Chapter 132:

Prisoners in Quenth

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Prince Donn walked in front of the bandits and eyed each of them closely. His royal guard presented the captured Needaimus.

“Take them somewhere comforting for the time being. And give the ones with black paint a gentle scrub,” the blue prince ordered before turning back to the captured leaders.

“If I shall be thrown in a hole, then throw me in. If I shall be executed, then off with my head. Spare me your empty words,” Grimes spat as Donn stared at him.

“I’d like to know why you took over a whole village for a year,” The prince demanded.

Grimes shrugged.

“It seemed like fun,” he nonchalantly said.

The Aqueenian prince could only shake his head in disapproval. He let out a heavy sigh and rubbed the back of his head.

“Well, your bit of fun has placed you in the highest form of Aqueenian prison possible.”

Icarus squirmed at Donn’s words, and Savvy made a soft hum as she pondered. Flora leaned closer to Grimes as if she wished to protect him with her giant stature. The guard that held her had trouble keeping her in place. Grimes sneered.

“Do as you wish; I will be free before long!” he confidently declared. The blue prince had no idea where such confidence came from. He shook his head and waved for his guards to take the bandits away.

The four bandits were led down a weaving spiderweb of stairs. As they descended, the air grew colder and bit at the injured arms of the three that had previously overclocked their Needaimus.

Icarus began to make a weeping sound as they entered the bottom of the dark dungeon. A large wall was in front of them with a single wide archway cutting through it. The space they were in was dimly lit, but beyond the arch was pitch black. They could not see where they were about to enter.

Donn steadily made his way down the steps after the bandits. He shivered at the cold but took care not to let the prisoners see. The underground prison was his least favorite place to go to, but a future king could not let others see that.

As they entered the darkness beyond the archway, the bandits were greeted to a sight of a long hallway. Metal doors with thick bars were placed going down the hallway; each housed one or several prisoners inside. They eyed the newcomers as they passed but didn’t say anything with the Aqueenian royalty present.

Before long, the bandits were shown their new home. A square cell with stone walls, ceiling, and floor. The large metal door slammed shut behind them as the elite guard locked it. Donn stood in front and crossed his bulky blue arms.

“Do you wish to say anything else?” he asked.

Grimes spat at the prince.

“I see, then I shall take my leave.” With his last words, Donn left the prisoners alone in the cell. His guard followed after him.

Once the Aqueenian group had gotten out of earshot, some laughter came from the cell across the hall.

“What an interesting bunch to come in today,” a large shadowy figure grumbled in a deep voice.

Grimes rolled his crimson eyes. He sat on the floor and began to scratch at the bony spots on his forehead. He had to file every day to keep them from growing. Even with only a couple of days since his defeat, the spots had already started to grow into a Hobusian-esk crown.

“I suppose new arrivals are the only amusement you get around here?” he said to the shadowed figure. The other prisoner made a laugh that sounded somewhat like a grumble.

“I’m happy to have some new conversation partners, the last one in your cell sought to take the easy way out,” the figure said.

“It’s nice to meet you!” Savvy jumped in, “Might you be willing to grace your new neighbors with a name?” she asked.

The shadowy figure remained silent a moment.

“Your pretty cute for a Hobusian he said as he eyed the scientist,”

“I get that a lot, but your name please?” Savvy did not attempt to hide the annoyance in her voice. The shadowed figure laughed.

“I’ll tell you when the time is good and right; for now, why don’t we get to know each other a little. I’ve been down here so long; what’s going on in the world above?” The grumbling tone of the shadowed figure made it hard for the bandits to tell if his question was serious or not.

“We’ve been out of the loop for about a year, but Array was making some big plans prior to that,” Grimes answered sincerely.

“Oh, Array, that makes me a bit nostalgic,” why don’t you tell me everything.” The bandits could not see it, but the shadowed figure had a wide grin on his face.

Grimes told the shadow everything he knew of his former employer leading up to his departure. The shadow happily listened and took in everything, and he waited until Grimes finished before speaking again.

“It sounds like some real fun is going to start soon. I’ll have to get out of here before I miss it,” the shadow concluded.

They chatted about mundane things for a while. Eventually, the sound of footsteps took up the attention of everyone in the prison hall. Queen Whitlock and two of her royal advisors stepped in front of the bars that held the bandits. She ordinarily would have had more escorts but had come in secret after Donn was long gone.

“Well, the Queen graces us today!” the shadow said with a deep cackle. Queen Whitlock ignored him and pointed to Savvy.

“I heard some interesting things about you in the report. Your gadgets are something else,” she said.

Savvy laughed.

“Did you come to recruit me?” she asked.

Queen Whitlock shook her head.

“No to command you,” the blue ruler replied. She pulled up a sleeve of her dress to reveal something in her hand. The bandit's eyes grew wide, but neither the guards behind her nor the shadow saw what she showed. “I hear that Netzian is your leader; you do realize he could be executed for staging such a takeover,” she added.

Savvy bit her lips and looked to the others. Icarus looked confused. Flora kept a solemn expression. Grimes took a deep breath and nodded his head.

The Hobusian scientist stepped forward and was let out of the cell. She departed with Queen Whitlock without another word.

Grimes laughed and leaned back against the wall.

“Well, some real fun is about to start,” the leader said through his chuckles. The shadow cackled with him.

“Let’s chat a bit longer then,” the shadow said. Grimes smiled, and they continued talking through the night.