The Magic Beans – Page 72



The Shambling Mound moves aside to reveal three wooden chests.

The Druid throws back the lids one by one, gesturing proudly at the contents. The first two chests are filled with boxes, pouches, vials, and packets, all bursting with seeds of every size and shape. The Druid lifts out a few and holds them reverently, whispering the names of the flowers and trees they can create. Jack recognizes one or two – a delicate spring flower he recalls from the alpine meadows of Momao; a dangerous carnivorous tree found only in a patch of swamp near the western end of the Dark Forest of Exentaser. Most of the other names are unfamiliar to him.

At last the Druid produces the leather pouch he displayed earlier by the pool. “Magic Beans,” he whispers, handing over the pouch. Jack opens the pouch and examines the beans – they are real, as far as he can tell. He has only seen their like once before, and that was years and miles away. He puts the Beans in the Pouch of Ghrul and nods his thanks.

“And other magic – for your journey,” the Druid continues, handing him a second pouch. Jack shakes a few out into his hand – there are ten in all; six PowaShrooms, three Fire Flowers, and a single incredibly rare SpidaShroom. The latter, once consumed, will give the user the ability to spin webs from his fingertips for a short time.

“A SpidaShroom!” Jack cries. “I thought they were extinct.”

The Druid shrugs and says nothing, but Jack has seen the truth in his eyes – the Druid has spores. Jack conceals a smile. “Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.”

“Is it?” the Druid asks, but there is more weariness than hope in his voice.

Jack meets his eyes. “I told you when we met; all I care about is rescuing a little girl. As far as your research goes, as long as you don’t start filling your head with visions of conquering all of Malkat with armies of plant monsters, then you and I have no need to cross paths. In fact, I might even be willing to help you in exchange for the odd bit of useful plant material – after all, I do get around quite a bit. If I thought I had an ally who could make use of them, I wouldn’t hesitate to collect strange plant creatures I encounter on my journeys. Food for thought, eh?”

Jack produces the Red Bead and the vial of Universal Solvent. “Payment for the Magic Beans. As agreed. I take it the second GreenShaft leads out?”

“To the surface; near the edge of the TowaShroom Forest,” the Druid says, but his mind is on the treasures Jack has given him. At last he looks up. “You puzzle me, warrior. You haven’t asked to see what’s in the third chest.”

“Gold, jewels, the like,” Jack responds with a shrug.

The Druid nods. “And yet you have no interest.”

“I am a hero, not a mercenary.” With that, Perilous Jack leaps to the floor and brushes past the Wood Golems, who offer no resistance as he makes his way to the GreenShaft that leads to the surface.

“Warrior,” the Druid says. Jack stops and turns. “My name is Nolurrag. I have a twin brother named Garrulon. He loves ice and metal as I love earth and wood. Should you happen to meet him in your wandering . . . bear him my greetings. Tell him . . . tell him I am sorry.”

Jack considers what to say, and then nods. “I will.”

The Druid turns away to brood over his seeds, and Perilous Jack steps through the Warp Portal, out of the dank earth, and back into the world of light and sky.

Perilous Jack is triumphant!

Add six PowaShrooms, three Fire Flowers, a SpidaShroom, and the Magic Beans to the Pouch of Ghrul, and remove the Red Bead and Universal Solvent.

Turn to 65.