No. 402 – The Molten Kingdom Part 3

She did not have a chance to land a blow. The doors began to open on their own accord. Clue lowered her hand and stepped back as they swung toward her.

A tall, thin man appeared in the entry way. At least, he seemed to have once been a man. His skin was covered in dark scales that seemed to shine with the faint orange glow of cooling lava, and his proportions were wrong, somehow. In his hand was a vicious sword, which he held pointed at Clue. He began to talk and, although Clue was almost certain that he wasn’t speaking English, she understood him. “Why have you come, surface dweller?” the words boomed throughout the chamber.

Clue bowed slightly and replied. “Your people have something that I need. I am willing to trade for what I want.”

“We need nothing from your world,” the guard told her. “Go.”

“I think that I have something you’ll want,” said Clue. She produced another diamond, twin to the one she’d left with Mr. Mouse. She held it out. “This, and the other.”

The guard leaned closer. “Where is it?” he asked.

“Someplace safe.”

There was no reply for several seconds, then the guard lowered his sword and stepped aside. “This way,” he told Clue as he opened the door completely.

Clue returned the stone to her pocket and walked ahead. “Take me to your leader,” she said to the guard with a smile that she fought to keep to herself.

 

Mr. Mouse had, by now, decided that he had a bad feeling about the entire situation. He cast one more long glance toward the lava pit before making up his mind.

Pressing the diamond forward with his nose, he made for a small patch of black sand. Once there, he scraped out a shallow hole and shoved the gem into it.

After burying the treasure, he scrambled up the steep walls of the crater to the rim. Without the ability to survive in the lava like Clue, he was going to have to find his own way to the center of the volcano.