Daring Do blinked away the spots in front of her eyes and fought to stay upright as a wave of nausea crashed over her. What was going on? She had been… talking with somepony? Her head throbbed as though her brain had just swollen several sizes larger than it should be. Her mouth was full of the taste of metal, although that at least was normal considering that she had clamped her teeth onto the half-disc of the medallion. She shook her head to clear it and glanced around. The only thing that kept her jaw from dropping at what she saw was her iron will to keep hold of the Medallion of Shadow.
The dark gray stone and vaulted ceilings of the Temple of Shadow’s inner sanctum had been utterly transformed. Flickering torches hung on walls of polished white stone in the airy, circular room. The howling mob of cultists was silent. This was not because they were overawed by the sudden flash of magical light, but because they were simply not there any more. In their place stood a confused group of creatures—the same sort of hulking biped who had nearly snatched away Daring’s prize. The pegasus wasn’t sure whether that was an improvement or not.
Rubbing its eyes, the closest of the creatures glared around in the room and focused on Daring. It stared, seeming almost as surprised to see her as she was to see it. Then it screamed. “Was ist das?! What is that thing? It has the medallion—schießen sie! SHOOT IT! Schnell!”
The shrieking creature pointed one of its long forelimbs at Daring Do. Before the mare could react, there was a small flash of light and an ear-shattering explosion. The adventurer winced as something smacked into the ground near her hooves and sprayed sharp stone splinters into her pelt before whizzing off with a buzzing sound like an angry, oversized hornet. Daring leaped back, wings flaring as she tried to take to the air.
Daring Do’s breath caught in her throat. She couldn’t fly! Her wings shifted awkwardly, their movement arrested by the clinging green robe. What had been a clever disguise was now a deadly prison. A second explosion from one of the other creatures sent another enraged hornet whizzing by the pegasus’ ear. What kind of magical weapons were the creatures using?!
Were those guns? Daring had seen something like the bipeds’ weapons back during that business with the Crystalline Chalice. That diamond dog—what was his name? Sport?—had attacked her with something that flung small stones at lethal speed. But that had only been a prototype, and these creatures had so many! How was it possible that-! Any further confused wonderings went to the side as another bullet cracked past the adventurer.
With no place to hide and no way to escape, Daring Do had only one option: attack. She might have been more comfortable fighting from the air, but years of treasure hunting meant that she was no slouch on the ground. Hooves clattering and adrenaline singing in her veins, the desperate mare galloped forward and leaped, slamming her front hooves into the chest of the dark-clad biped who had first fired at her. He shouted in surprise and went down, the strange gun spinning out of his claws and clattering across the smooth white stone of the floor.
All right! That was one. The adventurer’s hoof thudded into the prone creature’s throat and left him gagging as she jumped to one side. Daring Do rolled, avoiding more gunfire and moving so fast that she practically left a streak in her wake. One of the brown-clad creatures on the opposite side of the room screamed and fell, a dark spot staining his robes as an incautiously aimed shot missed its mark.
Deciding that guns were obviously too dangerous, the brown robed bipeds whipped out ugly-looking double-ended knives. A single over-eager beast rushed forward, howling some inarticulate war cry as it threw itself at Daring. She dodged the swinging blades—but only just. Suddenly an idea occurred to the beleaguered pegasus. She grinned and tried to taunt the creature around the medallion in her mouth. “Hmh! Cmn’t gmt mmm!”
With a glare of hatred, the creature leaped forward again, weapon swinging even faster than before. The others were converging as well. Daring Do would have only one chance to get this right. She exploded into motion.
As Daring’s attacker swung his knife down, the pegasus dodged… but only just. Hissing through the air slightly too late, the singing blade missed the mare’s flesh. Instead, it caught the edge of the cultist robe as it trailed a split second behind the pony’s movements. The snake-embroidered green cloth parted under the sharp metal edge and a long gash opened in Daring’s former disguise.
Laughing in triumph, Daring Do spread her wings with explosive force. The weakened cloth of the cultist robes tore neatly and sheeted off the pegasus, leaving her free at last. The exultant pony leaped into the air and darted out of reach.
With angry shouts and even a few thrown knives chasing her charcoal-colored tail, Daring beat her wings for altitude and soared upwards towards the top of the dome. She took the opportunity to slip the medallion under her pith helmet for safekeeping. Mouth finally free for a proper taunt, the grinning mare shouted, “Hey, you creeps! Tell Ahuizotl that Daring Do said ‘better luck next—whoah!’”
Chips of rock and masonry dust exploded in a stinging cloud next to Daring Do’s head, cutting off the pegasus mid-taunt. She darted out the large opening in the roof as a second bullet from the recovered dark-clad creature zipped past her wing. Hans Jägermeister stared up at the empty hole to the sky and slowly lowered his still-smoking pistol. He quickly transitioned his angry glare to the captain of the mercenary guards. “Du Dummkopf. You let her get away! Find her. Find her now!”
“But… How?” the swarthy mercenary stammered, struggling with both an unfamiliar language and the bizarre events of the past minute. He quailed and waved his hands placatingly as the German’s pistol came back up, its barrel looking as large as the muzzle of a cannon. “We find! We find!”
“Ja, you’d better,” Hans snarled. “How many creatures like that can there possibly be in the Hindu Kush?”
Hans Jägermeister didn’t bother watching what the guard captain did next. The dim-witted subhuman nodded desperately and started shouting commands to his shocked men in the babble that the locals had the audacity to call a language, but the German wasn’t listening. Instead he stared back up at the sky and massaged his aching throat. What was that little horse creature? Hans had never seen anything living move so fast. Perhaps if she could be captured alive, he might have two prizes to give to the Reich. The German smiled. Yes, that would be perfect. He could just imagine the looks on his superiors’ faces when he handed them not only the Medallion of Light, but also… what had the creature said her name was? Ah yes. ‘Daring Do.’ That only left the nagging question: what had happened to Indiana Jones?
Far above the plotting German, Daring Do tumbled through the roiling maelstrom of winds and angry clouds. Wings flapping, she fought desperately for control and altitude as the roaring currents of the sky whipped her this way and that. The wind was even colder and more forceful than it had been when she’d entered the Temple of Shadow. Simply staying in the air was a struggle as the pegasus battled the combined fury of the elements, the howling of the frigid wind, and the near irresistible pull of gravity.
With the burn of adrenaline fading and leaving leaden fatigue in its wake, Daring Do knew she needed to find her way to shelter as quickly as she could. She glanced at the dark shapes of the mountains below, waiting for her finely tuned navigational skills to help her orient herself. Everything seemed completely new and unfamiliar.
All right, things could look very different in the dark. If not the ground, Daring would use the constant sky. She’d had navigated by the stars and the moon before. The mare looked up, waiting for boiling clouds to clear long enough for her to locate the moon and get her bearings. But when the silvered disc finally showed its face, it was the visage of a complete stranger. The exhausted pegasus could only stare in mute incomprehension. Where was the Mare in the Moon? No, a better question: where was Daring Do?!
The sinking feeling in the adventurer’s chest had nothing to do with the way she was losing altitude, but losing altitude she was. The pegasus mare rode an air current back away from the jagged teeth of the mountain ridge before she ended up splattering herself across the rocky hillside. She hovered as best she could and glanced around, looking for any sign of habitation. Wherever the disoriented mare was, she had to get out of this storm before things got any worse.
A faint yellow glow to her left drew Daring’s attention. Light twinkled from a small collection of buildings ringed by a tall wall and clinging to a dark precipice. A long, light strip of land that might have been a narrow road crawled up the valley going past the little cluster of blocky structures. Intermittent moonlight and the golden glow of the torchlight sparkled intermittently off the churning surface of the mountain river that tore down the valley past the inn and its road. That looked like as good a shelter as any, so the pony angled towards it and struggled as best she could towards her goal.
Fifteen minutes of flying filled with sudden drops and close encounters with the landscape left Daring Do even more exhausted than before. She nearly collapsed when her hooves touched down in the courtyard of the mountain inn. The pegasus trotted slowly up to the largest building and hammered on the door. The portal was nearly as large as that of the Temple of Shadow. But unlike the temple’s gates, the door to what must have been the main part of the inn remained shut and the windows dark. Daring hammered tiredly on the door again, but there was still no response.
Grumbling under her breath, Daring Do circled the large structure, looking for another entrance. Tonight was not a good night for the adventurer. Every door was barred and unresponsive to knocking. Every window was closed with heavy wooden shutters. It looked as though the pegasus was going to have to brave the elements and sleep outside. She’d been in worse states, but…
The ghost of a smile flickered across Daring’s face as she found what she was looking for. Above her was a second story window, its open shutters shifting slowly despite the force the howling wind was putting on them. A short burst of flapping strained the mares’ already taxed muscles, but let her scramble over the windowsill and into the inn. Thankfully, the room was empty and it had a bed! This would do for now. Tugging at the shutters, the pegasus managed to pull the window closed and shut out the mountain gale.
Only the barest hint of light seeped through the window now and into the room, but it was enough for Daring Do to take in the room properly. In vague twilight the mare’s dark pink eyes surveyed her temporary lodgings. With everything twice as large as it needed to be, this was probably a room the inn provided for creatures like those odd bipeds she’d escaped from not long before. Hopefully this room didn’t belong to one of the ones who had attacked her. She’d have to be on her guard, especially since the door to the rest of the inn didn’t seem to be barred.
Daring Do yawned hugely. Now that the icy blasts coming down from the mountain weren’t chilling her and keeping her awake, the built up fatigue of her adventures was catching up to her rapidly. She had intended to get inside and rouse the innkeeper to pay for a room now, but her Bits would likely be just as good to him in the morning.
Even with the foul smell that lingered over its heavy woolen blanket, the crackling straw mattress of the bed felt almost as soft as a fluffy white cumulus to Daring’s exhausted body. The pegasus sighed in relief and wormed her way under the covers. Thank Celestia. She was victorious yet again. Tomorrow she could get an early start and have the Medallion of Shadow back in Canterlot in a few days at most. The bone-tired pegasus slid the artifact out from under her helmet to take a look at her prize once again.
When the blood froze in Daring’s veins, it had nothing to do with the temperature of the room. She stared down at the glittering half-disc between her hooves. It glittered in the wan ambient light of the inn. This wasn’t the Medallion of Shadow at all. If its shining silvered surface was anything to go by, this was the artifact’s twin: the Medallion of Light. But that was impossible! The mare could have sworn that the medallion hadn’t left her teeth the entire time until she slipped it into her pith helmet, and certainly nopony could have switched it while she was in the air.
This was worse than a simple setback. This was a disaster! How had… Daring’s drooping eyes widened as she remembered the blinding flash of magic that had brought her to this strange place. Ahuizotl had been seeking the Medallion of Shadow to allow him to cross the world in a single step. Was she somewhere else now, even farther beyond the borders of Equestria than when she’d started? It couldn’t be. There was no place in the world where the moon looked like the one she had seen fleetingly in the cloud-streaked sky. The exhausted mare thought back to the shadowy shape that had reached for the medallion at the same time as she. Was that one of Ahuizotl’s agents too?
Questions whirled in Daring Do’s mind, but her energy was nearly gone. The pegasus felt her eyelids dragging downward and her head bobbing forward as she struggled to maintain coherent thought. Finally, she gave up. These were important questions, but could wait for the morning. With another yawn, the golden-pelted mare slid the newly gained Medallion of Light back under her helmet. Daring settled into an uneasy sleep.
* * *
As Indiana Jones rubbed spots away from his eyes, the sound of groans and pained exclamations assaulted his ears. What was going on? That had been strange. He could remember grabbing the Medallion of Light, and then a feminine voice saying… something?
Indiana’s vision finally cleared and he stared out into a scene out of some kind of fairy tale. Everything had changed. Where once the room was adequately lit and built of shining white stone, now the woefully small number of torches barely managed to illuminate a rough-hewn gray chamber that was little better than a glorified cave. The high dome had been replaced by a claustrophobically near vaulted ceiling. And most pressing of all, a Nazi agent and a few dozen mercenaries had been replaced by a multitude of… things.
A confused clamor filled the air. Some of the green-robed creatures rubbed at glittering eyes with heavily clawed paws. Others were covering their face with what looked more like hooves than hands. Indiana Jones was sure he caught the glint of torchlight off the beady eyes of some sort of beaked horror. The archeologist was no stranger to the unholy and supernatural, but so much of it at once was a blow to his mental equilibrium. He knew he should react and do so quickly, but instead he simply stared. The recovering mass of creatures stared back.
Guessing he had perhaps another few heartbeats of peace, Indiana Jones forced his body into motion. The dark hole of a doorway on the far side of the room beckoned to him. If he moved quickly, he might be able to get out while every…thing… was still frozen by surprise. Slipping the Medallion of Light into one pocket of his leather jacket, the archeologist started forward.
That did it. A rasping voice broke the temporary astonished peace. “A demon! It has the Gate!”
“Retrieve the Gate of Souls!” shrilled another when Doctor Jones quickened his pace. As if they were but parts of a single organism, the crowd rushed forward.
Indiana Jones surged into action. One of the larger monsters was nearly his size. It leaped into his path, paws raised. The human’s fist cracked out to crush the beast’s sensitive canine nose and it went down, howling in pain. A snarling horse thing hurried forward only to receive a boot to the side of the head that sent it sprawling across the rough stone floor in a heap.
Now the inhuman multitude was coming at the embattled archeologist all at once. He lashed out against a few, sending them and their allies tumbling away, but that was only the first fleck of spray ahead of the crashing wave that was the mob’s attack. Despite his huge size advantage, there was little Indiana Jones could do against such numbers. One dog-like creature grabbed at his arm. Something too short and shadowed for the man to see clutched at his leg. The green-robed monsters piled on, biting and kicking and howling in anger to bury the fighting human under their weight. For a moment it seemed as though they might triumph, but then that moment passed.
Shouting his defiance, Indy surged upward and whirled, swinging a little horse creature to knock back everything else within reach. The living bludgeon shrieked as Doctor Jones let go, allowing the thing’s momentum to send it caroming into its fellows and knocking them down like so many bowling pins. The archeologist sprinted through the hole left by the tumbling horse-thing’s trajectory and headed for what he hoped was the exit as fast as he could go.
The mob was quick to give chase as Indiana tore through the shadowed passages leading away from the main chamber. He was making good speed—and then as his foot slammed down, he heard a wholly inappropriate noise for an ancient and cave-like passageway: a soft mechanical click. Oh, no.
Indy threw himself forward headlong in the darkness of the hallway as something shot out of the rock behind him and buried itself in the opposite wall. The archeologist started to climb to his feet, only to have his hand touch another pressure plate. A series of darts hissed through the air in rapid succession, tugging at his bloodstained robe and nearly snatching the fedora from the prone man’s head. The halls here were packed more thickly with booby traps than anywhere else he’d been. Moving was… probably not a good idea.
Unfortunately, moving was the only thing Indiana could do. The pack of monsters was catching up; he could hear them roaring up the passage. Hoping that his reaction time was faster than the trap designers had prepared for, the fleeing man stood up and began to run the gauntlet. He took a few steps forward. Axes dropped from the ceiling, slicing the air like lethal pendulums but just missing the hem of the archeologist’s robe as he managed to leap not under, but over the swinging blades.
A pit trap bristling with spikes yawned open in front of Indy’s feet. To his pleased astonishment, the trap seemed only to be a few paces wide. Stretching his legs, he leaped over the gap in a single running bound. The running man’s breath rasped like sandpaper in his throat as he dodged through a forest of spikes that shot up from the floor. He ducked and dove past a cloud of bats that boiled out of the ceiling. Whirling and weaving like a maddened dervish, Indiana Jones hurried through the trap-lined corridors of the transformed temple.
Screams filled the air behind the fleeing archeologist as the more enthusiastic pursuers began to encounter un-sprung or reset booby traps. Indiana Jones rounded a corner, dodged a too-slow circular blade that slid out of one wall at knee level, and continued running. It was amazing. Things never went this well when hightailing it through trap-filled corridors away from angry mobs of natives.
Indiana’s train of thought broke off for a moment as his steps triggered another shifting of ancient gears and pulleys. The floor ahead of him dropped open, rough gray rock disappearing suddenly as a pit opened. It would have been impossible to jump over… if Indiana Jones had been a man two thirds as tall as he really was. Every single booby trap seemed to be built with someone much shorter in mind. Almost grinning now, the archeologist sped up and prepared to vault over the too-narrow gap in the floor.
Actually, only nearly every single trap was built for someone shorter than Indiana Jones. As he approached the pit, his toe caught a nondescript lump in the rough-hewn floor. Fast as lightning, a long blade dropped from the ceiling in front of him. The sprinting archeologist had just enough time to twirl sideways out of the way—a move that sapped his forward momentum. With a horrified shout, he tumbled into the pit and slammed against the far wall. His fingers scrabbled at the ledge... and he dropped. The floor slammed shut behind him, and there was only darkness and the sensation of falling.
Surprisingly enough, the pit was neither bottomless nor filled with spikes. Doctor Jones yelped in agony as he landed heavily on the unseen floor. Pain shot up one leg and he collapsed, groaning.
Indiana Jones lay still for a few moments, trying to rise above the pain to get a feeling of his surroundings. Cool sand and rock below him. Nothing above. No sounds save for his own breathing—no hissing of snakes, no skittering of tiny chitinous legs, and no slow grind of closing walls or rising spikes. Wherever he’d landed, it didn’t appear to be deadly. At least, not right away.
First things first. Tugging off the ratty and bloodstained robe, Indy grasped the fabric with both hands and tore off a long strip. He wrapped the cloth around his throbbing ankle, partially immobilizing the sprain. There, that was better. He checked his pocket. The heavy weight of the half-disc medallion was still there. All right. Next the archeologist reached up to his head—and found his hand resting on his skull without the comforting interruption of his fedora.
Once the short respite gave Indiana his breath back and his ankle stopped hurting so badly, he pushed himself up and began to search his surroundings slowly and carefully with one hand. After a few cautious movements he found what he was looking for and moved his fingers slowly over the surface of the fedora. It seemed no worse for wear. Thank goodness. The relieved archeologist placed the hat back on his head and started probing the rest of his environment in earnest.
With agonizing slowness Indiana Jones explored the lightless pit. Rough stone surrounded him on all four sides. In the darkness his hands met smooth, strange shapes piled haphazardly against one wall. Rocks? Dropping one experimentally resulted in a hollow rattling sound. Bone, then. The archeologist wasn’t the pit’s first victim.
Indiana felt over the bones on the off chance that his fellow victim might have been carrying something useful. The archeologist wrinkled his brow in puzzlement at the strange shapes that passed under his hands. This wasn’t the corpse of a human. Had some animal fallen in, or..?
Grasping what could only have been a hoof, Doctor Jones thought back to some of the weird and bestial creatures that had attacked him and chased him into this trap. Had he stumbled across a tribe made up of several previously undiscovered species? Tales of strange and wonderful creatures filled every tome of mythology but, up until now, their existence had been mere conjecture and fairy tale—even for those like Indy who operated on the fringes of traditional archeology.
Indiana dropped the bones. Whatever it was that he’d found, it wasn’t helping him get out of here. He put aside thoughts of cryptozoology for the moment and looked up. It was a pointless gesture for a man who couldn’t see his hand even if he waved it in front of his face, but at least it helped him to stretch his neck as he thought about his next move.
With only a bit of soreness and a sprained ankle, Doctor Jones could tell he probably hadn’t fallen far. The rough finish on the sides of the pit meant that he might be able to climb out the way he had come in. But without any light source, it was impossible to tell whether opening the trap door from the underside was even doable. The archeologist decided to delay scaling the sheer walls until he ran out of other options. Instead, he continued to run his hands over the rough walls of the pit. “Come on… Come on… Hah!”
There it was. Along the side of one wall, the groping man could feel an unnaturally straight crack rising vertically in the rock. Indy’s fingers ghosted over the smooth-chiseled edge of the crack until it reached a corner where the line turned ninety degrees. A bit more, and the so-called crack turned again. He’d found a cleverly concealed passage. It seemed somewhat small, but sliding along through a cramped tunnel on hands and knees was vastly preferable to starving to death or risking a second fall trying to climb out through the mouth of the pit. Now, the trick would be finding the door’s catch. If there was one.
A roughly circular depression cut into the rock at shin height caught the attention of Doctor Jones’ questing fingers. This could be his way out… or it could be the trigger for a particularly malicious trap. With starvation as the most likely alternative to trying his luck, the archeologist pressed the concealed switch. The soft click set rumbling machinery in motion and a gust of air blew past Indiana as the passageway opened.
Still wary of booby traps, Indiana groped for the bones and came up with what was probably a long leg bone. He bent nearly double to crawl into the passage. The unlucky creature’s bone tapped softly against rock as the cautious archeologist explored the route ahead of him with his makeshift cane. Progress was agonizingly slow, but steadily the quiet efforts took Doctor Jones further away from what could have been an unpleasant end.
Having nothing to do but pull himself forward and tap out the path in front, Indy occupied himself by reviewing the strange events of the recent past and trying to inject some kind of logic into his bizarre day. The temple he had fled through seemed nothing like the one he had entered but an hour before. Strange and nightmarish creatures had appeared, replacing the threatening but still unquestionably human enemies who had menaced the archeologist before he had touched… the Medallion of Light.
As if responding to his thoughts, the medallion in Indy’s pocket clanked dully against the rock wall of the constricted passage. Indiana Jones felt for it, making sure it was still firmly in place, and continued moving. His thoughts swirled around the legends of the artifact. A yellowed page of Latin text, translated from an even older one of Sanskrit, had spoken of the twin medallions’ powers. They could let their owner travel the world in a single step.
A chill ran down Indiana’s spine even as he continued crawling through the narrow tunnels. Just where had he ended up? How was the half-disc of ancient metal in his pocket connected with these strange events? And most importantly, if the archeologist was in fact a world away… how could he get back?
There was a lot of time for Indy to mull over these questions as he dragged himself along, muscles burning with the constant exertion of the day. With the poisons of fatigue sapping his will, he felt himself slowing down. Finally he stopped. In the sunless tunnel through the heart of the mountain the archeologist had no way of knowing what time it was, but his body was nearly ready to give out. It was time to bow, however temporarily, to the inevitable. Indiana Jones settled himself as comfortably as he could in the rock and closed his eyes, trying to rest.
In the tomblike stillness of the passage, a faint breath of cold air washed across Doctor Jones’s upturned face. His eyes snapped open again, although it made no difference. Another cool zephyr ruffled the adventurer’s sweat-slicked hair. If there was fresh air, that meant…
Suddenly desperate for an escape from the claustrophobia of the tunnel, Indiana discarded his ersatz probe. The leg bone rattled on the stone floor as Indy crawled by it, making for the source of the breeze as fast as he could. It only took him a few more minutes of effort to reach the end of the tunnel. He broke out into open air and shivered, immediately chilled to the bone by the howling winds. Perhaps discarding the bloodied robe had not been a good idea after all. Having just escaped from the clammy grip of the mountain, the archeologist found himself considering returning to its wind-blocking embrace. He needed to find shelter, and fast.
A glimmer of cold blue light caught Doctor Jones’ searching gaze. Hat clamped firmly on his head with one hand and the collar of his leather jacket turned up against the wind, the archeologist struggled down the side of the mountain towards what could be his doom, but would hopefully be his salvation. The exertion of his movement kept at least the minimum amount of warmth in his flesh as Indy neared the lights. It would have to do.
The steady white-blue lights glowed as bright as any electric lamps back home in the States—almost as bright as the floodlights of the airfield at Kisaba... and yet there was no thrumming mechanical roar of a diesel generator to be heard. The lanterns simply hung from the walls, silently pushing back the darkness. They ringed a surprisingly mundane collection of structures much like the ones Indy had so recently left before scaling the forbidding mountains to the Temple of Light. On the far side of the structures, a long ribbon of rugged trail unrolled into the darkness in both directions along side the rumbling torrent of a rushing river. Somehow he had arrived at what looked like an inn.
Fighting back exhaustion, Indiana Jones loosened his pistol in its holster. If the inhabitants of this inn were as friendly as the ones he’d met back in the temple, he would need it. He shifted his weight, testing his ankle. It was holding up well despite the earlier sprain; perhaps it wasn’t as badly injured as he’d thought. Good. Taking a deep breath, he stalked up to the gates of the wall surrounding the compound and hammered on the sturdy wooden planks.
It was several minutes of knocking and increasingly annoyed shouting before a view slit finally slid open in the heavy wooden gate. Blue eyes glared up from the vicinity of Indy’s navel. A gravelly voice carried through the thick wood of the portal and over the howling wind. “You’re a tall one, aren’t you. What do you want?”
So, they used English here. Indiana wasn’t even going to ask how that worked. English-speaking or not, the speaker behind the door was trying to establish dominance. That wasn’t going to happen. The archeologist kept his voice as curt and harsh as the doorkeeper’s. “A room.”
“You woke me up out of a sound sleep on a night like this to answer the gate of my inn instead of timing your arrival before sunset like a normal pony, and you can’t even be bothered to say—” The innkeeper’s irritated tirade broke off as Doctor Jones jingled a leather bag filled with coins, clanking it meaningfully next to the view slot. The eyes on the other side of the door glittered and the voice reformed itself into something fractionally more polite. “Oh, well that’s different then. Just you?”
“Just me,” Indiana agreed and added, “But I’ll have some friends coming by in a few days.”
The lie was safely impossible to disprove. In Indiana’s experience, strange travelers who journeyed through the Hindu Kush alone and with money made tempting targets. Hopefully the implication that someone might look for him if he went missing would help delay any thoughts the innkeeper might have of doing away with his newest guest to save on the cost of providing room and board. Then again, these definitely didn’t seem like the mountains Indy was used to.
When the innkeeper finally opened the door, his eyes widened even further. So did Indy’s. The archeologist had simply assumed the voice behind the door belonged to someone shorter than the norm. Instead, he found himself staring down at a brown-pelted horse creature much like some of the ones he’d so recently fought in the strange passages of the temple. The little horse creature returned the stare and let out a low whistle. “By Celestia’s flank, what are you?”
“I could ask the same question,” Indiana muttered. The cold night sent a gust of icy wind through the tired archeologist’s clothing. He shivered for a moment, weighing his options.
“So are you coming in, or..?” the strange innkeeper prompted, shifting from foot to foot—no, from hoof to hoof.
Indiana set his jaw and forced his hand to drop from his holstered pistol. Whatever the hell this thing was, it wasn’t attacking him. Ducking his head, he stepped in through the gates and looked around the compound. There didn’t seem to be any more of the green-robed creatures waiting in ambush here. The graveled courtyard inside the perimeter wall glowed blue with the same strange lights that hung on the walls. A few buildings, none more than a single level tall, clustered almost randomly around a larger two-story structure. It looked much like any mountain inn Indiana Jones had seen in his travels, with the exception that everything was slightly undersized and it seemed to be run by something the archeologist would have expected to see in a petting zoo.
“You haven’t answered my question,” the small brown horse prompted. “I like to know who I’m dealing with when I meet a new face. And yours is… ha ha… very new. No offense meant.”
“I’m a paying customer. One who might pay a bit more if you started answering questions instead of asking them.” Indiana said flatly. He jingled his bag of coins again. The coins inside clinked alluringly against each other.
The fires of avarice kindled anew in the little innkeeper’s eyes. Suddenly eager to please, the little horse—almost more of a pony, really—hurried to shut and bar the gate. With an ingratiating grin, the little creature waved one foreleg towards the tallest structure in the compound. “Of course! Right this way, gentlecolt. Please, follow me.”
Shaking his head, Indiana Jones followed the little pony towards the inn proper. He kept his gaze active, darting from one shadow to the other as he looked for any signs of a trap. The archeologist had dealt with many bizarre and unexpected things, but this was definitely high on the list. He chuckled trying to imagine what else might be sharing the inn with him. Perhaps a mermaid on holiday from the sea? Or maybe a dragon.
Perhaps this was just some kind of strange dream and when Doctor Jones woke up he’d be staring down the barrel of Hans Jägermeister’s luger once again. That was a thought. But until then he would have to take things as they came. Once the archeologist got over the fact that he was speaking with a miniature talking horse, it really was no different than dealing with the usual venal rabble of mountain folk. That would help. But one thing was for sure… this promised to be an interesting night.
A/N: AND SO IT BEGINS HAHAHAHAHA....
Since I'm sure I'm going to get some comments on the Mare in the Moon thing, I'll go ahead and preempt them now. As Indiana Jones' setting is in Earth's past, Daring Do's setting is in Equestria's past. So for her, there has been no return of Nightmare Moon, no use of the Elements of Harmony to purify Luna, etc. So there's still a Mare in the Moon and its absence from the face of the moon would be remarkable for her.
Anyway. More will be up as the pre-readers get through it.
edit: Thanks to Sebbaa for fixing my German grammar here