Chapter 174:

The Casino 2

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

The inside of the casino was a vast space. The designers sought to waste no area on the floor and set up pillars to distinguish the three rotating sections. Every space in between was covered with tables for playing games and people happily gambling their money.

A bright red velvet carpet lined the floor, and golden trimmings made a series of ornate and increasingly smaller rings to further divide the sections. The columns were marble, and the ceiling seemed to increase in height with every section. The center had a spiral staircase which gave access to the top floors. Around the room's outer wall, statues of famous Nun figures were carved and equally spaced.

The ceiling of the building was encased in bright light, though how it was lit was unclear. The brightness was often compared to the sun, and many considered it like having the twin suns coming to gamble along with them.

To say the sight was overwhelming for Odell and Hal would be an understatement. Each had no idea how finding leads would be feasible in the setting. Nonetheless, Tancred happily strolled into the casino. Some people greeted him by name as he passed, and he waved hello with his eyes focused on an active table of cards.

Rym grabbed the short Bentulousian by the back of his coat and pulled him back to the group.

“Where do you think you’re going?” she asked.

“To get information, my dear Rym. We can discern a lot from a simple game of cards!”

The blue and pink Zenotote shook her head. She ground her teeth together for a second before smiling at the short detective. Odell backed up slightly as her smile seemed more sinister than friendly.

“You did look at the finance record I gave you this month, did you not? Our office and daycare business doesn’t have nearly enough free cash for you to gamble with!” she said in a cheery tone that contained maliciousness.

“What does it matter if I win!” Tancred said with a huff as he pulled himself free of the Zenotote's grip. He started to walk to the table once again when Rym spoke up.

“If you lose even a little cash, I will quit on the spot and find more stable work… in an office.” Her threat was slightly undermined by a pause in her sentence and her conviction.

Fortunately for Rym, the short detective was wrapped up in his own little world and didn’t pick up on her pause.

He grunted and turned back.

“Fine, we will gather information with other means.” He looked up to the group and nodded.

“We should split up to cover more ground. There is another floor of this casino and not to mention many more for the hotel. Odell can come with me, and Hal can go with Rym. Be on your guard, and don’t say more than you have to.”

“Alright, Hal, I will check the Casino, and you and Odell can check the hotel,” Rym said. Tancred grumbled but didn’t argue.

“Very well, Odell, my boy, let’s go check out this hotel!” he said with a wink to the Hobusian prince.

“Let’s do it!” Odell and Tancred ran off and began to climb the stairs.

“Was it best for those two to go alone?” Hal asked.

“Tancred can be reliable when he needs to be; they should be fine,” Rym said as she rubbed her temples like she had a headache. Dealing with him can be a pain, though.

“My companions are cut from a similar cloth,” Hal replied.

“Now, we should start asking around, but we must be careful about it….” Rym began to say. She was interrupted by several drunk gamblers coming close to them.

“Ha buddies… wan- to ave some fun?” One asked as he threw an arm over the Zenotote assistants’ shoulders. Her scaly face grew tense. They had waited until Tancred left the group and now took the opportunity to pounce.

“Oh, is one’s… ust a little boy!” another said while drunkenly shoving Hal.

“This is why I avoid these places,” Rym muttered. Hal sighed and shoved the drunk back with the same amount of force. He fell over and began to whine.

“Ah… the boy… arting… a fight!”

“Now you’ve done it!” one that was not nearly as drunk shouted with a laugh.

Rym began to squirm, but the drunk that hung on her suddenly grabbed her. Hal motioned to the Needaimus on his arm, but the drunks laughed.

“Not much that going to do you here! Less you want to be thrown out!” the soberest of the group chuckled as he took a step closer to Hal. He leaned his chin close. “Go ahead and get a good blow; I won’t be the one getting thrown out!”

“That’s enough of that!” a shout came from across the casino. Tancred and Odell stood with their arms crossed.

“You were right; they swooped in immediately!” Odell said in shock.

The detective suspected that those who didn’t like him would come in to harass his companions the minute he left. He had whispered as much to Odell while they climbed the stairs, and as soon as they finished going up, they peered back down while hiding as much of their bodies as they could.

A laugh echoed from the casino's edge, and a wide Netzian stood up from his table. The casino grew quiet.

“What a day this is! The great detective graces us with his presence!”

The man walked over with a smug expression.

“Ah, a crime boss is gambling away his stealings in a casino!” Tancred shot back.

They crossed the room and approached each other. The Netzian was over twice Tancred’s height, but the Bentulousian did not seem intimidated in the least.

“What case are you working on now? Trying to throw me in jail again?” the Netzian laughed.

“That hardly requires any effort, your rather easy to investigate. I’m here for something more important.”

“Oh, so you wish to buy some information from old Lucchi?” The Netzian said with a smug smile.

“If I wanted to buy some information, I’d at least get it from a good seller,” Tancred shot back.

Lucchi smiled and waved to another in the casino. In a flash, he had a deck of cards in his hands.

“How about we play a game? If you win, I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. And If I win, you tell me whatever I want to know.”

“You assume you have what I’m looking for,” Tancred said with a shake of his head. Lucchi leaned over and whispered something in the detective's pointed grey ear.

Tancred frowned.

“Rym, change of plans. You and young Hal go to the hotel. Odell and I will be joining this match!”

“We will?” the Hobusian prince said in shock.

Rym opened her mouth to complain, but when she saw Tancred had a serious look in his eye, she didn’t refuse. The blue and pink Aqueenian grabbed the drunk’s arm that was still wrapped around her and twisted it. He let out a yelp as she broke free.

“Come, Hal,” she said calmly as if nothing had happened. The duo left as Lucchi laughed. He kicked aside the drunk while he shuffled the cards in his hand and threw them down on the table.

“Let’s get this game started.”

“What game?” Odell asked.

“Ohellega,” Tancred replied as he made his way to the table.

“I don’t know how to play!” Odell whispered back.