Vinyl and Octavia Machete Their Way Through The Jungle

by DoctorSpectrum

First published

“If we don’t survive this, Vinyl… I’m going to kill you.”

Vinyl Scratch and Octavia are on holiday when they are separated from their tour group, and get lost in the jungle. Hope you survive the experience, ladies!

Special thanks to the awesome artist Whatsapokemon for the cover art, and to syvvak for proofreading!

The Vinyl and Octavia Series
1. Vinyl and Octavia Machete Their Way Through the Jungle
2. Vinyl and Octavia Move House
3. Vinyl and Octavia Get Incredibly Drunk
4. Vinyl and Octavia are Forcibly Shipped
5. Vinyl and Octavia Fight Ten Thousand Ninjas
6. Vinyl and Octavia Have Multiple Dates
7. Vinyl and Octavia Engage in Roleplay
8. Vinyl and Octavia in 'Dial D for Detectives'
9. Vinyl and Octavia Duel Destiny
10. Vinyl and Octavia Bust Out of Prison
11. Vinyl and Octavia Join COBRA
12. Vinyl and Octavia Break the Timestream
13. Vinyl and Octavia Rob a Casino
14. Vinyl and Octavia's Freaky Day
15. Vinyl and Octavia Jump the Shark

Chapter One: I Blame Vinyl Scratch

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The humidity beat down heavily on Octavia the Earth Pony, causing her to wipe sweat from her brow for what felt like the millionth time in the past few minutes. She looked around at the ancient trees to either side of her, covered in moss and housing thousands of insects. Past them, in the depths of the jungle, hundreds of different animal calls drowned each other out and mixed together to produce a warning understandable to anypony: stay out if you want to live.

How long had Octavia been in the Amarezon Jungle now…? Was it days? Weeks? Months? If only she could stop for a few minutes and rest… But whenever she did –

“Miss… Octavia, was it?” the tour guide called out from the front of the small line of ponies she was leading. She was a zebra named Xeno, who claimed to know the jungle like the back of her hoof. Despite this claim, she was leading the tour group of ponies on a pony-made path. “Our itinerary has us scheduled to arrive at the bungalows at 6 PM sharp. I do not wish to tire you out too much before tomorrow’s walk, but we do have a schedule to adhere to.”

Octavia took a quick mouthful of water from the canteen she had hanging around her neck before answering. “Sorry – I’m not used to this heat,” she said apologetically. “I’ll try to walk a bit faster.” Xeno nodded, and continued leading the group through the jungle.

Octavia was a grey Earth Pony with a dark mane, who normally lived in Canterlot. Her cutie mark was a purple treble clef. Like most of the tour group, she was wearing a saddlebag with some basic supplies contained in case of emergency, although unlike the rest of the group, she was also wearing a small pink bowtie. Although she had come on this tour of the Amarezon Jungle of her own free will, this wasn’t the first time that she was wondering whether it was worth it.

Trotting slightly to catch up with the rest of the small group, Octavia found herself walking next to a blue pegasus with a dazzling, multi-coloured mane. “Hello!” she said friendlily, trying to make conversation. “Enjoying the tour so far?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool so far,” the pegasus answered, “although I was hoping that the ‘Wonders of Daring Do’ tour would have a bit less jungle and a few more tombs. Not to mention the price. I mean, tickets to see the Wonderbolts don’t cost as many bits as this tour does!”

“Well, that is fairly understandable,” Octavia answered. “This tour does include free food and accommodation for the few days it goes across – I doubt whether a Wonderbolts performance would include that.”

The pegasus glared at Octavia. “Are you saying that the Wonderbolts are cheap?” she asked slowly. Octavia opened her mouth to explain that no, she hadn’t been, she was just making a logical argument, when she was interrupted by a newcomer.

“What does it matter whether she thinks that or not? If this filly wants to think that the Wonderbolts are cheap, she’s allowed to.” The owner of the voice was a white unicorn with a shaggy, electric blue mane. Her cutie mark was a mirror image of two bridged eighth notes. Despite the relative gloom of the jungle, she was wearing large purple glasses.

Octavia grimaced, not enjoying being called a filly by this pony who looked no older or younger than she did. Still, the rainbow-maned pony muttered something under her breath before flying up over several ponies and to the start of the tour group, so the situation had at least been defused. Octavia hesitated, not sure whether she should thank the unicorn for preventing a misunderstanding, or be annoyed at the unicorn for chasing off a potential friend. In the end, she decided to stay neutral.

“Hello there,” she greeted the unicorn. “Who might you be?”

“‘Sup,” the unicorn said casually. “Name’s Vinyl Scratch, but I guess you’d probably know me better as DJ PON-3. Am I right?” She was wearing a small grin on her face constantly, in contrast to Octavia’s exhausted expression.

“Excuse me… should I know you?” Octavia asked Vinyl, confused.

“Sure you should! Unless you’ve never heard of the greatest DJ in all of Canterlot?” Octavia shook her head.

“No, I can’t say I have,” she answered sincerely. “My apologies, but when it comes to matters of music, I much prefer the classical genre – in fact, I play cello myself. My name is Octavia, by the way.”

“That’s cool,” Vinyl said, nodding her head to Octavia’s statement – or perhaps she was just beating her head in time with a rhythm which only she could hear. After realising that Octavia wasn’t going to follow up on her simple statement, Vinyl added “So what brings you to the dark and mysterious Amarezon, anyway?”

“As it so happens, I won a ticket to this tour in a competition,” Octavia replied. “It was just one of those small raffles you find at the market, and I entered without expecting to win –how wrong I turned out to be!” Octavia gave a short, cheerful laugh before asking Vinyl “And yourself?”

“Came here to check out the beats of the locals,” Vinyl answered simply. Octavia waited for elaboration, before realising that none was coming.

“…That’s really it?” she asked. Although she was trying to be friendly to this unicorn, Vinyl’s short and vague replies were frustrating her to say the least.

“Well, yeah,” Vinyl said seriously. “Have you heard the stuff some of the ponies out here make? I’ll bet it’s because they live so far from civilisation… I intend to learn those techniques, and work them into my music!” Octavia rolled her eyes. It was a fairly weak reason as far as she was concerned, but then who was she to criticise? She was exploring this jungle because none of her friends or family had wanted the ticket she had won.

A few minutes later, the group found their path ending at a wide river, which looked too deep to simply trot across. “Alright everypony – it’s time for a quick fifteen minute break, before we start the river portion of the tour!” Xeno announced. Although Octavia had felt embarrassed earlier when she was called out for slowing the group down, most ponies collapsed onto the ground in relief, showing that she wasn’t the only one who had had enough of the humidity and distance for now.

Lying down on a patch of grass underneath a tree, Octavia took a small lunchbox out of her saddlebag and ate a carrot from it. At an interval like this, she wished that she could have played her cello to pass the time, but it had been too bulky and impractical to bring along with her on the tour. Although she wasn’t consciously trying to, Octavia found herself overhearing a conversation between one of the tourists and Vinyl Scratch. It was one of the disadvantages to eating on your own – you inadvertently end up paying attention to the people around you.

“I ate all of my food,” the dark blue stallion said to the unicorn.

“Me too,” Vinyl answered. “I guess we’ll have to just eat some of the grass.” She and her friend headed over to a tree near Octavia’s and were going to start grazing when they were interrupted.

“No. Don’t do that.” Vinyl turned around to see Octavia standing up and slowly walking over to her. “You can’t eat the grass in the Amarezon Jungle,” Octavia explained.

“Really? Why not, Tavi?” Vinyl asked obliviously.

“Did you not read a single guidebook before you embarked on this journey?” Octavia asked. A moment later, she frowned, and added “And my name is Octavia, not ‘Tavi’.”

“Yeah, sure thing, sure thing,” Vinyl said dismissively. “Anyway, why can’t we eat the grass here?”

“Because it is poisonous,” Xeno said, walking over to the three ponies. “Much like the Everfree Forest, many of the plants in the Amarezon are not natural – the grass included. Although it is not enough to kill you, the grass contains trace amounts of poison, which would make you as weak as a foal for days. Fortunately, the poison is only effective once it enters your body – you can walk around on it perfectly alright.”

“Huh. I didn’t know that,” Vinyl said casually. “Thanks, Xeno. And thanks to you as well, Tavi – good to see that somepony knows their survival skills!” Octavia gave her a small nod, resisting the urge to correct Vinyl once more on her full name.

Octavia got out the sole book she had brought with her (The Interpretations of Classical Music in Today’s Society, 9th Edition), and continued reading it from where she had last finished to kill some time. Although Octavia tried to ignore Vinyl as she read, she couldn’t help but overhearing her once more. From what Octavia could hear, Vinyl was going around to everypony in the tour group and asking them what they were bringing with them. After what must have been the seventh or eighth time, Octavia finally called out, “Vinyl, what are you doing?”

“Just wondering what everyone’s got in their saddlebags at the moment,” Vinyl answered as she trotted over to Octavia. “Isn’t it cool how everypony will bring different things to each other, even if they’re expecting the same thing to happen?”

“I suppose,” Octavia answered, not moving her eyes from her page. Although she found Vinyl friendly, she was annoyed by Vinyl’s naivety and obliviousness to some of the things around her.

“Say Tavi –”


“ – what did you bring, anyway?”

Octavia sighed, and opened her saddlebag. “Since you’re asking everypony else, I may as well satisfy your curiosity,” she said. “Let’s see…” she began as she spread the contents of her saddlebag out in front of her neatly, “… I have two canteens of water, my lunchbox, a hat to protect myself from the sun, mosquito repellent, a roll of bandages, and some bits. Oh, and this book, of course.” Octavia put everything back into her saddlebag in one sweep of her hoof. “Happy, Vinyl?”

“Cool!” said Vinyl Scratch. “I’ll show you what I have!” She opened her saddlebag telekinetically and levitated each object up as she showed it to Octavia, who remained thoroughly bored by the display. “Here’s my net… my Swiss Army Knife… my canteen… a map of the area… a rope… and last but not least… my machete!”

“You brought a machete?” Octavia asked, surprised. Vinyl’s grin grew slightly larger.

“Yeah. When I heard about this tour, I knew I had to bring a machete. It’s traditional on jungle adventures!” Octavia merely rolled her eyes once more and returned to her book.

“If you say so, Vinyl.” Respecting Octavia’s seclusion, Vinyl headed off to ask another one of the tourists what they had with them.

A few minutes later, Xeno attracted everypony’s attention. “Alright, everypony- break time is over. Who’s ready for some canoeing?” Most of the tourists nodded, with the notable exception of the rainbow-maned pegasus from before, who muttered something under her breath about flying being faster.

“Now, including myself, we have – ” Xeno did a quick count with her hoof “- thirteen ponies here. If everypony will split into pairs, then there should be enough canoes for everypony, and one pony can travel in a single canoe.” Octavia put her book back in her saddlebag, and headed straight for the canoes which Xeno was pulling from the river, where they had been tied to a stake. She still didn’t know many ponies here, and if she was lucky, she’d be the person travelling in a canoe by themselves.

“Would you like anything, Octavia?” Xeno asked her as she pulled the final canoe from the river.

“Yes – I was hoping to be the person who could travel in a canoe by themselves. You see, I don’t really know anypony that well, and I –”

Xeno let out a hearty laugh, interrupting Octavia. “Octavia – unfortunately for you, I must be the one to travel in the single canoe. That way, I can be sure to stay ahead of the group, and lead everypony the correct way!”

Octavia frowned slightly. This wasn’t turning out the way she’d hoped. “Well, you make a valid point, but see, if you travelled in a-”

“In a canoe with a partner? But then somepony in the single canoe may fall behind, and that would muck up my itinerary.” Xeno gave Octavia a long, hard stare as she said, “You realise how important the itinerary is, do you not, Octavia?”

Octavia sighed. Oh well, she thought, the pony in the canoe with me may turn out to be somepony interesting. This might not be so bad. She nodded to Xeno and then trotted back to the group of tourists, most of whom had already found their partners for the cruise.

“Yo Tavi! Looks like we’re gonna be boatin’ together!” Vinyl greeted her. Octavia quickly looked around to see whether there were any other free ponies. As friendly as Vinyl was, Octavia wasn’t sure whether she was ready to spend the next few hours in close proximity to Vinyl in an enclosed space.

“Are you sure there’s nopony else available?” Octavia asked. “That stallion over there looks –”

“Nope. I’ve checked, and everypony has a partner, except for you and me,” Vinyl said happily. “You ready for this adventure?”

Octavia rolled her eyes before replying. “Yes, well I suppose I had better be.”


Fifteen minutes later, everypony had put on life jackets and were starting their cruise down the river. At the front of their canoe, Octavia was giving directions to Vinyl, who was paddling the boat. It was a good thing that Vinyl was a unicorn, as she could telekinetically stroke the paddle through the water. The same couldn’t be said for the canoes without unicorns – the majority of them were either spinning slowly in circles, or not moving at all, due to the difficulty of using a paddle with hooves.

“Make sure you don’t capsize your canoe!” Xeno called out from the front of the line of boats. “The currents in this river would carry you away before you could say ‘don’t eat me, seaponies!’”

“Are there really seaponies in this river?” Vinyl asked curiously.

“Of course not. Everypony knows that seaponies are no more real than humans are,” Octavia answered her. For the next few minutes, Xeno paddled expertly around the canoes, giving advice to the ponies who couldn’t control their canoes. Once she was satisfied that everypony had at least mastered the basics of canoeing, she headed downstream, heartily calling for everypony to follow her.

Octavia stared at the jungle to either side of the river. Despite the dangerous beasts and deadly plants that could be found within, it really did have a unique beauty. “This place certainly is lovely,” Octavia murmured.

“You said it, Tavi,” Vinyl said, still paddling their canoe. “If I wasn’t such an awesome DJ, I’d probably be a jungle explorer.”

“Would you like me to take over the paddling for a little while?” Octavia asked politely. She had heard stories of unicorns overtaxing their magic and being unable to use it for several days afterwards.

“Nah, I’m good,” Vinyl said.

“Well you should at least take a break. There’s only one canoe between us and Xeno, and the current is carrying us along swiftly enough that we won’t fall behind.”

After considering this for a moment, Vinyl levitated the paddle out of the water, so that it was lying across the canoe horizontally. “Good point, Tavi.”

“It’s Octavia,” Octavia muttered under her breath. The two ponies stayed in silence for the next few minutes, content to simply take in the view of the exotic jungle. With Vinyl taking a break from paddling the canoe, the rest of the tourists overtook the pair within a few minutes, aided by the river’s current.

“Uh, Tavi? We’ve sorta fallen a bit behind,” Vinyl said once she realised that they were at the back of the group, the nearest canoe far off in the distance. She levitated the canoe paddle back into the water and resumed paddling their boat along.

As the pair continued down the river, they found themselves at a fork. “Turn left here, Vinyl,” Octavia said, spotting the rest of the group. Vinyl continued paddling in the same direction she had been, which led them more to the right branch. “Vinyl?” Octavia asked, turning around in her seat. “You heard me, right?”

“Right? Okay, if you say so,” Vinyl said, paddling slightly faster so that they were now heading directly down the right branch. Octavia looked at the disappearing left path, which the current was preventing them from returning to. She…did not… just do that, Octavia thought slowly, as her brain struggled to comprehend that they were now separated from the group.

Octavia fully turned around in her seat. “Vinyl! You’ve led us down the wrong side of the fork!” Now that the reality of the situation had hit her, she was beginning to panic.

“Oh, horseapples. Did I?” Vinyl asked, momentarily pausing her paddling. Although it was hard to tell with her glasses obscuring her eyes, she seemed to be fairly worried, although not to Octavia’s extent.

The current was building in speed, and Vinyl and Octavia’s canoe was soon speeding along uncontrollably. All the two ponies could do was hold on for dear life and pray that there was some way to get through this intact.

Oh sweet Celestia, Octavia thought as she spotted a sharp bend in the river up ahead. The canoe was travelling too fast to follow the water around the bend – a crash was inevitable. “Vinyl!” Octavia called out. “Look out – we’re-”


Octavia had closed her eyes in anticipation of the crash, and she cautiously opened them now. Her entire body was in pain – she had hit something hard. “Oh dear,” she said weakly as she took note of her surroundings. “I appear to be lodged in a tree.”

Chapter Two: Vinyl Gets a Sinking Feeling

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After a moment or two of fruitless struggling, Octavia realised that she was stuck in the tree for good. “Great,” said out loud. “Not only are we separated from the group, but I’m going to spend the rest of my life trapped up here. I can only hope that Vinyl isn’t also stuck in a tree…”

“I’d like to be a tree,” Vinyl said nonsensically from somewhere below her. Unfortunately, Octavia couldn’t turn around and see where she was. A moment later, Vinyl’s telekinetic field had surrounded Octavia, and gently brought her to the ground. Miraculously, Vinyl’s glasses hadn’t suffered any damage in the crash.

“Vinyl…? How are you still standing after that crash?” Octavia asked her, rubbing her head to try and relieve some pain.

“I used my telekinetic field to slow my speed down, and I just landed in the dirt here,” Vinyl said. “If I’d had another moment, I would have used it on you too.” For the first time since Octavia had met her that morning, Vinyl wasn’t wearing a grin on her face.

“And it didn’t occur to you to use said field to get our canoe around the corner, and prevent the crash in the first place?” Octavia asked, trying to sound fierce but failing due to her weariness.

Vinyl paused and considered it for a moment. “ …Huh, I guess that would have worked, wouldn’t it?” She looked around the small river bank the two of them were standing on. “We’d better see what we can find – it looks like most of our supplies fell out of our saddlebags in the crash. The canoe’s too bucked up for us to use.”

Octavia wearily walked a few steps to where her lunchbox had fallen. The impact had caused it to open and scatter its contents. Octavia gathered what was still edible, and returned it to the lunchbox. She was surprised at how assertive Vinyl was now that they had been separated from the group.

Within a few minutes, Vinyl and Octavia had found all of their possessions – other than some food from Octavia’s lunchbox, nothing seemed to be missing. Vinyl levitated out her map and showed it to Octavia. Once more Vinyl was grinning, although her smile wasn’t as large as it had been earlier in the day.

“Okay, so I think that this fork here is the one where we should have gone left,” she began, pointing to the map. “I think that if we just cut through the jungle here, we shouldn’t be too far from –”

“Wait a minute,” Octavia interrupted. “Are you seriously suggesting that we head through the deadly Amarezon Jungle? They’ll send pegasi out to find us within the next hour at most, and they can take us to the bungalows we supposed to head to.”

Vinyl shook her head. “I doubt whether they’d send pegasi whilst they’re in the middle of the river cruise –they’ll want to make sure that everypony else gets to the bungalows safely first.”

“Well then… we could at least try to start a fire. If we could get the smoke heavy enough for them to see it…”

Vinyl let out a short, sharp laugh. “Start a fire? Are you kidding? Why don’t we just coat ourselves in barbecue sauce whilst we’re at it, so that when the predators come to investigate the fire they’ve got a nice meal waiting for them?”

Octavia glared at Vinyl. “My apologies for trying to find a way out of this scenario you’ve landed us in.”

“This scenario that I’ve landed us in?!” Vinyl replied angrily. “You were the one who told me to head right! If anything, you’ve gotten us into this!”

“I never said a thing about heading right! I told you to head left, and you flat out ignored me!” Octavia stomped a hoof to the ground in frustration. “Maybe if you spent less time playing your silly music so loud, you could have heard me properly!”

Vinyl reeled in shock, as though Octavia had physically hit her. She was getting her music criticised by this pony? “Well, at least my music is actually listened to by ponies! You’re probably the only pony in all of Equestria who still listens to that crap you claim is music!”

“If that’s the case, then it’s good to know that there’s still somepony who listens to intellectu-”

Octavia was interrupted by a blood-curling roar which emerged from the jungle. Although she had never encountered one herself, she thought that it sounded as though it were a manticore, from the descriptions she had read of them.

As the roar died down, Octavia realised that she was holding onto something soft, warm, and oddly comforting… which in turn was holding onto her. She looked upwards slightly to realise that she and Vinyl had held onto each other in mutual fright as the manticore had roared.

“So, um,” Octavia said, letting go of Vinyl and moving back one or two steps, embarrassed, “as you can see, the jungle is clearly too dangerous to traverse. We shall just have to wait it out here.”

“You can wait it out here if you want, Tavi,” Vinyl said seriously. “But I’d rather take my chances with the jungle than wait for the tour group to come find us – heck, they might even just assume that we’re done for and not bother searching.” With that, she started trotting off from the river bank, and into the jungle. “You coming, Tavi?”

Octavia turned her back on Vinyl, and sat down. “I most certainly am not,” she said haughtily. “If you wish to be eaten by a wild manticore rather than patiently wait for rescue, that is on your own head.” After several moments of silence, Octavia turned around to see that Vinyl had already headed into the jungle.

Fine then, Octavia thought to herself, go off into the jungle. But we’ll see who’s right when you come cantering out within the next five minutes. After a hopeful glance at the sky to see whether any pegasi were coming, she got out her book. She started flipping through to the section she had been reading earlier, pausing as she did so. Was it her imagination, or was she being watched? Surely the jungle hadn’t been this quiet before…

Octavia found the page she had been on before, and tried calming her nerves. Surely she was just being paranoid- the river bank was much safer than the jungle. After all, it was much more open… and had less escape routes…

A moment later, Octavia jumped as a group of brilliantly coloured birds flew noisily from a tree, screeching loudly. That was nothing, Octavia thought to herself, trying to focus on her paragraph but failing. Birds fly out of trees all of the time – screeching as though they just had a narrow escape. She went over this line of thought again, and then quickly closed her book and slid it back into her saddlebag.

“Vinylllll!” Octavia called out as she galloped into the jungle.“Wait for meeeee!”


“So?” Vinyl asked Octavia a few minutes later. They were both walking together at a regular pace – if it hadn’t been for the dark and humid jungle surrounding them, one could almost assume that they were going for a casual stroll in the park.

“What?” Octavia replied, confused.

“So, don’t you have something to say to me?” Vinyl asked. Her grin was plastered all over her face once more, as if she’d secretly been looking forwards to the two of them being lost in the jungle.

“I suppose I do,” Octavia sighed. “Vinyl, thank you for using your machete to cut me free from those vines. Without you, I would have been trapped for hours, if not longer.”

“How do you end up dangling five metres from the jungle floor, anyway? I mean, I could sort of understand it if you were a pegasus, but seeing as how you’re an Earth Pony and all…”

“I tripped, alright?” Octavia answered, blushing slightly. “Now let’s never speak of it again.”

“Sure thing, Tavi,” Vinyl said, her grin growing ever so slightly larger. “But anyway, what I meant when I said that you had something to say to me was, don’t you have an apology to make?”

“What?” Octavia asked once more.

“‘Vinyl, you were absolutely right. Heading through the jungle to meet up with the rest of the tour group is a brilliant idea. Also, you’re an amazing DJ.’ ‘Thanks Tavi, I was wondering when you’d say that.’” Vinyl turned to face Octavia and raised an eyebrow, waiting for a response.

“Excuse me?” Octavia asked, surprised. “I didn’t come in here because you were right, I came in because I was worried about you. I’d hate to have be rescued by the tour group only to find out that you’d walked right into a pit of quicksand and drowned.”

“Oh yeah?” Vinyl replied, seeing straight through Octavia. “Then how come you haven’t mentioned returning to the river bank even once since I cut you down?”

“I thought we agreed never to speak of that,” Octavia growled through gritted teeth, trying to change the topic.

“Whatever, Tavi,” Vinyl said casually, oblivious to Octavia grinding her teeth in displeasure of Vinyl’s apparent nickname for her. “Anyway, what makes you so sure that I’d drown in quicksand? I’ll bet there isn’t a single patch in the entire Amarezon Jungle.”

“How about over there?” Octavia asked, pointing a hoof to an ordinary patch of sand. Some of Vinyl’s casual, laid-back attitude must have been rubbing off onto her, because as Vinyl turned to see what Octavia was pointing at, Octavia gave Vinyl a small push with her hoof.

Not expecting it, Vinyl fell to the ground, and rolled into the sand. Octavia giggled slightly. “There – that’s revenge for bringing up the incident with the vines after I told you not to.”

“Tavi! Help!” Vinyl said seriously. “I’m sinking in!”

Octavia smacked a hoof to her face in frustration. Of course, she would accidentally push Vinyl into a patch of actual quicksand, wouldn’t she? “What do you want me to do?” she asked. So far, only Vinyl’s back hooves seemed to be caught in the sand, and they weren’t sinking too fast.

“Uh… um… grab my machete! Cut down a vine, and then pull me out with it!” Vinyl said hastily, trying to grab at the ground with her hooves. Unfortunately, all she succeeded in doing was tearing up some grass.

“Vinyl, your machete is in your saddlebag, remember? Levitate it over to me.” Although she was panicking due to the quicksand, Vinyl nevertheless concentrated hard enough to cast the spell for telekinesis, and dropped her machete on the ground in front of Octavia.

“Okay. Wherthe’s there a vine?” Octavia asked with the handle of the machete in her mouth. She was trying to act calm and logical about the situation, rather than panicking and flailing around as Vinyl was.

“Are you kidding, Tavi?! There are vines all over the place! Look, cut down that one just above your head!” Octavia glanced upwards.

“I’m an Earth Pony, not a unicorn. How am I thupposed –” Octavia spat the machete out of her mouth “- How am I supposed to cut down something that high without telekinesis?”

It was now Vinyl’s to smack a hoof to her face. “You Earth Ponies! I don’t know how you manage!” She was about to suggest something else, when her expression changed from panic to horror. “Tavi! I- I can feel something! My hoof just nudged something!” By now, Vinyl was half-in, half-out of the quicksand pit.

“W-What is it?” Octavia asked, starting to panic for Vinyl now. She had never heard of any sort of animals living in quicksand before, but then again, who was to say that it was impossible?

“It- it feels solid! Like… ground!” Vinyl said, half in amazement, half in shock. Octavia’s expression went from worry to dull surprise.

“Vinyl… that is ground. The quicksand trap obviously isn’t that deep,” she said in a monotone.

“No, Tavi! You don’t know what it’s like! This can’t be the ground! It must be- it must be-” Vinyl’s expression calmed down and resumed her trademark grin. “Oh wait, you were right. It is ground!” After brief attempts to swim out of the quicksand and levitate herself out, Vinyl eventually accepted that the suction of the quicksand was too strong for her to get out on her own.

“Can I get a helping hoof here?” she asked, embarrassed, as she reached out a hoof to Octavia.


“Are you done washing that sand off?” Octavia asked as Vinyl emerged from a small stream the two had found.

“Clean as a brand-new record,” Vinyl said happily. “You should totally try it, Tavi – the water’s great!”

“No thank you, Vinyl,” Octavia answered, turning on both the unicorn and the stream in a small act of defiance. “I’d much rather wash myself in a shower or bath than a primitive stream such as that.”

“Suit yourself, but you’re the only one missing out,” Vinyl said. She levitated her map out of her saddlebag – fortunately, none of the sand had gotten inside the bag. “Now c’mon – follow me, Tavi.” Vinyl trotted straight past Octavia, with her head buried in the map. Octavia followed obediently.

“Are you sure that we’re headed the right way?” Octavia asked a few minutes later, peeking through the canopy at the setting sun.

“Sure are. According to this, we should reach the bungalows sometime tomorrow. It’s not perfect, I know, but we can at least get there soon.”

“Really?” Octavia asked. “Because the sun’s to the left of us, and it’s setting. That means that we’re heading north-east, when as I recall, the bungalows were to the north-west – up the river.”

Vinyl turned to Octavia with her usual grin on her face. “I hear ya, Tavi.”

“So… we’ll start heading the other way?”

“Nope,” Vinyl said bluntly.

“Why not?” Octavia asked, slightly frustrated with Vinyl, but too exhausted to put up a proper argument.

“Because the map doesn’t say that we’re heading the wrong way. It says that the way we’re heading now is the right way,” Vinyl said simply. Octavia resisted the urge to snatch the map from Vinyl’s telekinetic field and take over control.

“But… the sun is over there! And we’re heading this way!” Octavia said, pointing weakly with her hoof. “How can we be heading in the right way?”

“Just are.”

“But we-”

“I’ve got a news flash for you, Tavi,” Vinyl interrupted. “The planet’s round. There is no up or down.”

Despite how hard she resisted the urge, Octavia smacked both of her front hooves into her face in frustration. What does that have to do with anything?! she silently thought. She removed her hooves to see Vinyl had resumed walking after folding the map up and putting it back into her saddlebag.

“Coming, Tavi?” Vinyl asked absentmindedly. Rolling her eyes, Octavia followed, deciding not to argue for now.

After around thirty or so minutes, Vinyl and Octavia found themselves in a decently sized clearing. As the sun was almost set, they both collapsed without a word, silently agreeing to stay here for the night.

“Would you like some food, Vinyl?” Octavia asked as she got out her lunchbox. “Since I intended for it to just be for snacks, there won’t be any left for tomorrow… but we shall have to deal with that problem when it arises.”

“Sure,” said Vinyl as she took a sip from her canteen. “What’ve you got?”

“Let’s see…” began Octavia, opening her lunchbox, “… I have apples, carrots, and celery stalks. Oh, and colourful flowers too.”

“Throw us over an apple,” Vinyl said, smiling in spite of the scenario they were in. Octavia did as she asked, and for the next few minutes the two mares were silent as they finished off Octavia’s food supply.

“We shall have to find some more food tomorrow,” Octavia said as she tipped her lunchbox upside down to get rid of any final crumbs. “Obviously we can’t eat the grass, but I’m sure that there must be some edible berries or fruits around here somewhere.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Vinyl agreed. “What should we do about shelter tonight? We’re gonna need some so that we don’t freeze to death, and there could also be predators lurking about.”

“I suppose that it would be too much to hope for a hollow tree trunk around here somewhere, wouldn’t it?” Octavia said optimistically. As she squinted in the slight darkness, Vinyl’s horn lit up, and a small light glowed at the end of it. “Thank you,” Octavia said warmly.

“No probs. What’s the point of having a basic spell like this if I don’t even use it?” Vinyl asked, grinning. A moment later, she took off her glasses and put them into her saddlebag. “Guess there’s not much point in these when it’s dark, huh?”

Curiously, Octavia peeked a side glance at Vinyl’s eyes. In the light from Vinyl’s horn, they seemed to be red… no, more of a magenta colour, Octavia realised. The two mares got up and walked around the clearing, looking for a suitable tree to make shelter in, but there were none available.

“I must confess, I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do now,” Octavia said. “None of the guide books I read were intended to be read by ponies lost in the jungle.”

“Well… if we could get enough sticks and branches together, I might be able to build us a small shelter using me telekinesis,” Vinyl suggested. Octavia shrugged. It was better than anything she could think of. Octavia walked around the clearing picking up suitable sticks and branches and putting them in a pile in front of Vinyl, who was slicing down vines and large leaves with her machete.

Once she was satisfied that they had enough raw materials, Vinyl used her telekinesis to arrange the sticks together in a crude tent shape. It was a good thing that the trees of the Amarezon were so old and large, as it meant that their branches were sturdy and strong enough to work for the shelter.

Pleased once she found out that the shelter could stand up without needing her constant telekinesis, Vinyl tied everything together with vines, and covered the outside with leaves. It was by no means a perfect solution, and it would still be cold throughout the night, but it was better than nothing. Vinyl had intentionally left a side of the shelter uncovered, and once she and Octavia had entered it, she levitated the remaining sticks and leaves over the entrance, sealing them from the outside world.

Exhausted from their journey, the two mares fell asleep quickly, and slept surprisingly restfully until the next morning.

Chapter Three: From Bad to Worse

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The next morning, Octavia woke up to the sound of muttering next to her. Wh- what happened last night? she wondered. She rubbed her eyes, and was surprised to find herself not only lying on some grass, but inside a crude shelter of sticks and leaves. Wait… why am I not in one of the bungalows we were heading to?

Octavia rolled over and stood up to see Vinyl Scratch next to her, pointing at various spots on her map and muttering some plans to herself. She had her glasses back on. Instantly, the events of the previous day came flooding back to Octavia. Celestia’s Mane, it wasn’t a dream! she thought despairingly.

“Monin’ Tavi,” Vinyl greeted her, still focusing on her map. “How’d you sleep last night?”

“Well enough,” Octavia sighed, accepting the reality of the situation. “What are you looking at on that map? We’ll still get to the bungalows today, won’t we?”

“Yeah, ‘course we’ll get to where we need to be,” Vinyl answered vaguely, folding up the map and putting it back in her saddlebag. “I was just double checking to make sure that we’re still going the right way. You ready to find breakfast?”

Octavia agreed, and Vinyl used her telekinesis to dismantle their makeshift shelter. Considering that it had been made without any proper planning or prior experience, it had worked surprisingly well. Unfortunately, the raw materials of the shelter were too bulky to carry around and reassemble when needed, but it was comforting to at least know that they could build a decent shelter if needed.

After nearly an hour of looking for food, Vinyl found a small bush covered in red berries. “Yo Tavi! I found us some chow!” From a few metres away, Octavia came over to Vinyl, who was pointing excitedly at the bush.

“Are you sure that they’re safe to eat?” Octavia asked hesitantly. Although her stomach was growling, she recalled the guide book she had read which warned about the grass of the Amarezon – what if many of the fruits of the plants were also poisonous?

Vinyl shrugged. “Dunno, but I’m hungry as all buck, and these look tasty.” Before Octavia could stop her, Vinyl craned her neck forwards and ate several of the berries.

“Vinyl! No! We’ve got to test them for poison –make sure that they’re safe!” Octavia said in a panicky tone.

“And how do you suggest that we do that?” Vinyl grumbled through a mouth of berries. Satisfied with them, she levitated another few from the bush and into her mouth.

“You could try casting a spell!” Octavia said, exasperated now. Vinyl’s impulsiveness and lack of concern for her own well being was making her more and more impatient to get back to the tour group.

“What sort of unicorn bothers learning a boring spell like that?” Vinyl asked, still grumbling. She levitated some berries over to Octavia. “C’mon Tavi, they taste –”

“They taste…?” Octavia asked hesitantly.

“They – my stomach!” Vinyl said, raising a hoof to clutch at her stomach. The berries she had been levitating fell to the ground as she stopped focusing on them. Octavia cantered across the small distance between her and Vinyl, concerned.

“Are you feeling okay, Vinyl? Do you think you can regurgitate the berries before the poison gets into your system? Do you need water?” Octavia was going through everything in her head she could think of to deal with a poisoning.

“My stomach feels… full!” Vinyl said cheerfully. “Now I remember that feeling!” Once more, she levitated some berries over to Octavia. “So, you want some, Tavi? They taste kinda like raspberries.”

“You worried me, Vinyl!” Octavia said angrily, ignoring Vinyl’s offer. “Here I was, thinking that you could die, and you’re just making me panic for no reason!”

“I didn’t mean to, filly,” Vinyl said sincerely. “I was just surprised at how good they tasted. Now, do you want some breakfast, Tavi?”

Octavia reluctantly accepted the berries once she was sure that they weren’t poisonous, although she was glaring at Vinyl the whole time. How she would survive the rest of the day with this unicorn, she had no idea.

Despite her anger at Vinyl, Octavia cheered up slightly once she and Vinyl had eaten enough of the berries to constitute a decent breakfast. “That’s another thing you have to thank me for, Tavi,” Vinyl said half-jokingly. The two of them were continuing along the path Vinyl had mapped out for them, keeping an eye out for some fresh water on the way.

“I’ll be happy to thank you once you apologise,” Octavia answered coldly. “I don’t know how many times I’ve told you now, but my name is Octavia, not Tavi.”

“Oh. Sorry, Tavs,” Vinyl said.

“No. Not ‘Tavs’, either. Octavia.”

“Octy?” Vinyl asked hesitantly.

Octavia,” Octavia said, restraining herself as best she could.

“Oh, okay. You don’t like Octy. Got it, Tavi,” Vinyl said. In frustration, Octavia bucked a nearby tree, unintentionally creating several large splits in the ancient trunk.

For the next hour or so, Vinyl and Octavia walked in mostly silence, with Octavia giving short replies to Vinyl’s few attempts at starting conversation, until Vinyl got the hint. Despite the solid night’s sleep that Octavia had gotten, she was still exhausted and frustrated. The jungle’s humidity wasn’t helping things, and despite their luck at avoiding any manticores or other dangerous wild animals, Octavia was still worried about what could potentially happen. The jungle was a dangerous place, after all.

Vinyl, on the other hand, was enjoying the entire experience. Well, aside from the humidity, of course. Being in the jungle was a unique experience, and once they reached their destination, she was confident things would get even more exciting. She hadn’t regretted one minute of the entire trip so far.

As the pair continued through the jungle in silence, they gradually found themselves getting swarmed by more and more insects as the humidity increased.

“Damn these mosquitoes!” Vinyl said angrily, swishing her tail violently to temporarily repel them. “Tavi, you still got that mosquito repellent?”

“Naturally,” Octavia answered, opening her saddlebag whilst also trying to keep away the insects. “Here you are.” Both mares applied vigorous amounts of repellent to their coats, which fortunately proved to be as effective as the bottle claimed it would be.

“Thanks, Tavi,” said Vinyl, grinning. “I wonder why there are so many bugs all of a sudden.”

“Maybe it’s because of that river just there?” Octavia suggested semi-sarcastically, pointing a hoof past some ferns and vines. Unlike the river the pair had travelled down on their canoe, this river was much murkier, and lacked any strong currents. It was actually somewhat serene, although the buzzing of the multitude of insects ruined the effect to a certain extent.

“Huh, I didn’t even realise that there was a river there,” Vinyl said. “In fact…” she said, getting out her map and examining it, “…I think that if we cross it, we might even have ourselves a shortcut!”

“What?!” Octavia asked, shocked. “You’re not being serious, are you?”

“What’s the big deal, Tavi? A shortcut’s a good thing, right? If it’s not too deep, I don’t see why we shouldn’t cut across the river.”

“Because we can’t just wade through a river!” Octavia insisted. “How do you know that there aren’t… crocodiles, or piranhas… something like that in there?”

“If there are any, they’ll probably just swim away once we enter!” Vinyl said dismissively. “Besides, remember how you thought that those berries I found were poisonous, and then they weren’t?”

“That doesn’t prove that this river is safe,” Octavia retorted. “This jungle is dangerous enough as it is, and I’d much rather take a safer but longer path to get back to the rest of the tour group.”

“But if we just cut across this river, we’ll cut down on travelling time by… I dunno, twenty percent!” Vinyl said, barely listening to Octavia now. She pushed her way past some vines, so that she was now standing on the bank of the river. “And look! You can even see the other side from here! It’s gotta be, what, thirty, forty meters across? That’s nothing!”

“Vinyl, you’ve already gotten us separated from the group, fallen in quicksand, and led me through the jungle rather than waited for a rescue team, like you should have,” Octavia protested. She was getting more and more fed up with Vinyl’s lack of thinking ahead, and was finally putting her hoof down. “I swear to Celestia, if you even put one hoof in that river –”

“Doesn’t seem too deep,” Vinyl interrupted as she slid her body into the water. “Bit cold, though.” The water went as high as the top of Vinyl’s legs, and didn’t seem to get any deeper than that. Vinyl was levitating her saddlebag just above the water so that her belongings didn’t get wet.

“VINYL!!!” Octavia shouted from the bank as Vinyl continued through the water. Did this mare listen to anything she had to say?

Vinyl turned back to face Octavia. “Look, Tavi, if you want to go around the river, be my guest, but this river seems safe enough, so I’m crossing here whether you like it or not.” Vinyl turned back around and resumed wading through the river.

On the bank, Octavia stomped a hoof in frustration, as though she were just a little filly once more. This wasn’t fair. She hadn’t even wanted to come on this expedition in the first place. Getting separated from the group was just more fuel to the fire… but Vinyl refusing to even listen to her now? It was enough to make Octavia want to break down and cry.

Despite how much she wanted to emotionally collapse though, Octavia had been raised properly. She wasn’t a filly who would burst into tears when things didn’t go the way she wanted – she was a sophisticated mare who held her head up high, no matter how bad things got.

Sighing, Octavia readjusted her saddlebag so that it wouldn’t be submerged in water once she waded in. She slowly entered the water, shivering as she felt how cold it was. Although she still thought that this was an idiotic idea of Vinyl’s, she was slightly reassured once she was sure that no creatures of the river were going to leap out and attack her.

“Please wait for me, Vinyl,” Octavia called out wearily. Vinyl was a little more than halfway across the river, but once she heard Octavia, she turned around and stopped.

“See? I told you that this would be fine,” she said as Octavia caught up to her. “And we’re saving a ton of time!”

“Yes, I suppose so. This was a good idea of yours,” Octavia agreed, not wanting another argument with her unicorn companion. All she wanted at the moment was to return to the tour group – all other needs were secondary.

Octavia’s reflection in the water caught her eye, and she found herself staring into it. Her normally sleek and stylish mane was messed up, and had small twigs and grass in it as a consequence of spending the night on the jungle floor. She had a small cut below her right eye which she hadn’t noticed, likely as a result of crashing into the tree the previous day. Both of Octavia’s eyes had bags under them, revealing her exhaustion. It was hard to believe that she had been in the jungle for less than a day.

As she stared at her reflection in the murky water, Octavia noticed some vague movement below the surface of the water. Despite her exhaustion and frustration at the challenges the jungle was posing to her and Vinyl, Octavia somehow managed to leap out of the water instinctively, and tackle Vinyl.

“Hey! What the –” Vinyl protested, dropping her saddlebag into the water as her concentration wavered. A moment later, an Amarezonian crocodile’s head emerged from the water and snapped at the spot where Octavia had been standing a moment ago. It was a good thing that the river was relatively shallow, or Octavia likely wouldn’t have been able to detect it.

“Crocodile,” Octavia explained simply as she got up from Vinyl’s body. The crocodile had slid back underneath the water, but it was no doubt planning another attack soon.

“Oh, horseapples,” said Vinyl in a monotone. She levitated both her and Octavia’s saddlebags out of the water, then started galloping out of the river, followed closely by Octavia. There was a brief moment of panic as the crocodile (or was it a different one?) threw itself in front of Vinyl, but fortunately it had leapt forwards too early in its anticipation. Vinyl simply stepped on the crocodile’s head as she fled the river, whilst Octavia cautiously side-stepped it.

Vinyl and Octavia managed to make it to the river bank safely enough, but just to be sure, they continued galloping for around another hundred metres or so before slowing down and collapsing. Both of them lay on the grass, panting from the sudden exercise.

“Guess I owe you an apology, Tavi,” Vinyl gasped. “You were right about the river being dangerous after all.”

Despite how tempted she was to say something such as “I told you so!” Octavia instead replied with “It’s okay, Vinyl.” As frustrating as Vinyl had been at times, she wasn’t actively trying to antagonise Octavia. “How have our supplies fared?” Octavia asked as she noticed their saturated saddlebags.

“Guess we’ll have to open them and se- ouch!” Vinyl slapped a hoof to her face.

“What is it?” Octavia asked, confused by what had just happened.

“Darn mosquito just stung me. The river must have washed off our repellent.” Vinyl opened up Octavia’s saddlebag and levitated out her mosquito repellent. Naturally, the two mares reapplied it to their bodies.

“Well, we know that the repellent survived, at least,” Octavia said, smiling slightly. “How’s everything else?”

“Let’s see…” replied Vinyl, “…most of your stuff looks good, except for – uh oh.”

“What is it?” Octavia asked. She was fairly sure that she knew what was coming.

“Sorry, Tavi – your book’s destroyed,” Vinyl said apologetically, levitating out a lumpy wet mess which had once been the ninth edition of The Interpretations of Classical Music in Today’s Society.

Octavia grimaced. She had been prepared for it, but it still hurt to see her book so utterly destroyed. “Anything else?” she asked.

“Uh… these bandages you brought might not be too usable… but that’s about it for your stuff. As for my things…” Vinyl paused as she levitated out her possessions “…phew, everything seems fine. The map’s a little – it’s a little wet, but if we let it dry out it should be okay.” As Vinyl spoke, she pressed a hoof to her forehead.

“Are you alright, Vinyl?” Octavia asked, concerned.

“Y-yeah, I just felt dizzy for a moment there,” Vinyl said. “I’m fine now.”

“I’d be a little more convinced if your voice hadn’t quavered just then,” Octavia said with a hint of sternness. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Of course I’m fine!” Vinyl insisted. To demonstrate this, she levitated all of Octavia’s items back into her saddlebag. “See?” she asked. Vinyl started moving her own items back into her saddlebag, but whilst doing so, her concentration slipped, and they all fell softly to the grass.

“Alright, Vinyl – you’re clearly not fit to travel,” Octavia said. “We’ll have to stay here until you’re better.”

“What?! Are you kidding?” Vinyl asked. “I’m as fit as a filly!” She surrounded her items with a magical field once more, but after a moment of consideration, thought better of it and moved them into her saddlebag by hoof. “Now, are you ready to keep going, or not?” Vinyl asked, sliding her saddlebag back on.

Octavia shrugged. “If you insist.” The two mares got up from the grass they had been lying on, and once Vinyl had determined the direction they should be heading in, they resumed walking. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for as long as Octavia would have liked, because after less than a minute, Vinyl stopped.

“Give me… a minute…” she said, leaning against a tree. Octavia said nothing, and waited patiently for Vinyl to feel better. After a few minutes and a sip of water, Vinyl said that she felt right to continue.

Barely two minutes had passed when Vinyl collapsed to the ground. “Vinyl!” Octavia cried, concerned. She offered a hoof to help Vinyl get back onto her hooves, but found herself picking Vinyl up from the jungle floor instead.

“…’m fine, Tavi…” Vinyl slurred. Octavia put a hoof to Vinyl’s forehead, and was only mildly surprised to find her burning up.

“Celestia’s Mane, you’re as sick as a sea serpent!” Octavia exclaimed. She gently put Vinyl back to the ground, who was mumbling something – probably insisting that she was perfectly fine. “How did you get sick so suddenly?” Octavia wondered out loud.

Rather than conveniently providing Octavia with the answer she wanted, Vinyl instead mumbled something incoherent. Sighing in response, Octavia gave Vinyl a sip of water, and then started searching around the area for sticks and leaves similar to the ones they had used to build their shelter the previous night. Although it was barely midday, getting Vinyl better was now Octavia’s first priority. Building a shelter would not only protect Vinyl from the elements, but it would also save time later that night if Vinyl didn’t recover today.

After about half an hour, Octavia was confident that she had enough materials for a shelter. She had been checking on Vinyl frequently, and it seemed as though Vinyl’s condition wasn’t getting any better or worse. “Now… how shall I build this shelter without telekinesis?” Octavia wondered, staring at the pile of sticks and leaves piled up in front of her.

“T-Tavi,” Vinyl croaked from somewhere behind her. Octavia spun around. Vinyl had curled up into a ball in apparent pain, but had now lifted her head up and was speaking.

“Yes, Vinyl? Do you need anything?” Octavia asked.

“I- I’m sorry, Tavi,” Vinyl weakly answered.


“Don’t hate me because I lied to you, Tavi,” Vinyl continued weakly. “Please? Please don’t hate me… I’m such a horrible mare…”

She must be delirious, Octavia realised. “It’s okay, Vinyl. Of course I won’t hate you,” Octavia said, comforting Vinyl.

“Promise me you won’t!” Vinyl groaned. “Promise, Tavi!”

“O-okay, Vinyl. I promise I won’t hate you,” Octavia replied, having no idea what Vinyl was going on about. “Do you need anything?”

“…Water?” Vinyl asked, still apparently delirious. Octavia trotted over to her, and helped her drink some water. Whilst she was doing so, she noticed a small lump on Vinyl’s face.

Aha, now I understand, Octavia thought. The mosquito that bit Vinyl must have injected a poison or something similar which made her sick. Once she was done drinking, Vinyl curled back up, mumbling thanks.

For the next fifteen minutes, Octavia struggled to assemble a decent shelter, which was fairly hard to do with hooves. Eventually, she managed to build something which would do for now, although it was far from being as sturdy as the one she and Vinyl had built the previous night. I suppose that it will have to do for now, Octavia thought as she pushed Vinyl inside it, who was now mumbling something about a fashion show she had helped host in Ponyville.

Now… we still have a canteen or so full of water, we’ve got a shelter… I suppose that I’ll have to find food now, thought Octavia. She hadn’t found any more of the berries which she and Vinyl had eaten for breakfast, or any similar foods whilst looking for materials for the shelter. Octavia was considering searching through the jungle for food, but didn’t want to leave Vinyl alone for what could potentially be hours whilst she did so.

Spotting Vinyl’s saddlebag lying where Vinyl had collapsed, a new idea occurred to Octavia. If I use Vinyl’s map, I might be able to find an area abundant in food… at the very least, I can search around without getting lost. After checking to make sure that Vinyl was still surviving and that she didn’t have any immediate needs, Octavia opened up Vinyl’s still-wet saddlebag and withdrew the map from it.

“Now, let’s see…” Octavia muttered to herself as she cautiously opened the soaking wet map, “… we should be about… here… and we –”

Her voice caught as she finished unfolding the map. For the most part, the environment of the Amarezon Jungle consisted of trees and rivers, with several spots being marked as uncharted. There were, however, a few temples and tombs built by ancient tribes marked on the map.

The thing which made Octavia’s voice catch was seeing three of these buildings circled, something she hadn’t noticed during her few glances of the map the previous day. Two of these were temples marked with numbers, whilst the third, a large pyramid, had one word next to it: “Destination.”

“Why, she – she –” Octavia muttered as she realised what this meant, “she’s purposely leading me off-course!”

Chapter Four: Dead Rising

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Vinyl slowly opened her eyes. She had been drifting in and out of sleep for the past few hours, ever since the mosquito had stung her. She slowly put a hoof to her face, trying to recall what had happened. We crossed that river, she recalled, and then Tavi’s book got destroyed. And then… pain? Vinyl closed her eyes, trying to recall at what point she had started heavily drinking. That could be the only explanation for her sudden illness.

Vinyl slowly opened her eyes once more, taking more notice of her surroundings this time. She was pleased to notice the shade of purple tinting everything, indicating that Octavia hadn’t taken off her glasses whilst she had been asleep. She was lying on some grass inside a shelter similar to the one she and Octavia had built the previous night, although this one was somewhat less sturdy. Wait… did Tavi somehow take me back to the shelter we built while I was hung over? Vinyl wondered. But we dismantled it – didn’t we?

Vinyl slowly got up, groaning in protest as the mild pain she was experiencing intensified. The combination of a headache, throbbing horn, and burning stomach all forced her back to the ground. After a futile moment trying to wish the pain away, she got up once more, and somehow stumbled through the entrance of the shelter. As she stumbled through, one of her back hooves knocked over one of the sticks supporting the entrance, and half of the shelter collapsed as a result.

“Taviiiii……” Vinyl groaned as she spotted her companion a short distance away, lying down. “Help….” A moment later, Vinyl collapsed to the ground once more as the throbbing pain in her horn flared. Looking at some grass which was literally in front of her face, Vinyl contemplated eating some, despite Octavia’s warning the previous day.

“Evening, Vinyl,” Octavia said in an entirely unsympathetic tone as she got up and walked over to Vinyl, who was now curled up into a ball. Why… why aren’t you helping me? Vinyl thought. She was failing to remember the many, many times that Octavia had given her water and comforted her during the day, in addition to building her the shelter. “How are you holding up?”

In response, Vinyl groaned. “Why did you let me drink so much, Tavi?” she asked. She raised her head to try and look directly at Octavia, although as she was currently seeing in double vision, this failed spectacularly. “Why would you do that?!”

“I beg your pardon?” Octavia asked, confused. “Any water that I gave to you, I gave because you asked for it.”

“You – you’re lying!” Vinyl said as angrily as she could, which wasn’t very. She weakly tried to hit Octavia with a hoof, but seeing as how she was lying on the ground, this amounted to more of a weak swat in Octavia’s direction.

Octavia sighed. “Vinyl, a mosquito stung you, and it’s made you sick and delirious,” she said. “Try to get some food into your body – that should help absorb some of the poison.”

Vinyl focused once more on the delicious-looking grass located just in front of her face. “But… you won’t let me!” Vinyl complained. Although there was some part of her mind telling her to pay more attention to Octavia, Vinyl’s thinking was for the most part hazy and illogical.

Octavia sighed and rolled her eyes. Resisting the urge to throttle Vinyl, she went over to a pile of berries she had found a few hours ago. They were slightly spicier than the ones which she and Vinyl had eaten for breakfast, but they were still quite edible and filling. Octavia picked one of the berries up in her mouth, walked back to Vinyl, and dropped it on her head. “There. Eat that.”

Cautiously, Vinyl tilted her head so that the berry fell onto the grass, and then opened her mouth and ate it. “Thanks Tavi,” she said weakly. “Do you… have any more?”

“Plenty,” Octavia replied, “but you’ll have to come over here if you want them.” Groaning once more, Vinyl slowly crawled over to Octavia, who had gone back to the pile of berries.

For the next few minutes, Vinyl ate in silence whilst Octavia watched her. “Are you feeling better now?” Octavia asked once Vinyl finished.

Vinyl nodded. “Yeah,” she said. Although her usual grin wasn’t plastered onto her face, she was still smiling slightly. “My horn’s throbbing like all buck and my stomach feels a little queasy, but for the most part I’m feeling better.”

“Good,” said Octavia, smiling in turn, “because I have some questions for you.”

“Sure,” Vinyl shrugged. “What are they?”

WHY ARE WE HEADING DEEPER INTO THE AMAREZON JUNGLE WHEN WE SHOULD BE HEADING OUT??!!!” Octavia exploded. All of her frustrations and rage against Vinyl had been pent up inside her from the previous day, and now that she had found the scribblings written on Vinyl’s map, she had an excuse to unleash them.

In spite of Octavia’s outburst, Vinyl’s grin grew slightly larger. “What are you talkin’ about, Tavi? We’re heading towards the bungalows, just like we would be if the river hadn’t driven us off-course.” She chuckled slightly, started coughing as a result of the chuckling, and then resumed talking. “Heck, you’re the one that told me to turn right down that river – I should ask you why we went into the jungle!”

“Really?” Octavia asked coldly. “Is that so? We just ended up in the jungle due to a random error?”

Vinyl felt a shiver go down her spine as she looked into the face of the grey Earth Pony. Uh-oh, Tavi knows something, she thought. “Yeah, we sure did,” Vinyl replied, trying to act flippant. “If it hadn’t been for –”

“Then perhaps,” Octavia interrupted, “you might wish to explain this?” She had procured Vinyl’s map from somewhere, and was pointing a hoof at the pyramid circled Destination.

“Oh, that?” Vinyl asked. “That’s where the tour was supposed to go, remember? I marked that on my map before we even got lost!”

“Oh, my mistake,” Octavia said, looking at the map once more. “I completely forgot about that!”

Phew, she bought it, Vinyl thought confidently. “Yeah, since the tour group was heading there, I –”

“You really think that I fell for that, Vinyl?” Octavia asked in a deadpan tone. Vinyl bit her lip. Horseapples! she thought.

“Fell for that? What are you on about, Tavi-”

One,” began Octavia as she started walking towards Vinyl menacingly, “you were clearly leading me the wrong way yesterday. Don’t try to get out of it, I noticed the position of the sun – remember?”

Vinyl started backing up as Octavia reached her. “W-well, Tavi,” she stuttered, “you see, it depends upon what’s relative to –”

Two,” Octavia continued, not giving Vinyl a chance to defend herself, “once we crash-landed on the river bank, you were pretty eager to head straight into the jungle.”

“Well, like I pointed out at the time, we couldn’t –”

“And finally, the tour doesn’t go to the pyramid marked on this map,” Octavia said. Vinyl found herself bumping up against a tree, unable to back away from Octavia any more. “Now tell me Vinyl – why do you want us to go to this pyramid?”

Vinyl spent a few desperate moments trying to think up another excuse before giving up. “Fine,” she sighed, taking off her glasses as she did so, “I’ll tell you, Tavi.”

“Octavia,” the grey mare corrected. Vinyl walked around Octavia, and back over to the pile of berries Octavia had gathered, many of which remained. She lay down on her stomach, and then tapped the ground in front of her with a hoof. As she did so, the tip of her horn lit up, providing the duo with a small amount of light.

“C’mon – might as well be comfortable,” Vinyl said. Octavia trotted over and sat down where Vinyl indicated. “Basically,” Vinyl said, “I want to find the treasure hidden in that pyramid. That’s it in a nutshell.”

Octavia frowned. “That’s your reason?” she asked with a hint of poison. “You’re dragging me through the jungle and risking my life for some treasure?!” She smacked a hoof into her face. “Celestia’s Mane, I wasn’t expecting much, but I thought that you’d have a bit more of a deeper reason than that.”

“Hey! I haven’t finished!” Vinyl protested. “I’m not just going there for the sake of the treasure.”

Octavia raised an eyebrow. “Go on,” she said, her voice dripping with scepticism.

“You see, the legend is that the treasure of the pyramid can give you… power,” Vinyl said hesitantly. At this, Octavia threw her hooves up in the air.

“Oh! Of course! It can give you power, so you decided to drag the nearest mare along with you on a dangerous trek through the jungle – without her consent, I may add – so that you can turn yourself into an alicorn!” Octavia was fuming now, and had to muster all of her will not to buck Vinyl in the face.

“Would you shut up for a minute?!” Vinyl asked angrily. “I don’t want it for myself – I want it for my dad!” This stopped Octavia for a moment.

“Your father?” she repeated, not having expected it.

“Yeah – he’s… dying at the moment,” Vinyl said hesitantly. “But he used to read all of these history books, and he’s convinced that the treasure of this pyramid could save him. At least… that’s what he said the last time I talked to him.”

Wary of Vinyl’s ease with lying, Octavia cautiously asked, “Is that true? This isn’t some lie to get me to co-operate in your hunt for the treasure?”

“Tavi, look into my eyes,” Vinyl pleaded. “Do you really think that I would lie about my dad like that?”

“…I guess not,” Octavia admitted, interpreting Vinyl’s emotions as genuine. Curious now, she asked “So, what is this treasure, anyway?”

“I dunno,” Vinyl said. “Nopony’s seen it for centuries – but my dad insisted that it would help him.” She put her glasses back on as she thought for a minute. “Hey, does this mean that you will come with me to the pyramid, now that you know the actual reason we’re in the jungle?”

“What?!” Octavia asked, genuinely shocked. “When did I ever say that? Vinyl, I do feel sorry for your father, but that doesn’t mean that I’m willing to machete my way through this dangerous jungle just for a vague treasure which isn’t guaranteed to help him. I mean, I only met you yesterday!”

Vinyl’s expression had been serious for the past few minutes, but as Octavia spoke it slid back into its familiar grin. “Really, Tavi? So you’ll head to the bungalows on your own now?”

“I – what?”

“I’m heading to the pyramid whether you want to come or not,” Vinyl said. “I’m willing to risk going alone to reach it – are you willing to head to the bungalows by yourself? Especially seeing as how you couldn’t even wait on a river bank for five minutes by yourself?”

“Vinyl,” Octavia started, shocked, “surely you wouldn’t force me to go through the jungle by myself, would you?” She had been unsure of her opinion of Vinyl ever since she met her, and despite these new revelations about Vinyl, she was still unsure of her opinion.

“I’m not forcing you to do anything, filly,” Vinyl answered, her grin as wide as ever. “I’m just saying – I’m definitely going to the pyramid, whether you want to come or not. You can try to make it back to the bungalow by yourself if you want… just don’t expect it to be as easy as if you were coming with me. Oh, and another thing – we’re not a day from the bungalows, we’re three. I was lying to you yesterday.”

Octavia bit her lip. It was a tough decision to make. A large part of her was tempted to hit Vinyl and force Vinyl to accompany her back to the tour group, although she knew that it wouldn’t work. She could see why Vinyl was so determined to complete her self-appointed mission, yet at the same time, couldn’t find it in her heart to empathise enough to accompany Vinyl. For Celestia’s sake, she just wanted to get back to the tour group – or better yet, back to her warm bed in Canterlot.

“Alright, Vinyl,” Octavia said as she made her decision. “I’ll come with you to the pyramid – on one condition.”

“What’s that?” Vinyl asked, smiling.

“Once we get your treasure from the pyramid, we get out of the jungle straight away. I don’t care how – we get the attention of some pegasi and get them to airlift us out,” Octavia said. “If the treasure turns out to be fake, or you break it – too bad. We’re getting out of there.”

“No problem,” said Vinyl, not spending a single minute debating it. “Works fine by me.”

“Alright then, now that I know why you were leading me astray, I’ve got another question,” Octavia said. Vinyl nodded for Octavia to continue. “Did you choose me to accompany you through the jungle on purpose, or were you just planning to bring whomever got in the same canoe as you?”

Vinyl shrugged. “Bit of both. I wasn’t specifically planning to ditch the tour group on the river; I was just planning to ditch them whenever I got the chance. But I’d always planned to take somepony with me, and in the end I chose you, Tavi.”

“Why me?” Octavia asked, confused. “I’m hardly the exploring type.”

“Maybe not, but you did come prepared,” Vinyl pointed out. “I found out from you that the grass here in the Amarezon is poisonous, and you said you’d read tour guides and stuff on the Amarezon – you seemed like a good partner.” Vinyl shrugged once more. “And besides, when I went around looking at everypony’s equipment, you were the only pony who brought some more useful stuff, like bandages. Most other ponies just brought food and water.”

Octavia thought back to just before the canoe journey. Vinyl had been going around asking everypony what equipment they’d packed, with the naïve excuse of “being curious”. She’s had this planned for a while, Octavia realised.

“Well, I suppose that answers all of my questions,” Octavia yawned. She hadn’t realised how long they had been talking, but it was incredibly late. It was a miracle that none of the jungle creatures had found them and attacked them. “Vinyl, just…please promise me that you don’t have any more secrets.”

“’Course I don’t,” Vinyl said, nodding her head as she said so. “Heck, you probably know more about my reasons for coming to the jungle than I do!” Now that the serious matters had been dealt with, Vinyl had relaxed back into her casual, laid-back personality. “What about you, Tavi? Anything you wanna get off your chest?”

Octavia shrugged, and smiled slightly. “No, I don’t have any secrets – I’m just an unlucky Earth Pony who was lucky enough to win a ticket for this tour.” Octavia yawned once more, leading her to suggest that the two of them go to bed for the night. Vinyl agreed, and they reassembled the shelter before going to sleep for the night.


Although the two mares had yet another decent night of sleep, they awoke in the morning to find that some sort of wild animals had eaten their supply of food which they had helpfully left outside in a large pile. Wordlessly, they looked to each other, disappointed that they hadn’t thought to finish it off the previous night, or store some within their saddlebags.

“Well, look on the bright side,” Octavia pointed out, “at least they didn’t find us in the shelter.”

“Urgh – what are we gonna do for breakfast now?!” Vinyl asked, throwing her hooves up in the air in frustration. “If we have to go search for food, that’ll cut into the time travelling to the temples!”

“The temples?” Octavia questioned, confused. She suddenly recalled the two temples marked on Vinyl’s map – if the treasure was at the pyramid, then what had they been circled for?

“Right, I didn’t tell you –” Vinyl began, fishing her map out of her saddlebag “- but we’ve got to take a detour through these two temples. It’s a pity, too – the pyramid would only be a few days away if it weren’t for these temples.”

“What?!” Octavia asked, angry now. Not only was she being forced along on this adventure, but now Vinyl was insisting on extending their route? “Why in Equestria would we need to go past those temples?”

“To get the keys to the treasure,” Vinyl replied, folding the map back up and returning it to her saddlebag. “Duh, Tavi.”

“Wait – there are keys now?” Octavia asked.

“Well, the ancient tribes of the Amarezon couldn’t have just anypony coming along and taking the treasure, could they, Tavi?” Vinyl answered leisurely. She started trotting off as she continued. “C’mon, we’ll find food on the way there. Anyway, the tribes made keys for the treasure, so that only those worthy of it could reach it. And the keys are inside these temples, so we have to get them before we head to the pyramid.”

Octavia cantered to catch up with Vinyl before continuing her questions. “So what if the tribes needed to check on the treasure?” Octavia asked as she spotted a flaw in Vinyl’s information.

Vinyl shrugged. “I guess they’d have a secret entrance to reach the treasure?” She stopped for a minute to make sure that they were heading the right way. “Say Tavi – how are we doing for water?”

Octavia checked the canteen she had hanging from her neck. Upon feeling how light it was, she grimaced. “Thanks to you getting stung by that mosquito yesterday –”

“I didn’t do that on purpose!”

“- we’re pretty low on water. I’ve got half a canteen here, but I’m fairly sure that’s all that we’ve got left.” Octavia gave Vinyl a stern look. “Surely we should prioritise finding food and water over getting to these temples?”

“Nah, I’d rather head to the temples,” Vinyl said dismissively. “I reckon we can reach the first one by early afternoon if we don’t get any delays.”

“But Vinyl – what if we reach the first temple and don’t find any food or water along the way?” Octavia pointed out. “I’d much rather find food before we go there.”

“All right,” Vinyl agreed, starting to trot away again. “You look for food and water, and then meet me outside the temple once you do. Deal?”

Once more, Octavia cantered to keep up with Vinyl. “What? How am I supposed to know where the temple is without the map? And what if I encounter any –” She stopped speaking and instead glared at Vinyl as she realised what Vinyl’s plan was. “You’re trying to force me to prioritise the temple, aren’t you?”

“Yep,” Vinyl said casually, not caring one bit about her treatment of Octavia. “And really, I don’t see why you’re not already. The faster we get to the temple, the faster we get the first key. The faster we get the first key, the faster we get the second one, and the faster we get to the pyramid. Therefore, we get the treasure faster – and we get out of the jungle sooner. See?”

Octavia sighed, feeling utterly defeated. Why couldn’t Vinyl ever agree with her on just one thing?

“I’m not an idiot, Tavi,” Vinyl added, as if she’d read Octavia’s mind. “I just want to get to the temple, and then if we haven’t found food by then, we’ll look in the areas around the temple. Sound good?”

“Yes, I suppose so,” Octavia reluctantly agreed. Despite this small compromise, she still felt as though she were getting the small end of the stick in this adventure. Vinyl had been controlling things from the very start of their journey, and despite her revealing her true purpose behind the trip, Vinyl was still making the decisions between the two of them.

So help me, Celestia, if she doesn’t start listening to me soon… Octavia thought silently. Resigning herself to the fact that she couldn’t do anything against Vinyl at the moment – at least, not so long as she wanted at least some degree of protection and companionship – Octavia silently continued trekking through the jungle with her companion.


“Well, whaddya think, Tavi?” Vinyl asked Octavia cheerfully as they reached the first temple marked on Vinyl’s map. As Vinyl had predicted, they had reached it in the early afternoon. On their way to the temple, they had also been fortunate enough to find some exotic and tasty fruit which they had eaten. In addition, they had found some small black berries, which they were saving for if they couldn’t find any more food.

“It’s… smaller than I expected,” Octavia admitted. From their position on a ridge overlooking the temple, they could see the entire exterior of it – the temple barely seemed to be one hundred metres long. It had a set of stone doors as a front entrance, currently sealed shut.

Giving the temple a quick glance once more, Octavia spotted a large hole in the ceiling towards the further end of the temple – no doubt a result of age. “Well, shall we enter through there?” she asked Vinyl, pointing a hoof at it. “It may be a bit difficult to get up onto the top of the temple, but once we have-”

“Nah, that’s boring,” Vinyl said, jumping off the ridge and sliding down a smaller slope to just in front of the temple. As she landed, she noticed that the dirt she was standing on seemed to be covering some tiles. It looked like this temple might have been bigger once, before nature managed to overtake it. As it was, the temple was swarmed by trees so much that it would have been hard to spot from in the air.

Sighing, Octavia followed Vinyl down the ridge and to the front of the temple. “I suppose you’ll want look for water after we’ve explored the temple?” she asked.

“Hmm… I wouldn’t mind exploring the temple now,” Vinyl mused, “but I guess we’d better look for water, huh?” This surprised Octavia – she’d expected Vinyl to want to go into the temple as soon as possible.

“Well… it’s not exactly as if we’re dying of thirst,” Octavia pointed out. Although she wouldn’t admit it to Vinyl, she was somewhat curious about the temple now that they’d reached it, and they still did have a little water left.

“So we’ll go in now?” Vinyl asked Octavia, her grin broadening.

“I suppose,” Octavia replied. “How are we supposed to get the doors open though?” she asked. “Wait – let me guess, we have to find some sort of tablet which we insert into a pedestal to open them? Or there’s a lever somewhere which we have to take an agonisingly long path to reach in order to open the doors?”

Silently, Vinyl’s activated the magic of her horn to surround the doors in a telekinetic field. They swung open easily, offering no resistance. “…Or you could do that, I suppose,” Octavia admitted.

The two ponies entered the dark temple. The room they entered was dark, and so Vinyl activated the spell to light the tip of her horn. “Wow! Isn’t this awesome, Tavi?” she suddenly said excitedly. “Just look at this room!”

“Awesome” wouldn’t have been the word Octavia would have used to describe the room they were in. Aside from the annoyance of the darkness, there were webs coating most of the walls and ceilings. Likewise covered in cobwebs were some torch holders in the wall, their fires having been extinguished years ago. In the middle of the room were four large supporting columns covered in intricate hieroglyphs.

Oh, and there were also several dozen coffins in the room, carved entirely out of stone. They were lined up neatly around the columns in three rows. Like the walls and ceiling, they were coated heavily in cobwebs. Overall, the feel of the room was less “awesome” and more “spooky”.

“So, what now?” Octavia asked. “Is this key we’re looking for in this room? In one of the coffins?” She immediately regretted saying that. Knowing my luck, it probably will be, she thought.

“Well… to tell the truth, I’m not really sure what the key we’re looking for is,” Vinyl admitted. “It could be in this room, it could not be. The legends surrounding the treasure are pretty vague.”

“Well then, I suppose we may as well head out of this room,” Octavia said hastily. “If we don’t find anything else in the rest of the temple, we’ll come back.”

“Oh, come on, Tavi!” Vinyl protested. “There’s no point in exploring the rest of the temple if it turns out that the treasure is in here, is there? Go on, open one of the coffins and see whether the key is in it.”

“What?!” Octavia asked, shocked. “Why should I?”

“Because you’re the one who suggested it, that’s why!”

“I can’t open up the coffins, they’re too heavy! Do it with your telekinesis!”

“No!” Vinyl argued. “You do it with your hoof!”

Octavia tapped the lid of the nearest coffin with her hoof as lightly as she could. Naturally, it failed to open. “Okay, your turn, Vinyl.” Grumbling, Vinyl Scratch surrounded the lid of the coffin with her telekinesis, and cautiously slid it to one side. It fell to the floor with an almighty CRASH!

Both ponies looked to each other nervously. Then, hesitantly, they leaned over the coffin and looked in. A wave of stale air hit them – this coffin had evidently been sealed for centuries. Inside the coffin was the decayed corpse of a pony, wrapped up in filthy bandages. The years hadn’t been kind to this pony’s body.

“Well, that was anticlimactic,” Vinyl said. “I was hoping there’d be more in there than –”

“Than a body, what the coffin was designed for?” Octavia replied smartly. Behind her glasses, Vinyl rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Straining slightly with the weight, Vinyl lifted the lid of the coffin back on with her telekinesis. “Well, what now?” Vinyl asked.

“I suppose that we’ll have to just head through the rest of the temple, and return here if we can’t find the key?” Octavia suggested. Vinyl nodded.

“Sounds like a plan.” The two were nearly at the exit of the room, opposite the doors they had entered through, when the sound of grinding stone caught their ears. Both spun around, worried that the mummy pony had somehow come back to life and was climbing out of his coffin… but it was just the doors of the temple sliding shut.

“How in the hay does that work?” Vinyl wondered out loud.

“Magic, one must suppose,” Octavia theorised. Both turned back around to continue through the temple, knowing that they could get out using Vinyl’s magic just as easily as they got in… when the same noise of grinding stone sounded once more.

“Vinyl… you closed the lid of that coffin, didn’t you?” Octavia asked as she turned back around.

“’Course,” Vinyl answered, her voice shaking slightly as she said so. “If I ask why you’re asking, am I going to regret it?” As she spoke, the noise continued sounding behind her.

“Yes,” Octavia said, her legs shaking slightly now. She wanted to turn and run, but she was petrified by fear. Reluctantly, Vinyl turned around to see her suspicions come true.

Each of the coffins was opening one by one, and mummy ponies similar to the one Vinyl and Octavia had examined earlier were climbing out. Somehow, some sort of magic had given them the energy and strength to return to life… or at least, a pale imitation of it. As they took in their surroundings, somehow able to see in the mostly-dark room, the mummy ponies started stumbling towards Vinyl and Octavia, who were still standing by the door.

“Oh, horseapples,” said Vinyl.

Chapter Five: Darkhoof and Stumblefeather

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Sweat ran down Vinyl’s brow as she tried to work out what to do. Should she try to hurl the nearest mummy ponies away with her telekinesis? Should she buck them? Should she get out her machete and attack them with it? In the end, she went for a much simpler, and in her opinion, better idea.

“EVERYPONY FOR THEMSELVES!” Vinyl cried out, forming a telekinetic field around the exit doors and trying to hurl them open as she galloped towards them. Unfortunately, these doors were much heavier than the entrance doors, and Vinyl couldn’t open them in time – instead of dashing through them like a terrified schoolfilly, as she had planned, she merely crashed into the heavy stone doors.

“Good to know you’ve got my back, Vinyl,” Octavia said sarcastically. She too seemed to be torn as to what to do – she was facing a mummy pony, alternating between preparing to leap at it and preparing to leap away. The mummy pony let out a low moan, and started to lean forwards… when it was surrounded by a blue, sparkly field and thrown against a nearby wall.

“No probs, Tavi,” Vinyl said, grinning as though she fought mummy ponies every day of the week. She lashed out with her telekinesis at several more of the mummies as they got closer, trying to keep them as far away as she could.

“I realise that now may not exactly be the greatest opportunity to talk about this, but you realise that my name is Octavia – right, Vinyl?” Octavia asked as she bucked a mummy pony which Vinyl had missed.

“’Course I do, Tavi,” Vinyl replied. She was keeping the mummies back as best she could, yet they were still managing to slowly press her and Octavia up against the back wall of the room.

In spite of Octavia’s powerful bucking and Vinyl’s telekinetic might, the mummy ponies seemed to be suffering no visible damage. They would be knocked to the ground, pick themselves up, and then continue shuffling over to the two vulnerable mares. If they couldn’t find a way out of this room soon, or find a way to stop the mummy ponies for good, it looked like this would be the end of Vinyl and Octavia’s journey.

“You got any ideas, Tavi?” Vinyl asked as she tried taking a step back and instead found herself pressed up into a corner. Right next to her was Octavia, who had been backed up into the same spot.

“Can you think of what brought them to life?” Octavia questioned, having to raise her voice over the small crowd of mummy ponies moaning. “If we could work that out, we might be able to return them to their former state!”

“Uh… maybe when the door closed, it did something to bring them to life?” Vinyl suggested, sidestepping into Octavia to avoid the bite of a mummy pony with its mouth exposed. A moment later, she forced her magic into overdrive and pushed the entire group of mummies over with a telekinetic burst which left her horn throbbing painfully afterwards.

“What? That’s the stupidest idea I’ve heard!” Octavia said. She leaped over the individual bodies of the mummies before they could get up. Behind her, Vinyl was clutching her head, trying to shake off the dizziness she was experiencing after using such a powerful burst of magic.

“I don’t hear you suggesting any better ideas, Tavi,” Vinyl growled through gritted teeth. She leapt over the bodies of the mummy ponies as they started picking themselves up. Vinyl joined Octavia, who was now standing on top of one of the coffins formerly occupied by their foes.

“Fine then,” Octavia said angrily, “open the doors, and see whether or not that does anything to stop the mummies!”

“Urgh – give me a minute here,” Vinyl said wearily as another wave of dizziness hit her. “Just keeping my horn alight is hard enough at the moment.” By now, the first few mummies had reached the coffins, and were struggling to climb up onto them. A quick hoof to the face, courtesy of Octavia, delayed them by a few seconds.

“Well please hurry it up!” Octavia said impatiently as she bucked another mummy pony hard enough to knock it down. “Once you’ve tried your silly theory, we can move onto another one – if we survive that long.”

“Fine!” Vinyl grumbled, fighting through the dizziness and pain in her horn. She focused on the closed doors of the temple and surrounded them in her trademark blue magical aura. Black spots appeared in her vision as the doors slowly scraped across the floor and opened once more. Exhausted, the light at the end of Vinyl’s horn extinguished as she stumbled slightly from the coffin she was standing on. “There!” she gasped.

There was a moment of silence before Octavia answered. “Well, Vinyl, it seems that I owe you an apology. Opening the doors really did –”

“GRRAWWWGHHH!!!” Although there was sunlight entering the room through the open door, it didn’t light the whole room, masking the exact locating where the roar came from. Octavia squealed in surprise, before kicking a hoof at where the noise sounded from.

“Vinyl!” Octavia shouted in a panic. “WHY AREN’T THE MUMMY PONIES DEAD YET?!”

“How am I supposed to bucking know?!” Vinyl asked. She was lying down on the coffin now, which was helping with the dizziness she had been experiencing a moment ago. “Look, I’ll – I’ll just try to get the other doors open, alright?” As she spoke, Vinyl felt something touch one of her back hooves, and she instinctively kicked back in response, feeling satisfied when she felt her hoof connect with something solid.

Vinyl got back up, feeling slightly better now that she had rested for a few moments. It seemed as though Octavia had made a smart tactical decision in climbing onto the coffins, as the mummies couldn’t easily climb up onto them, and it was fairly easy to kick those that got too close. Focusing, Vinyl once more lit up the tip of her horn with magic.

“Alright, Tavi – you distract them, I’ll open the doors,” Vinyl said confidently.

“What?! Me, distract them?” Octavia asked, shocked. She quickly jabbed a hoof at a mummy pony which was getting a bit too close for comfort. “What do you expect me to do, throw my hat at them?”

“That’d actually be a good idea,” Vinyl answered, not listening to her properly. As she spoke, the entrance doors to the temple slid shut once more – why they had apparently been enchanted to do that was a mystery. Vinyl turned to face the exit doors of the room, which the light from her horn illuminated. She focused intently on them as her telekinetic field surrounded them.

“Vinyl! Hurry up!” Octavia said in a panicked tone. Vinyl was concentrating on opening the heavy doors without overtaxing her magic, and so didn’t waste a moment glancing at her companion, but if she had, she would have seen Octavia frantically kicking each of the mummy ponies swarming her coffin.

“Nearly… done…” Vinyl grunted, feeling the strain of casting two spells at once. The exit doors were about half open now, but Vinyl was opening them as wide as possible in case they slid shut as the entrance doors had.

Vinyl’s concentration unexpectedly broke as she felt something painful on her hoof. Looking down, Vinyl gasped as she realised that a mummy pony had bitten her. “Urgh!” she instinctively said, recoiling. She quickly kicked her hoof forwards, throwing the mummy forwards.

“Right, I’ve had enough of these bucking mummies,” Vinyl called across to Octavia, who had resorted to using her lunchbox as an improvised hitting weapon against the mummies. “Let’s get out of here, Tavi!” Vinyl leapt from the coffin she was standing on and over the mummies that had been attempting to reach her.

Hoping that Octavia was following her lead, Vinyl galloped through the doors, which were sliding shut as she had feared. Fortunately, it was barely a moment after Vinyl passed through the doors that Octavia followed her, likewise fleeing from the mummies.

Vinyl and Octavia collapsed to the ground, panting with the exhaustion that comes after performing lots of spells and fighting mummies, respectively. With the mummies being so slow, none of them had managed to get anywhere near the doors before they shut.

“Good job, Vinyl,” Octavia complemented.

“Thanks,” Vinyl said, still drawing in breaths heavily. She examined her hoof where the mummy pony had bitten her. The mummy hadn’t been strong enough to draw blood, but there was a dark bruise forming, and her hoof ached as she moved it. “You still got those bandages, Tavi?”

Wordlessly, Octavia opened her saddlebag and passed her roll of bandages over to Vinyl, who wrapped a few lengths around her bite wound. “Vinyl… you realise that bandages traditionally stop bleeding, don’t you?” Octavia asked.

“’Course I do,” Vinyl replied, smiling as usual, “but I figure that I can use it as a bit of support.” She shrugged as she continued. “And you never know – it might start bleeding, right?”

“I suppose,” Octavia agreed. Although Vinyl had been annoying her more and more over the past twenty-four hours, Octavia had to admit it – she knew how to handle herself in a fight.

Both mares eventually picked themselves up. After all, they had only just begun to explore the temple, and there was still a key to find. In front of them were two lengthy and empty corridors, the walls covered in ancient hieroglyphs and intricate patterns, just as the pillars in the mummy room had been. There were small openings in the walls to let light in, eliminating the need for Vinyl’s light spell. Each took a step towards a different corridor.

“It’s this one!” they said at the same time.

“Pfft. As if, Tavi!” Vinyl argued. “Everypony knows that the left corridor is always safe!”

“And what evidence are you basing that on, Vinyl?” Octavia countered. “This corridor has fewer hieroglyphs then yours – I would wager that means fewer traps.”

“Amateur mistake, Tavs – they’re trying to trick you into –”


Both ponies looked to the floor where Vinyl was standing. The large tile she had been standing on had depressed into the ground. “…What do you suppose that does?” Octavia asked cautiously. A moment later, she got her answer.

KRA-KOOM!!! A large crack sounded out in the room behind them, followed by the sound of something heavy falling. It was almost as if the roof was caving in… but that was impossible, wasn’t it? As both ponies stared at the doors they had entered through, a large crack started running up the wall.

“Look out!” Vinyl cried, wrapping Octavia in her telekinetic field and throwing the two of them forwards. It wasn’t a moment too soon – the wall broke into several pieces and fell to the floor, landing in the spot the two mares had occupied half a second ago. Whatever the switch Vinyl had stood on did, it was effective.

“Oh man!” Vinyl said as she turned around to inspect the rubble. “How are supposed to get out now?” The wall had broken down into large pieces which would be too heavy to move by either hoof or telekinesis, and they were blocking the door.

As Octavia pondered Vinyl’s words, she had an idea. “Easily, Vinyl,” she said, smiling slightly. “We’ll get out through that hole in the roof – remember?”

“Hey, great idea, Tavi!” Vinyl agreed. “We get the key, then find some way out through there… I like it! Now, are you coming?” She gestured with her head down the corridor she had been facing before.

“Surely you’re kidding, Vinyl,” Octavia replied. “The trap to destroy the previous room’s roof was in front of that corridor – I’d say that proves that that corridor is dangerous, would you not?”

“Nah, that’s just to trick silly fillies like you, Tavi!” Vinyl said dismissively. “They put it there, so that you think it’s dangerous, then ponies like you head down your corridor because they think it’s safe, when it’s not!” Once she had finished speaking, she started trotting down the corridor she thought was safe. “Coming, Tavi?”

“Not this time, Vinyl,” Octavia muttered under her breath. For once, she wasn’t letting Vinyl force her path. Confidently, Octavia put a hoof forwards into the corridor she was facing - and then swiftly jerked it back as the tile she put it onto depressed. Parallel to where her hoof had been, a panel slid to one side… and nothing happened. Octavia cautiously waved her hoof in front of the panel, but if some sort of trap was supposed to activate, it didn’t.

“Well, who says that all ancient traps are still in working condition to the present day?” she mused out loud. Octavia confidently started trotting down the corridor, sure that any other traps would be likewise broken. Naturally, this proved to be her undoing a moment later as she stepped onto another hidden switch, causing a set of jagged spears to emerge from a hidden alcove and jab at the space ahead of her.

Octavia squealed, and leapt back in fright. Of course, the next trap would be working perfectly fine, wouldn’t it? Maybe it would have been a good idea to stick with Vinyl, Octavia reluctantly thought as she watched the spears retract back into their alcove. She slowly turned around, planning to go down Vinyl’s corridor instead, when –

“Oof!” As Octavia turned around, she hit something hard and pointy. Wincing, she rubbed her forehead with a hoof to ease the pain. After a moment, she realised what she had hit.

“Hey Tavi,” Vinyl said casually. “’Sup?”

“Vinyl?” Octavia asked in confusion. “What are you doing here?”

“This trap activated and nearly – I mean, I was nearly through that corridor when I realised that you weren’t following me,” Vinyl said. “So I decided to come back to see what was keeping you, and now I’m here!”

“Oh. Well, thank you, Vinyl,” Octavia said. Deciding not to admit that she had been about to do a similar thing herself, she instead politely suggested “Follow me through this corridor?”

“Sure,” said Vinyl. Treading cautiously, the two mares managed to make their way through the corridor without activating any more traps. Although they were quite pleased with themselves, unknown to the duo, Octavia’s initial thoughts had been correct: almost every single trap in the corridor had stopped working decades ago.

“Look. There’s our exit,” Octavia said, pointing a hoof to the ceiling as the two exited the corridor. Sunshine was streaming through the hole, illuminating the small room the two were in. Opposite to the corridor they had just traversed was a door similar to the ones they had passed earlier in the temple. “How are we supposed to get up there?” Octavia wondered out loud.

Vinyl shrugged. “Dunno, but for now let’s worry about this key!” she said, opening the door with her telekinesis. The two mares stepped through the doorway to see what awaited them, Octavia slightly more hesitantly than Vinyl.

As with the previous room, there were openings in the walls to let light in. Opposite the doorway was a small pedestal – if there was anything on it, it wasn’t visible from the doorway. Other than that, the room was exactly the same as the rest of the temple, if slightly dirtier. Octavia silently thanked Celestia that there were no more mummies to fight.

“Well, I guess the key must be up on that pedestal,” Vinyl said confidently. “C’mon, Tavs – let’s go get it.”

“Wait, Vinyl!” Octavia exclaimed in fright as Vinyl trotted across the floor. She had a horrible feeling about this room.

“Wait for what, Tavi?” Vinyl asked, confused.

“I… I thought that there might be more traps triggered by the floor,” Octavia admitted, realising how silly the idea sounded when Vinyl was already halfway across the room. She slowly walked up to Vinyl, still feeling paranoid. “…Sorry. I guess I was wrong.”

“You’ve been reading too much Daring Do, Tavi,” Vinyl said, playfully hitting Octavia with a hoof. She continued crossing the floor over to the pedestal. “Hey! There’s no key here! Just a dumb rock!” She held it up for Octavia to see – it was a stone tablet with hieroglyphs carved into it.

Octavia sighed and rolled her eyes. “Vinyl, have you considered that that tablet may be the key?”

“…Oh! Good thinking, Tavs!” Vinyl said as she gave the tablet a closer inspection. “Still, that’s a bit boring. I was expecting…”

“An actual key made of metal?” Octavia said in a deadpan tone. Between the traps, mummies, and Vinyl, she was starting to regret coming into the temple now, and wishing that they’d gone to look for water straight away after all.

“Well, who’s to say it isn’t, Tavi?” Vinyl pointed out. “You could be wrong, and this could just be a worthless stone tablet after all.” She shrugged and levitated the tablet into her saddlebag. “…But, I’m kinda sick of this temple, and I don’t see why there’d be all of those traps and mummies guarding this tablet if it wasn’t important, so let’s get outta here!”

“I do believe that this is the first time we’ve both shared opinions on something, Vinyl,” Octavia agreed. The two mares left the room and looked up at their improvised exit in the previous room.

“So… how were you planning on getting us up there?” Vinyl asked after several moments of silent staring. The ceiling was a good fifteen or twenty metres above their heads, well out of reach.

“…I’m not quite sure yet,” Octavia admitted. If they could grip the wall properly, then it would have been possible for the two ponies to climb up the wall, but unfortunately, hooves are not designed for gripping onto walls with. “I don’t suppose you’d be strong enough to levitate us up there?” Octavia suggested.

Vinyl shook her head, although her eternal grin was still plastered on her face. “Sorry, Tavs. Even if I hadn’t used a ton of magic recently, I’m nowhere near strong enough to lift that much weight that far.” She put a hoof to her chin in contemplation. “Although... we could reach it if…”

“Yes?” Octavia prompted. A moment later, she got a hoof to the face as Vinyl unexpectedly climbed up onto her head. “Vinyl, what are you –”

“…Nope. Can’t reach it from here,” Vinyl said, standing on her back hooves to try and reach the hole in the ceiling. She jumped from Octavia’s head back down to the ground. “Well, that’s me out of ideas.”

Octavia was suddenly struck by an idea which she probably should have thought of a while ago. “Vinyl, do you still have that rope?” she asked excitedly.

“Yeah, of course I do,” Vinyl answered, grinning as usual. She levitated it out of her saddlebag, and made a lasso out of it. “Let’s hope there’s something up there that it can catch on!” she said as she used her telekinesis to throw it upwards through the hole in the ceiling. After pulling on the rope twice and having it fall back through the hole, the third time Vinyl threw the rope it caught on something.

“Aww yeah!” Vinyl said happily, pulling on the rope to confirm that it could support at least one pony’s weight. Once she was sure, she wrapped her hooves around it, and started climbing up. Octavia patiently waited, ready to try and catch Vinyl if she were to fall, although fortunately she needn’t have worried, as Vinyl got up to the ceiling without any problems.

It was then Octavia’s turn to climb. She wrapped her hooves around the rope and slowly began climbing up – it was harder than Vinyl had made it look. I hope that Vinyl is ready to catch me with her telekinesis should I fall, Octavia thought as she looked down at the floor of the temple. It was a long way up, and if she hit it from this height, the results wouldn’t be pretty.

Despite her somewhat slower speed, Octavia eventually managed to make it to the top of the temple and climb out through the hole. “Took your time,” Vinyl said, although her tone wasn’t accusatory. To one side of the temple was a large tree, and once Vinyl had coiled up her rope and returned it to her saddlebag, the two mares climbed down it and to the ground.

“Well, that was fun!” Vinyl said, stretching her hooves in apparent relaxation. “Want to head to the next temple now, Tavi?”

“We still need to find water, remember?” Octavia reminded the unicorn. For a brief moment, Octavia thought she heard the sound of a pegasi flying, but once she looked up, she saw nothing. Bother, she thought. I certainly wouldn’t object to leaving the jungle right now.

“Oh yeah, I forgot about that,” Vinyl said sheepishly. She levitated her map out of her saddlebag as she continued. “Hmm… there’s a decent sized river about half an hour from here, and it looks like the nearest source of water, unless there are some streams nearby that aren’t marked on this map.”

“I suppose that will have to do,” Octavia sighed. “Which way is this –”


Octavia and Vinyl Scratch both looked upwards as a small shower of leaves drifted down and rested upon them. “…What was that?” Octavia asked.

“Dunno,” Vinyl said. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say that it sounded like a pegasus crashing into that tree.”

Octavia scoffed. “Come now, Vinyl. Who ever heard of a pegasus crashing? They would have to be a pretty bad flier to- ”

Octavia was interrupted a moment later as out of the tree fell a pegasus. Although he had fallen unconscious, he was otherwise seemingly unhurt. He had a dark blue coat and a brown, spiky mane and tail. His cutie mark was a broken vase, and he was wearing a single saddlebag. After an initial moment of surprise, Octavia leaped into the air.

“Yes! Yes yes yes yes yes yes!” she cheered, leaping around Vinyl in circles. “We’re free!”

“Uh… what?” Vinyl asked. Octavia stopped bouncing around for a moment to answer her.

“Don’t you see, Vinyl? This pegasus can get us out of the jungle!” Octavia said to Vinyl happily.

“Huh?” Vinyl asked, confused. “Why would we want to get out of the jungle? We still have to get the treasure.”

Octavia’s expression slowly changed from glee to a cold, hard glare. “Why would I stay with you when I have a chance to return to the tour group? Or better yet, Canterlot?” she asked slowly.

“What?!” Vinyl gasped. “You don’t want to help me look for the treasure? But… what about my dad?”

“Look, Vinyl,” Octavia said, sighing, “as sad as the news about your father is, I’m not willing to risk the dangers of this jungle to help you find your treasure if I have a chance to get out. Once this pegasus has regained consciousness, I’m going to ask him for a lift back to the tour group.”

It was now Vinyl’s turn to start glaring (although the effect wasn’t very strong with her eyes hidden behind her glasses). “Octavia… you –”

“Confound it all to blazes, Stumblefeather!” Vinyl was interrupted as a new voice entered the scene. Both mares looked upwards again to see another pegasus descending from the sky, this one with a dark green coat. His thick mane was a dull khaki colour, and he was wearing an orange jacket. Between the fierce expression upon his face and his bulky build, he would have looked quite intimidating… if it hadn’t been for his cutie mark, which was a pie.

“Honestly, I swear that you’re the worst assistant in Equestria since Princess Platinum ordered her number one assistant to take a letter, who instead had it incinerated by a dragon!” the new pegasus continued as he landed. Ignoring Vinyl and Octavia, he walked over to the blue pegasus, apparently named Stumblefeather. “Get up!” he shouted, kicking Stumblefeather.

“Um… excuse me,” Octavia politely addressed the green pegasus as Stumblefeather picked himself up, apologising profusely, “but who would you be?” Although he seemed angry and violent, she wanted to at least talk to him to gauge her chances of leaving the jungle.

“Me?” he barked as he turned around to answer. “I’m the noble Baron von Darkhoof, of course. And this is my bumbling assistant, Stumblefeather.” Although his tone was harsh, he didn’t appear to be overly hostile to Octavia or Vinyl.

“Pleased to meet you, Baron,” Octavia replied. I didn’t even know that Barons existed in Equestria anymore, she silently thought to herself. “Now – my companion Vinyl and I are both currently lost in this jungle due to… a series of contrived coincidences,” Octavia continued, giving Vinyl a cold sideways glance. “So we were wondering… would it be possible for you to give us a lift out of the jungle?”

“Hmm… I don’t know…” Darkhoof thought out loud.

“Really? Good,” Vinyl hastily said. “You see, what Tavi’s failed to mention is that we’ve just found this groovy stone tablet that we’d like to examine, and we wouldn’t want to disturb you two so… nice to meet you, goodbye!” She grabbed Octavia with a hoof and started dragging her off, not wanting her reluctant companion to get the opportunity to leave.

“Hold on a minute there,” Darkhoof said, flying over the two and blocking their path. “Where did you get this tablet?” He was sounding strangely interested in their discovery.

“Sir, isn’t that just like that big stone thingy we found in the- ” began Stumblefeather, speaking for the first time before Darkhoof silenced him with a hoof to the back of the head.

“Silence, Stumblefeather!” Darkhoof said. “I want to know where these mares found their –”

“But look sir, it really does sound the same!” insisted Stumblefeather, opening his saddlebag to reveal a tablet similar to the one Vinyl and Octavia had found in the temple.

“Hey! That is just like the one we found!” Octavia said without thinking. Next to her, Vinyl smacked a hoof into her face.

“Just tell everypony, Tavi,” Vinyl groaned quietly.

“Then… you must have come to this temple to get the key!” Darkhoof said loudly. “You’re also seeking the treasure!

“Stumblefeather! Take their tablet from them!”

Chapter Six: Up The River Without A Paddle

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“Like buck we’ll let Stumblefeather take our tablet!” Vinyl protested to Baron von Darkhoof, stomping a hoof down in rage.

“Oh really?” Darkhoof said with a mocking tone to his voice. “Well then, maybe you’ll save him the effort and just give it to me?”

“W-what?” Octavia stammered as Stumblefeather started slowly advancing towards her. “Why should we do that?”

“Because,” Darkhoof began, grinning, “if you do, I’ll help you and your unicorn friend get out of the jungle.” Octavia and Vinyl had started to cautiously backing away from Darkhoof as he and his assistant had been pressing forwards towards them, but as he spoke, Octavia stopped.

“Really?” she asked enthusiastically. “In that case, Vinyl, give me the –”

“Never!” Vinyl growled. Her horn glowed with her trademark blue aura and, a moment later, Stumblefeather was telekinetically pushed into Darkhoof, knocking them both over. “You take care of Stumblefeather!” Vinyl said as she trotted up to Darkhoof, kicking him in the chest whilst he was still vulnerable.

“Um… hello,” Octavia meekly said as Stumblefeather picked himself up and hovered into the air. “I don’t suppose I could convince you to forget about this silly fight and to instead assist me in leaving this jungle, could I?” Somewhere to her right, Octavia could hear Vinyl brawling with Darkhoof, each shouting insults to the other.

“Sorry, boss’s orders,” Stumblefeather said, sounding genuinely apologetic. From his airborne position, he swooped down towards Octavia. Octavia flinched and closed her eyes, expecting to be dashed onto the ground after a few moments… only for Stumblefeather to misjudge the angle he was swooping at and instead crash into the ground. His momentum carried him forwards to Octavia’s hooves.

“Well… that was unexpected,” Octavia commented out loud.

Meanwhile, Vinyl had managed to prevent Darkhoof from flying by tackling him to the ground and forcing him down. Although he was slightly larger than her, Vinyl’s telekinesis gave her an advantage and was keeping him grounded… for now.

“Just give me your tablet!” Darkhoof barked, struggling to get up. “You don’t deserve it anyway!”

“Oh yeah?” Vinyl replied cockily, straining to hold down his strong hooves. “And what makes you entitled to have it?”

“It is my inheritance!” Darkhoof shouted, right in Vinyl’s face. She grimaced slightly as she smelled how bad his breath was. “I am the rightful heir to the von Darkhoof treasure, which that tablet unlocks! How do you think I got my tablet?”

For a brief moment, Vinyl hesitated. Was this true? A moment later, she shook the thought off. Screw him, she thought, even if he’s telling the truth, I’m still going after that treasure myself.

Unable to break free of Vinyl, Darkhoof looked over to Stumblefeather, who seemed to have knocked himself unconscious. Standing over his body was Octavia, reluctantly prodding him with a hoof.

“Hey you! Come help me out!” Darkhoof barked. He had stopped struggling against Vinyl by now. Looking over to Vinyl and Darkhoof, Octavia frowned in confusion. Was he talking to her, or Stumblefeather?

“What, you want me to attack Vinyl?” Octavia asked sarcastically, slowly walking over to the two. Between Stumblefeather knocking himself out and Vinyl managing to restrain Darkhoof, the battle was practically over before it had begun.

“Pfft. How stupid are you?” Vinyl asked, growing confident now that Darkhoof’s attack had been stopped. “Tavi wouldn’t attack me for anything. Would you, Tavi?” She gave Octavia a playful shove with her hoof, still prepared to hold Darkhoof down with telekinesis if he tried anything.

“Really? Not even if I got Stumblefeather to escort you out of the jungle?” Darkhoof asked Octavia, an evil grin on his face. “Isn’t that what you were asking for just a few minutes ago? To get out of this jungle?”

“Well… yes, I was…” Octavia said slowly.

“Oh, come on, Tavi!” Vinyl exclaimed. “As if you’re going to listen to him!” Octavia said nothing, instead staring blankly into space as she weighed up the offer that Baron von Darkhoof was making her. “…Tavi?” Vinyl asked hesitantly.

Thinking carefully about it, Octavia made her decision. Naturally, she wanted to get out of this jungle as soon as possible. She raised a hoof and moved closer to Vinyl…

…only to kick Darkhoof in the face. “You honestly thought that I would choose you over Vinyl?” Octavia asked the dark green pegasus, who was wincing in pain. “Yes, I may wish to get out of this jungle, but that doesn’t mean that I shall betray my friend for that opportunity!”

Vinyl grinned upon hearing this, and turned to her Earth Pony companion. “Really, Tavi?” Unfortunately, whilst doing this, she took her attention off Darkhoof for just a moment too long.

“Bah! So be it!” Darkhoof barked. Unfolding his wings and pressing them against the ground to help give himself lift, Darkhoof pushed himself upwards, forcing Vinyl off his chest. A moment later, he was in the air.

“Come, Stumblefeather! We’ll worry about these two foals later!” he shouted at Stumblefeather, who seemed to have recovered from his faceplant.

“R-right you are, sir,” Stumblefeather groaned. He forced himself up from the ground, and flew into the air. Within moments, the two pegasi had zoomed off and were specks in the distance.

“Well, that was weird,” Vinyl said bluntly, staring into the sky in the direction that Darkhoof and Stumblefeather had fled. “I wonder why Darkhoof didn’t want to stay and fight.”

Octavia shrugged. “I suppose that the possibility exists that he and Stumblefeather are just as tired as we are,” she suggested. “Or perhaps he was worried that either tablet may have been destroyed were the fight further prolonged.”

“Or maybe… he’s afraid to take on the two toughest ponies in all of Equestria!” Vinyl said, rubbing Octavia’s head with a hoof affectionately. Octavia winced at this.

“Please don’t do that again,” she said.

“Ah, whatever, Tavi. You know you love it,” Vinyl said dismissively. She got out her map from her saddlebag as she continued speaking. “Now, are we good to head to this river?”

“It sounds like a plan to me,” Octavia agreed. The two mares headed to their destination, walking at a leisurely pace. Between the mummy ponies, the trapped corridor, climbing the rope, and fighting the pegasi, neither of them were in a hurry to exhaust themselves further.

“Say, Tavi…” Vinyl began after a few minutes silence.

“Say, Vinyl…” Octavia mimicked.

“Was that true what you said to Baron Darkhoof? Do you consider me a friend?” Vinyl asked. Although her tone was casual, it was obvious that the question was important to her.

Octavia hesitated before answering, though she tried to hide it. “W-well, of course I do, Vinyl,” she said shakily. “You’re my only companion in this jungle – I’d be a bit worried if I didn’t have a friend here.”

“Aw yeah!” Vinyl said happily, pausing her walking for a moment to rear into the air in apparent happiness. “You know, when this is all over, I’m totally going to shout you a cider back in Canterlot. Ooh! No, even better idea! I’ll buy you a cider at one of my gigs! Then you can see me play!”

Octavia let Vinyl ramble on, busy thinking things over. In truth, Octavia wasn’t sure how she felt about Vinyl – she had surprised herself when she had refused Darkhoof’s offer. Octavia thought back to the moment in which Darkhoof had tried to tempt her. Her current logic was that she was unwilling to trust somepony such as Darkhoof, whom she didn’t know anything about. Although Vinyl may have been manipulative, at least she was seemingly telling Octavia the truth from now on.

After all, the alternative – that Vinyl was growing on Octavia and that she really was thinking of her as a friend – was impossible. Right?

“…and then we can stay at my apartment after the gig!” Vinyl finished, failing to notice that Octavia’s thoughts were a thousand miles away. “Whaddya think, Tavi?”

“Hmm? Oh, sounds splendid,” Octavia answered, not even trying to recall the question Vinyl had asked her.

“Awesome! Now all we need to do is get the other tablet off Stumblefeather and Darkhoof, then we’re all good!” Vinyl said cheerfully.

“Wait, so we’re not going to visit the other temple?” Octavia asked. “We are just going to take the tablet which Darkhoof somehow acquired?”

“Well duh, Tavi!” Vinyl rolled her eyes, although the effect was lost with her glasses on.

“…And how do you suppose we take Darkhoof’s tablet?” Octavia asked with a hint of scepticism in her voice.

“Well, we’ll have to just find some way to ambush and trap them,” Vinyl said matter-of-factly. “Heck, they’re probably planning something similar to get our tablet as we speak.”

“W-what?” Octavia questioned, astonished. “You really think that they’re planning to… to hunt us down, like animals?”

“Oh, heck yes,” Vinyl answered casually. “Isn’t it fun? The thrill of being both hunter and hunted, not knowing whether each moment could be our last?”

“Actually, that was one of the things I was looking forwards to leaving behind once we exited the jungle,” Octavia said in a monotone.

“Oh, whatever! You’re no fun, Tavi!” Vinyl said dismissively. “Where’s your sense of adventure?”

“I believe that I left it behind in the temple after fighting all of those mummy ponies,” Octavia answered tiredly. Changing the subject, she asked “So, you have no idea what the treasure is?”

“Nope. Nopony knows,” Vinyl answered. “All I heard about it was from my dad, and he read all about it in some book. ‘Course, I couldn’t find that book anywhere when I tried looking for it.”

“Did you try a library?” Octavia asked, curious about this book.

“…Hey! That’s a good idea! Why didn’t I think of that?” Vinyl said excitedly. She hit Octavia with a hoof, playfully. “See what I mean when I say that you’re smart?”

“Yes, who would have thought to look for a book in a library?” Octavia asked. Although she rolled her eyes, she was smiling slightly at Vinyl. As annoying as she could be, Vinyl was at least fun to talk to in a silly way. You just had to be prepared for some potentially low-brow conversation.

“Hey, do you think that Darkhoof knows what the treasure is?” Vinyl suddenly asked. “He did say that it’s his inheritance, after all.”

“He what?” Octavia asked, unaware of what little information Vinyl had found out about their adversary during the fight. Vinyl explained to Octavia about Baron von Darkhoof’s claim.

“Hmm… well, that certainly would explain why he’s looking for the treasure,” Octavia mused. “As you say, it would be interesting if he does know what the treasure is.”

“I bet it’s gold,” Vinyl said happily.

“…You think that your father wants gold so that it can save him from whatever he’s dying of?” Octavia asked sceptically, raising an eyebrow.

“Well, what if the gold has a spell on it?” Vinyl suggested, getting excited now. “It could be enchanted to make him better, and then afterwards we can sell it!”

“Naturally, Vinyl,” Octavia said, humouring the unicorn.

For the next twenty or so minutes, the two mares continued on their way, discussing what the treasure could potentially be, and wondering whether they’d meet Baron von Darkhoof and Stumblefeather again whilst heading through the jungle. Before long, they’d arrived at the river.

“So, what next?” Octavia asked as she dipped one of her canteens into the rushing water. It seemed to be clean enough for the two mares to drink, and so far it didn’t look like there would be any more unexpected crocodile attacks.

Vinyl finished filling up her canteen and got her map out of her saddlebag. “‘Corrding to this, we can actually get across this river to get to the pyramid,” she said. “Since we don’t have to detour past the other temple, this should save us a day or two of travel… although, it does place us in some uncharted territory.”

“Let me guess,” Octavia began, “you want us to go through the uncharted territory to save time?”

“Well, I was actually thinking –” Vinyl started before being interrupted.

“Because, even though it’s potentially full of pony cannibals and manticores and all sorts of creatures, you want to save time.”

“No – I was going to –”

“And let me guess – you’ll justify it by saying that we need to beat Darkhoof to the pyramid?”

“No – Tavi – I was actually going to ask you your opinion on it,” Vinyl said, finally managing to say what she wanted to.

Octavia blinked in surprise. “Oh. Well, thank you, Vinyl. I- I was expecting you to simply override my decision once more. Thank you.”

“So, what do you think?” Vinyl asked. “Do we cross here into uncharted territory, and save time?”

Octavia looked across the wide river to the thicket of trees on the other side. Or at least, she would have, if there hadn’t been what looked to be a large spider web wound around most of the trees. If Octavia had noticed it earlier, she would have refused to fill up her canteens at this section of the river.

“Well, I suppose that saving time is always a plus…” Octavia said, thinking it over carefully. “But we should find somewhere else to cross the river.”

“Awesome. Sounds like a plan!” Vinyl said, folding the map up and returning it to her saddlebag.

After roughly an hour, when the mares had decided that they had travelled enough distance from where the giant spider presumably lived, they found themselves ready to cross the river. Unfortunately, there was a problem. A big one.

“…When did the bank rise up so far over the river?” Octavia asked nervously, looking down to the river roughly fifteen metres below them.

“And why is the only bridge to cross the river here so rickety and old?” Vinyl added, pointing a hoof to a simple wooden bridge with rope side-rails. As she pointed, a small breeze rocked the bridge slightly, emphasising its fragility. Vinyl shivered slightly. “I dunno whether this is the best place to cross.”

“In an ordinary situation I’d agree… but we don’t know whether there’ll be any other bridges to cross,” Octavia pointed out. “And obviously we can’t head back down the river… if there had been an appropriate place to cross, we would have done it there.” She grimaced before continuing. “I think we’ll have to cross here.”

Octavia stepped forwards and put a hoof on the bridge, testing its weight. Despite how weathered and beaten the bridge was, it seemed stable enough to hold her. Feeling slightly more confident, Octavia moved her entire body onto the bridge. It still seemed fine.

“Come on, Vinyl!” Octavia called behind her as she started trotting across the bridge, satisfied that it wouldn’t suddenly break. “It’s completely safe!” Being met with only silence, Octavia turned around to see Vinyl standing before the bridge, looking hesitant to step onto it.

“I- I dunno, Tavi,” Vinyl said, her voice at a slightly higher pitch than usual. “I’m not sure whether it’s okay to cross.”

“Of course it’s okay!” Octavia said, rolling her eyes. “Stop being such a scaredy-pony and just cross!”

“But what if it breaks with both of us on it?” Vinyl asked as she slowly and hesitantly put a hoof onto the bridge.

“Don’t be so silly, Vinyl!” Octavia answered. “You’re a unicorn. You can just levitate yourself to safety if something happens.”

“I- I guess so,” Vinyl said, her voice shaky. Slowly, she walked over the bridge to where Octavia was, roughly a third of the way across it.

“See? It’s not that bad, is it?” Octavia asked as Vinyl reached her.

“Nah, you’re right, Tavi!” Vinyl said happily, over her temporary fear. “This bridge is way tougher than it looks! I’ll bet that it’d take a ton of … stuff … to break it!” She jumped on the spot slightly, sending a small wave through the bridge.

Octavia giggled. “I like your thinking, Vinyl, although I wouldn’t do that again if I were you.”

“Now who’s the scaredy-pony?” Vinyl teased as she jumped again, this time slightly higher. Octavia found herself grabbing one of the side-rails with her hooves, surprised at the strength of the shockwave.

“Okay, Vinyl, that’s enough now,” Octavia said, slightly worried now. “Let’s just cross this bridge, and then we can –”

“What’s the matter, Tavi?” Vinyl interrupted. “Worried that the bridge is going to break?” As she spoke the last word, she jumped once more, sending the strongest shockwave yet down the bridge. There was a moment of silence as Octavia held onto the side-rail for dear life, worried that the bridge truly was going to break. And then… nothing happened.

Both mares burst out laughing at the silliness of it all. “I suppose that I did worry a bit much there,” Octavia admitted as she let go of the side-rail and continued walking across the bridge.

“Just a bit,” Vinyl said, grinning as she caught up to Octavia. “I mean, it’s not like the rope’s going to –”


Both mares spun around, in a panic, towards the source of the sound. It took each a moment to realise that one of the ropes holding up the bridge had snapped before they found the planks they were standing on tilt ninety degrees.

Instinctively, Octavia reached out and grabbed the planks with her hooves before she could fall too far. She was hanging from the side of the bridge which was still held up, with nothing to support her legs. Next to her, Vinyl managed to let out a burst of telekinesis to slow her descent and allow her to follow Octavia’s example of hanging from the remaining planks.

“Oh, good job, Vinyl!” Octavia shouted once she was sure that Vinyl was okay. “Just go ahead and break the bridge, why don’t you?”

“Hey! You were the one who kept insisting how sturdy it was!” Vinyl countered.

“I said that it was safe to cross, not that you should jump up and down on it to test it!” Octavia argued. She had been hanging from the planks for less than thirty seconds, yet her hooves were already growing tired.

“Whatever, Tavs,” Vinyl said. “Can you sorta – move further along the planks?”

“Do I look like Daring Do to you?” Octavia argued. “I can barely hold on as it is!” As she spoke, she pulled herself up slightly – she had slipped down a bit as her grip weakened.

Vinyl sighed. “Well, I guess there’s only one thing for it then,” she said, sounding regretful.

Octavia frowned. “Wait a moment, Vinyl – what are you –”

“Geronimo!” Vinyl said, letting go with her hooves and throwing herself back. Octavia gasped as Vinyl fell downwards and landed in the river. She didn’t resurface.

“No! Vinyl!” Octavia called out, as if her words could rewind time and bring her unicorn friend back up to the bridge. After a moment of hesitation, Octavia followed suit and let go of the planks. If Vinyl was drowning, it was Octavia’s duty to rescue her as her friend.

Octavia hit the water hard, wincing as she felt some water go up her nose. Fortunately, the river was deeper than it seemed, and whilst Octavia sunk several metres below the surface, it was enough to cushion the impact of her fall.

As Octavia resurfaced, gasping for air, Vinyl’s head popped up next to her. “Yo! Tavi!” she said happily. It seemed as though the unicorn was fine after all.

“What in the name of Celestia were you thinking, Vinyl?!” Octavia shouted, half out of anger and half to make herself heard over the current which was dragging Vinyl and herself further downriver.

“I figured that we couldn’t get across the bridge, and that the river wasn’t too far below us, so it couldn’t hurt,” Vinyl said, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. “Plus, we were probably going to fall off eventually anyway, so it was gonna happen no matter what.” She was still somehow wearing her glasses, although the fall had cracked one of the lenses.

“Well… I suppose everything worked out in the end,” Octavia answered as she thought it over. “Although, we still need to get across this river.”

“Is that a spot over there?” Vinyl asked, pointing a hoof to a small bank further down the river. The two mares paddled their way over, struggling to not let the current carry them past their destination. Eventually, they managed to reach the bank and pull themselves up onto it.

“Urgh, I hate having a wet mane,” Octavia said, shaking herself slightly to dry off. She was trying not to think about the contents of her saddlebag, saturated as it was now.

“Really? I think that you look good with it,” Vinyl said absentmindedly. She had taken her glasses off and was carefully examining the crack.

“…Vinyl, are you hitting on me?” Octavia asked slowly. With Vinyl’s personality, it was hard to tell what was a joke and what wasn’t.

Vinyl grunted in displeasure, not satisfied with the state of the glasses. As she put them into her bag, she answered, “Of course I am, Tavi. You’re the hottest mare I know.”

There was a moment of silence before the two friends burst out laughing. “Okay, now I know that you’re joking,” Octavia chuckled.

“Yeah, you got me,” Vinyl answered, still laughing herself. “Although, can you imagine how weird it would be if we did end up going out? Imagine what everypony would say!”

“Pfft. I don’t think anypony would care,” Octavia replied, a smile on her face. “Who would be interested in seeing us together?”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Vinyl said, starting to head into the jungle from the bank. “We’d be the most boring couple ever.”

“I mean, it’s not like we – wait a minute… do you hear that?” Octavia asked as she followed Vinyl into the jungle. Both mares stood still for a moment and cocked their ears.

“Sounds like… drums,” Vinyl said after listening intently.

“Yes… it does,” Octavia said, a hint of worry creeping into her voice. “There are still tribes around these areas, aren’t there?”

“Well… we should be in the uncharted territory now,” Vinyl explained, “so I dunno whether there are any tribes in this specific area. But it’s always possible.” The two mares had resumed walking, although they were paying careful attention to their surroundings now.

“And do you know whether the tribes are… hostile?” Octavia asked. The increasing frenzy of the drums was starting to worry her. From time to time, Octavia thought that she saw something moving out of the corner of her eye, but whenever she looked, there was nothing.

“I dunno too much about it, since I’m not really an expert on the Amarezon,” Vinyl admitted. “But from what I do know, I think that most tribes will leave you alone if you leave them alone. Although…”

“Although what?” Octavia asked sharply. The distant sound of the drums had reached a crescendo by now, and hushed whispers could be heard from behind some trees. Although Octavia was starting to feel scared now, she didn’t want to say anything in case her and Vinyl’s stalkers decided to attack.

“Well… there are rumours of cannibal tribes in the Amarezon,” Vinyl said. “Although, I don’t think they’ve ever actually been discovered.”

“Well, we are in the uncharted parts of the Amarezon,” Octavia said, breathing in deeply to try and stay calm. By now, her and Vinyl’s walking speed had slowed down to a snail’s pace. “So… it is possible…”

“…That there are cannibal ponies around here,” Vinyl finished. She looked around nervously. “Hey, what’s happened to the jungle? It feels… quiet.”

It took Octavia a moment to realise what Vinyl was on about. “The drums. They’ve stopped,” she said simply.

“What do you think that means?” Vinyl asked.

It was barely a moment later when she got her answer, as a group of tribal ponies leapt out and surrounded the duo.

Chapter Seven: Going Native

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“Tavi! What do we do?!” Vinyl shouted, her voice sounding slightly more high-pitched than usual due to fear.

“How in the name of Luna’s horn am I supposed to know?” Octavia replied, taking a few steps back as the tribal ponies moved in closer. They were all Earth Ponies and, aside from some sort of face-paint and slightly more rugged fur, they didn’t look all that different from regular ponies.

“You’re the smart one! Can’t you think of something?” Vinyl asked.

Before Octavia could reply, a tribal pony with a brown coat and white face-paint cleared his throat. “Uh, you do realise that we’re not going to attack you, right?” he asked. Vinyl’s jaw dropped and probably would have stayed that way if Octavia hadn’t pushed it closed with a hoof.

“W-what?” Octavia asked, shocked by this. “Then what’s with the – the beating drums, and leaping out at us like that?” Somewhere in the back of her mind, a small filly was jumping up and down and shouting “And how come you can all speak normally?”

“That is our traditional way of welcoming guests,” the tribespony explained. “The beating of the drums represents our anxiety to meet new ponies. Our surprise leaping out represents how friendship and comrades can be found in the most unexpected of times and places.” He put a hoof on his chin thoughtfully. “You know, now that I come to think of it, it’s fairly intimidating, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, just a bit!” Vinyl exclaimed, having recovered from the shock. “You nearly gave me a heart attack just then!”

The tribespony chuckled. “That is almost exactly what our most recent guests said to us,” he replied in his deep voice. “I’ve always found pegasi to be somewhat calmer than other races, but these two nearly fell out of the sky when we announced our presence to them!”

Wordlessly, Octavia and Vinyl exchanged glances. Each was thinking the same thing – two pegasi? It was obvious who they had to be. Vinyl faced the tribespony once more. “Say, mister… uh, what’s your name?”

“I am Chief Green Grass,” he explained.

“Right,” Vinyl said, continuing, “Chief Green Grass, when did you meet these guests of yours – these pegasi?”

“It would have been not one hour ago,” Green Grass helpfully answered. “In fact, they are still in our village now.”

“Awesome,” Vinyl said. “Is there any chance that we could go to your village?” Vinyl was already concocting a plan to get Baron von Darkhoof’s tablet from him, assuming that he and Stumblefeather were the two pegasi guests.

“Of course. Why do you think we gave you the traditional welcome?” Green Grass asked. He turned to the rest of the tribesponies, who had silently been listening to the conversation. “Tonight we shall show these two ponies entertainment and a feast the likes of which they have never seen before!” he shouted loudly. The tribesponies all hooted and cheered in response.

“Follow us, and we shall guide you to our village,” Green Grass said to Vinyl and Octavia. “It is not far from here.” With that, he strode confidentially through some ferns, with the rest of the tribesponies following immediately afterwards.

“Vinyl, are you sure about this?” Octavia asked her companion quietly as they followed at the back of the group.

“Sure about what?” Vinyl asked, equally quiet. “Getting the chance to steal Darkhoof’s tablet from him? If I can get it from him and he starts a fight, the tribesponies will side with us since he’ll be the one to start the fight! It’s the perfect plan!”

“How can you even be sure that Darkhoof – and Stumblefeather, for that matter – are the pegasi in the village?” Octavia pointed out. “For all you know, we’ll get there and we will find two random, ordinary pegasi.”

“No biggie,” Vinyl said, refusing to listen to Octavia’s arguments. “Then the tribesponies will give us free food and water and stuff, and we’ll be totally rested to reach the pyramid! You’re not gonna complain about that, are you, Tavi?”

“Well… no,” Octavia admitted. A moment later, a new thought occurred to her, which she immediately mentioned to Vinyl. “But then again… how do we know that they aren’t cannibal ponies?”

“What the hay?” Vinyl asked, frowning. “You think that cannibal ponies who had us at their mercy just a few minutes ago are going to politely lead us to their village and make friends with us? Yeah, that’s totally realistic.”

“They could be lulling us into a sense of false security!” Octavia insisted.

“Yeah… you’ve definitely been reading too much Daring Do,” Vinyl answered, rolling her eyes. “Why are you so eager to find a problem with us going to this village, anyway?”

“I’m not eager to find a problem with it,” Octavia said, defending herself, “I am just preparing for the worst-case scenario. What would you do if we got there and not only was Darkhoof not there, but the tribesponies really were cannibals?”

“I wouldn’t worry about it, since neither of those are gonna happen,” Vinyl said, flashing a grin to the grey Earth Pony. There was a moment of silence before Vinyl added, “I’ll bet you a million bits that they’re not cannibals.”

“…You don’t have a million bits, Vinyl,” Octavia pointed out.

“Well, neither do you!” Vinyl accused, already forgetting whose idea the million bits had been. “How about half a million bits?”

“I would be willing to bet that you don’t have that much either.”

“One hundred thousand?”

“Try a bit lower.”

“…One thousand?”

Octavia rolled her eyes before answering. “Vinyl, even if I had that much, I’m not placing it on this silly bet with you.”

“That’s because you know that you’ll lose!” Vinyl said triumphantly. “Now seriously… how much do you have on you?”

“Unless I lost some of it in the river, I recall having somewhere around the sum of fifty bits,” Octavia replied dully, humouring Vinyl.

“Awesome! Now, I have… twenty-four bits, so how about we bet that much that they won’t turn out to be cannibals?” Vinyl asked a little too enthusiastically.

“What part of ‘I’m not placing this silly bet with you’ don’t you understand?” Octavia replied, sighing as she did so. Vinyl went silent for a few moments.

“…Twenty-four bits that we end up having to run from them, then?” Vinyl finally said.

“Wait… so you think that they are cannibals?” Octavia asked, confused.

“Nah, I’m just trying to get you to agree to a friendly bet,” Vinyl said happily. “And since you won’t bet that they’re cannibals, will you at least bet that we’ll end up having to escape from them?”

“Wait, now you’re confusing me,” Octavia said. “Are you betting that we’ll run from them, or am I?”

“You are, of course. You’re the paranoid one,” Vinyl said simply.

“I am not paranoid! I am just being cautious!” Octavia argued.

“Whatever. So, do we have a bet?” Vinyl asked, holding a hoof out. Octavia sighed for what felt like the hundredth time that day.

“Fine,” she said, shaking Vinyl’s hoof. “But you do realise that I am only agreeing to this because I am humouring you, don’t you?”

“Whatever. Works for me, Tavi.” Vinyl’s grin spread further across her face, confident that she was going to win the vastly sum of twenty-four bits.


“…and here we have the Great Gravel Path,” Green Grass said, pointing a hoof to a long section of gravel. Once they had reached the village, he had immediately given Vinyl and Octavia a tour which was only just now starting to wrap up.

“Why would you need a Great Gravel Pa-” Octavia began, frowning, before Vinyl interrupted her.

“Cool, cool, looks and sounds awesome,” she said hastily. “Now, Chief Green Grass, I was wondering, about those pegasi you mentioned earlier…?”

“If you wish to meet them, then it is no problem,” Green Grass said, not questioning Vinyl’s desire. He walked over to a nearby tribespony who was trying to start a fire, and started talking to him.

“What do you think the odds are that it’s not Darkhoof and Stumblefeather who are here in the village?” Octavia said whilst they watched the chief.

“Probs about zero,” Vinyl said. “Man, I’m gonna be able to get Darkhoof’s tablet – this is gonna be so awesome!” A moment later, Green Grass returned to the duo.

“Unfortunately, I have bad news for you two,” he said calmly. “Concerning the two pegasi we invited into our village… we have been forced to lock them up.”

“What?” Octavia asked, not expecting this.

“You guys have locks?” Vinyl asked sceptically, raising an eyebrow in surprise.

“The pegasi were discovered in possession of a treasure most sacred to us –” Green Grass started.

“What?! How could they have gotten to it –” Vinyl began angrily.

“ – a stone tablet, which if combined with its twin, allows one to access an even greater treasure of our tribe’s.”

A single drop of sweat ran down Octavia’s brow. It sounded as though Darkhoof and Stumblefeather were the two pegasi who had visited the village, and if they had been captured for having one of the stone tablets, then what would happen to her and Vinyl if they were discovered in possession of the other one?

“W-what’s going to happen to them?” Octavia asked shakily.

“And more importantly, what’ve you done with the tablet?” Vinyl asked bluntly.

Answering Octavia’s question first, Green Grass said, “Seeing as how they have broken the most ancient rule of our tribe – seeking the legendary treasure – the same thing will happen to them that has happened to all of the ponies who have come before them to seek it. They will be put to death.”

Octavia winced, whilst noting that Vinyl didn’t seem to have any sort of reaction to this. “And as for the tablet,” Green Grass continued, “we have decided to keep it in the village, so that we may protect it. This particular tablet went missing decades ago, and it is good to know that it has been returned to us in the end.”

Green Grass’ expression changed from sombre to smiling in an instant. “Now, I don’t expect you wish to speak to scum such as they but, should you wish to, come and see me and I will allow you to talk to them. I have business to prepare for tonight’s feast, so I must leave now.”

With that, the village chief departed, leaving Vinyl and Octavia alone.


“No, Vinyl. You are not going to steal Darkhoof’s tablet,” Octavia insisted. The two mares were inside one of the village’s abandoned huts, having asked for some time alone. With the villagers safely out of earshot, Octavia was now trying to persuade Vinyl to abandon her reckless plan.

“Are you crazy, Tavs?” Vinyl replied. “If he’s locked up, then there’s no way he can stop me from grabbing it! Then we just need to head straight for the pyramid, use the tablets to unlock the treasure, and bam! I’ll have the treasure and we can return home! Heck, we might even be able to return to the tour group if we’re fast enough.”

“And if the tribesponies catch you stealing the tablet – or even if they find out that you have the other one – you’ll be put to death alongside Darkhoof and Stumblefeather!” Octavia pointed out. “If you insist on going to the pyramid, could you at least… I don’t know, go without trying to steal the other tablet?”

Vinyl Scratch facehoofed. “Have you forgotten that we need both tablets in order to unlock the treasure, Tavi? We’re gonna need to – waaaaaait a minute,” she said, replaying Octavia’s words in her mind. “What do you mean if I insist on going to the pyramid? Are you thinking up another crazy plan to ditch me?”

“Well, I’ll admit that the thought of simply staying in this village did occur to me,” Octavia said. “It seems safe enough here, and it would mean that I wouldn’t have to go along with your dangerous treasure hunting.”

In response, Vinyl snorted. “Yeah, I’m sure you’d just love it here, Tavi. Face it; you couldn’t keep away from civilisation for a week if you tried.” Her expression changed from a cynical frown into her usual grin as she walked over to Octavia. “And let’s face it – you secretly think that adventuring with me is fun.”

“Well, you’re right about one of those things,” Octavia muttered, too quietly for Vinyl to hear her. Speaking louder now, she said, “Look, I am just trying to look out for you, okay? And if you’re caught stealing Darkhoof’s tablet…”

“Yeah, like that’s gonna happen,” Vinyl said, suddenly cheerful and optimistic. “So, are you in to help me steal the tablet or what?”

“If I say no, you’re going to find some way to force me to help regardless, aren’t you?” Octavia asked. In response, Vinyl’s grin grew larger. Sighing, Octavia answered, “Fine, although I fail to see any benefits of us inevitably being chased out of the village by the tribesponies.”

Vinyl shrugged. “You’d win the bet.”


The hut was completely silent, save for the sound of two ponies breathing quietly in their sleep. Outside, past a few other huts, the tribesponies had all gathered around a large fire and were enjoying a hefty feast. Although tonight was by no means any sort of celebration, there were still much noise to be heard from the direction of the fire.

Quietly, the door of the hut was pushed open and two ponies quietly snuck in. “Are you sure that this is where the tablet is?” Octavia whispered to Vinyl.

“Ssh! Keep your voice down!” Vinyl hissed in response. “This is a sneaking mission! The use of stealth is required!”

“…Says the white unicorn with a neon blue mane,” Octavia muttered under her breath.

“Now, when I was looking around the village before, this was the only hut I couldn’t get into,” Vinyl explained quietly. Since it was too dark to properly see anything, the two ponies were slowly hugging the wall and making their way across the hut that way. “It had a guard outside, so I figure that the tablet must be in here somewhere. Good thing he’s at the feast now.”

“Any idea why there was a guard here?” Octavia asked in a hushed tone.

“Yeah. Baron von Darkhoof and Stumblefeather are being kept here,” Vinyl said dismissively, pointing a hoof to the centre of the room. In the darkness, Octavia could barely see anything, but as she focused, her eyes managed to adjust enough to make out a large cage. It seemed as though Darkhoof and Stumblefeather were asleep, judging by their slow and steady breathing.

Staring at the cage as best as she could in the darkness, Octavia began to feel a strange sense of pity for the two pegasi. Despite their opposition, Darkhoof and Stumblefeather couldn’t really be described as evil ponies, yet they were being sentenced to die at some point in the near future. What’s more, their only crime was exactly the same as Vinyl and hers – treasure hunting. The only difference was that Octavia and Vinyl hadn’t been caught by the villagers yet.

“Ah ha! They’ve left the tablet in Stumblefeather’s saddlebag!” Vinyl said triumphantly. Her search of the hut had led her to the back of the hut. As she spoke, she interrupted Octavia’s train of thoughts, and Octavia slowly walked over to join her friend.

“So… what did you need me for again?” Octavia asked in a slightly bitter tone. “You seem to have found the tablet perfectly fine on your own.”

Vinyl shrugged. “Never hurts to have another set of eyes on the lookout. Now, we’d better get out of this village faster than a Sonic Rainboom. If we stay any longer, the villagers’ll probably figure out that we’ve taken the tablet. You’ve got all your supplies in your saddlebag, yeah?”

Hesitantly, Octavia answered, “Well, yes, I do… but…”

“But what?” Vinyl asked impatiently.

“Well… what about those two?” Octavia asked, pointing a hoof to the cage where the two pegasi were still sleeping. In response, Vinyl facehoofed.

“Dammit, Tavi! We agreed to grab the tablet and then get going straight away, and you want to stick back? And help our enemies?!” It was a miracle that Vinyl hadn’t woken up Darkhoof or Stumblefeather with her voice raised the way it was now.

“So you think that they deserve to die for being caught by the villagers?” Octavia asked coldly.

“No, but I – it’s just –” Vinyl spluttered, trying to find the right words.

“You what?”

“I – fine, you know what? If you want to free them, knock yourself out, Tavi,” Vinyl said, defeated. “But don’t expect me to help you. I’ll meet you outside the village, ‘kay?”

“That’s fine by me,” Octavia said, glad that Vinyl wasn’t putting up a fight. As Vinyl opened the hut door once more and exited, Octavia said to her, “I should only be a few minutes.”

As Octavia approached the entrance to the cage, she saw that it had a simple bolt-like lock made of some sort of bamboo-like substance. Due to the way it was arranged, it could easily be opened from the outside, but not the inside.

“Stumblefeather! Darkhoof! Wake up!” Octavia hissed as she slid the bolt open and opened the cage.

“Who is it?” Darkhoof said, somehow managing to sound tired and angry and the same time. “Oh, you’re that Earth Pony from earlier today,” he said as his eyes adjusted to the darkness and he could take Octavia in properly. “What are you doing here? Are you working with those savages?”

“As a matter of fact, I’m freeing you,” Octavia said, glaring at Darkhoof as he and Stumblefeather picked themselves up from the floor of the cage. “No need to thank me.”

“If anything, you should be thanking me, Earth Pony, for giving you the privilege to save me!” Darkhoof said loudly as he exited the cage. He evidently hadn’t learned any humility from being locked up.

“The name is Octavia, not Earth Pony,” Octavia said coldly to Darkhoof. “And your argument makes no sense.”

“You mean you don’t consider it an honour to –”

“Thank you for saving us, Octavia,” Stumblefeather interrupted obliviously. “That cage was really small.”

“You’re welcome, Stumblefeather,” Octavia said as the three ponies exited the hut. “Now, I shall leave you two to your own devices and go and re-join my –”

GUARDS! GUARDS! THE EARTH PONY IS FREEING THE PRISONERS!” Baron von Darkhoof bellowed unexpectedly. There was a moment of silence before the sounds of galloping hooves rang out, headed for Octavia’s position.

“What in Equestria was that for?!” Octavia asked Darkhoof, shocked at his betrayal. He grinned evilly at her.

“You think that I’d let you and that unicorn get a head start on the treasure?” Darkhoof asked as he rose into the air. “Not on your life, you foolish Earth Pony fool! Come, Stumblefeather!”

As the sounds of the tribesponies grew nearer, Stumblefeather also began hovering, waving a hoof at Octavia as he did so. “Bye Octavia! Thanks again for freeing us!” The villainous duo then zoomed off, with Stumblefeather shouting out, “Looks like Team Darkhoof’s flying off again!”

Starting to panic now, Octavia tried galloping away… only to run face-first into a group of the tribesponies looking for her. “So there you are!” one of them shouted.

“Look! She really did free the prisoners!” another said, opening the door of the hut to show the empty cage where Stumblefeather and Darkhoof had been. Octavia tried backing away, but, to her dismay, enough villagers had arrived that she was surrounded without an escape route.

“Why, Octavia?” Chief Green Grass asked, making his way through the crowd to the grey mare. “Why would you free the prisoners who broke our most sacred of rules?”

“I- I –” Octavia stuttered, trying to think of an excuse.

“Look!” one of the tribesponies said, emerging from the hut with Stumblefeather’s saddlebag, which had been left behind. “The tablet is missing!” There was a collective gasp from the crowd at this revelation.

“So, you were working with them all along?” Green Grass asked, immediately leaping to conclusions. “You freed them so that they could get away with the tablet and get the treasure for you?”

“Where’s her unicorn friend?” somepony in the crowd called out. “I’ll bet she’s in on it too!”

“N-no, Chief Green Grass. It is nothing like that!” Octavia insisted, still stuttering.

“For this crime, there can only be one punishment,” Green Grass continued, ignoring Octavia’s defence. Octavia gulped, knowing what he was about to say.


Chapter Eight: Vinyl and Octavia Are Caught In A Sticky Situation

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“W-wait!” Octavia managed to stammer out. “Surely you’re not going to kill me over something as inconsequential as freeing two ponies, are you?”

“If you knew how much the sacred treasure means to us, you would no doubt turn yourself over to us as penance,” Green Grass said grimly. “Whilst I hate having to do this to a guest of the village, there is no escaping your fate.”

Octavia nervously looked around the crowd in the vain hope that Vinyl had returned to the village for a last-minute rescue. But with Octavia’s luck, the unicorn was naturally nowhere to be seen. Well then, it looks as though I shall have to make my own escape, Octavia thought.

As two tribesponies, holding some sort of vine between them, emerged from the crowd, Green Grass asked Octavia, “Do you have any last words before you breathe your last?”

“As a matter of fact, I do,” Octavia said, trying to sound more confident than she was feeling. “Out of my way!” With that, she started galloping towards the crowd in the hope that in her unexpected frenzy the crowd would part.

“Oof!” Unfortunately, Octavia made the mistake of heading for one of the largest stallions in the crowd, and rather than stepping aside, he simply stood his ground, causing Octavia to literally bounce off him when she hit him. Knocked to the ground, Octavia was temporarily stunned, giving the two tribesponies the chance to restrain Octavia using their vine as a makeshift rope. She was carried back before Green Grass.

“Nice try, but what were you hoping to accomplish?” Green Grass asked. As he spoke, a nearby crowd member passed him a small knife, the handle covered in intricate designs. He took it in his mouth.

At the sight of the knife, Octavia started to panic. Although she struggled to break free of the vines binding her, the tribesponies had done their work well and tied her up too well for her to easily escape. “For aiding two criminals in seeking the forbidden treasure,” Green Grass began, mumbling slightly due to the knife in his mouth, “you shall be put to death.”

So, after surviving crocodiles, mummy-ponies, traps, and pegasi, this is how it ends, Octavia thought as she stared at the knife. In spite of how futile it was, she was still trying to break free of the vines binding her. Rearing his head back slightly, Green Grass swung his head downwards to stab Octavia with the knife, aiming directly for her heart. Wincing, Octavia braced herself for the pain.

“Aargh!” Octavia shouted out… a moment before she realised that she was still alive. She opened her eyes to see that Green Grass had somehow dropped the knife mid-swing. No, wait a moment… he hadn’t dropped it – the knife was levitating in a familiar blue magical field.

“Yo Tavi!” Vinyl called out. She was standing nearby on the roof of one of the village’s huts, allowing her to see past the crowd. “Sorry I took my time getting here – I didn’t think that even you could buck this up so much.”

“Would you kindly free me?!” Octavia called back. “I am somewhat in danger here!” The knife swiftly and expertly slashed through Octavia’s bonds. Octavia picked herself up and brushed herself down as Green Grass turned to Vinyl. Octavia contemplated trying to escape whilst Vinyl distracted everypony, before deciding that it was too risky.

“Vinyl Scratch! If you leave now, we won’t be forced to kill you as we must Octavia!” he said. “We have no qualm with you!”

“Oh yeah?” Vinyl asked, flashing a grin at the chief. “What if I told you that I have… these?!” She opened up her saddlebag and lifted out the two tablets, straining slightly to lift the two relatively heavy objects. There was a gasp from the crowd as they recognised the tablets.

“What the – how did you – return those tablets to us immediately!” Green Grass spluttered. “They are sacred relics which protect the treasure – they belong in this village!”

“Only if you let Tavi go free,” Vinyl said, deadly serious.

“You’d give up the tablets for my freedom?” Octavia muttered to herself in surprise.

“Never! She has freed the seekers of our treasure, and is – wait, do you two also hunt the treasure?” Green Grass asked as he put the clues together.

“Damn right we do! That is… unless you want to trade Octavia for the tablets?” Vinyl asked cockily.

“All we need do is take the tablets from you, Vinyl Scratch,” Green Grass replied. “Your threat has no sway over us.” He picked up the knife from the ground, where it was lying.

“Yeah? Well then, I guess you wouldn’t mind if I were to just drop the tablets now, would you?” Vinyl taunted, letting one of the tablets fall slightly to emphasize the point. “I’m sure that they’ll be able to survive the fall to the ground from up here.” The crowd gasped once more, this time in fear.

“NO! You return those tablets to us immediately!” Green Grass demanded.

“Tavi. Now,” Vinyl insisted. There was a tense moment whilst Green Grass muttered something to himself, apparently agonising over the decision.

“…Fine. You win, Vinyl Scratch,” he said. “Come down from there, and we shall perform the trade.”

Vinyl slid down the hut’s roof and jumped off, carefully balancing the levitating tablets all the while. Octavia was pushed through the crowd until she was facing Vinyl. Standing next to her was Green Grass, who swiftly put the knife to her throat in case she tried anything funny.

“The tablets. Now,” the chief called out to Vinyl, who had moved a good thirty metres away from the crowd.

As Vinyl levitated the tablets across the empty space, Octavia felt a drop of sweat running down her brow. The tension in the air was so thick that you could cut it with a knife. “Please do not do anything stupid, Vinyl,” Octavia whispered. She had a nagging feeling that Vinyl had a trick up her sleeve – or was she really willing to sacrifice her quest for Octavia’s life?

Vinyl dropped the tablets halfway across the empty space between the crowd and herself. “Send Tavi back now, or I’ll take them back,” she said assertively. “I can still reach the tablets with my telekinesis from here.”

“Fine!” Green Grass said through gritted teeth – although that was probably due to the knife he was holding in his mouth. It seemed as though the events of the evening had worn down the calm, understanding personality he’d displayed before. He forcefully pushed Octavia forwards towards Vinyl, who cantered over to her friend.

“Vinyl – thank Celestia you came back!” Octavia said as she reached the white unicorn. Unexpectedly, Octavia found herself reaching out to hug Vinyl, who seemed happy to return it.

“Hey – no problem,” Vinyl said, grinning as though nothing had happened. “Saving pretty mares is what I do.” Although it was hard to see in the darkness, Octavia could have sworn that Vinyl blushed slightly.

“Well, thank you nevertheless, Vinyl,” Octavia said gratefully. “But – you realise that you just gave up any chance of finding the treasure for my sake, do you not?”

“Oh really?” Vinyl asked mischievously as her horn glowed blue. A moment later, the two tablets flew back to her and into her saddlebag.

“What is this?! I was under the belief that we had an agreement, Vinyl Scratch!” Green Grass shouted out, letting the knife fall out of his mouth. In response, Vinyl stuck her tongue out at him.

“Nyeeeeh! Try and catch us if you can!” she taunted. “C’mon, Tavi! Let’s get out of here!” The unicorn began to gallop away into the jungle, followed closely by her Earth Pony friend as she realised that she was serious about just running away from the villagers.

“After them!” Green Grass commanded as he started to gallop after the two mares. The rest of the tribesponies swiftly followed him in chasing after the two thieves.

“Vinyl! What the hay did you do that for?” Octavia asked as she caught up to her friend. “We could have gotten out of there safely!”

“Don’t you have any sense of adventure, Octavia?” Vinyl asked. “And anyway, now we just need to reach the – Octavia?” Vinyl stopped galloping and turned around to see that Octavia was standing completely still, a few metres behind her. On her face was a stunned expression.

“Octavia? You okay?” Vinyl asked, not sure what was going on. “We’ve gotta get out of here before the tribesponies catch us. Remember?”

“You – you –” Octavia breathed quietly.

“What?” Vinyl asked bluntly.

“You finally called me Octavia!” Octavia squealed, leaping at Vinyl in some sort of hug attack. “Vinyl, you really are the best friend a mare could have!”

“N-no I didn’t,” Vinyl said, pushing Octavia away from her. “I called you Oc- Tavi, same as I always have.”

“You did too! I heard it clear as day!” Octavia said excitedly. She seemed to calm down for a moment before jumping up and down in the spot and squealing in joy once more.

“C’mon, Tavi! We’ve gotta leave now!” Vinyl said as she heard the sounds of approaching tribesponies through the trees. She grabbed Octavia by the hoof and started leading her away. Fortunately, Octavia wasn’t so caught up in her glee that she didn’t recognise the danger, and before long the two mares were hastily galloping away from their pursuers once more.

“So Vinyl Scratch,” Octavia began, panting from the galloping, “do you want me to start calling you by your full name now?”

“Wha- no, Vinyl is fine,” Vinyl replied.

“Really, Vinyl Scratch? You don’t have to be embarrassed about your name –it suits you perfectly!”

“No, seriously, Octavia. Vinyl’s fine.” Before Octavia could protest, Vinyl quickly added, “Why are you so excited about this, anyway?”

“Well, I –” Octavia faltered as she asked herself that question. “To tell you the truth, Vinyl, what with all of your coercing me into helping you look for this treasure, and your refusal to listen to me, I wasn’t exactly sure whether you were a mare to be friends with or not.”

“Fair ‘nuff,” Vinyl said, ducking under a low branch as she did so.

“But as I spent more time with you, I realised that you were a good pony, and one whom it would be worth my while to befriend,” Octavia explained. “I don’t have many friends, you see. And yet… you didn’t seem to want to be my friend.” The two mares jumped over a small log lying in their path. The sounds of the tribesponies chasing them through the jungle could still be heard, although from the sounds of things some of them had split up to make the search easier.

“Filly, are you crazy?” Vinyl asked. “I’m friends with everypony!”

“Well, that is something which I realise now,” Octavia admitted. “But earlier, it was hard to tell whether you regretted tricking me into coming on this treasure hunt with you – whether I was a burden to you. But now I realise… you do care about me as a friend!”

“Please don’t tell me you’re gonna say something stupid, like…” Vinyl stopped talking for a moment and thought of what she wanted to say. “…Friendship is magic?” she finally suggested, half-heartedly.

Octavia snorted. “Please, Vinyl. Do you really think that I am so cliché? I like to think of myself as a little more – whoah!” Unable to see properly in the darkness, Octavia and Vinyl found themselves having to try and slow down as they emerged from the thick trees and onto the precipice of a cliff overlooking another portion of the jungle.

“Close call,” Vinyl panted, looking over the edge of the cliff to the trees below. “Another second and we’d have been – Octavia! Look!” She pointed a hoof out past the cliff.

Octavia squinted, not seeing what Vinyl was. “Do you expect me to be able to make something out in this darkness?” she asked.

“Urgh, you are so blind, Octavia,” Vinyl groaned. She grabbed Octavia’s head with her hooves and redirected it. “You see that gigantic, big… thing… over there?”

“…By that, I assume that you mean that somewhat large block of darkness someplace off in the distance, surrounded by inky blackness?” Octavia asked after some more squinting.

“Yeah, that one,” Vinyl said, missing Octavia’s implication. “That must be the pyramid! We can probably reach it by tomorrow from here!”

“Assuming that we can somehow make our way down this cliff…” Octavia said nervously, as she looked over the edge and realised how high above the tree canopy they were.

“Yeah, that’s true,” Vinyl said. “And we should also probably find a place to spend the night.”

“And do not forget,” a new voice said from the darkness, “that there’s also the matter of that tribe whose sacred treasure you stole, who are still hunting you down.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot about them,” Vinyl said obliviously. “Who are you, anyway, Mysterious Voice of the Darkness?” Next to her, Octavia facehoofed as a torch was lit, illuminating the scene. “You!” Vinyl gasped.

“…Were you honestly expecting somepony different?” Green Grass asked, confused. He was surrounded by a group of four or five tribesponies – most of the tribesponies were still looking for the mares after splitting up.

“How could you not recognise the voice, Vinyl?” Octavia questioned her. “We heard him speaking not five minutes ago!”

“Yeah, yeah, everypony pick on the unicorn,” Vinyl muttered.

“Surely you shall surrender the tablets to us now, Vinyl Scratch,” Green Grass said softly. “You and Octavia have no place to flee to – unless you plan to survive a fall from that cliff?”

Vinyl looked behind her, over the edge of the cliff. She looked back to Green Grass, and then back to the cliff again.

“Vinyl…” Octavia began warningly, “don’t you dare.”

“Please, Vinyl Scratch,” Green Grass said, “accept the penalty for your crime.” He took a step forwards as one of the tribesponies passed him his knife.

In response, Vinyl grinned wickedly. “Sorry, Octavia. You’re totally gonna hate me for this,” she said, enveloping the mare in her telekinetic field.

“Vinyl! No!” Octavia protested as Vinyl dragged her over to the cliff edge. “What are you thinkiiiiiiiiiiing?”she cried out as Vinyl dropped the magic field and she entered free fall.

“Geronimo!” Vinyl laughed as she threw herself backwards off the cliff a split second after Octavia. Within moments the two ponies had been swallowed up by the darkness.

Green Grass walked over to the edge of the cliff and looked downwards. He couldn’t see anything. “A coward’s death it is,” he said with a hint of sadness. With the tablets now lost, at least until the tribe could find a safer route down the cliff, he saw no point in delaying the inevitable.

Green Grass gave the order for all of the tribesponies whom had split up to return to the village, and then returned himself. For the foreseeable future, the village would be back to normal, relatively speaking.


It was in the early hours of the morning that Octavia awoke. As she slowly opened her eyes, she winced as pain erupted all over her body. How did I manage to survive that fall? she wondered. It’s the last thing I can recall, yet somehow I’m still alive.

Squinting in the unexpected sunlight, it took Octavia a few moments to deduce where she was. When she worked it out, her voice erupted into a scream.

“Hey, Octavia,” a familiar voice said wearily from somewhere to her side. Octavia shifted as best as she could to see Vinyl Scratch, looking battered and bruised, yet still alive. “You noticed where we are?”

“How could I not?” Octavia asked fiercely. “We’re tied up in a gigantic spider web, for Celestia’s sake! How in the name of Luna’s wings did we get here?!”

Vinyl shrugged as best as she could. She and Octavia were both wound up in cocoons of silk. “I guess when we hit the canopy of the jungle, it knocked us out, and we landed here. I’ve been trying to wake you up for hours.”

“And what, a gigantic spider tied us up whilst we were knocked out? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” Octavia protested, struggling now to break out of her prison. “Good job landing us into another sticky situation, Vinyl!”

“Heh. Sticky situation,” Vinyl chuckled.

“What in Equestria were your thoughts when you pushed me off the cliff?” Octavia asked now, as she gave up on breaking the spider silk.

Once more, Vinyl shrugged. “The canopy didn’t look too high from the cliff, and I figured that it’d break our fall. Then we’d be out of reach of the tribesponies!” She sounded pleased with herself in spite of the situation they were now in.

“And if the canopy hadn’t broken our fall?” Octavia asked in a deadpan tone.

“I didn’t really think about that,” Vinyl admitted. “The way I figured it, the tribesponies were gonna kill us whatever we did. By jumping off the cliff we still had a chance of surviving. And we’re still alive! How awesome am I?” Vinyl flashed a grin, as if her plan had somehow gotten them into a better situation than the one they were in.

“Urgh. Why is it that we keep going from one bad situation to another?” Octavia sighed. If she could have facehoofed, she would have.

“This situation isn’t so bad!” Vinyl said cheerfully. “Now that you’re awake, we’re sure to think of some way out of this!”

“Fair enough,” Octavia said, attempting to be optimistic. “What have you tried so far?”

“Well, I’ve tried struggling to get out of this web, and I tried shouting at you to wake you up, but neither of those worked,” Vinyl stated.

“…Alright. And what did you try after that?” Octavia asked, afraid of the answer.

“I tried waiting for you to wake up and seeing what you’d have in mind,” Vinyl said. “So, what’s your plan now that you’re awake?”

“Have you tried cutting through the web with your machete?” Octavia suggested, trying not to display her frustration.

“Nah. My saddlebag’s caught up in the web, and it’s too thick to open my bag,” Vinyl explained. “And I’ve tried tearing the web with my telekinesis, but it’s too strong.”

“Can’t you just try and get the machete out through the web? Cut it as you bring out the machete?” Octavia suggested.

“Hey! Nice idea, Octavia! I knew there was a reason I waited for you to wake up!” said Vinyl. As she spoke, a large vibration travelled down the web. “I’ll try and do that now.” Her horn glowed blue, but, to Octavia, there was no visible progress as to what was happening.

“I’m trying to cut through the cocoon from the inside,” Vinyl explained. “It’s pretty thick webbing, but I think I’ll manage.”

“Say… how long do you think that will take?” Octavia asked, with a hint of fear in her tone.

“I’m about halfway through now, so give me another few minutes then I’ll do you,” Vinyl responded. "Why do you ask?”

Octavia nodded her head to the other end of the web, where a gigantic spider was slowly stepping onto the web and advancing towards the two ponies. “You may need to hurry that up somewhat.”

“Oh buck!” Vinyl said as she took notice of the spider. With every step of its legs, the web shook. Vinyl hastened her cutting speed, and within moments the blade of the machete poked through her cocoon.

“Quickly! Help me out!” Octavia cried.

“I’m still not free!” Vinyl pointed out. The blade of the machete continued slicing through the cocoon in a sawing motion.

“Hurry, Vinyl!” Octavia shouted. The front legs of the spider were standing on either side of her.

“I’m done!” Vinyl said as she finished cutting through the cocoon. She crawled out from it and onto the larger web it had been lying on – luckily, the webbing wasn’t too sticky. “C’mon, filly, let’s get you out of there!” she said. Acting swiftly, Vinyl used her telekinesis to push Octavia’s cocoon off the web and towards the jungle floor. With its intended prey out of reach for the moment, the spider started moving towards Vinyl.

“Ouch! Would you please stop pushing me off high places?” Octavia asked as she hit the floor. Fortunately, the fall wasn’t so large as to cause further injury.

“Sorry, Octavia. Just doing my bit to help us survive!” Vinyl said, leaping down from the web herself. Working as swiftly as she could, Vinyl cut through Octavia’s cocoon. The two mares started running away as fast as they could, with their injuries, from the spider, which had started to climb down a tree after them. It seemed as though its large size slowed it down, as it wasn’t too long before it was out of sight.

For several minutes, the two mares walked in silence, Octavia trusting that Vinyl was leading them in the right direction. It wasn’t too long, however, before Octavia broke the silence.

“Vinyl, I just remembered something important I have to tell you,” she said.

“Yeah, Octavia? What is it?” Vinyl asked.

“You remember last night how it looked as though the tribesponies were going to execute me, and then you came in and saved me?” Octavia asked.

“’Course I do. What about it?”

“And you remember how we ended up running away from them? You’ll admit that they gave chase to us?”

“Well, yeah, they did,” Vinyl answered, not sure where Octavia was going with this.

“Good. Vinyl, I have bad news for you,” Octavia said, smiling slightly.

“Huh? What is it?” Vinyl asked.

“You owe me twenty-four bits.”


“Octaaaaaaaviaaaaaaaaa,” Vinyl groaned several hours later. “I’m huuuuuungry." It was around lunchtime, and, by now, the two mares could easily see the looming pyramid over the treetops. “Do we have any food left?” Vinyl asked.

“I’m not sure whether we do,” Octavia said as she opened her saddlebag and began searching through it. “I wouldn’t object to a bite to eat myself; I’m feeling somewhat peckish. Aha!” Octavia brought her lunchbox out of her saddlebag, which contained some small, dark berries the two mares had found the previous day.

“Oh, heck yeah!” Vinyl said upon seeing the lunchbox. “Gimme some! I haven’t eaten since the tribesponies gave us food last night!”

“Don’t forget, Vinyl – we don’t know whether these berries are poisonous or not,” Octavia cautioned.

“Pfft, are you still worrying about that?” Vinyl asked dismissively. She levitated the lunchbox open and removed some berries. “Y’know, I think that this whole jungle is a bit overrated. How many times have we actually eaten something poisonous or encountered some danger?”

“Ten?” Octavia guessed. Vinyl shrugged in response as she started eating.

“Whatever. The point I’m trying to make is that these berries aren’t poisonous; now eat them up before I finish them off, Octavia.”

“If you insist,” Octavia agreed, smiling. She reached into the box, which Vinyl was still levitating, and began eating. Within a few minutes, the two ponies had finished their small lunch. “Happy now, Vinyl?” Octavia asked, although not patronisingly.

“Well, I wouldn’t mind some grass to follow it up, but I guess that’s probably out of the question,” Vinyl said, grinning nevertheless. “Say, Octavia,” she continued as the they continued walking, “since it looks like we’ll be at the pyramid soon, do you have any plans for getting out of the jungle when we’ve got the treasure?”

“Well… to be perfectly honest with you, Vinyl, I hadn’t exactly thought it through,” Octavia admitted. “Do you think that if we lit some sort of fire that nearby pegasi would notice? Assuming that there are pegasi in the areas around here, that is.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s worth a shot,” Vinyl agreed. “And I’m thinking that we could – we could –”

“Vinyl? What is it?” Octavia asked. Her friend had placed a hoof to her stomach, and had a slightly pained expression on her face. There was a moment of silence in which Vinyl failed to answer, before she let out a groan of pain and collapsed to the ground, hugging her stomach with both of her front hooves.

“Vinyl, what is it?” Octavia asked urgently, trotting over to her friend. “Did you get stung by a mosquito again?”

“No, Octavia,” Vinyl said through gritted teeth, “it’s – the berries –”

Octavia frowned. “Don’t tell me that you’re still hungry. You’re going to have to wait if you want more food.” As she spoke, Octavia felt a small rumble in her own stomach, but dismissed it.

“Octavia, it’s the berries – they –” Vinyl was gritting her teeth and closing her eyes now, evidently in pain. “I think that they were poisonous,” Vinyl finally managed to get out.

“What?!” Octavia said, worried now. She felt another rumble in her stomach, only this one was stronger and hurt a lot more. “You’re joking, aren’t you, Vinyl?”

“Urgh… I wish I was, Octavia,” Vinyl said. As she spoke, a sharp pain erupted in Octavia’s stomach, weakening her to the point that she also fell to the ground and began clutching her stomach in pain.

“We’ve got to build another shelter,” Octavia said through gritted teeth. In the past few minutes, her body heat had increased exponentially, and she could feel her head throbbing. “We can stay in there until the poison’s worked its way out of our bodies!”

“No!” Vinyl protested. She climbed onto her hooves shakily. “We’re so close to the pyramid now, and you’re going to stop because of a little poison? Buck that!” Walking slowly, Vinyl continued heading in the direction that she had been before succumbing to the poison.

“Are you insane, Vinyl?” Octavia asked, wincing as another bout of pain caused a spasm in her body. She slowly stood up. “Neither of us are in any state to travel through the jungle!”

“Yeah?” Vinyl asked, slowly turning around. She was wincing slightly, and her hooves were shaking. “Try and stop me, Octavia!”

Sighing, Octavia slowly walked to the unicorn, trying her best not to move too much. Between falling from the cliff and now having some poison in her system, she was in quite a bit of pain. “If you insist, we’ll make our way to the pyramid,” Octavia agreed. “But please, could we at least go slowly?”

Vinyl agreed, and for the next half hour the two mares continued to trudge towards their destination. They found that drinking some water relieved some of the pain, and so they were able to speed up their pace somewhat. In spite of this, however, it wasn’t long before both ponies fell to the ground, too weakened to continue.

“Octavia… am I dying?” Vinyl asked. The two ponies were lying on their backs, looking up at the sky. Neither of them cared about whether anything would find them; they were both too weak to continue.

“I don’t know, Vinyl,” Octavia answered croakily. “I hope not.”

“…I did a stupid thing, tricking you into coming into the jungle; didn’t I?” Vinyl asked. She closed her eyes as she spoke. Why can’t this bucking poison get out of my body? she thought.

“It’s okay, Vinyl,” Octavia breathed, trying to ignore the pain running through her body. “I can admit it to you… this trip has had its fun moments.” There was a pause in which Vinyl didn’t reply. “Vinyl?”

Octavia slowly crawled over to Vinyl. Vinyl’s eyes were closed, and she was breathing slowly. It was impossible to tell whether the poison had knocked her unconscious or she had just fallen asleep from weariness. “Vinyl! Wake up!” Octavia said, slapping the unicorn with a hoof. There was no response. Octavia was about to hit Vinyl again when she noticed something that she hadn’t earlier, on account of her state.

“Vinyl! Wake up! We’ve reached the pyramid!”

Chapter Nine: Temple of Doom

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“Vinyl! Do you hear me?!” Octavia shouted, slapping Vinyl once more. “We’ve reached the pyramid!” Vinyl showed no outwards response. A wave of dizziness hit Octavia as she thought to herself, Isn’t it odd how in fiction unconscious characters always wake up the moment they hear an important word? Real life is nothing like that at all.

Octavia put two hooves to Vinyl’s body and was going to try to shake her awake, but instead was hit by another wave of dizziness which instead made her pause and put her hooves to her head. Oh my, the poison seems to be affecting me now, Octavia realised. She had to wake Vinyl up now, or the two of them might never leave this jungle.

Although Octavia tried her best to shake Vinyl awake, the poison was draining the strength from her body. The jungle inexplicably darkened as Octavia continued to try to shake Vinyl. Was she even shaking Vinyl? Octavia certainly couldn’t feel her hooves any more. Maybe I’ll have a quick lie-down, Octavia thought, her head starting to feel light. I shall surely feel up to full strength once I am up. Lowering her body to the ground, Octavia’s last thought was that she needed to talk to Vinyl before falling unconscious.

Half an hour passed. There was little movement in the sunny area the two mares were lying unconscious in. Each mare was breathing slowly yet steadily. As time continued to pass, a visitor entered the area, although neither mare was aware of this.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Vinyl stirred. She slowly opened her eyes only to quickly shut them again – she had woken up with the sun’s glare directly in her face. “Urgh… my stomach,” Vinyl quietly muttered to herself as she registered burning pain. She could feel something fairly heavy and cold lying across her stomach, but was still too weak from the poison to bother seeing what it was.

After another moment of resting, Vinyl tried opening her eyes again, much more cautiously this time. Looking forwards, past the tree tops, she took note of a large pointy shape. What does that remind me of? she wondered. A moment later, she realised. “It’s the pyramid!” Vinyl said as loudly as she could. She started to get up, but was hindered by the heavy object lying across her stomach.

“What the hay is thAAARGH!” Vinyl shouted as she tilted her head to identify the mysterious object. Greeting her was a large brown snake with mottled black patterns. Not bothering to deal with the proper protocol for what to do upon waking up to find a snake basking across you and your friend, Vinyl kicked herself backwards, managing to get her body out from under the snake’s. It turned to face Vinyl and flicked its tongue at her, seemingly more out of curiosity than malice.

“Get the buck away from me!” Vinyl screamed, grabbing the snake in a telekinetic field and hurling it as far away as she could. It hissed angrily as it hit a tree, before slithering slowly away. As she started to calm down, Vinyl realised how fast her heart was beating – waking up with a snake on your chest tends to give you an adrenaline rush.

Vinyl’s panicked flailing seemed to have stirred Octavia back into some mild form of consciousness. Still lying on the ground, Octavia murmured quietly, “Vinyl…”, and moved one of her hooves forwards slightly. Other than that, there was no sign of Octavia waking up.

“Lucky Octavia,” Vinyl said, looking at her friend still lying on the ground. The adrenaline seemed to have worked most of the poison out of Vinyl’s body, and she was in pretty good condition at the moment. “You don’t have to wake up to a giant snake using your body for warmth.”

Looking closely at Octavia’s position, Vinyl suddenly got a weird thought. “Heh, if I was lying right there, it’d almost look as if you’re trying to cuddle me, Octavia.” This thought circled her head for another few moments before she noticed the flattened grass in the exact position she had just been examining. “Wait a minute… was I lying there?” she wondered out loud, trying to remember. “Was Octavia…?”

Vinyl shook her head. “Whatever. It doesn’t matter,” she said, trying to eliminate the thoughts that were cropping up in her mind. “The important thing is that I wake up Octavia so that she’ll be impressed when she realises that I’ve gotten us to the pyramid already! Plus, I noticed it first!” Vinyl moved closer to Octavia and put a hoof on her shoulder. “Yo! Octavia! Time to get up!” she said loudly, shaking her as she did so.

Octavia moved slightly, squinting up at the unicorn standing over her. “Vinyl…?” she asked confusedly.

“That’s my name, don’t wear it out!” Vinyl said cheerfully. “The pyramid’s just over there! You ready to get going, or do you still need to recover?”

“No… if you want to get to the pyramid, I’d better not slow you down,” Octavia said quietly. She rolled slowly onto her stomach, wincing as her muscles, still sore from the crash the previous night, tensed. She got up onto her hooves. “Well, shall we depart?”

“You sure you’re good to enter the pyramid?” Vinyl asked, concerned. “You look pretty damn sick.”

“It’s nothing,” Octavia said, hoping that Vinyl didn’t notice her gripping her stomach in pain as she spoke. “The poison should hopefully wear off soon, judging by your health.”

“If you insist, filly,” Vinyl agreed, shrugging. “Now, follow me! Like I said before, the pyramid’s just over there!”

Octavia began speaking as they walked. “Do you know how long we were out f-”


A small shower of leaves from one of the nearby trees slowly floated to the ground as a moderate-sized stick sped past them. Octavia stopped speaking and looked upwards to the trees.

“What is it, Octavia?” Vinyl asked, not noticing anything.

“I think that there is somepony in that tree,” Octavia said simply, trying to see where the stick had fallen from. Unfortunately, the uppermost branches of the tree were too thick and darkened to see anything clearly from the ground.

“Pfft. Who’d follow us all the way here?” Vinyl scoffed. “We’re in the middle of the Amarezon, for buck’s sake! Plus, how many ponies could even get up there?”

“Darkhoof and Stumblefeather could,” Octavia pointed out, not taking her eyes off from the branches. “They could just fly up there.”

“Yeah, except you forget that they were captured by primitive tribesponies,” Vinyl pointed out. “They probably flew back to Cloudsdale in embarrassment after that!”

“I’m not so sure,” Octavia said cautiously.

“Don’t take everything so seriously,” Vinyl said dismissively, resuming walking to the pyramid. Octavia reluctantly followed. “Don’t forget, we’re gonna be inside a pyramid in a little while. Even if they are trying to follow us, they won’t be able to do that so sneakily inside the pyramid!”

“I suppose that is a valid point,” Octavia admitted. Although her condition wasn’t as great as Vinyl’s, she had already begun to sweat out some of the poison in the humid mid-day sun and was slowly recovering. “And there is no evidence to suggest that the branch couldn’t have simply been knocked down by the breeze or something similar.”

“Exactly!” Vinyl agreed. “Now, let’s get going to this pyramid! It’s gonna be -”

“We’re here,” Octavia interrupted, pointing a hoof to a set of stairs leading up to what seemed to be the pyramid entrance.

“…Oh,” Vinyl said, dejected. “That was faster than I thought.” She started heading up the stairs, followed closely by Octavia.

“Shouldn’t we be keeping an eye out for traps?” Octavia asked when they were around halfway up the stairs. “Considering that the temple we visited earlier was littered with traps, one would assume that this pyramid is as well.”

“Octavia, you’ve gotta stop being so suspicious of everything,” Vinyl said dismissively. As she placed a hoof onto the next step, there was a loud cracking noise. Instinctively, Vinyl jumped backwards. “Oh buck!” she shouted, somehow flinching mid-air. It was a moment before she realised that nothing was happening.

“Vinyl…” Octavia began after a moment of silence.

“Uh, yeah?”

“Could you please get down?” It was only now that Vinyl realised that Octavia had somehow caught her mid-air.

“Oh. Sorry,” Vinyl said, jumping back to the stairs. Looking at the spot she had stepped on, Vinyl realised that the ancient stone had merely cracked as a result of her stepping onto it, not as part of some elaborate trap. The two mares continued up the stairs, and within minutes were facing the entrance to the pyramid. Unlike the temple they had previously visited, the entrance to the pyramid was a simple doorway.

“I’m not so sure that I like the looks of this,” Octavia admitted.

“Oh, c’mon, Octavia,” Vinyl moaned. “What’s the problem this time?”

“Don’t you think that it’s a little suspicious that the entrance is so… simple?” Octavia asked. “The other temple we visited had those heavy doors sealing it. If the pyramid is so easy to get into, then don’t you suppose that somepony else might have gotten to the treasure already? No… this is too suspicious.”

“Whatever, Octavia,” Vinyl said, trotting casually up through the entrance. Octavia flinched, certain that Vinyl was going to suddenly be shot with thousands of arrows, but nothing of the sort happened. “They’ve obviously built the entranceway open to be friendly!” Vinyl said.

“I’m still not convinced,” Octavia said. She was hanging back a little way before the entrance, eyeing it cautiously. Or at least, she was, until Vinyl enveloped her in a telekinetic field and dragged her through the doorway, ignoring her complaints.

“You’ve gotta be more trusting, Octavia,” Vinyl said.


After passing through several labyrinthine corridors, made of stone and littered with hieroglyphs as the walls of the temple had been, Vinyl and Octavia emerged into a large room. There were some slits in the walls, allowing plenty of light into the room. Opposite from where the two mares entered was a large stone door, which inexplicably had a gigantic stone panel on the ground in front of it.

Octavia opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by Vinyl. “Don’t you dare say something about how careful we need to be and look for traps, or I’ll steal your hat from you.”

“You do realise that I am only being cautious, do you not?” Octavia grumbled. The two ponies headed across to the room and began examining the door. “How do you suppose it opens?” Octavia wondered.

“Dunno; I sure won’t be able to open it with my telekinesis,” Vinyl said. “It looks way too heavy… hey!” She was now examining the large panel in front of the door. “Maybe if we weigh this down with something, it’ll open the door!”

“…You are kidding, aren’t you?” Octavia asked. “Why would the tribesponies build such an elaborate opening mechanism and then put it right in front of the door? How would they build it, for that matter?”

“I dunno, but there’s some sorta block up there that looks heavy enough to weigh down this panel,” Vinyl pointed out. There was a ledge above the doorway the duo had entered, and on it was a large stone block.

“What in Eque- now you’re getting silly, Vinyl!” Octavia protested. Vinyl had enveloped the block with her telekinesis and was trying to move it enough that its weight would bring it crashing to the ground. “Why would they leave the block to weigh down the panel in the same room as the panel? What is the point of it, for that matter?”

“No idea,” Vinyl admitted. “It could be – ” she temporarily stopped talking as the block tilted over the edge of the ledge and fell loudly to the ground “- it could be a test. So, y’know, if you’re smart enough to get through the pyramid you deserve the treasure.”

“You are crazy, Vinyl Scratch,” Octavia said, shaking her head. She was watching Vinyl trying to physically push the block onto the panel, but it was too heavy for her to move on her own. “If that were the case, how would the tribesponies make their way to the treasure if they wanted to check up on it?”

“I have no bucking idea, Octavia,” Vinyl grunted, still trying to push the block. “But I’m just throwing around ideas. Can you give me some help here?”

Reluctantly, Octavia assisted Vinyl, and the two ponies were able to push the block onto the panel. Surprisingly, Vinyl turned out to be completely correct, and as its weight pushed down the panel, the door slid open easily.

“Told ya,” Vinyl said, grinning.

“But… how could that-?” Octavia said, stunned. “The mechanics could not have been built by – the tribesponies would not have been able to reach the block because – and how is pushing a Celestia-damned block onto a panel a challenging puzzle?!”

Vinyl shrugged and walked through the doorway into the next corridor. “Beats me, but it’s probably better not to think about it too much, Octavia. Coming?”

Sighing, Octavia followed her unicorn friend through the corridor and into another large room. As they entered, the door behind them slid shut loudly. “Now there’s another thing,” Octavia pointed out. “How come the door only shuts when we enter the –”

“Just don’t think about it, Octavia,” Vinyl reminded her. This room was similar to the last one, although rather than a doorway opposite the entrance to the room, there was a large wall which nearly covered the entire opposite end of the room. There was a gap between the top of the wall and the ceiling, but the wall was so large that if there was anything above the gap it was impossible to tell. Finally, there were two large spouts emerging from the wall.

“So I guess we’ve gotta get over that wall somehow,” Vinyl speculated, craning her neck upwards. “Do you reckon we could climb using the hieroglyphs, Octavia?”

“I don’t think so,” Octavia answered, moving closer to the wall to examine it. “None of them really jut out far enough to make decent hoof-holds.” As she stepped back from the wall, her hoof pressed a tile which began to depress. Before it could depress in its entirety, however, Vinyl grabbed Octavia in a telekinetic field and pushed her away.

“Careful, Octavia,” she warned. “Wouldn’t wanna activate some traps now, would you?”

“Thanks,” Octavia said. “The last thing we need is for another trap – say, what’s that noise?” A splashing noise had begun sounding. It took the two ponies a few moments of looking around before they identified the source - water had begun to flow at a steady rate from each spout.

“Oh buck!” Vinyl swore. “You accidentally did activate a trap!”

“Oh no,” Octavia said, feeling embarrassed and ashamed now. “What shall we do?”

“We, um… we…” Vinyl Scratch paced back and forth slightly, trying to think of something. The water was flowing fast enough that despite the fairly large size of the room, it was already halfway up each pony’s leg. Vinyl looked upwards to the wall. “Damn, if only we could work out a way to get up there!”

Octavia’s mind started working in overdrive as she tried to work out a way up the wall. Finally, she saw the solution. “Vinyl, I’ve got it!” she said happily. By now, the ponies were neck-deep in the water.

“What is it?!” Vinyl said hastily. She was starting to panic now.

“The water isn’t here as a trap – it’s the solution to the puzzle!” Octavia said triumphantly. Vinyl gave her an odd look which was interrupted by her coughing and spluttering as some water went up her nose. “We just have to use the water to float over the wall!” Octavia explained.

“You sure?” Vinyl asked hesitantly. Both ponies now had to tread the water to keep from sinking below the surface.

“Well, it is a little odd that the switch wasn’t fully depressed yet the water began filling the room,” Octavia admitted. “But nevertheless, I am sure that this is the solution to get out of this room!"

“Alright, let’s try it your way then!” Vinyl agreed. The two mares spent the next few minutes treading water, staying silent lest they accidentally swallow some water. However, it wasn’t long before they encountered a new problem.

“Octavia! Look!” Vinyl said, quickly pointing a hoof before resuming paddling.

“Oh no,” Octavia moaned despairingly. “What in Equestria is that doing there?” The grey Earth Pony had made a fatal mistake – she had assumed that the top of the wall was going to have room for the two ponies to climb over. Instead, what they found was a set of stone bars, giving them literally no room to manoeuvre.

“What do we do now?” Vinyl asked, flailing in the water as she started to sink slightly. The two ponies were still a good ten metres or so below the top of the wall, but, at the rate they were rising, it would only be a few more minutes before they reached it. “The water will just flow out over the wall, right? We can just float up top and wait for it to stop!”

“No, Vinyl –” Octavia paused as she struggled to bring her head back up onto the surface of the water “ - we can’t. What if the water keeps flowing for another hour? We’d be exhausted long before then and drown.” Octavia was already starting to feel sore from her earlier injuries, and really wanted to just get out of this room. Or better yet, the entire jungle – to return to Canterlot, have a nice, long, shower, and then collapse into bed for the next week.

“I might have an idea,” Vinyl said. Whilst Octavia had been daydreaming, Vinyl had apparently been thinking up of a solution to their situation.

“What is it?” Octavia asked. Truth be told, she couldn’t see any way out of their situation, unless Vinyl suddenly revealed that her telekinesis had grown strong enough to destroy the bars preventing their escape, or opened her saddlebag and brought out snorkels and goggles.

“Well, what if –” Vinyl started before sinking under the surface of the water. The water had nearly risen to its maximum height by now. “What if the sw-” Vinyl tried again, before being swallowed up once more. Octavia continued to tread water furiously, waiting for her friend to break the surface of the water. A moment later, her wish was granted. “Oh, buck it,” Vinyl spluttered, trying to cough up water as she spoke. “Just follow me.” With that, Vinyl sunk below the water, voluntarily this time.

Octavia only hesitated for a brief moment before slipping under the water. If whatever Vinyl’s plan was didn’t work, then what other options did they have? Squinting in the water, Octavia spotted Vinyl headed for the bottom of the room. How come it is always in novels that the protagonists can see perfectly underwater? Octavia wondered as she swam towards the white blur she assumed was Vinyl. And what’s more, they never seem to mind getting so much water in their eyes.

Within a few moments, Octavia had reached the bottom of the room. Vinyl had surrounded the tile Octavia had accidentally stepped on earlier with a telekinetic field, and was depressing it. In the name of Celestia, what are you trying? Octavia wondered. She could feel her chest starting to tighten – she probably had half a minute’s worth of air left at best.

The tile depressed completely, and to Octavia’s surprise, a tile to the side of it slid to the side, revealing a hidden underwater passageway. How did Vinyl know about that?! Octavia wondered. Vinyl swam through the passageway first, her lungs presumably as close to bursting as Octavia’s, with the grey mare following as soon as she could.

Fortunately, the path was a short one – it seemed to just lead underneath the large wall, where the only water was that slowly spilling out of the underwater passageway. Octavia and Vinyl Scratch pulled themselves out of the passageway, gasping for air as they did so. For several minutes, they were content to simply lay there, happy that they were still alive.

“How did you know about that passageway?” Octavia asked. Her breathing was still fairly heavy.

“I figured that since the water started flowing without you stepping on the tile, it might have another purpose,” Vinyl answered. “I was pretty much just having a wild stab in the dark though.”

“Well, good guess, Vinyl,” Octavia answered. “I’d take my hat off to you, but it is still in my bag and is likely soaking wet.”

“It’s cool, Octavia,” Vinyl answered, slowly getting up. “It’s the thought that counts, after all. Now, are we ready to keep going?”


“Oh my gosh,” Vinyl said as she and Octavia entered the next room. “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh!!” Inexplicably, she ran across the room, which, unlike the previous two, was simply a large, plain room, and to the door.

“Vinyl, wait a moment!” Octavia called after her. “What if there’s a tr-” Her voice died mid-sentence, and Octavia sighed as she realised how futile it was to try to stop Vinyl when she was excited about something.

“Look at this!” Vinyl said excitedly. She was pointing a hoof at the exit doors, which were gigantic and made out of some sort of black stone. They had a series of elaborate carvings and symbols carved into them, and towards the bottom there were two rectangular slots. “It’s the door to the treasure!” Vinyl claimed, bouncing up and down slightly in joy.

“Are you sure?” Octavia asked. “We’ve only really passed two rooms full of traps and a hoofful of corridors… is that really all that is between foalish treasure hunters and the treasure?”

“’Course it is,” Vinyl said. “See these two slots here? I bet that they’re for the tablets, so that’s why there’s not that many traps!” She took out the tablets and levitated them for Octavia to see. With the tablets being held up next to the doors, it was obvious to see that they were made out of the same sort of stone.

“Fair enough then,” Octavia agreed. “Although, I would hold off on putting those tablets in too soon if I were you, though.”

“Huh? What makes you say that?” Vinyl asked. She had already been halfway through slotting in the tablets when Octavia spoke, but she stopped now to listen to the grey Earth Pony.

“Have you taken notice of those carvings on the door?” Octavia asked, pointing a hoof. Vinyl looked to where she was pointing, where there were several images in succession: one of a pony placing a crude tablet into the doors only to be set on fire, and another in which a pony placed a tablet and the doors opened. “I’m fairly sure that those are supposed to be warnings,” Octavia said with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.

“Yeah, but those’d just be to scare off paranoid ponies,” Vinyl said confidently. “We’re past the hard stuff and we’ve got the tablets here – I’ll bet you anything that we’ll be fine if I put the tablets into these slots now.”

“You don’t have anything to bet with,” Octavia reminded Vinyl cheekily. Her voice immediately snapped back to serious a moment later, as she pointed out something else which she hadn’t noticed when she first entered the room. “What about those slots there?” she asked. “If fire were to spout from them, we’d undoubtedly be in trouble.”

“C’mon, Octavia!” Vinyl whined. “Why do you have to complicate everything? It’s pretty darn obvious that this door is safe.”

“I ‘complicate everything’, as you put it, because I am merely trying to be cautious,” Octavia snapped. “Or have you forgotten the number of times I have saved the two of us on this little expedition?"

“Yeah, and what about me?” Vinyl countered. “I’ve been just as useful as you – heck, if it wasn’t for me, we wouldn’t have the tablets to get through the door right now!”

“Oh, and who is the one who wishes to get through the door?” Octavia argued, getting frustrated now. They were nearly at their journey’s end; couldn’t Vinyl listen to her for just five more minutes? “Because if it were up to me, we would leave this pyramid right now and light a signal fire in the hope that some rescue pegasi would find us.”

“Yeah? Well it’s not up to you, is it, Octavia?” Vinyl asked. “And I say there’s no trap, so I’m gonna put the tablets in.”

“No, Vinyl!” Octavia protested. “It might not be safe!” She jumped forwards and made a weak attempt to prevent at least one of the tablets from being slotted into the door. As she grabbed one of them, Vinyl tried to telekinetically move it out of the way, resulting in an odd struggle between the two. It lasted a few moments, until…

The two mares stopped their fighting as they took in what had happened during the struggle: somehow, both tablets had been knocked about as they were being fitted in and been slotted in upside-down. A loud rumbling started to erupt from the doors, and the slots Octavia had noticed started to shake.

“Oh, buck,” Vinyl said, taking several steps back from the door.

“I warned you!” Octavia said, also backing away. The rumbling suddenly subsided and, to the two ponies’ surprise, the doors swung open silently. “…What in the name of Celestia’s mane just happened?” Octavia asked.

“…I was right about there being no trap?” Vinyl suggested half-heartedly. Octavia walked around to one side of one of the doors.

“How about that?!” She laughed as she examined it. “We were both right!”

“Really?... You’re making that up,” Vinyl said, trotting over to her to see what she was on about.

“No, really, it’s true!” Octavia said. She pointed a hoof at the carvings she had been so cautious of before. “I didn’t notice it then, but there’s a small arrow next to the tablet on each of the carvings. It looks as though inserting the tablets upside-down prevents the trap from being activated!”

“Huh,” Vinyl said, examining the carving for herself. “So if we hadn’t gotten into that squabble…”

“…We would be out of the picture, as it were,” Octavia finished.

“Well then, it looks like I owe you an apology,” both mares said at the same time, before bursting out into laughter as they realised that they’d both been thinking exactly the same thing.

“C’mon, Octavia,” Vinyl said, still chuckling slightly. “Let’s go get that treasure!”

“Not so fast!” a vaguely familiar voice barked out from behind the two ponies. They spun around to see Baron von Darkhoof and Stumblefeather emerging from the corridor. “Don’t you dare enter that room! That treasure is mine!” Darkhoof shouted.

“Darkhoof!” Octavia gasped. “What are you doing here?”

“I am taking my rightful inheritance, of course,” he said. With a sneer on his face, he added, “By the way, thank you for opening that door for me and solving all of the puzzles in the rest of the pyramid. It made it much easier for Stumblefeather and I to make our way through here.” For emphasis, he stomped on the ground slowly, sarcastically thanking them.

“Oh my Celestia,” Vinyl breathed as he did so, “that looks so stupid.”

Chapter Ten: All That Glitters...

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“Now that I have you in an inescapable position, will you two mares finally concede defeat and allow me access to my treasure?” Baron von Darkhoof bellowed, advancing towards Vinyl and Octavia. Stumblefeather attempted to follow suit, but somehow miss-stepped and bumped into a wall.

Vinyl scoffed, unfazed by Darkhoof’s attempt at intimidation. “Pfft, after we’ve gone through and disabled half the traps in the temple for you? You wish, featherbrain.”

“And why do you keep referring to the treasure as yours?” Octavia added. “If it belongs to anypony, it belongs to the Amarezon tribe! Whom we… stole the tablets from…” she added awkwardly.

“Bah! They only think they are the rightful owners!” Darkhoof barked. “But in truth, both the tablets and the treasure belong to me!” He cleared his throat before continuing. “You see, I wasn’t always as I am now – a baron. Until a few years ago, I –”

“Wait a sec,” Vinyl interrupted. “Are you seriously about to monologue? I thought only badly written characters in Daring Do stories did that. And they at least do it when their victims are kinda helpless!”

“Yes, she has a point,” Octavia agreed. “This is reality, not some poorly written story featuring weak caricatures of everypony involved.”

“Shut up!” Darkhoof shouted. “You’re the one who asked me for my backstory, Octavia! Don’t complain!”

“Well, actually, I asked you why –”

“Ssh!” Stumblefeather interrupted. “I want to hear the story!”

“You see, I wasn’t always a baron as I am now,” Baron von Darkhoof said, continuing his story from earlier. “Until a few weeks ago, I –”

“Cannot believe that we are actually listening to this,” Octavia muttered underneath her breath. Vinyl either didn’t hear her or didn’t care.

“ - owner of a pie shop,” Darkhoof continued. Octavia had missed part of his speech whilst voicing her opinion on the situation. Darkhoof glanced back at his cutie mark, which was of course his trademark pie. Octavia found herself starting to pay attention now – she had been wondering why Darkhoof had a pie for a cutie mark.

“It was a satisfying life, and one that I enjoyed,” Darkhoof said, reminiscing. For the first time since Octavia and Vinyl had met him, he was speaking at a relatively normal volume. “I’m not so arrogant as to assume that ponies would come from all over Equestria to taste my pies, but they certainly came from all over Las Pegasus. Once I even had one of the Wonderbolts come! But then everything changed… on that day.”

Octavia yawned. “Does anypony have the time?” she asked. Next to her, Vinyl and Stumblefeather were lying on the ground with their hooves to their faces, entranced with Darkhoof’s story. Octavia sighed, and continued listening to Darkhoof.

“My father had recently passed away, and I was cleaning out his house. It was an arduous task, until I found a most interesting item in his attic… one of the stone tablets you just inserted into that door.”

Vinyl’s ears perked up higher than they had been prior. Octavia, however, merely frowned. “How could you have found the tablet in your father’s attic? Both of them were in the temples here in the Amarezon until we acquired them a few days ago.”

“I’m getting to that!” Darkhoof barked. “Reading through an old journal of my father’s, which I found with the tablet, I discovered that he had been an intrepid explorer in his youth, yet had never informed me! He had stolen this tablet, but had felt guilt at stealing it after finding out how sacred the treasure is to the tribe who created the tablets and temples.” Darkhoof waved a hoof around, pointing around the room. “Apparently, the hieroglyphs in both here and the temples all go to great lengths to describe what the treasure is and how sacred it is.”

“What is it?!” Vinyl asked excitedly, swishing her tail in impatience.

Darkhoof let out a short, sharp laugh. “I don’t know,” he said. “My father’s journal didn’t mention it, and I can’t translate the hieroglyphs myself.”

Octavia pointed a hoof over her shoulder. “You know, the door to the treasure room is open. We could all just go and –”

“Ssh!” Vinyl and Stumblefeather hissed at her.

“Thank you, Stumblefeather. Messy unicorn,” Darkhoof said, nodding at each of them in turn.

“Hey! My name’s not messy unicorn! It’s –”

“Reading about the treasure,” Darkhoof continued, ignoring Vinyl, “I found out about the powers it is said to be able to grant, primarily great strength and the ability to heal at an accelerated speed. I am assuming that that’s why you also seek it?”

“Yeah, but for better reasons than whatever yours are!” Vinyl said. Octavia nodded in agreement.

“Vinyl isn’t exaggerating for once. We want it so that we can save somepony,” she said, trying not to give away too many details. “What do you want it for?”

“Why do you think?” Darkhoof asked, a malicious grin on his face. “I want it because of the power that it can grant, of course!”

“Then how in the hay is it your inheritance?” Vinyl protested, standing up. Her teeth were bared, as though she were a growling dog.

“Because my father found the first tablet,” Darkhoof said. “Therefore, I have to fulfil the legacy he began.”

As Darkhoof spoke, Octavia suddenly remembered something that Green Grass had told them when they were in the village. “This particular tablet went missing decades ago…” That proved that Darkhoof’s tale was at least partially correct.

“That still doesn’t make the treasure yours!” Vinyl growled, breaking Octavia out of her thoughts.

“Of course it does,” Darkhoof replied nonchalantly. “Because you see, in that moment when I realised what a notorious explorer my father had been prior to his retirement, I felt great rage. Why was I a mere pie-shop owner when I could have been something greater had he continued his profession? What if he had acquired the treasure all of those years ago, and I had inherited it, gaining its power?

“From that moment forth, I cast off my old name, and declared myself Baron von Darkhoof! From then on, I would be the pony I should have been if it weren’t for my father’s incompetence! And all I need to complete that is the treasure of the pyramid.”

Baron von Darkhoof glared at Octavia. “Are you happy, Octavia? You now know why I place that treasure above all else– that I may finally cast aside all aspects of my previous life, and live the life I should have.”

Not put off at all by Darkhoof’s revelations, Octavia rolled her eyes. Once, she may have been swayed or even slightly scared by his story, but the Amarezon had toughened her up surprisingly well in the past few days. “Personally, I would have rather just headed into the next room and seen what the treasure was, but since it seemed to give you satisfaction, I suppose there was no harm in hearing your story.”

“Bah! You filthy Earth Ponies are all alike!” Darkhoof snarled. “Stumblefeather, attack Messy Unicorn! I’ll handle Octavia! Let nothing stand between us and the treasure!” With that, Darkhoof leapt at Octavia, flapping his wings slightly so as to make the distance.

“Oof!” Octavia spluttered as he slammed into her, knocking her to the ground. Although she had attempted to prepare for the impact, he was faster and stronger than she had thought.

Meanwhile, Vinyl Scratch was attempting to snare Stumblefeather with her telekinesis, and was finding it to be a much more difficult process than she had thought it would be. Stumblefeather was flying in mid-air so erratically that Vinyl couldn’t aim accurately enough.

“Heh, just try and catch me!” Stumblefeather laughed as he started flying backwards – whether due to incompetent flying or on purpose, it was impossible to tell.

“What the hay is wrong with you, Stumblefeather?” Vinyl asked. Fortunately, due to his dodging, Stumblefeather hadn’t yet found an opening to attack the unicorn. “Why are you working with Darkhoof? Didn’t you hear him just before? All he cares about is himself!”

“He only appears that way!” Stumblefeather argued, attempting to dive-bomb Vinyl but swooping upwards at the last moment as Vinyl’s horn began to glow once more. “There’s a good reason why I’m so devoted to Darkhoof.” Stumblefeather slowly hovered to the ground and sat down. “You see, when I was just a colt, living on the streets of –”

“Oh, we are not having another blasted monologue-slash-origin story!” Octavia shouted out, overhearing Stumblefeather from her struggle with Darkhoof. To the pegasus’ surprise, Octavia was much stronger than he had expected – Earth Ponies were much tougher than other pony races, after all.

“Why – won’t – you – fall?!” Darkhoof shouted. He and Octavia had their hooves locked in struggle against each other, each trying to gain some leverage over the other and knock them over. Although Darkhoof was strong for a pegasi, Octavia was an Earth Pony, and she had natural strength to counter Darkhoof’s.

Octavia smirked. “You may have defeated me in a fight a few days ago, Darkhoof, had we fought then. But the Amarezon has toughened me up, and I’m now stronger than ever!” If it weren’t for the pegasi she was fighting, Octavia would have given a little rear of joy.

“Is that so?” Darkhoof grunted. He was tempted to reply with what was in his mind a witty comeback, but he had a feeling that Octavia may end up winning their duel after all. “Well in that case, I suppose that I’ll just have to grab the treasure before you!” With that, Darkhoof’s wings spread out and he let go of Octavia’s hooves. He flew into the air over her, and straight into the treasure room. “Come, Stumblefeather!” he called.

“…which is why I still work with Darkhoof,” Stumblefeather finished. He had been talking to Vinyl whilst Octavia and Darkhoof had been struggling, in spite of Octavia’s warning.

“Huh. Well, I guess that makes sense,” Vinyl said. She was sitting down opposite Stumblefeather, having temporarily stopped fighting in order to listen to his story. “But I wonder why Darkhoof – hey, where is Darkhoof?” she asked, looking around the room.

“He’s gone into the next room!” Octavia shouted out as she galloped after Darkhoof. “Don’t you two pay any attention?!”

Vinyl leapt up onto her hooves and sped after Octavia as fast as she could. “That featherhead!” she shouted. “He’d better not get to that treasure, or he’s gonna pay!”

Behind her, Stumblefeather slowly got up and into the air. Watching Vinyl from behind, he was mumbling under his breath. “So after this, you want to- how about we – would you be interested in - …oh, shut up, Stumblefeather.” He flew into the air and after the two mares.

The next and apparently final room of the pyramid consisted almost entirely of a set of stairs leading downwards. At the bottom was a small slab covered in pink flowers, not unlike the coffins which the mummy ponies had emerged from in the temple Octavia and Vinyl had recently visited. Surrounding the base of the slab was a small pool of water.

As Octavia entered the room, followed a moment afterwards by Vinyl, she noticed Darkhoof already down by the slab, sliding its cover off. “Aha!” he shouted enthusiastically. “Finally, this treasure shall be mine!”

Octavia had already begun trotting down the stairs at this point, not speeding up in case she tripped over and fell down. “Not on your –”

“Buck that!” Vinyl interrupted, leaping over Octavia and down the stairs, disregarding her own health in her haste to stop Darkhoof. She landed on top of the slab. “This treasure is for me and Octavia!”

“Bah! In your dreams, Messy Unicorn!” Darkhoof shouted, giving an almighty shove and pushing the lid of the slab off, causing Vinyl to fall to the stairs in the process. Peeking into the open slab, he said “This treasure is –”

“No!” Vinyl shouted, climbing to her hooves hastily. “That treasure’s –”

“...missing,” Darkhoof frowned. “There’s nothing in here.” Not believing the villain, Vinyl too looked into the slab.

“Not true!” she said. “There’s one of these flowers in here. And it looks like it’s not as damaged by our fight as these ones lying around here.” By now, Octavia and Stumblefeather had climbed down the stairs and were standing around, ready for whatever happened next.

“Bah! As if I give a buck!” Darkhoof spat. There was a moment of silence, both parties unsure what to do now that the goal they had been striving for had been taken from them. Vinyl Scratch had a sad expression on her face, and was looking mournfully up the stairs leading out of the room. It had been such a long journey, and yet now they were going to leave without their prize?

“These flowers are tasty,” Stumblefeather said, breaking the silence. With nothing pressing to do, he had picked up one of the flowers that had been on the ground, crushed during Vinyl and Darkhoof’s struggle, and began to eat it. “It tastes kinda tingly, though.”

“What part of ‘I don’t give a buck’ don’t you understand?” Darkhoof asked Stumblefeather, scowling.

“You know, I don’t think that I have seen these flowers before. Not in the Amarezon or elsewhere,” Octavia commented as she picked another damaged one up, recalling one of the books she had read about the Amarezon prior to her holiday. A thought crossed her mind as she examined the flower, and she glanced over to Vinyl to see whether she had had a similar one. Vinyl was staring directly back at her – it was if the two were attempting to communicate telepathically and see whether the other had had the same thought.

Unfortunately, Octavia’s careless comment seemed to have given Darkhoof the same idea, as he picked up one of the flowers. Speaking relatively quietly, he began, “What if…”

“…the treasure wasn’t actual treasure…” Vinyl continued.

“…but a flower that could enhance the body of the pony who ate it?” Octavia finished, pleased that Vinyl shared her theory yet dismayed that Darkhoof was as well.

“Uh, guys? I don’t think that’s it,” Stumblefeather pointed out. “I just ate one, and I don’t feel any different.” There was a moment of silence as the ponies considered his words.

“Well, duh,” Vinyl said as she thought it over. “That flower was crushed and broken, just like all of the ones around here. They’re probably all too ruined to have an effect. Assuming that the flower is the treasure, of course.”

Without thinking, Octavia began, “But what about the one –”

“ – that was in the slab?” Darkhoof finished for her, pulling the only undamaged flower out of the slab and holding it over his head. “I believe that’s mine now!”

“Oh no you don’t!” Vinyl shouted, levitating the flower out of Darkhoof’s hooves and over her head. “This is my flower!” She was focused entirely on Darkhoof, not willing to give him a split-second of opportunity in which to take the flower from her.

Unfortunately, focusing entirely on Darkhoof meant that Vinyl didn’t notice Stumblefeather swooping over her until it was too late. “You know, I don’t think that this really is the treasure, but I’d better grab it anyway or else Darkhoof will be really annoyed at me,” he said casually as he grabbed it with his hooves.

His victory was short-lived, however, as Vinyl simply enveloped the flower in her telekinetic field once more. “Catch, Octavia!” she shouted as she threw it over to the grey pony.

“No, you catch it!” Octavia replied, throwing the flower back as Darkhoof leapt at her as he had earlier. For the next few moments, the flower was thrown between the ponies, before Vinyl managed to catch it in her telekinetic field once more. Rather than throw it over to Octavia, she instead dropped it to the ground and lightly put a hoof on top of it.

“Alright, that’s it!” she shouted. “Darkhoof, Stumblefeather, if you two know what’s good for you, you’ll accept your damn defeat and get outta here – or I crush the flower and nopony wins.”

“How foalish do you think I am?” Darkhoof laughed. “You don’t want to destroy the flower – you want it as badly as I do.”

“I’d rather neither of us have it than you have it, Darkhoof!” Vinyl growled in response. Her eyes narrowed. “Now, are you two gonna go, or what?”

“Vinyl! What are you doing?” Octavia asked, moving slightly closer to her unicorn friend. Vinyl smiled at her.

“Don’t worry, Octavia. No way can we leave this room without a flower. Darkhoof, Stumblefeather – I don’t see you leaving.”

“Make us!” Darkhoof laughed.

Not intimidated in the least, Vinyl’s mouth spread into the grin which she had worn on her face for most of the journey. “Five,” she simply said.

“Five what?” Stumblefeather asked, confused.

“Five seconds until I just crush the damn thing anyway,” Vinyl said. “Oh wait,” she added, looking at her bare hoof, “it’s now four seconds.”

“You’re not serious, are you?” Darkhoof asked, a hint of fear entering his voice.


“Vinyl? Please tell me that this is a bluff,” Octavia asked. “For your father’s sake.”

Instead of answering, Vinyl simply answered, “Two.” Nopony moved. “One.”

“Stumblefeather! Take the flower!” Darkhoof shouted, leaping forwards whilst he did so. “There’s no way that Messy Unicorn will actually –”


There was silence as everypony watched Vinyl lift her hoof off the ground. She scraped some nectar and petals off her hoof casually, as though unaware of what she had actually done. She turned to Octavia. “You ready to go, Octavia?”

Octavia’s mouth opened once or twice before she realised that she wasn’t actually saying anything. She cleared her throat before answering, “But Vinyl… you just destroyed the flower! The entire point of our journey!”

“Yes, you foal!” Darkhoof bellowed at Vinyl. “Why would you do that?! You destroyed my life’s goal!”

Vinyl shrugged. “Well, it shut you up for a few seconds. C’mon, Octavia. Let’s get outta here.” Silently, she began to trot up the stairs and out of the room, followed by Octavia after a moment of hesitation.

“No… no… This cannot be!” Darkhoof shouted out. He kicked a wall in anger, causing some sediment and dust to fall from the ceiling.

“Because that doesn’t sound generic and villain-like at all,” Octavia said sarcastically, rolling her eyes.

“Why?!” Darkhoof bellowed. “Why?! Why?! Why?!” With each word, he kicked the wall again, causing cracks to slowly emerge and then grow larger. After a moment, there was a rumbling sound in the distance, and the ceiling began to shake.

“Uh-oh,” Vinyl said, glancing upwards. She and Octavia were at the top of the stairs now. “That doesn’t sound so good.” As she spoke, cracks spread across the ceiling. “Buck!” Vinyl swore, grabbing Octavia by the hoof and dragging her out of the room as fast as she could. “Let’s get outta here, Tavi!”

OCTAVIA!” Octavia shouted in protest. “I thought that you’d stopped doing that! And I can gallop perfectly fine by myself!”

“Sorry, heat of the moment,” Vinyl admitted, leading the way out. The two mares were now galloping as fast as they could through the pyramid, and with good reason – Darkhoof must have, miraculously, weakened a supporting column or something similar, as it sounded as though the entire pyramid was falling down.

“Wait a moment,” Octavia said, stopping as the two mares entered the room in which they had nearly drowned. “Stumblefeather and Darkhoof don’t appear to be following us.”

Vinyl sighed. “And my heart bleeds for them, Octavia, but we really need to get out of here. If they wanted to get out, they would. Now c’mon.” She was about to dive into the underwater passage connecting the area before and after the wall.

“But what if something has happened to them?” Octavia asked, looking back. “What if…Darkhoof’s wing was trapped underneath a falling piece of stone, and Stumblefeather is trying to help him? They might need us!”

I need you,” Vinyl said gently, putting a hoof on Octavia’s shoulder. Octavia blushed slightly, misinterpreting this before Vinyl added, “You’re the best friend a pony could have, Octavia. I don’t want you going off and getting yourself killed.”

“And I appreciate that, Vinyl, but… Are you comfortable with the death of two ponies on your conscience?” Octavia asked, torn between what to do.

“You already saved them once,” Vinyl pointed out. There was a loud cracking noise above the two mares and Vinyl briefly glanced upwards before continuing. “When I first told you about why I was really in the Amarezon, you agreed to come with me to the pyramid. Please, Octavia. Just follow me this one last bit and then it’ll all be over.”

Octavia sighed and glanced back the way they had come one last time. “Fine, Vinyl. Although, I honestly don’t know how you can sleep at night.”

“With headphones in listening to some of the best bass drops in Equestria,” Vinyl answered as she slipped into the water. Whether she had intentionally misinterpreted Octavia’s question or not was impossible to tell. “Say, you wanna come round to my place sometime when we’re back in Canterlot?”

Blushing once more, Octavia slipped into the water after the unicorn. “It would be my pleasure.”


Vinyl and Octavia rushed out of the pyramid’s entrance as fast as they could, expecting it to cave in around their heads at any moment. Unlike in movies, the pyramid didn’t break apart moments after they came out – it took a few more minutes before loudly collapsing in on itself. There was no sign of either Stumblefeather or Darkhoof.

Both Vinyl and Octavia were lying on the grass in front of the steps to the pyramid, panting after their marathon out of the pyramid. Once they had regained their breaths, Vinyl asked, “What now?”

“I suppose that we shall have to light some sort of signal fire so that we can hopefully be found by some pegasi,” Octavia suggested. The two mares got up and after a good half hour of searching, found enough dry wood and kindling to sustain a large fire. Although Octavia hadn’t tried it before, she had read in books how to start a fire without matches, and after a while she eventually got the hang of it enough to light the fuel.

Silently, the two mares watched the fire burn, keeping a careful watch to make sure that it didn’t spread out of control. “Kinda weird, huh?” Vinyl asked, breaking the silence. “We managed to get through this entire jungle, and now we mightn’t survive if a rescue crew doesn’t find us.” Although she chuckled slightly, the dark truth of her words failed to cause the same effect in Octavia.

“I suppose that is true,” Octavia sighed. “It is a pity about Stumblefeather and Darkhoof though. Stumblefeather, at least, seemed to be a nice enough stallion.”

“Got a crush on him, Octavia?” Vinyl teased, quickly leaping at the opportunity.

“Of course I don’t!” Octavia denied. “He was just… nice.”

“Whatever. You can’t hide it from me.” Vinyl grinned. “Anyway, they might have survived.”

“Of course they did,” Octavia said in a deadpan tone. “I’m sure that even right now they’re struggling to fight their way out of all that rubble.”

“I’m serious!” Vinyl protested. “I didn’t really think about it at the time, but there had to be a window in there somewhere, right? How else would the flowers get their light?!”

“…I suppose that is a valid point,” Octavia agreed. “So you think that they may have simply flown out of a window?”

“Anything’s possible,” Vinyl said, shrugging. Silence returned as Octavia threw some more sticks onto the fire. It was producing heavy amounts of smoke, but unless there were pegasi out at this very moment, then it would all be a waste of time.

“Say, Vinyl,” Octavia said, breaking the silence, “I have something which I wish to ask you.”

“Shoot,” Vinyl said, getting down and lying on the ground.

“Why did you crush the flower? It was the whole reason that we travelled here!”

“I was wondering when you were going to ask about that.” Vinyl’s grin slowly turned into something more mischievous. “Remember how I said that there was no way we were leaving that room without a flower?” she asked.

Octavia’s jaw slowly dropped as she realised what Vinyl was implying. “You mean…?”

“Yep. When Darkhoof was grabbing that one out of the slab, I found another undamaged flower on the ground,” Vinyl replied. She opened her saddlebag and levitated out the flower out to prove her point. “I just pretended that Darkhoof’s was important so that it wouldn’t look suspicious if we casually left without a fight.”

“So then why did you crush the flower if we already had one?” Octavia asked, confused now. “You could have just given it to Darkhoof, and we could have left peacefully.”

“C’mon, Octavia. You really think that Darkhoof will do good things if he got the power from this thing?” Vinyl asked. She examined the flower one more time before carefully returning it to her saddlebag.

“True,” Octavia conceded simply. She sat down next to Vinyl, having gotten tired of standing by now. “I hope that that flower truly is the treasure. We never got any confirmation of it.”

“There was nothing else in that room,” Vinyl pointed out. “Even if the treasure was something else, then we’ve still done the best we can.”

Octavia agreed, and, for several hours, the two mares simply threw more fuel onto the fire or scavenged around for food. It wasn’t until several hours later that their wish came true – a pegasus whom had been looking for them noticed their fire and found them. Octavia recognised her as the rainbow-maned pegasus whom she had met on the first day of the tour.

“Whoah! It’s about time I found you two!” she said as she landed. “We’ve been looking for you for days now!”

“Sorry about that – you would not believe how our last few days have been,” Octavia said politely. “Will you or some other pegasi be able to return us to the tour group?”

“Sure thing,” the pegasus said, hovering back into the air. “I’ll just make some cloud signals, and the rest of ‘em will be here in a dash!” Octavia and Vinyl thanked her. Although they had ultimately achieved their goal, the past few days had nevertheless been incredibly hectic and tiresome, and all that both of them wanted now was a large bed to fall asleep in.

Before flying upwards to arrange the necessary clouds, the pegasus turned to the two mares and said, “Hey, if the Wonderbolts found out that I found you guys, do you think they’d let me in?”


A few days later, Octavia and Vinyl Scratch were on the train headed back to Canterlot with the rest of the tour group. Whenever anypony asked them what had happened to them during those few days they were lost in the jungle, they told the majority of the truth for simplicity’s sake. At least, Octavia did. Vinyl had great fun in telling everypony about how she and Octavia had fearlessly macheted their way through the jungle.

“Hey Octavia?” Vinyl whispered to Octavia. The train journey ran overnight, and the two were sharing a cabin. Both were tucked up in bed, trying to get to sleep.

“Yes, Vinyl?” Octavia asked sleepily.

“You remember how I told you that you should totally come over to my place when we’re back in Canterlot?”

“Yes… vaguely,” Octavia yawned. “I also recall you inviting me to one of your ‘gigs’.”

“Scratch both of those! I have an even better idea!” Vinyl said excitedly.

“What is it?”

“We’re going out drinking!”