|Perilous Jack and Dark Simon ride for hours in the Magic Cauldron, through the unnatural darkness brought on by the shattering of the Nightcrystal.|
Conversation is impossible over the whistling of the chill night air; the hours pass in lonely introspection for Jack. At last, as dawn breaks, the Cauldron slows and begins to descend toward the Plateau of the Endless. Peering over the edge, Jack can see the vast and forbidding edge of the Plateau below. The wall of the Plateau is black and jagged, as if a terrible demon of the earth gripped the Plateau in its talons.
The Cauldron sets down in a forest and the companions climb out, stiff and sore from the cramped conditions. Jack is very happy to feel earth beneath his feet again and to stretch his limbs.
The forest is quiet and peaceful, hardly the welcome Jack expected after hearing years of blood-curdling tales told of the Plateau.
At Simon’s gesture, Jack turns and is startled to see a huge metal building nestled among the trees. Snub-nosed guns bristle from the front of the building, framing a pair of forbidding doors. This, Jack reflects, may be the reason for the absence of threat in this region.
“Welcome to the laboratory of Dr. Julian Darr,” says Dark Simon. The wizard stands before the door and composes himself to wait. The guns swivel to point at his chest, but Dark Simon gives no sign of alarm. After a moment, the doors slide open amid a cloud of steam. Jack is surprised and somewhat unsettled by how silently the doors move; the engineering of this strange place has a cold and alien feel to it.
Dark Simon, as unfazed as only a diabolist can be, gestures for Jack to follow him into the facility.