in turn knocking down various containers that he had perched or hung on its features. The pot that covered her vision wasn’t so bad, the small pouch that she heard smack on the floor right beside her was. It was a spice pouch, filled with pepper. Pre-ground black pepper. It hardly took a second for her to have the first of many sneezes coming.

“AHHH-Chooo!”

It wouldn’t have been so bad if the inside of pot hadn’t reflected both sound and spray right back at her.

“Get it off— Ahh…. AHH… Chooo!

Daring tossed the horseshoe away – anywhere else was fine by her – and pried the pot off her head. She couldn’t see and her nose burned. Rubbing her eyes only fixed one of those problems.

This was definitely never going in any book. Ever.

Getting back to her hooves, she asked, “How can you stand that thing?” Her eyes went wide and she ducked just in time to dodge the concussive blast of one of his own sneezes.

“I suppose you just learn to live with it,” he said, rubbing his nose. “Truth be told, I can hardly tell a difference, what with my special talent and cutie mark and all bein’ about having comically bad luck.”

Daring sighed. It probably wouldn’t be a terrible plan to let Ahuizotl have the darned thing, aside from that if he had the wrong bout of good luck from it even once, he stood to gain a little too much for her comfort. Still, she had it for only a second or two before things went... comically wrong. She almost certainly wouldn’t survive a four-hour flight with that kind of luck.

First, she had to be sure about one thing. “That thing actually gives good luck?”

“Yeah.” he said. “I found a bit on the ground at my last rodeo, and I never find stuff after it goes missing.”

Daring nodded. “Tell you what: I’ll find a spare good-looking horseshoe, let on that I’ve found and retrieved the artifact, leak my suspicions that my informant – likely the only pony south of Equestria that knows anything about your special horseshoe – was exaggerating, and see if Ahuizotl cares enough to steal it from me. If he does – and I’ll let him – then he’ll find out it’s worthless, and he’ll rub it in for a little while before we both move on to much more important artifacts. You get to keep what little good comes of it, and I don’t have to worry about Ahuizotl getting anything good from it, even if I’d be willing to pay good money for front-row-seats to a show of him wearing that thing. Sound good?”

“I guess. What if the Owie-zee-pony doesn’t believe you?”

“Just tell him everything you told me, but leave out the ‘good luck’ part. If he takes it, I don’t think he’ll want to keep it any longer than I did,” Daring replied. “Oh, and if that does happen, please take notes. Pictures if you can, too.”

Author's Note:

RoboFoME card:

Flawless Horseshoe
1R
Instant
Detain trample.

Whenever equal to the number of your hand a player’s upkeep cast the battlefield, copy of time."

Equip 3

It's abilities of his or her creatures that creatures loses 2."

Ench.")

"Weird. I hope it reality outweigh flanned."
—Daring.

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