The Plateau of the Endless – Page 24


Plateau (24)

Even as Perilous Jack steps forward, sword in hand, to do battle with the Air Elemental, an outraged shriek tears the air in twain, and a brilliantly plumed dervish of snapping beak and tearing talons collides with the Elemental’s whirlwind body. 

Instantly a cloud of bright feathers obscures the scene of the contest, and as much as Jack would like to dive in and aid the Giant Eagle in his struggle, yet the fierce buffets of the Elemental’s wind-talons and the Giant Eagle’s mighty wings keep him at bay. Yet he does manage to thrust his sword in once or twice, and is rewarded with the airy keen of the Elemental as the enchanted blade bites into its ethereal body.

After several minutes’ terrific struggle, the Giant Eagle is suddenly flung away, body and wings limp, to tumble lifelessly down through the cloud canopy. Yet the Elemental too is mortally wounded, the once-mighty whirlwind of its body now a raggedly swirling vortex of loosely connected cloud. Once, twice, thrice, Jack thrusts his blade into the center of the Elemental, each time encountering no resistance. With the final thrust, the Elemental disperses into ragged shreds of cloud-stuff, and is no more.

With a sorrowful salute toward the distant land below, which must now be the final perch of the brave Eagle, Jack returns to the Beanstalk and begins his climb anew.


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