Daring Do and the Sea Pony's Pearl

by WingbeatPony

First published

An oceanbound adventure of the intrepid Daring Do! (Note: No singing sea ponies. You're safe.)

Daring Do finds herself as cargo on what could be her final voyage. It's sink or swim as she dives into the mystery of the Sea Pony's Pearl! Where does this marvelous marble lie? Who has our hero in the hold? And who will be the first to find it?

(Note: There won't be any real sea ponies in this story, singing or otherwise. That'd just be silly.)

Chapter 1

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Daring Do awoke to the creak of timber and the roar of water. The smell of pitch and ocean salt washed over her as she struggled to her feet. She peered into the gloom of the ship surrounding her as she slowly regained her senses and her balance.

This was not the brig, although Daring was clearly held captive. The tiny cage she crouched in was surrounded by crates, barrels, and boxes slowly swaying as the hold rocked to the rhythm of the ocean. A lantern hanging nearby creaked. It had gone out, leaving Daring Do alone in the darkness. She allowed a smile as she glimpsed her trusty hat and satchel hanging from a post below it.

Well, there had been her captor's first mistake, she decided. Never leave a prisoner unattended, and never underestimate Daring Do when she sees something she wants to get.

She studied the padlock holding her in. She could pick the lock if she had her satchel, but it was out of reach. All she had now were her wings, her hooves, and her wits. The thought of plucking a feather to pick the lock crossed her mind, but she knew she'd need her wings in full form if she were going to try any sort of escape at sea. There had to be an alternative.

Daring nearly tripped over the alternative. A loose nail in the rough planks below her had caught on her hoof. She grasped it with her teeth, and yanked hard. The nail budged. She yanked again, and the nail sailed out of the board and her mouth. It bounced once against the bars and landed on the floor of her cage.

Daring held her breath and thanked her lucky stars as the ringing died down. She hoped no one had heard the nail, but a loud creak of the ship and the squeak of the lantern quickly put those fears to rest. Daring picked up the nail again and gingerly inserted it into the lock. She worked the makeshift lock pick around with her mouth until at last it popped open with a heartwarming click.

She waited until the ship rocked back again, then swung the door to her cage open amidst the noises of the ship. Daring Do retrieved her satchel and hat, made a quick check to see if she'd been spotted, and disappeared into the shadows. She settled in next to a sack of grain and then, as an afterthought, dragged the sack back to her cage and locked it in. In the shadows, it looked very much like a huddled pony. Well, maybe a huddled pony dressed in a flour sack. It would have to do.

Daring Do slipped back into her hiding place. She'd been captured aboard a ship by somepony, or something, bound for destinations unknown. They were clearly after something, and now she was after them. Whoever they were, they were up to no good, and whatever they wanted, well, it was probably worth something. They'd give her the answers to these questions one way or the other. All Daring had to do was wait and find out.

Chapter 2

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Daring Do listened to the creak of the ship and watched the fading light through the opening above. She'd worked her way to the center of the hold, where the large hatch provided a view up into the rigging and not much else. It was late sunset; the sails were awash with reddish light. That was good. There was nothing worse than trying to make a daring escape during a howling gale. If her luck held out, she might even be able to see enough stars to get her bearings.

In the meantime, there was the small issue of the crew. Daring had heard them moving about on deck, calling orders to each other as they adjusted course. They were ponies, mostly. There was the unmistakable sound of hooves moving about on the deck. Once or twice there had been a soft padding, rustling figure that had come uncomfortably close to the hatch before Daring had heard it, and she'd barely had time to duck out of sight before its shadow crossed overhead. She was pretty sure this was the one who'd captured her, although considering how little she remembered before being knocked unconscious and stuffed in a sack, it was a wild guess. She had been yanked out of a tree, though, and there weren't many ponies capable of that.

The sound of hooves on the stairs brought Daring Do out of her suspicions and into high alert. A pony had descended into the hold and was walking towards the cage that now held a harmless sack of grain captive. Daring readied herself for a confrontation.

The sailor stopped before he got to the cage. Daring Do tensed as he stood, pondering the post from which now hung only an unlit lantern. She silently cursed herself for taking her hat and her satchel. The flour sack was nothing now that she'd blown her cover so obviously. Daring flared her wings, ready to burst through the hatch and fly into the rigging. She hoped there weren't any pegasi aboard.

The pony fumbled with something for a moment. Then a match flared, and he lit the lantern. At once, the shadows in the hold changed, forcing Daring Do to scramble behind the nearest crate. The pony who'd lit the lantern looked up, no doubt at the sound of her scuffling. He glanced around, then into the cage.

"What..." he began.

It was time to act. In a single, swift move, Daring Do lept from behind the crate towards the guard pony. Her wings carried her in a short, swift glide, ending with a both front hooves to the back of the pony's head. He staggered, dazed, but clearly not unconscious. Daring moved in for a choke hold. The guard tried to buck her. She held tight, gritting her teeth as her over-sized adversary strained against her, trying to turn and make his way to the stairs. He'd made it halfway around when Daring suddenly let go. The pony raced forward with all his might and plowed into the lantern post. He slumped to the ground, out cold.

Daring Do made use of a nearby rope to neatly tie the guard's legs together. For an ordinary pony, tying knots with your mouth and your hooves is a considerable feat, but for Daring Do, it was a part of daily life. She opened her cage and dragged the pony inside. The grain sack, once emptied of its contents, made for an excellent gag in the guard's over-sized mouth.

She'd barely gotten the lock closed again when she heard the padding footsteps overhead. She blew out the lantern and slipped into the shadows behind her cage.

"Hello, Miss Daring," grated a voice through the hatch. "I see you're awake. Or is that rather, hear you're awake," he trailed off, making it more of a sneer than a question.

"Who are you? What do you want with me? Let me out!" cried Daring Do, banging the cage for effect. The pony inside stirred, but did not wake up.

"Who am I, yes," said the voice outside. "Oh, I'm the one that defeated the unconquerable Daring Do, that's all. I hope you're enjoying your stay aboard the Wavedancer. As for why I've brought you along for the ride, well, you're here to wallow in misery as you watch the ocean's greatest treasure get snatched right out from under your nose!"

Well, thought Daring Do. This one sure likes to brag. This'll be easier than I thought.

"Oh yeah?" she said. "What treasure is that?"

"Oh, my dear Daring Do," gurgled the voice. "Only the most prized possession of Poseidon himself. I speak, of course, of the Pearl." The guttural voice dragged out the last word to emphasize its great meaning. To Daring Do, it sounded more like a cart with a stuck wheel coming to a halt.

As far as gemstones went, pearls weren't really all that uncommon. Nor were they very valuable. You could make them in your own backyard, assuming your backyard was full of oysters. Still, there was no accounting for the tastes of the crazy and possibly evil. For all Daring knew, the Pearl was a shipwreck full of treasure.

"That can't be the real reason," she countered. "I couldn't watch anything locked up down here, anyway. Besides, you still haven't told me your name."

"Patience, little pony," said the voice, in what could generously be called a soothing tone. "You'll have your answers soon enough when we parade you on deck tomorrow. You'll just have to wait until then."

With that, the creature on the deck shuffled off towards the stern of the Wavedancer, leaving Daring Do alone with her captive guard. She sighed, watching the pony as he slowly regained his senses. He stirred, then began wriggling in his bindings. He looked around wildly until he spotted Daring in the darkness.

"Hush, now," she whispered. "You can wait until morning, too." The pony glared at her, but quit thrashing. "Oh, and don't be so upset," she continued. She reached through the bars and pulled out a small pile of the dumped-out grain. "I even left you breakfast."