The Magic Beans – Page 40



By the time Perilous Jack reaches the edge of Foldoron Lake, the long night has ended and now a weak dawn blossoms in the east.

The light will not linger long, perhaps a few hours. Wishing to take full advantage of whatever light seeps into the water, Jack hastens his steps, until the TowaShrooms finally give way to a grassy hummock, over which hangs a floating platform of bluish steel – an awe-inspiring sight in its way, for the colored FloatSteel is a relic of the Old Ones themselves, and is consequently older even than the brick handiwork of the First Men.

Among the ancient architecture Jack finds a welcome surprise; an untouched CacheStone of great antiquity, which opens, after repeated blows from his StarSteel Hammer, to reveal no less than ten disks of pure StarSteel.

Jack has no magic that permits him to breathe underwater; thus he must repeatedly dive and explore until he finds what he seeks. His first dive reveals the challenge he faces. The feeble light does little to penetrate the deep blue water, making his surroundings murky and indistinct. Enormous Cherry-Red Snappers, some large enough to swallow Jack whole, and lethal Bottleglass Puffers, tiny but bristling with poisonous spikes, abound. Family groups of Inkwell-and-Brush Squid bob and squirt their way through the water, harmless in themselves but capable of clouding the already dim water with their ink clouds. He narrowly avoids a brush with a cloud of Stinging Moon-Fortune Jellies, their goggling, startled eyes bulging at him through the transparent jelly of their bodies.

Later dives take him deeper, until he encounters several shelves of Ash Whisper Coral, dangerous enough by virtue of its razor sharpness, but made even more treacherous by the clusters of Bubble Pink Anemones. Jack watches the short tentacle of an Anemone strike a passing Snapper, instantly paralyzing the fish. The tentacles latch on and drag the Snapper into the pulsating pink belly of the Anemone clinging to the coral, and the orifice irises shut.

Suppressing a shudder, Jack swims on. Winding his way deeper into the maze of Coral outcroppings, Jack discovers further signs of the Old Ones’ presence; two long platforms of greyish FloatSteel suspended in the water. The lower of the two is occupied by a long waving strand of Electric Dance Grass, a treacherous form of plant life capable of delivering a powerful shock. Jack turns to bypass the Grass and the platform, and nearly swims directly into the embrace of an even greater danger – a nearly invisible Glass Sea-Foam Orchid. The Orchid is almost entirely transparent, except for a rosette of leaves at the base which are easily mistaken for ordinary sea grass. The flower, however, is large enough to swallow a man – and eager to do so. Jack fights his way out at the expense of considerable stored air, and is forced to surface again, frustrated by his slow progress.

Breaking the surface of the water, he is instantly attacked by a pair of Koopa Paratroopas, savage winged turtles that frequent lakes and marshes. He fends them off with his blade and dives again, this time working his way into a different part of the coral labyrinth. Here he encounters another grey steel platform, this one occupied by a waving string of Shell Pink Hoop Fish, curious starfish relatives with hoop-shaped bodies who link themselves in long chains to better capture their prey. Like many things here, the Hoop Fish are poisonous, and Jack swims past with alacrity. Finally, at the bottom of the lake, he discovers a GreenShaft, which he feels is certainly the entrance to the Druid’s lair. To his surprise he also notices no less than three Singing Stones, in excellent condition and perfectly in phase with reality.

Add ten StarSteel to the Pouch of Ghrul.

If you think Perilous Jack should enter the GreenShaft, turn to 58.

If you think he should strike one of the Singing Stones, turn to 84.