Dungeons & Ponies
written by Clever Clover

Greatsword, the warrior pony, cut away the last of the brush concealing the ancient stone gate. "It is as the legends said! Within this dungeon lies the greatest treasure in the world!"

"So open it already," said Toad, the thief, impatiently.

"Be patient," said the unicorn enchantress, Wand. "We do not know what lies beyond the stone. Perhaps we should take a moment to prepare."

Skystar, the pegasus, nodded in agreement. "We don't want to be caught with our guard down. Besides, I'm in no hurry to be cooped up in some cramped dungeon."

"Toad, check the door for traps," Greatsword commanded. "Wand, prepare to cast a spell of protection; Skystar, draw your sword!" The unicorn began to chant her spell while Skystar drew his slender rapier. Greatsword unsheathed his mighty two-handed sword.

Toad began to carefully probe the perimeter of the massive stone gate with his dagger. After several minutes, he announced, "Well, there're no physical traps; do you sense any magic, Wand?"

The sorceress waved her hoof over the door while chanting a spell. "It is locked with magic, but I detect no traps." She chanted another spell and the massive gates ground slowly open. A wave of damp, stale air washed over the foursome. A dark passage stretched before them.

"Light the torches and follow me in!" bellowed Greatsword, whose magical helm allowed him to see in the dark, as he stepped toward the opening. Toad followed with a lit torch; next came Wand, whose horn glowed with magical light. Skystar brought up the rear, holding a lantern.

The cohort made their way slowly through the dark dungeon passage, keeping alert for signs of traps or wandering monsters. There were no turns or intersections for more than one hundred feet as the passage continually sloped gradually downward, taking the intrepid ponies deep beneath the hills. Finally they came to a side passage on the right; across the main passage from it was a wooden door. Toad stepped up to the door. He pressed his ear to the wood and listened for a moment, then took his dagger and checked for traps as he had at the stone gate. Once he was satisfied that it was safe, he slowly swung the door open.

Greatsword and Toad cautiously entered the room; Skystar and Wand remained in the passage to keep watch. In the room was a crude stool and table. In one corner, behind the table, was a small chest. "Well, what have we here?" said Toad as lifted the chest onto the table.

"Can you open it?" asked Greatsword.

Toad grinned. "Sure, but first I'll have to disarm the trap." The nimble pony set about tinkering with the trapped lock of the chest with a piece of wire and the point of his dagger. Before long there was a sharp click and he lifted the lid. Inside was an aged scroll.

"Be careful," Greatsword whispered as Toad reached into the chest.

"Don't worry; 'Careful' is my middle name," Toad said as he lifted the brittle paper from its resting place. He set it on the table and carefully unrolled it. To the ponies' surprise, the paper was blank, but it had concealed a heavy iron key. "This could come in handy," said Toad as he slipped the key into his belt pouch.

As the two ponies headed for the door, Greatsword asked, "If 'Careful' is you middle name, what is your last name?"

"Toad," the smaller pony replied simply.


"What did you find?" asked Skystar.

"Not much," said Toad. "Anything interesting happen out here?"

Wand nodded. "I have used my magic to scout the two passages. The side passage apparently leads to a residential structure. The main passage leads to some sort of guard post and a large gate."

"Guard post, huh?" Greatsword grunted. "Sounds promising. Okay, ponies, let's move." The foursome of ponies resumed their march into the darkness. It took nearly half an hour to reach the guard post. Before the passage opened out into the gate chamber, there were narrow openings in the walls, arrow-slits, three on each side of the passage. The ponies approached with caution, not knowing what manner of danger lurked behind the walls.

"Wand," Greatsword whispered, "are you ready?"

The unicorn nodded, "Yes, look away everyone." Wand waved her hooves and lowered her horn. A sudden explosion of light flooded the passage between the arrow-slits. "Go!" the sorceress yelled. The foursome rushed forward into the gate chamber, their weapons ready.

The chamber was empty. The entire end of the chamber opposite the passage was composed of two massive iron-bound gates. There was a small wooden door set in one of the side walls. Greatsword and Skystar stood before the door with their swords held ready; Wand began chanting a spell of protection. Toad took out the key from his pouch and headed for the gate.

"Uh, guys," said Toad after examining the gate.

"What is it, Toad!" Greatsword bellowed. "We don't know how long we have."

Toad hung his head. "There's no key hole."

"I'll see if my magic can open it," said Wand. She chanted and waved her hooves, then shook her head. "We'll have to find another way."

"Okay, Toad, check out this door," said Greatsword.

Toad approached the door as before. He put his ear to it. "Oh, shoot," he mumbled.

"What is it?" asked Skystar.

"Somethin's coming," said Toad as he stepped away from the door with his dagger held ready.

Now all the ponies could hear the scratching, clattering sound getting closer and closer. They stood ready to face whatever came out from behind the door. "Wand, blast it!" Greatsword yelled. The unicorn sorceress nodded and hurled a massive fireball at the door, shattering it into a shower of singed splinters. When the smoke cleared, the ponies caught their first sight of their adversaries as a hord of skeletal Bushwoolies poured out of the opening where the door had been.

Greatsword and Skystar swung their swords, cleaving through skeketons like stalks of wheat. Toad darted about striking out with his dagger but doing little damage. Wand's fireballs tore through the advancing horde as if they were made of paper. But still they came, wave after wave of shrambling undead horrors.

"Stand back!" Greatsword bellowed. "I'm going to use my special fighting move!"

"You can't do dat!" Baby Racer complained.

"Yes, I can," Baby Leaper replied.

"No, you can't. Warriows don't lewn Specal Fighting Moves 'till tents level," Baby Racer informed him.

"Yeah, Gweatsword got tents level wen dey stold the witch's twesure," Baby Leaper stated.

"No, he didn't," said Baby Racer as he shook his head. "He was asweep durin' the fight wit' the golum so he didn't get any expewience."

"He still got tents level."

"Unca' Bwiteblade," Baby Racer called out, "Baby Leaper's cheating again."

"I wana cast a spell," Baby Noddins whined.

"An who evew hewd of 'skeletal Bushwoolies'; dat's stoopid," complained Baby Leaper.

"I thought they were cool," said Baby Clipper.

Baby Drummer rolled a die. "I got a twenty," he said.

"I wana cast a spell," Baby Noddins whined again.

Brightblade knocked his head on the counter of his antique store. "Why do I let those kids play in my back room?" he mumbled.

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