The Cloud Castle – Page 44


“Enough of this,” the Ogre Mage sneers.

“I am weary of this game. All was well when my brother was alive and the Giant alone was our master; we made our plots and fought our battles, gained bright plunder when we succeeded and always managed to scrape our way out when we failed. But now – oh, such grand schemes the master has! And what despicable forces he bargains with! And my brother slain in the name of this mad venture, and myself reduced to gatekeeper, resigned to the dreary duty of repelling a swarm of would-be heroes, expected to care whether one manages to slip inside and cut all the knots my master and his masters have so carefully tied! This is no life for a mage of Clan Ghal! Pass if you will, warrior, and slay no more of my pets! For myself, I am finished with the lot of you!”

The Ogre Mage pulls open his leather vest, baring his huge muscular chest, which is covered with magical tattoos. In the center of his chest is tattooed an interlocking wheel of four spokes, each of which terminates in a shape representing the snarling head of a wolf with jagged icicles for fangs. Ghal-lul speaks to his two remaining Wolves in their own tongue, and the huge beasts turn and leap at him, toward the center of his chest. As they sail through the air, they waft away into clouds of frost, which sink into the Ogre’s flesh, infusing two of the tattooed wolf-heads with an ice-blue glow. The other two, emblematic of the Wolves that Jack has slain, remain dark – ordinary ink only.

Finally, the Ogre utters the words of another spell, and black wings sprout from his shoulders as they did at their first meeting not far from Jack’s castle. The Ogre leaps into the cold air of the upper atmosphere and is swiftly gone.

Jack pauses only long enough to skin one of the Winter Wolves, and then climbs the great steel staircase up into – The Castle of the Cloud Giant.

Add a Winter Wolf Pelt to the Pouch of Ghrul and turn to 70.