Chapter 195:

Final Moments in the Hotel

The Nonpareil of Resh (Act 1)

Tancred and Fiona slowly made their way up to the hotel's top floor. All around, the place was in chaos. Staff ran in every direction while trying to soothe the frightened guests. The battle below had shaken the whole casino, and word of Nero’s brutal bloodbath floors above had already spread to the rest of the guests. To say the people were scared would be an understatement.

Fiona kept her head low as they walked up each floor; she gripped tightly on the purple coat covering her back like a cape; each level of the hotel seemed worse than the last. Eventually, they were stopped by staff, which Tancred had been waiting for.

“Excuse me, but where do you think you're going.”

“That is what I was hoping you could tell me! I would like to investigate the room that belonged to a light blue Zenotote.”

“S- Sir, with all due respect, we’re in a crisis and do not have time to be playing detective. Can’t you see all the injured people here?”

“Of course, I can; bear in mind that I am one of them, but you and your staff are already taking care of them. What I need to do now is find that guest's room.”

“Sir! Theres a fire in the penthouse!” a new staff member shouted as he ran up to the three.

“Great, just what we need!”

“That’s it then, quick, Fiona! Can you teleport us to the penthouse before it is too late!” Fiona looked down a hallway to a balcony that overlooked the lake.

“I can, but it will be risky in my current state.”

“We risk losing clues! Hurry!”

The staff jumped as both Fiona and Tancred disappeared in a flash of light. Their reappearances and disappearances were marked with shouts from either staff or guests as they zapped several times down the hall and out to the balcony.

Appearing just off the edge, free to fall down into the cold lake below, Fiona looked up to the penthouse balcony. Several flashes of light took them up to the top, and she gasped for air when they finally landed safely at the destination.

The room inside was ablaze, and Tancred gritted his teeth. Trying to catch her breath, Fiona could not stop the detective as he charged into the firey room. She stood in shock for a moment to think—her hand clutched tightly on the purple coat. Had she just brought someone to their death? The thought haunted her mind as she fell to her knees.

“Princess! Water from the lake!” the short Bentalousian’s voice cried from inside the blaze. Fiona began to look around in a panic; she stared down at the target but had never tried teleporting a liquid before.

A ball of fire burst out from the flames, and Fiona didn’t waste another moment to think. She teleported to the surface, scooping water in a flash, and zapped back up to the top. The water was dropped onto the ball of fire, and a drenched Tancred was revealed. Most of his long fur had been singed off. He coughed and put a rolled-up blanket down on the ground. Unraveling, it showed what he had grabbed from the flames.

Shouts from the other side of the blaze told the duo that the staff had gotten the fire crew to the room. Tancred picked up a book and flipped through it.

“What is it?” Fiona asked.

“A popular Aqueenian romance novel. I thought maybe we’d find some kind of code in it, but it seems one may have just enjoyed this sort of thing. I’ll study it later, to be sure. What I have here might be something more worthwhile.”

Tancred motioned for Fiona to put out her hand. He placed a metal coin on her blue palm.

The coin was silver, with an etched design that resembled a square divided into nine even boxes. Inside the square, a circle that looked crudely to be marked with Resh’s continents was divided up.

“A coin?”

“I suspect it is more than that. I’ve seen that symbol before. Beware anyone who has an object with it on it, and beware even more anyone who has a tattoo of it.”

Fiona nodded and tried to hand the coin back. Before Tancred could accept, they heard shouts from the other side of the fire.

“There are people there! Don’t worry, we’re coming!” Tancred quickly rolled up the remaining items.

“Best we get back to the lobby before they get to us. They might try to take everything away, and I would rather not have lost my beautiful fur for nothing.”

Fiona nodded, and they zapped away from the balcony, taking all the items with them. The staff eventually halted the blaze but were surprised to find no one waiting helplessly as they previously had assumed.

Upon Tancred’s command and Hal’s return, he slumped in moments later with his Needaimus riding his shoulder; they loaded everyone—Fiona’s team, Nun Agents, detective, and even Lucchi—in the battered Ali and drove out of the hotel. People watched wide-eyed from the bridge as the vehakul sped and sputtered into the night.

“Where are we going?” Hal muttered from the passenger seat.

“For now, our agency,” Rym replied from the driver's seat.

“I hope everyone in the hotel is alright….” Fiona whispered before her exhaustion finally caught up with her. Her head fell to the side as sleep overtook her. The state of everything going on would have to come after she woke.