The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)
Gwyn ran around the green space on the third floor while the leader relentlessly attacked him with a swarm of books from the library. Grimes waved a single sword he held behind like a conductor’s baton as the literature storm flew around. The leader had easily beaten his way through the door, and Gwyn was on the defensive as he did not want to damage any books with potential historical significance.
“I think I liked it better when he had the swords!” Gwyn shouted as he ducked from a fist formed out of the book swarm.
Just liquify the books! I’m sure they have been scanned! Mem shouted to Gwyn.
“It’s more fun to read on the physical copies!” Gwyn shouted back as he avoided another book fist. “Ah, why couldn’t he attack me with modern art!”
I don’t know what that is, but I feel like you just needlessly insulted someone. Mem added.
Gwyn shook his head and looked to Grimes, who had an angry expression. At that moment, a cheer echoed from the floor below. However, Grimes could already tell what was going on. Everyone in his force, except Icarus, who was outside, had been defeated.
He gritted his teeth severely as a vein bulged between the black dots on his forehead. Grimes took a deep breath and shook his head. He forcefully twisted his face back into the friendly expression he usually carried.
“It seems I have wasted enough time with you fools. I will end this quickly,” Grimes's face was still friendly, but his tone betrayed his expression. He ceased waving the sword around in play and focused on the attack.
The swarm of books became more intense as it surrounded Gwyn. The only way out was up, and Gwyn leaped into the air as soon as possible. The books clashed together underneath him, and Grimes quickly changed the swarm’s direction upward. Gwyn went flying to the ceiling and crashed through the glass dome at the top.
Grimes suddenly froze as he realized he had made an error in his frustration. He shook his head and took a deep breath to calm down. Then he pulled a pile of books under his feet to float up to the roof.
“Hold tight there, boy, I will dispatch you quickly, " he grunted as he floated outside.
Gwyn landed on the roof under the night sky. He quickly pushed himself to his feet and surveyed the top. The awful-looking bandit flag still flew in the center, and he could see Odell and Icarus across the roof. Gwyn was about to shout something to Odell when Mem interrupted.
Ignore them for now; your opponent is heading up here.
Gwyn turned to the cracked dome to see Grimes float up. He walked from his pile of books to the roof and began to attack the Nonpareil furiously. Gwyn was focused on dodging the blows of the book swarm, but he quickly realized Grimes was leading him to the edge of the building.
“He’s trying to make me fall off,” Gwyn grunted.
A scream caught everyone’s attention, and both Gwyn and Grimes turned to look in the direction of Odell and Icarus. Gwyn took advantage sooner and sprinted across the roof to thrust the hardest punch he could muster into Grime’s face. The leader took a couple of steps back but showed no sign that he was hurt. Grimes rubbed his face and looked at his hand.
“No blood, your punches are weak,” the leader said with a laugh.
A swarm of books began to fly at Gwyn as they formed many giant fists, and he took several steps to avoid it. He kept dodging to avoid each blow with everything he had.
Partner Odell is trying to call. Do you want to pick it up? Mem said.
“Call? I’m kind of busy,” Gwyn said as he shielded his face from the book storm that was battering him on all sides.
I’ll connect you anyway. You may hear a buzz.
Gwyn heard a buzzing echo somewhere in his head. After which, Odell’s voice spoke much like Mem’s did.
Gwyn, are you okay! He’s bashing you with a lot of books! Odell shouted.
“I’ve been better. I wouldn’t mind some backup.” Gwyn responded. Suddenly the book storm slowed down, and Gwyn quickly slipped out of the way. On the Nonpareil’s request, Odell had crossed the building’s roof and smashed into where Grimes had just been standing. The leader took several steps back to avoid the blow and stood just at the edge where the glass dome was broken.
“So, there are two of you now, no matter, I will have to defeat all of you anyway,” Grimes muttered. The book storm flew next to him and gathered into several large fists while the leader took a deep breath of the night air.
“He controls books?” Odell shouted as he backed close to Gwyn.
“He can move things in his territory, or so he says,” Gwyn said.
“How big is his territory?” Odell asked.
“The whole village,” Gwyn replied.
“Oh, so we’re in a lot of trouble, huh?” Odell asked for confirmation.
“We just need to hit him really hard,” Gwyn replied as he looked around the roof and village. Besides the roof itself, he didn’t see much he could use his ability on.
Odell smashed a fist into a palm and nodded.
“I like the simplicity; let’s do it.”
Gwyn continued to look for something he could try to liquify while Grimes lifted the shards of broken glass in the area and mixed the sharp pieces in the book storm.
The Nonpareil’s eyes settled on the bandit flag flying atop the building. His first thought was that he could reshape the flagpole into a sword or bat, but another thought echoed in his mind, and he simply said the word:
Grimes noticed Gwyn staring at the flag and gritted his teeth. It had been for the leader's amusement before, but he realized he told the boy too much back in his throne room.
A fury of book storm fists began to fire at the duo. Odell and Gwyn quickly ducked out of the way to avoid them. As the books bounced off the roof, Gwyn made a break for the flag. Grimes immediately diverted the majority of the book storm at the Nonpareil, only keeping a couple of books and shards of glass orbiting around himself.
Odell watched as the storm of books began to close in on Gwyn. He took a deep breath and flung his instantly light body across the roof to his ally with a heavy push. Gwyn did not expect Odell to come behind him and give a strong push. The book storm crashed into Odell as Gwyn reached the flagpole.
The storm immediately began to retarget Gwyn. The pole was welded to the roof, so he had to liquify it to break it free. The flag fell down and through the hole, Icarus and Harlan had created earlier in the raid. It fell between the spiral staircase and bounced off the first floor—making a soft clang. The other allies on the second and first floors watched it hit as they headed up the stairs to the top floor, but none knew why it fell.
In an instant, the entirety of the book storm aimed at Gwyn fell onto the roof. Odell pushed himself up slowly and picked up one of the novels that had struck him.
“A collection of dissertations. With books that dense, no wonder they hurt so bad,” he said with a laugh as he tried to shake off the pain of being bombarded.
Save the lines for after the leader is taken down! Cal yelled in Odell’s mind loud enough for the prince to jump.
Both Gwyn and Odell looked to Grimes, who had several books and shards of glass orbiting around him. He began to laugh.
“So, you figured it out; I suppose you expect I ought to surrender? Unfortunately, I will not grant your desires!” Grimes shouted his last line making no effort to hide his mood under a friendly expression. He griped the remaining sword in his hand tightly.
The leader suddenly ran across the roof at Gwyn. As he ran, the books and shards that entered his range began to get picked up and fed into a new but much smaller book storm that flew alongside him.
Now what, partner? Mem asked.
“Now we hit him really hard,” Gwyn replied as he charged at the approaching leader.