Chapter 111:

Rheba in Line

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

To acquire tickets to cross the channel, several items were needed. Due to leaving the Aqueenian nation and entering Nun, what was equivalent to a passport would be checked upon arriving in the grand city. Fortunately, five of the six nations on the planet had an alliance that allowed for a unified passport system.

The documents were held in digital storage and could be freely accessed and accepted. Furthermore, since the team consisted of royalty and military, their respective nations kept all information up to date without any of them needing to be concerned with the documents.

However, two problems were apparent to Rheba. The first was that Nun was the single nation that did not participate in the alliance; she would need to have physical copies of each member's passport printed for their arrival to the grand city. The other problem was Gwyn, who, being a stranger to the world, had no documents proving his place in it.

The tablet the group had been handed by the escorts back in Quenth had laid out all this information. Rheba had been the only one who read through the information on their drive. The instructions stated that, by the time they arrived in the coastal city, special documents for Gwyn would be put in the system, which would allow for quick processing. Rheba was skeptical it would go that easily.

The giant Bentulousian warrior towered above a line of brightly colored Aqueenians as she waited just outside the door. The building curved, keeping with Aqueenian style, the line around its outer wall to its front door. Inside, a series of counters were set up, and each person was addressed one at a time.

Rheba leaned down so that she could peak through curvy glass doors. There was still a row of Aqueenians in front of her. She sighed and stood tall once again.

All around the tall warrior, the other Aqueenians in line were looking at her curiously. Seeing a Bentulousian in the town of Aqui was nothing new, the city on the coast was a popular vacation spot for many. However, seeing one stand in line for a license was not common.

Rheba crossed her arms and looked up to the sky. She tried to ignore the eyes that were glued to her. With a couple of deep breaths, the tall Bentulousian tried to imagine herself shrinking down. It did nothing to help her.

After a while, the Aqueenian man that stood next to Rheba began to chuckle to himself. He waved to the others in the crowds and line in a manner to suggest that they ought to mind their own business. The group slowly began to turn their attention away from Rheba.

“You sure drew some attention. Guess that’s what happens when a warrior from Benlou shows up!” the Aqueenian laughed in a rough way.

“I suppose,” Rheba answered in a composed tone. She looked down to see the Aqueenian that had spoken. Though Rheba couldn't tell, he was tall for an Aqueenian and had snow-white hair. An equally white bushy goatee covered his chin. The man’s medium emerald skin showed several wrinkles around his large yellow eyes as he smiled at the warrior.

“You know, it’s been a while since I’ve seen that kind of uniform. I was stationed in Benlou for a little while back in the day. Beautiful place, you know; I always loved how you worked with the forest to create your cities,” the man began to talk to Rheba like they were old friends catching up.

She made a friendly smile to respond but found the situation awkward.

“Were you in the military?”

“Yes indeed, I was a lowly low, ranked sailor in the navy. We often did joint training operations in the crazy parts of the seas; you know the ones.”

Rheba laughed.

“I’ve heard stories from that time; apparently, you saw some fish-people?”

The man laughed.

“That dear is classified…. Or that’s what I like to say, but it’s nothing more than a tall tale spread by us sailors. A bit of fun we had on the people on dry land.” He chuckled to himself and shook his head.

“I see,” Rheba said as she peeked back into the building. The line had disappeared, but there was no free counter for her to go up to.

“So, what brings you here? Forget your documents for getting to Nun?” the man asked.

“In a sense. What brings you here?”

“Oh, I have to renew the old boating license. I can’t sail without it, and if I miss the date, the renewal price goes up. Not that it matters much right now,” the Aqueenian replied.

Rheba was about to reply when an official from the building gently opened the glass door and tapped her arm.

“Miss, the next station is open.”

Rheba peaked back in to see an Aqueenian at the end of the building leaving the counter.

“Well, nice meeting you,” Rheba said.

“The pleasure is all mine, dear. If you’re spending some time in this town, stop by my pub by the beach, I’d love to hear about how Benlou has changed since this old man has left,” the Aqueenian said with a smile.

“Sure, where can I–”

“Stone’s Pub, tell them you know the captain,” the emerald Aqueenian said as he smiled.

The official made a cough to indicate that Rheba should get moving.

Rheba politely waved goodbye to the strange Aqueenian and entered the license office. She made her way to the back counter and tried to make herself as least imposing as possible before towering over the Aqueenian behind the glass.

The effort was in vain as the official behind the desk still jumped as she suddenly got close to him. He coughed as he collected himself.

“How can I help you today?”

Rheba explained what the tablet had written on it, and he began to search through his computer. Fortunately, the proper documents were in place. Unfortunately, the office still took several hours.

After concluding the long process, Rheba exited the agency with a packet of everything they needed. She held them close to her chest with a tight grip as if they were more precious than gold.

The Bentulousian warrior made her way down the street where the ferry sold its tickets. She shook her head as she would have liked to buy the tickets as indicated to the rest of the team; they were all ignorant of the hours spent on the documentation alone.

As she approached the ferry booth, the brown fur around her face curled up with her smile. There was no line for the tickets.

She gleefully walked to the booth and made her request.

“I’d like tickets to Nun for a ferry that can transport a vehakul,” she politely requested as she knelt to the window.

The Aqueenian at the window looked at the giant with wide eyes. She turned to look deeper into the building where a coworker stood like a statue. The window worker waved to indicate her coworker should come up. The statue Aqueenian broke from his frozen pose to shake his head. He pointed to his coworker as if to say: ‘you do it.’

The Aqueenian turned back around and gulped.

“I’m sorry, but ferry tickets aren’t being sold right now….”

The worker at the window had been giving the news all day to all manners of people. Many had begun screaming at the poor bearer of news, and she was prepared for the intimidating Bentulousian to do the same.

Instead, Rheba stood motionless for a moment. She blinked a couple of times before responding.

“Huh?” was all that came out from the shocked Bentulousian.