The Frost Potion – Page 11



The next room is similar to the first in construction, although the configuration of the FloatSteel platforms and dividers is different.

Perilous Jack is immediately attacked, this time by a pair of Minotaurs wielding curious battle-axes. With the PowaShroom still surging through his body and the aid of the Dancing Dagger, Perilous Jack is able to parry off the first blows with relative ease, driving first one bull-man back, and then the other. He has a moment to observe the strange weapons borne by the beastmen, battle-axes with blades of a lustrous purple-black stone and handles of Greenstone, a rare material worked by Forest Elves and precious few others. Each blade is engraved with a matching rune, which corresponds to an identical rune tattooed on the monsters’ powerful chests.

The Minotaurs surge forth again, swinging powerfully. Jack deflects the first blow, nearly staggering under its weight, and turns in to strike at his opponent. As he does, the second Minotaur rushes in with such savagery that the two actually collide, fouling the backswing of the first. In the ensuing confusion, Jack neatly skewers both Minotaurs and leaps back to let them thrash out their death agonies. At no point, he realizes, did either Minotaur acknowledge the presence of the other.

Stepping carefully to avoid the Black Slimes converging upon his position, Perilous Jack explores the chamber.

Like the previous room, it is fairly small and rectilinear. There is only one exit, a wide shaft in the floor near the far wall. Clinging carefully to the edge of the pit, Jack leans precipitously over and peers into the darkness below. He can make out FloatSteel platforms hanging in the air, but little else. Aiming for a space between platforms, he drops one of the curious brass tokens he discovered in the previous room and listens for echoes. The token falls, falls, bounces once off a platform in midair, and falls again. Eventually he hears it strike something, bounce, and come to rest – but whether this is a floor, or just another platform floating in the air, he cannot say. In any case, the space beneath him is immense, and likely riddled with platforms, dividers, false floors and room-sized pockets. Getting lost will be child’s play.

Jack retreats into the room, narrowly avoiding a Black Slime that had crept up on him as he cogitated, and examines a few treasure chests scattered about the room. As before, he finds only heaps of curious brass tokens. He examines the token more closely and suddenly sees something he hadn’t noticed before – the inhumanely regular hash marks on the tokens are raised on one side of each token, and depressed on the other. It occurs to him with real joy that he can likely press the tokens together and cause them to interlock. He finds two whose pattern of slots and grooves seem to correspond and fits them together. With a soft click, they unite. After a few more minutes he locates a third token, which connects to the second, creating a finger-thick disk that tapers slightly like a truncated cone. His work yields at least ten more sizes and configurations of brass token, yielding over twenty types altogether.

He begins excitedly sweeping brass tokens out of the treasure chests and fitting them together, searching for a pattern or a clue to how they interlock. At first, the puzzle seems to come together quickly and easily, but then minutes of searching for the next piece are rewarded with frustrating failure. Meanwhile, the Black Slimes creep closer . . .

And in the corner of the room, forgotten by the warrior in his excitement at puzzle solving, the curious purple-black metal of the Minotaurs’ battle-axes begin to glow with soft lavender light. Purple smoke emerges from the blades, slowly coalescing into dark shapes.

Their bovine features cast into relief by the magical glow, the resurrected Minotaurs stoop and reach for their fallen weapons . . .

Turn to 38.