Part 22: Chapter XIX: The Courageous Pirate and Butler
An unusual dragon
What would you like to do, Sir? Should we put in a request with the Hunting Team?
Hm... This is no ordinary foe. Frankly, this is beyond the skills of any team we could assemble. Let's request support from Central City. Perhaps they'll send more than the investigators to help us. I'll continue thinking of solutions on our end, but we should wait and see how Central Command responds.
Understood. We'll increase our security as much as we can.
Thank you, though some casualties may be unavoidable. Whatever you do, be careful.
Hey, you didn't even wait to hear what she had to--
Surely this regards the dreadnaught project, correct? If I am mistaken, then I withdraw my prior comment.
Uh... Well, yes, it does.
I figured as much. So... What are you looking for this time? I'll listen, but nothing more.
Even in its current state, we've successfully built it to travel faster than a blimp. However, it is still far from being able to break through the floating fortress. We can't reach the ruins.
So, we want more materials to strengthen the ship!
You always ask for the impossible. Remember, my homunculi have their normal tasks to complete, as well. Marion insisted that I agree to help you reproduce those rare metals... Nonetheless, you need to collect the raw materials. We cannot produce those for you.
But we need to make it stiffer, or there's no point in even putting the engine onto the airship!
It's true, we need to make the framework a lot stronger. Is there anything you can do for us?
I am not entirely against the ship-building idea. We have come this far; we should see it through. However! We are already suffering a shortage of rare materials due to the metal-eating dragon. I would love to offer you my help, but we simply do not have enough raw material to go around.
A metal-eating dragon...? What on earth is that?
...I see, I understand. You seem really busy, so we'll get out of your way. Excuse us.
Hm... It's impossible after all... But what could he mean about a metal-eating dragon?
A metal-eating dragon, huh?
Huh? Logy? Did you think of something?
It's about that dragon. I'm glad Solle told us about it. There may be a way to find those rare materials...
Music: Shall We Talk
Is there something you need?
Forgive me if this is a personal question, but how exactly is it that you learned alchemy, Escha?
I think she said she learned it from her mother.
Right. I learned the basics when I was very young, and then I taught myself with Clone's help.
I see, so it's been passed down through your family. That's quite a surprise. No wonder it's fundamentally different from the current alchemy techniques. Very interesting...
There isn't a lot of precedent for something like this.
Indeed. I do not have detailed knowledge of the subject, but I can say this is of historical import.
Threia said something like that, but I don't feel special. Isn't alchemy in Central City better? I think I just have some leftovers of old customs...
No, I hear that current research alchemy is just applications of general theory. It's more about having strong basic theories than anything else. Isn't that correct, Logy?
Yeah. I'm still learning a lot from Escha's old-style alchemy. She's been amazing in that regard.
The question remains: how did knowledge of this form of alchemy survive in this particular town? From what I read, this town developed out of a small farming village.
Yes. My family's apparently been raising apples since long ago.
In other words, Escha comes from a long line of both alchemists and farmers.
It's likely that they were using alchemy to improve their agriculture.
I tried to ask Clone about that once, but she wouldn't say anything about it. She's lived for a long time, so I thought she'd know more...
She refuses to speak? A shame... She could possess invaluable first-hand knowledge of the past era. (Is there something she can't disclose, or does she simply not wish to speak of it...?)
What's wrong, Micie? You're kind of muttering to yourself.
It's nothing. Never mind.
It would be nice if we could ask Clone, right Logy?
I have to admit, I'm interested as well. But, I've heard automata are usually given orders soon after they're created by the person who created them. If Clone was given orders not to speak about where the apple orchards came from, then there's not really much she can do.
Maybe we'll find out someday...
Is something the matter, Duke? You look so serious...
I caught wind of a pretty nasty rumor from some guys over at the branch office. Do you know about the dragon that eats metal? Heh, I wouldn't blame you youngin's if you didn't...
Solle just mentioned something about that! Something about it being a big problem lately...
He did, huh? Heh... I guess it's more than just a rumor, then!
Can you tell us about this dragon? We've never heard of this thing before.
Well, it's a huge dragon... I'm sure it's lived for ages. As you probably guessed, it eats metal.
It really is a dragon, then? And it still lurks in these lands?
This monster builds its nest towards the west. And it usually doesn't move too far from it... When mating season comes around, it starts taking metal from all over and stashing it in its nest.
That's very interesting behavior...
Whoa, that's scary... I never knew that!
That said, we certainly don't want to provoke the beast, so we generally steer clear of its path.
That's why Solle wanted to keep it a secret. It makes sense now... Say... If we were to go to that dragon's nest, would we be able to find some strong, rare metals?
Huh!? Logy, you're not thinking of--! Absolutely not! It's way too dangerous!
She's right. It's not the toughest thing in the world, but a dragon's a dragon. A bit much for you kids.
"Not the toughest"? It's a dragon!
Oh, there are some pretty bad dragons out there. But you can set that aside for now. If you insist on goin' to the nest, I advise you avoid confrontation. It's just out of your league.
I'll keep that in mind. Thank you for the warning.
Yeah. It's the only lead we have to find our rare metals... We have to take the chance.
That sounds like a lot of work... If only there was a way to avoid the dragon...
You're right. We don't have to fight the dragon, but we do need to chase it away from the nest... To be honest, I'm not sure what I can do just by myself. Maybe we should go by the orchards and read some of your mother's alchemy books. Maybe she has something that can get me started on thinking of a recipe.
Sure... (This is still kind of a scary idea...)
Yes. Are you interested?
Yeah, I guess so. I'm sorry for asking so suddenly, but could you tell us about the ruins?
Ahaha, don't worry about it. I'm happy you want to hear about my research.
Really? Thank you, Nio!
Hmm, where should I start... Do you know why they're called the "Unexplored Ruins"?
Um... Because nobody's ever been in there?
That's true for us, but the people of ancient times came and went to what we call "ruins" now. So the "Unexplored Ruins" is something of a misnomer, because certainly SOMEone's been there.
I suppose... But maybe it was easy for them to get there with their technology, but it's hard for us.
However, if ancient people had a means to go, there should be some evidence of those means. But no data has ever been found of such, and it's always been called the Unexplored Ruins because of it. How did people get there? How did they get back? There's just no data about it at all...
None? Absolutely none has ever been found?
What if, no one has gone there ever since it started floating up in they sky...?
Huh... So you mean it was impossible for the ancient people to get there, too?
I can't believe that... Even if we don't know how they traveled to that place... Well, I am making a lot of guesses. The ancient people probably had some means of going there. But, we just can't find it.
I see. I thought there could be a better way, but maybe there isn't one.
If I find anything else, I'll let you two know. I'll do my best!
Thank you, Nio. We'll let you know if we find something, too.
Hey Escha, I did find something that maybe we can use. I'm going to go ahead and take it back to the atelier. Don't wait up for me.
Sure! See you later.
We've been getting a lot of money from our stipends lately... And we always need to make new things. I should probably head back...
Huh? Did I ask you to find something for me?
Do you remember when I read that old picture book to you before? I found the next chapter...
Oh, you did! The Bumblebee Princess story, right? I remember you used to read it to me over and over.
Yes... You would ask me to read it every day, sometimes. I remember you kept me from focusing on work. You really have matured since then, though you still seem to have kept that tomboyish nature...
(Oh... I really did like that story...) Ahahaha... Well, at the very least, I understand how important work is now... Say, do you have some time right now? I'd really like it if you read to me some more.
My oh my... This is just like the old days. Very well, one moment...
Hm, is that Harry...? He seems to be in a really good mood...
This beautiful streamlined shaped, and patterns I've never seen before... To think that I would find such an intriguing artifact in a place such as this...!
Right, right!? You've never seen this before, huh? It's been recently excavated from a ruin... I do wonder what it could be.
Hm... Well, from what I can see... Oh, this is... It's one of those! I believe it to be a type of glass used by the ancient people when they drank alcohol.
A glass... But it's huge! I thought it was some kind of vase.
Ha ha ha! I can understand your confusion, but a professional such as myself can see it with a glance. The ancient people truly loved their alcohol. That's why they needed glassware of this size.
I-I see... I might have seen someone in town drinking from a glass about this size, too...
At any rate, it's still too early for a little young girl like yourself to understand. You'll never see the truth until you've freed your mind and heart from their shackles!
Whoa...! That's amazing! I really do respect very knowledgeable people!
Why, thank you. While I have a diverse academic background, I still think I have much to learn... This store's very existence is a good example. I never would have imagined a place such as this.
Oh, you think so...? That actually makes me blush a little bit.
Oh, Logy! It's amazing. This gentleman over here actually knows quite a bit.
Oh? So you two are regulars here? Why would you keep this little gem of a store a secret from me? How could I not have known of the existence of such a brilliant little shop!?
I suppose she does carry some unique items... Maybe it's actually a better store than I thought?
But of course! Almost every item in this store is an artifact left behind by the ancient people. Nonetheless, without my knowledge and expertise, one may simply walk right by without even noticing...
R-Right... I suppose I really didn't notice much, myself.
Oh, now you're just flattering me! Name what you want in this store; I'll give you a real bargain!
Really? Well then... I suppose I shall peruse a little more. For now, I'll take this, and...this.
(Should we really leave these two to themselves...? I mean, they look like they're having fun, but...)
(Well, as usual, Katla has a good recipe book for sale. Can't hurt to pick it up.)
The Bumblebee Princess saved all her friends from danger, but for some reason, they were all sad...
What is it, you don't understand?
The fields used to be full of vegetables, but...they don't grow anymore. Why?
The Bumblebee Princess was troubled, for not even she knew the answer to that question.
But the Bumblebee Princess was supposed to know everything, so she told the girl in the hat: I will give you this watering can.
If you use this, the fields will always be healthy and green. And while you water the fields, I will find out what made them stop growing to begin with!
The Bumblebee Princess decided to go on a journey to a far-off place in the sky, to find a book. The book had all the answers she was searching for. So, she gave the watering can to the little girl. The little girl accepted this gift and said to the Bumblebee Princess:
It's a promise, Princess. Once you understand why, return to us.
And so, the Bumblebee Princess went off on her adventure.
Yes, yes, I'm starting to remember. This is when the Bumblebee Princess' adventure begins.
Yes... She travels across fields, and over mountains...all in search of knowledge.
Yeah, yeah! And I was so curious about what happened next, I kept wanting to go outside! But, now I realize that a lot of this story has to do with alchemy, with the watering can and all...
I suppose the author wanted the quest for knowledge to sound interesting.
Well, here I am, going on adventures in search of knowledge. I guess it mus thave worked, huh?
Oh, I understand... I suppose that is a possibility I had not considered.
Hey, Clone... Do you think you could find the next part of the story?
Huh? I thought Katla said she had a new book coming in... Oh! Logy must have bought it! Maybe I can catch up to him!
There you are! I thought you were going to back to the atelier?
I was, but I saw Harry at Katla's shop and... Wait, why did it take you so long?
Oh, Clone was telling me more of the story of the Bumblebee Princess... That book may have began my interest in alchemy.
Really? Hm... Anyway, let's head back together.
Ace in the hole
Hey, what can I do for you, Escha? If you're looking for a husband, well then, look no further.
You're such an idiot... So, what can we help you with?
The truth is... We've heard of a metal-eating dragon from Solle that's been stealing a lot of rare metals and bringing them back to its nest. We really need those metals to construct the dreadnaught, and the homunculi can't produce them on their own. So, we need to go to that dragon's nest and take those metals somehow.
I see. So you need to do something about this dragon, and gather all the rare metals you're looking for.
We've been told to avoid confrontation at all costs, but... Are dragons really that tough?
As you know, dragons can fly and breathe fire that can melt the strongest metal.
Well, they're definitely not the kind of creature that you want to get into a fight with.
But we desperately need the metals that this dragon is supposedly collecting.
Could we avoid having to fight it, and simply take the metal from its nest?
I wonder... Perhaps if you catch it when it's out on a hunt, you might just be able to...
It would be really bad if it came back before we could leave, though...
So, you want the dragon out of its nest, right? I might have just what you need.
Really? Don't go spouting off some more nonsense again.
Oh, c'mon now... Don't you underestimate a good treasure hunter. Here, take a look.
What is that thing? It smells very interesting.
It's a very valuable charm that's been in use by hunters since ancient times.
When you're near a dragon's nest, toss this bad boy in there, and find some cover. If you're lucky, it should try to run away from the smell, and fly away.
I see... So if we make one of these that's really strong and throw it in, we might avoid the dragon!
We should try this out for ourselves. Mr. Reyfer, could you show us how to make one of those?
Yeah, sure thing. But if the dragon sees this, it'll lose its effect.
So, if you're gonna use it, you have to catch the dragon off-guard.
I understand... I hope we don't have to fight the dragon with this...
(I guess I should bring Escha's mother's book back.)
Logy, if we can get those metals from the dragon...
Yeah, I know what you're thinking. If we can get those metals, then we'll be a big step closer to making the dreadnaught. To be sure, it might take the homunculi some time to reproduce the materials, and we may have to refine the metals with alchemy, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.
That leaves the power source... Hopefully the jewel will make the Fire Lord calm down. First, though, I think we should take care of the slag.
Yeah, that's the smarter choice right now. The Southern Ruins aren't that far from here, so this shouldn't take very long. We should probably prepare pretty well, though.
True, but something needs to be done about it soon, or it could become a dangerous situation. I suppose we could attempt to counteract diminishing supply by raising prices.
No, I can't endorse that. I'll do something about this myself. I have a lot of connections. I'll ask someone trustworthy to secure some more food supplies.
...Can things really be resolved that smoothly?
They can be very reliable at times like this. There's nothing to worry about.
You have our gratitude, Doctor Olson. The branch office owes you for your assistance.
I've said before, you don't have to call me that. I'm merely a resident of Colseit while I'm here.
Actually, I always come by here whenever I have some spare time. I'm doing everything I can to help the town's operations during my stay.
Should an outsider really be involved in the branch office's business?
I want to hear about one of your travels, Harry. Where are you going on your next adventure?
You're both so rude...
My next adventure? I'd love to talk about it, but I have some important business to attend to right now. After I finish my work, I'd be glad to tell you. Please look forward to it.
Oh, you're busy right now? That's a shame...
Sorry. Anyway, I'm off.
...There is something I would like to warn you two about.
What's wrong, Solle? You look ominous...
Do you have any idea why the branch office is able to balance its budget, or who pays your salaries? Money can't be created from nothing, like alchemy. The office needs many people to operate.
Y-Yes...? I get that...
Wait, Harry's donating to the town? Are you kidding?
It's the truth.
But, Mr. Harry's just an adventurer...
Thanks to his merchant group, we were able to open new trade routes, and the town has benefited greatly. Adventuring is likely just one of his hobbies.
Wait, so he's actually a very wealthy man?
He sure does seem serious about adventuring for a man of leisure...
...Keep that in mind when you work with him in the future. Do you understand?
Yes... I'll remember that...
I guess people aren't always as they appear...
So we're actually spending Mr. Harry's money?
I guess that's what Solle meant, but he wouldn't be doing this if he didn't believe in this branch. Plus, a good town here allows him to explore the nearby areas whenever he wants.
Mr. Harry seems kind of strange for someone who manages so much money...
Yeah, I know what you mean.
What do you mean I can't use this thing?
Well, to make the runes on the Shield work effectively, during Synthesis I had to alter the usual way I Synthesize items to tell it to obey its maker's command. So, you can't use it, Logy...
Hm, that's okay. I'm sure it'll be a big help in battle.
Alright, when we decide to head to the dragon's nest, we'll need to make sure to remember this.
So Duke said that the nest was around this area. Man, that's way out there. Anyway, the excavation team we gave the bombs to should have opened up a new passage in the Southern Ruins. Let's get moving.
I guess these more powerful slags were sealed off...
The ornery slag
We were told that the giant Slag was in this area...
...Found it! There it is!
Music: Blow! Wind, Call! Storm -Full Metal Slug-
What are we supposed to do in times like this...?
I'd say ambush it, but that might be difficult right here... We should charge in head-first.
You want to just run straight at it...? That's going to require a lot of courage.
We don't have any other options.
Yeah, we've prepared as well as we can... All right, let's go!
B-But now that it's come to this, we need to make sure it's done right!
Escha, when those bombs come back down, take cover.
Ah! Sorry! I didn't hear you!
It's going to fire its main gun!
Music: FJ: Purple Haze
Wow...it was like the world just stopped...
Threia's earrings can do pretty incredible things...
Whew... We somehow made it through that.
Now, I wonder if there's anything rare nearby...?
I couldn't really pay attention to it during the battle, but this place is really deserted, even for ruins... This might be hard. Keep your eyes open.
This is another lithograph, Logy!
That's nice. Try putting it together with the other one we found. We might discover something.
Well, I think we can head back. I don't think we'll find anything else around here.
That's right, we did find more pieces! Maybe they fit with these!
Maybe... Let's try to connect these new ones with the ones we had before and see what we find.
Ahaha... I think you're actually getting into this, Logy!
...I guess I am. C'mon, let's put these pieces together!
Just one second...
I think that's right, but...
...Is this a person? Doesn't it look a little different to you?
It does look a little off... Maybe it's a spirit or something?
This is a really strange feeling... Hmm. Why does it feel like I've seen this before?
I guess we're still missing some information... We haven't found all the pieces to this puzzle.
Huh... From this size, I guess we need about two more pieces. What do you think?
If they're all about the same size, then yes. I wonder where we can find them?
Let's go investigate more places!
You mean the dragon's nest?
Yeah! Maybe we'll even find more lithograph fragments!
I wouldn't be so sure of that...but let's get going.
Don't worry Logy. I know this place is really dangerous, so we should work together here as much as we can.
You've definitely improved your skills, but you're right, this is going to be very dangerous coming here. The metal-eating dragon could attack at any time.
Looks like the path splits here. Let's make sure we investigate the area closely.
Katla's got good instincts. Finding great relics around here should be easy as long as we're careful and look carefully.
Hey Logy, don't you think it's strange this place is very big, but we haven't seen any dragons yet?
Now that you mention it...you're right. We haven't seen the metal-eating dragon yet, but this place is too large for just one dragon.
There's probably more. We should finish this investigation as quickly as possible...
Yes! We found another piece of the lithograph!
All right, so they go together, but what are they? Why are they scattered all over the place?
Yeah, we've been finding them in completely different areas... What do you think, Logy?
Hm...considering we've been finding them in all sorts of different places, it's possible that the image on the lithograph was a lot more popular in the distant past than it is now. So, that would explain why we're finding different parts of the same image all over the place. But, I really don't know...
Escha, something's close...