• Published 14th Aug 2020
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A Different Kind of Treasure - Mechawrecker



What's the most valuable treasure in the world: Family? Money? Revenge? Love? Depends on who you ask...

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The Serpent’s Pass: Part 2

“Oh man, this really takes me back!”

Cloudchaser grimaced as her hooves slapped against the slippery floor. The sound of dripping water echoed around the underground sewer as she reminisced.

Sky scrunched his nose and tried not to vomit from the smell. “What do you mean by that? Have you been in a dragon sewer before?”

“Not a dragon sewer, but we’ve had to go into drains during other hunting jobs.” She flashed a smirk at her queasy sister. “Do you remember, Flitter?”

A scowl formed on her sister’s face as she retched at the memories. “Yes, I do. I also remember asking you to never mention it again, especially not in front of other ponies.”

Sky gave another dry heave before covering his muzzle. “I don’t want to be here any more than you do, but it was the only way I could think of to get into the fortress without being seen.”

The two mares groaned as they slogged further into the dank, odorous cave. Thankfully, the tunnel soon ended with a ladder leading up to an access hatch in the roof. The three ponies let out sighs of relief, only to gag after realizing their horrible mistake.

“Sweet Celestia! Let’s get the hell out of here before one of us dies of pink eye or something,” Cloud coughed, flapping her moist wings towards the roof.

Sky gave a half-amused, half-disgusted snort and choked, “Really? Of all the possible diseases, you go with that? At this point, I’m pretty sure pink eye is the least of our worries.”

Cloud grabbed the door handle and grunted as the heavy metal plates slowly yielded to reveal a small, dimly-lit maintenance cubby. The moment it opened wide enough, they all burst through the hatch and slammed it shut, taking deep, gasping breaths to replenish their oxygen-deprived bodies.

Before they could formulate a plan, the sound of a different door opening made them all jump. Stumbling to their hooves, they scrambled behind a nearby workbench as a voice rang out, “Hello? Is someone there?”

They all held their breath as the sound of shuffling claws grew louder. Sky and Cloud drew their weapons while Flitter nocked an arrow in preparation for a potential fight. Drawing closer, the mysterious voice called out again, “Hello? Therm, is that you?”

Flitter pushed the other two aside as she drew back her bow, taking aim at the door where the approaching dragon would soon enter.

Sky’s eyes widened at her aggressive tactic, panicking at the thought of her killing this random guard. Reaching out, he frantically diverted her aim away from the unwary target and hissed, “Flitter, what are you doing!? We can’t risk shooting someone here, or they’ll raise the alarm. We have to get out without being seen.”

His eyebrows furrowed as she reluctantly lowered her bow with a huff. Gazing at the unusually surly mare, he reached out a hoof and murmured, “Are you okay, Flitter? You’ve been kind of… strange ever since we left camp.”

Her eyes flashed as a sneer planted itself on her otherwise beautiful face. Knocking his hoof aside, she growled, “I’m fine. You should focus on dealing with that guard since shooting him is apparently off the table.”

The other two stared at her, completely dumbfounded by her sudden outburst. Glancing at Cloud in bewilderment, he turned his attention to the rapidly approaching sentry mere hoofsteps away from their current position.

Sky’s eyes flashed gold as something in his mind began to feed him instructions. Standing up, he cleared his throat and called out, “Yeah, it’s Therm. I was just doing some maintenance on the sewer hatch since someone in engineering said it got stuck again.”

They all prayed to Celestia as a shadow appeared under the door. The three ponies watched with bated breath as the door handle stopped opening before returning to its closed state.

Finally, the guard replied, this time sounding a little more dazed than before. “Oh, right… I think I heard something about that. I guess I’ll let you finish up.”

The sound of scraping claws retreated down the corridor as the entranced dragon departed, muttering confusedly to himself. When the guard’s mumbling abated, Sky rushed to press his ear against the door frame and whispered, “Be quiet! I can hear more of them!”

They all fell silent as two more pairs of claws scraped against the stone floor. As they passed, Sky heard one of the dragons ask, “Hey, have you heard about the deserters that were brought in? Apparently, one of them was Commander Spark! Can you believe that?”

His partner scoffed and shot back, “Yeah, I can. We all knew he wasn’t here by choice, so it was only a matter of time before he made a break for it. What do you think is going to happen to him?”

“He and the rest of his crew are going to be executed, no doubt about it. I did hear that Spark is going to get a special punishment since he’s an officer. That’s why they have him locked up in the maximum security cells instead of with the rest of the deserters.”

“Nice! Maybe with him gone, the rest of us will finally have a chance to get promoted once in a while. It never hurts to dream, right?” The two dragons let out a chorus of laughter as their clawsteps faded down the hall.

Sky’s face contorted into a scowl as he resisted the urge to beat the scales off the insensitive guards. Turning around, he pulled out a schematic of the garrison and said, “Ok, based on the layout Spark gave us, the dungeons should be right under the kitchens on the east wing. If we subdue the cooks, we can avoid most of the patrols.”

“What about Spark?” Cloud asked, pointing towards the west wing of the fortress. “The maximum security cells are on the opposite side of the building. I don’t think we’ll be able to free him if we go to the dungeons first.”

“We’ll split up. You and Flitter can use the kitchen route and free the other dragons. I’ll use my persuasion powers to get into the maximum security cells and rescue Spark. Then, we’ll meet back here and escape through the sewer before anyone notices they’re gone.”

The other two nodded as they pushed open the door. Casting one last worried glance, Sky rested a tentative wing on their barrels and murmured, “Be careful out there, okay?”

Cloud flashed him a confident smirk and quipped, “Who do you think you’re talking to? We’re always careful, right Flitter?”

Flitter didn’t reply.


Cloud stared after Sky’s retreating form until it disappeared behind a corner. Dropping her smile, she rounded on her surly sister with an annoyed huff. “Okay, what’s going on, sis? Why are you being so moody again? I thought we were over the whole campfire thing.”

Flitter shot her another disgruntled glare before stalking down the east corridor. “It’s nothing. Come on, we need to get to the kitchen before they finish eating dinner, or we’ll miss our window of opportunity.”

Rolling her eyes, Cloud fell into step and started scanning the hallway. Raising her eyebrows at the surprising lack of dragons, she asked, “Hey, where is everyone? I thought we’d be running into guards left and right.”

“If you had paid attention during our planning sessions, you would have known that the east wing soldiers eat their dinner in the cafeteria at this time, which is why we planned our attack for now,” Flitter sniped, flicking her tail in annoyance.

Cloud scrunched her muzzle and retorted, “Oh, I’m sorry for forgetting such a tiny detail. I’ve been so tired from gathering all the food and water you’ve been shoveling into your ungrateful mouth.”

Flitter’s eyes flashed with anger as she clenched her bow with a hoof. The two sisters glared at each other for several seconds, neither backing down from the sibling stand-off out of rage and pride. Their staring competition became so intense that neither stopped to notice the rapidly approaching kitchen door.

“Augh!”

“Son of a--”

Flitter clutched at the goose egg forming on her forehead as Cloud tried to dull the ringing in her ears. Cheeks burning with humiliation, they averted their gaze and silently agreed to never mention it again before kicking in the offending door.

The kitchen was devoid of life except for a small dragoness wearing a flowery cooking apron. The terrified chef let out a squeak of fright and fell to the ground as Flitter nocked an arrow and pulled back her bow.

Before she could fire, Cloud rushed forward and tackled the dragoness to the ground, smacking her on the head with the flat of her sword for good measure. The unwary cook collapsed to the ground, still clutching the soup ladle in her slackened claws.

Dragging the unconscious body into the pantry, Cloud’s muzzle shifted into a reprimanding stare. “Sis, what is going on with you!? Were you actually going to kill an innocent chef that wasn’t even fighting back?”

Flitter relaxed her bow and returned the notched arrow to rest. “Just because she’s a cook doesn’t mean she isn’t dangerous. For all we know, she could have combat training or hidden weapons around here.”

Cloud gave a sarcastic sweep of the shining gemstones and fresh produce littering the counter. “Sure… I wouldn’t want to get beaten up with an eggplant. I can definitely see where she would hide a weapon in here…”

Flitter didn’t return the provocation, instead turning towards the stairway near the back. “Hilarious. If you’re done wasting time, let’s do our job and free those dragons before the soldiers start wondering why their soup is taking so long.”

As they descended into the dungeons, the sound of chatting voices echoed up the flight of steps. Crouching down, the two mares crept towards the end of the passageway where two guards were currently engrossed in a game of cards. Behind them, four bruised and beaten dragons lay helpless in a reinforced steel cage.

Drawing her sword, Cloud whispered, “Ok, here’s an idea. I’ll rush in and take down the bigger one first. You shoot the other one in the leg while I break out the captives, okay?”

Ignoring the plan, Flitter fired an arrow straight at the larger dragon’s torso, ripping through the thin chainmail like butter. As the unfortunate soldier cried out in pain, she shot another bolt at the startled bystander, reducing his abdomen to Swiss cheese.

With the two sentries incapacitated, she stalked into the room before glaring at her sister with a nod towards the locked cage. “Well? Aren’t you going to do your job?”

Cloud stared dumbfounded at the mare in front of her. Flitter’s once kind, compassionate gaze was nowhere to be found, replaced with cold indifference towards the dying dragons clutching at the arrows jutting out of their stomachs.

Rushing forward, she pressed on the guards’ puncture wounds to stem the relentless flow of crimson blood. “What the buck, Flitter!? Why did you shoot them in the torso? I told you to aim for a leg!”

Flitter’s harsh glare hardened as she growled, “They’ll live. I didn’t hit any vital organs, so they shouldn’t bleed out as long as they don’t move too much. Come on, break the lock so we can get out of here.”

A spluttering cough echoed throughout the dungeon as the smaller dragon desperately grasped Cloud’s hoof. Peering up at her with terrified eyes, he begged, “p-please… don’t leave us. I’m d-dying…”

Cloud stared at the young drake, no older than nineteen from the specks of acne on his spotted scales. Gritting her teeth, she unclasped her travel pack and started wrapping the bleeding area with medical gauze.

Flitter narrowed her dull eyes and hissed, “What are you doing!? We need to get out of here before more guards come to replace them!”

“No, I’m not leaving them like this. If we go now, they’ll die,” Cloud growled, tightening the bandages around the victim’s wounds.

“You didn’t seem to mind when those Diamond Demolishers attacked us,” Flitter retorted, grabbing Cloud’s sword and breaking open the cell’s padlock. “Back then, you were all for leaving them behind.”

“That was different. They were ruthless bandits who jumped us in an enclosed cave. This time, we were the ones that ambushed these dragons. There was no need for you to attack them with so much force.”

As Cloud applied more binding to the injured guards, the captives emerged from the cell, cracking their necks and stretching out their aching wings. Flitter handed them the downed sentries’ gear and asked, “We’re planning to escape through the sewers in the west wing. Can you get there without being seen?”

A large purple dragon hefted the offered spear and assured, “We know this place like the back of our claws. Don’t worry about us.”

As they departed, Cloud finished her treatment and gazed around the empty dungeon. Blinking at the sudden lack of dragons and ponies, she rushed to repack her supplies and whined, “Damn it, Flitter, we’re supposed to stick together. Where in Tartarus are y--”

Something whistled past her ear as the sound of an arrow hitting stone echoed around the chamber. Tensing in shock, she stared open-mouthed as the bolt that almost split her head open clattered to the ground.

Shaking with unmitigated fear and terror, Cloud raised her hooves and slowly turned to peer at the hostile archer behind her. As the assailant crawled into view, her brain registered the drawn bow and notched arrow pointing between her eyes, but that wasn’t what truly caught her attention.

A light-purple hoof gripped the bow’s handle as another pulled back the string. Behind them, a pair of narrowed pink eyes glared down the bow’s sight, directly towards Cloud’s helpless form.

“Don’t move, sis.”

Author's Note:

A/N: I've been told that the fight scenes are a little too tame, so I've added some more graphic content to the mix. Leave a comment if you like the new fights or if you'd prefer the more mild scenes back.

Thanks for reading!