|With some difficulty – for his hands were meant for sword-swinging, not tinkering – Perilous Jack sets about restoring the Golem’s Heart.|
One by one, he reconnects the wires and hoses, and as he does, the Heart begins to glow, first a pale red like the whisper of dawn, and then a fierce, bloody crimson. When he has attached the final hose, Jack closes the panel over the Heart and leaps away, drawing his sword. For an instant, all is silent and still – and then, muffled but still sensible, the Heart begins to beat.
A dozen beats pass, and still the Golem does not move. Jack lowers his sword – and suddenly the Golem’s eyes erupt into lambent blue flame. The Golem opens and closes its mouth, dislodging showers of rust flakes. The jaws squeal horribly at first, but as the Golem works the joints, Jack sees streams of lubricant emerge and trickle down the Golem’s chin. When the jaws are loose again, the Golem speaks.
What is the name of the Master?
Jack tightens his grip on the hilt of his sword. He does not know the answer. Seeing his hesitation, the Golem raises its enormous blade, dislodging further showers of rust flakes.
What is the name of the Master? the Golem repeats. Suddenly, unpleasantly aware of where this is going, Jack flings the Dancing Dagger of Danzibar, aiming to strike at the joint attaching the arm. To his dismay, the enchanted blade of the Dagger rebounds from the magically hardened armor of the Golem and a single shard of steel flies across the chamber, broken away from the blade.
In a stomach-wrenching moment of clarity, Jack realizes that the seemingly invulnerable Dancing Dagger has lost its magic forever. Now he is reduced to his Long Sword; common steel, wielded against a titanic war machine of enormous power. Jack has no choice but to fight defensively, dodging the powerful swings of the Golem’s huge sword.
There is only one possibility remaining to Jack – he must escape. With no way to open the Warp Portal in the corner of the room, that means he can only return the way he has come. Somehow, he will have to find a way to climb the walls of the shaft back up to the tunnel above. He moves toward the entrance – and suddenly a huge blade blocks his path. The Golem, machine though it may be, is not stupid. It has anticipated his maneuver. Now the blade swings, driving him back, deeper into the room, further from escape, and the Golem steps forward, interposing its huge bulk between Jack and the exit. Now there is no way out.
Jack digs the Flake of the Eld-Star from his pouch and shatters it. The magic takes hold instantly, and waves of repulsor magic flow through his body, creating a protective screen of force around him. As long as the magic holds, he will be invincible, even to the immensely powerful blows of the Golem’s sword. But Jack knows that even this is a temporary measure. It will buy him a few moments only, in which he may make a final, desperate bid for escape. The Golem proves its keen insight again. Instead of attacking and wasting itself against the magic of the Eld-Star – which perhaps it recognizes, being itself a thing of antiquity – the Golem merely waits, blocking the entrance with its bulk, secure in the knowledge that when the magic has faded, Perilous Jack will have reached . . .
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