• Published 3rd Jan 2017
  • 2,803 Views, 185 Comments

Daring Do and the Secret of the Sunken City - 8686

Years ago, Daring Do discovered an ancient city, and a strange lock she couldn't open alone. A while ago she met Rainbow Dash. Now it's time to go back and uncover the secrets she once had to abandon.

  • ...

11: The 'F' Word

Sleep was slow to recede and as consciousness seeped back into her – spreading its tendrils and connecting her senses once more – she found herself groggy and sluggish.

Touch was the first sensation to return. She felt a rough rug beneath her, the fibres itching and tickling her coat, and a faint draught from somewhere. Smell followed quickly, and the stale air was familiar and unpleasant.

After that, hearing was next.

“... I mean... did we change her? We literally interacted with part of her psyche and... altered it. What if we altered her personality too?”

That was Twilight, getting characteristically worked up, no doubt over very little.

“So we convinced her to give trust a chance. Big deal, right? We don’t know if anything we did is even real, and even if it is, it’s not like anything bad is gonna happen. After all, it was us she was trusting.”

Rainbow Dash, typically injecting her own-brand of anti Twilight-Freakout medicine.

Her mind was still muzzy, and she was grabbing hold of the tone and inflection more than she could hear the actual words. But still, she heard the voices of her two friends being exactly as Twilight and Rainbow as they had been since she’d first met them. The fact that they hadn’t already run a mile, and weren’t talking like they needed to stop her at any cost, made her feel better. They couldn’t have seen anything too disturbing.

What were they talking about?

“What... are you talking about?” she heard herself ask. Ah. Good. Clearly speech was back. Now all she needed was some muscle-power to haul herself upright, and to open her eyes.

She sat up, still groggy, and immediately wished she hadn’t as spots appeared before her and her head went light.

“Daring?” asked Twilight, a note of fear and worry to her voice as she helped sit her up, removing the crown from her head. “Daring, are you okay? How do you feel?”

“Ugh. Feels like... like...” She caught Rainbow Dash’s eye and gave a grin. “Scrambled eggs, right?”

“Hah! See? What’d I tell ya, Twilight? She’s perfectly normal!”

“So... we didn’t change anything? None of that mattered?” She sounded relieved, but at the same time almost disappointed.

“Change what?” Daring asked curtly. “What did you see? Am I an evil Caballeron-clone, or what?”

They looked at her with odd, uncertain expressions, until finally Twilight said, “No, of course not. You’re a good pony, Daring. You’re just... afraid. Not of falling into a trap or battling a monster. You’re afraid of... well... ponies.”

Daring started to recoil with a typical incredulous frown, ready to pronounce proposterousness upon that proposition... and then stopped herself. It was odd. When she looked at Twilight and Rainbow, it was like something about them had changed. As though the light fell a little more kindly on their coats; as though they stood out against the gloomy, dreary backdrop of this place just a little more than they had before. And their words... not only were they spoken honestly, but from the back of her own mind Daring could tell they carried the ring of truth. “Okay... go on,” she said with caution. “Tell me everything.”

* * *

“A bull?


“Not what I would have picked,” said Daring, scratching her head. She had figured that once Twilight and Rainbow had told her what they’d seen, it would make perfect sense. It was her mind after all. But as it turned out, it wasn’t quite as simple as that. “And this other pony? I had her chained up?”

“Your imagination,” said Twilight.

“Well, I guess it’s true I don’t use it as much as I used to. I stick to the facts when I write, y’know? And a few colourful sentences here and a little evocative imagery there isn’t exactly taxing my creativity to its limits. But... you say you freed her?”

“We were trying to help you,” said Twilight, as though she felt the need to apologise.

“Do you feel any different?” asked Rainbow.

“I’m feeling a little bewildered, to be honest. Apparently I’m the kind who doesn’t think twice about wrapping a collar around another pony and marching her across the desert against her will. It’s not doing much for my hero-cred, this.”

“It’s not like that,” said Twilight. “It’s all an abstract, just like we saw with Rainbow Dash. Of course you’re not that kind of pony. You’re an adventurer, but at some point adventuring just became routine. But you’ve never been able to find any meaning in anything else because you’ve never seen a way to reach any other life. Adventuring is what you know. What you’re the best at, to the point that it’s so normal for you it’s become mundane. There’s a good heart in you, and if nothing else we know you’re not motivated by greed, or power, or glory. Just by the compulsion to keep going.”

“Because I have nothing else,” she said, and as it came out it left a bitter taste in her mouth. Then once more she looked up, and now found her friends looking at her with concern in their eyes. But before Twilight could say, You have us, or something equally sappy, she shook her head to try and clear it. “Look... thanks for this. It might not be what I expected, but I asked for it and you helped me. I appreciate it. I... I know I can’t make you promise not to tell anypony what you—”

“We swear,” said Twilight, doing her funny little hoof-charade again. The same one Daring had noticed she’d done earlier.

“Cross our hearts,” said Rainbow who mimicked her.

Daring blinked. And couldn’t resist the question. “Okay, seriously, what is that?”

“What?” they both said.

“That little dance you just did?”

“What, this?” said Twilight, repeating it in part. “It’s, ‘cross our hearts, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in your eye.’”

“It’s a Pinkie Promise,” explained Rainbow Dash. “Our friend Pinkie Pie invented it. It’s the most unbreakable promise there is.”

“Is it magic?” asked Daring.

“Uh... no,” said Twilight.

“Then it’s not unbreakable, is it?” she said, not without cynicism. “Your friend comes up with this dumb promise-thing, and everyone in your friendship-club treats it as sacred because... why?”

“Because we’d do anything to avoid breaking a promise to a friend,” answered Twilight. “And it’s important our friends know that.”

Daring stood and turned for the door. “Okay. I... guess I can see the appeal.” And a thought struck and she had to turn back halfway. “You don’t make those promises about just anything, do you?” she guessed.

“Only for, like, super-important things,” confirmed Rainbow Dash.

“And very close friends,” added Twilight.

Daring nodded neutrally. “Okay. Uh... thank you. Really. I appreciate it.” She turned back to the door and raised her head high, returning her pith helmet to its rightful place. “Okay, here’s the plan. Caballeron’s probably scouting the city for us, which means by now he’s gotta be far enough away from that courtyard that we can slip back there unnoticed. I’m betting he’s only left one guard watching that platform with the rest out looking, so we head over there, subdue him, and ride the elevator outta here, crown and all before he knows what’s happened.”

“Great idea. Let’s go!” said Rainbow.

“Alright. Follow me.”

With a careful look up and down the street, Daring nosed through the door. The coast was clear, and she gave a quick nod behind her before trotting out into the open, heading for the small plaza and Caballeron’s platform, her two friends in tow...


The ‘F’ word.

The one she’d been actively avoiding around those ponies. The one she’d practically denied existed. And it had happened. In her head, and so naturally too. She’d referred to them as ‘friends’. In fact, she realised, she’d done it more than once even since waking up and hadn’t even noticed!

And with a spark of horror she realised too that not only that, but in a circular way, Twilight had called her a friend and she hadn’t even reacted. It had just felt normal.

Later, Yearling. Gotta get them outta here first. You’re still responsible for ‘em. Figure this ‘friendship’ thing out after they’re safe.

The platform was just a few blocks away.

* * *

“Huh. Guess I was wrong about the guard,” Daring whispered as she and her friends – it really was easier to just say it – stole from the deepest shadows at the edge of the courtyard and crept with care towards the platform. It felt like a trap, but there was nopony around.

The pin-points of light in the cavern ceiling had mostly failed now, and it was almost too difficult to see anything anymore.

“You think maybe they gave up looking and just left?” asked Rainbow.

“The platform’s still here,” Twilight pointed out.

“Well, maybe they sent it back down for us. Like bait. We ride it up and then, bam! They’re waiting for us at the top. They don’t need to look for us at all that way.”

“They didn’t leave,” said Daring. “They might have left our saddlebags behind, but they wouldn’t have left their own too.”

It was true. All of the saddlebags, including Caballeron’s, had been placed on the platform ready to be raised, as though the intent was to return to them in short order. Actually... since the bags were all there...

Daring rummaged in the various saddlebags for a few seconds. As she flipped the top on her own satchel she noted her towel, neatly folded. Good. Still knew where her towel was. Then she turned her attention to her real task. Strictly speaking it wasn’t necessary to go to the trouble she went to, but when Caballeron eventually realised what she’d done... well it would be a poignant sting in the tail for him. She gave a little, wicked grin and finished up. They really did look pretty similar, and only a keen observer would notice the difference before it was too late.

As she closed the flaps, she noted Twilight fiddling with her own saddlebags, desperately re-arranging everything to try and make room for the Crown of Unity. She managed it too, unbelievably. Was there no limit to what those things could hold?

“So, what’s the plan?” asked Rainbow. “If you’re sure they’re not up there waiting for us then...”

“There’s nothing stopping us from leaving,” said Daring, tugging the support ropes, testing them for strength. “We’ll get out of here and once we’re up I’ll send the platform back down for them. Caballeron can be a jerk... but that doesn’t mean him and his bodyguards deserve to be buried alive down here with no way out.”

“What do you think he’s doing out there?” said Rainbow, unconvinced that it could possibly be that easy.

“Don’t know. Don’t care. Can’t imagine what he expects to find. Trust me, I spent days down here. The only interesting thing out there was that mechanism.”“Well, we’re leaving not a minute too soon if you ask me,” said Twilight. “I can barely even see my hoof in front of my face. It’s going to be a while before I have enough magic built up even to make a small light for myself, let alone light up that ceiling again!” she said with a smile.

Daring froze.

Releasing the rope she was half-tugging she turned slowly back to Twilight, her eyes wide. “Your magic...” she said, struggling to keep her voice level.

“Oh, yeah. It’s coming back very slowly. No doubt yours will too, but I’m sure that if I ask Princess Celestia, she’ll be able to find a way to instantly restore—”

“I’m such an idiot,” Daring gasped. “How could I have been so blind?!”

At the speed of panic she took off at a gallop, sprinting furiously toward the wide road that led toward the palace. “Come on!” she hollered. “We’ve gotta get back there!”

“Daring? What’s wrong?!” cried Twilight, turning and running herself now, her and Rainbow struggling to keep up.

“Caballeron! I know what he’s doing! We have to stop him!”

* * *

With a final, mighty heave, the heavy circular table was at last hauled out of the pit. As it was pulled to the edge, it toppled, fell, and landed heavily upon the plaza’s flagstones with a loud, dull, solid ring, resting at an angle upon its edge and pedestal.

A victorious grin upon his lips, Caballeron stepped towards it while his three henchponies caught their exhausted breaths, the rope they had used still tied to the table but falling limply to the ground. It had taken no small amount of effort to wrench the table from its mountings, but brute strength had won out in the end. There were even fragments of stone from the surface of the platform clinging stubbornly to the base of the pedestal.

“That thing weighs a ton!” complained his newest inductee into the world of hired muscle. “Boss, what the heck do we want with such a heavy... oh...” he trailed off. The indelicate journey of the table up the side of the pit wall had, in places, scraped away some of the grey-green tarnish upon its surface. Beneath, the gleaming metalwork of the table’s true construction was revealed, taking on a deep, deceptively rich hue by the firelight of their torches. “Gold... the whole thing is made of gold! We’re rich!” he cried.

Caballeron rolled his eyes. “It is bronze, you fool. It is worthless,” he snipped.

“Oh. Then, uh... why did we pull it up here?”

“Because... of that,” Caballeon whispered, gazing down at the table’s surface, and his true goal. After a moment, he looked up. “The pick-axe,” he said, and Biff passed him the tool.

That was as far as he got though, before a trio of galloping hooves interrupted his imminent triumph. Daring Do and her two cohorts entered the massive plaza and made a beeline straight for them, coming to an abrupt stop as they approached. Daring scowled at him, facing him down. He returned the gesture with a typical smug smirk.

It was interesting, Caballeron noted. There was now a certain... togetherness, for want of a better word between the three mares. Where before Daring had stood aside from the other two, that distance – both figurative and literal – now seemed to have disappeared. Now she stood confidently between them, as though emboldened by their presence as opposed to ashamed of it. Would wonders never cease?“Why Daring Do, how nice of you to join us again. And here I thought that your earlier flight meant that you were not enjoying my company,” he said with a grin.

“Enough, Caballeron!” she challenged. “I know what you want, and we can’t let you take it. You may as well stand down, because there’s no way you’re getting that huge table to the surface through the three of us.”

“Oh, but Daring Do, I do not need the entire table, do I?” he said, hoisting the pick-axe. Then, with a smooth, practised motion he swung it sideways at the tilted table-top, and it struck home with a solid, metal clunk. Pressing on the handle of the pick, he levered it and a moment later, a satisifying snickt broke the air and the crystal in the centre, still glowing with an intense white light, popped free and he caught it on his hoof.

Oh no,” whispered Twilight, as realisation seemed to sink in.

Caballeron held the crystal aloft. Now that it was free of its mounting it was not, in fact a sphere, but a teardrop shape, the pointed end having been buried in the table’s surface. Its glow was so stark and bright, especially in the gloom overtaking the city, that it was almost blinding. The five ribbons of energy inside writhed and twisted intensely, as though unhappy that they had been disturbed, and the piercing white light grew brighter in consequence, ignored by Caballeron.

“Think, Daring Do: the true treasure of this city was within your grasp the entire time, and you ignored it. Oh, the journal and its twin will be of interest to a collector no doubt, and the crown is a wonderful piece of enchanted bric-a-brac... but it is a plaything compared to this! A magic-stealing crystal capable of absorbing a pony’s abilities, robbing ponies of their magic, flight, and strength; a weapon the like of which has never been created before or since! Were that all this were then it would already be the most valuable treasure I have ever set eyes on, but now, thanks to you, it not only contains the combined flight power of three winged ponies, but also the raw magical ability of an alicorn princess! Truly, Daring Do, I must thank you.”

“Give it over, Caballeron!” Daring yelled.

“Yeah! And... what are you gonna do with it anyway?” called Rainbow Dash, half angry, half confused. “I mean you don’t have wings. You don’t have a horn. It’s not just gonna give you the power to fly or do magic. What’s in there is useless to you!”

“Indeed you’re quite right,” said Caballeron with a smooth grin. “This crystal will grant me no power whatsoever. But then... that’s never been my modus operandi, has it?” he said with another sinister smirk directed at Daring Do.

“You’re going to sell it,” said Daring.

“Naturally. And thanks to you, I imagine a great many ponies will want to bid for the chance to examine and manipulate raw alicorn magic. Let us all hope that the ponies who would wish to acquire it for responsible study have deeper pockets than those who might use it for more nefarious purposes, hmm?”

“You can’t do this, Caballeron! You can’t just take Twilight’s magic! You can’t steal our ability to fly from us!”

“Oh, Daring Do, do not be so dramatic. You make it sound as though I am maiming you. You still have your wings, and your natural abilities will return. Eventually. But in the meantime, thanks to your... donations... I plan on becoming disgustingly wealthy.”

Suddenly, Twilight spoke up and stepped forward, holding her head high and her wings half-extended. “No,” she said with authority. Her lecturing voice rang out clear and firm. “As you’ve already observed, Doctor, the potential for this crystal to be used as a weapon is far too great if it falls into the wrong hooves. As a Princess of Equestria, I cannot allow you to sell or retain it, and I insist that you turn it over to me for safekeeping.”

But it seemed a response was already planned. “Ah... alas, while I would ordinarily be only too willing to obey the orders of royalty, I fear I do not recognise your authority here, Princess,” replied Caballeron. “This city was ever its own sovereign state. Equestria was created apart from it, and in all the ages since neither formally conquered nor united with it. And while the border of Equestria today extends beyond the mountain range in which we find ourselves, that political convenience applies to the land on the surface, but not under the ground. We are not in Equestria, your highness. Technically, we are in another country entirely and thus you have no say here.”

Daring stepped forward. “We’re not letting you take that crystal, Caballeron,” she growled.

“A shame. I truly was hoping to avoid our typical bout of violence on this occasion, but so be it.” He raised his head and turned it slightly. “Hitponies? Stop them!”

And so it was on.

* * *

Ordinarily, this fight wouldn’t have been a problem. Daring could just-about handle three of Caballeron’s goons in a straight-up brawl. The issue was that she also had another factor to contend with – Caballeron himself and his possession of the crystal. She had to get it from him before he could escape, which meant she had to focus on him, leaving his henchponies free to blindside her.

Fortunately, she had backup.

“Twilight! Rainbow Dash! Keep these thugs busy!” she called as she charged forward. Two of the brutes tried to make a grab for her but with a quick, darting side-step she sent them lurching the wrong way and she slid cleanly past, moving quickly, bearing down on her quarry. An instant later, from behind her, there was a muffled, pained ‘Oof’ followed by a loud cry of, “Take that!” Rainbow Dash was getting stuck in. Good girl.

Daring skidded to a stop, facing Caballeron at the very edge of the wide pit. Somewhere in the back of her mind, her encyclopedia of clichés identified this as a variant on the classic showdown-on-the-brink-of-a-cliff climax. Though, sadly, it also told her that for maximum dramatic effect it needed to be raining heavily, with both parties soaked through and shouting to be heard. Well, maybe in the edit...

“Give me the stone, Caballeron!” she demanded.

“No, Daring Do. You would claim the discovery of this city. You would claim to have unlocked its concealed history. You would claim to return the Crown of Unity to Equestria. But you will not claim this!” His eyes narrowed cruelly, his voice lowering to a seething hiss. “Hundreds of hours of research and planning to make it to this point. I... have earned this, Daring Do. And you will not take this from me too!”

“I’ll do whatever I have to to make sure that thing doesn’t end up in the wrong hooves!”

“No, Daring Do. You will try!” he said, tucking the stone safely inside his neck-scarf.

They lunged at each other and the true battle began.

In truth, had it been a conventional fight it would have been a very one-sided affair. Caballeron, for all his bluster, would struggle to fight his way free from a wet paper bag. He was not totally without threat: his stocky frame and earth-pony heritage gave him a great deal of strength – he could take a beating, and he had an explosive right hook that, when properly deployed to a pony’s jaw was a significant risk to the teeth of the recipient. But he was slow. And more than that, inexperienced in combat. He almost never fought himself. As an intellectual, it was beneath him. He had goons for that.

Instead of going for the attack, he backed away from her and defended, blocking her probing jabs and seeking a counter-attack where he could employ his one real offensive option. He managed to keep her at leg’s length and it was clear that his tactics were designed around a one-kick strategy: keep Daring at bay until he saw an opening and then strike hard enough to daze her and make good his escape. He didn’t want to fight, he wanted to run. All Daring had to do was wear him down until he was too tired to do either and then take the stone from him.

Problem was, time wasn’t quite on her side. With all three of his henchponies engaged in assaulting Twilight and Rainbow, it likely wouldn’t be long before they split them up and overwhelmed them. She risked a quick glance over, happy to see that for the moment they were holding their own. They seemed to be using a modified, ground-based version of the same distract-and-attack technique as they’d used in the aerial battle in the mountain pass. Twilight, being slower, would present an easier target and Rainbow would dart in while their focus was misplaced. But Caballeron’s henchponies were smarter than the average winged monster, and they were already starting to recognise and adapt. If Daring could get the stone before Caballeron’s thugs grabbed one of her friends this would end in a win. If not...

Daring struck and dodged and struck again, her blows being parried for the most part but that was fine. Caballeron was tiring, she could tell. She pressed her advantage, throwing a triple-combo of jabbing kicks his way and then ducking to the side to evade his furious right-hook counter-attack.

Except this time it wasn’t furious, it was a feint, and Caballeron’s true attack came from his left hoof. His weaker side to be sure, but Daring’s dodge carried her right into the blow. His hoof connected with her cheek and the impact sent her sideways, reeling as she saw stars. She staggered and in the next instant, as she put a hindleg down ready to kick off and launch a counter of her own, her stomach lurched instead as her hoof found nothing beneath it but empty space! She fell heavily onto her stomach, winded herself, and scrabbled desperately with her forehooves as her downwards momentum dragged her over the edge into the pit. Just at the last she managed to find a hoofhold that would prevent her from careering into the maw, and she pulled hard, arresting her fall. Finally still, she found herself hanging against the pit wall with a tenuous grasp. Her ribs hurt where the rim of the pit had struck them and her breath came in gasps, but at least she wasn’t plummeting to the bottom of a three-story shaft.

She looked up to find Caballeron stood over her with a victorious grin on his lips, the effect only mildly sullied by the sweat on his brow and clearly heaving sides. He’d been right at the limit of exhaustion then. That blow was his last, desperate gambit, and Daring cursed herself for the fact that she’d fallen victim to it. She met his gaze with gritted teeth, giving him a silent glare of daggers from her inferior, hopeless position.

“Well, Daring Do, this has been a most entertaining adventure as always, but I regret this is where we must part ways. Goodbye, until our next encounter.” He turned and barked. “Hitponies? To the elevator!” He turned back and fixed her with a smirk. “Unfortunately, by the time you reach the surface, I will be safely airborne. Enjoy your long walk back to EquestriaaaaaAAAAARRGH!”

Caballeron’s face contorted into a visage of pain and agony and his hooves suddenly clutched for his throat. Falling to his rump he unknotted his scarf and half-wrapped the shining, teardrop shaped crystal in it, holding it on one forehoof while he rubbed his neck with the other. The light inside the crystal was immense now, almost too difficult to look directly at, and lighting up the whole plaza. As Caballeron regarded it, his face became worried.

Daring pulled hard on her forelegs, and though it took a few moments she finally managed to climb up out of the pit and stand on all hooves once more, the pain in her ribs ignored for now. “What happened?”

“It has got very hot all of a sudden,” said Caballeron, wrapping more layers of scarf around the crystal as it became too hot to handle. “And it is getting worse.”

Daring raised her head. “Twilight! Quick! Over here!”

It seemed Caballeron’s henchponies had already scarpered for the road toward the courtyard beneath the broken tower, no doubt upon hearing the order to withdraw and expecting their boss to be right behind them. Thus the fight was over, and Twilight trotted over with Rainbow on her heels.

She looked at the crystal in Caballeron’s hooves, squinting hard against the harsh glare it cast, and quickly gave her conclusion with a voice not devoid of worry. “It’s cracked,” she said, her voice carrying a fearful tone that sent shivers down the spine. “You must have damaged it when you pried it loose. The magic inside... so much in such a confined space... it’s only a matter of time before it...” she trailed off. At the base of the crystal, where the teardrop came to a point, there was indeed a small, deep crack in the surface. And it was ablaze with the most brilliant, purest white light that seared the retinas, as though the entirety of the energy contained within the crystal was being focused on that point and was beginning to bleed through. The crystal continued to heat, now actually starting to faintly give off steam and it was clear that even through all the layers of scarf, Caballeron was suffering discomfort to hold it.

“We gotta get outta here!” cried Rainbow Dash. “We gotta run!

“Rainbow... there’s no point,” said Twilight sadly. “We’ve got seconds, at most.”

“And then?” asked Caballeron, his pupils pinpricks and his ears flat.

Twilight looked to Daring. “And then the magical energy is going to be released in an uncontrolled and, from the looks of it, very exothermic way.” She looked back to the crystal. “The blast is going to be huge. We won’t outrun it. We can’t escape. It’s too late.”

Everypony fell into stunned silence, completely unable to do anything but look at the timebomb in Caballeron’s hooves. Except Daring. Her interest was more on the other ponies around her than the artifact that would shortly spell their doom.

On the faces of each of the other three ponies, Daring saw a fatalistic, defeated look. The half-vacant expression that ponies wore when unexpectedly confronted with their own mortality, as their brains worked overtime trying desperately to cram what should be months worth of existential debate and eventual acceptance into the space of a few seconds, so that they might leave this life at peace and unafraid.

Daring was unafraid. She’d faced certain doom before. She’d worn that same expression before. Not often. And not now. She kept her cool. After all, if you kept your cool, most things were survivable. This... uh... well, fifty-fifty?

Look around you, Yearling. Two best friends and one worst enemy. One way or another... everypony you’ve ever cared about is right here with you.

You’re the author, remember? You’re not just gonna let their stories end here.

Heh. After all, they’re all recurring characters and the audience loves them.

She locked Caballeron’s gaze with a wicked, cocky smirk. “Doc? I would apologise, but the truth is, I’m actually gonna enjoy this a bit.” And with a mighty swing, Daring’s forehoof connected with the Doctor’s with a loud, smacking slap. He cried out in angered pain, but the scalding crystal was flung from his tenuous grasp, arcing up through the air and then down, down... down, as it sailed into the pit.

Daring whirled and roared. “EVERYPONY DOWN!” With a leap away from the edge she landed on her belly and raised her forehooves over her head, pressing her hat down and bracing for the worst.

The crystal fell, tumbling gracefully end over end, gravity speeding it upon its journey towards its final destination. It was smoking now, sparks ejecting from the crack near its point, but too late. It reached the unyielding stone floor of the pit, shattering into a million tiny shards as a terrible white light erupted from it and consumed all.