Chapter 160:

Fiona’s Secret

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Back in the beauideal arena, Dia waved her arms extravagantly. Harlan fixed her eyes on the winged star while Fiona turned to look at the others. Scarlet had draped one of Kitten’s arms over her red shoulders and lifted the weakened girl.

“I’ll take her to an infirmary,” the star quietly said, “Will you be okay here?” she asked.

“Dast,” Fiona replied.

Dia waited until the two other beauideals had left before speaking. She waved her hands like a conductor before an orchestra while speaking.

“Now that those two meddlesome pests are out of the way let’s get changed for our show!”

“Changed?” Harlan and Fiona asked in unison.

“Of course!” Dia replied in a chipper voice, “You weren’t seriously planning to go on stage… dressed like that?” the beauideal added in a worried tone.

Harlan looked down at the orange suit she picked up when they first entered the city. It blended in with the rest of Nun’s citizens, but it was certainly not something a beauideal would wear. Fiona, likewise, wore a tailcoat that would be unsightly to the excited fans. She reluctantly nodded in agreement with their opponent.

"Harlan!" Fiona cried while the green Zenotote removed her suit jacket and set it on the couch. She ignored the pleas of the blue princess and began to slide dresses on the rail in search of a good one to wear. Due to Dia’s large wings, most dresses had exposed backs, which Harlan hoped to avoid wearing as her scales were still healing from the fight in Horizon.

She quickly settled on a green and orange dress which would cover the damage. She began to pull off the rest of her clothing and set it aside.

“Harlan!” Fiona repeated. She couldn’t believe that Harlan was going through with Dia’s request. “What if… there’s something in the clothes that might damage us?” the blue princess spat nervously as Harlan began to pull the dress over her head.

Dia chuckled.

“Something in the clothing! That’s hilarious!” she laughed.

“You don’t have to fight if you don’t wish to,” Harlan added as she fiddled with the loose ribbons on her dress.

Fiona sighed.

“We’ll beat her more quickly together,” she replied. The blue princess headed to the rack and carefully examined all the dresses. Like Harlan, she settled on one without an exposed back; it was yellow with a short skirt and frilly black highlights. Fiona backed close to the wall and began to slide her clothes off.

The blue princess paid careful attention to where the other two were looking, and that made Dia curious.

She inched closer to Fiona and leaned her green head close to the wall. Fiona, in response, pressed her bare back up to the wall. She clung to the dress tightly. Dia’s mouth curled into a grin.

“I believe the princess is hiding some bad skin,” she chuckled. As an Aqueenian, she understood how much they prided having beautiful and glittering skin. A blemish was something to hide.

Dia, don’t do it, X said in the green beauideals head with a sigh.

Fiona stayed frozen. Her large purple eyes darted from Dia to Harlan in a plea for help.

The Zenotote scientist was not able to intercede fast enough. Dia unexpectedly leaped into the air and quickly closed the distance between the two. Fiona let out a yelp and tried to flee, and Dia used the opportunity to sate her curiosity—she shoved Fiona and got a good look at what she was trying to hide.

A scar ran along the blue princess's back, down the left side. It was old and somewhat faded, but the skin remained mangled enough to be recognized as damaged tissue. The shape suggested that it had been surgical in nature, it no longer stayed as straight as it had been when it was new, but years of growing along with Fiona’s body didn’t hide the precision the original cut had been made with.

Fiona quickly recovered and fled to the other side of the room. She stood with her back facing the dresses and tried to quickly finish changing. Nevertheless, both Dia and Harlan had seen the mark.

Dia fluttered her left feathered wing and chuckled.

“A royal princess is cursed!” she exclaimed in shock.

Her words were a more painful attack on Fiona than any physical damage could do. The blue princess let her head hang.

Harlan crossed the space and stood defensively between Fiona and Dia.

A ‘cursed’ Aqueenian referred to one born with a feathered wing on their left side. It was a rare condition that recent adopters of Resh gene research were trying and struggling to trace. The blue princess’s father did not know what to do with his daughter at her birth. It was often believed that a child was cursed by something the parents did, and he racked his brain for what he could have done to cause it. After a few short years, they decided the only thing to do was to cut the wing off. Fiona was secretly carted to a lab in the Calii mountains, where the surgery had been performed.

Dia shrugged and moved her own wings out so that they were wide.

“I don’t see why you are so embarrassed; Aqueenians were meant to fly! You should be proud!” she told Fiona. When neither Fiona nor Harlan offered a reply, Dia shook her head and sighed. She left the room without another word while the others finished changing.