The Magic Beans – Page 28



The deeper he travels into the TowaShroom Forest, the more obvious it becomes that Perilous Jack is nearing his destination.

In the shadows beneath the shorter TowaShrooms, he sees dark shapes shifting, senses eyes swiveling to follow; and yet there is no animal life in this part of the Forest. Here the flowers and vines grow thick upon the stalks of the TowaShrooms, and young Beanstalks have begun to raise their leafy heads above the cool humus. Jack passes a stand of infant TowaShrooms, the largest barely his own height. When his back is turned, eyes open in the center of the woody stalks; the corded stalks unfold into grasping limbs, and rooted feet emerge from the soil.

A movement in the corner of his eye alerts the warrior; he turns to find that he is already surrounded by a gang of walking mushrooms. They are Myconids, the strange mushroom men who dwell in the deep shade beneath the broad caps of the TowaShrooms. They are a reclusive breed, rarely seen aboveground, and only slightly more common in the Underworld. The Myconids advance silently, for they have no language.

To the uninitiated, the Myconids appear unthreatening, as they wield no manufactured weapons and have no claws, teeth, or other natural defenses. However, to those who know, the Myconids are a cause for shuddersome revulsion. The mushroom folk reproduce by exhaling clouds of spores into the lungs of their victims, which then take root and slowly asphyxiate the unfortunate. When the body dies for lack of air, the Myconids’ hungry mycelium feasts upon the flesh, and from the compost thus obtained, baby Myconids, called ‘fruits’, are born. Even now, Jack espies the corpse of a Sabretooth Liger lying under the cap of a young TowaShroom, all its muscle and might no match for the tiny spores it inhaled.

Wishing to keep as much distance between himself and the advancing Myconids as possible, Jack flings the Dancing Dagger of Danzibar into their midst and draws a pair of torches from his pouch, lighting them with flint and steel. The Dagger returns, bloodied with the curious greenish-brown sap that serves the Myconids for circulation, and Jack raises his flaming brands. The Myconids recoil, for flame is the only thing they fear. Keeping the torches always between himself and his antagonists, Perilous Jack succeeds in driving the mushroom men away, and continues on his journey. He discovers four CacheStones that are accessible and knocks them open with his StarSteel Hammer. Inside is an assortment of oddments: an antique set of gauntlets beaten from copper, a StarSteel disk, a Potion of Haste, and a ceremonial mace with a head of gold.

Add the Copper Gauntlets, the Gold Mace, a Potion of Haste, and a StarSteel to the Pouch of Ghrul.

Turn to 8.