The Plateau of the Endless – Page 54

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Plateau (54)

Jack emerges from the Warp Portal into darkness and bitterly cold wind. 

It is immediately apparent that he is very high above the ground; the air is thin and difficult to breathe. He stands at the lip of an unusual relic of the Emerald Dynasty – a StarSteel Shaft! These strange GreenShafts represent the pinnacle of the Emerald technology, a time when the Emeralds succeeded in working StarSteel and interweaving it with the magical crystal that was their hallmark. These relics, coupled with the oddly colored TowaShrooms all around, reinforce the reality that Jack is very, very far from home. To his knowledge, these silvery-white TowaShrooms only grow in the frozen north, far beyond the reaches of the Mushroom Kingdom proper, where the Emeralds met the final limit of their expansion.

A glance over the edge of the TowaShroom assures him that that way lies only death. There are five other TowaShrooms in this cluster; three support StarSteel Shafts. The Warp Portals they contain are dead. He turns to re-enter the Warp Portal he just left, only to find it deactivated as well. It does not suit a warrior of his stature to feel panic, but even so . . .

He casts about trying to think of another way – the Magic Beans! Perhaps he can grow a Beanstalk down to the distant earth and escape? As he considers his plight, the air overhead shimmers and a spectral figure slowly appears. Jack braces himself, expecting a dangerous assault from the Ghost. However, the doomed spirit hovers silently, its distorted features working in agony as if to draw forth words that are painful to speak.

The Ghost’s voice finally emerges, hollow and mournful.

“There is no way out of the Eye,” it says. “You are trapped with the rest of us.”

Jack’s instinctive reaction is anger, defiance. “I am Perilous Jack the Dragonslayer. I can escape any cage.”

The Ghost manages a pained smile. “I will show you.”

 

Turn to 98.