The Cloud Castle – Page 60


Perilous Jack enters the Warp Portal, sincerely hoping it doesn’t lead to the Hell Hound’s fiery home.

To his relief, he exits the Portal into another steel room like the one he left – although he has to admit, this huge machine castle, with its circulatory system of hot lava and factory of machine men powered by anguished human brains, is near enough to Hell in his estimation.

The Portal deposits him on a hovering platform of FloatSteel bricks, which is currently occupied by a pair of Slimes – one Red, one Green – and a Carrion Crawler, one of the rare and exceptionally dangerous cousins to the ubiquitous Carrion Creepers. While the Creepers are treacherous by virtue of the paralytic poison dripping from the stinging tentacles ringing their mouths, the poison of a Crawler is swiftly fatal.

Jack has dealt with their type before, however – without hesitation he unslings his shield and shoves it point-first into the creature’s sickening maw. The stupid insectile creature cannot recognize the real threat, and instead slaps ineffectually against the shield wedged in its mouth with its venomous flails. While it is occupied wasting its poison, Jack slits the beast open and wrenches his shield free, being careful not to put his hands in the puddles of poisonous slime coating it. A glance over the edge of the platform assures him that there are plenty more of the scavengers waiting – there is never just one Creeper or Crawler – and so, with considerable care, he uses his shield to scrape the entire mess – dead Crawler, Crimson Slime, Green Slime, and all – over the edge into the writhing knot of scavengers below.

Creepers and Crawlers don’t care in the least where their meat comes from. They fall to with a will, devouring the stinking entrails of their fellow fearlessly, for they are immune to its poison. While the scavengers are occupied, Jack leaps to the floor of the chamber – and discovers the Lorikeet warrior Dalal hiding in an alcove with a pair of steel treasure chests.

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

“I have not seen him,” says Dalal. “However, I know that you must have a key to enter the ‘Hall of Lava’ – that’s the central chamber of the castle. Where the key is hidden, I cannot say.”

Jack gives her a weapon from his pouch and hustles her through the Portal to the relative safety of the lower level, and then examines the contents of the chests. The reward is plain enough – an ample supply of Silver, a bit of Gold, and a pair of gems.

There is a second Green Pipe in the room, and as Jack transfers the treasure to the Pouch, he hears the distinctive sound of a Warp Portal activating. When he turns, another Crawler has entered the room through the Portal.

Add 50 Gold, 400 Silver, a Ruby and an Emerald to the Pouch of Ghrul and remove a spare weapon. 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 Lorikeet’s name on the list in Jack’s Journal.

If you think Jack should investigate the Portal recently used by the Carrion Crawler, turn to 8.
If you think he should skip over the Portal and continue deeper into the room, turn to 62.