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Found 13 results

  1. Hey guys! Time for another character Ask Thread! This time with three of my favorite MLP characters: Daring Do, Ahuizotl, and Dr. Caballeron... Daring Do: Hello, everypony. Ahuizotl: Hola, ponis! Dr. Caballeron: I never, ever agreed to this... Oh hush, Calby, you’ll love it. Rules: - You can ask any or all of them a question - Try not to spam all your questions in one post, you can always ask again! - Please don't keep asking the same question repeatedly trying to get a different answer - Please try not to add more characters to the thread, this is exclusively for the Daring Do trio Annnnd... go!
  2. In "The Cutie Re-Mark (Part 2)" the final alternate future of the desolate wasteland, could Celestia have become Daybreaker causing it, or could Ahuizotl have finshed the ring ceremony from Daring Don't to "unleash 800 years of unrelenting sweltering heat"?
  3. Note: Expanded from my forum post. Credits to comments by @BornAgainBrony, @Truffles, and @Ittoni for the review. This whole episode is packed with lots of smaller details, which on rewatch go a long way. One of the first instances is this exchange between AK and her former fans. At first, it looks like a throwaway line that Groom Q.Q. Martingale threw in there. But in the beginning of Act 2, that concerned filly returns to her book signing, where we see more of this exchange: During my rewatch of the saga last month, I assumed it referred to kicking away the wild cats, one of them a housecat, during Daring Don't. But those weren’t accidents; she tried to defend herself. Despite her initial denial, she finally admitted to not only accidentally kicking a puppy, but didn’t put it in any of her books. Why does this small exchange matter? The Daring Do Series is a series of autobiographical events, but because she’s trying to sell stories to children as well, she sanitizes, alters, and omits things that might disinterest or repulse the audience. She edits each book to make the stories more sellable and sells the books as fiction. For a long time, that tactic worked; each "character" has become memorable, and there's a huge Daring Do fandom out there. Now it's starting to backfire. It opens the door for the possibility of more laying beneath to the whole Daring Do saga. Remember, the series is written in third-person limited perspective, every adventure in Daring’s point of view. Groom Q.Q. Martingale's opens that point of view, painting her stories in a more negative light while still making sense. More importantly, Caballeron’s response becomes more credible to the general audience. Yes, he’s scheming to steal the Truth Talisman of Tonatiuh, but because of the editing of her own book, she opens things up for him to explain his own side and sprinkle truths both big and small that she didn’t tell. As omissions and inaccuracies big and small add up, doubt clouds the Daring fanbase's head, which Fluttershy and the little filly represent. Innocuous details like the flower being the wrong color now implicate she has something to hide. During that exchange, Dash busts back in to warn A.K. that Caballeron is bringing Fluttershy along to Tenochtitlan. During the frantic warning, she looks around to see if anyone was around (not seeing the filly), just to see if no one is sneaking around. Like Dash herself, A.K. Yealing forgets about the child, revealing her original identity as Daring Do to the filly's shock and delight. Despite the growing scandal, some ponies still idolize her and want to grow up to be just like her. Another one comes in Fluttershy's first scene in the Tenochtitlan Basin. Notice his twinkling highlights and small smile as she tames Ahuizotl's jungle cats. For the first time all series, he shows sincere appreciation for someone other than himself. Usually greedy and selfish, he watched firsthand how much someone's selflessness and unconditional caring mattered. He brought her over to trick her; despite carrying that trickery throughout, his plan began to both crack and evolve. Yet, that crack didn't quite begin there. After Caballeron scolded at Rogue for almost poisoning himself, what does she do? Take out her traveling picnic with apple juice to Caballeron's surprise and share her lunch with them out of appreciation. Rather than snub her, he and his henchponies accept her generosity. Had this not happen, Caballeron's appreciation for Fluttershy from that point forward won't make sense. From the very beginning, Fluttershy was convinced that there's more to the Daring Do saga than what A.K. Yearling told through her books, even though she witnessed Caballeron and Ahuizotl firsthand commit bad actions. Talking personally with Caballeron while in the bookstore only made her more curious. So, was she gullible and naive? Absolutely. However, her naivety is much more believable compared to buying a too-good-to-be-true rag doll from Flim and Flam during Best Gift Ever, and one key moment shows she isn't that gullible: This indicates awareness of the events and an expectancy of Caballeron to try to explain the problem. So how does he respond? With a plausible alibi surrounding a museum that closed down from lack of funds. Daring's long history of storing many sacred artifacts on her shelves, destroying temples older than the Royal Sisters, and thus the homes of many animals (something she cares about deeply) also invited questions on her behalf. While she listened to and questioned him, he explained his lies while remaining grounded to Equestrian reality, and his book while under Martingale has enough credentials to sway many ex-fans. Additionally, she was very well aware throughout that Martingale was Caballeron, talked to him as if he was Caballeron, and never reacted at all when he reveals his identity to her. Also, Fluttershy never wavers her unconditional kindness regardless of any circumstance. During the entire expedition, she stayed true to her embodied Element of Harmony and exemplified it wherever she went. In each scene, Caballeron and his gang slowly show appreciation for it, both subtly and obviously. Beyond the examples from above: At the closure of the first expedition scene, Biff, Rogue, and Withers smile in thanks for Fluttershy. At the base outside of Tonatiuh's pyramid, Caballeron yells at Biff for suggesting to take a shortcut, and Biff feels disrespected by him despite being second-in-command. Fluttershy reassures him that he will and she believes in him (which happens inside the central room). Once they reach the top, Withers relaxes under shade, unaware that he was under an active, dangerous flyder hive. Instinctively, she whispers to stay still and called the flyders away for just a moment so he can escape. Again, Dr. C smiles appreciatively. On an unrelated note, Tonatiuh is the Aztec god of the sun, and the only way to enter his temple is to place a sacred relic in a pedestal once the sun reaches its apex. If intentional, clever tie-in to its mythology. Inside the temple, Caballeron tricks Fluttershy to getting the Truth Talisman of Tonatiuh (I'll get back to it in a sec), and once she retrieves it, lava spurts out. Previously, Caballeron and his henchmen were somewhat cowardly and only went after the treasure. If something bad was going to happen, they'd leave it behind. That doesn't happen here. Instead, they instinctively knock down a totem pole, and Caballeron rescues Fluttershy from certain death. Again, they didn't have to do this, but they chose to rescue her and save her. Yes, they retrieved the talisman, but because of her kindness, they returned the favor. Fluttershy's naivety in this scene, however, is problematic in two areas: Throughout almost all of Daring Doubt, Dr. Caballeron was very competent. However, his use of false despair to convince Fluttershy to fly up and steal Tonatiuh's talisman wasn't convincing whatsoever and lazy. By falling for his bad acting, she crosses from being just gullible into becoming dumb. Fluttershy reveals to having no idea that Caballeron planned to trick her the whole time. If Fluttershy knew beforehand he was scheming yet went along, it subverts the idea that she was too gullible, instead showing she knew what she was doing. OTOH, it also makes her really reckless, implicating she knows Caballeron poorly acted, yet helped him steal the talisman and put her own life at risk. Right after he reveals to lie to her, he soon reveals that he valued her kindness and friendship, a smaller subversion in and of itself and downplays unneeded drama, but it also lessens the weight of his small change of heart. Caballeron revealing his lie through the Truth Talisman could've gone either way with varying implications. The canonical path, as stated before, shows her unconditional kindness, especially after her ignorance towards Angel's needs fueled the conflict, but it made her look way too naïve and made his eventual understanding of FS's kindness at the end feel too lucky. OTOH, had Fluttershy showed controlled kindness, then you risk repeating the unfortunate implications of controlling Discord's channels of communication in the form of "kindness" from Keep Calm. Personally, I prefer the innocent path here, but it could've showed a more nuanced degree of taking elements from both. Now to focus on the other side, Rainbow Dash was written much better here compared to 2, 4, 6, Greaaat. To echo @BornAgainBrony, Daring Doubt is a shining example of giving Dash negative traits without making her out of character or miserable. Yes, her rush to judgment was written in the wrong, but at no point does Dubuc demonize her for her black-and-white "good guy, bad guy" assumptions. With the allotted time given to her, Dubuc rightfully justifies her prejudices. Daring Do and Rainbow Dash are both very good friends and better confidants. Whenever she's about to publish something new, she delivers a copy to her two weeks in advance. The entire main crew, especially Dash, is trusted by her to keep her identity a secret. BTW: >RM6 out her in Fame & Misfortune >episode retcons the journal again Not the first episode to handwave this atrocity's existence! As a result of Daring and Dash trust each other, they exchange information and secrets. If something goes wrong, Daring knows Dash will be there to try to help. Here, that's exactly what happened. When Dash first sees Groom Q.Q. Martingale, she immediately recognizes him as Caballeron despite a much more complicated disguise, an immediate improvement of Daring Done. Watching Fluttershy buy into Caballeron's story was a major shock; she has every right to be upset and urgently warn Daring about what he was after and why he manipulated her like that. No one can argue how abrasive and pushy she was here. But Caballeron began yet another scheme, decided to tag someone along to unknowingly help him retrieve the Truth Talisman to get rich quick, and took her to a temple with very dangerous traps (one in which FS got caught in minutes later). Her worries are perfectly justified. Imagine if Fluttershy got hurt — she wouldn't forgive herself for not interfering sooner! Once Caballeron admitted through the talisman that he lied, she got right in his face, as any good friend would. But then he admits through it his and his henchmen's gratitude for Fluttershy's kindness and generosity, Dash's edge immediately dissipates: Ditto. Speaking of lines, the dialogue during the escape (especially those influenced by the truth teller) was top notch, and some of the lines were really, really funny. Some of the best are: Caballeron fighting with the talisman, finally relenting to reveal he still held onto Lapis-Lux's diamond. Clever, clever. Perfect timing to sneak in a clever "Day" Off callback, eh? Now, let's talk about the thorn peaking out from the pond. Ahuizotl has earned a reputation in the Daring Do books as one of the most memorable villains within the fanbase. In reality, both he and Daring have been massive archenemies, even though Dr. C's an even bigger one. Several times, he has tried to kill Daring Do in order to prevent her from taking relics throughout the Basin. In Daring Don't, he searched for ones himself — the Rings of Scorchero — to trap Tenochtitlan Basin in a massive heatwave, only for Daring and her friends to foil his plan. One of her latest books involved Ahuizotl heading to Somnambula to separate the Doomed Diadem of Xilati from the Tiara of Teotlale (a.k.a., the Sister Crown Relics), and Daring raced the clock to steal it back and return it home before a cursed night was cast over the land and Somnambula was sunk beneath the sand. Daring Doubt shifts things a bit, at first accusing Daring of getting by his jungle cat army and then attempting to steal Tonatiuh's talisman, even though he has no idea that Caballeron and Fluttershy are inside. After they escape, we don't see him again, but once we do, he's furious. Not just an evil furious. He was at his angriest throughout the show's history. Despite his history as a villain, who can blame him. It was safe and secure, and from his reaction, he clearly did NOT want it stolen. And he shows the knowledge of Tonatiuh's temple by waiting for them at the main exit, and his anger really takes over. He wanted to retrieve that talisman and play no games, going so far as to cornering them in a dead end and ramming into it, threatening to hurt them and trap them under the temple rubble until they return it. At this point, Daring accidentally gives Fluttershy what may be the solution: Think about this. They steal the talisman, and he becomes supremely upset when he catches them. She's the only one astute enough to understand that something was missing, this being why he got so mad, and the only way to solve it was to confront Ahuizotl himself. Dash justifiably assumes that he's "just a bad guy," but FS realizes that the world sometimes operate so one-dimensionally. On one hand, Ahuizotl's explanation for being ferocious and violent has some merit, something both @Ittoni and @BornAgainBrony explain in their posts in the episode discussion. Throughout the series, Daring and Caballeron have been taking artifacts throughout Tenochtitlan Basin, and in doing so, many ancient pyramids have been destroyed. Whether it's in the name of profit or protection, they're still stealing from them and displacing them, which each carry massive consequences. Ahuizotl is given charge to protect not only the basin, but also the artifacts of these same ancient beings. For those who watched the series throughout, this explains quite a bit why he and his crew of Aztec ponies searched for those rings, began the ceremony inside the dark tower, and came so close to beginning that heatwave within the basin. If he completed his plan, then neither Daring nor Caballeron would rob the temples again without potentially deadly consequences. Also, I see why the episode establishes him as a guardian in the first place; he's sly, territorial, knowledgeable, and old enough to know every nook and cranny of Tenochtitlan Basin from the back of his three hands. But thanks to Cabby and Daring's rivalry, he's caught in the crossfire and at risk of being replaced; Tonatiuh's talisman being the tip of that sun ray. On the other, it overlooks a very specific piece of continuity, which was ironically referenced in Act 1: Why did he travel to Somnambula, allegedly separate the Sister Crown Relics, put hundreds of lives at risk, and cause Daring to go on one of her most dangerous journeys? What made him decide to apparently team up with the Wild Bunch Gang to steal Xilati's diadem from where it belonged? None of this was answered, which it should've. He did many things both in the main and secondary canon that we would consider evil, and this would easily be his worst. Given how Daring Doubt tried to explain his actions and make us at least understand his position, you can argue one of two answers. By forcing Daring and Caballeron to go to Somnambula, there's a chance that both of them would get stuck there and sink under the ground, which would keep every relic in Tenochtitlan Basin safe. With them out of the way, he won't have to worry so much about them grave-robbing anymore. Since this plot is about clearing up misunderstandings by listening to others, there's also the likelihood that he was caught in the crossfire. The gang chased her through Somnambula after she retrieved the Doomed Diadem from them and apparently Ahuizotl. Could Ahuizotl have been trying to recover it too, only to be caught in the crossfire? Given how the books are in her perspective, it makes his motives look more sinister than she believed. Theory #2 is more in character to the portrayal of his rivalry with Daring and Daring Doubt's dismantling of Daring's limited perspective of the journeys. But without a clear answer, we can only guess what truly happened and must rely on headcanon to fill in the gaps as well as reviewing little, overlooked details from previous episodes. An episode with this important a moral and with a very gray perspective of humanity must be treated with respect. Is it? I argue yes, but if others don't, I can see why. Ahuizotl's apparent trip to Somnambula may not have been that important in Daring Done, but when observing the arc as a whole, this plot point is now crucial in overall scope. Unfortunately, this resolution fails to deliver any explanation, much less a decent one, creating a massive plot hole in a worldbuilding idea that never fully delivered. Therefore, Daring Doubt doesn't adequately explain why Ahuizotl acted so violent this whole time. Fortunately, this episode's resolution isn't completely unsalvageable. Review all of the reformations over the seasons, from Diamond Tiara to Starlight to Sunset. What do they all have in common? In some way or another, they all change their ways, even if their personalities don't. What happens here isn't a true-to-FIM reformation or redemption, which — again — @BornAgainBrony points out well. Nobody agreed to anything other than a truce related to Tenochtitlan Basin. As long as neither of them steal treasures or destroy the temples, Ahuizotl won't come after and threaten them. But that doesn't mean their feud won't continue anywhere else. Daring Do will still hunt for treasure and store them however she can so no one else can destroy or desecrate them, while Caballeron's greed remains (only without one sidekick ). What this episode establishes is how despite being enemies, neither of them truly have any moral high ground. No true good or bad guys exist in the reality of Daring Do; Fluttershy has that wherewithal to deliver an objective perspective to help put them all on the same page and listen to one another. Plus, @Truffles points out an important distinction between Ahuizotl's explanations and Garble's reformation from 9A. Throughout the series, DHX established Garble as a petty, stereotypical teenager with a lust to pick on Spike whenever possible, and will threaten anyone if he doesn't get his way. However, Sweet & Smoky tries to introduce a more sensitive side to his personality by being close to his younger sister Smolder, who's more open to his quirks and talents. Thanks to his past actions, his secretive side's hard to sell, even after he opens himself up to save the baby dragons from freezing to death inside their eggshells. Daring Do's triangular feud here lacked that key position of listening from the get-go, and creating a series of limited-perspective books that prop up Daring's status as a hero only invited extra questions about the lore. Until the climax, nobody ever asked Ahuizotl about his behavior before, evident by how taken aback he was to FS's question. Daring's urgent line in trying to figure out an escape route and Fluttershy's awareness created a plausible out for a truce. This review, though, won't be complete without praising the ending. How hilarious is it that after trying very hard to avenge his losses over the years, his decision to become a best-selling author himself would be his most successful path. The way he presents himself to the audience makes him credible, and patting his hair as he reads is a nice touch. All in all, Daring Doubt dares to deconstruct the world of Daring Do. At times, it works. At times it doesn't. But overall, the good heavily outweighs the bad. I like it a lot, and rough edges aside, it's nicely done. It's a good episode and the best one of the Daring Do arc.
  4. Super curious, because I read them. And I want to discuss them. Also, please do not say "WHUT IZ THAT" because this topic is not to say WHERE can I buy them.
  5. We all thought that the Daring Do books started off as fictional stories, right? Then it turned out to be real in season 4. So why would Daring write a story about her adventures? What's her story? Like her backstory? Why would she do it? I mean, my guess is that the story started off as a journal and she turned it into a book later on. I dunno, what do you think?
  6. Hey everyone!! I decided instead of creating a new thread every time I finished a theme in my Daring Do & Co. 100 Themes Challenge, I should convert this thread into a general thread for the whole project. Here I'll post the Themes I've completed and links to the finished pictures. Previous Themes: http://shadobabe.deviantart.com/gallery/56963721/100-Themes Theme 8 "Innocence": *might want to check out the artist comments on my DA page for this one to get the context* Link to the Deviation page: http://shadobabe.deviantart.com/art/100-Themes-Challenge-Innocence-590237190 I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback!! I really hope you all enjoy it! <3
  7. Hey guys!! I'm made posts about it before, but I'm doing the 100 Themes Drawing Challenge on DeviantArt, and basing the entire thing on Daring Do and Ahuizotl (and sometimes Caballeron). Why? Because there's not nearly enough fanart of them out there. I'm going to keep the rest of the pictures I make for this challenge a surprise, but I've been sharing the progress of the first one with everyone. It's a comic illustrating the first time Daring Do met Ahuizotl. Let me know what you guys think so far!! <3 I'll post the colored version later when I get it finished.
  8. Hey guys!! Back again!! Just a quick piece this time!! Comments and feedback loved and appreciated ALWAYS... This was fun. Needed a quick little romp after finishing THIS crazy thing: http://mlpforums.com/topic/122851-ahuizotl-aztec-regalia/ And here's the DeviantArt page of course: http://shadobabe.deviantart.com/art/Filly-Daring-and-Young-Ahuizotl-518283638 Enjoy!! <3
  9. OMG GUYS!! It's my best yet!! No OCs this time, it's straight up fanart!! Specifically of the amazing Lord Ahuizotl... I went friggin' all OUT!! Let me know what you think!! As always here's a link to the DeaviantArt page: http://shadobabe.deviantart.com/art/Warrior-Ahuizotl-517755220 Enjoy!! 8D
  10. I know a Darizotl fanatic wants to rip my guts out this very moment lol.
  11. Morning everyone!! I couldn't wait to share this with all of you. I came up with a Darizotl fan kid!! OMG, she turned out amazing... <3 Feedback and comments loved and appreciated!! I'm calling her "Izel". It's Nahautl (Aztec) for "unique". Oh, gosh, I just love designing hybrids so much. It's just so much fun to think up the perfect mix. She's probably one of my favorite character creations to date. Here's the link to the DeviantArt page for more info: http://shadobabe.deviantart.com/art/Hypothetical-Darizotl-Child-Izel-516164829 Enjoy and let me know what you think!! 83
  12. EEEE!! Hi guys!! <333 I finished another picture!! Oh, dear sweet Celestia am I proud of this one!! First time drawing these two, and that background, OMG... *death by drawing plants* Feedback and comments are loved and appreciated!! Yeah, I'm a Darizotl shipper!! ShadO loves her Foe Yay stuff!! You can visit the art page here for more artist comments on the piece: http://shadobabe.deviantart.com/art/Temporary-Ceasefire-511099775 And if you'd like art of a more popular ship, I've got a thread for a Dislestia pic I did a couple days ago: http://mlpforums.com/topic/120369-discord-and-celestia-chillin/ ENJOY!!
  13. 'The Quest for the Sapphire Stone' is a Novel-Length version of the first Daring Do Novel. It is the first in a series of sixteen or so planned novels heavily inspired by This Page An Up-to-date version is currently on FIMfiction Here - The chapter listing here should catch up soon enough. Thank you for your time, and enjoy! ---INDEX--- -------------- Chapter 1 Daring Do trekked through the tropical jungle, the wet heat sapped her energy and slowed her every step. If only she could escape this oppressive atmosphere and fly up into the cool blue sky. But her crash landing in the jungle had injured her wing and she was grounded for a few days. Few days... it might as well be a few months, or a few years! The mosquitoes buzzed loudly. The macaws cried from the high trees. Yet all of these distracting noises were not enough to cover the sound of the predators following her every step. The tan pegasus’ ears pivoted about, twitching as they tried to track the soft footfalls of her would-be stalkers as she pulled herself over another fallen tree. “You’re going to have to do better than that if you want to catch me.” She said, grinning as she finally got a feel for where they all were as she brushed a grey-scaled lock of her mane back under her trusty pith helmet. Whoever - or whatever - they were, they were spread out in a rough semi-circle in front of her, slowly advancing on her current position as they drew closer to the downed plane. Any other pony might have walked right into the trap. Daring Do wasn’t any other pony. “Good, but not good enough!” chirped, her confidence leaking into her voice as she brushed off of her olivine vest and turned to slip further into the Hayan jungle and leave her pursuers in her metaphorical dust. Which was when she found herself suddenly snout-to-snout with a very large, and very angry, black-and-orange striped tiger. “Okay, better than I thought.” Daring admitted as she and the tiger stared at each other for a moment. Dark pink eyes stared into their yellow feline counterpart’s until the Tiger let out a thundering roar, likely meant to inform the rest of his compatriots of his find as much as it was meant to leave the archaeologist in stunned terror at the prospect of suddenly being eaten. The tiger was likely of the opinion that it worked too well, as Daring was quickly ducking as the massive pair of feline jaws snapped shut where her head had been a moment ago. Tumbling back, she found herself galloping through the forest in the opposite direction from the striped feline before she could even realize what she was doing. It was only when she found herself drawing to a sudden stop that she thought the big cat might have actually thought this whole thing out. The Tiger slinked around to join its friends, completing the formation before her. The tiger slowly crouched, its body a massive spring ready to launch its mass after the hapless pony at the slightest provocation. Next to it, a black panther flexed its claws, slit pupils boring into her as it calmly waited for a chance to strike. A cheetah was hanging back slightly from the rest, and Daring got the impression that it found this whole situation amusing. The Lynx bared its fangs, letting out an angry hiss as it flexed and seemed to fidget, seemingly anxious to have a chance to finally tear into Daring. At the end, seemingly out of place, was a single small, fluffy white house cat that mewled nervously, eyes darting from Daring back to its friends, apparently trying to decide which ones it was more terrified of. It was certainly a strange ensemble to come across in the middle of the Hayan jungle. Daring wasn’t as surprised as she thought she’d be - it was just shaping up to be one of those days. Suppressing her urge to simply turn tail and run, she flashed them a self-confident grin she only mostly felt before she charged the line of angry felines. The quintet was caught off-guard by the sudden charge as Daring made a bee-line for the house cat. The small white kitten’s eyes widened in terror before curling into a ball, any impulse to run out of the way smashed to pieces as it simply braced itself for whatever was about to hit it. Daring leapt over the cowering feline and continued onward into the jungle, four of the felines in hot pursuit. The near constant buzz of the rainforest echoed in her ears along with the pounding of her pulse and the steady rhythm of her breathing. The soft forest floor of fallen and decaying leaves crackled with every hoof fall as she bounded over and around trees both fallen and standing. Behind her, the angry snarls of her pursuers let her know just how close they still were. Overhead, a troop of monkeys paused in there bickering over a jungle fruit to watch the unfolding spectacle pass under their perch. The Lynx was now out in front, slowly but surely gaining ground on Daring, drawing to within paw’s reach of her. The over-eager cat lashed out with its claws, making Daring add a little more zip to her step as she felt the razor-sharp claws pass within a hair-breath of her compass cutie-mark. “Way to close!” Daring said, heart hammering in her chest as the sudden burst of adrenaline helped her put a little distance between herself and the Lynx, which simply snarled in indignation at losing his chance. “Better luck next time, pal!” Daring said over her shoulder. Truth be told, she probably shouldn’t be mocking them, but sometimes she couldn’t help herself. It wasn’t like any of this was actually new to her anyway. This only seemed to enrage the cat’s further as they stepped up their efforts to take down the taunting pegasus, but to no avail as the terrain finally started to let Daring open a proper lead before leaping over another fallen tree, the cat’s following moments after. Back up above, the troop of monkeys turned to each other, shrugged, and returned to their squabble over the fruit. On the forest floor, Daring continued to dodge through the jungle, the snarl of cats chasing her hoofsteps. She spied a chasm quickly approaching, and on reflex tried to spread her wings. Big mistake. A jolt of pain shot through her right wing, and Daring gave out a choked cry of pain as her vision swam for a moment. Her hooves stumbled as they spasmed, the jolt of pain causing her whole body to seemingly flinch as what felt like a dozen hot knives stabbed into her right wing joint. Her hooves flew out from under her as she tumbled, skidding across the ground until coming to a slow halt at the precipice of the chasm. Daring shook her head quickly, trying to clear it of the stars that had started to fill her vision. She was facing in the opposite direction now, the felines quickly closing the gap now that their target was no longer moving. She didn’t have time to start running again - not without delaying them. Still reeling from the attempt to fly, she shakily rose to her hooves, taking a deep breath as the Tiger closed the distance. The striped cat leapt at Daring Do as she closed her eyes and slowly exhaled. Her front hooves drew curving arcs in the soft loam of the forest floor as she shifted her weight onto them completely, hindlegs rising completely off the ground as her whole form twisted, turning a full 180 degrees. Her hindlegs pulled back as she spun, A pair of kicks chambered as her half-spin stopped, leaving her rear hooves pointed square at the tiger who was now in a descending arc. The tiger had just enough time to realize what was about to happen before both hooves shot out at him, slamming with stone-shattering force into his chin. The big cat went flying back; arcing over his comrades who skidded to a stop at the sudden defeat of what Daring could only assume was their leader. Daring slowly opened her eyes and turned to face the remaining cats. The house cat was absent, but the other three were still there, staring dumbfounded at the small pony that had sent a predator several times her size tail over teakettle. Daring gave them a small grin. “Come on - I haven’t got all day.” All three scowled at that, but the Lynx was the first off the starting blocks. It covered the intervening distance in three strides before leaping at Daring, its left claw swinging through the air like a bizarre left hook. Daring ducked the telegraphed claw swipe, once again spinning on her hooves as she swept the Lynx’s legs out from under it. It was at that moment the Cheetah quite literally leapt into fray, its entire body acting as a spotted yellow projectile as it barreled into Daring. The pair of them tumbled over the edge into the chasm. For a brief moment the pair tumbled through the air, hooves meeting claws as Daring tried to prevent the cat from tearing her to shreds, before she extended her left wing. She couldn’t fly with just one wing, let alone while she had the oversized fur ball clinging to her, but it was more than enough to give her some control. With a quick flick of the extended wing, she twisted them over, positioning the snarling cat on the bottom a split second before they crashed into the chasm floor. Daring stumbled to her hooves, seeing stars for the second time in less than ten minutes. Her head was so scrambled at this point that she almost missed the low growl from behind her. The whistle of claws through air was her only warning and Daring reacted on reflex, dropping so fast the her hat hung in the air for a split second as the massive black paw swung through the space where her head had just been before. Already crouched, Daring retaliated with another kick from her hind legs, her hooves making contact with their second feline skull of the day. There was a yowl followed shortly by a dull thud as the black cat came to a crash landing. Daring’s breathing was coming in in ragged gasps now, reminding her that while her wing was the largest injury she had endured from the crash. Her tan coat was now caked with mud and dirt as well as a few small speckles of red from several small cuts. Her vest was torn in at least three places and at this rate probably wasn’t going to survive long enough to get back to a tailor. At least her pith helmet was still in good shape. She was pulled out of her self-assessment when she heard stones shifting somewhere above her head. She looked up to see the tiger slowly climbing down the chasm, apparently still feeling that last kick. A quick look around her confirmed that several of the other cats were also starting to slowly recover from their own injuries. Well, she had wanted to delay them, and from the looks of things it would take a few minutes for them to regroup. If she was going to run, now was the time. “If you’ll all excuse me….” Daring managed between heavy breaths before she turned and headed further down the chasm. Her hoof falls echoed off the stone, turning her into what sounded like a one-mare stampede. Overhead, what little light reached down into the chasm was mottled by the canopy of vines and leaves that hung far overhead. Every rock and tree and bush cast long shadows that left her path as patchwork of light and darkness. Lizards basked in the narrow beams of sunlight until they skittered away into crevices and holes to hide from the passing pony. Exotic birds watched the outsider pass with only mild interest, taking her as no threat to them in their lofty perches and quickly dismissing her. The occasional small mammal peeked out from the holes they hid in - as much from the sun as from predators - to wearily watch her trot pass, none of them bold enough to do more than peek out of their holes at the passing mare. Daring finally began to slow down as the chasm widened before her, before finally coming to a stop as she stepped back into the full light of the jungle. Before her was a waterfall, its thunderous roar dampened by the foliage that pressed in around it. A shallow pool spread out from it, shored with smooth grey stones around its edge as the mist hanging in the air cooled the entire clearing. To one side, between the chasm and the fall, a single stream flowed, disappearing over a short fall before snaking deeper into the jungle. She took in the sight, for a moment simply enjoying the scenery until something about the falls caught her eye. Daring slowly made where way around the pool until she was right next to the falls. It was hard to tell, but she was certain that there was something back there. Curiosity getting the better of her, she plunged through the falls. Sure enough, on the other side was a small cavern. It was well hidden - only really visible by the slight change of light behind the falls - but there none the less. Finally finding an opportunity to catch her breath, Daring collapsed onto the cave floor as all of her exertion finally caught up with her. The stone around her was slick with condensation from the billowing mist of the waterfall that gave it a strange sheen under the filtered light that managed to leak through the cascading waters. Daring flexed her limbs gingerly - first her forelegs, then the hind ones - checking herself to make sure her break-neck pace hadn’t broken anything. She let out a sigh of relief as she determined that, cuts and bruises aside, she was in one piece. Well, except for the busted wing. But that had been broken already, so it didn’t count. It was only now that Daring finally took a moment to take a better look at the cave she was taking shelter in. It was a shallow cave, the back wall visible even in the dimmed waterfall-filtered light. Vines and plant roots crisscrossed the ceiling, hanging from it like organic stalactites. Water ran down the sides of the cave, the steady stream of condensed moisture over the decades and centuries carving curving, twisting lines across the rock face. The curving lines drew her gaze across the surface as she found her eyes following the carved gouges as they crossed the rock, drawing out what almost looked like… Daring’s eyes widened as she realized what they actually were. She clamored back onto her hooves as she trotted over to the wall. Sure enough, the lines were not the result of slow erosion - At least, not entirely. The water had eaten away at the carvings, but there was still enough left for what it is to be apparent. It had once been an elaborate relief, but the ravages of age and water had worn away most of the details. There was still enough detail to date it to the pre-classical Hayan period, which matched with the script that bordered the whole piece as well as accompanied several of the designs. Daring was certain that the information written in the pictographs would have been useful, but with all of her notes lost in the crash she had little hope of deciphering the script at the moment. Luckily, the illustrations were much easier to figure out. The relief looked like a stylized map of the jungle basin. On the left most edge was some sort of massive stone edifice, a single slash bisecting it. Daring was willing to bet her bottom bit that it was supposed to be the chasm she and her feline friends had tumbled into. A little further to the right was the worn image of a pool of water, ripples crossing its surface, emanating from the waterfall emptying into it. Flowing from the pool and further to the right was a stylized ribbon of a stream, undulating like a snake as it flowed through jungle before terminating at yet another chasm. The design continued to the right, the map compressing to the top as it went as the bottom became dominated by a second set of images, some sort of battle or cataclysm - the effigy was too worn to tell for sure. And there, at the far right, sitting inside the image of a temple, was a two-headed statue of an Anubis and nestled inside was the multi-faced shape of a gem. “Whoa.” Daring whispered to herself, eyes wide as she stared at the map. It was patently ridiculous. The whole concept of a treasure map was bunk. They simply didn’t exist. On the rare occasion that the intrepid archaeologist found themselves with the chance for field work, it was usually several long weeks slowly digging holes across a grid to finds a few pieces of pottery. If you were lucky, you might uncover a piece of jewelry; or better yet, a piece of writing. You never, ever, found something that basically said ‘treasure is this way’. Obviously, nobody had told that to the Hayan’s. She conceded it was possible that it was some sort of route marker - something designed to tell those traveling to the temple which way to go, embellished with additional iconography so as to double as a shrine of worship for those… A growl from somewhere outside the waterfall reminded Daring that now probably was not a good time to get absorbed in her work. Daring skirted toward the edge of the falls, peering past the curtain of water to look out onto the pool beyond. The quintet of cats had returned, the fluffy white house cat having caught up with them and was now shaking at the edge of the pool, jumping at every little ripple of water that lapped to close for the little feline’s comfort. The Tiger nearby gave the white fur ball a disdainful stare before turning to the others and growling something at them the Daring couldn’t understand. The other cats seemed to however, as they spread out and started sweeping through the clearing. Claws swiped through bushes as they began working their way closer to the waterfall - and Daring. “Darn it.” She cursed as she watched the panther slowly pad its way around one edge toward her little alcove. As quickly and as quietly as she could, she scooted across the small cavern, peering around the opposite edge of the falls in hopes of seeing an escape route. Daring cursed again when she saw the cheetah looping around the other side of the pool. Well, so much for that escape route. Daring took a quick stock of her situation. She was cornered inside a cave, with no escape routes, and enemies on every side. Still not the worst situation she had ever found herself in. It was getting there though. Thinking fast as the cats drew closer, she started to try and think of her next move. Several ideas were considered and dismissed in rapid succession until one idea took root and failed to go away. It was, without a doubt, a bad plan. Unlike the others, however, it actually had a slim chance of working. The sound of shifting pebbles brought her impromptu strategy session to a close. She was out of time. Daring quickly made her way to the back of the cave before turning to face towards its front. Now, the only thing in between her and escape was five angry felines and a whole lot of water. “Really need a better plan next time, Daring.” She said to herself as she braced her hind legs. Any second now… The moment came as soon as the Panther’s head came out from around the edge of the cave. Daring kicked off the back wall and charged toward the front of the cave. The cheetah had just made it into the cave as both he and his panther companion were sideswiped by a speeding pegasus. All three crashed into the waterfall. The two cats, however, did not have the advantage in forward momentum from a running start. Daring burst out the front of the falls as droplets of water scattered off in her wake. Behind her, the two cats found themselves tumbling into the churning water at the base of the falls while Daring landed in the fetlock deep shallows with a splash that sent small waves crashing upon the smooth stones of the pool’s edge. Another leap sent her arcing over the white housecat and straight to the stunned tiger. Daring rolled with the impact, quickly getting back to her hooves and continuing off into the jungle without missing a beat while the striped feline went sprawling as its prey once again slipped through its grasp. “Better luck next time!” Daring said, flashing them a smug smirk as she barreled into the jungle once again. She might have managed to escape, but it was a temporary one as soon the cats were once again on her tail. The jungle passed by in a blur of greens and reds, the squawk of birds overhead mingling with the growls of the cats behind her. She dodged around the corpse of a fallen giant that had once likely been one of the greatest trees in this part of the jungle. Now it only served to block her path. Daring bit back another curse as she sharply turned left. Normally she would just fly over the accursed thing, but with her wing busted it just wasn’t an option. The worst part was that her injuries were starting to catch up with her. Her hind legs were still numb from that tussle in the chasm - those cats had denser skulls then she thought. All four of her legs were aching from the dashing through the jungle and a thousand cuts and bruises were starting to make themselves known in a most unpleasant way. Even her wing was starting to throb, whatever endorphins that had been dulling the pain starting to wear off as what was likely a compound fracture began to make itself known. Her lungs were burning from the exertion. Her hooves ached from every jagged stone and errant branch that had speared into them. But Daring pushed through the pain, and focused on the path ahead. She couldn’t stop. She had to keep running, no matter how much her body protested. No matter how much pain she was in, she knew that if she stopped, she was in for much worse. The massive tree corpse terminated in a twisting mass of roots as thick as her head, the ground torn asunder when it had fallen ages ago, leaving a massive, worn crater where the towering tree had been anchored to the earth. Now, the space was little more than a dank sinkhole. A carpet of vines and ferns covered the ground around it, blossoms of red and blue flowers speckling the green carpet with color. With the former king of the groove slain, the canopy had opened up to the sky above, sunlight allowed to stream in and pour across the forest floor for the first time in a long while. The sunlight spurred the growth of new seedlings, each one with trunks thinner than the fallen king’s branches, all of them growing in pockets and bunches around the edges of the clearing. The fresh foliage muffled the sounds of the forest beyond, plunging the clearing into a serene quasi-silence, only the soft chirping of birds filling the air. The heat and humidity of the Hayan jungle hung over the clearing like a heavy blanket, an almost smothering, suffocating layer that weighed down on Daring like a massive stone weight. It was a moment of eerie calm in what had been a frantic day. The Tiger came at her from the right. The distraction of the lush scenery paired with the distracting aches and pains from the day had left her dangerously unaware of her surroundings. The only thing that had saved her had been the big cats own over eagerness. In its rush to finally capture his prey, he had inadvertently lost the element of surprise. The sudden crack of a snapping branch had sent Daring’s ears swiveling toward the source of the sound, primal fight-or-flight instincts taking over. Her eyes widened as her head turned to catch up with her ears movement, finally letting her catch sight of her would-be attacker. Eons-old reflex’s kicked in as Daring reeled back, the tiger’s claws passing within inches of Daring’s neck, their faces passing so close that she could feel its breath rake across her face, its pungent smell filling her nostrils. Daring had barely rolled back onto her hooves when the tiger’s second attack came. Having given up on a stealthy approach, the striped feline had instead opted for a simple straight on assault. Daring barely had time to bring up a hoof before the massive paw came at her. Hoof met paw as Daring countered, her hoof coming down on the paw and sending it off course, claws slicing through air instead of her torso. A second follow-up attack came quickly after the first, the second part of a one-two strike. Daring simply dodged this one instead, letting the big cat’s momentum throw it off balance as it over extended itself. The tiger tried to regain its balance as Daring spun and reared back before delivering a punishing blow into the tiger’s side. The tiger folded like a cheap suit, letting out a yowl of pain before crumpling into a pile of black and orange fur. Her next two opponents arrived just as her first went down. The Cheetah and the Lynx gave their fallen leader barely a second glance, barreling straight at Daring. It was a blinding blitz of flashing claws and Daring’s already strained body was pushed to its limit. But she couldn’t keep it up. Even as she dodged a upper slice from the Cheetah, she felt a crushing blow slam into her front legs as a punishing back paw from the Lynx causing her purchase to fail as her joints screamed in agony. She didn’t even have time to try and determine what was going to happen next. She had to react on instinct. She rolled to the side again, idly wondering just how much of this trip she was going to spend rolling around in the dirt as overhead two-pawed strike from the cheetah crashed into where she had been moments before. She had gambled with her life, but it had paid off. A splint second later and she would have been a goner. She couldn’t take the two of them on at the same time. She needed to split them up – unless… Another feather-brained scheme began to form. Daring rolled to the right as she dodged another swipe from the Lynx. They had split up at least somewhat now, but that just meant she had to worry about attacks from multiple angles. She dodged another attack from the cheetah before ducking a leaping tackle from Lynx. All three of them took a brief pause as they tried to regain their bearings. Daring was in between the two felines, both of them grinning at her with self-satisfied smirks. Daring returned it with a self-assured grin of her own. She had them right where she wanted them. She spun and made to charge at the Lynx, who replied in kind by leaping at her, thinking to intercept her mid-leap. Daring instead tucked into a roll, the Lynx flying over her head as she rolled back onto her hooves, both of the cats now behind her - and in the direct line of her hind legs. In what was quickly becoming a recurring pattern, Daring launched a kick and sent the Lynx flying. Unlike the last time, however, Daring had a landing spot for him in mind. The Lynx careened backwards, crashing straight into the unsuspecting cheetah behind him, who had just enough time to register that the incoming projectile was in fact his partner before they collided. The Lynx’s momentum carried both of them backward, tumbling over old roots and vines - and straight toward the sinkhole. Both of them yowled in surprise as they flew over the edge of the pit, vainly reaching out to grab onto something to halt their fall, but to no avail. Gravity asserted itself as the tangled pair fell into the inky abyss. There was a moment of silence as the yowls echo died out before a loud, heavy splash as the cats found out just how much mud was in the bottom of that pit. Daring allowed herself a chuckle, but it was cut off with a wince as a bolt of pain shot through her rear hooves. The once dull throbbing in them had intensified, and too much pressure just made it worse. The fighting was starting to catch up with her, and she still had at least one feline to go. As if summoned by the thought, the black panther stalked out of the jungle. The panther smirked at Daring, as if sensing her weakness. Unlike the other cats, this one didn’t just charge in. It slinked around in a slow circle, watching Daring the way a hungry bird might watch a particularly amusing worm. Daring matched it move for move, keeping the cat on the opposite side of the clearing, neither taking their eyes off the other. Daring tried to hide the limp that was starting to slip into her gait, but she couldn’t suppress it entirely. This only seemed to make the panther’s grin widen as his pace increased. The panther was every inch a predator toying with its food, and Daring was his toy. She just needed one last plan. Luckily, one decided to stumble into the clearing right then. The small white housecat tumbled out of a nearby bush, so engrossed in trying to remove the myriad of twigs that now littered its coat that the flighty feline didn’t even notice that it stumbled out right next to the pegasus. The cat started as Daring stretched out her good wing and slid it under the white fur ball. “Hey,” she said, turning to the panther, “catch.” And with that she gave her wing a flick that sent the small creature flying through the air, a frightened cry the only thing the housecat could manage before crashing straight into the panther, hitting it square in the face. The panther flailed about as the smaller cat simply landed on the ground in a little ball of fluff, letting out quiet mewling cries. It had not had a good day so far. A small smile had started to cross Daring’s face when she noticed that the lynx and the cheetah were starting to pull themselves out of the sinkhole. Both were dripping with mode, and neither looked very happy at the moment. “Heh, heh - bye!” Daring turned tail and bolted into the forest once again, with the cats once again following in pursuit. The sounds of the chase mingled with the sounds of the jungle as they tore through the overgrowth, birds and other things sent scattering as the chase tore past their roosts - or, in some cases, through them. Daring dodged around towering pillars of aged wooden monoliths, ducking under their twisting roots that twisted into abstract cathedrals and archways. Vines snaked across the ground, threatening to steal her already precarious balance. A single misstep would mean an immobilizing injury. Then she would have no escape. She ducked into a fallen tree, its rotted corpse so massive that the hollowed giant more resembled a tunnel then a log. The damp wooden walls curved up around her and met above her head, her hat not even grazing the ceiling. Her hoof falls sent up clouds of decayed wood, each particle glinting in the few rays of sunlight that streamed through holes that marked where massive branches had once been anchored. Behind her she could hear the sounds of sharpened, predatory claws tearing gouges in the wood as they charged down the wooden tunnel behind her. Her ears pivoted as they caught something above them as well, the faint sound of paws dashing across the roof above them. They cats were trying to catch her off guard when she exited the massive tree carcass. A quick glance around her told Daring that any openings had long sense past. The only way out now was forward. So forward it was. Daring put an extra burst of speed into her steps as the exit drew closer. Just a step from the edge, she leapt, throwing herself into the open air ahead of her. She could hear a snarl above her as she felt a set of claws slice through the air uncomfortably close to her back. In a heartbeat though she was clear and back on terra firma, dodging through the tree’s again. The cats, however, were closing in. She needed a new plan. She racked her brain for an idea before she recalled the relief in the cavern. The relief had shown several landmarks leading to the temple, but it had also contained several other, less obvious details. One in particular stood out in Daring’s mind at the moment, however. Hoping that the map was at least somewhat accurate, Daring adjusted her course slightly to the left. The cat’s behind her followed suit, dead set on catching her - and slowly getting ever closer. She hoped it was close. She tore through the forest as, slowly, the trees began to thin ever so slightly. Up ahead the sunlight started to seem ever so slightly brighter. Daring grinned. Once again, her bet had paid off. She made a mental note to hit the casino after this whole trip was over just to see if her luck held out. Daring didn’t even break her stride as she broke clear of the tree line. A moment later the Cats did the same thing. They blinked in the sudden burst of sunlight, their vision clearing just in time to see Daring leap into the air. It was then they noticed that they were still careening toward yet another chasm. The cats managed to draw themselves short of the edge just in the nick of time as Daring wrapped her hooves around a hanging vine and let out a sigh of relief. The chasm had, sure enough, been exactly where the map had said it would be. Daring counted herself lucky and gave a small thanks to whatever ancient crafts pony had been so detail oriented. Her momentum swung her across the gorge, letting her drop safely on the other side and finally out of reach of her pursuers. “So long, fellas!” Daring gave them a jaunty wave. “Better luck next time!” The Tiger gave out an infuriated roar, after a moment resorting to simply throwing random bits of jungle detritus in Daring’s direction. Daring simply gave another chuckle as she continued to taunt them. This only enraged the felines even further. Sometimes they just made this too easy. Daring gave them one final mocking salute before trotting into the jungle again, this time at a much more sedate pace. From the looks of that gorge, it was going to take them quite a while to find a way around or across it. By that point, she planned on having put as much distance as she could between her and those cats. For now, however, Daring simply wanted to find somewhere to rest. A few minutes of walking through the woods finally lead her to what was best described as a small wooden cave. The tree’s roots had grown in a tangled mass over and around some ancient rock, leaving a well sheltered alcove inside. With a relieved sigh, Daring slipped inside, finally giving her hooves a well-deserved break. As she began to rummage through her pockets and her hat, she thought to herself idly - how the hay did I end up out here, anyway?