|When he is ready to move again, Perilous Jack leaps to the next Beanstalk and catches his first glimpse of the challenge that waits ahead.|
Here the Beanstalks are thinner, and he can see that the cavern’s floor and ceiling narrow to create a slender passage, which is guarded by a pair of Mandrakes. There will be no swinging on vines to avoid this peril; he will have to fight. The only space available for him to stand is a steep, crumbling embankment, below which gapes a black pit, likely inhabited by more of the Druid’s plant monsters, by sharp rocks, or both. A few young Beanstalks do grow from the embankment, however; they will provide a handhold at least.
Jack leaps across and lands on the embankment, seizing a Beanstalk with his off-hand the moment he does, and the Mandrakes rush forward to attack with their powerful root-arms. They are at little disadvantage on the steep surface, as their root-feet can dig into the soft soil with ease. Yet despite that they are no match for the enchanted edge of the Rune Sword. Although the work is slow, hacking through the stout root-arms and root-legs, yet Jack has the advantages of speed and brilliance. When the second Mandrake falls, Jack scrambles up the embankment and gains the level surface of the tunnel.
The tunnel is short, only a few feet or so, and opens into a small chamber thick with Beanstalks. Jack pushes his way cautiously through the Beanstalks into the room. Overhead the shape of a huge CacheStone appears; if it were not enchanted with the levitation magic of the Old Ones, it would certainly be well-supported by the Beanstalks clustered around it. Before Jack can move to inspect the CacheStone, however, the earth beneath his feet begins to heave, throwing him aside.
The soil raises up in the form of a powerful humanoid torso composed of earth and stone. It is an Earth Elemental, and judging by its size, a powerful one.