The Magic Beans – Page 17



Striking the Singing Stone causes a single resounding note to vibrate through the water.

The ripples in water become ripples in reality, and Perilous Jack feels himself disappearing, swept away by the teleportation magic.

He reemerges in a tiny chamber deep in the earth. He is standing on one of three capped GreenShafts that, with the Singing Stones, form the only features of the rooms. The Singing Stones float above their respective GreenShafts at different heights, reminiscent of notes on a bar of music. The resemblance fires Jack’s imagination, and he leaps from stone to stone, striking them in turn. The three notes resound together in a simple melody, which seems to gain complexity the longer it lingers in the air. Suddenly all three GreenShafts open together and Jack plunges down through the shaft. As he falls he notices ladder rungs attached to the side; he can leave this way if he chooses. Below he sees darkness and hears the rise and fall of moving water; he congratulates himself on retaining the Coral Sword for this adventure.

He plunges into cold water, narrowly avoiding the venomous tentacles of a Moon Squid as he does. His eyes adjust quickly – just in time, for the water is home to a colony of Moon Squids, who quickly converge on his position. But the creatures do not anticipate fighting a warrior who can breathe water as well as they and lash out with his sword as swiftly as they lash with their stinging tentacles. The Moon Squids fall quickly to Perilous Jack and the Coral Sword.

During the battle he catches a glimpse of several large gold disks impregnated with FloatStone – the curious coins or medallions of the Old Ones, crafted by one of the giant slave races created by the Emerald Dynasty. Once he triumphs over the Moon Squids he swims deeper . . .

. . . And again narrowly dodges lashing tentacles. This time his assailant is an enormous monster with a humanlike torso and lower limbs of writhing, suckered tentacles. A second emerges from the depths, and Jack braces himself to fend off their many tentacles.

But the Squid-Men stop short at the sight of the Coral Sword. In a watery gurgle, one utters the name “Cerpux Arsak.” The Squid-Men, bowing and scraping as well as the water and their strange bodies will allow, retreat from Jack as if he were a god. Bewildered but pleased, Jack sheathes the Coral Sword and examines the chamber. A treasure chest lies on the floor below; he swims near to examine its contents.

Among coins and gems, his hand encounters a strange shape, like a triangular piece of armor or chunk of stone – he cannot make it out in the murky water. He tucks the strange object in his pouch, along with the rest of the treasure in the box, and strikes for the surface. He climbs up the ladder into the blessedly dry room above and pauses to examine his findings before returning to the depths of Foldoron Lake.

He takes out the strange object and examines it closely. It is a triangular piece of alien steel, such as the Old Ones used to build the odd structures of the Emerald Dynasty. It is a shard only, having been broken – the gods only know how – off a larger piece, but it is heavily engraved with tiny, precise lines and circles. It could be a map, or a set of machine schematics, he does not know, but the fact of its great antiquity means it is considerably valuable. He tucks the Engraved Shard back into his pouch. If he already has another Shard like this one, he will discover that the two connect, forming a larger part of a whole.

Though the Coral Sword has proven its great worth, he feels certain that the Rune Sword will be more efficacious against the general populace of the world of monsters. He makes the change and prepares himself to confront the Druid again. Perilous Jack strikes the Singing Stones in reverse order, and the magic whisks him away, back into the depths of Foldoron Lake.

Add the 100 Gold, 1 Ruby, and the Engraved Shard to the Pouch of Ghrul. Add the following to Jack’s Journal: Not only does the Coral Sword give me the ability to breathe and fight underwater, but the Squid-Men seem to venerate it. Perhaps it belonged to a god or hero of theirs? Who is Cerpux Arsak?

Turn to 10.