Part 13: Chapter XI: The Passionate Gofer and Team
I hope she'll be okay. Lucille, I mean.
I'm sure she will! I remember I was so scared my first time coming here as a government employee a year ago. She just needs some time to get used to how to help us.
I hope you're right. Anyway, we should make a tour of the town before we start heading to the river's source.
What do you have for us?
It's about what I said earlier, about the homunculi... It seems we finally have some breathing room. As promised, I will send some resources your way. You may submit your requests for work.
It's so cute!
What is R&D...doing...?
Whoa, we can really use them however we want? Can I squeeze him and cuddle him and take a nap?
What does "squeeze" mean... Is it like working? Squeeze... What should I do?
Now, please, don't start putting strange ideas into their heads. I need you to follow guidelines when working with Provisions to foster a stress-free environment.
Here comes the trouble... Well, I don't suppose we have a choice, now do we?
We still get to work together with the homunculi, right? I'm starting to get excited!
Do you remember how they worked? They're homunculi, they don't want money.
Of course! They want the snacks Solle has been giving us for completing request, and in return, they can make any item we currently have, or gather any material we have in storage.
(Escha only remembers these kinds of things when it comes to cute things). Right. But we have a lot of sweets. What if we gave them more?
Obviously, more homunculi would work on our requests! So if we really need something, we should give them more sweets.
That's my guess. It'll be a lot of help to have the homunculi gather rare materials, or make items we use a lot. We should make good use of them.
I wish I had a homunculi of my own...
Hey, Nio... Do you have some business at this store?
Oh, yes. I was wondering what I should buy...
Ah, Ms. Nio and Ms. Wilbell are some of my best clients!
I see... So I guess the item selection is pretty rare for someone out of town...
Yes, yes, yes, that's exactly what this is. I get a lot of traffic from customers like them. What do you think of this wonderful little piece right here? It was recently dug up from a ruin.
Really... That looks like a fake to me, actually.
Huh!? I-Impossible! I was told that it's a crystal created with ancient technology!
Hmm... But it looks like junk to me.
Now that you mention it, this is definitely not an artifact. In fact, it looks more like...
A bunch of random stuff smashed together?
Yeah, definitely. At the very least, it was made relatively recently.
P-Please, wait a moment. You don't mean to tell me that this is a fake!? I don't understand...
Ahahaha... But you seem to know a lot about these, Ms. Nio. You could tell with just one glance.
That's impressive. And the person selling them has no idea how to tell a rock from a diamond... Haha.
Ughhhh... Fine, I don't deny it! And my best merchandise might not be the best...!
I'm not saying that, now. After all, you do have some things here clearly marked below market value.
(She's right. Maybe Katla's just inexperienced when it comes to pricing. This isn't the first time this has happened, either.)
Huh? What did you just...!
LIke that ancient book you sold me the other day. Anywhere else would have been much more expensive. That's why I like this store, actually...
Wait a second! I'm losing out here! Why didn't you tell me that before!?
I-I never knew...
Hahaha... Maybe we've been missing out on some rare finds ourselves.
Say, Nio... Is there something that you recommend?
Hmm, let's see. Well, out of these...
Waaaah! No, stop that! Just tell me quietly! There's no need to share it with the whole world!
Katla didn't have to chase us away like that...
Yeah...she's a lot stronger than you'd think.
My oh my... I would not have expected someone of your stature to express such doubt. What happened?
It's nothing... Rather, the problem is that there's nothing. All I do is simple pen-and-paper work. Sometimes, I wonder if anything I've done is for the better...and if this is the path for my life.
Well, you have been the manager for a few years. Peoples' lives have stabilized, to be certain. Some of your initiatives to support peoples' daily lives are finally beginning to gain traction. I believe you have been making appropriate decisions, compared to past managers. Please be confident.
Sorry. I didn't expect that to turn into a litany of complaints.
Not at all... Please, come by anytime you like.
What would the branch manager be doing talking to Clone?
I don't know. Maybe she can tell us.
I just walked past the branch manager... Were you two talking about something?
Because I've been in Colseit for so long, I have taken on the responsibility of chief's adviser.
I see... Of course you'd out-live the branch managers...
That's actually pretty amazing when you think about it. Did you know Mr. Grumman when he was younger?
Yes. He has been working towards his goal of making the town better for thirty years now.
Thirty years... I can't even imagine what this place must have looked like back then.
Has he changed much since then?
He was quite stern, though, and his coworkers approached him with fear. He's softened up quite a bit.
Heh heh, if you know that much about him, I can see why he can't really stand up against you.
I may not know much about events outside of town, but I likely know all about anyone raised here. Seeing children grow into adults, then seeing them raise their own children... The constant cycle. One of my joys is to look into the eyes of children grown and raised in this wonderful town.
Whoaaa! I never thought about it like that, but the more you tell the story, the more real it gets.
Escha... When do you plan on having children of your own?
When Milia was your age, she was already spending most of her time with Faul. You're your mother's daughter... I would have expected you to have a couple of suitors, by now.
R-Really...!? B-But, isn't it just a little too soon... (Help me, Logy!)
(Got it.) *Ahem* I don't think whatever you're trying to do is going to work on her...
My oh my... I suppose it will still be a while before I can see any children from you...
(Oh, she's always teasing me like that... But I guess she has been watching the town for a long time.)
What is it, Logy?
Oh, it's Clone. She jokes around a lot more than you'd expect an automaton to do. She's incredibly lifelike.
Awww, it's not like that! She always talks that about me.
It's only because she cares about you. She thinks you're old and mature enough to joke around with and understand that she doesn't really mean it.
You think so? But she can be mean to me sometimes...
I'm sure it's only because she expects a lot from you. You've more than shown in the past year you're capable of great things.
Yeah, I guess you're right. That makes me feel a lot better, Logy.
I'm glad to hear it. Now, can you go get Lucille ready to go? I'm about ready to go.
Sure. I'll meet you back in front of the branch office. I'll tell Lucille to meet us there in an hour.
Y-Yes, I did. That's strange... Maybe she got the time wrong...?
I'm sorry! I'm so late...
I forgot to get ready ahead of time... Oh, I should've packed last night. I'm so, so sorry...
It took you that long? Do you have that much stuff that you need to bring with you?
Yes! Medicine for upset stomachs, and painkillers...and some anti-itching ointment, as well.
Y-You brought all that? I suppose they might come in handy, but...
But you never know what will happen on investigations, right? I thought I should at least bring these... If you ever need any medicine, Miss Escha, please don't hesitate to ask!
Hmm... Well, if things get that bad, I probably will ask for some. Thanks, Lucille.
Don't tell me you packed nothing but medicine!
Huh? Wh-What else would you need me to bring?
I mean, there are a lot of things to bring along. Isn't bringing nothing but medicine...extreme?
Ooooooooooh. I see now. Oh no, I forgot everything else! I'm going to go get it ready right away!
...We can only pray she doesn't forget anything else this time.
Oh, Logy, Katla said she has a lot of inventory from our last adventure, so she'll be staying behind this time. Also, Brother said he had some important work on the docks with Heizman, so he'll be staying behind, too. But, Ms. Wilbell will be coming along.
So Wilbell's back, huh? It's probably a good idea to take Lucille with us, though. She wants to help, but we definitely need to keep an eye on her.
Her bag is a little weak, though... Logy, can you make a new one?
Sure, but this was a little tricky. The specs she gave me for making the bag are really exact...
It's called a "syringe".
Okay, but what does it do?
You put medicine in this part here, and then you can pierce the skin with the needle to inject it.
Huuuuuh!? Is that what it does?
Apparently she found something similar in a ruin, and modified it for more everyday use.
But, doesn't it hurt if you stab someone with this!?
I guess it's still being researched, and hasn't been approved for use on humans yet. Right now it does more harm than good. Let the researchers in Central City do more work on it. I guess that's why Lucille is using them. They're disposable, and can really hurt if you throw them really hard. Still, it's a little inefficient...
What about you Escha? If you got sick, would you want to use a syringe to help you get better?
No way! I would never let them use something like this on me, even if it DOES get approved.
Don't be like that. If they manage to make it work, we can cure so many more diseases than before!
Ahhh... Maybe so, but just the thought of stabbing it into your skin like that is just... Ugh!
I can see what you mean, but syringes are going to become a lot more popular when the researchers in Central City approve them. I'm sure it's only a matter of time.
I'll just use alchemy to make medicine...
Alright, I made an upgrade to her bag's design. She should be able to carry more syringes now. Even Lucille should be ready by now. Did you finish your synthesis, Escha?
The young master
Music: Too Late
Wh-What was that for!? You scared me...
I completely forgot... Miss Marion asked me for a report summarizing our budget and expenses!
(What? I thought she finished that a week ago.) Oh, boy... C'mon now. Are you going to be okay? Seriously?
Ummm... Probably. It'll be all right if it's just a little late, right?
With that attitude, Solle's gonna scold you again...
I will not allow it to get to that point!
U-Umm... Who might you be?
(His outfit is so fancy... I wonder if he has a rich family.)
Ah...! I-I apologize for barging in without salutations. My name is Micie Sun Mussemburg. As of today, I have been assigned to Colseit as its Governmental Inspector. Greetings to you both.
(This child is from the Mussemburg family? I've never even seen an aristocrat from Central before.) A-An inspector...? You're kidding, right?
Does that means you're a government worker, like us?
Yes, I work for the government, like you, though my own duties are quite different from yours. Is it your job to ensure the city is being managed properly, and to investigate the ruins. Correct? My task is to ensure that you two adhere to rules and regulations, and report any suspicious activity.
B-But we'd never do anything suspicious...!
Says the person who just now volunteered to break regulation in submitting a budget report late.
(But why would Central send out an inspector now? Something doesn't seem right.)
Ah...! I-I'm sorry...
You're pretty young for an inspector. You sure you're up for the job?
True, one could argue that I am inexperienced. I may even be a source of trouble in the future.... HOWEVER! I intend to meticulously enforce this branch's rules to ensure there are no hinderances.
...I take it back. You're much more mature than Escha.
No offense taken. Your concerns are valid, and thus I intend to devote myself entirely to this branch.
(Wah! Where did he get that rose?)
...I have absolutely nothing to add. This kid's good.
I'll be more careful, Mr. Muss... Mussem...borg?
There is no need to behave so formally towards me, as I am so young. Please address me casually. Now, then, I must continue my rounds to the other departments, so if you'll excuse me.
R-Really...!? U-Um, do your best...
I've never met anyone who goes so by-the-book, even in Central City.
(He seems a little strange, but he's really mature for his age... Are all inspectors like him?)
But...if Central is sending out an inspector, it may mean they're about to do something.
Do something? What would they do?
Well, it's not that having an inspector at a branch office present is odd for Central. I've always been a bit confused why no one from Central was here monitoring the work that goes on around here. Now that someone is here, I was just thinking Central might be planning on doing something here.
Wow Logy, you know so much about them.
Well, I did grow up there. Anyway, make sure you give Lucille her new bag, and we should get going.
Wait, Traveler's Rations? Is that what you were working on before Micie came in?
Yeah. I read they were really tasty snacks, so it might be nice to bring some of them along with us.
Marion told us it might be really dangerous... It's a good idea to be prepared.
Before we go, can we put in a couple of orders with the homunculi? We'll be leaving town anyway.
Right. We probably still have time.
There's so many options...we should definitely make good use of the homunculi, as long as Solle is letting us use them.
This place is pretty desolate. The light isn't very good here, either. Be extra careful here, Escha. If something jumps out from behind some fallen trees or something, I may not be able to react in time.
S-Sure... I'll do my best to pay attention. It's so dirty, too... According to the map Marion gave us, the river's headwaters are to the northeast.
Music: Decaying Light
...It's rather quiet.
It's pretty murky in here. I was expecting something a lot more...refreshing.
With this area looking like this, I'd be ready for anything to jump out at us. Stay alert.
Got it... Maybe we'll find out the reason for the drought.
It's beautiful...in its own way...
It's a big pack of wolves!
Keep calm. Just make sure to focus your attacks on the Head Silver Wolf. He seems to be leading the group.
Whew...that was pretty easy. Escha, those wolves snuck up on you while you were looking in the other direction. It does look nice, but remember to take care of yourself.
Right... (That was a little scary. I should be more careful.)
This isn't good...
Yeah...the water level has gone down a lot. Could this be the reason for the drought?
Well, we're still not at the headwaters, so I think this is a consequence, not the cause. In any case, let's keep moving, and don't lose your footing. Who knows what's in that water?
Which way do we go now, Escha?
Um...I think the map is saying the route is to the southeast.
This doesn't look right... Are you sure we're at the right place?
Let's look around a little...this map doesn't tell us very much about what's around here.
No, we're definitely lost. This doesn't seem to be anywhere near the source of the river. Come on, let's go back.
Not yet! There may be some good ingredients around here.
Seriously, Escha, we need to get out of here. My clothes are filthy.
Yeah... Let's try to find the path back.
This looks right. Why are there so many mushrooms here?
Even when the river was much higher, doesn't look like this place got much sunlight. Different plants and animals are living here than other places we've seen.
It looks like people used to live around here, too. I've seen a lot of barrels, and there's even a boat.
But what kind of people would live around here...?
Let's keep going. The deeper we go, the more dangerous this is.
Eek! What's the matter, Logy?
Something's coming our way. I think this is bad...!
H-Huh!? B-But it's all so sudden...
W-Waaaaaah! Something's coming!
Get ready, Escha!
Music: Dorothy's Tiger
This thing is very hungry, and very powerful. Don't get careless, Escha.
Wow, this thing can jump a lot higher than I thought...
Escha, Wilbell's going to be coming in. Hang in there. I'll head back in if you need any support.
Oh no...looks like it's getting ready to do something really dangerous...
Owwww... Thanks, Ms. Wilbell...
How does it create so much lightning? There's definitely something strange about this monster.
We did it!
Whew... That was a powerful enemy.
Music: Alchemist's Dialectic
I never thought we'd run into something this big... Let's proceed with caution.
Eh? I don't see anything.
It's right over there! I'll go pick it up. What could it be?
It looks like some sort of...lithograph.
Hmm... Well, I guess we'll take it with us for now.
I can't imagine that it's that valuable... Are you really gong to bring it back with you?
Aren't you even a little bit curious about what this is? We should bring it back to the atelier. Maybe there's something interesting on it.
Well, I kind of doubt that, but if you want, I won't stop you. I'd rather examine it in better light, anyway.
Looks like we're close to the headwaters. Let's just keep going.
...This could be a lot worse than I thought...
Hey, look! Doesn't this area look a little strange...?
You're right, the water's beginning to run low. Let's go take a closer look. The water's getting muddy, too. And it's starting to smell weird from time to time. It seems the water is running low, which causes the flow to clog up... The longer the water is sitting in any one place, the more polluted it gets.
I see... Do you think this is the reason why the village is having a drought?
The supply could be short because of the mud here, but that doesn't explain how it started happening.
We need to get to the bottom of what's going on here, then... What's making this water so muddy?
If we can push more water into the water source, I think the situation will improve dramatically.
If the problem's too big, can't we use some tricks to get around it?
...Let's go back. I think this problem is beyond just the two of us. We need to put together some reports and let Marion know how bad the situation is.
Okay, but... Will it really not return to normal?
It's impossible to say right now, but I will say it doesn't look good. But it definitely won't get better if we don't try anything.
I know how you feel. We should just take care of that slag, and head back. We've completed the assignment, after all. We need to get a report to Marion as soon as possible. The more we wait, the worse this is going to get.
Some pretty nice parts from that slag. They should be useful when making new weapons.
Well, the complete survey of the area isn't done yet, but we can always come back. It's more important we report on the situation before we finish our survey here.
We got Burning Gas from the Revanant Incense.
Burning Gas? That's primarily used in hot air balloon propulsion. Should be really useful in the future.
Escha, we should pick up this book. One of the requests for this assignment is to research this.
Right... Oh, I just heard the door close on the branch. I wonder if Micie's here?
Hm? Yes, how may I help you?
I'm going to perform inspections on the branch's administration. Might I use your office for a while?
I don't suppose I even get the option to turn you down, do I? Please, suit yourself.
Thank you. I will be examining your paperwork.
Yeah, he's here.
...Huh? What's the matter? Why do you seem so tense?
Oh... Hah, the inspector says he's going to examine our workplace and our internal processes.
Is he going that far...? I highly doubt the branch manager has anything to hide, though. Well, it is his duty, after all. It's similar to when I go through your forms, but on a higher level.
Wow... So there are people who actually check on YOUR work, Solle?
But of course. Mistakes can arise from anywhere in the branch. We must cover all our bases.
W-Well, I can't deny that...
So, have you found any errors in our work?
No, not in the slightest. In fact, I must compliment you on your extremely thorough management.
That's good to hear. It seems like preparing all the documents for you beforehand has paid off.
Is that so? Well, thank you very much.
I was only saying that as common courtesy. We generally manage our branch this way.
I-I see... Well then, excuse me for jumping to conclusions...
Now, if you wouldn't mind seeing yourself out. I apologize, but it's hard to concentrate with you here.
Man Solle has guts...
Hahaha.... Don't let him bother you. You'll get used to him.
That's all right... I'm not bothered by it at all! I understand that my work often earns me the enmity of the people whose work I am checking on. However, even if it seems tough, we must follow the path we believe is correct. The results will follow. More words of wisdom from my instructor. I must assume that this, too, is another trial.
Actually, Solle's always like that. Don't worry too much about it.
No, for now, I must finish my inspection. as swiftly as possible, so as to lessen the disturbance. If you'll excuse me, I still have some inspections to conduct.
Hm... Looks like he really took that to heart. Oh, Solle... Why do you have to be so immature, too?
It must be really tough, being an inspector... He's not doing work that will make him popular.
Let's report to Marion about our progress so far. We have to let her know about what's going on at the river.
That's a lot...
R&D against the world
The water has been blocked for a long time, and it's only getting more polluted. We'll need some extra resources to manage this problem, and-
Excuse me, Marion, but do you have a moment? I have some important matters to discuss.
I'll be right there. Sorry, I need to speak with the boss. Would you mind waiting a minute?
Not at all.
What could be so important?
Who knows? Maybe they're talking about our next assignment or something.
Hmm... It didn't really sound like that, but...
...How can I agree to that!?
It certainly hasn't been for the bigwigs from Central City to come over here and take all our credit!
It is true, though, that we haven't been able to produce adequate results with our current staff.
They can't claim that, not after how they've completed ignored us until now. Their coming would make everything we've done in Colseit...meaningless.
What are they talking about, Logy?
...Sounds like Central wants to get in on the action here.
...I apologize. I was out of line.
At any rate, this decision was made by Central Command. We have to support the team they send us. I'm sure the two fo you will need to give them a hand at some point, as well. ...That will be all.
That was quite an argument. What's going on?
Oh... You probably heard, but Central City is sending some investigators here. And now the entire local branch has to welcome them and give them our full support.
Whoa... That's never happened before, has it?
I wonder... Colseit was founded with the goal of reaching those ruins in the sky in mind. Now, suddenly these guys pop up out of nowhere to take credit for our labor? How can I just accept that?
Hmm... You do have a point. That does sting a little.
That's the way Central City operates, though. What are we supposed to do about it?
We can't let them do that to us! What's the point of having a local branch if they're gonna do this!? I'm sorry, you two, but would you mind calling on Lucille and Linca for me? Linca should be in town right now, so this is a good time to hold a meeting.
Y-Yes, understood! We will be back right away.
This is getting out of hand...
C'mon, Logy! Let's go! I'm starting to get excited!
I see... I got it. This is making me a little nervous.
A strategic meeting... I'm quite good at military tactics. Please leave that part to me.
Um... I don't think we're talking about the same thing here.
Ma'am, I've gathered everyone. We can begin whenever you're ready.
I hereby call to order this meeting to determine the future of R&D.
You have a point, but the Unexplored Ruins was supposed to be m--Colseit's task! Remember? If we fail to fulfill this duty, and Central takes over our operation, doesn't it bother you?
Marion is taking this really seriously...
Hmm... Well, if you feel wronged, Marion, then perhaps we should reconsider.
Colseit was once a small village, but it grew this large only because of the plans to search for the ruins! That's why... I want us to be the first ones to explore them.
When you put it that way, I guess you're right. Can we join that investigating party?
I doubt it... They like to run things their way. I've never heard of a Central City group asking for help from the local branch.
Good idea... If only they'd let us contribute to the investigation! They don't have any right!
Rights, huh? Well, we're not the ones in the big chair here.
U-Umm... I have a suggestion...
What is it, Escha? Don't be shy.
I get that they're sending a team here, but... Nobody's ever even made it to the ruins before, right?
She's right... Are they even capable of exploring the ruins?
Then we won't have to wait for the people from Central City to get here before we investigate them.
(What on earth? How does she plan to do that?) That's impossible... There's a reason why no one's gotten there before. What are we going to do?
No, I think she's on to something. If we cooperate with the other divisions, we might pull it off. We can call it, "Preparations to welcome the Central City team..." Maybe stretch our budget a bit...
Huuh!? Ma'am, are you serious?
The ruins that no one in known history has touched... That sounds fun! I'd love to join, if I may.
U-Umm...does that mean...?
...Logy, I'm afraid there's no stopping here once she's gotten this bad. Give it up.
(It's pretty sad when Linca is making the most sense.) B-But...
Now that that's decided, we must act! Everyone, let's put our heads together!
Aw, man... I don't like these odds.
Huh? Logy doesn't seem very happy.
Now that we've got our opinions together, let's go run it by the branch manager!
First, we need to do something about our blimp... I doubt even a regular airship can make it there. I have many technical concerns with this idea. Do we have the proper equipment for this task?
I understand that we don't have the means to travel... We'll have to talk to Awin about what he can do.
You're right, I bet Brother will know something that could help us. Let's go ask him!
I'll leave everything in this town to you two. If you need me to apply for anything you ask, just ask.
If you're trying to fulfill your normal duties AND reach the ruins, you need all the help you can get.
You're going to help us, Linca? Man... I feel better already.
Even if it means my life, I will carry out my mission to keep the R&D Division safe.
I...I don't think you need to expect to give your life, but...I look forward to working with you!
Linca's with us, but I just don't know how we're going to make an airship. Plus, I really don't want to make another one, not after what happened...