Chapter 31:

The Human and the Netzians 1

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

"And so, I convinced the Bentulousians and Zenototes to compete in a friendly board game to figure out who would disembark first," Hermina had gone at length about her morning routine and daily activities and finally was reaching the root of why she had sought out Gwyn. Though, he had no idea where she was leading to and figured this was yet another tangent in a long line of tangents she had gone on in her explanation.

"They sent over their smartest members on a small ship we sent out to pick them up. Meanwhile, the dock's boss, Braxen, I believe, was scrambling to find the pieces we needed to play Czaric. Turns out he had a board and most of the set at the office, but they were missing the pivotal Czar piece for the red side. Apparently, they had a wild office party not too long ago."

Gwyn turned to Fiona, who appeared to be nodding off, as Hermina went into detail about what she had been told about the office party.

"Fiona, don't fall asleep," he said with a yawn.

"I know, she'll get to the point eventually...." Fiona answered with a yawn.

"But luckily, one of the team was sober enough during the party, so when Braxen came back with the almost complete set, he was able to remember where the missing piece was. He ran out to get it and came back just in time. The representatives were already ashore and heading to the office to play. The Zenototes surprised me in particular with their representative. She was rather young and would be considered very ugly by their standards, not that it made a difference to me, of course. Oh, and the Bentulousians sent exactly the lady I thought they would."

Hermina continued to stare off into space as she recounted the story of her day. She went into detail about every move each player had made, from what piece they moved to the space it went it and how every person in the room reacted to the play. Gwyn's head began to slump for a moment, but he suddenly shook it side to side to keep from nodding off.

"Then that Harlan made such an unexpected move! It threw everyone off; even Banner was confused. I couldn't believe it myself!"

Gwyn had almost nodded off when she gave the names of the opponents, but he was worried how long the story would be if he stopped her to clarify who was who.

"Would you believe it, though, just as she was going to make the winning move, the Netzians ship just came barging in! They went right through the two and headed to the shore. That wasn't the end of it, though. The other two shot off after the Netzians, and they all began a race to the shoreline. Need I remind you, the location is plenty big enough for all three to fit comfortably!"

Fiona perked up and tapped on Gwyn's shoulder.

"I think she's about to get to the point."

"That was such a mess. I managed to stop the three ships before they could crash into each other by the shore, but the Netzians managed to take the lead and started disembarking first. It's probably going to be the most talked-about moment of this year's conference, for better or worse," Hermina stopped to sigh before continuing, "Anyway, the Netzian leader headed right up to me and asked to see you immediately. So, after I got all the matters settled out at the shore, I headed out to find you!" Hermina finished her story and turned to Gwyn with a happy smile.

"Why do they want to meet me?" Gwyn asked.

"Well-" Hermina began.

"Never mind, let's go meet them!" Gwyn shouted as he jumped to his feet. He sensed if he let Hermina talk, he might be on the balcony a while longer. Fiona simply nodded as she realized Gwyn was picking up on the fact that her family was already acutely aware of.

"Great! I'll take you there now!" Hermina waved for Gwyn to follow and began to float from the balcony back into the castle. Gwyn looked to Fiona, who had also stood up. She began to walk with him as they followed.

"What are the Netzians, exactly?" Gwyn asked.

"You, you're a Netzian," Fiona explained.

"In the museum, it seemed to show a specific day they arrived on Resh, but there was no explanation of how they got here," Gwyn sped up as he realized Hermina was moving faster than the two of them. Fiona followed suit.

"That was a long time ago. Even if the Netaians knew then, they don't know now," Fiona explained. "I would guess that it was in the same way you arrived."

"But I don't know how I arrived...."

"Then you didn't cast a spell to come here?" Hermina asked as she led the way in front of them.

"Spell? Like magic?" Gwyn asked.

"I take it that's a no," Hermina concluded. She began a long muttering to herself about Gwyn's possible origins.

Gwyn pondered what she had said as they rounded a corner. They were standing in front of a door in one of the castle's many hallways in no time flat.

"They asked for you to be alone; Fiona will wait for you in the hallway; I, unfortunately, have some other things I need to get done before tomorrow's main event. You see.... Oh dear, look at the time; I'm sorry, I really must be going!"

Hermina quickly left Gwyn in front of the door and Fiona leaning on the wall across from it. Her hover chair zoomed down the hallway and was soon out of sight.

"Do I knock?" Gwyn muttered to himself. As if on cue, the door slid open, and a Netzian greeted him.

She had the face of a human, but her neck gleamed with green scales. The scales seemed to stretch down her body since they also came out from under the sleeves of her shirt and went down halfway on her forearm. The rest of her arm and hand were clearly human. Her face was dotted with freckles under her eyes.

She eagerly looked at Gwyn from top to bottom with yellow eyes that had slit pupils. Then she smiled a sharp, toothy grin at Gwyn before pulling him into the room.