The Cloud Castle – Page 54


When the last Geist is fallen, Perilous Jack leaps into the next Warp Portal and emerges into a scene from a nightmare.

Whether this new chamber is a cavern in some strange and magical mountain or a pocket in the entrails of some cosmic monster, he cannot say. The walls are hot and yielding to the touch, and they pulse as if blood flows through them. Directly overhead two blind sets of grasping jaws stretch for him from the ceiling. Shuddering in disgust, Jack leaps to the spongy, mucusy floor. Across the chamber a huge organ is suspended between floor and ceiling, hanging like a spider in the center of a web of pulsing cords. Between the entrance Pipes and the suspended organ, a narrow pillar emerges from a hissing pool of green fluid in the center of the floor. Displayed atop the pillar is a radiant orb of glowing green glass, about the size of his two fists together. Jack realizes the Orb must be the key to the sealed Warp Portal in the Spike Room! He starts forward, reaching for the Orb.

Suddenly the guardian of the Orb reveals itself. From behind a curtain of tendrils hanging from the ceiling emerges an enormous floating orb, in the center of which glares a terrible, decay-blackened eye. A halo of putrescent tentacles tipped with smaller eyes rings the orb, and a cruel toothy maw gapes below the central eye. The creature is a Beholder Lich, a foul undead version of the feared Eye Tyrant.

The Beholders are among the most powerful magical creatures in existence, ranking among Giants, Dragons, and Demons for their might. Living Beholders possess a fearsome array of magical abilities, including a cone of anti-magic, which always radiates from the central eye – the bane of spellcasters everywhere – and the ability to fire an assortment of magical rays from the smaller eyeball-tipped tentacles. Although the creature confronting Jack now is not living, it is no less dangerous.

Jack has been present for many taproom debates among adventurers concerning which of the two types is harder to defeat – for while the common Beholder is certainly more powerful magically, it is at least a living creature, and thus vulnerable to most weapons. The undead variety, however, is highly resistant to many forms of magic and weaponry, and although it no longer possesses the anti-magic capability of the central eye, at least some of the eyeball-tipped tentacles surrounding the central orb may still be able to shoot magical rays.

If you think Jack should fight the Beholder using the Bone Spike, turn to 28.

If you think Jack should fight the Beholder using the Hammer of Disruption, turn to 106.

If you think Jack should fight the Beholder using the Shield of Balance, turn to 96.

If he possesses none of these items, but would still like to fight, turn to 103.

If you think the fight will be too hard for Jack and prefer not to risk it, then he should flee through the Portal and return to the Hall of Lava to choose again. Turn to 15.