The Plateau of the Endless – Page 26

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Plateau (26)

Dr. Darr examines Jack closely, and a dismissive looks begins to blossom on his face – a look Jack is familiar with.

Countless princes and wizards have given him that look; the look of a man who deems himself superior to the common sword-swinger. Nevertheless, something catches Dr. Darr’s eye and he looks sharply back at Jack.

“What is that you wear on your bicep?” he asks.

Jack, confused, glances first at the wrong bicep. There, tied around his left bicep, is the ribbon given to him by Alton Falconfury, the knight he met in the TowaShroom Forest on his way to the Labyrinth of Malkat.

“A gift from a friend,” Jack replies. “Our fathers were enemies, but we have agreed to set aside their differences and seek peace in our homelands.”

“And why are you here on the Plateau of the Endless and not in your homelands bringing peace?”

“Surely you have seen how swiftly falls the night?”

Darr nods.

“I know why,” Jack concludes with a shrug. “I may know how to undo the damage. First, I must find my way to the castle of a Cloud Giant to rescue my friend. Only I don’t know where to find the way up.”

Dr. Darr considers his words for a moment and then nods silently.

“Come with me, then. I have something that may help you.”

The Doctor leads Perilous Jack deeper into his laboratory. High above the floor he reveals a stout metal door set in the wall. He mutters and performs mystical passes over the door, then operates a complicated combination lock. Jack marvels at this performance – is the man a wizard as well as a scientist? A warrior, too? His muscular build and the menacing weapon integrated in his arm would suggest so.

The door slides silently open and the Doctor withdraws a large scroll of parchment. He beckons Jack to join him at a nearby instrument panel and unrolls the scroll over the keys, gauges, and flashing lights.

“A map of the Plateau,” Darr says. “To my knowledge, the most complete of its kind. The map itself is a treasure, not only for its rarity but also for its age. It is said that Sarkis himself drew the first sketches and that successive generations have filled in the details.”

Jack is astonished. Sarkis himself? Sarkis came with the Emeralds from their home in the stars, saw the rise and fall of their Dynasty, fought in the wars of the First Men, and then disappeared into legend. This map is priceless.

“You would entrust me with this?” Jack asks.

Darr shrugs. “I have a PDF.”

The warrior blinks. “What?”

“Never mind.” Darr waves the question away. “The Cloak Wizard said you are here to spend gold. I imagine you are interested in the standard adventurer’s fare, which I have in abundance. Numerous chemical laboratories in this facility allow me to manufacture excellent quality potions in great quantity. I also have other, more unusual items for purchase if you’d care to look.”

 

Add the Map of Sarkis to the Pouch of Ghrul.

 

To accept Dr. Darr’s offer and browse his wares, turn to 60.

To decline the offer of shopping and be off, turn to 65.