|“No,” says Perilous Jack.|
“I have never slain a Giant, but I have slain Ogre Magi and I have slain a Dragon, and I am confident in my ability.”
King Thorson laughs heartily. “Precious good all that’ll do ye, lad! The Giants are older even than the Dragons, and certainly a spot more powerful than any Ogre! Ye’ll not last an instant against a powerful Cloud Giant – and I’ve a feeling I know just which one yer lookin’ for – the same one that drove us from our castle in the sky all them centuries ago. Well, if ye say he’s camped above the lair of a Pyrohydra, that makes matters easier. There’s only three Pyrohydras about – the one on Crumbling Peak, as took over the Chimaera’s lair when Xerxes the Wrestler and his Gigas kidnapped the Chimaera – and there’s the one over by the Lake of the Razor Eels, and of course the one that drove us from Blackrock Castle. Aye, that certainly narrows it down a bit.”
The fire in the King’s eyes grows as he speaks, and at last he whips his axe into the air and waves it over his head ferociously. “It’s settled, then! Clan Oakstump is off to war! We’ll rescue yer Princess, lad, and settle our own scores to boot! I’ll just be needin’ yer Frost Potion to deal with the Pyrohydra, is all.”
Jack begins to protest, when suddenly an enormous pair of golden arms wraps his body and a sorrowful moan rattles in his ear.
“Come on, lad, don’t be like that. Ye wouldn’t stand a chance against the Pyrohydra, least of all the Giant. We’ll be back in two winks of a bat’s eye, with yer Princess in tow. Ye just rest here a spell, and ye’ll see how easy Clan Oakstump makes it fer ye.”
Jack is powerless to resist the terrible strength of the Golden Man. While his arms are pinned, King Thorson takes his Pouch and rifles through it, pulling forth the Frost Potion. With a grave and entirely earnest salute, the King departs with the Potion and all his warriors, leaving Jack alone in the company of the Golden Man.
Days pass. The Golden Man is fully solicitous of Jack’s needs, bringing him food and water at regular intervals, and soft bedding for when weariness takes him. But he is never alone; even when the Golden Man is away tending to his needs, Tephany and Roger are near, and Jack has no doubt that their mighty claws could rend his armor as neatly as the bedrock of the earth.
There is one consolation in all this; Jack is certain that Thorson and his warriors will liberate Princess Vasilisa and the Lorikeet Guard, and likely, they will kill the Giant as well – but for Perilous Jack, this is . . .