The Cloud Castle – Page 161


The climb up the chains is wearying and costs more time than Jack wishes to devote – surely the Giant will be gone by now!

At last, Jack enters a room unlike he has seen. The floor is made of odd metallic decking, except for the open pit from which he just clambered. The walls of the room are covered with strange glowing displays and dark cabinets filled with machinery that hums and whirs.

Strangest of all are three tall columns set in a triangle in the floor. They appear to be made of glass or crystal; each tinted a different color. The columns are filled with liquid or slime, in which float three large brains. The machinery is out of place in this room; the technology looks newer and of different aesthetic compared to the rest of the room. Jack’s instincts scream “Illithid!” However, one thing is familiar about the columns: at the base of each is an interface shaped like the Keys that Jack possesses. It seems the columns each have an on/off switch.

Jack inserts the keys at the bases of the columns one at a time and twists the keys. Each column goes dark. The fluid inside stops circulating and the brains descend into a limp pile at the bottom of each column. All around him, the humming sounds of computation and the whirring, grinding, clanking sounds of machinery stop. Jack listens to the silence for a long time, elation building in his heart. The factories are silent! The machinery that powered the dreaded Inferno Shafts, Tornado Shafts, and Psi-Mech factories has shut down. It seems Jack has defeated the castle itself.

Now all that remains is to finish off the castle’s Giant master! Jack descends the chains back to the upper corridor and continues toward what he hopes is the final confrontation.

Turn to 143.