The Plateau of the Endless – Page 11


Plateau (11)

If there is one thing Dwarves admire, Jack muses, it is shows of strength and courage. 

He briefly debates announcing that he wields the magic strength-enhancing artifacts of the legendary giantslayer Gorodin, but thinks better of it. Let the Dwarves believe it was his own strength that did the deed.

Old Stonefist utters a dry, rasping hoot that sounds like a mocking insult and reaches for Jack with powerful arms. Jack adopts his best wrestling stance and engages the Elemental. In moments Jack learns that Old Stonefist is strong! Even with his magically augmented strength, Jack is hard-pressed to keep the Elemental at bay. Locked in a wrestler’s dire embrace, they groan and grapple, twist and tug and wrench in an effort to topple the other.

Old Stonefist is strong . . . but the artifacts of Gorodin are stronger! Slowly but surely Jack is beginning to win. At last, with a final mighty heave Jack tears the Elemental free of his bond with the earth and lifts the huge creature overhead. The Elemental’s bond to his native element is broken, and his power swiftly fades.

As Jack turns to present his defeated foe to the spectator Dwarves, he sees as many brows furrowed with concern as cheering mouths. It strikes him that the Dwarves, gregarious creatures who place high value in friendship, would not bless their pet Elemental with a nickname like ‘Old Stonefist’ if they did not care for him. He has made his point; there is no need further to torment the Elemental. He sets Old Stonefist back on the earth.

Although some of the Dwarves are evidently thrilled with his performance, others look at him sidelong, perhaps sensing it was not his strength that won the bout.

Fearghal Notchblade grasps his hand and shakes it vigorously. “Well, yer certainly strong enough, lad! That Giant doesn’t stand a chance! C’mon, let’s get ye to the King!”


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