The Magic Beans – Page 74



“I will wrestle the Catoblepas of Forbidden Swamp,” declares Perilous Jack.

Xerxes issues a hearty, delighted laugh and gestures to the Stone Giant in the pit. The Giant advances and unscrews the cap on the first GreenShaft. Meanwhile Jack and Xerxes leap together into the pit and wait for the Giant to finish his work. When the cap has been removed, the Stone Giant suddenly seizes Jack in his immensely powerful arms.

“No offense, friend,” Xerxes laughs. He relieves Jack of sword and dagger, but overlooks the pouch at his belt. “This is a wrestling match, you understand, not a duel to the death – at least not to the death of my hard-won champion Catoblepas!” He laughs at his own wit. “I will judge the throws and pins, and if you prove the victor, I will personally restrain the Catoblepas while you exit the arena.”

With another laugh, Xerxes leaps into the GreenShaft. A moment later the Giant lifts Jack and drops him into the Warp Portal.

Jack emerges from the GreenShaft onto a stone platform overlooking the arena floor. They are in a natural stone cavern, the walls glittering with gold ore. Xerxes stands on a high platform well above the arena, safely out of reach of the combatants. On a platform projecting from the opposite wall stands a treasure chest.

“Cross the arena floor and claim your prize!” Xerxes cries. A massive shape shifts in the darkness below. Jack leaps to the arena floor. Suddenly a huge bull charges him from behind a stalactite. Remembering his bullfighting skills learned as a boy, Jack sidesteps and attempts to get inside the radius of the huge bull’s horns – but the Catoblepas has a surprise in store for Jack. The huge bull leaps at the last moment, spreads a stubby pair of wings – they cannot possibly support the bull’s weight, Jack thinks – and suddenly the Catoblepas is flying. The iron hooves strike, nearly crushing Jack’s skull, and the warrior falls flat. He knows what will come next, and rolls desperately to flee the cloud of poison gas the bull breathes at him.

Xerxes laughs uproariously at the spectacle, slapping his powerful thigh. As the Catoblepas wheels for another pass, Jack digs in the Pouch of Ghrul for aid. Without weapons, he will be hard-pressed to defeat the Catoblepas. He draws two items which he believes will spell victory – a Potion of Antidote to grant him temporary immunity to the bull’s poison breath, and a PowaShroom to increase his stature and strength. He uses the Potion to wash down the magic mushroom, and the magic takes instant effect. He transforms into a giant, supermuscled version of himself, gleaming from every pore with the purifying magic of the Antidote.

When the Catoblepas returns, Jack bounds forward on the Seven League Boots and catches the bull by the horns. He swings himself around and lands on the bull’s back, driving it to the ground under his added weight. With his huge, powerful arms wrapped around the bull’s neck, he slowly chokes the life out of his opponent, ignoring the puffs of poison smoke swirling around his head. In moments, the Catoblepas of Forbidden Swamp is dead. When Jack regains his feet, Xerxes frowns.

“This was meant to be a fair fight,” he grumbles.

“The Catoblepas has magic; so have I. Fair fight,” Jack retorts. The wrestler nods slowly.

“Very well. Claim your prize and be on your way. The Red Ghurka will not molest you.”

In the treasure chest Jack finds a fine pair of gauntlets, engraved with the symbols of the Three Faces of the Great Tower – Gevura, God of Strength; Din, God of Justice; and Pachad, God of Fear.

“The Gauntlets of Gorodin,” Xerxes says. “They will increase the power of your blows. May they lead you to ever-greater deeds of heroism.”

“My thanks,” Jack says. He departs, leaving the wrestler to muse over the corpse of his pet. Outside, the Giant restores his weapons and silently points to the west. Perilous Jack nods his understanding and departs the Arena of Champions.

Remove a Potion of Antidote and a PowaShroom from the Pouch of Ghrul. Put the Gauntlets of Gorodin in the ‘Gauntlet’ slot on Jack’s list of Equipment.

Turn to 22.