Chapter 153:

Strangers 2

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

I think the Zenotote is following. He looks a little angry. Mem informed Gwyn. Ripple had quickly broken from the crowd and was angrily pursuing the Nonpareil.

“And here I thought I made a friend!” Gwyn replied.

He was just complimenting and flattering you, hardly a friend.

“Do you remember how to get to the fountain?”

I’ll put up directions.

In an instant, Gwyn could see what looked like a glowing line that bent around turns.

It’s just like a GPS, but in my head!” he laughed.

I hope that was a compliment.

“Uh… so is Ripple still chasing us?” Gwyn switched the subject.

Yes, he’s catching up too. Mem replied. The Nonpareil looked back to see the orange Zenotote chasing after with two long swords in his hands.

“Oh, damn, where did he get those? Why didn’t you tell me?” Gwyn shouted as he rounded another bend.

I didn’t think it was vital unless he catches us. Mem replied.

Gwyn made his way around another turn into a straight, long section which emptied out on the street. Gwyn chuckled as he knew it was his element. He quickly picked up the pace and increased the distance between him and his pursuer. He had run in track for many years and was glad it still had use later in life.

As Gwyn reached the end of the alleyway, he became hopeful about his escape. The hope was dashed when one of Ripple’s swords sailed past the Nonpareil’s head.

Gwyn ducked slightly as the sword flew past his periphery, but his sprint did not slow.

“Flying swords again! Didn’t I tell you that bandit leader tried that already!” The Nonpareil shouted back to his pursuer.

A second later and he found himself running out of the alleyway. The thrown swords had gotten lodged into a wall opposite the alley’s exit, and a crowd gathered around it to take pictures.

Gwyn wasted no time to turn and run down the street. Ripple followed while hot on his heels.

He’s still there,” informed Mem to keep Gwyn facing forward.

“He just won’t give up!”

You seem to think villains are pushovers; you really should change that mindset. Mem cautioned.

“Fair enough,” Gwyn replied.

Another sword flew past Gwyn’s head. He jumped to the side in shock and almost ran into a random passerby but kept up his pace. Gwyn looked back to see what Ripple would do next without swords. To his surprise, the Zenotote had two swords in his hands, as if he had never thrown them. From under his clothes, a Needaimus-covered tail had emerged.

Gwyn stopped and spun on his heel. He was done running and would face his opponent head-on. At that moment, an arrow sailed past his head and struck the ground in front of Ripple. The Zenotote grunted and took a step back.

Gwyn checked where the arrow had come from, but he second-guessed himself almost immediately. An elf girl with long blond hair stood in the Nun streets with her bow at the ready. She was precisely like Gwyn had seen only a couple of days prior—on the cover of K.A. Natos’ book.

Next to the elf was a dwarf and a Netzian with a blue Needaimus bonded to his arm. Each stood tall and ready for battle as they faced Ripple. Kako nonchalantly strode up next to the trio of characters from her novel.

“Hi, Gwyn! You sure know how to get in trouble, don’t you?” she asked in a cutesy tone. At the same time, she turned so that Ripple could see the Needaimus that rode on her shoulder. As it wasn’t bonded, it was the equivalent of showing a holstered gun.

Ripple gritted his sharp teeth as four unknowns entered the fray. He smiled and slid the swords to his sides like he was putting them in sheathes. They dissolved into nothing starting from the tip as if disappearing into the invisible holder.

“I suppose the element of surprise is lost, but don’t think allies will always come to save you,” Ripple shouted before retreating back into the crowd.

“What was that about pushovers?” Gwyn asked.

There’s a difference between being a pushover and being cautious about a fight against many odd opponents. Mem replied.

“If you say so,” Gwyn said before turning to Kako. He nervously looked at the trio of characters previously confined to a book cover. He pointed to them and gave Kako a confused look. She chuckled.

“Oh, that. Don’t worry.” With a wave of her hand, the dwarf began to disappear in purple sparkles. His legs were the first to dissolve and quickly moved up to his head. He made a huff before entirely vanishing. “My focus of magical discipline allows me to create bodies for my characters to inhabit!”

Kako waved another hand, and the Netzian began to disappear. He bowed to her.

“Thank you for letting me see Resh once again,” the character said before vanishing.

Gwyn didn’t know what to say, but his mouth hung open.

“Pretty cool, huh? Oh, but don’t go telling everyone. This style of magic is a little advanced for most.”

“I guess,” Gwyn replied. His mind was running in circles with thoughts. Kako went to wave her hand again but stopped before making the elf disappear. She got a sly smile.

“Say, Gwyn, if you want, I could let Mina here stay a while. I’m sure you wouldn’t mind having a pretty elf keep you company. Until I deactivate my spell, she is as material as you or me, after all.” Kako said in a teasing tone.

The elf looked at the ground in a manner that would be easy to mistake for shyness.

Gwyn shook his head but didn’t know how to respond. Kako sighed, and in a flash, Mina disappeared.

“Well, let’s walk a while then. You’re heading to the fountain, right?” Kako asked.

“I am.”

The two began their walk to the fountain, where Gwyn would meet up with Rheba. Unknown to them, Ripple watched from the shadows. He grunted and pulled out a small device hidden under his clothes. A message was sent for backup.