The Magic Beans – Page 35



By now the Boros, more keen on stealthy ambush than drawn-out conflict, has withdrawn to its lair to brood over its bruised nose.

For a few moments there is no sound to break the stillness of the early night, except the soft sounds of Eyemoebas sliming across stone. Then Jack hears rasping breath and the scrape of boots on stone below him. Moving as silently as he can, so as not to wake the Boros into further efforts, Jack unscrews the cap of the GreenShaft and slides it partway open. Then he drops down to the base of the shaft and conceals himself in the shadows.

In a moment Xerxes himself comes charging up the steps of the ruined pyramid, panting and snarling with rage. Seeing the GreenShaft standing open, he snarls, “he’s taking the treasure! Stop him!”

The Stone Giants behind Xerxes look at each other uncertainly. It is obvious that they are far too large to enter the shaft – and the Goblins who have followed their King up the steps now shrink away in terror. “Cowards!” Xerxes rails at them. “Fine. Guard the shaft so he cannot slip away in the darkness. I will finish him myself.”

With these words, Xerxes leaps into the Boros Pit. In the same instant, Jack bounds up, launches himself off the nearest stone, and crashes into the cap of the GreenShaft with his shoulder, sending it sliding and clattering into place. He clambers on top, and with a swift flourish, screws the cap down tight, sealing off the scream of Xerxes the Indomitable. Jack stands atop the GreenShaft, arms folded, looking down at the astonished horde of Giants and Goblins.

“Thus passes Xerxes the Indomitable, King of the Red Ghurkas,” he says. “Let us remember that we are men, and try to restrain our tears.”

The kingless Red Ghurkas eye each other and fidget with their weapons.

“But the Red Ghurkas need a leader, eh?” Jack asks. Around him, heads nod. “Very well. On the floor of the arena, poisoned and wounded by Xerxes’ treachery, lies a Gigas named Stump, once the slave and prisoner of Xerxes’ cruelty, and now King of the Red Ghurkas. He is wise and will lead you well. Raise him up and put a crown upon his head. Introduce him to your giant centipedes; I am sure he will be delighted with them. As for myself, I am leaving, and I will gladly toss any who care to get in my way into the Boros Pit to suffer the same fate as your former King.”

Thus does Perilous Jack find himself crossing Red Ghurka territory for the second time, this time alone and unopposed. By the time the sun has returned in its feeble glory, Jack is at the bottom of Foldoron Lake, on his way to meet the Druid, with a vial of Universal Solvent in his pouch.

If Jack has not already struck one of the Singing Stones at the bottom of the lake, he may do so now. Turn to 82.

If Jack has already struck one of the Singing Stones, or if you would rather just continue into the Druid’s Lair, turn to 10.