Tomorrow Is Another Day
The four fighters arrived at the lava fields in about a week. Alis, leading the group as usual, stepped up to the edge and examined the extremely hot substance. She turned back to her companions and said, "We should have enough burgers and healing techniques to get us through. We'll have to move quickly, though." They nodded. Alis turned back to the lava and sighed. "It's now or never!"
They tried to get through the lava as quickly as possible, but the thick liquid made progress extremely difficult. Noah found herself wincing from the pain coming from her feet and legs. As she struggled, she saw her friends having difficulty as well. After what seemed like hours, they finally collapsed onto the solid ground.
When Noah pulled herself up to a sitting position, the picture that greeted her was not pretty. All four members of the group had suffered from serious burns on much of their bodies. Myau had already healed himself using the cure technique he knew, but the process had left him exhausted. Odin was either sleeping or unconscious - Noah couldn't tell. As she started to work on her own healing, she noticed Alis was trying to sit up.
"We can't rest here, we'll be attacked," she said as she tried to stand up.
"Where can we go? We'll never make it!" Noah insisted.
Alis looked up at the sky. "We've got a few more hours of daylight left. Most likely, we won't be attacked while the sun is still up. We can work on healing each other just enough to make it to a safe place." She pointed to the north. "I think I can make out buildings over there. We should be able to get there before dark." She collapsed to the ground again.
Myau rushed to her side. "She's passed out again," he told Noah. "I'll work on healing her, you can tend to Odin."
Noah took a deep breath and began to work up the strength needed for curing. She sat down next to him and started to remove the heavy armor. When she started taking off the plates around his arms, she noticed him stirring.
Odin slowly opened his eyes and squinted in the bright sun. "Where are we? What happened?" he whispered.
"We crossed the lava," she told him. He groaned. "Shh, don't try to move. As soon as I have enough strength, I'll work on healing your burns."
The pale gray eyes closed again. Noah knew that she would have to hurry. She quickly removed the rest of the armor and flinched. The burns were much worse than she had expected.
Meanwhile, Myau and Alis were almost fully recovered. They came over to Noah and Odin to see how they were.
"Do you think he can make it to the town?" Alis asked Noah.
"I doubt it, he's badly injured."
Myau looked to the north. "I should go see if I can get some help. Maybe there's a hospital in the town, or a fast food store."
"You can't go by yourself," Alis told him. "I doubt that the citizens have ever seen a talking cat. They wouldn't know what to do. I'll have to come with you." She turned to Noah. "What are you going to do?"
"I'll stay here. I should be able to start the curing process within the next half hour."
Alis shrugged. "Just be careful, we don't know how much daylight we have left."
Noah was about to nod in agreement when a noise beside her caught her attention. Odin was struggling to get up.
"Lie down," she told him.
"Go with them, you'll be safer," he said. "I don't want you to put yourself at risk."
She shook her head. "Don't worry about me, I'll be fine." She turned back to Alis and Myau. "Go on ahead, we'll be here until you get back."
"We'll be back as soon as we can." They turned around and started walking toward the town.
Noah turned back to Odin. "Try to get some rest."
He wrinkled his nose. "I can't. Not while you're alone here. It won't make much of a difference, anyway."
"It will help ease the pain. You're extremely hurt, you need rest."
He frowned. "Can you heal me?"
"Soon," she promised him. "As soon as I can, I will."
He closed his eyes again. Noah wanted to heal Odin, to soothe the terrible pain, but she was too weak. And, as always, her weaknesses frustrated her. She kept watching for monsters in the shadows, but they were only in her imagination.
She turned her attention back to Odin. His breathing was shallow and she wasn't sure if he was totally unconscious or just sleeping. She leaned over him and studied the strong, masculine face.
Noah had always been amazed at what she could find out about people just by studying their appearance. Not quick glances, but with in-depth looks. She looked at the dark, deep-set eyes, which were now closed in pain. Eyes were the windows to the soul, she thought. So much could be revealed in them, but now she could see nothing.
Although Odin was young, there were a few fine lines around his mouth and eyes, showing the stress of a hunter. Again, his pain was evident throughout his physiognomy, but there was nothing she could do. She wanted to help, she felt a strange need to relieve his suffering, but she was too weak.
Noah took a corner of her cloak and wiped his sweaty brow. Odin's eyes opened again. "Please, go find Alis and Myau," he whispered.
"I'd never be able to find them. Face it, you're stuck with me."
He somehow managed a small smile. "Stop worrying about me, you need rest yourself. How am I supposed to get better if my healer keeps wearing herself out?" He was suddenly overcome by a terrible coughing fit. "I need you," he managed to get out before the eyes closed again.
Noah watched to see if he would awaken again, but there was nothing. She looked up at the sky, which was beginning to show the first signs of darkness. There was nothing she could do until tomorrow. "Tomorrow is another day, right, Master Tajima?" she said to the shadows, smiling. Noah looked back at Odin, but he had not heard her. She gently kissed his forehead, curled up next to him, and fell asleep.
* * * * *
"Noah?" The young woman opened her eyes and squinted in the bright sunlight. "Noah, wake up."
She sat up and brushed the long blue hair out of her face. Alis and Myau stood before her. "When did you get here?" she asked.
"Just now, we found a village to the north, but I'm afraid it's deserted. We can still rest there, though, it's safer than being out here." Noah nodded. "How's Odin doing?"
She frowned. "Unfortunately, not well. I can try to heal him now, but I don't know if it will do any good." She knelt next to the warrior and silently summoned as much power as possible. Concentrating on the wounds, Noah felt the healing energy leave her body and enter Odin's. She knew that it wasn't much, but maybe he'd be able to make it to the village.
His eyes slowly opened. "How are you feeling?" Alis asked.
"Better, but not one hundred percent." Letting Alis and Noah help him, he slowly stood up. "I think I can walk on my own," he told them.
"That's good. As I was just telling Noah, there's a small, deserted village to the north, but we should be safe there. It's only a few hours away."
"Sounds great, let's go. We've been here long enough."
They made their way to the village of Bortevo, stopping every now and then so Odin could rest. As Alis had said, it only took about three hours to reach the ruins. When they finally reached the outskirts, Noah looked around. "I can make out the remains of some small houses," she said.
Myau nodded. "We checked them all before, there's nothing but garbage in every one of them."
Noah stepped up to a house near the center of the town and looked up. It wasn't damaged too badly and it looked like it could offer some protection. She pushed open the blue door and examined the interior. There was a pile of garbage in the middle of the single room, but it wouldn't be a problem. She turned around and found her friends standing in the doorway. "We can stay here," she said.
The group set down their things and made Odin as comfortable as possible. "I'll be fine, don't worry about me," he kept insisting, but they still worked hard. After everything was arranged, Noah decided to explore the old village some more.
As she was coming out of a house near the entrance of Bortevo, Noah saw something moving in the shadows. She momentarily froze with fear, but then prepared her Fire spell in case she needed it. She stepped closer to a small group of trees and gasped as a disheveled man came out from behind it.
He seemed just as surprised as she was. "What are you doing here? No one ever comes here anymore."
"My friends and I thought this village was deserted. We are resting in one of the houses to the north."
"How did you get here? The tunnel under the ocean is rumored to be impassible."
"We crossed the lava," Noah told him. "After we recover from the wounds it caused, we'll be continuing on our way."
The man looked confused. "Where did you come from?"
"The doctor in Gothic sent us, we're supposed to find his robot."
His eyes widened. "You're looking for a robot?"
Noah felt a glimmer of hope pass through her for a moment. "Do you know where it is?" she asked.
He frowned and gestured to the ruined buildings. "In this pile of junk somewhere, there's supposed to be a usable robot, but you know how rumors be..."
Noah smiled at him. "Thank you, I do hope that these rumors come out to be true." She paused. "Why don't you join my friends and me? We'll be travelling a lot, I'm sure that we can help you find a better home."
He shook his head. "I'd rather stay here. Although it may be destroyed, this is, and has always been, my home. The memories of death emanate from every corner and I'm alone and the sole survivor, but I can't bring myself to leave."
"I think I know how you feel," she told him.
"Maybe you do, maybe you don't..." He disappeared back into the shadows. Noah started to follow him, but decided to tell her companions of this new information.
* * * * *
"Maybe it was just a rumor," Alis said. "We've searched every single pile of garbage in this village, I doubt we've missed Hapsby."
"I guess so. So now where are we going?" Noah asked.
"There's a cave to the north of here. We'll check that out in a few days."
After Odin recovered, they entered the north cave. The journey was difficult, but not impassible, as the man in Bortevo had said. They exited through a different set of stairs and found themselves on the other side of the ocean. Some quick exploration led them to some mountains, which, unfortunately, they could not pass through.
"What should we do now?" Myau asked.
Alis thought for a minute. "We can walk along the beach for a while. We'll see where that takes us." They headed for the sand and started to make their way around the island. After a few battles with the local sea creatures, they were on the eastern side. "See, that wasn't too bad," Alis said.
By the end of the day, they had reached the small village of Loar. After resting for the night, they asked the inhabitants if they had heard anything about a Laconian robot. Although they gained some other interesting information, no one had heard anything about Hapsby.
"There is a village called Abion on the western edge of this island," one person told them. "Maybe they could help you." After purchasing a silver weapon for Myau, they set out again to find Abion.
In two days, the travelers reached the large village. "Look, a food store, we can finally buy more burgers and cola!" Alis exclaimed. They entered the shop and Alis placed their order for supplies. As always, the curious student looked around the small store. She stepped over to one of the shelves, which contained a number of small bottles with a strange liquid inside.
"What's this?" she asked the shopkeeper.
He looked at what she was holding. "It's a rare substance called polymeteral," he told her.
Noah turned to her companions. "Polymeteral..." she said. "I don't believe I've ever heard of it." They all shrugged. "Tell me, what does this polymeteral do?"
"It's actually quite interesting," the shopkeeper started. "It will disintegrate all materials except pure Laconia. We usually don't keep that much here because most people don't have a use for it."
"Hapsby..." Noah whispered. "We'll take a bottle of it as well," she told the man. They paid for their supplies and left the shop in search of more information.
Once again, no one could tell them anything about Hapsby. Noah noticed a small island in the middle of a lake. "What's in that house on the island," she asked a villager, hoping that she could find out more about the robot.
"I'm not really sure," was the answer. "A strange man came to this town. He seems to be performing animal experiments. He brought a large pot or something."
"Animal experiments?" Myau asked worriedly.
"Yes, his lab is somewhere on the island, no one ever goes there." The villager's voice dropped down to a whisper. "It is said that he is a servant of Lassic! We don't want to get in the way of any of his affairs, we're too afraid!"
"Can you tell us how to get to the island?" Alis asked.
"The entrance to the tunnel is in the west side of Abion. But please, don't put us in danger!"
The tunnel was easy enough to find. There weren't any monsters inside, so they made their way through fairly quickly. When they reached the island, a large building stood before them. Alis hesitated for only a moment, and then pushed the door open.
Noah stepped inside and was almost knocked over by the hideous smell that greeted them. When she looked around, what she saw wasn't any better. A large, ugly man was examining something in the corner. He heard them, turned around, and spotted Myau.
"Hey, bring that cat over here!" he demanded.
Myau flinched and remained standing behind Alis. "Never!" she cried.
"I will kill any who interfere!" screamed the mad doctor. Instantly, a laser beam shot out from his belt, almost instantly killing the group. Myau quickly set up a defensive barrier, and Noah sent a strong gust of wind in the doctor's direction. Alis had also mastered the Fire spell and proceeded to use it to the best of her ability. After a long battle, the doctor finally dropped dead.
"There's a hospital back in the village," Alis said. "We should get there quickly." But Noah, as always, was too busy exploring to hear her. She noticed a strange object in the corner. As she picked it up, Alis gasped in surprise.
"The Laconian pot! How in the world did he get a hold of it?" she wondered.
"What's the Laconian pot?"
"My brother's close friend Nekise gave it to me. I traded it for Myau back in Paseo. I wonder why it's here..." She picked up the pot and stuck it in her bag. "Come, let's go see about that hospital, then we can decide where to go next."
The next morning, the group discussed the current situation. "I can't imagine where Hapsby could possibly be," Myau said. "We've searched practically all of Palma."
Noah had been silent all this time, thinking of the whereabouts of the robot. "Let's go back to Bortevo," she said. "Maybe we missed something."
"I don't see how we could have," Alis said. "But we can try."
They returned to Bortevo in a few days and went back to their original camp in the northern house. "I guess we should try searching the garbage again," Alis said. But, as always, Noah was thinking instead of listening. Impulsively, she reached into Alis' bag and pulled out the polymeteral. "What are you doing?" Alis asked.
Noah didn't say anything, but opened the small flask. She poured the polymeteral over the pile of junk in the center of the room and watched as the scraps of metal slowly melted away to nothing. In a few minutes, all that remained was a small robot made of pure Laconia. "I'm Hapsby," the robot said in a monotonous, mechanical voice. "Thanks for finding me. I can fly the Luveno for you."
"How did you..." Odin trailed off. "I never would have imagined..."
"Come on," Alis said. "Let's bring the little guy back to his owner."