The Magic Beans – Page 33



The Ice Wizard, Perilous Jack decides, is too treacherous to live. Without hesitation, he plunges his blade into the wizard’s body.

As the wizard bleeds to death, Jack searches his robes for a vial of Universal Solvent, but finds nothing. The wizard watches him at work, too wounded and stunned to resist.

“What – ” the wizard begins, and then coughs up blood. “What . . . what are you . . . looking for?”

“Universal Solvent,” Jack snaps at him irritably, casting around the chamber. There are several pipes leading away, and many more in the room he has left. Searching the entire complex will be difficult and time-consuming, and he is beginning to wish he had not acted so hastily. “Where is it hidden?” he demands.

The Ice Wizards summons a weak laugh. “There is none. I haven’t . . . made any for . . . years.”

“Made it?” Jack demands. “What are you talking about?”

“Look around,” the wizard laughs, and Jack casts a glance about. He sees metal walls, machinery, pipes large and small, everywhere, on the walls and ceiling, projecting from the floor. “The whole place . . . chemical lab . . . I am an alchemist . . . was until . . . you killed me.”

With these words the Ice Wizard breathes his last, and Perilous Jack cannot help but believe them. There is no Universal Solvent for him here. He will have to go back and fight the Druid.

Leaving the body of the Ice Wizard where it lies, Jack makes his way out of the complex, dodging the ecstatic feast of the Rust Birds as he does. Soon he stands outside on a platform, dodging Black Bullets and parrying the paralytic pseudopods of an Eyemoeba.

It is night outside – or at least it is dark – and Jack, morose now at the thought of another death on his hands, remembers the Nightcrystal and the spreading shadow. For a moment the weight of despair rests on his heart, and the entire world seems aligned against him. But soon he pushes these feelings away, reminding himself that no matter how great the darkness around him, he is still a hero. Although he has no Solvent to barter with, the quest must continue.

He makes his way quickly through Red Ghurka territory, and although the few Goblins he encounters eye him with suspicion and hostility, they withdraw at the sight of the Gauntlets of Gorodin. A terrible weight of silence seems to hang over him, like an envelope protecting him from all accident and adventure. It occurs to him as he stands at the edge of Foldoron Lake, staring at his reflection in the water, that he hasn’t thought or felt anything in hours. He shakes off his dark mood and dives into the water.

Turn to 10.