The Plateau of the Endless – Page 89


Plateau (89)

Once inside the fortress Jack is briefly at a loss – there are rooms and halls in every direction, and flames licking from every door. 

But the answer lies before him in the form of a GreenShaft – from which echoes a faint scream! Jack dives in and climbs the ladder down into a haze of white smoke.

The GreenShaft angles and angles again, then opens out into a small chamber. The air is close and hot, the darkness relieved only by the glow of flames from a pit in the floor. A pair of platforms levitates in the air above the flaming pit, hinting at a space above the ceiling of bricks overhead. The screams continue, now more clearly – he must be close!

Just as Jack is about to leap to the first platform, a giant figure suddenly emerges from the flaming pit like a whale breaching in the sea. It climbs up and out of the fire to block his path. It is a Fire Elemental, a humanoid monster made of pure flame.

This foe is powerful and the space confined, but Jack has met their kind before. The Rune Sword will bite flesh of fire as surely as the ordinary kind. The Elemental claws at him with talons of burning brass and Jack ducks and rolls just in time, stopping short just out of reach of a Red Ooze that has descended in hungry interest down the GreenShaft. Now he is penned in, the flames of one foe before him, the acid of the second behind.

Suddenly a stratagem occurs to Jack. He dodges a swing of the Fire Elemental’s arm, positions himself within range again – and waits. The Elemental claws for his head a second time, and Jack ducks and rolls – into the mouth of the GreenShaft. The Elemental misses the blow but wounds the Red Ooze instead, bursting the slime creature’s body. Acid sprays in the Elemental’s eyes, blinding it. The Fire Elemental howls in rage and pain and flails wildly. Safe within the sturdy GreenShaft, Jack is able to dart forward and back, landing one successful blow after another with the Rune Sword. In moments, the Elemental topples backward into the pit to be consumed again by the element that spawned it.

There is no time to lose. Jack dashes from the GreenShaft and leaps to the highest platform, narrowly dodging another Red Ooze. From here, he can see a low tunnel leading away, over the ceiling of the chamber he has just left. Jack dashes down the tunnel chasing the fading echoes of a scream.

The tunnel ends in another, larger chamber. Three GreenShafts and three CacheStones are the only furniture. The scream sounds again, emerging from one of the GreenShafts, but which one? It is impossible to tell the echoes apart from the reality.


To take the left-hand GreenShaft, turn to 75.

To take the middle GreenShaft, turn to 6.

To take the right-hand GreenShaft, turn to 30.