Part 8: Hapsby
Chapter 8: Hapsby
Well, while we were here, we might as well ask around and see if the locals had any information for us.
The people of Loar recognised us as soon as they saw us. I wasn't sure how I felt about that. It felt good to have so much public support, but if news of us had spread this far, every cop on Palma must be looking for us. Maybe every cop in Algo.
One of the townspeople shared a legend about a magical crystal. Everyone had heard rumours of Lassic's dealings with dark magic; for all I knew, this crystal might be nothing more than a legend, but it was definitely worth keeping an eye out for it.
Another man told us about a priceless gemstone, now in the claws of a dragon. I didn't like the idea of fighting another dragon after what had happened back on Motavia, but I'd keep it in mind if we found ourselves short of money.
We also got a lead on the source of these Laerma nuts we'd heard so much about. What was so special about them, anyway?
Last but not least, we managed to get a good set of directions to Abion. With nothing more to do in Loar, we set off again.
Apelike giants inhabited the plains and forests between Loar and Abion. They were green, but far from jolly.
The giants were strong, fast, tough and relentless in their attacks. Fortunately, Noah had learned a protective spell similar to Myau's, and was able to hold off the monsters' attacks while we killed them. Myau seemed a little annoyed about Noah "stealing" his ideas for spells.
The path led gently uphill for several miles until a town finally came into view. Looking from a clifftop, I could see the cave we emerged from in the distance to the south. We'd walked around the entire island in a giant circle to get up here. On the bright side, we'd now been to literally every part of the island, so the town we'd arrived at couldn't be anything other than Abion.
It was nice to have positive confirmation that we were in the right town for once. (Well, if you could call a town we'd taken a month-long detour to so we could get a rare chemical to free a trapped robot who could pilot a spaceship "the right town".) Now to see if we could find any Polymeteral.
One of the local fast food outlets kept a few bottles of the stuff to use as a cleaning solvent. I wasn't sure about the practicality of a cleaning solvent that dissolved what you were trying to clean, but that wasn't my problem. I convinced them to let me take a large Laconia-plated jerry can of the stuff off their hands in exchange for a large sum of money.
We still had money to spare, and fortunately Abion had an excellent armory. I guess they needed advanced weapons to deal with all those giants. Between the shops in Loar and Abion, we'd picked up a new fang weapon for Myau, a heat ray for Odin and a laser-based personal protective field generator for Noah.
Since I didn't want to feel like we'd taken such a long trip just to do some shopping, we talked to the locals for a while. I struck up a conversation with a young woman, not much older than me, who'd lived in Abion all her life. Her eyes lit up in awe when I told her about all the places I'd visited and what it was like to see Palma or Motavia from space, and she told me she wished she could see it all for herself. I hoped she'd get her wish some day, when Lassic was dead and the spaceports were open to the general public again.
I bet he was talking about Laerma nuts; that'd explain why everyone was so interested in them. Myau was especially excited, and made me promise that I'd try and get him some Laerma nuts as soon as I could to see if they worked on him. I agreed, on the condition that he fixed his attitude problem by the time we found them.
We also heard about a scientist who'd set up a lab in Abion recently. He sounded kind of creepy, but then again, people said Dr. Luveno was crazy too. I decided to pay him a visit, just to see if I could get any help or information from him.
The only way to reach his laboratory was through a long underground passage; the man clearly liked his privacy. Of course, underground passages hadn't stopped me before and they wouldn't stop me now.
We entered the lab and were greeted by a tall man in a lab coat, with so many gadgets and devices attached to various parts of his body that it was hard to tell where he ended and the machinery began. He spoke in a peculiar accent.
"I am Doctor Johann von Mad, Palma's greatest biologist. Vhat do you vant of me?"
Something about his demeanour made me very uncomfortable, but now that I was here I might as well ask. I decided a direct approach was best; since Lassic already knew about me, there was no point concealing my intentions. "Lassic killed my brother. I want revenge, and I've already been to Motavia and travelled across half of Palma to get it. Is there anything you could do to help me?"
"Ah, my dear fraulein, of course I can help you. Naturally, I vould in return ask for your help in some of my... experiments."
His gaze fixed on Myau, and I saw a sinister glint in his eyes.
Myau hissed and arched his back.
"Sorry, Doctor," I said, "but I don't think he likes you. I can't say I blame him. If you're not going to help us, I think we'll be leaving now."
(Video / Backup)
Dr. Mad pushed a button on his utility belt and a barrage of rockets flew at us. Myau raised a magic wall just in time to intercept them, and the rockets impacted harmlessly against the wall while Odin, Noah and I used our guns and magic to attack from a distance. Noah was winged by a piece of shrapnel when Myau momentarily lost his concentration on maintaining the wall, but we continued our attack. Odin fired a lucky shot into Dr. Mad's belt just as he was launching a rocket, causing a series of explosions. The doctor made a kind of wet gurgling noise and collapsed in a heap, his ruined gadgetry still sparking and spewing smoke.
With the doctor dead, we searched his lab. In a back room we found the butchered bodies of dozens of animals -- rats, dogs, even a couple of Musk Cats. Some were lying on tables, while others had been stuffed into bags. The sight and smell were sickening, and I only stayed long enough to take the only item of any obvious value in the room, an empty Laconian pot. It was larger than the urn Nekise had given me long ago, but it was decorated in the same style, and seeing it still brought back memories. I decided to hold on to it for now rather than sell it, at least until I really needed the money.
I gave the doctor's body a solid kick on the way out, and I'm not sure exactly what Myau did to him but I do know that he took a minute longer to leave than the rest of us, and came out looking very pleased with himself.
Before we left Abion, Myau convinced Noah to teach him a spell, on the grounds that it wasn't fair that Noah could cast one of Myau's spells but Myau couldn't cast any of Noah's spells.
We returned to Bortevo, and I was pleased to see that Hapsby was still where we'd found him. I opened the can and poured Polymeteral over the girder trapping Hapsby, being very careful not to spill any on myself. It hissed and bubbled as the girder began to dissolve, and an overpowering chemical smell filled the air. The vapour made my eyes sting and my throat burn; if this stuff could eat straight through steel, I didn't want to think about what it could do to my lungs. We left the warehouse to get some fresh air until all the Polymeteral had evaporated.
When we returned, Hapsby was free. I used a bit of wire to press Hapsby's power button, just in case there was any Polymeteral residue left on his body. A series of lights lit up all over his body, and he stood up.
I explained our situation to him, and he was happy to help.
On our way back to Gothic, I asked Hapsby if he had any talents we should know about, but he told me that all he knew how to do was pilot spaceships and he couldn't spare enough memory to learn anything new if it wasn't really important. A pity, really; we could have used a helper robot.
Dr. Luveno was pleased to see Hapsby too, and I was pleased to see the doctor again. He might be a little arrogant and difficult, but compared to Dr. Mad he was a saint. I hoped that word of his escape didn't reach Lassic.
Dr. Luveno had even hired someone to guard the spaceship until our return. How thoughtful of him.
The Luveno was obviously cobbled together out of old parts, but there was a kind of rough beauty to it all the same. I just hoped it didn't fall apart in mid-flight.
We couldn't land at the Palman or Motavian spaceports or we'd surely be detected, but Hapsby knew of some patches of flat land near towns in Motavia and Dezoris that would be suitable for landing a spaceship. All of Algo was finally open to us; the only question was where to go first.