Chapter 67:

Bandit Leader 1

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Flora, Savvy, and Icarus all stood in front of two large doors. They were the largest set in the whole building and were tall enough for Flora to enter without ducking. Each door was the shape of a quarter circle and combined made a semicircle with a split down the middle

On the split between the doors, Flora had placed her hand. She readied to push the door open, but Icarus had stopped her.

"I'm telling you; we should wait to give our report at least until we have captured the other three. As it stands now, we would only look bad," he pleaded.

Flora sighed.

"It is fine; he will not get angry," she explained. Before Icarus could reply, Flora pushed the two doors open. They swung wide, letting out a loud creak before they finally came to a stop.

The room was a long but narrow space. It had been mostly cleared out, but marks on the floor showed where tables, chairs, and other objects had once sat. At the room's end sat a large and ornate metal throne, which had been formed out of the mine's rarest metals. It was a sterling silver color with blood-red cushions formed into the seat, back, and armrests.

The shape was jagged, and the back looked like several blades were sticking off it. A close inspection would reveal that the shape was intended, and every jagged edge on one side of the throne was symmetrical with an edge on the other.

On the throne sat a lone Netzian man. He had a face that looked like it may have been chiseled out of stone. Long black hair ran down from his head, and a short beard hid his chin. Two black circles sat on his forehead. They were bony in texture, and he filed them every day to keep them flush to his skin.

His eyes were a crimson red, and they were filled with a look of aged tiredness and scorn. Slight wrinkles around his eyes were hidden behind the hair that covered much of his face's sides. He wore black clothes that only slightly draped over one shoulder and left much of his chest exposed. It may have looked like a roman toga to someone familiar with earth.

A crimson Needaimus lined the Netzian's arm, and much like the other two, appeared to have roots growing across the skin. Unlike his companions, this man's growth covered more skin, and his exposed chest was only visible in a small line between the toga and the Needaimus.

He wore a frown before the door was opened but made a friendly smile when the trio of his companions came into sight.

"What brings you three here today?" he asked in a gentle tone.

Flora was the first to walk forward. Her tall stride allowed her to cross the room quickly, and she knelt next to the throne. The calico warrior leaned in and nuzzled the side of the Netzians face with her own before speaking.

"Grimes, my love, we have come to follow up on those visitors you told us about," she explained as the other two got close and kneeled as well.

"Oh, the visitors, you say?" the Netzian named Grimes replied with slight curiosity.

Before Flora could reply, Icarus broke down in tears.

"I'm sorry, boss, we let three of them escape into the mines!" he shouted as he fell from one knee down to two, bringing his long, scaled face close to the floor. He banged two fists on the ground as his head hung close to the ground.

Savvy reached over and rested the hand without her glove on Icarus' back.

"Stay calm," she said in a tone a sister might.

"How can I! I let three escape, and we didn't get any information out of the three we caught!" he shouted through tears.

"Stay calm, and look at our leader when you address him. Those others will surely perish," Savvy said in a calm voice.

Icarus was slowly and gently raised off the ground by something naked to the eye. He found himself being moved back to an upright position. All the while, he did his best to stop his tears.

Grimes made a friendly smile.

"Oh, Icarus, I'm sorry if I ever made you feel worthless," Grimes said in a sincere tone. "It means more to hear your drive for success."

Icarus nodded and wiped the remaining tears from his eyes.

"That's my love," Flora said with a smile as she wrapped her arms around one of the leaders and pulled herself in closely.

"Now, tell me, what of the others you captured?" Grimes asked.

"Of course, they were not receptive to interrogation. We may need to use more extreme measures," Flora said without loosening her grip around the leader's arm.

"It should also be mentioned that all six were Needaimus users," Savvy added.

"All six!" Grimes couldn't hide his surprise but contained it with a calm demeanor.

"Dast, we have managed to capture three and identified two. The remaining mortal was a Netzian and only goes by the number assigned. I should mention that the group consisted of two Netzians, an Aqueenian, a Hobusian, a Zenotote, and a Bentulousian. Furthermore, I believe the vehakul they arrived in to be of Aqueenian in origin, though it must be a new model as I have not seen it before," Savvy rapidly explained.

Grimes rubbed his beard with his free hand and sighed. He extended his ability out as he sought to find the missing trio.

"The other three have already made contact with a group of miners; I suspect they will visit us shortly. As for the other three, I think it may be best to meet them myself," Grimes said in a friendly tone.

"Sir, with all due respect, should we not engage the other three if you have found them?" Savvy asked.

Grimes laughed.

"They can't do anything but struggle. Send a small search party as a front, but let them be for now. I suspect things will get entertaining shortly."

He shook the arm Flora was wrapped around gently. She frowned but let go and stood up. The Netzian leader stood up from the throne and began to walk forward. Savvy and Icarus quickly bowed as he walked between them. Then, they stood up, and all three followed the leader outside the throne room.