The Wreck

by JohnPerry

Chapter 7: Epilogue

Previous Chapter

Daring shifted under the covers of her bed, looking out the arched window at the city beyond. From her position she could see the many towers and minarets of Al-Jamal, one of the great cities of Saddle Arabia. Situated in the midst of a flat grassland, Al-Jamal was built upon a prominent hill that had an oddly-shaped indent in the middle, making it resemble a camel’s hump. A huge palace sat atop the highest point of the hill, and over the years the city had built up around it. In the blistering sun, the white-washed city gleamed like a jewel upon the brown landscape.

From behind her Daring heard a soft rustle, and turned to see a camel and a young, pale-coated stallion passing through the silk sheets that hung in the doorway to her room. The camel was carrying a silver tray holding two small ceramic cups and a gleaming brass pot with a long spout and an intricately designed lid. At the sight of Daring, both of them smiled.

“It is good to see you awake again,” the camel said, placing the tray next to her bed.

“How are you feeling?” the stallion asked.

“Dandy.” Daring smirked. “Never thought I’d get you out of the office, Pencil Pusher.”

The stallion shrugged. “Well, Dallah has made me feel right at home,” he said, gesturing at the camel.

“Any friend of Daring Do is a friend of mine,” Dallah said, lifting the brass pot with his mouth and splashing a miniscule amount of coffee into one of the cups. Daring took it and gently sipped, letting the mildly bitter taste wash over her tongue. She turned to one corner of the room where a huge golden ring, wider than her own waist, sat on a table.

Pencil Pusher stared at it as well. “So this is what Ahuizotl is after, then?”

“Yep.” She sighed. “This is what Caballeron was going to sell to him. How is he, by the way?”

“Still sleeping, but he’ll live,” Dallah answered. “How awkward it will be for him when he wakes up and finds out he owes you his life.”

“He didn’t deserve to die in there. Not like that,” Daring said, shuddering. “Now I know what happened to the smugglers he sent in there to get the ring. I feel sorry for him, really.”

“Sorry?!” Pencil Pusher cried. “He almost sunk the Equestrian Star!”

“Well... to be fair, they weren’t intending to sink the ship. I was trying to take the ring from him, after all. I just didn’t think his goons would be armed.”

“They blew a hole in the ship!”

“Yeah… not the brightest bunch,” Daring said. “Still, it wouldn’t have been so bad if the ship had sunk. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping the ring safe. Thank goodness that Caballeron’s such a greedy bastard, or he wouldn’t have sent his smuggling ring to find the wreck in the first place.”

“But then Caballeron has to turn to Daring Do to retrieve the ring,” Dallah remarked, chuckling. “The irony is delicious.”

“Oh, it was,” Daring said with a grin. “It’s a shame he wouldn’t let me retrieve it by myself. Then again, he was never stupid, I have to give him that.”

Pencil Pusher took a seat beside her bed, glancing at the ring. “So, now what?”

“As soon as I’m well enough to get out of bed, I’m taking the ring back to Equestria. I have to keep it safe.”

“Caballeron won’t like that,” Pencil Pusher said.

“Let him complain,” Daring scoffed. “He might think the ring is his, but he’s dealing with forces he doesn’t understand. As long as he doesn’t figure out where I live, he’s not a problem.”

Pencil let out a thoughtful hum before smiling. “Well, I’m sure I’ll be reading about this one in your next book.”

Daring was silent for a moment. “I… don’t think I’ll be writing about this one.”

The room went silent as Daring stared out the window while Dallah and Pencil exchanged a look. Pencil Pusher leaned in towards her, frowning. “What happened in there, Daring? You’re gone for nearly a week, and then we find you laying on the beach almost starved to death.”

A shiver passed through Daring’s body. “Don’t let anyone near that wreck, Dallah. Just let it crumble into the sea.”

“What’s in there?” the camel asked in a hushed tone.

“Something I had only read about. I didn’t even think it was real…” She paused, then swallowed. “I’d rather not talk about it. It’s given me a lot to think about.”

“Daring Do doesn’t want to talk about her adventure?” Dallah chuckled, lifting his cup to his lips. “How novel.”

She cast a weary look at him. “Dallah, would you believe that my greatest desire is not to be Daring Do?”

Dallah choked on his sip of coffee. After a fit of violent coughing, he looked up at Daring. “Perhaps you are not as well as we thought.”

“Well, would you at least believe that I grow tired of this life of adventure?”

“In truth, Daring, I would not.”

“I would,” Pencil murmured. Daring and Dallah turned to look at him, and he shrunk back in his seat. “Well, it’s just… you don’t seem very happy doing what you do,” he mumbled.

Daring lay back against her pillow with a sigh before Dallah asked, “So, who does Daring Do dream of being if not Daring Do?”

“Just…” Daring paused, finding her words. “...Normal. Just somepony with someone to love, who doesn’t have to constantly deal with adventure and danger. Just a quiet, happy writer who gets by in the world doing what she loves.”

“Just the ‘adventure keen yearling?’” Pencil asked, cracking a smile.

Daring nodded. “Just A.K. Yearling.”

Silence fell in the room again, all three individuals staring awkwardly into their laps or at the floor, avoiding eye contact before Daring spoke again. “Well, no sense in crying over what we don’t have. I don’t think love was ever meant for me, do you?”

Pencil swallowed. “No offense, Daring, but that sounds… really bleak.”

Daring snorted, chuckling as she replied, “Yeah, well… I’ve got more important things to worry about, don’t I?”

“I suppose…” Pencil trailed off, fiddling with his forehooves. “You sure you don’t want to write about this one?”

“Pretty sure.”

“Cause you know the publishers aren’t going to like hearing that you’re delaying your next book.”

“Ah, let them worry about that,” Daring said, waving her hoof dismissively. “I’ve got bigger things to deal with than disappointed fans. Namely things with blue skin and three hands.”

Pencil nodded, then rose to his hooves. “Well, um, I guess I should let you rest. Dallah, shall we?”

“Just let me see to this,” Dallah replied, pouring another cup of coffee. Pencil nodded and walked out of the room while the camel gave her the cup.

“So,” he said as Daring took the cup. “I suppose it is true what they say? The lands are always richer elsewhere.”

“I guess so.”

Dallah gave her an incredulous look. “You would rather be a normal pony than the great Daring Do?”

“Looks that way,” Daring looked up at Dallah and shrugged. “What can I say? A.K. Yearling is my one work of fiction. The simple writer who leads a simple life, free from danger or loneliness.”

She glanced at the golden ring sitting on the table and sighed. “Oh, how I envy that mare.”

Author's Notes:

My thanks to RTStephens for proofreading and to CouchCrusader for offering his feedback.

This story was inspired by a real-life shipwreck, the American Star, which you can read about here. That image of only the front half of this grand ocean liner, sitting on a beach and almost completely intact, left a major impression on me. And as I learned more about that wreck, I became more intrigued. As it turns out, the tale of the American Star is a fascinating and somewhat tragic story of a ship's fall from grace. Eventually I realized I needed to write something about it, and it would have to be something surreal to match the bizarre nature of this wreck.

This story was also likely inspired by that X-Files episode where Mulder and Scully are trapped in a hallucination caused by a giant fungus, though I only made the connection after I started writing. Go figure.

Thanks for reading!

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