Part 10: Twintown
Chapter 10: Twintown
We realised we were walking over the surface of a frozen lake when giant crustaceans and shellfish broke out from under the ice and attacked us, splashing us with freezing cold water in the process. I was surprised by how similar they were to the monsters on the beaches of Motavia. I guess that creatures on a desert planet and an ice planet both had to protect themselves from extreme temperatures. These specimens were much tougher than anything we'd found on Motavia, though; even Odin's laser gun had trouble burning through their shells.
The next cave was just as unpleasant as the first. The passages were wider and straighter so we didn't have to crawl, but that also meant that the whole cave system acted as a very effective wind tunnel, making us colder and more miserable than we had previously thought possible. At least the native Dezorian village couldn't be much further away. Once we got out of this cave it'd have to be--
Oh, come on. How many more caves did we have to go through? The only thing that stopped me from turning back right then and there was the thought of walking all the way back to Skure in the cold. At least if we kept pressing onward I wouldn't have to listen to Myau whining about how we left before he got his Laerma nuts.
The first thing we ran into when we entered the next cave was an enormous white dragon. This trip just kept getting better and better. Fortunately, Noah was able to reason with it, and it even gave us some useful information about a key to open magical locks. At least, it would have been useful information, except we still hadn't seen a single magical lock. Once Noah got an idea in his head, it was hard to get it out.
Three caves down, who knows how many more to go. I desperately hoped we'd find that village soon; I was losing track of time, not to mention all feeling in my feet.
Undead soldiers wandered through the forest as if patrolling for enemies, and attacked us on sight. I recognised their rotting uniforms as belonging to the old Algo army. When Lassic disbanded the police and military and replaced them with robot cops, many officers who objected disappeared without a trace. I shuddered to think how many of them must have ended up in unmarked graves on this horrible frozen wasteland of a planet.
At least Myau was pulling his weight in the party; he learned a spell that greatly increased one person's physical strength for a short time. It almost made up for his barely-suppressed laughter at our "human clumsiness" whenever one of us slipped and fell on the ice, and his constant reminders about the urgent importance of gathering Laerma nuts for him. I didn't blame that guy in Scion who found Myau for selling him to a pet shop; I was only surprised that Odin hadn't done the same long ago.
If I never saw another cave again, it would be too soon.
Like everywhere else we'd been on Dezoris, the cave was cold, dark, and full of undead. I was almost grateful whenever I saw monsters approaching; at least the exercise helped keep us warm.
Finally! FINALLY! I almost cried with joy when I emerged from the cave and saw a town across the snowfields to the east. Despite my numb feet and aching bones, I ran as fast as I could in the direction of the town. After slipping and falling face-first into the snow, I made the rest of the journey somewhat more cautiously but with undiminished excitement.
Of course, nothing could ever be easy for us. As we approached the village, one of Lassic's elite war magicians jumped out from behind a tree and attacked us all with a barrage of lightning bolts, burning and shocking us. We surrounded him and brought him down before he had a chance to make a second attack.
With that one last complication behind us, we entered the Dezorian village. Like the Palmans, the Dezorians built their towns mostly underground. The passage we had to navigate was mercifully short and straightforward.
Unfortunately, since the Dezorians were accustomed to the cold, their village wasn't nearly as warm and comfortable as Skure, but it was still a definite improvement over conditions on the surface. One thing struck me as strange as soon as I entered: the village was divided into two halves, and I didn't see anybody travelling between them. It was as if they were two separate villages. I visited the western half first to see if they had any useful information.
As I soon found out, the western half didn't like the eastern half much.
... and they weren't too friendly to us either. Why couldn't we ever catch a break?
Fortunately, the Dezorians were willing to give us information as long as it meant we'd get out of their houses immediately afterwards. One of them volunteered some information about a magical artifact called the Aeroprism.
I was glad we'd decided to keep Dr. Mad's Laconian pot. It'd be terrible to get all the way to the Altiplano Plateau and then find out that we couldn't take any Laerma nuts with us because we didn't have all the necessary equipment for harvesting them.
We also got directions to the Corona Tower and yet another cave. I didn't like the way the Dezorian spoke about his "friends"; something told me they were no friends of ours.
A salesman in the west side of town offered to sell us a vehicle specially designed for making its way through the icy mountains of Dezoris, and for only 10 times the cost of our fully functional spaceship. We could afford it, though, and once the salesman mentioned "full air conditioning and heating" he'd made the sale. We handed over the money and he assured us that our vehicle would be waiting for us outside.
As it turned out, the hatred of the west side of town for the east was mutual.
The Dezorians on the east side were friendlier towards us, but this whole town was just too damn weird for me to trust anyone in it.
One of them told me about a teleporter in a dungeon. To be honest, I didn't have any plans on going deep underground just to try out a portal to an unknown destination, but at least he was polite.
A spring of life? It was hard to believe there was liquid water anywhere on the surface of this planet, let alone in the middle of an abandoned tower.
Now that just didn't make any sense. Trees grew nuts, they didn't turn things into nuts. I was starting to feel as if this entire town was playing some kind of huge joke at my expense.
Having gained all the information we could and been thoroughly weirded out in the process (except for Noah, who insisted that everything made perfect sense to him but was utterly unable to explain any of it), we returned to the surface.
At least our Ice Digger was real, and waiting for us outside. Sensation returned painfully to my frostbitten feet as we sat in the stationary vehicle with the heater on full blast. Once I could operate the pedals without feeling like my feet were wooden blocks pierced through with sharp needles, we were on our way.
The Ice Digger worked as advertised, drilling straight through anything in our way. It was a lot faster than walking, and much, much more comfortable. The seats even folded out into beds so we could get a decent night's sleep. It was by far the biggest purchase I'd ever made, and easily worth every meseta.
At long last, the goal of our long and incredibly unpleasant journey was at hand. A single, glorious Laerma tree sat in the middle of the Altiplano Plateau, its root system extending so far out that nothing else could grow anywhere near it. Myau was pacing across the backs of our seats in anxious excitement. Soon we'd be leaving with his precious Laerma nuts and, with any luck, we'd never have to visit Dezoris again.