The Plateau of the Endless – Page 23


Plateau (23a)


When the die lands, Fearghal Notchblade gives Jack a sympathetic look. 

“Sorry about yer luck, lad. The Worms of the Earth are harmless enough and useful, but nasty slimy things to kill. Don’t worry; we’ll give yer weapons back fer this one. Ye’ll need ‘em.”

Plateau (23b)

There is no use protesting his fate; the Dwarves are already hustling him along and pressing his weapons into his hands. They stop on a broad platform higher in the Dwarf hall. Here a team of Dwarves working with ropes and long prods maneuver a huge, recalcitrant worm into place.

The monster is large as a peasant hut and dripping with reeking slime. The last time he had to face such beasts was in the lair of an Ogre. In that combat, he had the advantage of a Potion of Bane, which allowed him to poison his foes without engaging too closely. He has no such advantage now.

The Worm advances, cavernous mouth gaping.

“She’ll swallow ye whole!” a Dwarf bellows at him, and suddenly Jack has an inspiration. There is no way to avoid becoming fouled with slime in this encounter, and it may as well end quickly . . .

Without a second thought, Jack hurls himself directly into the open maw of the Worm.

The Dwarves fall silent as the Worm’s mouth slams shut and the human hero disappears. A few exchange uncomprehending glances and shrugs. The Dwarves begin to turn away, puzzled by their guest’s apparent death wish.

Suddenly Jack’s blade erupts from the side of the Worm’s belly. The monster struggles and flails as Jack cuts his way out and stands, fouled and reeking but triumphant, amid the ruins of his foe.

Slowly, and then with increasing vigor, the Dwarves begin to applaud.

Fearghal Notchblade thrusts his bearded face in Jack’s and pumps his slime-drenched hand with his own. “I’ve never seen the like, lad!” he bellows. “Let’s get ye cleaned up and take ye to the King!”

Beaming with pride as if it was his own son who had done the deed, Notchblade leads Jack away to a private chamber where he is provided with fresh clothes and a hot bath. When Jack is fit to be seen (and smelled) again, Notchblade presents him before the Dwarves of Oakstump Hall.

“I’ve got something for ye, lad.” The Dwarf produces a bronze disk hanging from a red ribbon. On one side is stamped the image of a coiled worm; on the other, the crest of Clan Oakstump. Fearghal puts the Bronze Medal over Jack’s head and pats it into place on his chest. “Ye’ve earned it.”


Add the Bronze Medal to the Pouch of Ghrul.


Add the following to Jack’s Journal: I have been gifted a Bronze Medal by the Dwarves of Clan Oakstump. They seem to prize it highly; I wonder what virtue it possesses?


Turn to 53.