• Published 14th Aug 2020
  • 1,224 Views, 147 Comments

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 First Task

The town hall filled with court officials, printed leaflets, and hungry treasure hunters desperate for an early crack at the new dig site. Several guard ponies stood sentry outside the archaeology chamber, ready to push back in case an eager hunter decided to jump the gun.

“What did I tell you about other hunters?” Sky mumbled, his eyes scanning for the bounty board. “We’ll be lucky to get out of here without being trampled to death, let alone with any bounty information.”

A small voice to his left gave a squeak of agreement. Looking down, he saw Flitter being crushed against a wall by a particularly imposing stallion who was built more like a tank than a pony. “Hey, Arnold Schwarzeneighger, give her some space will you?”

The stallion leered down at Sky with a menacing growl before pushing through a crowd of other hunters like they were overgrown branches on a bike path. Glaring after him, Skyfall reached down to help Flitter back to her hooves. “Are you okay? That guy didn’t exactly look like he was on a diet.”

Flitter giggled at his snipe and replied, “Yes, thanks for the rescue. I think that might have actually been Arnold Schwarzeneighger.”

Sky let out a bark and grinned, “At least you’re prepared for what might happen out there in the ruins. I guarantee that some of the hunters here will do a lot worse than just push you against a wall. Look out for yourself, okay?”

Flitter nodded, but a voice cut her off before she could reply. “Yeah, dote on Flitter why don’t you… It’s not like there’s anyone else in the group that’s having a bad time.”

Smirking, Sky turned and snarked, "Since you’re built bigger than most stallions, I thought you’d have no problem in a place like this.”

Cloudchaser returned the witty challenge with a grin of her own. “Yeah I am, and proud of it. Of course, you wouldn’t know the benefits of having muscle Mr. Tiny Twig.” She flexed the well toned bulges of her haunches, giving Skyfall a very clear view of her most prized assets.

Cheeks burning, he opened his muzzle to give her a stinging comeback when a new voice broke over the crowded room.

“ATTENTION EVERYPONY!”

Everyone quieted down and gazed at the official-looking pony now reading off a scroll. “As I’m sure you’re all aware, the new mines are opening today and with them comes a new plethora of undiscovered artifacts and relics. However, due to changing circumstances, there will be new rules put in place for this expedition.”

A murmur rippled throughout the gathered crowd. One young adventurer raised his hoof and asked, “What happened? Why are we getting a new set of rules instead of the ones we always followed?”

The council representative shifted his eyes to stare at the fresh cadet and sneered, “If you had let me finish, I would have told you that there has been an increase in hill bandits and robberies in this area, so an increase in security is needed to ensure every creature's safety.”

Turning away from the embarrassed colt, he moved to explain the new regulations. "The first new rule is that no one will be allowed to explore the mines unless they are traveling in a group of at least three creatures.”

Shouts of indignation erupted from the crowd as many started shaking their hooves and claws in the representative’s direction. The council member had to raise his voice to a yell in order to make himself heard. “This is because the council believes any group smaller than this will not be able to effectively defend themselves in the event of a confrontation!”

Several more hunters protested this requirement, but the representative ignored them and continued with the announcement.

“In addition, in order to receive information about bounties or collection processes, you must have a valid treasure hunting license and register it with the archaeology department to ensure that we know who is out there searching for artifacts!”

This new rule caused several of the out-of-town hunters to yell curses and insults, which eventually escalated to a full-blown riot with the council representative running off stage to avoid the water bottles and half-eaten apples being thrown at him. Together, the three pegasi edged out of the mosh pit towards the registration office.

“Those griffons and yaks are really going at him!” Sky said, watching one yak pick up a table and hurl it towards the back wall.

"It’s not really surprising,” Flitter responded, backing away from them nonetheless. “Most of them are from up north and don’t have valid pony IDs.”

The guards ran forward to calm down the raging yak as he picked up another table and prepared to smash a new hole in the roof. As the sentries left their post, a lightbulb went off in Cloud's head. Leaning towards the other two, she pointed to the empty office and whispered, “Look! All the guards left the front desk. If we’re quiet, we should be able to sneak in there and get first dibs on the ruins!”

Flitter gave her a look of admonishment. “Cloud, you know we can’t just barge into somepony’s office and demand they give us-”

“That’s brilliant, Cloud! Let’s go now before somepony else gets the same idea.”

The two sisters stared at Sky in astonishment as he moved towards the registration desk. Realizing they weren’t following, he turned around and called, “What’s with the holdup? We should strike while the iron is hot.”

“It’s just that you agreed with me instead of siding with Flitter. Usually you always take her side and snark at me with a joke,” Cloudchaser explained, still a little stunned by his compliment.

Skyfall’s eyebrows scrunched in concern. “Wait, what? Why would you think that? I never meant to show any favorites.”

Cloud gave a disbelieving snort. “Sure, and the Dragonlands are a good place to grow food. I mean, just today you rushed over to help Flitter from that walking brick house, and you’re still calling me ‘Cloud’ even though I’ve told you several times that only my friends are allowed to call me that!”

Sky blinked several times before adopting a hurt expression. “Do you not consider me a friend?”

Flitter glanced nervously at the two of them, but turned towards the registration office as a movement caught her eye.

Cloudchaser opened her muzzle, but no words would come out as she didn’t seem to know how to answer the sudden awkward question; however, her silence was enough to send the message.

Sky looked away with his head bowed. “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way. I really thought we might’ve been getting along these past couple days.”

Turning away from her, he muttered, “And for the record, I went to help Flitter first because she’s smaller, and I knew you’d be able to handle yourself well in this environment. As for the nickname, I called you that because I wanted to be your friend before we would be working together as partners. But, if it really annoys you that much, I can refrain from using it. Would that work for you, Cloudchaser?”

The atmosphere grew thick with tension as Cloudchaser gaped, unable to form a proper response. “Well… I mean… I didn’t…”

Just as she was about to melt from awkwardness, Flitter’s voice broke through the brittle mood. “Hey, take a look at the registration office!”

Glad to have an out, Cloudchaser sprinted over to her sister. Flitter pointed towards three stallions who were moving stealthily into the office before closing the door behind them. “Horse feathers! Looks like they beat us to the registration. Are you two happy with yourselves? You just cost us an early lead!”

Skyfall and Cloudchaser looked down at their hooves as Flitter berated them. Sighing, she decided to put an end to the foalish squabbling once and for all. “Alright, you two heard what that announcer said about the group requirement, right?” They nodded, knowing what was coming next. “Well, it looks like we’re going to have to form a party after all, and I don’t want any of this drama while we’re digging through a tunnel. You two are going to make up with each other right now and work together.”

She gave them one of her rare dangerous looks. “Unless, of course, you’d like me to fix the problem for you two…”

Sensing the hidden meaning behind those words, Sky and Cloud turned to each other and started their apologies.

“Listen, Cloudchaser,” Skyfall started, “I never meant to give you the impression that I liked you less than Flitter. I was always more crass and blunt with you because I assumed you were the type of girl that would appreciate a more coarse treatment than the overly polite farce most guys put on in front of girls. But, that still doesn’t excuse the fact that I egged you on by disrespecting your preferred name. So, for what it’s worth, I am sorry. I hope we can still be friends after this.”

Cloudchaser's ears flattened as her shame and embarrassment swelled after hearing his apology. Sucking up her stubborn pride, she pawed the ground nervously and started her own path to reconciliation.

“Skyfall, I’ll admit that I didn’t like you at first. From tackling me to the ground with a shield to lying about that golden cup-thingy, we didn’t really start off on a good hoof.”

She paused to carefully form her next words. “But, ever since then, I’ve started to see that you’re not such a bad guy. You’re a good hunter and fighter, a decent neighbor, a generous patron, and one of the only ponies cool enough to eat meat. Not to mention that we both love making fun of Flitter’s dirty mouth."

They both snickered while Flitter rolled her eyes and made a mental reminder to add another filter before she spoke. “So, I guess it would be fine if you called me ‘Cloud’, but only if I can call you ‘Sky’.”

Sky smiled and took advantage of her phrasing. “Sure, Cloud, but just remember there’s a cover charge for taking up some of my air space.”

They all erupted into uncontrollable laughter at the terrible pun. Flitter smiled at the newly formed friendships they were making together and had one more idea to strengthen their bond.

“Well, I’m glad we can all get along now. Let’s celebrate our new party with a group hug!”

“...”

“...what…”

Sky and Cloud stared at her like she had turned into a dragon. When it became clear that she wasn’t joking, Cloud groaned, "Ugh, can we not do that sappy stuff? It always makes me gag when you sigh at those cringey romance movies.”

“Nuh uh, you’re not getting out that easily. We need to build a sense of camaraderie between us if we want to work well together, and this is the best way for us to become more intimat-”

Flitter cut herself off, her self-imposed filter warning of the mistake, but it was too late. Sky and Cloud clutched each other as they tried not to fall down through their newest bouts of laughter.

Seeing her opportunity, Flitter squeezed the two of them in a group hug full of joy, laughter, and embarrassment. A warmth spread between them as they all agreed to place their full trust and commitment into the party.

Pulling away, Flitter chuckled, a little color rising in her face. “So, now that we’ve officially formed our hunting party, what do you guys say we go make some money?”

Cloudchaser jumped up at the prospect. “Oh, hay yeah! Let’s get in there and snag some bounties before those other three steal all the good ones.”

The two sisters moved towards the office, chatting about what jobs they would want to take. Sky, however, was rooted to the spot as a scarlet hue rose to his cheeks. Feeling the sides of his barrel, he frantically stored the feeling of the group hug into his memory. Staring into empty space, he smiled dumbly and mumbled, “Soft…"

Author's Note:

A/N: Oh God, I think I may be overplaying the innuendos, but I don’t care. The innocent yet undeniably sexy trope is one of my kryptonites, and I have way too many dirty jokes stored to let them all go to waste.

Anyway, please comment if you find anything wrong or have any suggestions for the story. Thanks for reading!

PS: Props to you if you can find the Harry Potter references scattered throughout the story. :)