• Published 11th Dec 2019
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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 Temple of Vines

I blink and the library is gone. In fact, everything is gone. I’m standing in a plain white world, with nothing stretching into every single direction.

“Wow. This is quite the adventure,” I deadpan.

“One more thing,” Twilight’s voice says. I look around but fail to find her. “Daring wrote in her notes that you need to take this seriously, no matter how silly you think it is. This spell will also grow stronger based on the faith of the participant, so the harder you try, the easier it is on me.”

I shrug. “Yeah, sure. Whatever.”

I turn around again and spot a writing desk stacked high with books. There’s a pony seated at it, intently studying a book. I roll my eyes and approach her. “So, who are you?”

The words barely leave my mouth when she suddenly slams me to the floor.

I gasp for air as my senses realign themselves. The first thing I see is the sharp end of a blade aimed right at my throat. Then I see the pony wielding the blade and my heart stops. “D-Daring?”

The mare standing over me is a spitting image of her. The black and gray mane, the dark green coat… it looks exactly like her. But it can’t be her. Because she’s dead.

She blinks and jumps up in surprise, hovering in the air. “Rainbow? What the hay are you doing here?”

I scramble to my hooves, growling. “Twilight, this isn’t funny!”

There’s a sigh to my right, and Twilight appears next to me. The form of the pony who isn’t my sister is still there, hovering in the air in shock. “I’m just doing what the instructions are telling me to do,” Twilight says.

“Then what the hay is the meaning of that?” I ask, pointing a hoof at my not-sister.

Twilight rolls her eyes. “Rainbow, it’s not your sister. It’s her character. I skimmed Daring’s notes, and she plays a pretty important part in this story, so if you want to do this, you’ll have to get used to her.”

“But how?” I rub my face with my hooves. Maybe this was a mistake after all. “She’s not my sister! She’s just some… magic illusion thing!”

“Why don’t you just think of her as your sister?” Twilight suggests. “For all intents and purposes, I think this character was a self-insertion. It’s a representation of your sister reflected in the story.”

I hesitate. “So… you’re saying it’s really her?”

“Basically, sure.”

I take a deep breath, shaking my head. “Okay. Okay, fine.” This already isn’t off to a great start, I think to myself.

Twilight disappears again and I take another look at my… sister.

The first thing I notice is that her clothes are weird. She’s wearing a light green vest of some kind, along with a ridiculous tan helmet with a brown band around it. It also looks like she’s got some knives or something taped to her hooves.

“Uh… you mind putting those away?” I venture, pointing to the blades.

Daring blinks. “Oh, right.” She lands, striking her forehooves down on the ground and pushing the blades back into their sheaths. I see now that the knives aren’t taped to her forelegs, but instead she’s wearing some kind of strap that can hide them.

She hesitantly walks up to me. “So… what are you doing here?”

“Dad sent me this book you wrote, and--” I groan, shaking my head. “This is too weird. I mean, I’m talking to my dead sister for Celestia’s sake.”

Daring’s face lights up suddenly. “Oh! You found a book, huh? Well, I guess that means you’ve decided to go on an adventure with me!”

“Uh, sure. Something like that.”

That earns me a glare. “Look, if you’re going to do this, I need you to promise you’ll take it seriously.”

I let loose a harsh laugh. “Seriously? How can I take this seriously? You’re not even real, just some magic thing that Twilight made up.”

My sister crosses her forelegs, scowling at me. “See, this is exactly the reason I never told you about this. Because I knew you wouldn’t take it seriously. You know what, why don’t you just leave if you think this is so stupid?”

That hurts me. I did call her obsession with books stupid back in the day, didn’t I? Great, how many more mistakes is this illusion thing going to call me out on? “Okay, fine, I’ll take it seriously,” I grumble. “What are we doing?”

“First things first, ground rules. I am not Daring Dash. I am Daring Do, world-famous adventurer and renowned hero!” She strikes a pose and smirks.

“Also super humble,” I snark.

“Oh, you’re on to talk about being humble,” she shoots back.

“What’s that supposed to--”

“Anyways,” she cuts in, “I am searching for an ancient treasure lost to ponykind: the Amulet of the Forgotten, an ancient pendant said to capture the souls of those who pass too early. It is said to be guarded by a being called Pentagony, a spirit with five-souls that can take any shape or form.”

I gape at her before facehoofing. “This is so cheesy.”

I flinch as Daring suddenly punches my shoulder. “Are you going to bucking help me or not?”

“Yeah, fine. Just tell me what I’m supposed to do.”

Daring grumbles something under her breath, but turns back to her desk. Twilight’s voice fills the room. “Imagine yourself in a forest, somewhere far outside of Equestria. The sun is shining high above the treetops, and branches and leaves crack underneath your hooves. Trees tower above you in every direction, with vines dangling from high above...”

As she speaks, the white room changes into the place she describes. Animals cry out from somewhere inside the forest. Like Twilight said, there are trees all around us, taller than any skyscraper in Manehattan. A few flies buzz past my ear, and some bird cries out from deep within. Daring pushes past me. “Try and keep up. You stand out like a cat at a dog show, and I doubt you’d last against some of the forest creatures.”

“Please,” I scoff. “As if some monkey could stop me.”

“Suit yourself.” Daring flicks both of her forelegs out, and her blades slide out. She hacks her way through the vines, making a path through the brush. I follow behind, all the while taking in the forest.

I wasn’t expecting it to feel so… real. I know that magic’s pretty powerful, but I never expected that it could do this.

I turn to the illusion-pony-thing. “So, what exactly are you?”

Daring grunts. “I’m Daring Do, I told you.”

I roll my eyes. “No, I mean really. You can’t be my sister because she’s dead. So who are you?”

She suddenly freezes at that, and I almost crash into her. “Don’t say that, okay?” Her voice is a lot quieter than it was before. “I’m not really… over being dead. It’s weird to think about. So just… don’t say that.”

That makes me raise an eyebrow. “Wait, aren’t you just some made-up character? I thought you were just Twilight, reading off some script. How do you know that-”

“Well, I’m not, okay? Or maybe I am. I just…” she trails off before taking a deep breath. “And no. There’s no ‘script.’ Just instructions for Twilight. How to set up the scene, what’s there, that stuff.”

There’s a bit of awkward silence. “So what are you?”

She thinks for a long time before answering. “Nopony important, I guess.” With that, she continues on, like nothing happened.

We keep walking in silence. I try to ask her more questions about what she is, but she brushes them off without answering. Giving up, I try to change the subject. “So, I didn’t know you wrote these things in your freetime.”

“Yeah, mostly because I never told you. I mean, I would have eventually, it’s just… I don’t know. Stuff happened.”

My eyes drop to the dirt beneath us. “Yeah, I guess.”

A bit more silence passes between us. “So… how is everything? You know, with mom and dad and all that,” she asks.

I blink. “Oh, they’re fine. They’re actually coming to visit me soon.”

“Right, Hearth’s Warming is coming up and all.” She looks like she’s about to ask me something else, but she hesitates. “That’s good to hear, I guess.”

I can’t help but notice how… natural she looks. Even while she’s talking she doesn’t miss a beat, slashing through the vines and plants in front of her. It’s like she’s her own rhythm. I can’t see her face from back here, but I can picture that fierce determined look in her eyes. The same one she carried around whenever she set her mind to something.

“Keep your head on a swivel,” she suddenly says aloud. “Not a clue what’s out there.” She pauses, as if realizing something. “What’s your name, by the way?”

I raise an eyebrow in confusion. “What do you mean? My name’s Rainbow Dash, duh.”

“No, stupid. I meant your adventuring name.”

A loose leaf whacks me in the face. I curse and swat it aside before answering. “My what?”

Daring sighs in annoyance. “You know. Here my name is Daring Do, not Daring Dash.”

I think about that for a second. “So what’s my nerdy name?”

“I’m sorry I asked,” she mutters.

I can’t help but laugh. “Sorry, Sis, but I think I’ll stick with my real name. Can’t think of an awesomer name than Rainbow Dash after all.”

“And does the awesome mare Rainbow Dash want a weapon?”

That makes me raise an eyebrow. “Why? Are you expecting trouble?”

Daring ducks underneath a low hanging tree branch. “Maybe,” she says vaguely.

“Please, I can beat anything here with my bare hooves,” I say with a toss of my head.

Daring just rolls her eyes again. Dad always said that eye-rolling was a habit we both picked up from mom. “Well, just in case your awesomeness isn’t enough, you better take this.” She pulls a small knife and a sling from her pack and passes it to me.

I realize then that we’ve reached a clearing. There’s a pretty big stone temple lying in a field in front of us. A ring of trees surround it, stretching far into the sky. Sunlight breaks through the clouds in rays, throwing some light over the temple and bathing it in a yellow light. All in all it looks pretty peaceful.

“There it is,” Daring says. “The Temple of the Vines.”

I scoff. “Really, Temple of the Vines? Sounds kinda lame.”

Daring sighs in annoyance. “Well, it was just a placeholder name. I was going to name it something else, but… you know, I kind of died.”

That puts a damper on the conversation. Daring recovers pretty quickly though. “Um, yeah. Temple of Vines.”

“Right,” I say. I tie the sling around my chest and trot off towards it when Daring calls out after me.

“Rainbow, wait--”

Before I can turn around again to face her, something slams into my side, knocking me to the ground. I scramble to my hooves. Behind me, four weird-looking plant things shoot up out of the ground. Vines and tendrils are spiraling around, shooting out of their bodies as they take a form that vaguely resembles ponies. I can see bits of dead leaves and flowers interwoven into their coats, with grass and plants sticking out of their heads. Instead of eyes they’ve got holes in their faces, a white light shining out from inside.

“What in the world--” One of the vine things snarls. A vine shoots out of its side and I narrowly dodge it. “What the hay is that?”

“You are suddenly attacked by Divines,” Twilight’s voice says. “Divines are creatures said to live forever and have a physical form of plants and vines.” As she’s talking, the other Divines form a circle around me, hissing and spitting at me. “Said to be possessed by a divine spirit of the forest, Divines are fragile but dangerous beings--”

“How do I kill them?!” I dodge as another vine-arm lashes out at me.

“Oh! Divines are vulnerable to bladed weapons,” Twilight says.

I nod and grab the knife in my mouth, dropping to a lower position. I look around for my sister but don’t see her. “Alright, let’s do this.” I shoot up to the sky to get some distance.

I look behind me to see a bunch of vines shooting out after me, closing in quickly. I do some quick maneuvering and manage to lose most of them, but one stubborn vine keeps following. I whirl around and slash at it with the blade in my mouth. I cut the tip off of it, sending it falling to the ground.

I smirk. Stupid plants, think they can beat me! I turn my attention back to the other vines. One slashes at me, but it’s way too slow to be a real threat. I cut the tip off, and the Divine screams at me.

Before I can do anything else I feel something wrap against my back hoof. I curse, realizing one of the vines got past me. I reach to cut it off, but before I can another vine latches around my right forearm. The next thing I know there’s vines all over my body, pulling me down. I hit the ground with a grunt, still clenching the knife in my teeth.

Suddenly the tension snaps and one of the Divines hisses in pain as Daring cuts one of the vines off with her knife. I scramble up to my hooves and fly up to her side as the other Divines regroup.

“What happened to beating them with your hooves?” she teases.

I growl at her. “What took you so long?”

“Just stand back and let me handle this,” she says. With a maniacal grin she dives towards them. Another vine lashes out at her, but she banks to the right and dodges.

Her speed is crazy. Soon she’s right on top of them, slashing out the vines that attack her as she flies.

With a quick swipe she lops off the head of the first Divine. It staggers backwards, and Daring plungers her knife-sword-thing deep into its body. It stumbles before collapsing in a heap.

Seeing her fight is… weird. It just goes against the image I had of her. I just remember her as awkward and kind of nerdy. As the mare who would say “Thanks, you too,” after you said “Hello.” Now I’m watching her fight off a bunch of vine monster things.

The second Divine gives up trying to grab her and charges forwards instead. Daring dodges and lashes out at it, cutting it hard down the side.

The third and fourth push together. Just as I figure I better go help her, Daring shoots up into the air and comes down hard on the Divine on her right. At the same time she plunges her knives into the head of the left one and slicing downwards.

Then she sticks both blades into the body of the one under her. The Divine staggers about before collapsing onto the ground. With a satisfied nod, Daring gets off the body and adjusts her helmet. From each pile of vines a small blue orb rises. The orbs turn and flee into the forest.

Daring takes a few calming breaths and retracts her blades. She adjusts her helmet and turns to me with a smirk. “See? Easy.”

I open my mouth and close it again. My brain just can’t… I… what?

Daring just winks at me. “What, jealous of my fighting prowess?”

“That… Ugh, Twilight!”

There’s a light pop, and my friend appears next to me. “What, Rainbow?”

I huff in annoyance and cross my forelegs. “You’re getting her all wrong.”

Twilight rolls her eyes. “What are you talking about?”

I point a hoof accusingly at Dar--the pony that’s not my sister. “That isn’t her at all!”

“Well of course I’m not, stupid! I’m Daring Do!” She slams a hoof to her face, shaking her head.

That catches me off guard. I kind of figured that the pony would just freeze now that Twilight isn’t controlling her. Not-Daring folds her arms and sticks her tounge out at me.

Weirdly enough, Twilight doesn’t seem to notice. “Rainbow, I know that this might not be how you remember your sister. I certainly don’t remember her doing anything this… violent, but I’m going off of what the book says.” Twilight shudders a little bit. “And even if the Divines aren’t ponies, that scene was a little bit… too much.”

Not-Daring rolls her eyes. “Pansies,” she mutters. “Just can’t handle my awesomeness.”

I groan and put a hoof to my face. “Fine, fine. Let’s just keep going.”

Twilight disappears again, and I approach Daring. “Okay, congrats. You beat up a bunch of plants. Can we get on with it?”

My sister rolls her eyes. “Fine, killjoy.” She leads the way towards the temple. It looks pretty small, built in the shape of a pyramid. It reminds of the pictures they used to show as schools, of the ancient pony tribes that used to live in Equestria. The stones look old and cracked, worn with age. There’s two large stone statues of armored ponies on the side of the entrance.

“Remember, Sis, head on a swivel,” Daring says. “In places like this, you just don’t know--”

“Yeah, yeah, I got it,” I reply. I trot forwards, past the two statues.

“Rainbow, look--”

I barely hear her warning when something heavy connects with the back of my head.