The Magic Beans – Page 71



As the Three-Headed Snake rears back to strike again, Perilous Jack sheathes his sword and digs in the Pouch of Ghrul.

He draws forth the Gold Mace he found in the TowaShroom Forest and flourishes it against the Snake. The monster, perhaps sensing that Jack has hit upon the riddle that will defeat it, recoils. But the battle is on; there is no retreat for either party now. The Snake renews its attack, and it is all Jack can do to keep all three heads at bay, especially with so heavy and clumsy a weapon. However, when he succeeds in landing a blow, the result is spectacular. At the first contact with the golden weapon, the monster vents a terrible shriek and its whole body shudders. This gives Jack the opportunity to land a second, more solid blow on the same head. The Gold Mace crushes bones and brains; the first head sags in death.

With a triumphant yell Jack tosses the Gold Mace aside and produces a second weapon from the Pouch of Ghrul: this time the Silver Sword he claimed from the fallen Asmervig Guard outside the Labyrinth of Malkat. This weapon is shaped and balanced more to his liking than the Gold Mace; it does not take long for him to dispatch the second head of the Snake.

The monster can see its doom approaching. Even as Jack lays aside the silver weapon and draws forth the Copper Gauntlets, the Snake attempts a last desperate effort. Dragging the weight of its dead heads behind it, the monster hurls itself across the gap and lashes its powerful tail around Jack’s body. Caught up in the monster’s constricting embrace, he is barely able to pull the gauntlets on in time. The Snake strikes, and it is only by chance that he succeeds in catching the beast by the throat with one hand. Thus begins a terrible struggle; the Three-Headed Snake winds itself tighter, seeking to crush Jack in its coils, while Jack struggles to strangle the beast’s last living throat with the Copper Gauntlets.

The conditions of the riddle are fulfilled; the Snake is no match for weapons of gold, silver, and copper properly wielded. With a last, rib-cracking heave, the Three-Headed Snake succumbs to Jack’s powerful attack. The hero untangles himself and gathers his fallen weapons. The Gold Mace, Silver Sword, and Copper Gauntlets go back in the Pouch of Ghrul.

At last he leaps across the gap and approaches the treasure chest in the corner of the chamber. The Cloud Key of Cerpux Arsak opens this lock as well, revealing the treasure inside.

Nestled amid a heap of coins and gems is a beautiful sword in a scabbard elaborately patterned with designs of beautiful Mermaids, hideous octopus-bodied Merrows, and other nautical creatures. Jack draws the sword. The blade is vivid purple and, as the name suggests, appears to be made of porous coral. But there is nothing soft or brittle about the blade; it rings true as tempered steel. It is clearly magical. Jack secures the sword and the rest of the treasure in the Pouch of Ghrul and stands for a moment, pondering. Who was Cerpux Arsak? Why was this chamber built so high above the world, so far from any body of water where the Coral Sword would be effective? There are no answers here. Jack shrugs and makes his way out of the secret chamber, down the cloud stair and the Beanstalk again. Back in Red Ghurka Territory, he continues on his journey to Foldoron Lake.

Add the Coral Sword, 400 Gold, 150 Silver, 1 Diamond, 3 Emeralds, and 1 StarSteel to the Pouch of Ghrul.

Turn to 12.