The Magic Beans – Page 24



With a roar of pure murderous insanity, the poison-maddened Gigas charges across the arena at Perilous Jack.

The warrior braces himself, hoping the Gauntlets of Gorodin will help him withstand the terrible shock of the Gigas’ blow.

Stump dives, hands outstretched to tear at Jack’s throat, and Jack seizes his wrists. With the Gauntlets enhancing the strength of his arms, Jack halts the charge of the enraged Hill Gigas. For a moment they are locked in this position, feet digging for purchase in the sandy soil of the arena, giant wrists clenched in trembling hands, their teeth bared in effort scant inches from each other’s face.

But even with the Gauntlets to aid him, Jack cannot long withstand the power of the enraged Gigas. Gradually his legs begin to buckle. With a final, desperate heave, Jack wrenches the Gigas aside and flings him headfirst into a stalactite. The Gigas cracks his head on the stone and collapses unconscious.

Xerxes is upon him in an instant. “We have a winner!” he crows, and wraps Jack in his powerful arms. If the power of the Gigas was overwhelming, Xerxes’ power is godlike; Jack can no more resist him than push over a mountain. It is impossible that Xerxes’ power could be natural – he must rely on magic to enhance his strength.

The wrestler hauls Jack out through the Warp Portal and flings him into the arms of his Stone Giants.

“Into the Boros Pit with him!” Xerxes cries, and the Giants drag the warrior away. Up the side of a floating piece of ancient architecture the Giants drag him, to a GreenShaft at the top of the pyramid. One Stone Giant unscrews the GreenShaft and the other tosses him inside.

As he falls, Perilous Jack remembers the warning Stump gave him about the Boros when first they met: “Very, very poison. Ugly face, turn man to stone. Very bad.”

Jack catches himself on the edge of the GreenShaft before he can fall into the pit below, and climbs back up the ladder built into the shaft wall. At the top he encounters the heavy cap, screwed back into place by the Giant. Below him he can hear the rustling of the Boros as it wakes from its slumber and senses prey.

Bracing himself against the wall of the Shaft, Jack strains against the handles of the cap. Ordinarily it would take the strength of a Giant to turn the Cap, but Jack has the Gauntlets of Gorodin to aid him. He can hear the slither of scales on stone. He pushes harder. The clank of metal below reaches his ears, and he must stop himself from looking down into the eyes of the Boros as it begins to slither up and through the rungs of the ladder. He can imagine it’s serpentine body, the human-like face, the poison fangs, the horribly ugly face that can turn a man to stone.

The cap pops free and Jack shoves it aside, gaining the clear air. He climbs out of the shaft and slides the cap back into place, just as the Boros reaches the top of the ladder. The monster strikes the inside of the cap repeatedly, trying to dislodge it, but Jack tightens the thread a half-turn and keeps a grip on the handles so the serpent-creature cannot escape.

“Xerxes!” he cries. “It is I, Jack the Dragonslayer, Jack the Boros-Slayer! I have slain another of your pets, O Mighty Xerxes! Send up your Stone Giants! Have you another pit to throw me in? Another pet for me to wrestle? Xerxeeeesss!”

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