The Let's Play Archive

Phantasy Star

by Thuryl

Part 14: Sopia

Chapter 14: Sopia

The flight to Motavia was much more comfortable now that Dr. Luveno had fixed the ship's temperature regulator. Even so, it was hard to get much rest. Odin spent the whole trip telling us about all the legends he'd heard about Perseus, and all the monsters he'd slain for fame and glory. It wasn't like him to talk so much; he was normally the strong, silent type. He still didn't have much to say about his own heroic deeds, though; I guess he didn't want to brag.

We hitched the hovercraft to the back of the Land Rover in case we needed to travel over water and drove east, toward the field of poison gas. Horse-like monsters galloped alongside the Land Rover as we travelled and tried to attack us, only to be felled by Odin's expert shooting. If we found Perseus' shield, Odin would be a worthy inheritor of it.

As we drove deeper into the gas, protected by our gas masks, the walking dead rose from the earth and mobbed our Land Rover, clawing at the doors and clambering onto the roof. We drove through them as fast as we could, making sharp turns to shake them off and mowing down any that stood in our way.

Finally, a tiny village came into sight through the toxic mists. We got out of the Land Rover with weapons drawn, quickly dispatched the few zombies who had managed to keep hanging on, and entered. The air was clearer in town than outside; the village's air filters must still be working, I thought to myself.

I stood slack-jawed for a good few seconds when I realised that there were actually people still living here.

Apparently this town had been set up to harvest and refine the gas, and it was built right in the middle of the gas field because that's where the highest concentrations were. I understood the reasoning, but sometimes it'd be nice to visit a town that hadn't been built somewhere stupidly inaccessible.

Hard times bred escapism. There was nothing I wouldn't give to be at home playing video games instead of trekking through poison gas looking for an old shield so we could kill a monster to get an axe to give us a shadow of a chance at defeating an evil tyrant. Nothing, that is, except justice, and freedom, and everything and everyone else I'd been fighting for since the day I watched Lassic's robot thugs murder my brother.

Yes. Yes, I liked Sega games. I hoped I'd live long enough to play one again.

A thin old man begged me for something to drink. He was grateful, but unhelpful.

How could I answer that question? No planet ruled by Lassic, where the people lived in fear of robot cops inside and monsters outside, could be beautiful, no matter how green the trees were or how brightly the water sparkled in the sunlight.

I'll make Palma beautiful for you. I'll clean the stink of Lassic out of the air once and for all.

The village head explained Sopia's woes. With nobody able to cross the desert and gas field to trade, and no ability to support itself through agriculture, the town was dying.

What? Was this man an idiot? When the town's entire problem was that it had been cut off from all trade with the outside world, what did he expect to do with my money? Eat it? Sending more cash without anything to spend it on had been Lassic's "solution" to Palma's problems, and I'd seen for myself how little good it did. Many of the caves and dungeons we'd been through had been full of caches of old money, now almost worthless. This old fool had probably been out of touch with the rest of Algo for so long that he still thought 400 mesetas was a lot of money.

Well, maybe if I kept on his good side I could get some information out of him. That was what I was here for, after all. I reluctantly handed the money over.

So the legendary shield existed after all. Good thing we brought the hovercraft.

The island wasn't far to the east of Sopia. Following the elder's directions, we found an unusually-shaped cactus and dug under it.

Sure enough, we found a shield, with its outer surface polished so that it reflected the light of nearby Algo with dazzling brightness. Amazingly, being buried in sand for centuries hadn't worn its finish down at all.

Odin picked it up and looked it over. He wasn't looking at it with the enthusiasm I'd expected; it was as if he was inspecting it for flaws, or trying to read something written on it.

"It's a shield," he said. "Just a shield."

I stared at him in confusion. "We've travelled back and forth across two planets so you could get this shield and defeat Medusa. You told us all about what a great hero Perseus was and what an honour it would be to use his shield, and now you say it's just a shield? I don't understand you, Odin."

"I'm sorry, Alis. I didn't understand it myself until now. But even if it can help us defeat Medusa, it's just a shield. It can't make me a hero."

"But Odin, you're already a hero. I mean, everyone on Palma knows your name..."

Odin sighed and lowered his head. "There's nothing heroic about me, Alis. I'm a fraud."

Myau chuckled. "Here it comes."

Odin shot a weary glare at Myau and kept talking.

"As a child I always loved stories about heroes of old. About how they fought great battles, found great treasures, ruled great nations. I told my parents once, 'when I grow up, I want to be a hero and fight monsters'. They laughed, of course, but I always held onto that dream. And then when Lassic came to power... well, it seemed like Algo finally had a place for heroes again.

Like the young fool I was, I ran off with all the money I had and bought myself an axe, some armour and a talking Musk Cat. Myau and I travelled the world and killed a few monsters here and there, but we never really achieved anything much. When people saw an armed man stride into their town with a bag full of trophies from dead monsters, their hopes made me into more than I was. I let them believe what they wanted to believe, and so the legend of Odin and his many victories over the forces of Lassic spread. I wish I'd been honest with them. If your brother hadn't idolised me, he never would have died trying to resist Lassic.

I was hoping that somehow having Perseus' shield could make me a hero like him, but now that I have it I realise how stupid I was. I'm not a hero, and I don't want people to think of me as one any more. I'm just an overgrown boy who wanted to play at being a hero and got too caught up in it to stop when the game turned dangerous."

I was shocked. "Odin! Don't talk like that. Nero died fighting for Algo's freedom from Lassic. I was with him when he died, and I know that his only regret about the path he chose was that he walked it alone. After we've been through so much together, I won't let you give up now."

Odin shook his head. "I'm not giving up, Alis. I'm just stating the facts. I'm not a hero. Now let's go back to Palma and kill Medusa."

Myau breathed a sigh of relief. "Well, I'm glad that little speech is over with. The sooner we kill Medusa, the sooner we can go back to Dezoris and get my Laerma nuts."