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That morning, for the first time in a long time, with a smile on his face and singing some Jon Lemon, Filgoud prepared to go to the Astrub quarry. He had worked there for many years now, but soon, all that would be behind him...

"You're an early riser and look strangely happy my Fifi! What's her name?" San’drâ began mischievously.

Filgoud put his hands around her waist and embraced her romantically.

"Aren't you silly, my dear! You know you're the only one. In fact, tonight you'll be sure of it..."

Filgoud gave his girlfriend a light smack on the butt and then put on his work uniform. She looked at him, feigning outrage.

"Don't make that face! It's not what you think... I want to talk about it."

Filgoud rubbed his hands together and, just like the Iop he was, looked like a greedy Enutrof.

The young woman put her hands on her hips and looked at him incredulously.

"Ooh, you won't have it from me with your big beautiful angora bow meow eyes! I've told you too much already. You'll have to wait until tonight!" he exclaimed laughing. He then pinched San’drâ's cheek affectionately, kissed her on the forehead and departed under the pouring rain.

Filgoud had never felt so happy to go to work. He and San’drâ were finally going to be able to take that trip to Moon Island. Tonight, he would return with his saddlebag full of gold and precious stones. Just in time for St. Ballotwine's Day! The day before, he had stumbled across a big deposit and quickly concealed his discovery before others could find it.

A ton of loot! There was so much that he wondered how he was going to bring it all back home. Just this once, the stars had aligned for him and San’drâ to celebrate the most beautiful Saint Ballotwine's day ever...

Inside the mine, Filgoud continually looked over his shoulder to make sure no one was following him. He preferred to be discreet... Making the other miners jealous was never good. It was better if no one found out about his treasure. Yet, he had good relationships with many of his fellow miners. Especially Hendy, a middle-aged Twelvian whose company he really enjoyed. He appreciated his wisdom and considered him kind of like a father. Although they were close, they both knew how to respect each other's space. Hendy was a big loner. He barely spoke, but whenever he did, Filgoud could appreciate how relevant and accurate his remarks were. Each word was carefully chosen. The young miner admired this characteristic, which he considered to be a great sign of subtlety and elegance. Virtues that, being an Iop, he would probably never acquire...

His blind trust in Hendy led him to share his secret with him and, thus, the location of the treasure. After all the old timer had taught him, he at least owed him that...

Here and there, Filgoud had left clues that only he could recognize. The mine was deserted. He was almost there, and from where he standing, he could already make out the pile of stones that stood out from the rest of the area. For anyone who didn't know it was there, it was unnoticeable...

Filgoud put down his pack and lifted away the stones as frantically as one might describe a drheller digging the ground. Biting he his tongue, he panted as he hurriedly looked for his precious treasure. One stone, another, then another... More stones. The ground. Cold and damp... His smile vanished. What he was witnessing was too much for his Iop brain to handle. And yet... For a split second, a light came on in his thick skull, a skull as thick as the rock all around him. Everything had been stolen.

One name, and one name alone, came to mind, searing his memory: Hendy. Filgoud shook his head to chase the thought from his mind. That's impossible! Not him! Not Hendy! They shared so many things... He had told him so many of his secrets... How? How could he do that??? To him?! To him, who had put all his trust in him! It was a real stab in the back...

In a rage, Filgoud threw a stone against the rock. It ricocheted and hit him right on his Iop noggin. Further enraged, he kicked the wall violently. Then, something from high above hit him in the head too. Filgoud looked up and made out a strange ball of hair perched on a small ledge jutting out from the wall. The strange creature began to snicker, revealing a gigantic eye in its center before dashing off and disappearing in the darkness of the mine.

At first Filgoud thought the blow had made him lose his mind. Was he dreaming? But he wanted to be certain so he decided to follow his instinct. No, he wasn't crazy: there were strange tracks on the dusty ground resembling those of a piwi, yet larger. Filgoud advanced with his head down, guided by the light of his torch, when suddenly... A pickax. There, at his feet. But not just any pickax. Its Mahaquany handle and engraved initials left no doubt. It was Hendy's. Filgoud's blood ran cold. Hendy's pickax was his pride and joy. His wife, Glôrya, whom he constantly talked about, had it custom made by the best carpenter in Astrub to fit his gigantic coarse hands.

His voice quavering, Filgoud yelled out his friend's name. No answer. What had happened to him?

The Iop felt his heart pounding against his chest. He had a bad feeling about this… His treasure stolen, that strange creature and now Hendy had disappeared. It all smelled as bad as a cyclouse pie in the middle of the Ohwymi Desert...

Filgoud followed its "scent." Now the trail led him up a slightly steeper path. A wave of heat from deep in the ground assailed him. His hands clammy, several times he almost fell, but he clung to the walls and with just a few scrapes managed to reach an area he had never seen before. Several colossal masses stood before him. Filgoud froze in horror. He dared not blink or breath too heavily. No easy task in a space where air was becoming all the more scarce...

At first he thought they were monsters but realized the things weren't moving. Slowly and carefully, he brought his torch closer to them. Different piles of perfectly cubic pieces, arranged in a quasi-artistic fashion, rose here and there throughout the room. Had Filgoud discovered the remains of an ancient civilization? Possibly. Regardless of the answer, it scared the living daylights out of him...

A draft of air. Suddenly his torch went out. Once again, that snicker... Those snickers! There was more than one. And suddenly, a voice calling for help. It sounded familiar... The Iop cried: Hendy!!!