The Cloud Castle – Page 124


As he lands, Jack narrowly avoids contact with a metal vane which turns endlessly like the arm of a windmill, emitting brutal flames from jets circling its length.

He lands upon a stone platform hovering above the lava pool, in which he can see the blazing arms of Fire Elementals reaching and beckoning. Across the chamber, seated on a similar platform, is a huge Pyrohydra with five heads. Jack wastes no time; he flings the magical hammer with all his might. Storm Fist connects with a resounding blow, and the Sun Shield begins to sparkle and flame in concert with the thunder of the hammer’s impact. The magical hammer returns to his hand and Jack throws again.

As Jack continues to pound at the huge monster with the hammer, leaping to avoid the fire-vane as he does, the radiance of the Sun Shield builds until the sparkling energy finally leaps into the arc of his hammer-throw. In moments, an aura of fiery motes dances around Jack, around Storm Fist, and around the Pyrohydra, heightening the impact of every blow as if hammer and shield were forged of one steel, imbued with one will.

The Pyrohydra roars and bellows under the punishment, but oddly it does not attempt to breathe flame at him – it merely lashes with serpentine necks and snaps with dragon teeth, which Jack is able to dodge without considerable effort.

Suddenly the Pyrohydra vanishes amid a shower of sun-sparks, and Jack catches a fleeting glimpse through the cloud of sparkling motes of a huge red body bounding away, deeper into the lair. He shakes his head to clear it of visions – was that the Giant he just saw, where a Pyrohydra stood the moment before? He sets off in pursuit.

Turn to 110.