Part 19: Baya Malay
Chapter 19: Baya Malay
The flight back to Palma gave me plenty of time to sit and think. Normally that would be one of the things I enjoyed most about it, but right now thinking was the last thing I wanted to do.
This time last year, I'd been an ordinary girl living in Camineet, suffering under Lassic's rule like everybody else but surviving in my own way. Now, I'd somehow become the de facto leader of a four-person band of rebels bent on killing the king of Algo.
What had I been thinking on the day of Nero's death, when I set out to avenge my father and brother? I was trying to kill a king. A king with an army of loyal, merciless robots at his command. When we were on Dezoris, far away from the seat of Lassic's power, it was easier to forget about the impossibility of our task. Baya Malay was different. An entire mountain fenced off and patrolled by countless robot cops... whatever was there, Lassic didn't want anybody going anywhere near it. That was why we were going there, and it was also why going there would probably get us killed.
When we landed on Palma, I said my last goodbye to Hapsby and stepped out of the Luveno.
While we were in Gothic, I bought a magical light guaranteed to last for a lifetime of continuous use. Since our lifetimes were likely to be considerably shorter than average, that guarantee was more than enough for our purposes, and the last thing I wanted to do was fumble around in the dark to replace a dead flashlight battery while Lassic's robot cops were after me. Money wouldn't do us any good where we were going, but I still spent as long as I could haggling over the price, desperate for any excuse to further delay our journey. I could tell that Myau was making a conscious effort to contain his irritation at my time-wasting; I was thankful that he was at least trying, even if it wasn't working very well.
We crossed the river separating Gothic from Camineet and made our way to the sole gatehouse in the wall surrounding Baya Malay. There could be no more stalling: it was time to do or die. Probably die.
We weren't shot dead as soon as we entered, which was a plus. In fact, there were no guards at the entrance at all. It was enough to make me suspect an ambush.
Our way was soon blocked by a tall iron gate adorned with demonic faces. I tried to insert my dungeon key into the keyhole, but a painful electric shock forced me to pull my hand away.
"I sense magic," said Noah. "Stand back."
Noah began to chant a spell as he raised his hands, palms open, and placed them against the door. His hands glowed with a soft blue light, and after a few seconds the door swung open.
Apart from being pleasantly surprised to see Noah's door-opening spell finally come in handy, I was relieved that Lassic relied on a magically locked gate to keep people away from Baya Malay. If he expected that lock to discourage visitors, he might not feel the need to keep the gatehouse so heavily guarded. We might have a chance to get somewhere after all.
We soon found that the gatehouse doubled as a prison. We offered to help the prisoner escape, but he pointed out that Lassic already knew who he was and where he lived. Even if he wasn't killed by monsters on the way home, he'd only be recaptured. Besides, Lassic had already seized all of his assets; at least in jail he was given food and water.
The next prisoner shared the first one's opinion of the futility to do anything to stop Lassic's reign of terror. They were willing to trade a life of freedom spent running and hiding for a secure existence under the heel of Lassic: exactly what I'd refused to do. I understood their decision, but I still couldn't help but feel a trace of contempt for them. Was I throwing away my life in a vain attempt to free a planet full of cowards who wouldn't fight for themselves?
I realised I was being unfair to them when I met a man who'd tried to organise a rebellion against Lassic and failed. If trying to oppose Lassic really was hopeless, then it was also pointless, and there was no reason to blame them for not fighting. I guess the fact that I was still fighting meant I still had some hope of victory. Either that, or I'd finally gone insane.
If there was one thing I hated, it was Dezorians mouthing off to me. This was one prisoner I felt no regrets about leaving in jail.
The woman in the next cell told me something that sent a chill down my spine: Lassic was conducting human sacrifices to appease the dark gods who supposedly gave him his magical powers. Whether his "gods" were real or not, his evil was beyond all doubt.
We also learned a little more about Baya Malay. A tower had been built there, stretching above the cloud line. Unfortunately, none of the prisoners had any idea who or what was in there.
A prisoner near the end of the hallway whispered a warning to me through the bars of his cell. I smiled and nodded silently in his direction by way of thanks.
I presented my roadpass with a confident smile. It had served me well; we were about to walk right into the most heavily secured place on Palma without so much as a fight.
I signalled to the others to keep quiet, and let the robot cop take us to the high-security section of the prison without protest. We were led down a long, twisting series of hallways. A series of heavy stone blocks slid away into the wall as we approached and slid back behind us when we passed, sealing us in. The cop didn't bother to search us for weapons: cops were expendable, and killing one would only make them stop coming to bring us food.
"What was that all about?" Myau asked indignantly. "Back on Dezoris you promise to start taking my opinions into account, and now you're suddenly giving us all orders again, and ridiculous ones at that. Why'd you let that cop drag us off to jail?"
"Please, Myau, calm down," I said. "I didn't want to bring every cop in the area down on our heads by fighting. We can always use our magic to escape. Besides, maybe we can learn more about Lassic from the prisoners down here."
Myau sighed. "I see your point. But next time, we go in with our weapons drawn and kill that cop before it has the chance to sound the alarm. Agreed?"
I grinned. "Sounds like a plan."
I began to explore this section of the prison, curious to find out who else was being kept down here. If they kept rebel leaders in the low-security section, what kind of people were in the high-security section?