The Plateau of the Endless – Page 06


Plateau (6)

Perilous Jack emerges from the GreenShaft into a small chamber deep in the earth. 

There is no furniture in this chamber, and only a single occupant – a strangely insubstantial creature of flame, hovering in the air. The Fire Spirit’s body is a curious amalgam of steam and flickering orange flame, all draped over an exposed humanoid skeleton. Jack has heard tell of those who died unfairly by fire – women accused of witchcraft and condemned to burn at the stake, the innocent victims of arson – returning in the shape of vengeful Fire Spirits to seek and torment their murderers. The monster emits chilling, anguished cries, perhaps echoing its own death throes. For a moment Jack fears it is merely the laments of this monster that have lured him down here, but even as he brings the Rune Sword to bear on the Fire Spirit, he can hear the screams again, echoing from a hole in the floor behind the Fire Spirit. It seems he chose the correct GreenShaft.

The Fire Spirit’s body is largely insubstantial and Jack’s blade finds little purchase. Still, this foe is a small challenge to a warrior of Jack’s stature and the Rune Sword is enchanted for this very purpose. Jack dispatches the Fire Spirit swiftly and dashes to the hole in the earth.

This is no man-made tunnel; the hole is perfectly circular and glows faintly around the edges with residual heat. There is only one creature with which Jack is familiar that tunnels this way – a Lava Worm. At the end of this tunnel, he will likely encounter a huge worm-like monster with a cavernous mouth slicked with magma for saliva. Only a hero or a fool would proceed. The scream sounds again and Jack abandons his qualms. Into the tunnel, then!

The tunnel leads down and around in loops and meanders, with here and there a dead end where the Lava Worm chose to reverse itself. In these dead ends, there are Rubies left behind, a curious byproduct of the Lava Worm’s mineral digestion. At the deepest level, the tunnel dug by the Lava Worm breaches a natural pocket of magma in the earth, leaving bubbling pools for Jack to leap over as nimbly as he is able. A handful of Red Oozes, released from the pockets in the earth where they congregate during their subterranean travels, now slide aimlessly along the hot tunnel walls.

At last, the tunnel begins to climb again and the air becomes cooler and fresher, perhaps an indication that the surface or another man-made chamber is ahead . . .


Add five Rubies to the Pouch of Ghrul and turn to 44.