Chapter 42:

Volcano VII

Sword Quest

Cedric finally heard the approaching footsteps just as the bandit shouted and dove to his right.

Because of his timely dive, he managed to avoid the brunt of the beast’s swinging arm, but it still managed to strike his head hard enough to send him rolling into the wall.

Once Cedric regained himself and sat up, the long, towering beast had already grabbed the pitchfork, and was baring down on the bandit with a fierce look in its eye.

“You… dirty… thieving… humans!” it shouted in a raspy voice that sent a shiver down Cedric’s spine.

“Oh, uh, hello there, friend,” the bandit chuckled with narrow eyes, palming his head awkwardly. “We were just visiting! Seems you found us before we could surprise you, hehe.”

“You humans… you think I’m stupid, you think I’m slow and you can just prance around stealing my gold...” The beast took a step closer to the bandit.

“Ohh no, not at all!” The bandit, having been caught red-handed, tried to inch away from the chest. “We wouldn’t do that! Come on, won’t you hear us out?”

“Then tell me, why did this treasure treader fall through the cracks down to the lower level?” the beast demanded furiously, holding one of the ball-shaped rodents Cedric had just seen. “I’d left them a nest of gold with a bit of poison for tomorrow’s breakfast, and absolutely nothing would make them escape their nest so desperately they’d fall through the cracks… unless their nest was disturbed.”

“I’m not sure what that means exactly, but neither of us have any—”

The bandit’s plea was cut short by the sound of coins dropping onto the stone floor, spilling one after another from Cedric’s opened pocket.

“Ah…” the two of them sounded in unison, faces frozen.

“Oh, come on, Cedric, what a thing to do in the guy’s own house!”

The bandit’s words of betrayal served as a guilty verdict for Cedric, as the beast turned and darted toward him, full of rage.

“Cooperation my ass, you bastard!” Cedric cried as he dove out of the raging cyclops’ way. The beast crashed into the wall, sparks flying from the pitchfork’s clash against stone.

Cedric rolled to a stop, baring a vicious look at the bandit.

“Well done, partner, now we can fight this thing on even ground,” the man declared heartily, his tone completely back to normal.

Cedric stared at the bandit, and then at the cyclops, his jaw hanging.

The cyclops had collapsed to the ground after its crash, a rope bound to each of its arms, pinning them to the sides as it lay dazed on its back.