The Magic Beans – Page 16



Jack shrugs and gestures to the Barbarian to lead the way.

Certainly it cannot hurt to look? The Death Claw barely squeezes through the access tunnel, and they find themselves in a small chamber in the peak of the pyramid. A GreenShaft is set in the floor, evidently granting access to the interior.

“The machine is too large for the pipe,” the Barbarian observes. “It will be safe here.” He gestures toward the ceiling, where hidden compartments are opening in the stone. Two little machines descend from the ceiling on chains, globe-shaped and heavily armored, with glowing red eyes and a pair of guns for arms. They swivel back and forth on their chains to scan the chamber for threats.

Jack is suddenly less comfortable with this arrangement, but without the protection of Tynplyt, he would likely be easy fodder for the guns of the Sentinels. In any case, the Death Claw is more than a match for the little machines and the Barbarians together, so he is confident that his escape route is well protected if things go sour below. He shrugs and turns to the GreenShaft. He would not be Perilous Jack if he turned his back on peril!

As he climbs down the ladder affixed inside the GreenShaft, one of the Sentinels follows him down, keeping its guns trained on him. Jack emerges onto a platform in a dim, smoky chamber lit by a flaming pit in the floor. A third Sentinel descends from the ceiling, and now he is pinned between two sets of guns and two sets of glowing eyes.

Below him stands a huge war machine in a state of partial disrepair; beyond it a trio of RedShafts and another war machine, also incomplete. There are two deep pits in the floor, one on either side of the chamber. Chains hang from the ceiling into the pits, evidently meant to transport travelers or materials into and out of the pits. A large mechanical crane stands between one of the deep pits and the flames. Tools and pieces of discarded machinery lie scattered about.

There is a clamor from one of the RedShafts and a wild-haired dwarf emerges, dressed in grease-stained work clothes and an apron.

“Oy!” the dwarf cries. “Who’re you, then? Trespasser? Thief? Looking for an autograph? I don’t sign my name to nothing.”

“One of your men outside said –” Jack begins.

“Which one? Cordwainer, Hornblower, or Carraigeman?”

“Er, the big one. With the red hair.”

“Cordwainer,” the dwarf grunts. “I should sew his lips shut.”

“He said you might be interested in bartering for the construct I travel with.”

At this the dwarf’s eyes light up. “Construct? Why didn’t you say so? My name is Victorinox. Come inside.” He gestures to the RedShaft he emerged from and begins climbing back down.

With a shrug, Jack follows.

Turn to 38.