|Perilous Jack gets a running start, and using the smoldering body of a slain Walking Stump as a springboard, leaps across the Pit of the Red Orb, the StarSteel Hammer clenched in his fist. As he sails under the strange stone, he swings his hammer mightily, expecting to strike the stone dead center.|
Instead, his hammer sails through the very substance of the stone, as if it were an illusion. Surprised and thrown off-balance by his failure to connect, Jack misses his landing on the far side of the Pit. He catches himself – barely – on the edge, struggles to climb up – and fails. His fingernail hold trembles and weakens. Suddenly, with an anguished cry, he falls.
His first hope – that he will simply fall through the orb of mist, suffer whatever minor damage that entails, and keep falling – is swiftly dashed. The Red Orb is more solid than it seems. Rather than fall through a globe of vapor, Perilous Jack strikes a solid, spongy surface – a sticky surface. The Orb partially collapses under his weight, cradling his body tightly. He struggles for an instant until he realizes that movement will only tighten the grip of the Red Orb’s sticky, spongy flesh. Instead, he focuses on freeing his arm so that he can draw his Long Sword, which will certainly be sharp enough to slice the flesh of the Red Orb.
Then the gas strikes him. A great cloud of red vapor boils up from the pores of the Red Orb’s spongy body, scalding Jack’s flesh with terrible heat – and with more than heat. In a moment, it becomes clear that the Red Orb, unlike most creatures, wears its stomach on the outside. His clothing dissolves first in the acidic mist, the sludge thus created trickling down his body to be absorbed by the pores in the Red Orb’s spongy body. His flesh will be next, and then his bones.
He wonders, as the pain begins to slowly build in him like the triumphal notes of a symphony, if his mind will remain, swirling with the other minds among the streamers of red mist . . .
In any case, for Perilous Jack, this is . . .
or continue the adventure in Perilous Jack in the Land of Death.