Chapter 82:


The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Gwyn’s group quickly met with Harlan’s as they exited the mines to the cool streets above. She simply nodded to him as they met up with each other, and their groups combined into one team.

“We will be approaching the side of the building. The other teams will be distracting the main forces while we sneak to the central staircase and head up,” one of the miners explained to Gwyn and Harlan; they nodded to show they understood.

In front of them, the building they would invade was becoming larger and more imposing. Spikes were laid out around the sides, and the large bandit flag was flapping in the wind above.

“That flag’s a little in poor taste, huh?” Gwyn said to Harlan in an attempt to spark a conversation. She simply nodded in reply.

Gwyn frowned as he looked around the village. Some other citizens were coming out to view the group as they headed close to the door.

“We got ourselves wrapped up in something crazy, huh?” Gwyn said to Harlan. She nodded.

“I hope this is the most excitement we see on this journey,” she replied.

“You and me both,” Gwyn answered.

As they got close to the building, a path through the spikes became visible; it was narrow and led to a small side door. Two of the miners came up from the back of the group with a giant battering ram. They slowly walked up to the door and readied for a strike.

They held their readied position for a moment as they waited.

A large explosion went off, shaking the building in the process. At that moment, the miners smashed the battering ram into the door. The door was busted in before the echoes from the explosion finished. The ram was thrown to the side, and the miners readied their pickaxes. They clearly wanted to let out a battle cry before charging in but held it in as stealth was a priority.

Gwyn felt some eyes on himself and Harlan by the eager miners. He figured they were waiting for them to do something to start the battle. Gwyn quickly pointed forward to the door in a pose that resembled the Augustus of Primaporta, though he could not recall the name of where he had seen the pose before and mostly just did it on the fly.

The miners grinned as Gwyn struck the pose and held their pickaxes over their heads while making a silent cheer within their hearts. They began to charge into the building with alarming speed. Gwyn and Harlan quickly rushed after. The small doorway led to a small pathway that served as an emergency exit. The pathway spilled out into a series of hallways that weaved into an open room with a large spiral staircase in the middle.

Far in the distance, from a hallway on the opposite side of the space where Gwyn and Harlan were, sounds of battle echoed.

The miners charged to the base of the staircase and pointed up.

“Their leader is on the top floor,” one explained to Gwyn and Harlan. Gwyn nodded and ascended the stairs with the small army chasing close behind.

The staircase was ornate and expansive, it easily fit the troops as they charged up, and the sounds of their boots echoed in the wide room.

The second floor came into view quickly. The miners had intended to continue charging up the stairs to the third floor. Unfortunately, the plans were quickly changed.

A group of bandits had gathered at the point where the stairs opened to allow access to the second floor. The Zenotote Icarus stood wide-eyed at the top as Gwyn, Harlan, and the miners came to a stop.

Both sides were equally surprised to see the others there, and they stood in silence until the golden Zenotote spoke up.

“What is Flora doing?” he exclaimed. He shook his head and sighed; then, he pointed a single clawed finger at the group of miners. Everyone tensed up but soon realized that the opponent counted the group amount. Icarus slowly tallied up the miner troops while everyone on the stairs stood ready for what would happen. Once he reached ten, Icarus threw his hands up and groaned. “There’s too many, just get them!” he shouted to his allies.

The miners responded first with a loud cry as they charged around Gwyn and engaged with the bandits on the second floor. Swords and pickaxes crossed as the miners struggled to keep the bandits at bay.

“We’ll hold them here; you go on ahead!” one miner yelled to Gwyn and Harlan. Gwyn shook his head while he fiddled with the beads around his wrist. He took a deep breath and broke out in a sprint up the rest of the stairs. Harlan followed closely after.

“Shouldn’t we support them?” she yelled to Gwyn.

“I don’t know,” Gwyn admitted as he continued to run up the stairs.

“Not so fast!” Icarus shouted from the second floor. Large wings appeared on his back, and he took flight up the staircase.

Gwyn and Harlan looked back as their opponent approached with alarming speed. Within seconds, the golden Zenotote landed on the stairs in front of the duo. The sounds of the battle were echoing up behind them as Icarus took a step forward to the pair.

You can’t let him stop you so easily, partner, Mem chimed in from Gwyn’s arm.

“Easy for you to say,” Gwyn replied.

“I cannot let you pass,” Icarus said, “Our leader likes to sleep at this hour, and you would only disturb him,” he added.

Gwyn melted off a chunk of the railing and threw it at Icarus. The Zenotote only stepped to the side to avoid the odd attack.

Gwyn gritted his teeth together as he and Icarus stared at each other in the eyes. Harlan began to look around the room.

Icarus took another step forward and came into range of Gwyn’s arm. Gwyn quickly threw a punch at the golden Zenotote.

Icarus quickly grabbed Gwyn by the arm and displaced the unexpected human’s momentum so that he was flipped over his shoulder. Before Icarus could let go of Gwyn’s arm, Harlan charged forward and spun a roundhouse kick at the golden Zenototes head.

Icarus quickly let go of Gwyn and blocked the kick with his forearm. Her orange Needaimus covered leg was pushing against his arm in a struggle to overpower the opponent.

“You’re going to need to try harder to defeat me,” he calmly said.

Harlan made a smug smile.

“Gwyn, go on ahead; this fool has already lost.”

Gwyn, who had only just sat up after being flipped, was going to protest. A shot of energy fired from Harlan’s Needaimus. Both Gwyn and Icarus couldn’t help but turn to see where it landed.

A bug on the far side of the wall was sitting and minding its own business when the energy hit it from Harlan’s shot. It was called a pleaf and was nothing spectacular compared to any other Resh species. An equivalent to the creature would be a simple house fly, and it was often treated as just as much a pest as one.

As the bug began to transform and grow larger, Gwyn began to sprint up the stairs once again. He figured he could put his trust in Harlan.

As he reached the top of the stairs, he was greeted by large quarter-circle doors. They opened to reveal a long room with a metal throne at the end. The leader was asleep with one cheek rested on a fist.

Gwyn took a deep breath and stepped in, and the leaders’ eyes suddenly opened up. They locked eyes with one another.