“I’m Penny Wise, the most hospitable earth pony you’re likely to find on the trail to the northern reaches,” the innkeeper explained as he trotted up to the largest of the buildings in the compound.
Indiana Jones kept his mouth shut and his eyes open as he crouched slightly to follow Penny Wise through the door and into the main room of the inn. The dark, ugly-smelling common room was like a hundred others the archeologist had seen throughout his travels. A smoky fire in the large fireplace at one end took the edge off the chill of the evening while small clustered groups of travelers used hot drinks and alcohol to take the edge off everything else. The innkeeper used one hoof to wave Indy over to a low bench and equally low table. Taking a seat opposite, the brown-pelted creature sat and waited expectantly, his lips suddenly sealed.
Moving deliberately, Doctor Jones withdrew his bag of coins and laid one on the table. It clinked dully, the light of the fireplace reflecting off its shiny golden surface. The innkeeper simply sat. Another large golden coin joined the first. Penny Wise yawned hugely, his malodorous breath doing nothing to improve the stench that already hung in the room. Grumbling, Indiana pulled out a third coin. Finally, the horse-creature nodded slowly and slammed one hoof onto the table. “Starfire! STARFIRE! A drink for our guest.”
“Coming, Mr. Wise!” called a nervous, reedy voice. Hooves clattered on the wooden floor as what Indy could only describe as a pegasus hurried into view with a tray balanced on his outstretched wings. Indiana stared. He’d been joking to himself outside the inn, but here was a creature straight out of ancient legends. What was next? Unicorns?
The red-pelted creature of myth cantered up to the table and slid the tray awkwardly onto the space between his employer and the archeologist. Using his mouth, the diminutive winged horse placed the frothy mugs in front of the seated pair. “H-here you are.”
“Good. Take care of these,” Penny Wise directed, pushing Indy’s golden coins to the young stallion.
“Of course, s-sir.” The pegasus nodded and took the coins, but his eyes kept flicking back to stare at Indiana.
When Starfire continued to linger, Penny Wise made shooing motions with one hoof and ordered, “Go on. See that the mutt gets a room ready for..?”
“Jones. Call me Indiana Jones,” the archeologist said, his mind still whirling from the latest surprise. He swirled the odd beverage in his mug, taking a cautious sip. It tasted like a weak sort of ale. The drink didn’t seem to be poisoned...
Leaning forward to regard his drinking companion, Indy took another sip of his beer and thought about what to say next. Now he had shelter for the night in this strange menagerie. And in front of him Indiana had an apparently willing font of information. The archeologist stared searchingly at the blue eyes of the innkeeper. How reliable was the information, and where to start? ‘Where the hell am I’ didn’t seem like a good place to start if he wanted to avoid being seen as an easy mark.
Penny Wise shifted uncomfortably. The look on the hulking creature’s face was difficult to read. What was this ‘Indiana Jones,’ and what was he doing here? Whoever he was, the tall male was obviously up to no good. What kind of a name was that to use, anyway? Clearly it must be fake. It wasn’t any of the innkeeper’s business what his customers got up to, but knowing could be... profitable. Keeping his voice casual, the earth pony said, “So, Indiana. You wanted some information. I’m definitely the stallion to talk to if you want to know about these parts. Owned this inn for a good ten years. Was there anything you wanted to hear about in particular?”
“I’m an archeologist. I’m studying… ancient religions of this… This area,” explained Doctor Jones. He hesitated slightly, realizing that he didn’t know the local names, but forged ahead. “What can you tell me about cults or monasteries in this region?”
At the edge of his vision, Indiana saw a slight movement. When he had mentioned his profession, a white-haired head had jerked up for a split second in the depths of the common room. Someone had been eavesdropping, and had not liked what he’d heard. The archeologist let one hand drop casually to his side and rest on his pistol as he took another drink from the mug of watered-down beer. He added, “I also need an up-to-date map of this area if you have one. Mine was lost in the storm.”
“Good thing you found us then,” Penny Wise commented. The earth pony slid one hoof around the mug and hoisted it to his muzzle, taking a long pull before he continued. “I can get you a map. And as for cults… I’m proud to say that we don’t have anything like that here in the Ridgebacks. Only Princess Celestia’s light shines here.”
“Of course,” Indiana Jones agreed. He’d come across many excellent liars in his life. Penny Wise wasn’t one of them. “But remember I’m not looking for current cults. Ancient ones are what I want.”
“I… don’t think this area has ever had anything like that,” the innkeeper stated flatly. Penny Wise cringed inwardly. If ‘Indiana’ persisted, the poor foal was putting his hoof right in it. Should the creature continue to press his luck, there was nothing to do but get as much money out of him as possible before the inevitable.
“Uh-huh,” Indiana grunted, taking another pull at the ale.
Still, let it not be said that Penny Wise didn’t give his clients good advice—a living customer was a potential repeat customer. The brown-pelted pony made one last attempt. “I’ve been here for ten years. If there was anything like that around here I would have heard something, I’m sure. You might want to try further down the valley for cults. I hear there’s a small tribe of griffins near Polo’s Landing; you might want to check there. Is there anything else I could do to help?”
“Well, that’s too bad. It sounds like I’ve been wasting my time here, but thank you anyway.” Doctor Jones sighed in feigned dejection and finished off the last of the drink. “I’ll probably be staying here a few more days to rest, and then I’ll move on. Polo’s Landing, you said? Guess I’ll go there.”
As Indiana pushed himself up and stretched, he surveyed the room. A dark green pony with a white mane was thoughtfully sipping some steaming beverage. He—Indy was fairly sure it was a he—had his back was to the human. That was the creature who had reacted when Doctor Jones had said he was an archeologist; Indy would bet two weeks of remedial history lectures at Marshall College on it. Continuing on, the watchful man caught the glint of a green eye in the shadows of a doorframe as its owner ducked out of sight. Hmm. So he had not one, but two watchers.
Behind the archeologist, Penny Wise cleared his throat. “Excuse me, Indiana… but I need you to pay in advance. That’ll be… another ten of those coins you’re using, unless you have Bits.”
“Make it five,” came Doctor Jones’ reply. The price was exorbitant. For ten of the heavy gold coins, he could have eaten like a king for a week at any inn in the Himalayas. The archeologist was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to collapse into bed… but if he paid the asked price without bargaining, it would only encourage more attention than he was likely already getting.
“Nine, then,” Penny Wise countered. “I’m a reasonable pony.”
“Seven, with meals included. Eight if you have a map of this area,” returned Indy. He stared down at the… earth pony, was it? The innkeeper stared back.
After a long pause Penny Wise’s muzzle split in a large, blunt-toothed grin. He offered a grudging forehoof, which Indiana bent down to shake. The pony nodded. “All right, Indiana. Let’s see those coins and I’ll get you the map.”
In only a short time, Indiana Jones found himself in a cramped, dank room with a barely adequate bed. He rolled up the stiff parchment of his new map. It was true, then. Either the map was a clever and detailed forgery, or he was somewhere entirely outside of his previous experience. The roads, rivers, and names of towns… everything was new. It… the archeologist’s thoughts trailed off as he yawned hugely. Maybe he should study this more in the morning when he was fresh.
Working by the weak light of the room’s single candle, he tugged off his boots and set them next to the bed. Next the archeologist slid out of his jacket and hung it on the back of a half-sized chair. He reached into one of the jacket’s pockets. Now to put the Medallion of Light somewhere safe so that—
The metallic half-circle in Indy’s hands was not the Medallion of Light. Pulse racing, the archeologist stared at the object. He’d been robbed. Somehow in the frantic hours since his unexpected escape from the Nazi agent, the true artifact had been switched for this imitation.
…Or was it an imitation? Indiana Jones ran the object through his hands, marveling at the way its dark metallic surface still reflected the candlelight. He thought back to his hasty flight from the temple, the long dark crawl through the tunnel, and the events in the common room of the inn. At no point had anyone had hold of him long enough to steal the original or to slip in a replacement. Seasoned by a lifetime of adventure, the archeologist would have noticed. But if it wasn’t some sort of a fake, what then?
Indiana recalled the legends telling of the twin medallions. They had allowed the ancient cult that created them to ‘walk the world in but a single step.’ Considering the unfamiliar mountains and strange new creatures all around him, Indy had little doubt that that had happened. Assuming he really was awake right now instead of sleeping.
Contemplatively, the exhausted man glanced down at his twisted ankle. It felt a bit better than before, but still shot twinges of pain up his leg when he shifted it wrong. That wasn’t normal fare for a dream. It would be best to assume he was awake for the moment until evidence suggested otherwise. He’d seen spirits, or angels, or something come from the Ark of the Covenant. After seeing something like that, was it really reasonable to reject apparent reality out of hand just because a few oddly familiar mythological creatures showed up speaking perfect English..?
Looking down at the medallion again, Indiana tilted it in his hands, letting the flickering light of his candle play off its surface. With everything else that had happened today, pickpocketing and clever replacement seemed somehow less likely than the alternative: that he was holding not a fake Medallion of Light, but the true Medallion of Shadow. The artifact hadn’t left his person the entire time, from the flash of brilliant illumination in the Temple of Light through his desperate struggle with monsters and his climb through the bowels of the mountain.
But so many questions were still unanswered. If this was the Medallion of Shadow, where was the Medallion of Light? Where they two ends of the same transportation system? Were they a single artifact that would flip back and forth between light and darkness each time it was used? Thanks to the thorough efforts of the Mughal empire, Indiana knew he was probably going to have to find out for himself.
Regardless, there was nothing that the exhausted Doctor Jones could do about it at the moment. The best thing for him now would be some sleep. Indy slid the Medallion of Shadow into his pants and settled back into the bed. His feet stuck over the end of the mattress and the blanket was far too short, but it beat dying of exposure or lying on the floor. Snuffing the candle, the archeologist tipped his fedora over his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
Something was strange about this dream. Daring Do could feel the vague sense of wrongness as she scratched out another key phrase on the chalkboard—‘The Silk Road.’ Behind the pegasus, a student coughed. She kept writing. He coughed again, obviously trying to get her attention. Finally he resorted to using her title. “Uh, Professor?”
Daring Do lowered the chalk and adjusted her glasses. When she turned to face her class, she found herself peering down her muzzle at the smiling face of a bright young man in the front row. What was his name? Ernest something, right? She looked at him in askance. “Yes, Mr. Prior?”
“Professor, I had a question…” Ernest Prior trailed off for a moment, waiting expectantly. His hand was still raised.
Not for the first time, Daring regretted that the Dean was still making her teach Archeology 101. What kind of students were they letting into Marshall College, now? What was wrong with the office of admissions? Pressing one hoof to her muzzle, the professor of archeology waved her student on. “I gathered that, Mr. Prior. Go ahead.”
“Well, I was wondering. You’ve told us so often about how seventy percent of all archeology is done in the library. But I think we’d all like to hear about the other thirty percent of the time…” The young man trailed off hopefully. Daring Do pursed her lips in annoyance. She’d heard that some of the students were sniffing around behind her back, trying to find out more about what she did when she went ‘on sabbatical’ to Mayan ruins, to supposedly peaceful dig sites in east Africa, or the like.
“Of the last thirty percent,” the gold-pelted mare replied, “Ten involves being waist deep in an excavation site, trowel in hand.”
Ernest’s smile wavered a bit but he still managed to prompt, “And the other twenty percent, Professor?”
“Travelling to the dig sites and back. And crating up potsherds to take back home for study,” Daring Do said with a shrug.
The young Mr. Prior frowned. Obviously that was not the answer he’d been hoping for. “But—but what about the chases through the jungle? The gunfights in ancient ruins? The—”
With a cheerfully annoying jangling noise, the ringing bell cut short the rest of the over-enthusiastic student’s protest. The young adults hurried out of the lecture hall. Daring resolutely ignored some of the girls’ attempts at sultry ‘come hither’ looks. Raising her voice to be heard over the combined chatter of the students and clatter of the bell, the pegasus called, “Don’t forget, the test on archeological digs relating to the fall of the Mughal Empire is next Tuesday. I’ll be in my office today from five to eight this evening if any of you have any problems…”
The last of the crowd of students left and the bell cut off, leaving Daring Do in peace. She sucked in a relieved breath and let it out slowly. It took a moment before she realized that Ernest was still in his seat. Taking off her glasses, the pegasus ate up some time polishing away a light coating of chalk dust with the edge of her jacket. The gesture felt vaguely off, as though someone else was performing the motions. Her brow wrinkled in puzzlement.
When Ernest remained resolutely in his chair, it became clear that he wasn’t simply waiting for the press of bodies in the halls to clear. Daring Do looked at her lingering student and asked, “Is there something I can help you with, Mr. Prior?”
“Professor, I don’t understand you,” complained the frowning Ernest. “You… I mean, look at everything you’ve done! And you sit here in this classroom and tell us how boring archeology is.”
“I’m teaching archeology as it’s supposed to be,” Daring responded coolly. “If you’re looking for excitement in the world, mister, don’t expect to get it handed to you while you sit comfortably in a classroom. Go join the Army, or sign on with the Merchant Marine, or go on a safari or something. You aren’t going to get any adventures here listening to a lecture in a classroom in Connecticut.”
“But—” the student protested.
Daring took a few steps across the lecture hall, looming over the young man. Her voice remained flat and calm, but something in her face made Ernest Prior’s eyes widen. “And when you finally have an adventure, don’t expect to be able to just turn it off and go back to a normal life when you’ve had your fill. You don’t find adventure…”
A knock at the door interrupted the pegasus before her rising voice became heated. She and Ernest both glanced up as a reserved man in an ill-fitting black suit peeked his head in the door and nodded to her. Daring Do nodded back and turned to the suddenly nervous student. Her voice was flat and emotionless again as she concluded, “…Adventure finds you.”
“Excuse me, Doctor. A minute of your time?” prompted the newcomer.
Daring waved the man in. She’d been expecting this. “Sure. The young man here was just leaving.”
When Ernest had departed, Daring Do leaned against the long lecturer’s desk by the chalkboard. “All right. What can I do for you?”
“Yes. Uh… I represent…” the man paused, glancing around the room as if to check for poorly hidden eavesdroppers in the otherwise empty classroom.
“U.S. Army Intelligence?” Daring suggested.
The incognito officer seemed worried. “Yes, I’m Captain Clarke. How did you know?”
“I think the Army only budgets for two types of cheap, ill-fitting suits,” Daring observed, waving a hoof at the plainclothes Soldier’s attire. “They have the gray one and the black one. You’re wearing the black. Practically a uniform in itself. Also, Colonel Musgrove sent a letter telling me you were coming.”
“…Oh. Then you know why I’m here.” Looking nonplussed, the officer tugged a manila envelope out of his briefcase and passed it, unopened, to Daring Do. She accepted it and tugged it open deftly with one hoof.
Looking over the documents, Daring Do shook her head. The Medallions of Light and Shadow were hardly new to the experienced archeologist. Thinking aloud, she said, “The Medallions were supposedly created by some kind of cult deep in the Hindu Kush mountains. They were never a large empire, but in their area they were very, very powerful. It took the Mughal emperors over seventy years of near continuous campaigning to finish rooting them out when the cult started threatening India’s connection to the Silk Road. After the fact the Mughals actually tried to destroy all record of the cult’s existence; they didn’t want anyone knowing how such a small group had given them so much trouble.”
“That’s interesting, but… not exactly why I’m here. Supposedly the cult could use the Medallions to travel the world instantaneously?” prompted the officer, shifting nervously from one foot to the other. Daring Do sighed. This was the Ark of the Covenant all over again. Never mind the history, all the Army had been worried about was if the Ark could shoot death rays.
“Yes, to ‘walk the world in but a single step,’ was how one document put it. I think there was also some mention of summoning demons to do their bidding. But if you’re concerned about the Medallions being some ancient super weapon, I don’t think you have to worry. If there were stories about the cultists raining fire from the sky or causing rivers to flow with blood, we would probably have some record of it despite the Mughals’ efforts,” Daring commented, rolling her eyes. “So what precisely does Hitler want with them?”
Captain Clarke shrugged. “Nothing. We’re not even sure that he knows they exist. But Himmler does—and he’s been sending his agents looking everywhere for the Medallion of Light.”
“But not the Medallion of Shadow? I thought the legends said you needed both or they were just pieces of oversized jewelry.” Daring put two reproduced pages side by side, examining the sketches of the two artifacts to refresh her memory. One was a half disc of shining silver. The other was made of some unknown substance, but supposedly ‘dark as the night.’ Both looked like they would fit neatly together to form a dichromatic whole about the size of a dinner plate.
“The Nazis may already have the Medallion of Shadow. We haven’t seen any references to looking for it the traffic we’ve intercepted,” Captain Clarke admitted, running a hand through his thinning hair. “I can’t emphasize enough how serious this is. If this is in any way like that incident with the Ark, we could end up with jackboots marching down the street of any free city in the world in the blink of an eye.”
“I doubt it. If the Medallions were that powerful, you would think the cult would have destroyed the Mughal Empire instead of the other way around,” Daring observed with a shrug. She stared down at the other pages the Army officer had provided. One of them contained a map referencing a few possible locations for the medallions. All were clustered in the forbidding mountains of the Hindu Kush and the even more treacherous Himalayas.
Clarke frowned. “We don’t really want to take that chance.”
Well, the lectures to dull if adoring students had been getting on Daring Do’s nerves lately. And it had been more than a year since her last sabbatical. She shifted from hoof to hoof, comparing long, cold nights on mountain trails versus a toasty evening in her lounge at home. There was really no choice but one. “All right. I’ll look into it.”
Captain Clarke hurried forward and clasped Daring’s hoof, shaking it gratefully. “Thank you, Doctor. We’ve arranged for transportation. Just let me know when you’re ready.”
Daring thought about the long office hours she’d be spending waiting for Archeology 101 students to ask repetitive questions about Delhi, questions already answered several times over during her lectures. “I’m ready now; let’s go. And Captain? Don’t call me ‘Doctor.’ Call me—”
“Indiana Jones,” Daring mumbled as she sat up, surfacing out of a sound sleep and still wrapped in the foul-smelling woolen blanket. Someone was calling her name… at least, it sounded like her name… and hammering on the door.
“Jones! Indiana! Doctor Jones!” hissed the voice of the unseen visitor. “It’s me! You’ve got to open the door! Open up!”
“What? What do you want?” Blinking her eyes in bleary confusion, the disoriented pegasus leaped down from her bed and trotted over to the door. She worked awkwardly with her hooves, trying to rotate the knob. The mare finally managed to work the latch about the same time she was awake enough to realize who she was and what she was doing. But by then it was too late.
The door swung open, sending the pegasus tumbling back into the room as something large, panting, and bipedal rushed inside and slammed the door behind him. The tall creature leaned on the door and babbled out panicked sentences between gasps. “Oh, Indy. Thank goodness you’re safe. When you didn’t come to breakfast this morning I feared the worst. I’ve heard that Jägermeister is in the area, and I’m sure it won’t be long until he finds us here! I… Indy?”
Daring Do said nothing for a moment. Picking herself up from where she had fallen, she straightened her utility shirt and retrieved her pith helmet from where it had landed when she’d gone rolling across the wooden planks of the floor. The Medallion of Light sat near the bed, reflecting the rays of the early morning sun streaming through the cracks in the closed shutters. The mare quickly slid the silver half-disc more firmly into the helmet’s crown and flipped her headgear back into place above her gray-hued mane. Had the creature seen..?
Having composed herself, Daring glared up at the intruder. Since he’d come to the door calling out somepony else’s name, this room wasn’t as vacant as she’d hoped. She probably wasn’t supposed to be in here. Best to keep the male off balance in case he started asking uncomfortable questions. “Who are you and what do you want?”
It didn’t seem like the intruder was in any state to reply. With a strangled sound that hardly passed for a coherent response, the biped sat down with a thump on the room’s oversized chair. He mumbled to himself as he stared at the pegasus. “What..?”
Talking to somepony with her neck craned nearly to its full extent was not the least bit comfortable for Daring Do. Leaping up onto the bed to equalize the height difference somewhat, the rudely awakened mare started her morning ritual. No gabbling furless biped was going to frazzle her now, not after the night she’d just had.
“Impossible… Completely impossible…” Still mumbling to himself, the biped reached out with one paw and poked Daring’s forehoof. She shifted back a bit, but he leaned forward and grabbed her with both hands.
“Quit that!” Daring shrilled, knocking the creature’s grip loose with a quick smack of her hoof. “Do that again and you’ll lose the arm.”
Shifting back on the mattress a bit, Daring Do put herself out of the creature’s reach in case he tried to grab her again. She kept watch on the biped in the chair while carefully preening the feathers of one wing. Her visitor’s face went through a range of emotions, finally settling on blank disbelief at what he was seeing. He eventually managed, “Am I dreaming..?”
“No,” Daring Do said flatly. She glared. If this was some kind of pick-up line, the beast was going to be leaving the room with two horseshoe-shaped indentations in his face.
“What are you? Who are you?!” the creature asked. The questions were slightly more pertinent this time.. not that Daring Do intended to give her guest an answer until she got some of her own.
“Nuh-uh. You first.” Still preening, Daring straightened a few disheveled primaries and gave her visitor a defiant look.
There was a pregnant pause during which the creature seemed to be collecting his thoughts. He pinched himself a few times and rubbed his eyes once or twice. Daring simply continued grooming her wings, plucking out a few feathers too damaged to be salvageable. Finally the creature replied, “Brooks… I’m Richard Brooks. I’m a cartographer. And… are you sure I’m not dreaming?”
“No, you’re not dreaming. Stop asking that. And… I’m Daring Do,” the pegasus announced.
Daring Do waited for the moment of recognition. This was usually when anypony she met would say something like, ‘not that Daring Do,’ or, ‘by Celestia’s beard, you mean you’re her,’ or even ‘I know! And now as my master Ahuizotl commands it, you shall die!’ Instead, all the mare got was a blank look. Well if the pegasus hadn’t been certain whether this was just some previously unexplored part of her world or a different one entirely, now she could be sure… after one last try. “Adventurer? Treasure hunter extraordinaire? The most traveled pegasus pony in Equestria?”
“Er… Nice to meet you.” Brooks held out one hand gingerly. Daring shook it. When the cartographer pulled his hand away, he stared at it as though it was about to fall off. Thankfully for him it remained attached.
The two sat silently for a moment. Daring continued preening, starting now on her other wing. She kept her gaze on her visitor. There was something going on behind the creature’s eyes, but she couldn’t quite figure out what. His face was too strange… It was almost like a pony’s but just different enough to make it hard to guess at his thoughts.
Finally Brooks spoke again. “Look… Ms. Do. I’m not like Indy. I don’t do this kind of thing all the time; I just make maps. Hell, I don’t even own a gun! Can you please explain to me why it is that I came in here to find Indiana Jones and found, well, you?”
“‘Indiana Jones?!’ Ow!” Daring Do yelped in pain. Her head had jerked up at the mention of the strangely familiar name, making her yank out a few feathers that should have stayed right where they were. Looking regretfully at the dark gold quills plucked before their time, the pegasus mare bit her lower lip in thought. Where had she heard..? Oh. Her dream! That weird dream. She said, “I’ve never met him. I’m not even from this world, I think. And as to why you found me here, I just climbed into this room because the window was open and I was cold and tired.”
The cartographer was silent for a moment, mouthing the words, ‘not even from this world.’ He took a ragged breath and let it out slowly. “Goodness. Are you absolutely sure that—”
“No,” Daring interrupted, “You aren’t dreaming.”
Brooks chuckled in embarrassment. “Right. I’m sorry, Daring Do… but that’s a lot to take in.”
“Yeah, well, you run into a lot of weird stuff in the adventuring business,” Daring commented with a nonchalance she didn’t actually feel. Better to turn the conversation back to other things—like the mysterious ‘Indiana Jones’ who had featured so strongly in her dream. “So who is this Indiana? And why were you looking for him?”
Richard Brooks glanced around as though making sure nopony else was in the room. “Daring… what do you know about the Medallion of Light?”
Once again Daring Do was reminded of the oddly disconcerting vision. Where had all that stuff come from? Where was ‘Marshall College?’ Who was ‘Colonel Musgrove?’ The pegasus had heard of bizarre things happening in dreams, but this definitely took the cake. Especially since that hadn’t been how she’d gotten started on her quest for the Medallion of Shadow. Why, she’d been… She’d…
Daring felt a headache coming on. She could still see her normal memories—interrogating that traitorous thug who’d worked for Ahuizotl, the library in Canterlot, and the like—but at the same time she could recall the desire for a temporary escape from her professorship and especially Archeology 101. She’d been glad of the excuse to get away and to travel the world again… to get out of the good old U.S. of A for a little while… Even though now that she thought about it she had no idea where the U.S.A. was.
Groaning in frustration, the pegasus pressed her forehooves to her head. Daring Do knew she wasn’t some college professor. Sure, she spent her fair share of time in libraries, but she’d never taught a course in her life. Except now in addition to what she knew to be true, she also remembered with absolute certainty teaching one earlier this month on a college campus she’d never heard of, and to students she’d never seen before. What was happening to her mind?
“Daring? Daring Do? Are you all right?” Brooks asked urgently.
Shaking her head to clear it, the pegasus glanced up to see Richard’s puzzled face peering at her. “Er, Sorry. The Medallion of Light. You wanted to know what I knew about it? Well… it’s an artifact. Goes with the Medallion of Shadow. Together they, um, they let somepony teleport even if they’re not a unicorn. Some cult called the Brotherhood of the Snake enchanted the artifact centuries ago.”
There was a shocked silence. Richard Brooks stared down at the gold-pelted mare and said, “That’s… a lot of information for the non-expert to have. Were you looking for it, too?”
“No, I was looking for the Medallion of Shadow,” Daring explained.
“The Medallion of—Do you have it?!” Richard Brooks exclaimed, jumping excitedly to his feet.
“No. I don’t have the Medallion of Shadow at the moment,” sighed Daring Do. Well, the statement was completely accurate. She followed up the not-quite-answer with another truth. “I need to find it before Ahuizotl gets it, though, or Equestria may be in danger.”
The adventurer watched for any signs that Brooks recognized the name of one of her most persistent foes. He didn’t seem to… or he was too busy showing his agitation about the mention of the artifact. “Incredible! So you’re searching for the same set of artifacts as we are… Look, Ms. Do—you may be in terrible danger.”
“I’m no stranger to that,” the mare said with a rueful laugh.
Brooks frowned and shook his head. “No, Daring, I’m serious. Doctor Jones and I have had an evil man—a Nazi agent called Hans Jägermeister—on our trail for weeks. I fear he might have something to do with Indy’s disappearance. I don’t think he thinks I’m a threat, but…”
“Hmm… Tall biped? Blond mane, blue eyes? Runs around in a dark coat shouting things like, ‘snell?’ Or was it schnell?’” Daring rubbed her chin, thinking back to the angry creature that had attacked her alongside his minions in the temple.
“Yes! That’s him. Had a run in with him already?” Robert looked nervous. “I’m glad you’re all right… Um, you didn’t happen to see Indiana, did you..?”
The pegasus shook her dark-maned head. “No, sorry. I don’t even know what he looks like, but I don’t think so. Not unless he was one of the ones helping this ‘Jägermeister’ shoot at me.”
“Hmph. No, then. Ah, well. I’m glad you got through that all right, anyway,” Brooks said with a smile. He chuckled. The chuckle quickly turned into a hearty laugh.
Daring’s ears flattened in irritation. Was Richard laughing at her? “What? What’s so funny?”
“You know, Daring…” The cartographer wiped away a tear from one eye. “For a minute there when we first met I was half convinced that you were Indiana Jones under some kind of bizarre curse.”
“Hah. You’re kidding, right?” Daring Do wasn’t sure whether she should be amused or insulted… or concerned. In the back of her mind, the strange double memory nagged at her. She laughed nervously.
Richard Brooks shrugged. “I know, I know. A silly thought. But seeing you was a bit of a shock. In any event, we had better get going before our good friend Herr Jägermeister finds us.”
“All right. Lead the way.” The Medallion of Light felt heavy under Daring Do’s pith helmet. Should she tell her new ally about it? Had he seen it when it lay exposed for a few surprised moments? Probably not.
The smart thing for Daring to do would be to play her cards close until she got to know this Brooks character better. While he was the first biped who hadn’t actually tried to kill her, that didn’t really make him all that much more trustworthy than the rest. The adventurer would have to keep a close eye on her latest friend.
In the meantime, Daring Do had bigger concerns. What, precisely, had happened to bring her here? How could she return? And was the strange foreign memory a one-time event? She certainly hoped so.
The pegasus mare and her much larger companion walked slowly down the hallway. Brooks glanced around as though he feared being watched, but nopony seemed to be around. In fact, the inn was a lot quieter than Daring Do would have expected from her travels. She jumped into the air and hovered next to her companion’s head to whisper, “So what now?”
“Gah!” Brooks leaped sideways, slamming into the wall with a thump. He clutched at his chest, breathing hard. “Don’t do that!”
After a moment, the annoyed Daring settled back onto the floor. “You can’t tell me that really scared you. Didn’t you say you work with an adventurer? So. What now?”
“Look, I just didn’t realize you could… Fine.” Scowling from the sting of having his manhood questioned by a miniature female horse, Richard took a few steps further down the hall and peered around the stairs. “If there aren’t too many people in the common room, I think we can just go down these stairs and right out the front door…”
“We’re just leaving? But what about this Indiana Jones you keep talking about?” Daring Do asked, eyeing her nervous ally. If this archeologist friend of Brooks’ knew about the medallions, maybe he would know what was happening to her memory and why she’d just had one of hers replaced with what might have been one of his. Better yet, he might know how the displaced pegasus pony could get back to the normal world.
Keeping his voice low, Richard stepped out to get a better look down the stairs at the room below. “I don’t think we’re going to find him hiding in this inn, and he isn’t—”
Daring didn’t get to find out what Richard thought Indiana wasn’t. With a crash, the inn’s front door caved in as several brown-robed thugs burst into the common room. Behind them rang the angry barking of a familiar voice. “Search everywhere! Find them! Schnell, you fools!”
“I recognize that voice! That’s one of the ones that attacked me!” Daring hissed. Before Brooks could react, the pegasus darted out from behind the wall for a better look. She glared down the staircase just in time to see the dark-coated Nazi agent stride into the common room over the shattered remnants of the inn’s front door.
Jägermeister looked up, and his blue eyes met Daring’s pink ones. He smiled. “Guten Tag, Fräulein Do…”