The Cloud Castle – Page 74


Perilous Jack emerges from the Green Pipe to find himself in the midst of a sweltering hot swamp.

He stands upon a small grassy mound surrounded by similar mounds and lakes of burning fluid, which periodically give off terrific gouts of flame. A dense canopy of vegetation overhead serves only to trap the atrocious heat of the flames. Neither is he alone – for the grassy mounds and the hovering platforms of FloatSteel he sees through the trunks of the trees are all occupied.

Dozens of Dragon Men congregate on the mounds and platforms, and others move among the trunks of the trees, clambering among the branches with their dexterous clawed hands or swinging on tough vines. Other shapes move among them – enormous armored Red Ankylos – immensely powerful fire-dwelling Saurians which the Dragon Men use as beasts of burden and siege engines. It suddenly strikes Jack that what he is witnessing is not an ordinary convocation of tribal Dragon Men, but the massing of an invasion force.

He has not yet been seen – and he has no desire to alter that state of affairs.

Just as he is about to turn away, Jack notices through the haze of heat a familiar sight: one of the fabled Singing Stones of Silberlee! Jack recalls the legend from his childhood – the Stones were crafted by a Fairy sculptor and musician whose name is since forgotten, in honor of the Fairy goddess Silberlee. The Singing Stones were scattered in an ancient war with the Dark Elves, and now most are lost. This Stone is out of phase with reality, giving it a hazy, distorted look like the one he encountered above the Pit of the Red Orb during his quest for Frost Potion. He learned then that he could bring the Stone back into phase with a pinch of Fairy Dust – of which he still has a few doses.

He is confident that a leap with the Seven League Boots would carry him over the dancing flames to the FloatSteel platform below the Singing Stone. And it would be the work of a moment only to sprinkle the Stone with dust and strike it, producing the magical, musical note that will carry him away … where?

If you think Jack should bring the Stone back into phase and strike it, turn to 35.

If you think Jack should quietly retreat through the Warp Portal, turn to 90.