• Published 11th Dec 2019
  • 463 Views, 19 Comments

The Legend of Daring Do - The Red Parade

As Hearth’s Warming approaches, Rainbow Dash seeks Twilight Sparkle’s assistance in retelling an adventure story in an effort to bring back the sister she never knew.

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Daring Do and the Hidden Hero

“NO!” I yell so loudly that the world around me shakes. The battle fades away into the library. I snarl and whirl around, glaring at Twilight. “Why?! Why did you do that?!”

Twilight’s apparently just as shocked as I am. She rereads the page over and over again, mouthing the words and furrowing her brow. “Rainbow, I-I’m sorry, but this is what Daring wanted to happen.”

I snatch the book out of her hooves and scan the page. The words don’t stick except for one phrase: Then I die. Tears well up in my eyes again, but this time they’re not from sadness. I turn around and throw the book across the room as hard as I can.

“Rainbow!” Twilight yells in shock.

“I can’t!” I shout back. “I can’t lose her! Not again!”

I fly at the door, nearly bowling over Spike. “Rainbow, what--”

I ignore him and fly out of the library as fast as I can. She can’t be dead again, she can’t. I don’t even know where I’m going, but somehow I end up at the graveyard. In front of her grave. “Sis! Please! Please don’t tell me you’re gone again! Please!

There’s no response.

Near her grave there’s a tree. I forget what kind it is, but it doesn’t matter. I go up to it and buck it as hard as I can. Leaves and twigs go flying through the air, but it’s not enough. I turn around and punch it as hard as I can. My hooves scream out in pain, but it doesn’t matter. I hit it again. And again. And again.

I hit it like the tree is that stupid Outlaw, the one that scored a cheap shot on my sister. I don’t even know what he looks like. It doesn’t matter. I lost her again. And this time, it’s my fault.

I should have been faster, I should have stayed up there, I should have saved her.

I collapse onto the ground and scream. I vaguely hear two pegasi touch down behind me and I feel their hooves on my back.

“Rainbow! Calm down!” Cloud Kicker says.

“What happened?” Blossomforth asks.

I don’t answer. I can’t answer. How am I supposed to say that I’ve just lost my sister again? They won’t understand. They can’t understand. Instead I stare at the gravestone. The grave stares back at me. But it’s not my sister.

I wake up bleary-eyed in my own bed. I don’t remember much of yesterday and last night. I can remember Twilight running into the graveyard while Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth held me. I remember being carried home and I remember them cooking me dinner. Saying things to me. Trying to get me to eat.

Eventually they left and I collapsed into bed. I faded in and out of sleep, shadows dancing in the corners of my mind. I searched for my sister’s face, but couldn’t find it. I listened for her voice, but never heard it.

I don’t know if I slept at all, but it doesn’t really matter to me. I turn to my right and glance at my nightstand, only to find it empty. That makes me sit up straight. “Where the hay is--” Oh, right. I threw it across the library.

I hop out of bed, glancing at the time to find that it's almost noon already. With a curse, I fly out, making a beeline for the library. I barge through the door, earning some dirty looks from the patrons and making Twilight spill her tea.

“Gah! Rainbow, what--” she quickly recollects herself. “How can I help you today?”

“The book,” I ask. “Where is it?”

She smiles and pulls it out from under the desk. “Relax, it’s right here.”

I exhale in relief, taking it in my hooves. I turn it over to see it’s a little bit damaged and feel a twinge of regret. “Thanks. Look, I’m really sorry about yesterday--”

Twilight waves a hoof dismissively. “It’s fine. I can’t say I was expecting that either. But you have to remember, Daring wrote this before she died. I don’t think she meant for you to go through that.”

I sigh and nod. “Yeah, I know. I just… I just couldn’t lose her again, you know?”

Twilight goes around the desk and lays a hoof on my shoulder. “I understand,” she says. “But you still have this book. And with that, you still have her.” She blinks in realization and grabs an envelope in her magic. “Oh, and Applejack came by this morning. Said she had a letter for you from her cousin?”

I raise an eyebrow. “She wasn’t kidding when she said fast.” I check the sender’s address and confirm that it’s from Braeburn.

Out of the corner of my eye I see Slow Burn enter the room with an easy smile and a gleam in his eye. I tear open the envelope and start reading. As I read to myself, I can hear Slow’s voice narrating.

“Dear Rainbow Dash,

“Well, Ah’m mighty surprised to hear from you! Ah do remember seein’ you at the funeral, and Ah recall goin’ up and offerin’ my condolences, but Ah won’t blame you if you don’t remember. Ah really do regret not reachin’ out to you sooner.

“Your sister. Hoo, boy, was she somethin’. You ask any of us about Darin’ and we’ll all say the same praise. She was the greatest pony we ever knew. Ah can’t really decide what Ah admired most about her, but she always had a plan. And Ah found that mighty impressive, because even if her plan failed she’d have another one ready to go.

“It was like havin’ a map, she said once. She needed to know where she was goin,’ and she wanted to make everythin’ count. There wasn’t a thing she did that didn’t have a reason. But… for all her plannin’, she just couldn’t figure herself out.

“Let me explain. Ah was visitin’ AJ in Ponyville when Ah first met her. It was late night at a local bar, and she was cryin’ in a booth all alone. So Ah went up to her and asked what was wrong. And she told me that she was just lost. To her it was a problem, because her special talent was findin’ things, and she was frustrated that she just couldn’t find herself.

“Her and Ah had a real long talk that night. Ah don’t rightly remember everythin’ Ah said, but Ah do recall sayin’ somethin’ like ‘everypony gets lost sometimes, but that ain’t the point. The greatest explorers are those that get lost, after all. They’re the ones that make new paths and find new lands.

“Ah don’t think Ah made much sense, but it was enough for her. She said she was at a low point, bein’ so unsure of what she was meant to do. Ah reassured her that it would be fine, as lots of ponies change their minds about what they wanna do. And ain’t nothin’ in Equestria that’s makin’ you stick to your guns.

“She introduced me to the others after that and we became friends. We sure did get pretty far in the time Ah knew her, even if Ah lived pretty far out. She wrote a lotta letters to me, keepin’ me up to date on what was happenin’ and askin’ me for some advice. Ah don’t rightly think the advice Ah gave was the best, but Ah’m honored she thought me worthy to ask.

“Ah reckon Ah’m ramblin’ now. Apologies, Ah love to talk. Next time Ah’m in town Ah’ll come meet you, then we can talk in pony about these things. But you should know that your sister was amazin,’ and more than that she looked up to you. You were her hero.

“And now that Ah think about it, Darin’ was a hero too. No, more than that. A legend. Yeah, she was a legend. Ah’m Ah makin’ sense? Sure hope so. Anyways, if you got any more questions, Ah’m always here to lend an ear, Braeburn Apple.”

I blink as I set the letter back down. Braeburn’s words pretty much confirm what everyone else said, but reading them gives me confidence again. Daring wouldn’t just kill herself off without a reason. There has to be more to the story than that.

I turn to Twilight. “Hey, are you busy right now?”

She glances around the library and shakes her head. “Not at the moment, why?”

I hold up Daring’s book. “I want to… no, I need to finish this. For her.”

Twilight nods and leads me upstairs again. She gives me a concerned look, but I nod to her confidently. I can handle it, because I have faith in my sister. Faith that she wouldn’t let things end like this.

The library fades away into the temple again. Slow Burn, Free Fall, Redblood, and Minute Maker are standing near the door, apparently in an argument.

“We have the keys, we can take it!” Redblood shouts. “It’s what she would want us to do!”

Slow Burn shakes his head. “We can’t risk it. Darin’ knew the most about this. What if there’s a trap in there that we aren’t ready for? What if we lose somepony else?”

I trot up to them, getting their attention.

“Rainbow,” Free Fall says. “She’s… gone.”

Everypony glances to the right, and I see a pony-shaped form draped in a sheet.

“We’re trying to figure out what to do,” Minute says.

Something’s not right about this. I’ve met their real life counterparts and I’ve seen how torn up they were over Daring’s death. So why are these ponies not crying their eyes out?

I shake off the doubts. “I say we continue. Redblood’s right, Daring would have wanted us to carry on without her. We have the keys, and we’re here now. I say we do it.”

Nopony disagrees. Redblood pulls out the blue key and sticks it in the blue lock. Minute levitates the silver key into the silver lock, and I take the gold key and put in the gold lock. As the locks fall away, Slow Burn and Free Fall pull the door open, and we trot inside.

The doubt in my mind’s still there. Something about this just feels so wrong. But glancing in between the group members, nopony seems to notice. So we push on. We go down another hallway, this one lit up by torches, until we end up in another large open room.

Instead of a floor, this one has sand and rocks. A pedestal sits in the center, raised above the sand and facing the sky. There’s no ceiling and the sun shines above us. Five giant doors are placed around it. Other than that there’s nothing. No giant monster, no hallway of traps, and no Pentagony.

“This feels wrong,” I whisper. Nopony seems to hear me as everyone just trots straight to the pedestal, climbing the stairs.

“Come on, Rainbow,” Free Fall calls. “We’re here.”

I blink and follow them. There’s another chest on the pedestal, made out of a rich brown wood.

“The amulet must be in here,” Redblood muses.

Minute Maker nods. “Why don’t you do the honors, Rainbow?”

I scan the area like Daring did, searching for traps or anything out place. Not finding anything, I throw the lid of the chest open. Then, my face scrunches up in confusion. “It’s empty?” Sure enough, there’s absolutely nothing inside. Not even a speck of dust.

“Empty? Huh. How strange.” Redblood lets out a grim chuckle.

“Indeed,” agrees Free Fall. “I wonder how that could have happened.”

In anger, I throw the box as far as I can. “Are you kidding me?! We came all this way for nothing? My sister died for nothing?!” I’m so overcome with anger that it takes me a second to realize that nopony’s responding. “Guys?” I look over my shoulder and my blood runs cold.

Their eyes are glowing red, just like the monsters we faced in the last room. All of a sudden they begin to circle around me, grinning like sharks who smell blood in the water.

“But what of the Five-Souled guardian,” Minute asks, smirking. “Where oh where could he be?”

“The number five sure does sound familiar,” chuckles Slow. “Five, five, five, why, where else have we seen that number?”

The four ponies suddenly stop and I’m overcome with a sense of dread. “Ah. Five adventurers, five souls,” says a voice from above. All four ponies stoop low, bowing their heads.

My ear twitches and I look up to see a pegasus descending. Her back is to the sun, which makes it hard to see, but I don’t need to see to recognize her voice. “Daring?!”

“Well, well, well. Looks like I lied to you, Sis.” Daring chuckles as she lands. “I’m honestly surprised you didn’t see this coming.”

I growl, tensing up. “What the hay? You’re dead! I saw you die! And what do you mean, lied to me?”

“Surely you can see,” my sister taunts. She pulls a black and green amulet out from underneath her wing. “Oh? What’s this? The Amulet of the Forgotten? Why, how’d that get there?”

“Wait, so you had the amulet? This whole time?” Something wasn’t adding up.

The four ponies around me laugh. Daring shakes her head sadly. “You misunderstand. I didn’t just happen to have it. I am it’s guardian.”

Then it hits me as I remember what Slow just said. Five-Souled guardian, five adventurers on a quest. “So you guys are Pentagony?”

Daring smirks and bows. “At your service. But the deal still stands. Defeat us, and the Amulet of the Forgotten is yours. Lose, and your soul is mine forever.”

I try to backpedal, but the others are standing now, trapping me. I could probably fly away, but Free Fall could catch me easily. “I-I can’t fight you!”

“I’m afraid you don’t have a choice.” My sister then removes the straps on her hoof blades and gives them to me. She offers me a small, grim smile. “If you fail, you will lose much more than me. Good luck.” There was a flash of light, and everypony was gone.