Tomorrow Is Another Day
The years passed quickly. After creating a living area for herself, Noah devoted almost all of her time to her studies. She found that the work was difficult, but she was making slow progress.
She had found a small pool of water in the cave and set up her home around that. She mainly ate scorpions, but every once in a while she would make the trip to Paseo to buy more burgers and cola. It was on her way back from one of these excursions when the first encounter occurred.
Noah was about halfway home when she heard a strange noise. It came from one of the paths that branched off from her usual route. She pulled out her timepiece, decided that she had a little extra time, and turned to the right. A few more paces and she almost stepped on it.
She stifled a scream and jumped back. An enormous green arachnid hissed at her as she backed down the tunnel. Noah took off running through the cave until she reached the second floor where she lived. Panting, she leaned against the wall and rested.
She rested her head back against the wall and thought about what had just happened. She didn't have much time to think, though. As she stared up at the ceiling, something started to drip through the cracks. She stood up straight and moved out of the way as a red blob fell onto the floor in front of her. She continued on her way home when she noticed the slime was following her. Resisting the urge to scream for the second time in the past three minutes, Noah dashed back to her cavern and slammed the door she had fashioned out the surrounding stone.
After making sure that the door was securely shut, Noah collapsed in the corner. What had happened since her last trip to Paseo? It had been almost a year since she had left the cave, but she had never seen anything except the overgrown scorpions.
The scorpions. Of course. The warning signs had been there, but she had missed them. "Keep your eyes open for signs," Master Tajima had told her before she had left him. But, like the foolish child she sometimes still considered herself to be, she had stumbled blindly into this trap. As Noah sat against the wall, she realized what a terrible predicament this really was. She knew that she probably wouldn't be able to risk going back to Paseo. She couldn't even keep her door open for more than a few minutes at a time. Unless some scorpions just walked in front of her door quite often, her food supply would soon decrease rapidly.
Noah tilted her head back and stared up at the ceiling in disappointment and fear. She was trapped.
* * * * *
"We've been walking for hours and we're probably going in circles. Let's just leave."
"Just a little further, I'm sure we're going the right way...look, there's a door! The first door we've seen in here, this must be it!"
The large man stepped in front of his much smaller companions and examined the door. "It's not locked, let's go in."
"Oh, shouldn't we knock first?"
Odin rolled his eyes and quietly pushed open the doors. Sitting inside, studying a book at a small desk, was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen in all of Algol. As his lips parted in a combination of shock and amazement, his fellow travelers became impatient.
"Odin, is she in there?" Alis asked. She tried to get around him to enter the room, but he completely blocked the door.
Noah looked up and dropped her book in surprise. "Who are you?" she demanded.
The third partner finally managed to edge around his frozen friend. "We were told that you may be able to help us," the little cat said.
"I'm busy with my training now, do not be a nuisance!" she said, rather annoyed. As she was about to close the door, Alis spoke up again.
"Wait, I have a letter from your uncle, the governor!" She gave Odin a small shove. "Odin, will you please get out of the way?" He stepped to the side, still awestruck and staring. Alis handed her the letter and watched as she read it.
My dearest Noah,
It's been so long since I last heard from you, I've been so worried. Come see me in Paseo as soon as you can.
Since you've been living in Nahru, things in the outside world have changed greatly. Our beloved ruler, King Lassic, has become terribly corrupt and Algol is beginning to decline. Entire cities have fallen into disrepair and dangerous creatures now roam the worlds.
These three travelers that brought this letter are trying to stop the destruction of our home. I feel that you could be a great help to them because of your training with Master Tajima. Keep up your studies, but aid them as much as possible.
I want you to take them to the town of Gothic on Palma. I don't expect you to find a working hovercraft to get you across the water, but there is an underground tunnel leading from the spaceport next to Camineet. In the town of Gothic, there is a man called Dr. Luveno. He should be able to assist you greatly.
Be careful, my niece. Do what you can to help these brave souls, but don't get yourself in over your head. I believe that you will be able to defeat Lassic, but the battle will be a long, hard one. Come to see me after you have achieved your victory.
Noah folded the letter and looked at her visitors. "You can rest here for the night while I pack some supplies," she told them. "I will come with you, but it is imperative that I continue my studies."
Alis nodded. "The governor told us that you were a magician?"
Noah looked down. "Over the past years, I have only been able to master a few simple spells. I know how to heal wounds and throw fire, but I'm coming close to acquiring a few more. That is why I must bring my books with me."
"I've been trying to learn some magic as well," Alis said shyly. "I can heal some light bruises and make us temporarily invisible, but that's about it. Myau knows a few spells as well."
Noah started to pack some supplies. As she was putting a flashlight in her bag, Alis stopped her. "We won't need any flashlights," she said, taking it out of the pack.
Noah looked confused. "Why not?"
Alis smiled and reached into the pouch she wore around her waist and pulled out a small glowing object. "I bought this in Parolit a while ago. It's like a flashlight but it can be used over and over again. It's great for lighting the way in caves."
"You mean you've been in caves besides this one?" Noah asked.
Alis nodded. "They're all over Palma. Some of our warehouses and storage buildings are modeled after them. Would you believe one Palman merchant set up a cake shop in the 4th level of a cave called Naula?"
Noah raised one blue eyebrow. "I don't want to know what a cake shop was doing in a cave like this." Her skeptical expression changed to a smile. "But I would like to know why you went all the way there to buy pastries."
The teenager giggled. "Oh, we've been on all sorts of exciting trips, we want to be as prepared as we can to face Lassic."
"That reminds me," Noah started, "Why are you trying to kill the king of Algol?"
Alis stopped laughing and looked at the floor. "My brother died trying to find out why Lassic became so corrupt. Lassic's own servants murdered him a few feet from our home."
"I'm sorry to hear that." Noah pulled her timepiece out of her robe. "You three should get some rest, I'll finish packing. I'm sorry that the sleeping arrangements aren't the greatest, but I'm sure they'll suffice for tonight."
Myau looked up for the first time and smiled. "We've spent the night in dark forests, open fields, and on the floors of caves like this one. This is just fine."
"Whatever you say," Noah said, smiling back. She crossed the room and blew out the candle that had been sitting on the desk. "Good-night."
And Odin still stared, speechless.
* * * * *
Noah was stunned when she stepped into the city of Paseo. The capital had obviously undergone some immense changes since she had last visited. Robots now lined the streets and the townspeople rarely left their houses. "What does my uncle think of all of this?" she asked her companions.
Alis shrugged. "All we know is that he supports us in our fight against Lassic." She paused. "Would you like to visit him?"
Noah considered the possibility for a brief moment, but then decided against it. "No, we'd better get going." She decided to change the subject. "I can't wait to get to Palma! I've always wanted to see it."
"It is a beautiful planet. Come, the spaceport is this way." Alis led the group over to the small spaceships that were in a separate area of Paseo. "The trip shouldn't take too long. Then we can find Dr. Luveno and see what help he has to offer."
In a few hours, Noah was on Palma for the first time in her life. Although she wanted to savor the beauty of this new experience, she knew that she had other priorities. "Let's find this tunnel," she told the group.
It didn't take long for them to find the passage that the governor had told them about. They encountered a few monsters on the way, but Noah had gotten used to them by now. She helped in the battles as much as possible, but her walking stick didn't provide much attack strength. However, she was able to practice her fire spell quite often.
The town of Gothic was practically deserted. Except for a few beggars that roamed the streets, it was empty. Alis led her companions to one of the houses that hadn't been destroyed and knocked on the door. When there was no answer, she moved to the next house and tried again. No one was home.
Noah frowned. Her uncle had written that Dr. Luveno lived in Gothic, but where was he? While the four were trying to decide what to do next, one of the beggars approached them.
"You're lookin' for that ol' doctor, ain't ya?" he asked.
"Do you know where Dr. Luveno is?" Alis inquired.
"Maybe." The old man smiled, showing all his teeth...or lack thereof. "Spare me a cup of cola?"
Odin nodded to Alis and pulled a cup out of his bag. "Here you go, now will you tell us what happened to the doctor?"
The beggar happily drank the cola and then began to speak. "When Lassic's robots came through 'ere and wrecked the place, they captured that doctor of yours."
Alis groaned. "He's as good as dead. Now what are we going to do?"
The beggar shook his head vigorously. "No, no, no. He be in Triada as we speak. You'll find the prison south of here, deep in them mountains. But I don't know if those guards are still roamin' the place." He finished his cola and started to leave. "Best o' luck to ya!" he wished them and headed off.
Alis tried the door of what she presumed to be the doctor's house, and, much to her surprise, it opened. "We can stay here for the night and we'll leave for Triada in the morning." They all nodded and entered the small house.
* * * * *
Noah waited until everyone else was asleep and then quietly slipped out the door. She walked down the street a little and sat down under a tree. Now that she had some time, she could appreciate the splendor and novelty of Palma. She lay down in the cool grass and stared up at the stars. A few minutes passed before she heard footsteps behind her.
"The stars still look the same, don't they?"
Noah turned around to face Odin. "I wouldn't know. It's been so long since I've sat down and really looked at them."
He sat down beside her. "How long were you living in that cave?" he asked.
She paused to think. "I think I was there for around four years. But I lived in a different cave for long before that."
Odin smiled. "An avid spelunker. Why did you choose to live in such a dark, unfriendly place?"
"After I finished my regular schooling, my parents sent me to a wizard named Tajima to study magic. His home has always been at the bottom floor of a cave similar to Nahru, I never questioned him."
"And your parents? What do they think of all this?"
Noah frowned. "They died four years ago. That was part of the reason I moved to Nahru." She paused. "I'd rather not discuss the past that much."
Odin nodded. "Fair enough." He sighed and stared up at the night sky. "I hate caves and tunnels," he told her. "Many bad experiences..."
"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to," she said. "I understand."
"No, it's okay, Alis and Myau know, you may as well too." He ran his hand through his short, spiky, blonde hair before continuing. "Before I heard about Alis' quest, I had gone off to try to kill the gorgon Medusa. Legend says that she possesses a mystical axe made of the purest laconia. I heard that she had been spotted lurking around a small cave, much smaller than yours, south of the Camineet-Parolit residential area that's across this river. I took Myau and headed off without bothering to buy the proper equipment, or supplies, orů" He trailed off.
Odin winced. "I turned a corner and there she was. Before I could react, I felt this intense pain come over my body. She had turned me to stone, that wicked demon! Myau had the antidote, the alsulin, but he knew he wouldn't be able to open it, so he ran. The next thing I remember is him and Alis standing in front of me, asking how I was."
Noah thought about this. "Where is Medusa now?" she asked.
The warrior squinted into the night. "It's difficult to see now, but behind those mountains to the southwest lies an immense tower which is her home. I've heard that the Laconian axe is hidden in a small room at the top. I'd still love to get my hands on it."
"But what about the gorgon?"
"I have no idea." Odin sighed. "But right now we have other things to worry about, like getting Dr. Luveno out of Triada. I hope he hasn't been there too long. I'm afraid of getting there and finding a dead body."
Noah grimaced. "That would be terrible. The robotcops would really let him die like that?"
"I'm afraid so. Lassic no longer has any regard for Algolian life. You heard what happened to Alis' brother. If they consider Dr. Luveno a threat to Lassic, he's gone."
"Well, let's get to Triada as soon as possible."
* * * * *
Finding the doctor proved to be fairly easy. It took some persuading and some sweet-talking from the big-eyed Alis, but he agreed to come with them and build a spaceship. Luck was with them, for he was only slightly malnourished and weakened from being locked up in Triada. A day or so of rest put the doctor back on his feet and he and his assistant finished the spacecraft within a week.
"The Luveno is ready to go!" the doctor announced to the group.
"This is great!" Alis exclaimed. "Now we can travel to anywhere in Algol!"
"Well, not quite," Dr. Luveno told her. "There are a few restrictions. Only three towns in Algol have proper landing pads. This town, Uzo on Motavia, and Skure on Dezoris."
"Oh." She shrugged. "Well, I suppose we'll manage. Let's go!"
"Just a minute," he stopped them again. "Do any of you know how to fly a spaceship?"
There was silence in the room. "I suppose not..." Alis trailed off.
The old doctor sighed. "If only I had Hapsby..."
"My robot, the product of many years of long, hard, work. When the robotcops captured me, they took Hapsby. I have no idea what happened to him."
"And he was programmed to fly spaceships?" she asked.
He nodded. "He was a very primitive AI, but I had grown rather attached to him."
Alis thought for a moment. "Since we won't be going anywhere without the Luveno, we could try to find Hapsby."
The doctor's eyes brightened. "Would you? That would be fantastic!"
"Where should we start looking?" the young teen asked.
"There are a few small towns on the other side of Palma," he told them. "I doubt that the robotcops would just abandon him in the woods. You should try looking there."
"We'll leave in the morning," she told him.
"Bring many supplies," he said. "To get to the towns, you'll have to cross a large field of lava. It will be a difficult journey, but I'm sure you'll make it."
Alis nodded. "I'm sure we will."