The Plateau of the Endless – Page 58


Plateau (58)

The stairway ends in a small stone chamber. 

Jack steps out into the huge courtyard of the castle, under twinkling stars and a radiant moon. The FloatStone platforms and CacheStones filling the vertical space of the courtyard hang empty but somehow the more chilling for it; they are pregnant with menace, sneering with the contempt of stone for flesh. Jack passes beneath them warily, certain that malevolent eyes follow his every step.

The platforms run out, forcing Perilous Jack to walk across the stone floor of the castle, a position he finds as exposed and vulnerable as walking beneath the platforms felt stifling and claustrophobic. Ahead lie the huge doors to the Great Hall, which stand open, reminding Jack uncomfortably of a great mouth lying in wait for food to crawl in. He enters the Great Hall and lingers on the threshold, letting his eyes adjust to the deeper darkness within.

A red glow suddenly flares ahead, accompanied by a terrific roar that shakes the stones of the castle. Another such combination follows, and Jack realizes what it is he sees – the fiery breath of the Pyrohydra. He stops, suddenly indecisive. Thus far, he has seen nothing to indicate that this is the correct Pyrohydra, and he has only one Frost Potion with which to slay it. He has nearly made up his mind to return to the Dwarves, when he realizes that he no longer has a decision.

Behind him, gleaming from the shadows of the courtyard, glow the eyes of dozens of Lizardmen. Archers line the parapets far above, and tall swordsmen grin toothily at him from the platforms. A solid wall of stocky giants blocks his escape across the courtyard floor, their huge two-handed swords held ready. The giants begin to advance, pushing him forward into the Great Hall – closer to the Pyrohydra. It seems his calculation was incorrect – the Lizardmen did not abandon the defense of their god merely to squash a minor revolt among the prisoners . . .

There is no choice, and no time to spare. Even powerful magic weapons are of limited use against a Pyrohydra if they are not enchanted with the element of ice. As he nears the platform the Pyrohydra uses for his perch, the eyes of Giant Lizardmen glaring down at him from the platforms above, Jack applies the Frost Potion to his sword. Even as the final drop leaves the vial, he knows in his heart that he has come to the wrong place. If he could slay the Pyrohydra and all his minions – which he is quite certain he cannot – he would still have to obtain another Frost Potion somehow, find the correct Pyrohydra somehow – and by then Princess Vasilisa will most likely be dead.


Perilous Jack need not worry about that. For him, this is . . .




Return to 1 and begin the quest again or continue the adventure in Perilous Jack in the Land of Death.