Chapter 170:

An Injured Nonpareil

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

The sight of Gwyn wasn’t pretty. The Nonpareil was unconscious on a hospital bed. About every part of him had been wrapped in gauze, and several tubes from machines were connected to his skin underneath the wrapping. His mouth was covered by a machine that kept his breath steady.

The doctors had tried their best when they found him. Gwyn’s ribs had broken and punctured a series of organs and blood vessels within his body. His limbs were shattered, and his skin was mangled. They considered him lucky to be alive, not knowing Kako had used some magic to patch him up.

Off to the side of Gwyn sat the draconic looking Needaimus; Mem, its blue head, turned to look at the trio. Had the Nonpareil not been so injured, Mem would have made a snarky comment about Rheba carrying Harlan as she was, but no sounds came from the blue creature.

Harlan was set down in a chair, and Rheba pounded a fist on the wall.

“I shouldn’t have split up from him,” she grumbled quietly.

Fiona silently sat down in a second chair next to Harlan’s. Her blue head and shoulders drooped.

The young doctor who escorted the three looked at each of them with a sad expression.

“Um,” he said to grab the attention of the others. When they turned his way, the doctor continued, “he is stable by the looks of it, so all they have to do is get the medical Needaimus here. It is just taking a little longer than normal….” The doctor could tell his words didn’t reassure the trio. Defeated, he retreated from the room.

“We need to contact Quenth and report,” Rheba said after a long moment of silence. The others nodded.

“But how?” Fiona asked.

“The tablet I was given should have information, but it was left at the hotel.” Rheba leaned against the wall. The pain from her own injuries was starting to catch up with her, but she felt it best not to show it.

Before they could say anything more, a knock echoed from the door.

A middle-aged Netzian man stood in the doorway. He had a large, metal square box held with a single handle in one hand. Behind the man stood a blue and white Zenotote carefully eyeing the trio.

“Greetings,” the man said to them. His voice was level, but he refrained from joining in with the somber mood of the room.

“Who are you?” Rheba said as she stood straight. Her Needaimus was bonded to her arm in a flash.

“Take it easy,” the stranger held his free hand up defensively, but he showed no concern in his voice that indicated he was afraid in any way. “I suppose introductions are in order. I am Abelard, the mayor of this fine city.”

The trio’s mouths held open in unison.

“Sir, you shouldn’t go telling these people that so casually!” The Zenotote warned from behind.

“Not to worry, Rom,” the Mayor said while looking back to his assistant before he readdressed the trio. “Please excuse her; she is understandably nervous, seeing as your little group is technically invaders to our fair town.” Abelard casually strode into the room while paying no mind to Rheba raising her fists and Fiona bonding with her own Needaimus. The mayor placed the box at the end of Gwyn’s bed, next to the Nonpareils wrapped up legs, and turned back to the others so he could speak.

“We have been aware of you since you entered—it really wasn’t hard considering you fought a monster right outside—and we have been keeping some tabs on your little group. It seems there is some trouble brewing in my town that is outside my knowledge.”

“Are you claiming you had nothing to do with the death of King Whitlock?” Rheba asked.

Abelard sighed.

“I had nothing to do with his assassination. That was just as surprising for me as it was for you.”

“Sir,” Rom interrupted, “I’ve gotten a report from Liv and Felix that the hospital is clear. They will be regrouping shortly and heading this way.

“Glad to hear it. Has Amber found anything in the records yet?”

“Nothing reported yet.”

Rheba and Harlan had squinted eyes as the mayor, and his assistant went back and forth. Fiona looked back and forth while trying to hide her confusion as best she could.

“Anyway, I suppose it might have been better to contact you sooner, but you understand I had to be careful.”

“So, what changed?” Rheba asked in a stern voice.

“Well, Dia getting attacked.” The mayor did not attempt to hide anything and looked directly at Rheba as he replied. “We visited her, but she’s in no better shape than your Nonpareil friend here.”

“What is your connection to Dia?” Rheba added. The mayor chuckled.

“I guess you could say she’s kind of like a daughter to me; I always told her not to run with bad crowds….” Abelard’s voice trailed off at the end of his sentence as he began to stare off into space.

One of Rheba’s ears flicked as she took a deep breath, but she didn’t press the issue any further.

“What is your reason for coming here?” Harlan finally spoke up. Her green eyes were fixed on the case that the mayor had set next to Gwyn.

“I heard your Nonpareil was here,” the mayor said as he turned to Gwyn, “he doesn’t look like much.”

Fiona moved closer to the mayor as her hands balled into fists. Rheba had to step across the room to catch her shoulder before the blue princess got closer to the mayor. It was unnecessary as Rom quickly had crossed the room and placed herself between the trio and the mayor.

“Sir, please don’t provoke them without explaining yourself better,” the assistant said to Abelard.

“You’re reprimanding me?” Abelard asked in shock.

“You had it coming,” his assistant replied.

“Touché.” The mayor pulled a latch on the metal box and took a step away. It fell open, and a golden form lay in a curled-up position. The room's light seemed to bounce off the polished gold so intensely that it was difficult to look at it directly. Mem and the other Needaimus seemed to shake at the sight of the golden one.

Fiona took a step back. She almost tripped, but Rheba managed to catch her.

“I thought that was in Quenth!” the blue princess shouted.

“You do indeed have a piece the first Nonpareil used. However, we have the original Jaap used,” the mayor explained with a smile. “If he is truly a Nonpareil, then our golden Needaimus should be willing and able to patch his wounds.”

“And if he’s not?” Harlan asked.

“Then… it wouldn’t be pretty. No matter, we won’t ask the Needaimus to do anything rash!” Mayor Abelard turned to the golden creature. “If you would like to, could you?” he asked.

The golden form pushed itself up on four legs and walked over to Gwyn. Everyone watched for a long moment as it moved its golden head up and down to examine the Nonpareil.

After what seemed like an eternity for the trio, the golden Needaimus seemed to turn liquid-esk and slid under the bandages around Gwyn’s right arm. The gauze that covered his arm was shattered, and a golden arm was left in place. He began to squirm and writhe.

“Gwyn!” Fiona shouted and stood next to him in a flash of light. Before she could do anything more, Gwyn stopped squirming, and his vitals stabilized. His breathing was calm, and though no one could confirm, his bones had been bonded back together.

The gold broke off his arm and formed back into a creature while it made its way back to the case. Abelard carefully closed the box, ensuring not to touch the golden metal in the process. He paused a moment to look at Gwyn before nodding to himself. The mayor was surprised to see no one else react, but he decided to leave it unsaid. He turned to the trio and smiled as he spoke:

“I suspect he will need to sleep a little while longer; why don’t we talk some more about the next steps our groups plan to take. I have a feeling we have much to discuss.”