The Cloud Castle – Page 145


Jack finds himself in a small, low-ceilinged chamber.

Red Pipes descend from the ceiling, angling off to carry their burdens elsewhere in the castle. A solitary Red Pipe stands in the back corner; Jack is certain this is the exit from this basement level of the Cloud Castle.

Between Jack and the exit stands the Giant, sword in hand. He looks more weary than defiant. “You’ve beaten me, Jack,” the Giant booms. “But you’ve lost the game. The Illithids and Beholders have set into motion events that no power on Malkat can stop, not even you and your pathetic friends. The Nightcrystal will spread its darkness over all Malkat, and the world will become the abode of monsters more terrible than either of us can imagine.”

“The only darkness that you should fear is what waits for you on the other side of my hammer-blow,” Jack retorts, and flings Storm Fist in the Giant’s face. The blow is off-center and merely glances from the Giant’s chest, but it is enough to throw the Giant off balance and weaken his counter stroke. Jack dashes in, pouring his will into the Sun Shield, and bashes the Giant in the face with the radiant artifact. The Giant stumbles backward and Jack catches Storm Fist as it sails back. He keeps up the momentum, pounding away at the Giant’s sword with hammer and shield. The Giant gives ground again and again.

Now desperate, the Giant stumbles against the side of the Red Pipe and sags there for a moment, gasping for breath.

“No escape for you,” Jack growls, raising his hammer to strike. The Giant suddenly lurches forward, knocking Jack back with a terrific blow of his sword. Jack catches it with the Sun Shield and the stone in the center cracks, unleashing a terrific spray of radiant energy in the Giant’s face.

Blinded, the Giant drops his sword. He staggers up to the edge of the Red Pipe and gazes down at Jack with a bleak expression.

“No!” Jack cries. He lurches toward the Giant, desperate to stop him fleeing the chamber. Only at the last moment, as the Giant steps into the Red Pipe, does Jack notice the sound of machinery from within.

The Giant’s body explodes, ripped apart by the cruel machinery in the Red Pipe. Only his blood-stained sword remains. Not an exit after all.

Perilous Jack is victorious!

The Sun Shield has lost its magic forever. Jack can keep it as a trophy, but it cannot be used in combat again. Remove the Sun Shield from Jack’s left hand slot. If he has another shield, equip him with it instead.

Turn to 163.