Part 16: Chapter XIV: The Hotblooded Manager and Bartender
I didn't expect Katla to talk like that about slags.
Yeah, I didn't see that coming. Guess you can never predict how some people will act.
Oh, that's a great find, Escha. Do you mind if I take them?
Oh, no, go ahead!
We've come down quite a way... Is it getting harder to breathe for you too, Logy?
Yeah, it's definitely getting harder to breathe this far down. We should complete this investigation as soon as possible, but I'm still worried about that giant slag Marion talked about. We haven't seen anything like that so far, so it has to be close, if it exists...
I can barely see anything...just stay close.
Something feels strange...let's investigate that bright light ahead.
We're pretty far in now...
Do you think we went a little too far?
There's no harm in gathering more information. Having said that, it looks like there's nothing here.
Th-Then, let's go back already! I-I-It's really creepy here!
Eeeeeeeeek! Here it comes!
J-Just calm down, it's not a ghost! This is NOT a ghost!
I-It's like I can hear it directly in my head...
Who goes there!?
Damn, what the hell is this?
S-Something's coming our way... Eeek!
Music: Agame yo, Ware no Shinki
Well...I guess we found that gigantic slag.
How is it creating that much power!?
Things are going pretty well. It's not as strong as I thought it would be. Escha, just stay focused! It's badly weakened!
It's getting way more aggressive!
This thing is a lot faster than you'd think for a gigantic slag.
Logy, are you okay!?
Yeah... The bullets sting, but they're not going through my body. I'll be fine.
Linca is so calm...I think she's about to do something incredible!
Music: FJ: The Pen and the Sword Part 3
She just...completely tore that slag apart...
I think I'm kind of scared of Linca now...
Yeah... Wow, that was close. I'm not hearing that voice any more, though... I wonder what it was.
I have no idea, but it's really dangerous here... Let's proceed with caution. (Could it have been the slag? That's impossible, but...)
Haven't we seen this somewhere before...?
Yeah, it looks a lot like that thing you picked up, Escha.
I thought so... Okay, let's take this with us, too!
You sure like these things... I guess it won't be much to take it with us, but... Still.
Logy, what is all this?
No idea. Looks like a power core for the facility. I imagine this might have been a slag production facility a long time ago, though it's definitely been abandoned for a while. I'm just guessing, though, based on the number of slags and slag remains around. Hm, and about that giant slag...
Maybe the people of the past fought each other a lot...we've fought a lot of really powerful slags lately, and slags can multiply by themselves. They shouldn't need really powerful slags like that if they were just helpers.
I agree, but there's no use dwelling on it here. Let's finish the survey of the Graveyard and leave. I haven't seen the sun in a long time now.
Oooh! This is a great material. It's pretty dangerous to handle, though...
Linca is sure thinking about food a lot.
Of course! She has so much energy, she needs to eat a lot.
What does that...?
'm just surprised she's so pretty even though she eats so much.
This is the Disposal Area. Looks like we've investigated all of the Graveyard.
Hey Logy, doesn't that look like the Tank we fought at the Old Highway?
Yeah, it does. It doesn't look quite right, though. Maybe they used this area to get rid of slag models that didn't work. That's my guess. Is there anything valuable around here?
Some SP Medicine, and... Escha, did you find anything over there?
Yeah! Looks like a really ancient recipe book. Do you want to head back now?
Yeah. Unless you have anything else you need to do here, I'm ready to leave.
What's the matter, Escha? Are those the lithograph pieces you found?
Yes, I was organizing the things we found and was wondering if it's the same thing.
We found them in different locations. How could they possibly be part of a single stone?
Hey, Logy! Please take a look at this! These two fit together, right!?
That's very strange... They really are part of the same stone.
Umm... What is this? Does this look like...a human...to you?
Y-Yeah, and they seem to be in the same location, too. ...What are they doing?
Uh, it'll be hard to piece it all together with just this.
If we could only find the rest, maybe we'll be able to understand a little more...
All right... Now that we know they go together, let's try to find all the pieces!
Do you really think we can...? Well, as long as we're already out investigating, it doesn't matter...
A Roten Blitz? Is that the same thing that goes into your gauntlet, Logy?
Yeah, looks a lot like it... I guess my gauntlet design is based on some really old designs. Come on, let's get some food.
Do you think she's in a meeting again? She'll probably turn up eventually.
Excuse me. Is Ms. Quinn here?
Oh, hi, Micie. It looks like Marion is out right now.
I see... Well, I shall try my luck again later.
If it's something really simple, we could probably answer your question.
I just wanted to confirm... Has Ms. Quinn been taking breaks regularly?
Huh!? That seems like a sudden thing to ask...
The reason I ask is because her requests for overtime and all-nighters have increased of late. If I am to believe all these requests, then Ms. Quinn has not returned home for quite some time.
I wonder... But you're right. I haven't seen Ms. Marion leave the branch for some time now.
Don't tell me she's been living in the office! ...That sounds like something she might actually do.
O-Oh, welcome back, Ms. Marion!
It's good to be back! Wait, what are you guys all doing in here?
Miss Quinn, I have a simple question for you.
What's up, Micie? Is this part of your inspection duties?
Yes, well... I just wanted to confirm if you have been returning home at some point lately?
What are you talking about? Of course I have! Why are you even asking me that!?
According to the paperwork, it would appear that you've been working for entire days straight.
It appears that there has been a mistake in your documentation. I suggest you correct this error.
Sorry, I was spending nights in the office. I must have turned in the application by accident.
Whew, you scared me, Ms. Marion! I thought you might've actually been staying in the office this long...
You must be joking... Do I really look like I'd do that?
Yes, I wouldn't dismiss the probability.
This may be strange coming from me, but I believe you work too hard, Miss Quinn. I respect your dedication to your career, but there is no need to bury yourself in it. You ought to cherish your own time a little more, in the future.
E-E-Even a little child is worried about me!? You all think I work that much!?
Actually, I don't think I've ever seen you not working, Ms. Marion...
That is what my mentor taught me. I feel this adage may suit you well.
Gwah! Why do I feel like I was just stabbed through the heart...? Maybe I do need a change of pace.
That might not be a bad idea... In fact, if you want us to help you, we'd be happy to.
Welco--Oh, hey, long time no see.
I thought it would be a nice change of pace to enjoy a spirit or two.
Now that's something you don't see every day. You know the sun's still out, right? Hang on a sec.
It's good she's so dedicated, but--
Hello, Mr. Duke! ...Huh!? M-Mr. Grumman!?
Um... Are you drinking, by any chance?
Is there a problem with me drinking?
No, that's not what I meant, but...
We've just never seen you drinking before, so it was just a little unexpected.
I see. Well, I've cut back quite a bit, but I can see your point.
You used to get plastered back in the day. Remember that one time you danced naked? Right? Yeah? Hahaha!
Wha---!? H-Hey, stop that... What the hell are you talking about?
What, you don't remember? Back when we were in the service, we used to party all night long!
H-Huuuh!? Y-You mean you were naked...all night?
I didn't expect you to have such a dark history... (Guess he wasn't always to straight-laced...)
Wait! You're misunderstanding this. It's not like I wanted to... This guy wouldn't stop pouring drinks.
And, with all that liquid courage, you got up to... Oh, yeah, you ended up going home with a girl--
That's enough out of you, Duke!
Hey, I'm still active. I won't be badmouthed by someone who quit the branch a long time ago.
Yeah, I'm sure all that sitting behind your desk has kept you fit. I'm still in my prime, friend.
Your mouth's getting a lot of exercise, but time treats us all equally. Even a jock like you.
Heh, now you've said it... We're the same age, you old fart.
Hey, uh, maybe we should all stop fighting...
If he'd just shut up, I'd be happy to let this rest.
Heh heh, it must be tough bein- the big boss man. You can't even brag about your old exploits.
What "exploits"? Those are shameful episodes of my past. Why don't you finally start acting your age?
Yeah, right. If you ask me, you still haven't changed from back then. Hah. You'd call me a womanizer, while you cheated on your wife with that girl from the office...
Eeek! Th-That's horrible! How could you, Mr. Grumman!
I was just teaching the new kid how to do her work! Do you have any idea how angry my wife was because of your foolish need to act childishly!?
Oh? Is that so...? It must suck getting old. Hahaha!
Heh, you really must have a death wish today.
Wh-Wh-Whoa! ...This is getting out of control! P-Please, stop, both of you! Logy, do something!
Those guys would tear me apart if I tried to get in-between them! I'm more scared of these two than I was fighting that giant slag.
Is that all you got!? C'mon, old man... Don't push yourself too hard, now!
And what about you? Don't even try to use those old scars as an excuse for when I kick your ass.
P-Please stop this! Both of you...! Somebody...!
Let's just get out of here and come back in a few hours...
Oh, you seem happy. Did something happen?
Yes! I received some freshly harvested apples, so I tried making jam out of them. I just finished, so I wanted to try it right away.
That sounds nice. Can I try some later?
Of course. But I don't have enough bread...
So this is the jam... Let me have a taste...
Wait! Did you eat it, Logy!?
Huh? It's pretty good. There's plenty of fruitiness, and the texture is good...
That was my last piece of bread...!
Oh... You should have told me!
No! Now the jam's going to get cold!
Logy! Don't eat other people's food without asking! Once jam cools, that freshly made flavor never comes back!
I-I'm sorry. That really was thoughtless of me...
No, it's fine... I'll just eat some later...
Logy, don't you think you should take responsibility for this?
I do feel bad about it, but what do you mean about "taking responsibility"?
No, really, it's okay. Escha, I'll just have some later.
What? Um... Then I would be happy if you went to buy some bread...
That's it? Bread? I'll go get some now, so just wait here!
He just took off... ...I was just kidding, but he really went. What should we do?
Ahaha... Well, there's no hard feelings about it.
Hmm...he really ran to Duke's. Hopefully I can catch up with him.
Hi, Wilbell. It's strange to see you here.
The place seems a little livelier than usual.
Well, I really whipped up the crowd. If you got here sooner, you'd have seen my Magic Show.
A magic show? That sounds fun! What did you do?
I wanted to ask her how she did it, too. What's your secret? Creating fire from thin air, hovering on a broom, spinning plates around in the air...
That sounds amazing. I would have liked to see that.
Sorry, it's a trade secret, so I can't really talk about it. Anyway, I'd like to do magic shows here once in a while until people start catching on. Is that okay?
Oh, of course! I'd always welcome things that entertain my customers. I'll start paying you next time. Tell you what, tonight I'll give you a free meal.
All right! Thanks, old man! You sure are generous!
Hahaha! I'm looking forward to it! You two should come watch next time. It was a really amazing show.
If we get the chance, we'll definitely come see it!
It's good you were such a big hit. So you know how to do more than just use magic for tricks?
Heh, well, I actually did use magic.
What...? So you...
Of course! There's no way I could do crazy stuff like that without magic. People are always surprised when they see that stuff, and I make a little money that way, too.
Isn't using real magic harder than doing tricks...? Also, it isn't good to lie to people and say that your real magic is just fake.
Don't say that. I'm not lying, anyway! It's a MAGIC show, right? Just because nobody really believes it doesn't mean I'm lying to them.
Oh... So you're doing a magic show with real magic... I guess that's more honest than doing tricks...
She's smart, but also a little too calculating. Well, do you want to get something, Escha?
Hmm, no...I'm not that hungry. Oh! Did you get some bread for Nio, Logy?
Oh, yeah, I did. Sorry about all that. Can we go and give it to her? I wanted to apologize, too.
She's not mad about it, but she does really want that jam.
Hey there, old fart. You come to settle what we started last time?
I'll pass... I don't need any more sore muscles for a while.
Hah hah hah! I was actually pretty roughed up after that, too. Why don't you just enjoy yourself?
How's everything over at the branch? Same as back then, I suppose?
Business as usual...save for the young guns overexerting themselves.
Hah, it's their right to be reckless. That's what youth is all about. How could you forget that?
I suppose that's true... Hahahahaha! How's the bar? I remember when you just started learning how to cook. It was a disaster.
I've learned a thing or two, no thanks to you.
Heh, I see. You know, you're welcome back anytime, right?
Please, let me rest. Leave it up to the youngins.
Really? It would actually take a lot of pressure off of me if I could leave some of them to you.
Hey, this isn't like you... I'm not giving you any free drinks, you know.
...I guess you're not that easy, eh?
Heh, like I'd be fooled by your cheap tricks. If you're seriously in need, though...let me know.
Yeah... If I really need you.
Y-You're not going to start fighting again, are you?
Hey, kids... It's not like all we do is fight all year long, y'know? I'm actually in a good mood today. You kids order whatever you want. It's on your boss's tab! Ha!
H-Hey...! Well, why not. Order what you want, kids.
A-Are you sure...? Because we will...
This is flattering, but.. Are you sure it's all right?
Of course it is... Hm, how about in exchange, you listen to one of my old stories?
Oh! I'd actually like to hear one! Tell me, how long have the two of you known each other?
Let's see... It'd be pretty long if I started at the beginning.
Get something in your stomachs first. What do you guys want?
Yes, let's see... Perhaps something a little lighter.
Oh, that's right! You put a new item on the menu, right? I think I want to try that...
What!? A course...? Sheesh, why don't you think about my poor wallet once in a while...
Ugh... That was too much eating, Logy. It's a good thing we go out on investigations so often. If we didn't, both of us would get a lot fatter...
Really? That didn't seem like that much to me... Anyway, there's still a lot left. Why don't you head back to the atelier and start working on that Roten Blitz? I want to see what kind of power it has.
*Burp* All right... See you later.
Hey, Lucille. Do you have business with Linca?
Not especially, but... Aren't you a little worried about her?
I suppose I am... Maybe we should talk to her. What's wrong, Linca? You're sighing pretty hard.
I had been given a mission from Marion that I'd give up on due to its difficulty. I thought the time limit for it had expired, but... She just told me the mission has no time limit. I've been assigned to me for a long time, but I'm so far from my quota... I may be forced to do it.
...You have a quota? Is this some kind of monster-slaying mission?
If it were something like that, I could do it easily, but this is something far more difficult.
Um, so what exactly is it that you need to do?
Even counting Marion, and the people I know from the previous town, I still don't have enough. There's no sign that I can increase that number by talking to people around Colseit. I've got some money that I've saved up... I wonder if I could use some of it to buy more friends...
No way! You can't do that!
Yeah! It's never a good thing to pay for friends!
Don't worry. Marion already told me that I shouldn't do that. How am I going to make more friends, though? There must be something I can do. I'm prepared to do absolutely anything to make more friends!
I don't think you need to be that determined. Well, would you like to be my friend?
I'll be your friend, too!
You'll both become my friends? That's very reassuring! But is it appropriate for a superior to be friends with a subordinate in the workplace?
It's fine. Let's get along even better as friends, Linca!
Thank you... I'm very happy I could make two friends in a single day... I finally have some hope for completing my quota. I'll do my best!
(We said we'd be her friends to help her out, but Linca looks really serious about it. I can't help but feel like this isn't really what Marion wants Linca to do, though... But I wonder why Linca looks so calm fighting monsters, and seems so nervous when talking to other people...)
Hey Escha, what are you reading?
Oh, Logy, you're back. I got a book from Nio on how to make that delicious jam in case we wanted to make more. I was just reading to make sure the ingredients are right for making jam in a cauldron...
You take this really seriously...
Of course! Anyway, I was just waiting to get started on making your Roten Blitz.
This should be good, and...
Looks great. Hm, that's a lot of fire to concentrate in a single cataylst. Hopefully this will make investigations a bit easier.
Is that a slag?
Yeah, it was in that book. It's made entirely of slag parts, so I made it so that it can summon slags by using it. I can't wait to try it out!
Hey Escha, I've noticed a lot of recipes in that book use Magical Paint. We should have the homunculi duplicate those, because we'll probably need a lot of them. Oh, and on the way back from Duke's, I stopped by Katla's shop and bought a new recipe book. It had some interesting stuff in it.
The people of the past sure came up with some strange alchemy. I would never have thought of having magical musical sounds protect people.
Hmm...apparently people from the past used liquids like this in slag syntheses. It's not toxic to people, but...it can really hurt if you drink too much of it.
Why did you make it, then?
Well, it makes you really peppy! So energetic and fast that it should help in battles with really powerful monsters. The book is kinda hard to read, so it makes telling exactly what it will do really hard to find out.
Well, I guess we'll just have to see it for ourselves. You sure you made it right?
More magical items. I wonder if Wilbell could tell us more about how these things work. I don't really understand magic at all.
Hey Logy, Linca told me she has a job to hunt down some really dangerous slags in the desert. We need to fight more monsters to complete the last request of the assignment, so...
Yeah. I'm ready to go. I don't like going back to that desert, though...
Here they come!
This could be pretty tough...
I can see why Linca can handle requests like these herself...
All right, I'm ready to go!
Man, these things are a lot tougher than I thought.
Whew, that was close. But I can keep fighting!
Whew...we finally got it. That was a lot harder than I thought. It's a good thing we had so many items, or we might have run into a lot of trouble there.
But, we did get some good experience for the future. That was a very dangerous opponent. Anyway, we should head back and turn in our report so Marion knows what we've been doing for the past two months.
Another assignment is done! R&D's reputation has improved a lot, and we got some new recipe books for weapons and a new kind of bomb!
Let's see... Slay a Scorching Drake in the mountain atelier, deliver lumber to the Maintenance Division, deliver slag parts to an official in town, deliver medicine to a sick woman in the Plaza, deliver 5 pieces of armor to some adventurers, create four resistance properties on armor, synthesize some Beast Earmuffs, use the Music Box in battle, and...
Re-take the Homunculus Village!? Logy, we have to do that now!
You just want to go back there. Anyway, I did want to ask: what does it mean to "Create resistance properties?"
Hm...oh that? Oh! I bet it's putting resistance properties on any kind of equipment, like Resist Fire, Water, Earth, and Wind...we should make sure to check the journal of the materials we've found so far so we know what materials have what properties.
Oh, that's it...yeah, that's a good idea. (Escha is pretty sharp when it comes to alchemy.) Anyway, we should take this document to Solle and have approve our stipend by tomorrow. Want to come with me?
Perhaps I should go check on them... I can't imagine that they would miss out on their pay.
Hello, Lucille. Do you need something?
I was on my break... Say, do you want to talk about something? There's a lot on my mind...
Talk? Okay. What do you want to talk?
Umm, let's see... How about the investigation we went on not too long ago?
And then, Mr. Awin punched the monster in the face, like "Pow!"
Cool. Then what?
Hm? Is that...?
And in the end, Ms. Escha and Mr. Logy smashed it to bits, and we moved on...
What then, what then...?
...A-And, I think we should save the rest for next time, perhaps. I need to get back to work...
We'll talk again soon, okay?
What are you guys doing, ditching work like this? I have your pay. Right here.
Pay... No, we want story!
Pay later. Story now!
(Mmph...) Yesh... What ish it?
Wh-Why are you stuffing your face with snacks...?
Well... I had a lot of them, you see.
(Slurp) Pleash come back later.
Uh... Are you mad at us?
N-No... I'm not angry.
He's definitely upset... Wh-What should we do?
I have what happened... But we should probably wait a while until he calms down...
And they go chasing that little child... Absolutely unbelievable...
Hey Escha, I'm going to go take a nap. I'm kind of tired from that last investigation, and I want to be around for when Solle calms down and he can look over our request and approve. Plus, it can't hurt to check it again and make sure there are no mistakes.
Oh, okay! I was thinking of getting some alchemy supplies. I still have a lot I need to work on.
Before I started working for the branch, on days like this I'd eat apples and roll in the grass... That's right! I should take a day off from work and go visit the apple orchard! I wonder if Clone is making something today.
Music: Ringo no Negoto ~Ring on one, go to...
Oh, it's Mr. Reyfer. I guess he's really tired, too.
Oh! Some delicious snacks! I'm so lucky!