Part 3: Odin
Chapter 3: Odin
As I walked deeper into the cave, the sunlight filtering in through the entrance grew increasingly faint, and soon I could barely see my hand in front of my face.
Myau looked up at me; all I could see of him was his eyes reflecting what little light there was. "You humans can't see in the dark, can you?"
"And you don't have a flashlight, do you?"
I fumbled around in my bag and realised I'd forgotten to bring one. "Um, not exactly."
Myau gave a long, breathy purr that I'm pretty sure was a sigh. "Better go back and get one, then."
After a long walk back to Camineet, I was finally, genuinely ready to confront whatever horrors lay in wait inside Medusa's cave and save Odin. Or at least, I was as ready as I'd ever be.
The cave was filled with amorphous, acidic slime monsters and fast-moving winged abominations with a single giant eye. While Myau and I couldn't afford to let our guard down, the monsters here weren't really much more dangerous than those I'd already faced outside of Scion. Whenever I heard the flapping or squelching of monsters coming toward me, I was just glad it wasn't Medusa.
I'd been eager to try out a spell I'd learned to calm the minds of monsters and allow communication across language barriers. It was a pity that the monsters in here didn't seem intelligent enough to be reasoned with. Even if we ran into Medusa, what would I say to her? "Hi there, we're just here to rescue the hero you petrified. Pay no attention to us."
The cave was a small one, and Myau remembered its layout from the last time he'd been in there, so it didn't take us too long to find Odin. He'd been backed into a corner by Medusa; Myau was lucky to get away while her attention was focused on Odin.
"So, how does this Alsulin stuff work, exactly?", I asked Myau. "It's not as if he can drink it in this state."
Myau rubbed his paw against his ear as if trying to scratch his head. "You know, Odin never got around to telling me that. I guess we just... pour it on his head or something."
I took the Alsulin from around Myau's neck. "Well, we only get one shot at this. Let's hope for the best."
I watched the liquid trickle down over Odin's petrified body with anxious anticipation. For a moment, nothing happened. I started to worry that we'd wasted our only dose of Alsulin, and with it our only hope of saving Odin and defeating Lassic.
Then cracks began to form in the stone, and a warm light emanated from underneath them. Dust and chunks of rock fell around Odin's feet as he shook his head and shoulders to break out of the stone. Odin lived again!
He grinned at me a little sheepishly as he took stock of his situation and realised what must have happened to him.
To be honest, I was thinking the same thing, but now wasn't the time to say it. I needed all the help I could get.
I was pretty sure I'd consider that fortunate. If she was still here, I'd probably be in the same situation as Odin was.
Odin had stashed his supplies in another corner of the cave to lighten his load while running from Medusa. He led us back to them.
Odin searched through his backpack, making sure everything was still there. After a minute or two, he nodded in satisfaction and pulled out a compass.
"Now that we've got this back, I know just the place for us to go next," Odin said with a grin.
I wasn't going to let Odin run off on another wild goose chase and get us both killed so soon after I'd found him. "Is this the kind of errand that involves fighting deadly monsters for magical weapons? Because that didn't turn out so well for you last time."
Odin chuckled, seemingly unperturbed by his recent brush with death. "No. Well, yes, actually, but we'll get to that later. First I want to visit a town where we can stock up on equipment."
For once, Odin had come up with a good idea. If we wanted to face Lassic, my short sword and Odin's rusty old iron axe weren't going to cut it, so to speak. "Fine. Just please be sure to check with me again before we get to the parts that are likely to get us killed."
We left Medusa's cave and walked east. The eastern forest was filled with sentient carnivorous trees and bigger, more aggressive versions of the eye-creatures we'd fought in the cave, but Myau and I flanked them with quick attacks while Odin made short work of them with his axe.
I watched with admiration as he stood over the remains of a stand of trees that had come to life and attacked us, now reduced to firewood. "Ever consider being a lumberjack, Odin? It seems like it'd be safer than your chosen line of work."
Odin laughed. "Nah. I don't look good in suspenders. Armour's more my style."
As we continued deeper into the forest, it grew denser and more difficult to find a path through. If it weren't for Odin's compass, we would have been completely lost. As it was, we had to count our paces in each direction and make sure we ended up going approximately eastwards on average.
The monsters also grew fiercer as we went further in; two bat-like humanoids leapt down from the trees with horrible ear-piercing screeches and attacked us. My attempts to talk to them were futile even with the aid of my magic, and even Odin's axe had difficulty penetrating their leathery hides. The more we hurt them, the stronger their rage and pain seemed to make them. Finally, Odin managed to cleave the head off one of the bat-things with a mighty sweep of his axe, and the second one fell quickly once it was surrounded from three sides. Fortunately, they seemed to be hoarders with a particular fondness for shiny objects; we found a substantial cache of coins hidden in the tree they'd attacked us from.
After another half-hour of walking, we reached a clearing and saw a small village. Townspeople with axes and guns watched the gates, ever alert for monsters.
All the same, they were happy to see visitors from outside, and Eppi at least seemed to have fared better than Scion. More proof that Lassic's robot cops weren't doing a damn thing to protect Palma -- Eppi was getting along just fine without them.
In such an isolated town, it seemed safe to openly admit my plans and ask for advice about how to achieve them. Lassic probably thought everyone here was already dead anyway. If so, he underestimated the human will to survive; I could only hope that would be his downfall. The people here seemed to agree with me that the Governor of Motavia was a good person to ask for help.
They also mentioned someone named Noah and a scientist named Dr. Luveno, who had been forced into hiding due to suspicions that they opposed Lassic's rule. Well, if they hadn't been enemies of Lassic before he made them flee for their lives, I was sure they were now; I'd try and secure their help if I could find them.
The village elder told me about a dungeon key, designed to open almost any lock. Apparently, he used to own a company that manufactured dungeon keys and other items for police officers, before Lassic replaced the police force with robot cops. When his factory closed, he'd hidden one key in the very same warehouse in Camineet that I'd once found that stash of old money in! I told him about his money and offered to give its value back to him, but he told me I was welcome to keep it. I guess he didn't have much to spend it on here in Eppi anyway.
Before we left, Odin stopped by the town armoury and bought a needlegun. He was a good shot with it, and it pierced the hides of the bat-creatures much more effectively than my sword or Myau's claws, making the journey back out of Eppi Forest much easier than the journey in.
We found the dungeon key behind a loose brick in the corner of the warehouse, just where the elder said it would be. With our detour finished and the key in hand, I was ready to go and meet the Governor, but Odin insisted on making one more stop first. He said he'd had a hot tip about a rare weapon in a cave to the east of Scion.
I raised an eyebrow. "So this is the part you mentioned earlier where we fight deadly monsters again?"
Odin grinned. "Trust me, it'll be worth it."
Myau agreed with Odin, seeming particularly enthusiastic for some reason. "Odin told me about this before we went after Medusa. If his information is correct, it's something we won't easily be able to find anywhere else."
I was reluctant to risk my life for the sake of a weapon, but we still needed better equipment to face Lassic, and we wouldn't get it without taking some risks. We set off to the east.
We followed the coastline along a peninsula jutting out just to the south of Scion. As we walked along the beach, large fishlike humanoids lumbered out of the water and advanced menacingly upon us. Once again all my attempts at conversation proved futile, and we were forced to fight them off. They were formidable opponents, but no more so than the bats around Eppi, and I'd fought enough to know my way around a sword by now. Soon the fish-men were lying dead on the sand and we were able to continue on to the cave.
I stood at the mouth of the cave, this time with a flashlight firmly in hand and some spare batteries for it just in case.
"Whatever's down there isn't going to be as bad as Medusa, right?" I asked.
Odin shrugged. "Probably not. Besides, being turned to stone isn't painful or anything. Just kinda cold and numb."
That wasn't exactly the reassurance I'd hoped for, but I pressed on anyway. Whether we were going to succeed or die trying, we might as well get it over and done with quickly.