Part 7: Chapter VI: The Deserted Plains and Ruins
Wow, we've already completed our first task because of things we did last time! What did we do?
Receive 10 items from Supply. It is nice that they count things things that happened in the previous assignments for assignments in the current one, right?
Yeah. C'mon, we have to catch up with everyone. I'm sure a lot of things have happened since we decided to take a little vacation!
That's a good idea. Let's talk to Solle first. I want to ask him about something.
Of course. Please give me one moment...
Do you think it'll go through?
Hmm. Well, at the very least, you appear to have filled it out correctly. Oh, nope. You've made a mistake right here, and your numbers are off. Please submit it to me again.
I-Impossib--! Oh... It really is off. I didn't notice at all!
We do our books a little differently than other departments. Even veterans make mistakes. Don't worry too much about it. Just remember which areas are prone to errors, and resubmit the forms.
Um, can't we just cross out the mistakes on this one and write in the correct numbers?
Of course not! Please go get the seal of correction from you direct superior. Seeing as Ms. Marion has somehow approved the document, it appears she, too, has overlooked the error. We can't move forward until you've been realized where the mistake has been made.
Damn... No dice. I've sometimes gotten documents through that way.
If it were a simple report, I could see that happening. But this is an official branch finance document. Small wastes here and there can eventually add up to larger losses. I'd appreciate it if the R&D Division can contribute to this effort by cutting back on spending.
Ugh... We're wasting that much, are we...?
According to my calculations, we can reduce R&D's operating costs by a significant amount.
Hey... That's not true! We could do it if we tried, too!
Those are not the words of one who has actually succeeded at what she has set out to do.
Y-you have a point...
Enough chit-chat. If you really can do better when you try, then I suggest you begin trying. As an organization, I have high hopes for you. I hope you can grow sooner rather than later.
Y-Yes... We'll be back.
(He's not wrong, but...he's just really, really strict. Damn.)
Is he always like that?
Yeah... Nothing gets by him. I guess that's why Mr. Grumman keeps him around. He doesn't have any friends outside the homunculi, though. You can probably see why... Oh, I almost forgot. Nio wants us to come out to the apple orchard to see how the harvest season is going.
What are you up to?
Just gathering information. I'd like to ask you two something as well, since you're here.
What is it? If it has to do with magic, we have no idea...
Why would I ask non-magicians about magic? I'm looking for powerful spirits in this area. Know of any?
Spirits? The ones you see flying around outside sometimes?
Yeah, but much bigger and stronger. It's part of my magician's training. I'm going around making contracts with various spirits.
So you do that as part of your training? It sounds very difficult.
Actually, this is probably the easiest option. I was always training by doing assignments the Grand Witch gave me.
Assignments... Are they very difficult?
Basically, they're free-range missions where I can do anything. I tried a lot of different things, but she'd never accept them.
Right? But one thing she did accept was when I made a contract with a powerful spirit. So rather than think too hard about it, I'm going around making contracts with more spirits.
I'm not sure that's what your instructor would have wanted...
Ah, it doesn't matter. Still, getting stronger by making contracts is good, too. So, that's why I'm asking if you know of any powerful spirits, or places where they might be.
Hmm, I don't know. Maybe there were some...
Oh well. You really do need some skills to find things like this. I'll search around on my end, but if you find any places of interest, let me know.
All right... Maybe we can trade information we find on our future investigations.
You know what to look for, Logy?
Not at all. How would I know where a major spirit is located around Colseit? Though, it's possible we'll find one. It's just I wouldn't know a special area if I saw it.
Right... Well, like you said, we might as well keep an eye out.
I thought I saw another customer... Was I imagining things, or do you actually have customers besides us?
Of course I have other customers! You act as if I don't have any normal customers! Why are you so rude to me, Logy?
Now look who's being rude! You just that we're ABnormal customers!
I guess even Logy can't keep his cool all the time... Now, now, now, Logy... Calm down. But do you really have other customers, Katla?
Hmm... To be honest, not really. A lot of people do come in and look, but then they leave. Some people even stop by regularly, but they just look at the items and leave without buying anything. Though it's a peculiar shop for peculiar people, so I suppose I can't really blame them.
How exactly are you supposed to make a living off that? Isn't it really bad if you have no business?
I've tried to hide this fact, but the truth is... I'm actually really poor. Our poor little household can barely scrape up enough to afford a crust of bread...
Music: Alone in a Room By Yourself
Oh no... Why didn't you tell us this sooner?
It would be unprofessional, as a merchant...to tell one's customers about our personal lives. I lost my parents when I was young, so I need to earn money to help my two younger brothers...
Wait a minute...
I-I see... Sorry, I didn't know...
No, it's all right. I can't say the same for this store's fate, though. O, fickle life... If only I could sell this Ruin Pendant, then maybe I could stave off complete starvation.
Ohhh... Hang in there, Katla! You can't give up! I'll buy that pendant from you!
Wait... Before, she told us that her parents help her stock the store. They're obviously alive.
Besides, look at her healthy complexion. That's not the face of someone who's starving to death.
C-C'mon now... No matter how you look at me, I'm obviously an ill and frail little girl...
Why, thank you very much...! Wait, you weren't really praising me, were you?
...Um, do you mean to tell me, that whole thing about being a starving orphan was a lie?
Well... Not a lie, but a story to enhance your shopping experience. I do have enough customers to eat.
Th-Thank goodness... I was really worried when you told me how poor you were.
Ugh, and I thought I had her sold...
Do you really want to sell that pendant that badly? No offense, but you're one tough cookie. Escha, you should probably be wary of any of her claims. Seems she really wants to get rid of that Ruin Pendant.
Well, yeah... But I still feel bad for her.
I guess. But still, we have our own work to do, and sometimes that involves money. We can't get suckered into buying everything from Katla because of some sob story. Especially ones that aren't even true.
Oh yeah...why do you think she wants to sell it? Maybe it's a super valuable necklace she found in a ruin that gives good luck, and she wants to share that luck with the person who buys it!
Or maybe she bought it for a lot of money and needs to sell it to get some of the money back. She's probably as careless with money as you are.
So did you find anything new about my sister?
No. She's completely disappeared. I heard that a lot of officials from Central City are after her. It's like she's a wanted criminal.
What!? She'll be fine, right? She won't get caught...
Hmm. I don't know how she'd fare alone, but she is with that old man... Personally, I think that the ones who are mad her for such trifling reasons are being stupid. Anyway, I think it's better if you lay low here until the heat dies down.
Yeah... Thank you very much, Wilbell.
Don't worry about it. I'm sure something will happen if you just wait. Good luck with your work.
Well, I'm actually having her look for my older sister.
I didn't know she had an older sister... Why, what's wrong?
Um, due to certain circumstances, we're traveling apart right now. My sister has been doing some excessive things with the person she's with...
Really... Maybe we'll help search during our investigations. What does she look like?
Actually... I don't think she would be anywhere around here.
That's really vague. Are things that complicated with her?
Yes, of course.
Yeah, I won't tell anyone.
This has to be kept secret. My sister is being chased by people from Central City...
Whaaaat? Is your older sister a bad person?
Not so loud! Quiet down...
I-I'm sorry... But why are they after her?
Well, my sister is the type who will go anywhere if it interests her. She joined an investigation of some major ruins... But they were really old and fragile. She didn't know, and kept going further, but the ruins ended up collapsing... Apparently they were really important ruins, but they totally collapsed and nothing was left.
Even if it wasn't intentional, destroying ruins like that would put you on the wanted list...
So anyway, that's what ended up happening! She told me that I should hide as far away as I could so that I wouldn't be pursued. Sigh... I wonder if my sister is all right...
We said we would keep this secret, but we're officials too. If we find her, we'll let you know, but we definitely would have to capture her as well.
Oh no, I knew it...
Logy! You're not keeping your promise...
...What? Do you mean that we would let her escape on purpose?
I never said that. It's purely a hypothetical situation, in the case that she DID escape.
I-I see. Yes, hypothetical!
...Thank you very much! I look forward to hearing more!
(We wouldn't get off easily if they found out, but seeing Nio's worried face... I can't help it...)
Looks like the harvest is going well so far.
Yeah. It's such a relief knowing I don't have to worry about the orchards as long as my father and Clone are around. I've lived on the orchards for a long time, so I'd be really sad if anything happened to them.
Escha, I've been meaning to ask: where did these trees come from? I've never seen trees this healthy in such a remote area. And to produce so many apples is very strange, at least to me.
To be honest...
O-Oh, that's right. When should we do it?
I understand that you are quite busy with your branch work...we should find a time when you are free. The last check-up was quite thorough, so I believe the next one need only be a simple one.
Yeah, okay... Let's do this one really soon, then.
Thank you very much.
Wow, so you're the one doing regular maintenance on her...? That's pretty impressive.
Oh, um... Well, all I really do is check to see if she's still healthy, and, um...
There's no need for that, Escha. Logy is already aware that I am an automaton.
O-Oh, I see... You already knew about that, Logy?
She was created with ancient technology, right? I never thought I'd see a working one out here.
I'm sorry. Sometimes it freaks people out, so we try to keep it a secret. As much as we can, anyway.
Well, it's not that well hidden... They could have at least put a shawl or hood on her head or something... I can see where you're coming from. I mean, I was pretty surprised by it, too...
Oh, were you? You certainly handled yourself quite calmly. I had no idea that you were unsettled.
Well, you may be an automaton, but from talking to you, you don't sound different from a human being.
My oh my... Apparently it has. I confess, sometimes I am quite surprised by your plans, Escha.
The...what? "Common phrase plan"?
Clone sometimes talks kind of funny, right? I guess a lot of people thought it was strange...
Though it would seem that the people of Colseit are not concerned by it...
M-Maybe they just decided not to bring it up to you...?
Anyway, we tried coming up with a way for her to speak more naturally.
Escha came up with the idea of giving me some phrases to say that would make me more relatable. For example, the phrase "My oh my" was Escha's idea to make my speech more colloquial. My oh my... Well? What do you think? Does adding little touches like this make me seem more human?
I-I just thought that was how you talked...
My oh my, that would be overwhelming... Would I really be able to master all of them?
What should we do next... How about you try saying "Now, now..." at the beginning of your sentences next?
I appreciate the effort, but you might not want to start going overboard with that...
Logy, I'm going to check Clone and perform the maintenance. Why don't you head to the atelier and get ready for our next trip?
Okay. Actually, I'll probably head to Duke's bar first. I'm feeling kind of hungry, and I think he said something a few days ago about new stock coming in today.
Hm...? What is it?
I've been thinking lately, my tavern, well.. You know, it just feels so MANLY.
Well, it's a tavern. I don't see anything wrong with it being full of men.
That's what I mean! It's full of men! It lacks that womanly touch of class and grace.
Does a bar really need a "womanly touch"?
I'm thinking... Maybe it's 'cuz my menu's skewed toward a male demographic that keeps ladies away. So, I'm thinking of creating a new menu. Do you think you could taste a few things for me?
Aw, c'mon, Pops! Why don't you let us decide what's good or not?
Hey, I'll try anything you cook up, man!
Shut the hell up! You idiots'd eat deep-fried dog doin's and ask for me! I don't need your opinions! See, that's what I'm talking about. These are the types of customers I get, but I want...normal people.
Hey, I'm a man, too, you know... I guess I can help you, but I can't say I have the feedback you want.
That's the spirit! For now, I tried making something sweet. I'm sure to get more females in here with this.
Wow, you're really changing things up here. I guess I'll look forward to it.
Here you go! Bon apetit!
Well, pancakes, obviously. It was pretty tough to gather all the ingredients to make 'em, y'know?
You might want to look up the idea of portion control. How can anyone possibly eat this much?
Hey, don't you be knockin' my whipped cream! It's the perfect accompaniment that defines a dish! C'mon, try a few bites for me. Yeah?
Mulph... It's not bad, actually. But I'll never finish this. It's like a never-ending pancake.
Right, right? I should put it on my menu and see how the people react. Time to kiss this sausage party good-bye, and say hello to a more metropolitan dining experience.
I think your biggest problem here is with the sheer volume. But as long as you're okay with it...
Ugh...I'm full already.
Logy! What are you doing here?
I stopped by Duke's bar, and he wanted to ask me a few questions. I wanted to ask Awin how the Maintenance Division is doing, since there was that whole problem with Awin modifying that person's chimney.
Sure, easy-peasy. Let me know how many you need later, and I'll get around to it.
Thank you so much! I'll get that ready.
Oh yeah, you helped renovate our entryway... It's so much more convenient now. Thank you so much!
Heh heh, didn't I tell you that I'd be a good idea to put a storage closet there?
Yes, but could you take another look at it? It'd be nice to have a place for my important documents...
Sure, leave it to me. There's still a lot of things I haven't tried yet.
People ask us for all sorts of things, as you just saw. Most of this facility is pretty dated. And it's not like we can knock down the whole place and rebuild, so I'm trying to make things convenient.
In fact, some of Brother's modifications have been officially approved by the branch management!
Huh... You got chewed out last time, but you've actually been getting some success.
Haha, as long as people know exactly what's wrong, coming up with a solution is the fun part.
Right... You just have to squash the problem they bring to you.
Brother generally gets yelled at for doing stuff that he comes up with on his own.
Hey, c'mon... Those people have problems, they just aren't aware of them yet! It's clear some solution needs to be made, but they just slap a bandage on the problem and move on.
Because every time we get called in, it's actually a lot of work... Do you remember that chimney problem? How many times do you think we got called for that?
I understand where you're coming from, but wouldn't they get angry at you for doing it on your own?
Heizman thinks that if we're being paid, our job is just to follow orders, but I disagree. Our job is to solve problems, not to obey orders. If we have to think outside the box, why shouldn't we?
I guess you have a point. Is it better to ignore orders if they don't get the job done...?
Well, I'm pleased to know you weren't changing that person's home just on a whim.
Heh, well... If you were to put me on the stand, I might not be able to deny it.
Really... Still, the fact that people come back to you means there's a certain demand for it...
You should slow down a little, and make sure you listen to everyone's opinions. Maybe he won't yell then?
Escha is more prudent than I thought about this. Maybe it's because he's her cousin...
Well, what should we do next? Do you want to get started on the ruins?
Yeah, that's a good idea.
The ruins south of Colseit...they're so mysterious. I've never been there, actually, but i think Linca has been there on business a few times. They're so big, too. Nobody really knows much about the people who left them, but I'm sure we can find some interesting things there.
Music: Chance Meeting
These ruins are incredible. Escha, have you been here before?
No, I haven't. It was always too dangerous for me to go, but Linca sometimes came here when she had orders to exterminate monsters. I'm surprised you say that, though, Logy. I thought Central would have lots of ruins like this.
No, not really. The area around Central City is highly developed, and what ruins there are near Central are closely guarded, so not many people are allowed to visit them. Something like Nio's sister sneaking into some ruins and causing them to collapse could never have happened in the ruins closest to Central.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that... What do you think about that story, Logy? Could Nio's sister be dangerous?
It's hard to believe, honestly. How could a normal person cause that much damage? It's true destruction of priceless ruins would get anyone from Central mad, but something doesn't add up. For the meantime, let's focus on our investigation here. There's bound to be a lot of materials you haven't seen before, but be very careful of all the slags around. Marion said to make sure we survey each major part of the ruins.
Oooooh! This is Phlogiston! It's a material made out of crystallized fire. It's hard to believe something this valuable would be here. It's an excellent ingredient to make bombs out of.
Escha, me and Awin are going to hunt for some rare materials. You should do your best, too.
On the map Marion gave us, she marked each part of the ruins as "Sectors", right?
That's right. This is Sector 1. She wanted us to survey Sectors 1-3, as well as a place called the "courtyard". Apparently the information they had back at the branch office is based on some very old data, and they really needed some new hands to help find out what's here. Wait...
Y-You're right... I wonder what they're doing?
C'mon, missy, don't get so het up. You keep makin' that face, it's gonna ruin those pretty cheeks.
I'm trying to engage you in serious conversation. Keep your opinions on my physique to yourself!
What a waste of beauty... Why d'ya have to be so uptight all the time?
We have yet to complete our investigation of these ruins. Frankly, you are a distraction.
Well, that's good to hear! You're sayin' there might be some good treasure deeper in, right?
Wha... You...! You're not listening to a single word I'm saying, are you?
Now, now, let's all calm down. We may have different goals, but we can still cooperate for now.
Let me be clear: You will not set one foot in these ruins until I finish my investigation. Got it?
Hmm...strange. My instincts told me this would've gone a lot smoother...
Now, I wonder about that... If you ask me, she just got fed up. But, back to what she said earlier. There's still treasure in there, right? Let's find another route in.
Hmm... This is true. Let us place priority on investigating this area.
You hang tight, sparkly treasures! We'll find you soon enough!
If my theory is correct, the ancient people who lived here were researching something... Then, this must be the legendary home of the alchemizitizers that I've heard about in this region! What say you to my amazing powers of deduction, eh? ...Eh? Wh-What the--!? H-Heeey! Wait for me! Don't leave me alone here!
Those might be the looters!
I know. On three, we'll rush up on them and catch them before they can touch anything else.
Don't run so fast!
Logy, I don't think they were looters. They didn't even try to take anything around here. Instead... Do you think one of them was the expert from Central City that Miss Marion was talking about?
There were two groups... I wonder which is which? Heh, we didn't even ask which gender the researcher is.
I kind of think the woman was the researcher. The man was talking about treasure, and Marion definitely wouldn't ask anyone from Central to come this far out just for treasure. The woman seemed to want to know more about the ruins, so I think she was the researcher. I don't who the two men were, though...
I did kind of get that feeling from the way Marion was talking...
Let's start by going a little deeper inside, then...
Hey Logy, do you know anything about the people who might have built this?
No, Central hasn't investigated that as much as the alchemical contributions left to us by the previous civilization. All we really know about them was that alchemy was a lot more widespread in the past than it is today. You know how you and your mother have been the only alchemists in Colseit for a while, before I came here? 1000 years ago, most of the town would have known how.
Wow... What do you think happened to them?
No one knows. But, it is clear there was a sudden break in their civilization hundreds of years ago. Why that break happened, and what happened during it, is a mystery.
The gathering is going pretty well...but we need to try even harder! I want Marion to be amazed by the things we found here!
Map says we're in Sector 2. Apparently this part of the ruins has suffered more damage than the rest, and it's hardly recognizable as to what it might have done. We should be careful when we get close to the ruins.
Hey, Logy, isn't that...
Music: Lady of the Mist
Someone alone all the way out here? Do you think it's the researcher Marion said was already here?
Should we ask her...?
Well, what's the worst that could happen?
Oh? And who might you be...?
I'm Logy and this is Escha, from the Colseit R&D Division. Are you the researcher from Central City?
Ah, nice to meet you. I am Threia, and my specialty is in historical research. Do you need to see my ID?
U-Uhhh, I think we'll be all right. Thank you, though...
I can understand that you're investigating the ruins, but what does "historical research" entail?
Well, as you can see, these ruins are scattered with evidence of ancient alchemy. My research is into what they were researching, and why here, in these ruins... Does that make sense?
"As we can see..."? Um... Is it that obvious to you?
You two came to investigate this area, too, have you not? How can you not see it?
We're simply government officials. We're not that knowledgable in ruins, to be honest.
When you put it that way, yes... But we only joined the R&D Division pretty recently, so...
...Either way, if it means little to you, then I doubt an explanation will be of much use.
Sorry... We'll brush up on our archeology. Have you learned anything new since coming here?
Unfortunately, I haven't made much progress. I need a little more help to fully investigate these ruins. I'm going to return to town, but i suggest you kids might try to find something of interest inside.
Yes, our boss told us to go take a look in the ruins!
Are you going to be okay on your own, Miss Threia?
Ha, I made it this far on my own, didn't I? I think going back out won't be an issue. Well then, good luck to you two.
She was really pretty, but there was something a little scary about her.
Yeah, I'm not good with her type, either... It's tiring just talking to her. Well, then... Why don't we investigate a little deeper, like Marion asked us to?
Yeah. I wonder if we'll find anything.
(It's not just that... I could have sworn I've heard her name before. But where?)
Oh! Did we complete another part of this quarter's assignment?
Yeah. Completing detailed surveys of these ruins will definitely be of help in the future. This area has a lot of gemstones. I'm sure that will be valuable knowledge to the branch.
What about that slag up ahead? Do you think that could be a part of the assignment?
Yeah. Marion's paper said that's part of the job for surveying Sector 2. Let's go!
The Flat Fish slag is known for being able to shoot powerful explosives, but this one doesn't seem that powerful.
Piece of cake!
Not bad, Escha. Let's move on to the Ruins Courtyard. This is supposed to be a pretty large area of the ruins. In fact, no one has ever been beyond this area...we probably shouldn't either until we complete this survey.
Wow, so this is what it's like deep inside the ruins here!
Are the ruins different from place to place?
Yeah. I'm not an expert on the details, but there are apparently a few different styles. You know how towns in different regions look different? I think it's something similar to that.
Hmm... I guess that makes a lot of sense when you think about it that way. By the way... You've never really investigated a ruin before, have you, Logy?
Hm? I suppose not, but...what about it?
What did you do in Central City? I don't really know what official alchemists in the government do...
...In Central City, I was mainly doing research. I don't know what everyone else was doing for sure.
I see... So alchemists did a whole lot of different jobs...
I suppose... C'mon, let's keep on investigating the area.
Yes! Let's do it!
It seemed like he wanted to end that conversation really fast...
This is a really interesting part of the ruins! The path goes on from here, but like Logy said, we shouldn't go there until we've completed this survey.
Escha, look what I found.
What is it?
It's an Ice Bomb. Not bad quality, too. Unlike our Bombs, the Ice Bomb chills the air around the impact by a significant amount. It gets so cold around the target that it can do a large amount of damage to anything near it. It's particularly effective against the slags around here. The effect isn't very long-lasting, though.
Wow! It should be great for exploring around here.
What is it, Logy?
Sector Three is blocked off by a lot of debris. There's no way we can get into the main area of Sector 3 unless we destroy some of it.
Really? I guess if we have no choice...but I wish we didn't have to destroy any of it. The debris is part of the ruins, after all.
I guess that's one way of looking at it. But, we do have a job to do. What bomb do you want to use?
The normal Bomb worked, right?
Yeah. That was a pretty good throw. We should be able to get through the debris now. Let's go. This is the last area of the ruins marked on the map.
The damage around this area is still really bad...
Yeah...but does this mean we've completed the survey?
We have. I guess it would be good to find what materials we can around here, then go back to town and report our findings to Marion.
We've really gathered a lot here! My Basket is getting really heavy...
Whew...that was an incredible adventure.
Yeah. We've definitely done a lot of good here. I'm glad Marion let us do a job like this. I imagine our job is only going to take us further and further away from Colseit, so who knows what we'll end up seeing?