Part 20: Chapter XVII: The Supportive Friend and Confidant
Logy, where were you!? I was about to start making the Flight Gas Jar!
Oh, it's about Awin... You remember him talking to Solle about making improvements to the depot? Well, I was talking to him about it, and I decided to help him out by giving him some materials to begin renovations. I don't know what he'll do next, but I wanted to get him started. If we're going to make a dreadnought, it'll be a good idea to renovate, but I don't know what Solle is going to say.
I see... Brother has always been impatient when it comes to the Maintenance division. Hopefully things will work out. Brother can get careless when he thinks he's right. Anyway, let's get started!
Alright, here I go...
Making the airship fly
...Yeah, that looks good. Now we just have to let it sit, and the gas will generate on its own. It's quite a good job, though. To think it could be done with a cauldron... You've improved, Escha.
R-Really...? Umm... What's this used for, anyway?
We will fill the airship's gasbags with it, and it makes the entire ship light enough to float. We plan to put a lot of other things in the ship, so we have to think of ways to lighten the load.
Wow... That's amazing. This makes the airship fly?
It takes more than that, of course, but it certainly improves the maximum distance and altitude.
Hmm... If I put this into a paper bag, can I make it float, too?
...I suppose you could, but why would you want to do that?
Uh... I thought it might be fun to watch it fly around.
If the gas escapes, it'll fall, and if it ignites, it'll be really bad. I don't think it's a good idea.
I never would have thought you could make it... Are you actually this good, or just lucky? If only this hadn't worked...it would have been that much easier to give up on this entire plan...
Um... Are you angry with me? Did I say something wrong?
N-No, of course I'm not mad at you. It's nothing...
(I'm glad he's not angry... But Logy does seem a little down...) Are you really okay, Logy?
Y-Yeah...anyway, I'm going to get Awin. We need to talk to him about our progress. See you later.
He is kind of upset... I wonder why?
We're going smoothly. Everyone in Engineering is putting the framework together in dry-dock. It's beginning to take shape right now, and I expect we'll be able to move it to R&D's dock in a few days.
The airship's going to be finished soon... I'm getting excited!
No, it's far from complete. From where we are right now, I'd say it's scarcely better than a blimp. Better than a blimp, yes, but nowhere near enough to get us to the floating ruins.
Really...? What else do we need, then?
First, we need to complete the prototype. I'll need more time to consider any future problems.
Got it! If you're the one thinking about all this, Logy, then there's nothing for us to worry about!
(Ugh...I wish she wouldn't say things like that. But, there's no use bringing that up now...) ...
(Logy's still looking really scary...) Wait... Why did he run away so suddenly like that?
Escha, I'm going to go help Maintenance put the airship together. I probably can't do much around here, so I'll make sure the frame is put together properly. The end of construction is the most important part.
Oh, so you'll be going for a few days?
Well, at least until the frame's construction is completed.
*sigh* It's lonely without Logy around. Still, I wonder what the airship is gonna look like...
This was from Harry's From the Wilderness book... Maybe it's something he used on his adventures? Hm...
Scars of the past
Hm, I wonder where Logy is...?
Still... I was hoping I wouldn't have to bring this up, but are you certain these plans are sound? I've seen a great many documents concerning airship design. You were researching them in Central City?
Heh... I should've seen this coming. I'm sure you already know about the accident, too?
Of course. You built a new engine using the latest alchemical tech. You led that research project, yes? The prototype burned to the ground, and one of the pilots was gravely injured.
...! (Damn...so he already knows.)
The branch manager showed some concern about whether the airship will have...further accidents.
Well... I was against the idea from the very beginning...
Um... Did something happen before?
You're amazing, Logy! No wonder you know so much about airships!
...I'm not amazing.
W-Wait, Logy! Hey, Micie. Did I say something to make him angry?
...As you heard, Mr. Ficsario designed airships when he worked in Central City. But a young engineer let the engine overheat, leading to an explosion and a large fire...
I never knew that happened to him...
Prototypes are always prone to accidents. Surely the engineers were experimenting themselves. Nonetheless, he undoubtedly feels responsible. He then volunteered to be stationed out here...
I owe you both an apology. I had no idea his history was that grave. This investigation was thoughtless.
You didn't do anything wrong, Micie... No one did.
...I'm terribly sorry.
Ah...! I need to follow Logy! He's been struggling with this by himself this whole time! I have to be there for him!
So you heard the story from Micie, right? My last project was an utter failure.
...Can I ask you what exactly happened?
*sigh* It's a long story, but okay...
The engine is an airship's core. When my project was greenlit, I was so happy I worked day and night. I considered those in Maintenance idiots...that they could never understand the engine I was making. So, I decided not to trust them, and I continued researching on my own. But I was wrong. I don't know why I stopped listening, because their questions to me were valid... Even then, there was one more who continued to support me. He said I had to get along with the others... With that attitude, the accident was inevitable.
That's... What happened?
The output of the engine reached critical levels, far too much for the engine block to handle. The energy being generated was far too much, and it exploded, causing a huge fire. It was a miracle there were only a few people working at the dock at the time, but even so, there was severe damage to the research sector the airship was being put together in.
Were you at the dock when it happened?
No, but I could see the fire from a long way away. I rushed back to see what had happened, but the flames were everywhere. I rushed into the dock to try and recover my research notes. I wanted to see where I went wrong, but when I got to my lab, the flames were intense and severely burned my chest and arm. Even worse, the fire destroyed all my research. My only friend tried to put the fire out, and was maimed. He was a pilot, and he'll never fly again. I took his dream away from him. How could I possibly face him now? I was afraid...and I ran away. ...I don't have the right continue this research. ...I don't have the right to continue this research. I don't have the right to fly anymore!
I won't do anything now that I don't think is possible. I have no right to... I shouldn't be trying anything new... I never should have tried at all.
That's... That's not true!
Music: Evening Melody
H-Hey, calm down... Stop pulling on me.
I can't do anything on my own, so we need you... ...If you say that you're not going to do anything, then you're making me completely useless, too!
Haha... That's not something you should be so proud of...
You don't get to tell me that! Not when you're telling me that you're not going to do anything anymore!
Ugh... You have a point there.
Besides, you said you didn't want to build an airship, but here you are, helping us! Without your help, Logy, it would be impossible to dream about going to the Unexplored Ruins!
That ship's far from complete. We need an energy source, and the body hasn't been strengthened at all. ...That's where I failed last time... Where I fell short.
Then, now you have the chance to redeem yourself!
I told you, it's impossible!
You can do it, Logy! I know you can!
How do you know that...? And why are you crying when I'm the one having issues here? If you keep that up, I'm not going to be able to cry, even if I wanted to.
I...I'm not crying! *sniffle*
Okay, fine, you're not crying. I was wrong, please forgive me.
So there are still people out there who would cry for me...after I got cocky and ruined things.
Of course I would! Logy... You're an important friend of ours now!
... Enough. I'll do everything I can. I can still give up when we've exhausted every other avenue.
So, uhh...would you mind helping me out, Escha? Honestly, I'm a little worried, going about it on my own.
Yes! If there's anything I can do for you, I will!
I-I'm sorry...I started crying out of nowhere...
Don't worry about it. I was about to unload a lot off my chest, too... Thanks.
I...really didn't do anything...
Like I said, we're still missing a lot until the dreadnaught is completed. First, let's go see the boss... Would you mind calling on Awin for me?
...Yes! Got it!
...You're stronger than you think, Escha. If there's any way to make it to the Unexplored Ruins, I'm sure you'll figure it out.
Making the frame stronger
Music: A Road Full of Unknown
No, that's only phase one. We're still far from calling it a true dreadnaught as it stands.
What we need now is a reinforced engine that can take a beating. That's the biggest bottleneck.
In other words... We need to do more than collect materials and Synthesize them like we have been?
Yeah, these steps require the raw materials to be of a certain strength. Furthermore, making adjustments to the engine is difficult...even for the most skilled alchemist.
I... I see... I-I'm going to do my best!
It's going to take a lot more than just doing your best, concerning what's at stake here.
We'll discuss the rest back at the depot. Logy, let's take care of business first.
I understand that building an engine can be difficult, but what do you mean by reinforcing it?
If we drop the engine into the ship right now, the body can't handle the power output. It might explode.
Wow... That sounds really dangerous.
There are a few materials that will fit the bill to reinforce it. We'll need to use more rare metals.
So, we'll need to import these metals when we can, and also have the homunculi reproduce them...
I think you know what I'm gonna say, but we're already way beyond our budget.
Th-Then, you mean we need to convince Solle to approve importing the metals...!?
...I'm afraid so.
This just got a lot more difficult. I can't believe we'd come this far, just to run out of money...
It's quite a dilemma. But, I understand. I'll help you convince Solle. I'm sure we'll be able to borrow his homunculi for a little while...
But, on the other hand, if we can overcome this problem, we'll be able to finish the airship, right?
Right... And it's all thanks to everyone's hard work. Let's keep that up.
Yes! Whatever you need Synthesized, leave it to me!
I'll work on recipes and continue the ship's design. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.
Ahahaha, then it's just like our normal workflow!
Hm, I guess you have a point there...
Hahaha, you two are a match made in heaven.
It's completely normal, right?
Okay, okay. At any rate, we're almost at the finish line here, guys.
Hey Escha, I've been thinking of ways we could improve how we fight on the battlefield. We already have so many strong allies, we need to keep up with them.
You're right, but how do we do that?
Well, I've come up with a way we can use items at the same time. If we can combine our attack items, I think we can do a lot more damage than we could by working alone. Basically, this is how it works...
Hm, that's really interesting!
Yeah. There's no telling how useful this could be in the future. Well, whenever you want to try it out in a battle, let me know.
Sure! Anyway, what do you want to do about the airship now?
Why don't we go see what Awin has to say about it? If anyone knows what to do next, it would be him.
Safety is a huge concern. If we can't overcome this, then we may have to cancel the entire project.
Is it really that difficult to make an engine?
I've played around with this since I was in Central City... The method of building it is not the issue. What with the accident and everything, you can't blame me for wanting to proceed with caution. Not only that, but with the facilities at our disposal, Escha is the only one who can Synthesize.
Aww... When you put it that way, I'm losing my confidence. But if you're going to support me, Logy, I think I might be able to do it!
Ugh, you really don't have a care in the world, do you? This isn't child's play, do you understand?
Ahaha, I'll do my best. So... What ingredients do we need?
Let's see... There's a lot required of us, but what's most important is a source of energy. What we decide to use as the source will greatly affect our results. We'll need to Synthesize one.
The rate of success there is extremely low, which makes building an airship very difficult. ...That said, are you going to make the power source yourselves? I'm starting to get a little worried...
Not you too, Brother! From what you two are telling me, it does sound very difficult...
Brother! That's not funny...
Magic... If we could gather materials that way, it would certainly make our jobs easier... ...Hm? It might be a long-shot, but maybe she knows something that could help us.
You mean Miss Wilbell?
Yeah...it's clear from watching her in battle that she has access to an incredibly powerful source of magic herself. If she knows of any materials or places where we could find magical items that generate more energy than normal materials, that would an enormous help.
Uhh...so what you're saying is, we should ask her if she knows of anything?
Oh! I've been meaning to ask: what kind of material should we use to make the engine? Do we have anything that would work right now?
... The only thing I can think of would be the Diamond Gemstones we got from those rats in the desert. That's the only material in our inventory strong enough to withstand the pressures of a high-powered engine like the one we'll need. But at the rate the homunculi can reproduce diamond, the team from Central would have likely arrived by the time they made enough.
No, what we need is an extremely high-quality metal that we can acquire a lot of very quickly, and for relatively little cost. But I wonder if finding something like that is even possible... Anyway, we should just find a source of energy for now. If we can't find a source, then there's no point in continuing to look into this.
(Wow, this is starting to sound nearly impossible...)
The spirit of flames
Oh, it's you, Wilbell. What do you want?
That's no way to greet someone! What's got you in such a bad mood?
S-Sorry, Wilbell... We're actually really busy trying to build our airship right now...
Ah, you did mention that alchemists can't fly through the skies... That must be really rough.
We're working our butts off to get this dreadnaught built. Ugh, it feels so hopeless...!
Um... Apparently it's really difficult to make the engine for this kind of ship.
What's an "engine"? That sounds like a lot of work.
It is! To put it simply, it's... A machine that transforms heat into a mechanical energy to perform some sort of function. There are many different kinds of engines, but what they have in common is some energy source to drive mechanical processes. The kind of engine an airship needs is an internal combustion engine that uses residual heat from the energy source to drive motors to propel the airship through the sky, which is just a simplistic overview, but I think you get the general idea. Did it make sense?
(Heh heh...not to me...)
Hmm... I have no idea about the inner workings, but the bottom line is that you need more firepower?
That's right. And the output isn't very stable when we use normal materials.
I see, I see... Hey, I have an idea. Do you want to make a deal with me?
...You aren't going to suggest lifting the dreadnaught with magic, are you? It's not that simple.
No, no... I happen to have some information that you two may find very interesting.
Hmm, what would that be?
I'm searching for spirits as a part of my training. And I finally got some info on a really strong one.
"The Fire Lord"...? Don't tell me you're suggesting we use a spirit inside the engine!?
I'm trying to say that if you ask that fire spirit, it might know about some very strong materials.
I see... A spirit might know a lot of things that we don't...
However, the Fire Lord appears to be in a foul mood right now. A contract with it may be impossible. So, I want the two of you to get'em back into a good mood. You need that information anyway, right?
Y-You do have a point, and that sounds like a solid lead...
Then it's decided. I'm counting on you two!
...I know it was convenient for us, but are you sure she's not just pawning her work off on us?
Now, now, now... Let's go meet the Fire Lord, shall we?
Hm, actually...it might be a better idea to help out the orchards first. The Fire Lord probably isn't going anywhere, and the orchards are definitely looking worse every day. We need to make some new nutrients, anyway. Let's head back to the atelier.
Oh yeah! I almost forgot about that...
There we go! Let's go deliver ths right away!
Heehee! I can make this now, too! Isn't that amazing?
You're doing really well, Escha. And it looks like you've been learning a lot at the Branch, too. Logy, was it...? As you can see, she can be a little unreliable at times, but look after her for me.
No, she usually ends up helping me more often than not. I need to work on improving myself to keep up.
Is that how you think of me, Logy? Awwww... I'm a little touched!
...Escha, you should learn from Logy and try being a little more modest.
A-haha... Um, let's see what else we need to do here. Escha, what do you think?
Well, the nutrients we delivered are fine, it's just the land could use a boost in fertility. If we made some good quality fertilizer, I'm sure it would help. Father gave me the recipe to make some fertilizer when we talked to him about the situation. Let's head back and make it.
Yeah, that looks perfect. Let's go give it to Faul.
Mother wouldn't make these...?
Hmm... To be quite honest, I have no idea what it is your mother did! Haha.
It looks like we've done everything we could... Thank you very much. I've seen how hard you can work.
Then... Do you think we passed?
Yes, I have absolutely no complaints. I'm impressed you could make so many new things, Escha. Or perhaps it is because you had an excellent tutor, hmm?
Hahaha, I didn't do anything, really. This was all thanks to Escha's efforts.
I see. Well then, I want to give the both of you my deepest thanks once more. I'm sure these supplies will allow us to hold over the apple orchard for a while.
Oh, awesome. Let's go report back to Miss Marion right away!
Well then, if you'll excuse us.
The village to the north is leaving because of the drought... Do you think the same might happen here?
...In any case, all we can do now is no more or less than our best. We must ensure these crops live on.
Oh, Wilbell, what's wrong? You look a little down.
I wouldn't call it "down", but... I was thinking about Nio's older sister. I used to know her, and I was just wondering where she could be wandering around. She's hopeless.
Nio's sister, huh? I remember you said that you were looking for her.
When we first met, I thought she was like me, but she turned out to be an alchemist like you two. I never thought there would be an alchemist in that region. I hadn't seen any besides her.
So Nio's sister is an alchemist, too? What was she like?
A little airheaded, maybe a little random and unreliable...
I see. She does sound similar.
Hey, that's not true!
Haha, I'm just joking.
She was a strange girl who talked about medicine and plants and weird things like that. Oh, and she was really pretty. I don't think I've seen anyone better looking than her.
Hmm, is that so...
Why do you sound so interested in that part, Logy?
It's a waste, though. She was completely unaware of it. It's better than being full of yourself. She's also too serious, and I think she's being tricked by a weird old man, so to be honest I'm worried.
A weird old man... That alone has me worried now...
Yeah. I think she's okay, though. She seems to owe him a lot, too. But, no matter how hard I look, it's impossible to find her.
Really. We could help you search for her, too...
No, don't worry about it. It'd just be nice if I found her, that's all. I was just wondering what she could be up to while I'm here in this town.
Hmm... It would be nice if you could meet this old friend of yours.
Wilbell seems very fond of her friend.
Hm? Why do you say that?
The way her eyes looked when she was talking about her friend. That's a look you only have for people you like a lot. Hopefully they'll find each other again.
Yeah...I hope so, too.
Looks like that's where we'll be going next. Maybe we didn't do enough to help...
Awin should get a new hammer, first. He's been the using he's using right now for a long time.
...There's no one here.
Wh-What do you suppose this means...?
We couldn't do anything about the water problem, so I guess all the villagers packed up and left.
Oh, no... if only we were better alchemists... Maybe we could've done something!
No, I think this is a completely separate issue. Alchemy can't solve all the world's problems. Sometimes, there's just nothing you can do. We can't blame ourselves for what happened here.
I know... I know that, but...
I know...me, too.
Hey Escha, I was thinking...if the water has all dried up, that must mean we can investigate the bottom of the well. I wonder what's down there...?