|Concealed in a stony hollow, the heroes exchange stories.|
Jack learns that Serra has traced his steps, hoping to catch up with him and help him in his quest. However, when she learns of the dead Guardian and the Breaking of the Nightcrystal, she pales and shakes her head.
“This bodes poorly for the Mushroom Kingdom,” she says. “I must bring news of this to the Council of Wizards.” Jack agrees, and gives her the Scrolls of the Guardian to show the Royal Wizards. Serra, as a Priestess of the Moon, can call the Moon’s Path to transport herself swiftly to any known place; thus, she is the most logical ambassador.
“For myself,” he says, “I must continue to the Plateau of the Endless and find a Pyrohydra to slay.” Serra looks at him quizzically, and he relates the Fairy Dragon’s dream. “I don’t suppose you know a convenient place to pick up a Frost Potion?” he asks in conclusion.
Serra shakes her head slowly. “The shamans of Winter’s Palace were famed in ancient times for their so-called ‘ice wine’, but the formula has been lost for centuries. There may be a mage or two in Maia’s Necklace who can brew it, but I honestly wouldn’t know where to start looking. However, there is a place nearby, a labyrinth deep in the earth where worshippers once sacrificed to Malkat. It is said that if you thread the labyrinth and pass the Goddess’s test, she will grant a single treasure from the hoard of her consort the Bull-God. If anyone has a vial of Frost Potion, it would be Him.”
Jack considers. Malkat is the Goddess of Grain, a benevolent protrectress of humanity, widely propitiated across the golden plains of Tranan, the breadbasket of the Twelve Kingdoms. “And what is the secret of the Labyrinth?” he asks.
Serra laughs. “The test is different for everyone. I’ll draw you a map to the Labyrinth; I’ll let the Goddess decide if you’re worthy of Her.” She takes parchment and ink from her bag and sketches him a map.
Jack examines the map and considers for a moment. “Very well,” he says, “I will go to the Labyrinth of Malkat. When you have received the wisdom of the Wizard Council, return there and wait for me; then we will decide what is best to do.” Serra agrees, and departs by the Moon’s Path.
Remove the Scrolls from the Pouch of Ghrul and add Serra’s Map.
For three days, Perilous Jack travels the TowaShroom Forest, following the directions given him by Serra, until, deep in the thickest part of the jungle, where the vines and creepers tangle among the stalks of the TowaShrooms to create nearly impenetrable walls of foliage, Jack encounters a curious sight: a signpost thrust into the black loam of the forest floor, bearing an arrow-shaped sign.
Looking up, Jack sees that a thick length of vine forms a natural spiral stairway, coiling up and around a decrepit piece of machinery probably left behind by one of the races of First Men. Beyond this, he cannot tell what waits in the canopy.
He pauses in contemplation. It is unheard of to encounter an ordinary merchant in the treacherous depths of the TowaShroom Forest; only sword- or spell-wielding adventurers – or monsters – would dare the journey. And there are countless treasure-rich ruins and monster lairs to be found among the giant mushrooms. If Alton Falconfury is indeed an adventurer, he may have curious treasures – magical, perhaps – to sell.
And the name sounds familiar . . .