|With the superhuman strength granted by his magical equipment, Perilous Jack feels he is more than a match for the Earth Elemental.|
He is only a little mistaken. His blade is of little use against the stony body, and so he sheaths it and dives in with fists and feet. As the two mighty warriors lock in a wrestler’s embrace, Jack finds that their strength is nearly equal, and a hard fight ensues. The Elemental’s greater size and reach gives it a great advantage, but Jack is faster, smarter, and more agile.
Time and again the Elemental flings him away to crash in a heap against the earthen walls – as often as not within reach of the stinging petals of a flower-monster – but each time Jack rebounds and attacks again. Gradually he gains the upper hand, gaining a strong lock on one of the Elemental’s arms and bracing his feet against its shoulder. Jack leans back, straining with all his enhanced might, until suddenly the great arm tears away. Disconnected from the magic that animates it, the arm crumbles into soil and stones.
Wounded, the Elemental fights poorly, and in moments Jack has removed the second arm, and then the head. Finally the entire body crumbles into a mound of earth and Jack, gasping, bruised, exhausted, is the victor.
When he has regained some of his strength, he examines the CacheStone left undefended by the death of the Elemental.
He strikes the surface of the CacheStone with his StarSteel Hammer and it opens, revealing a triangular piece of alien steel, such as the Old Ones used to build the odd structures of the Emerald Dynasty. It is a shard only, having been broken – the gods only know how – off a larger piece, but it is heavily engraved with tiny, precise lines and circles. It could be a map, or a set of machine schematics, he does not know, but the fact of its great antiquity means it is considerably valuable.
If he already has another Shard like this one, he will discover that the two appear to connect, forming a larger part of a whole, although the exact mechanism of connecting the disks is not obvious.
If he has two Engraved Shards already, he will discover that the three appear to connect, forming a circular disk. All the pieces of the item are collected at this point, but Jack still cannot determine its purpose or how to connect the pieces.
Although the Engraved Shard is an exciting find, by virtue of its strangeness and antiquity, if for no other reason, it is not the reward he sought by taking this path – and now he must traverse this section of the cavern a second time, to return to the GreenShaft where he entered.
Add the Engraved Shard to the Pouch of Ghrul and turn to 23.