The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)
Gwyn found himself following Colton on a long winding path through the coliseum. Fiona stayed back in the room, and Colton silently walked in front of him the whole time. He was taken through a practical maze of hallways and corridors. They turned in every direction and went up and down several inclines. There was no chance that Gwyn could have remembered how to get back, and though he was not aware, that was the point of the roundabout path.
They walked into a large open room. It was dark and difficult to see in and gave the impression of a vast expanse. Unbeknownst to Gwyn, they were right under the arena itself. The room was high and large enough to fit a five-story house inside, though the dim lighting made it unclear, and Gwyn simply followed Colton in the low lighting. Eventually, Colton stopped and pointed to a large metal plate on the floor.
"I apologize for this, but I'm going to need you to stand on that."
Gwyn looked at the plate and back at Colton.
"The arena is above us; the floor we have combatants fight on is a thin, robust metal that we can open and close. We have a series of rooms underneath that house various fighters and beasts before the fights," Colton continued talking even though Gwyn had not asked for an explanation.
Gwyn silently did as he was told. The plate shook, then began to rise off the floor. Colton saluted him by placing his right hand on his left shoulder. Gwyn ascended into the ceiling, which was slowly opening and letting light pour in from the outside. It took quite a minute to ascend to the arena, which only made the unwilling gladiator feel uneasy as he slowly got closer to the light.
Gwyn gulped as he finally entered the arena. Cheers of a large crowd greeted him. It took a while to adjust to the light, but he laid eyes on the scene before him once they did.
The arena itself was a massive, flat field. The ground appeared to have some loose sand laid out, and the whole space could have easily fit a battleship. From outside the arena, a stadium of seats rose to the coliseum's highest point. The seats were packed with Aqueenians; it looked like a sea of green and blue, who were yelling out all sorts of things he could not make out.
"Well, we are here!" Mem said from under Gwyn's makeshift cloak.
"Indeed, say how good of a chance do you think we had to escape with Fiona's help."
".002% chance of succeeding, you made the right call."
"I see." Gwyn looked around at the empty arena. Next to where he had come up, there was an assortment of weapons on a rack—a sword, spear, shield, flintlock rifle, etc. He walked over and looked at the weapons closely. As he was looking, an announcer's voice began to ring out loud enough for all the stadium to hear:"
"Welcome one and all! I present you with a most special fight brought on by his majesty this day! Today we will see the power of someone from another world!" The announcer stopped for a moment to let the crowd cheer. "Will the legend turn out to be true, or will we see him die this day! No one can know for sure!" The announcer stopped to let the crowd cheer again.
"Is there a legend?" Gwyn asked the Needaimus hidden under his cloak.
"After the first Netzians arrived, a legend arrived that one more would come who would shake the world. Most researchers think it just arose from fear at the sudden arrival of people from another world."
Gwyn wanted to ask more, but he had no time to as the announcer began to speak again.
"And on the other side, we have our traveler's opponent!"
The stadium floor began to open up. Two large doors in the ground slid open, but nothing rose as the doors slowly and quietly moved. A metallic sound echoed in the arena as the doors finally stopped. The hole was dark like it was the opening to an endless abyss.
The crowd became hushed as a guttural roar rang out from below the stadium. A giant clawed foot reached out from underneath. It was scaly and about the size of an elephant. Another equally large foot rose from beneath the hole. The claws from the feet dug into the ground and made a scratching sound on the metal surface. The legs made a motion as if the beast was trying to pull itself up.
The scaly legs stretched out as they got closer to the top. Soon, a serpent and tiger-like head emerged. The head was wide and had a series of spikes that looked practical for nothing except tearing things apart. Two twisted horns came out of the top of its head and ran down its back. It had bright red reptilian eyes that looked around the arena separately before focusing on Gwyn.
The crowd and announcer had fallen silent as the beast continued to emerge from the dark hole.
It pulled its hind legs up and took a step forward. The beast let out a large breath; it became a gust of wind that nearly toppled Gwyn over. He barely remained standing as the beast looked down at him. In total, the beast was as tall as a four-story building. Its front looked more reptilian, but the back half seemed more mammalian by comparison. Though it was large, a lack of tail made the overall length seem shorter than it should be.
"What is that?" Gwyn finally asked after surveying the quiet and shocked crowd's expressions.
"Its name is a little hard to pronounce, but a direct translation is Unkillable...." Mem said.
"Is that just a choice picked as a joke or something more descriptive?"
"It is a bit histrionic, but it stems from legends about the beast."
The beast took a position like it was going to lunge at Gwyn; he began to run and barely avoided the giant foot smashing down on top of him. Gwyn fell to the ground and tumbled as the beast slowly turned its head to him.
With some quick movement, Gwyn managed to push himself up and broke out into a sprint before the beast made another move. It watched as he put distance between them.
"Use words I can understand, please!" Gwyn yelled at Mem, "Or better yet, just get to helping me with your power!" The beast made a rumbling sound that resembled a purr, like a cat before toying with its prey.
"Alright, alright. Are you right or left-handed?" Mem asked as Gwyn continued his sprint.
"Why does that-"
The beast let out a roar and began to walk after the sprinting Gwyn lazily. Its large size allowed it to close the gap between them quickly.
"Alright! Uncover the skin on your left arm and hold it out," Mem instructed.
A shadow began to grow over Gwyn. He didn't have to look up to know what was happening. With as much might as he could muster, he leaped forward and somersaulted on the ground as a massive foot smashed behind him. The blow was barely avoided, but Gwyn managed to break from his roll and move back into a sprint to the other side of the arena.
He stopped and spun around so that he could see the beast. His back pressed against the wall that divided him and the raised seating of the crowd. The unkillable was looking at its foot as if it expected to see a smear on it.
Without hesitation, Gwyn pulled off his makeshift cloak and threw it to the ground. The crowd gasped in surprise as Mem quickly found its way to Gwyn's left shoulder. Gwyn held his arm straight to the side and tore the sleeve off to expose the whole bare arm.
Mem wasted no time and began the process. In a matter of seconds, its body seemed to break apart. A series of several large spikes dug into Gwyn's arm. The nerves were the first thing tapped into, so he would not feel pain for the remainder of the process. With the pain shut off, Mem's body unfolded more and began to graft itself to the arm from the shoulder to the hand. The inside was turned to mush and replaced with the mechanical body of the Needaimus to complete the process.
The whole thing happened so fast that Gwyn was unable to perceive any of it. The next thing he realized, his arm wore in what looked like a metallic blue gauntlet. The body and wings had formed around his arm, and the head seemed flat on his hand. The only odd remainder was Mem's tail which hung off Gwyn's shoulder and moved freely like an extra appendage.
"Huh, cool." Gwyn mused as the beast realized he was standing across the arena. He opened and closed his mechanically encased fingers to see if there was any resistance. The movement was smooth.