The Cloud Castle – Page 27


The Warp Portal takes Jack to a small, cramped chamber made even more restrictive by two staircases of steel blocks which rise from the center of the room nearly to the ceiling.

Jack is attacked the moment he enters the room by a Fire Gargoyle flinging fireballs. As he engages the stone creature, he hears other sounds of combat echoing through the chamber, among them war-cries uttered in two voices.

When his Gargoyle is defeated, Jack mounts the stairs before him, encountering a pair of giant Red Centipedes dangling from their Green Pipe burrows. Beneath the staircase on which he fights is a small alcove, where a warrior of the Lorikeet Guard is engaged in combat with a Fire Gargoyle. Her name is Isra, and she fights unarmed against a monster of stone and flame. Jack intervenes on her behalf, plunging his blade through the rock-hard body of the Gargoyle and ending its life.

Isra wastes no time in thanks; she draws the Dagger of Danzibar from Jack’s belt and leaps to the top of the staircase with Jack in close pursuit. Together they cut their way through a third Gargoyle and leap upon a fourth, which menaces another Lorikeet woman named Karima.

When both Lorikeet warriors are safe, Jack presents them with weapons from the Pouch.

“Have you seen the Giant?” asks Jack. “Do you know where he is?”

“No,” says Isra, “but there is a larger conspiracy afoot!”

“You’ve seen the constructs?” adds Karima.

Jack nods. “Jumana called them ‘Psi-Mechs.’ When I killed my first, I discovered human brains inside. They have some terrible weapon that allows them to attack with despair and rage.”

“A terrible fate,” Isra adds.

Karima says, “The Psi-Mechs are the creation of one race only – the Illithids. They take the brains of their captives and ferment them in pools, where the minds of the individuals leak out and mix with others. All the hate and pain, all the rage and sorrow, blend together and grow. When the brains are ready, they insert them in the machine bodies. Jack, there are Illithids in this castle. I am sure of it.”

Jack is appalled, but he recalls the vision he had in the Perilous Realm of the Nightcrystal – Illithids and Beholders working together to claim the Nightcrystal and separate its Shards, releasing the darkness upon the world. The Giant must be in league with them.

Now that there is leisure to explore the chamber, Jack notices a single steel treasure chest in the corner. Once open it yields a fine assortment of treasure and an artifact which the Lorikeet women recognize with excitement. It is a long, narrow ribbon or scarf of silk, brilliantly patterned to represent the plumage of a Rainbow Lorikeet.

“That belongs to Princess Vasilisa!” Isra cries. “She uses it to fly! You should take it – it’ll help you find the Princess, I’m sure! Just wrap it around your shoulders – like so – and when you want to fly, just brush your fingertips across these three red feathers in the design. It only works for a few minutes at a time, so be careful!”

Jack dons the Lorikeet Ribbon and settles it on his shoulders where the red feathers are easily accessible, and then escorts the women back through the Warp Portal and gives them directions for leaving the castle.

Remove two spare weapons from the Pouch of Ghrul. If he has Giant’s Bane or Storm Fist, he’ll need it to face the Giant – so don’t give it away!

Make sure to check off the rescued Lorikeets’ names on the list in Jack’s Journal.

Place the Lorikeet Ribbon in Jack’s Amulet slot. If he has the Vortex Stone, he can wear both. Add 50 Gold, two StarSteel, a pair of Rubies, and an Emerald to the Pouch of Ghrul.

Turn to 15.