The Frost Potion – Page 06

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Perilous Jack drags himself past the now-inert Iron Golem, pausing only to remove the Heart in obedience to some intuition that it may be useful.

Then, nearly dropping with weariness, he assays the difficult climb back up the shaft to the tunnel that runs over the lair of the Ogres. The Dreamfruit and the horror he has witnessed have left him physically and emotionally exhausted, wishing only to lie down and rest. But the earth is littered with shattered brick and the burst corpses of Carrion Creepers, and so he lingers only long enough to investigate the treasure chests he noticed before the floor collapsed beneath his feet. The diversion proves worthwhile – the chests contain a good bounty of coins and gems.

He drops from the GreenShaft into the Ogres’ Lair to find a surprise waiting for him – Phae the Fairy Dragon hovers near the corpse of the slain Green Ogre, chirping animatedly to herself. When she sees him, she performs a few aerial somersaults and fills the lair with bubbles containing happy images – white clouds with smiling faces, daisy blossoms, Princess Vasilisa in a bumblebee-striped dress. When he succeeds in calming her down, she adopts a more earnest mood.

One by one she creates a series of bubble-pictures; the Plateau of the Endless, a castle in the sky, Princess Vasilisa – Jack interrupts the flow with some irritation; he knows all this already. The Fairy Dragon returns to the image of the cloud castle, and then flashes an image of Jack’s hand filled with withered beans. Jack indicates his understanding, again with some irritation; he must obtain Magic Beans and plant them to grow a Beanstalk so that he can reach the Giant’s castle.

Now she sends him the image of the Beanstalk, alternating with images of her sleeping in a little nest of straw; the images alternate more quickly, until Jack understands that she has dreamed of the Beanstalk. When she senses his understanding, the Fairy Dragon adds a new image – that of a huge, reptilian body with many dragon-like heads, spitting balls of flame from its many fanged mouths, its serpentine tail wrapped around the base of the Beanstalk. Jack is taken aback by the clarity and intensity of the image – surely the Fairy Dragon has never seen a Pyrohydra? But the warning is clear; the Fairy Dragon has dreamed of such a creature in connection with the Beanstalk, and has come to forewarn Jack.

This gives the warrior pause. A Pyrohydra is a daunting challenge, even for a warrior of Jack’s stature. As with all Hydras, the Pyrohydra has many heads, which when severed, simply grow back twofold. With common Hydras, the problem can be solved with fire – simply cauterizing the severed stump will prevent the new heads growing back. But Pyrohydras are immune to flame . . .

. . . yet there is a way. A Frost Potion, applied to the weapon that severs the Pyrohydra’s heads, would prevent the monster’s regenerative powers from working. But Frost Potions are rare . . .

Jack thanks the Fairy Dragon and feeds her from his pouch. Satisfied, she whisks herself through the WarpShaft and away. He collects his equipment and prepares to follow.

Add the following to the Journal: Phae has had a dream of a Pyrohydra guarding a Beanstalk – perhaps a warning in connection with my current quest? I should obtain a Frost Potion before daring the climb to the Cloud Castle, in case this dream proves true.

Add 2000 Gold, 100 Silver, 2 Diamonds, 3 Emeralds, and the Golem’s Heart to the Pouch of Ghrul and turn to 8.