The Magic Beans – Page 58



The GreenShaft at the bottom of Foldoron Lake contains a Warp Portal, which transports Perilous Jack to a connecting GreenShaft in a cavern deep in the earth.

Jack emerges from the Warp Portal into a cloud of perfume so thick he nearly chokes. Through a haze of mist tinged with pastel shades by the intense fragrances in the air, he makes out a long, low corridor with earthen walls. He is quite high in the passage, his head nearly touching the ceiling. Before him stand two additional GreenShafts, lower than the one on which he perches.

He steps forward, coughing in the thick air . . .

. . . and hurls himself back just in time to avoid a huge shape rushing up at him from the depths of the next GreenShaft. The huge jaws snap shut on the place where he would have been had he leapt, and the Piranha Plant retreats into the GreenShaft to await another opportunity to strike; he can see a vague outline of the flower’s head and the gleam of the sweet dewy saliva trickling across the petals. Jack peers through the mist and decides that in all likelihood the second GreenShaft contains a Piranha Plant as well. Now the swirling mist parts a bit and he gets a better glimpse of the passage ahead. The room is positively crawling with carnivorous plants of every type.

On the ceiling, Dark Eyes and Eye Fangs peel open their tooth-lined petals, revealing hypnotic eyes nestled in the base of the flowers. Death Blossoms and Devil’s Bloom carpet an earthen projection from the wall, exuding their intoxicating scents, and Ropers creep along at the base of the three GreenShafts projecting from the floor. All of the plants are many times larger than any he has encountered in the wild and exhibit a lush, unearthly radiance. Their combined scent is nearly overpowering, causing Jack’s head to swim and his knees to tremble.

The best weapon to use against vegetable growth, Jack reflects, is fire! From the Pouch of Ghrul he draws a Fire Flower and swallows the crumbling petals. Sparks dance at his fingertips, itching to fly free.

He steps forward again, and as the Piranha Plant erupts from its GreenShaft he flings a fireball into its gaping jaws. The flower head explodes in a riot of flame, and the charred stalk collapses back into the GreenShaft. The second Piranha Plant falls as readily as the first, and Jack is past the GreenShafts.

The Dark Eyes and Eye Fangs hanging from the ceiling twist and turn, blinking their hypnotic eyes at him, seeking to sap his will until he drifts too near to their poison fragrance. Below, on an earth-covered shelf, a pair of Death Blossoms snap their fanged petals. A well-placed fireball destroys them all, raining burning bits of vegetation on the Devil’s Bloom and Ropers below.

Jack leaps to the platform, avoiding the Ropers altogether. In their passive state, these creatures look like bulbous, branchless trees no more than the height of a man, covered with curious knobs reminiscent of the stumps left on ordinary tree trunks after a branch has been broken off and healed. However, when prey is near the entire trunk twists about, revealing the creature’s single eye hidden at the very tip of the bulb, and thick tendrils emerge from the knobs around the diameter of the bulb, which wrap around the prey, injecting paralytic poison through the numerous thorns covering the tendrils. Once the prey is immobilized, the Roper bulb splits open and draws the body inside, to be dissolved alive.

From here the passage narrows, giving space to more platforms and a series of earthen mounds rising from the floor. The mounds are covered in carnivorous plants and Shambling Mounds hide in the hollows between the earthen piles. The Shambling Mounds resemble heaps of earth or vegetation until they are stepped on; then a pair of powerful eyeball-tipped tentacles emerge and drag the victim into the body of the Mound to be stifled. There is no way to leap between the mounds without risking the tentacles of the Shamblers; Jack is forced to expend a few of his precious fireballs on each of them before he can proceed. After clearing Devil’s Bloom and Death Blossoms from the final mound with his sword, Jack comes to a gaping pit in the floor of the passage. When he leans over to peer into the darkness below, a rush of heady perfumed vapors seizes him, swirling down the corridors of his mind, driving fact and fancy before it as a wind tumbles leaves. Jack reels, chokes, slashes the air with his sword . . .

He falls . . .

Remove a Fire Flower from the Pouch of Ghrul and turn to 3.