Chapter 18:


The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Gwyn opened his eyes. He was lying on his back and staring at a plain white ceiling. He turned to his left to see an array of familiar-looking equipment. To his right was a set of chairs with an Aqueenian patiently sitting in one. Deja-vu is what Gwyn thought to himself as he sat up.

This time, the one waiting for him to wake was Colton. The soldier was too engrossed in whatever he was reading, he had a goofy grin, and his face was flushed dark orange in what Gwyn assumed was similar to a blush.

Gwyn ignored the soldier and looked around the room. It was identical to the room he had woken up in the first time. He was not even sure if the room was the same one or merely looked the same.

On the far end of the room, a birdcage was hanging from the ceiling. Behind bars sat Mem in its draconic form. Mem turned to Gwyn and waved a wing like one would wave a hand.

"Goyura, glad to see you've woken up!" the Needaimus loudly proclaimed. Colton jumped and fumbled as he tried to shut down his tablet and slid it in his pocket. Colton stood up and made an awkward cough into his hand when he managed to get the device away.

"Hello, Nonpareil... I'm glad you have finally come to,"

Gwyn didn't say anything and only stared blankly, so Colton kept talking.

"You must have lots of questions, I'm sure. After you successfully rendered the beast unconscious, the king was forced to declare your victory by the conviction of the crowd."

Gwyn just shook his head. He moved his left arm to pull off the blanket that covered him. His brow furrowed as the movement was strenuous. Mem turned and covered its head with both its wings.

"That's odd," Gwyn mused for a moment.

"About that..." Colton started to say something, then paused. The silence was long and awkward as the soldier mulled over which words to use. "Since you bonded with a Needaimus without any preparation... your left arm from your shoulder to your hand has been... damaged." Colton's words caught Gwyn's full attention as the soldier finished explaining. "We were able to repair it... but you will not be able to move it the same way you did before...." Colton winced as he waited for Gwyn's reaction.

Gwyn faced his left palm and slowly tried to close his fingers. They moved slowly, and his whole hand shook as he attempted the movement. When he was about halfway into making a fist, he gave up and laid the hand on his bed. Gwyn stared at the ceiling.

"Well, that sucks..." he said with almost a chuckle.

"You're taking this well!" Colton tried to offer some encouragement.

"He's too shocked to react properly. Don't push your luck!" Mem not so silently whispered across the room. Gwyn fell back on the bed and laid so he could see the ceiling.

"Well, we prepared your right arm to be compatible... oh and we were able to destroy some abnormal cell divisions while we were at it.... Oh, and your plan to weaken the arena floor so that it would collapse was brilliant, though the repairs are going to be.... I'll just give you some space...." Colton gave up on trying to encourage Gwyn and quickly fled the room. The door sliding shut was the last sound made for a moment.

After a while, Mem, who was still turned away and hiding its head, broke the silence.

"Hey..." Mem said while cautiously peeking out just slightly from under a wing.

"I'm... not going to blame you." Gwyn moved his right arm over his eyes to block out the light. He was not sure how to react. Since he was the one who asked Mem for help, he was trying not to blame anyone else. It wasn't easy, as he thought about what he would have done if Mem warned him of this consequence in the back of his mind.

"Really! That's the most superlative outcome!" Mem jumped to its feet and turned to Gwyn from within the birdcage. "I felt like the walls were closing in on me there."

"Mem, I think I'm going to go to sleep for a while."

"Sleep! You've been asleep for a whole day already!" Mem flailed so much for dramatic emphasis that the cage shook.

Gwyn sighed and sat up again. He looked at the Needaimus.

"Okay, what do you suggest I do?" he asked with no genuine interest to hear the answer.

"Why don't you tell me about your world! We can leave this tiny space and go talk about it!"

Gwyn shook his head and turned to the blank wall of his room.

"There's not much to talk about," he said solemnly.

"Ah, come on. What was a typical day like?"

"I get up, go to lectures, study, and sleep...."

Mem sighed and shook its head.

"Well, there is a vast world for you to explore now! Why don't we get going!"

"Come to think of it, why did they spare you, Mem?" Gwyn asked suddenly.

"Huh," Mem feigned ignorance and turned away.

"You said you were being chased, did you not? And if I remember correctly, you were about to flee before we were eaten."

"Oh, that... my charming personality and rugged good looks were able to get...." Mem stopped when it saw Gwyn's look of dissatisfaction. "Alright... I couldn't get away, so I may have told them that we were a team, and you could vouch for me once you woke up....."

Gwyn stood up and stretched his arms; at least his good arm was able to stretch. He began to pace around the room while looking at everything around him.

"Do you know what happened to Fiona in the end?" he asked as he sat down on the bed after finding nothing of interest.

"That Aqueenian princess? I can't say I do; she never came by after the fight. She probably has her own things to worry about... I get the feeling she's like a tobi in a cage...."

"I see," said Gwyn, who guessed a tobi was like a bird.

"Hey partner, if you haven't noticed, I've been subtly suggesting that you let me out of here..." Mem spat out while shaking the cage.

"Have you?" Gwyn sincerely asked. He had not noticed. Mem sighed.

"Whatever, just let me out, and let's get out of here!"

"Where are we going to go?" Gwyn asked as he stood up and began to walk across the room.

"Anywhere but here, I don't trust that king. He might change his mind about me... er... about us and try another execution!" Mem explained as Gwyn opened the cage. Mem immediately hopped out of the cage and onto Gwyn's right shoulder. It wrapped its tail around Gwyn's arm as not to fall off. "Alright, let's do this!" the Needaimus happily shouted.