The Cloud Castle – Page 35


When Jack sprinkles the Singing Stone with Fairy Dust, it immediately shifts back into phase with reality.

He draws his StarSteel Hammer and gives the Stone a deft rap. The Stone emanates a dulcet tone that sends ripples straight through the very fibers of being … and through reality itself! The air shimmers around him and everything goes hazy. As the tone diminishes, reality reasserts itself around him.

He is in a new space, which he senses is somewhere belowground. He stands upon a strangely wrought pillar of material similar to the odd metal-crystal alloy from which the Old Ones forged their ubiquitous Green Pipes. The room is insufferably hot, thanks to numerous open flames emerging from vast brazier. His eyes adjust to the dim light of the flames.

He realizes that he stands upon a column upthrust from a deep hole, or perhaps from a cavern or level below this room. Across the gulf he can make out a stone floor. He turns; behind him small FloatStone platforms hover in place, levitating with the strange magic of the Old Ones.

The room is filled with Dragon Men! They cluster on the floor across from him, perch upon the platforms like gargoyles, all gazing solemnly in his direction. In his high, isolated position atop the column and surrounded by a gaping hole, regarded by countless alien eyes, he feels like a witness on trial. He raises his StarSteel Hammer to strike the Singing Stone above his head and whisk him away, but the nearest Dragon Man belches flame from his mouth, burning Jack’s hand. The StarSteel Hammer falls from his grasp, tumbling down and down into the pit below. He does not hear it strike bottom.

“No escape for you, man-flesh,” a Dragon Man growls. “You have invaded our Council Chamber and you will pay the price!”

Jack’s heart sinks. Without the StarSteel Hammer, the Singing Stone will not transport him back. He is surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered. Wherever he may be, perhaps he will survive to someday win through and find his way back to the castle of the Cloud Giant. But his heart tells him that day will come far too late to save Princess Vasilisa from the Giant … or save Malkat from the Nightcrystal! The adventure he began long ago in his castle in the warm company of his friends Festeguul and Grestia is over.

Return to 1 and begin again or continue the adventure in Perilous Jack in the Savage Land.