Chapter 130:

Street Circus Act

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

The trio of Fiona, Hal, and Odell made their way down one of the busy streets of Nun’s southern subsection. The scene was very lively, and both the Aqueenian princess and Hobusian prince, who Hal silently dubbed ‘the royal pains,’ had trouble keeping their eyes focused on what was ahead.

Hal grumbled as he saw himself as the only one taking the mission seriously. The sooner they found something to report back with, the sooner he would get to go back to his home. He shuddered at the thought of how out of sorts things might be without him at the house.

“Hey, that restaurant looks good!” Odell said with a smile as he pointed to a building across the street. Hal swiftly moved behind his companions and pushed on their backs to keep them moving.

“Hey!” Fiona protested with a thunderous shout.

“Time is short; we must press on!” Hal grumbled.

“But isn’t a restaurant a great place to get information?” Odell protested.

“Not if your intention is only to stuff your face!” Hal snapped.

“I bet the others aren’t being this stiff!” Odell shot back.

Hal didn’t have to push them for much longer; both royal pains got the message and kept walking through the busy city street.

Odell walked with his arms crossed and his head turned away from the green-haired Netzian.

They went for a little longer down the busy street before crossing an intersection and turning. Each of the three could feel they were pointlessly wandering, but no one knew exactly where to go in the massive city.

Odell felt for the letter his father had given him, which he kept out of sight in his pocket. The Hobusian king had to the so-called ‘Tancred’ was living in Nun, but he was on the north side of the city, and they would have to catch some city transit to make it there in a day. He wasn’t sure he could convince the others since they had planned to explore the city's south side, so he figured he ought to bide his time.

They walked in silence for a while until shouts caught the attention of everyone in the area. The massive crowd of people, including the trio, turned to see.

A man was standing in front of a large wooden booth with a curtain blocking the view. He was dressed in red pants with black shoes which curled up over his toes. His torso was covered in a sleek black coat with a tail that went very close to the ground. Around his neck, red feathers were arranged in a manner that looked like a lion’s mane, and he wore a hat with three triangle sections draped behind his head like ponytails. The man’s face was covered in a white mask with a long nose and mischievous grin.

“Welcome one and all to a brief preview of what the Atlas Circus has to offer!” the masked man said as he placed a gloved hand over his eyes like a visor. He looked out to the crowd, quickly getting a look at each and focusing on the trio before continuing:

“I hope you have prepared yourself for the many strange and wonderful oddities we celebrate in our troupe! Without further ado, I present you with one of our clowns!”

A Zenotote in what appeared to be clown makeup stepped out from behind the curtain. He began to juggle several balls using both his tail and hands. The crowd was unimpressed.

The man in the mask chuckled, then he snapped his fingers. All at once, the balls lit on fire. The Zenotote kept juggling, though his movements had become more frantic.

Some of the crowd began to clap. Hal was unamused.

“There is no need to focus on this side show,” he said to the others. Fiona and Odell seemed to agree, and the group started to walk away.

“But don’t think that’s all we have!” the masked man shouted as he began to pull on a rope. The curtain came falling down. The group couldn’t help but turn as the crowd gasped.

Behind the curtain was a metal frame shaped like a person. The form, however, differed from the machines Savvy had built-in Horizon village. What the genius Hobusian constructed were automatons made from the metals in the mines and artificial intelligence of her design. What stood on the stage was clearly a Needaimus to all that looked.

The person-shaped Needaimus was as tall as a Netzian. It was a cool blue with red accents and wore no clothes. The metal exterior covered the whole form, and red eyes were placed on the face. What looked like a toothy mouth sat in the appropriate location.

“And here is our resident strongman, Nighthawk! Is he a larger than normal Needaimus, or an overclocked specimen gone wrong, or something else entirely? We don’t know, and he’s not telling!” the masked man announced the newcomer.

The crowd and trio watched in awe as the Needaimus picked up the booth that it had been standing in only moments prior. With what appeared to be little effort, Nighthawk tore the wooden booth in half and set each side on the street. The crowd all clapped at the show.

“Come and see this and more at our circus! We have taken up a spot at the Grand Amusement Park in Central Nun!” the masked man said. Happy murmurs came from the crowd.

“We waste our time here,” Hal said with a roll of his yellow eyes. The others were curious about the giant Needaimus, but they let it go and began to walk away as the green-haired Netzian took off.

“Looks like we have located the expected guests,” the masked man said in a low voice as he watched the trio leave.

“I’ll send word to the boss,” Nighthawk replied. Its voice was stiff and mechanical.

“No, no, let’s let them have fun for today. We’ll get started tomorrow,” the masked man said. A grin under his mask was wider and more mischievous than the one painted on top of it.