Chapter 180:

Gwyn in the Hospital

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Gwyn lay passively on his hospital bed. Somehow, unknown to the Nonpareil, he had been healed of the wounds Nighthawk inflicted. Yet, even with his body put back together, he felt a strong urge to continue claiming he had an injury.

The idea of getting out there to get injured in another fight weighed heavily on Gwyn as he remembered the intense pain from crashing through several concrete floors. Nervously, he scratched at the shoulder of his bad arm—whatever had healed him of the broken bones had left the arm just as weak as it had been the whole trip to Nun.

He stopped scratching a moment as his fingers hit something rough. Gwyn’s eyes narrowed as he felt his shoulder. A stiff, rock-like growth had appeared on the spot. As he felt the texture, his heart seemed to jump in an anxious burst. What was on his arm? Where did he get it? What was going to happen to him next? The thoughts danced around anxious feelings in the Nonpariel's mind like they were doing a ritual dance around a fire.

Gwyn began to take deep breaths in an effort to calm down. As he felt his heart steady again, he moved his fingers away from the hard spot on his shoulder.

“I want to go home,” he said out loud, but in a hushed tone in case, there was an unexpected listener.

Gwyn had tired of his otherworld adventure and now sought the comforts of home.

From outside the hospital room door, Mem came flying back in. Harlan and Rheba followed quickly after, along with mayor Abelard and Rom; the latter two Gwyn did not recognize.

“It’s good to see you are well!” Rheba said with a smile and a booming voice. Harlan silently nodded in agreement, but her scaly face had a cheery smile which showed she shared the same sentiment. Both were unsure of how well he might recover or if the Mayor’s treatment was going to help at all. Now that they saw the results, the duo was satisfied with what the golden Needaimus had done.

“I am also glad to see you are doing well!” Abelard added in a chipper tone.

Gwyn looked to the new Netzian man with narrow eyes before turning back to Harlan and Rheba for an answer.

“He is the mayor of Nun,” Harlan replied.

Gwyn’s eyes grew wide, and he seemed to shift away from the mayor slightly on the hospital bed.

“Relax, my boy, we made a truce of sorts!” The mayor said with a laugh.

“Indeed, and now that you have awoken, we’d like some information from you,” Rom said with a neutral tone.

“You didn’t say anything about that,” Rheba pressed.

Rom shook her head.

“It was not relevant to you; we wish to ask this Nonpareil some questions.”

“Now, hold on!” Rheba clenched her hands into fists as she took a step toward Rom.

“Calm down, everyone,” the mayor chimed in. He raised his hands with open palms as if he was going to step in between them to prevent a clash. “I just have a couple of things to ask our friend here, I know he is still recovering from an injury, so I won’t get too intense. Would that be okay with you?” he directed his question to Gwyn.

“So long as they are easy questions.”

Gwyn made no effort to hide that he did not want to talk to the mayor in his tone. He would have outright refused and dismissed everyone, but he did not want to hurt whatever alliance Rheba and Harlan had forged.

"Great! If you don’t mind, I’d like to talk to you in private as well…” Abelard looked at Gwyn first, then turned to see Harlan and Rheba’s reaction.

“Fine,” Gwyn muttered before his allies could reply. His companions were shocked but went along with his wishes.

With the Nonpareil's reply, his companions and Rom shuffled out. The door was slid shut, and they were left alone.

Abelard sighed and sat in one of the room’s chairs.

“So, Nonpareil, how did you end up with that title?” he asked.

“I woke up after a fight, and everyone started calling me it,” Gwyn replied. The fight with the unkillable seemed like so long ago as he lay in bed.

“I see, so you know none of the history behind the term?”

“No,” Gwyn answered sharply. His mood was so low that talk of history caused no reaction. The mayor frowned. He had heard from Amber about Gwyn’s enthusiasm for history at the museum and hoped that would be a good lead into a talk. In preparation for The nonpareils waking, Abelard had reviewed much of what he knew to keep everything accurate.

“I see; well, I’ll keep it brief. The first Nonpareil was an Aqueenian warrior who emerged after the events known as the rupture. That was when Aqueenians and Hobusians were first known to arrive on the scene, and a group we call the ancients was said to have died out. Of course, this was long ago, and many of the legends have been embellished.

Later on, much later, in fact, the founder of this grand city Jaap came on the scene. To make a long story short, before he died, he confided with his most trusted allies that he was a Nonpareil as well—the Nonpareil of Nun; at this point, the city was nothing more than a small couple of houses near a circus. He conveyed that each nation had a Nonpareil which defended and watched over their lands even after leaving this world behind and that a final Nonpareil would come to protect the whole world. A Nonpareil of Resh, if you will.”

“What are you saying?” Gwyn asked. His tone showed he was not amused in any way by the story. He had seen and read enough to know the mayor’s next words.

“I think you might be that Nonpareil of Resh.”

Gwyn shook his head.

“Your story has many problems, but I’ll just point out one. Why would a non-native to the planet be the one to defend it.”

“I can’t hazard a guess, and to be honest, I thought your title might be just another misuse of the word in these current days, at least until very recently.” Abelard let his words hang as he considered talking about the golden Needaimus and other details he was privy to as a leader.

Gwyn shook his head.

“I’m no Nonpareil or whatever you want to call me. I don’t care what your stupid Jaap said or what you have to say! I’m just a guy from earth who will be going back home soon.” With his words, he mentally solidified his desire to return to his familiar blue planet.

Abelard frowned and let out a sad sigh.

“I’ve spent some time with hurting young ones in my day…. My daughter was adopted after spending a hard life on the streets…. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I won’t hold it against you. I will be here and willing to talk whenever you are ready.”

Mayor Abelard didn’t give Gwyn a chance to reply. He stood up, politely made a nod of acknowledgment, and left the room without another word.

Gwyn crossed his arms and sat in silence as the mayor left. Mem, who had chosen to remain quiet during the whole conversation, found a shelf to sit on and watched over the Nonpareil in his sullen state.