Part 25: Chapter XXI: The Mysterious Lab and Research
Well, that was fun... Did you check on the homunculi's requests? Let's see if they have enough items created so we can complete that last request.
Just a second...also, I was kind of interested in what Threia was talking about. You know, about the history of the ruins.
You were? I guess I can see it, but Harry around just made it sound kind of complicated.
Still, I kind of want to ask her about her work...
Hm? Are you interested in learning about it?
Um... Maybe a little bit. Remember how you were talking to Harry in the ruins? I started thinking about what could have happened here all those years ago, and it was actually kinda fun.
That's excellent, and for a good cause, too. Why don't you quit the R&D Division and come work with me?
Huuuuh!? N-No, I can't drop out just like that, Miss Threia!
Hmph. There really aren't that many people who feel as passionate about history as you do. My previous assistant seemed interested enough, but lacked the guts. So, what do you say?
Uh... I'm not sure if I... I'm sorry! I'm really busy with my own work right now!
Oh, that's such a shame. If I had a little assistant like you, I could ignore all my house chores.
Huh? That sounds more like you want a maid than an assistant...
But a regular maid wouldn't help me investigate ruins or traverse the grandness of Mother Nature. My ideal assistant has to be able to fight, have a passion for history, and above all, do chores.
Hahaha... So, in other words, you're just looking for someone to do your chores for you.
Because it's impossible to live day-to-day without knowing what our ancestors did, isn't it?
W-Well, yes, that's true... And I really wasn't all that interested until just recently, too.
It's not easy... I have to put up with the people who say we're wasting money... And then, when a theory you've spent so much time and energy on gets disproven... See? isn't it tedious work? And when you think about it, is the knowledge really necessary?
That might be a good question, but you said that it was important before... I-I don't know what results you'll get, but please do your best. I'll be cheering you on!
...You're a strange child. You'd believe anything I told you, wouldn't you?
Huh? Miss Threia, you mean you were...lying to me?
Of course not. Researching history like this is important when we start to think about our future. But, not many people take my work seriously. I think it's safe to assume you're a little different.
R-Really...? I don't think I'm as strange as you are, Miss Threia. Haha, I do think your research is interesting, so maybe I am a little strange.
I can't tell if you're sincere or being sarcastic. I guess alchemists are a strange bunch, too.
(I wonder why she'd think that...)
Hey Escha, are you out here?
Oh, Logy! Yeah, I was just talking with Threia. I checked with the homunculi, and we do have enough items.
Great. We need to go pick up more materials for the Automatic Drive. We need some Bent Screws and Rusty Cogs.
Twilight Forest, then!
I still don't know why they wanted us to do that...
I guess Central is looking for some first-hand examples of researching techniques for bringing along a greater number of items on a single adventure. It's kind of silly, since it has more to do with alchemy than how you pack items, but... Whatever. Anyway, the last assignment is to give that official some of my catalysts for research.
There we go, all assignments complete.
It's pretty interesting to create slags of our own. This model can't work without us around but...
A Slag Figure? Are you interested in slags, Escha?
Hm...kind of. Some of the slags we see on adventures are pretty scary, but they are really interesting.
I have to agree. I wonder how the people of the past made the first slags.
Looks like an item to significantly draw out the user's strength...
Sure takes up a lot of room, too.
Well, with how delicate the synthesis is, if I didn't use a lot of room to keep the item safe, it might break or something.
Well...we have a couple weeks left until the assignment is over. I've heard there were some really rare materials in the Dragon's Nest. Want to go take a look?
Yeah. Anything to find great materials is okay with me!
Even fighting more dragons?
Haha...maybe not that...
I told you, this was the right way.
I know, I'm sorry... I got lost.
They're unbelievable! There's so much power in them. We should have the homunculi start duplicating these as soon as we can!
Yeah. Alright, let's head back. The assignment's almost over.
Yes. Is there something you need, Lucille?
Linca, you're really strong, but you're still always training.
Indeed. I don't want to lose my edge, so I can't skip on my daily training. Also, I'm still not strong enough to protect anyone... I must devote myself to my training even further.
Hm... I think you're amazing enough already. You sure have high goals!
I never feel that way. In any case, why are you asking me this all of a sudden?
I'm not very good with physical work, so I'm just getting in everyone's way. That's why I wanted to know how I could get strong like you, Linca...
Well, then, would you like to try joining me when I train? It may help improve your problem.
You don't mind? Thank you!
Well, as I was saying, before we make the Automatic Drive, we should try seeing the engine first and make sure the dimensions are right. It needs to exact...
What's wrong, Lucille? You're in quite a hurry...
Oh, Logy! It's Linca!
Huh? What happened to Linca?
There you are, Lucille. I was looking for you. Let's return to our training.
No way. It's impossible!
Um, Linca, what's going on?
Lucille said she wished to train with me, and we started donig just that a little while ago. We aren't even a tenth of the way through, when she suddenly disappeared.
Lucille, you're pushing yourself too hard. What kind of training are we talking about, anyway?
That sounds really difficult for someone who's just starting out.
I don't think I could handle that warmup, either.
Is that so? Basic fitness is a very important part of physical training. If you skip your warmup, there is a danger of injuring yourself during actual training.
I was going to injure myself just doing that "warmup..."
How troublesome. If you can't do that, we can't even begin the actual training course.
I guess people like Linca need to put in a lot of effort.
I'm curious as to what exactly her real training is. It's probably better not to think about it. Linca can be a little...slow, but there's no doubt about her physical ability. I still have a lot of catching up to do.
You want to be like Linca, too?
Maybe not like her, but if we're going to be fighting stronger enemies, I need to be able to fight.
Maybe I should start training, too...
Say, the team being sent to investigate the Unexplored Ruins is coming from Central City, right?
That's true... Hey, Logy, do you think Central Command really intends to investigate the ruins?
...It's a tough call. I can't imagine that they would have the spare resources, to be honest. I think someone high-up made an announcement, and now they're scrambling to assemble a team.
But... It's already been decided, right? I think it's safe to assume that a team is coming?
Well, we can't say that with certainty. That's what I hate about those guys.
I've been dispatched to the frontier on Central Command's orders before... The entire time, they kept assuring me that backup was coming. But, in the end it was just Linca and me.
Um... Do we still need to make all of these preparations, then?
It's our job, so there's nothing we can do. I'll put together a plan for their arrival soon.
Ugh, this is rough... I guess we really need to think about preparing for them, though.
Now then, let's see how you fared last period...
Um, I'm not sure I agree with that. Fighting isn't really our specialty...
You're too handsome to whine, Logy. You beat that giant Slag; I'd say you're good fighters.
It's true, though... I never thought we'd be able to fight this well...
You worked hard, you got stronger. It's something to be proud of. I want you to keep pushing yourselves like that. I have high hopes for you both.
It's troubling...to have you expect so much from us.
Now, I'm going to give you your assignment for this period.
A newly discovered ruin? Where was it found?
To the west of here. Apparently, the area is very dangerous, which is why it wasn't found until now. This is a big chance for our department! Let's investigate, find what we can, and take the credit!
A newly discovered set of ruins, huh...? I think my heart's racing!
I'm a little worried... What are we going to be up against? Well, we might as well check it out. Wouldn't hurt to be extra prepared.
Yeah. Plus, if no one's been there before, who knows what we'll find? We could find some really amazing materials.
And we could get a chance to find out more about the previous civilization...
Ah, no... I'd like to take a look around, so...
But of course! Look all you want! By the way... You've been coming here a lot lately, Micie.
Huh? Well, I suppose I have...
Heh heh, it's really nice to have a lot of regulars like this. Even if you don't have the money, let me know if something catches your eye, and I'll hold onto it!
Oh, um, no, I'm actually not that strapped for cash.
Hey, Micie. What are you doing here?
Wh-Wh-Wha--! H-How long have you two been there!?
We just got here. Are you shopping here, too? I didn't realize you had such...interesting hobbies.
Logy! Don't say that someone has "dot dot dot interesting" hobbies right in front of the store owner!
She's right! That's very rude! She's simply running an honest business here, out on the outskirts... How could you!
(What's with that reaction?) Sorry, sorry! That wasn't my intent, I assure you.
Th-That's right, Micie. We're just ribbing each other. It's just a joke between regulars.
Oh...! I-I see... How could I have let myself jump to conclusions...
Ahaha... But it's good not to let a joke go too far.
So, um... There should be steps taken in deepening one's relationships, I feel.
(Why is Micie acting so strange?) You don't need to be so tense. Why don't you relax a little, and go on from there...?
He just ran off...
...Wh-What just happened?
What a strange little man. But, you know, he actually doesn't talk to me that much...
He usually knows exactly what he wants and is never at a loss for words. I've never seen him panic.
He did seem a little strange that whole time. I wonder what's gotten into him.
Hm...no new recipe book. I guess we should probably go to the orchards.
Music: Chai Full of Sugar in the Afternoon
Oh, Nio. What are you doing?
I'm looking for Wilbell. She's always around here, but I can't find her.
Hmm... Something smells good. What do you have there, Nio?
I just baked some cookies. I was going to give some to Wilbell, but...
Oooh, cookies... Maybe I should make some when I have free time.
I have some left over. You can have them.
Really? Thank you, Nio!
Hahaha, don't eat the ones meant for other people.
I-I'd never do that!
Hey, what are you all up to?
*sniiiiiiiiff* Oooh! You made treats again, didn't you!?
Ahaha, you can tell? I was going to give some of them to you.
You sure do like sugar. If you eat too much, don't come crying to me when you get a cavity.
You don't eat sweets, Wilbell? I pictured you as the kind of girl who would.
Oh, magicians love sweets. There's even an old custom of making magic sweets and trading them.
Magic sweets......... Are they magically delicious?
Heh heh. Sweets made by magicians are actually very valuable. Some magicians even ran candy shops to hide their magical candy abilities.
Hmm, so I guess magicians do a lot of different things. Can you make them, Wilbell?
Huh? Yeah, of course...
I actually tried them once. They were very good. That's actually why I started making sweets, but I'm nowhere as good as Wilbell...
Hmm... You should make some for next time, Wilbell.
Whaaaat... But it's such a pain to prepare and clean up...
No way! All that stuff is part of the fun of making sweets!
Hey! Maybe I should try creating a spell to make magic sweets...with magic!
Um... That sounds convenient and fun, but it also seems like it would be missing something...
You guys don't understand. All our modern conveniences are invented because people got sick of working.
Hm... That's actually got a ring of truth to it.
I've decided! My next spell is going to be a sweets spell! You'd better look forward to it!
Ooh, that sounds fun! I wonder what you'll end up making...
Oh! Escha, I'm sorry, but I totally forgot. I promised Awin I would help with the docks today. He keeps bugging me about joining the Maintenance division staff, and in turn for him to stop talking about that, he asked me to help out at the docks sometimes.
Wha--? Brother really said that?
Yeah, well... You know how he can get. Anyway, go ahead and check out what Nio's selling. I'll probably be back at the atelier by the time you're done.
Oh, really? So, are there stories of crossing rivers, or breaking through boulders?
Unfortunately, I could only find the part of the story after all that. After finishing her great adventure, Princess Bumblebee returns to her homeland.
Oh, that's a shame... But what happens in the end?
It is a little early, but perhaps I should read you the ending?
...Hmm, okay. We don't know if we'll find the rest, anyway.
I understand. One moment, please.
The Bumblebee Princess returned to her hometown after her great adventure.
I have learned much on my journey. If you have tools like this, I'm sure you can make the fields well.
Princess Bumblebee tried using all the tools she made on her adventures to help the fields. Still, for some reason the fields continued to weaken. Her tools and her books were little help. This was a first for the Bumblebee Princess, who had always known how to do anything until now.
Why? I don't get it, I just can't understand.
Then, the Girl in the Hat came along. In her hand was the watering can the Princess had given her.
What didn't you know?
I used the watering can to water the fields the whole time you were away, Bumblebee Princess. That's why the fields have worn out. They won't go back to normal even with the watering can anymore.
When the Bumblebee Princess looked around, she saw that all the people were using the same watering cans. The Bumblebee Princess realized that the fields had only been a little tired at first. The Bumblebee Princess told everyone to stop using the watering cans, but no one would let them go.
The Bumblebee Princess did her best to explain, but everyone kept using the watering cans. This was because the cans were so convenient, the people forgot how to grow plants without them. The Bumblebee Princess cried, all by herself.
It's so easy, so why does nobody understand? Why? I don't get it, I just can't understand.
...The end. What do you think?
That's very sad! Is that really how it ends?
I stopped writing the story there. I could not think of anything else to write.
What? What do you mean?
Did I not tell you? I wrote this book myself.
What!? You wrote this, Clone? I didn't remember that...
Milia asked me to help you sleep. I remember that you cried when you read this chapter before. I suppose I wasn't very good at writing picture books. Did you forget it because it was dull?
No way! The middle of the story was very fun, and exciting! I remember that much!
Oh my, thank you very much... I'll go put this away.
Okay. Thank you for finding it.
But I could have sworn the ending was happier than this. Hm...I should Nio about the Unexplored Ruins. Maybe she found out some more stuff.
Let's see... I don't know if it has anything to do with the ruins, but I was translating ancient text. I talked to Logy, and he said he'll send for some documents from Central City.
I wonder if there's anymore documents left in the branch office. I've been searching since before I became an official, and never found anything...
That reminds me, you were the one who first told me about the Unexplored Ruins, Escha. I've been researching for a while, but you seem to be just as interested in that place as I am.
Really? I wonder...
Ahaha, yeah, definitely. When it comes to work, apples, and the Unexplored Ruins, you're #1. But why are you so interested in those ruins, Escha? I know they have this air of mystery, but it's like you yearn for something else.
Hmm, well... I do have a reason, but do you promise not to laugh?
I won't laugh. I promise!
Some of them were about people who tried to reach the Unexplored ruins, but never made it. I don't remember my mother very well, but I do have very clear memories of those stories.
So the stories are actually a very important memory of your mother.
Yes. I don't know much about the meaning of those ruins, or why they're up there... But I have a feeling something very important is up there.
Ahaha, probably. I think I know how you feel. I'm going to do more research. Something important could be there, after all.
Good luck, Nio. All right, I'll do my best, too!
A Dunkelheit! It's the rarest flower in the world... Oh, but it's so expensive... I don't think Logy would like me spending that much money without asking him... I should start heading back now.
Whoa... You're actually calculating your sales numbers? That's really admirable.
Of course I am! I'm not THAT irresponsible... Now that Harry's supporting me, I've committed myself to this project. I'm gonna see it through! And if I make a little extra, I have to put it towards my savings...
Your savings... Is there something you're trying to buy?
First, I need the capital to open a proper shop. That's going to take a lot of money and preparation... Eventually, I want my own blimp for the shop. That'll make acquiring goods a lot easier. I'll gather more and more unique items, and then make tons of money!
Hahaha... With dreams that big, you'll never have enough money!
That's the thing... My shop never really made much money anyway, so saving up is taking quite a while. Not to mention that I tend to buy some things for myself, too, so my dreams are still pretty far away. That's why I'm trying to keep my day-to-day expenditures veeeeeery low.
Oh, I know the feeling. It's not like we're not trying, though... It just doesn't work out in the end. If I try to reduce the amount of food I eat, I get so hungry... Next thing I know, I'm eating more! When I try to stop making big purchases, I notice that I'm making a lot more smaller purchases...
Yes, yes, that's totally what happens... I wonder why that is?
It's pretty tough to balance your day-to-day expenses. How does everyone else do it?
I leave it up to Father and Clone, so, honestly, I'm not sure. Maybe I should ask them next time.
Hmm... I'm a little curious about that, too. But I wish some awesome deal would just fall into my lap.
You can't plan on that. C'mon, let's both save up together. We'll support each other. Keep trying!
Well, I think my sales aren't doing extremely well, so all this saving is kind of meaningless. I need to bump my numbers up first, before I can give some thought to saving up, you know?
Uhh... True, I guess you'd be able to save more that way, but...
It's time to go get some snacks... Oh man, I can hardly wait.
W-Wait, don't you need to cut back BECAUSE your sales aren't great...? You're only getting poorer now! (Maybe Logy was right about her business sense...)
This should be good for more adventures...
Logy, I'm back!
Oh, there you are. I was just finishing up this synthesis. I think we're about as prepared for the investigation as we'll get.
That looks beautiful! But yeah...I think we can get going soon.
I've never even heard of these ruins before...
Well, if what Marion was saying was true, looks like not many people have. It'll be up to us to survey this area!
The ruins are in a place like this...?
I'm impressed anyone even found them there. How many people come to this area in the first place?
Yeah... I wonder what's deeper inside?
H-Hey, you're starting to sound like Threia...
Doesn't it seem very different from the other ruins? It's so hard to get around... It's like...we're in a secret spy mansion or something! There has to be secrets here...
A spy mansion...? I suppose I can see what you mean. Anyway, let's try to go as far as we can. But make sure to be careful.
You got it! All right... Let's get...careful! C'mon, say it Logy!
We should get moving.
Oh fine...let's...get careful...
Alright, let's go!
The lack of any vegetation is interesting. Maybe the research they were doing here exhausted the soil...
Does that mean we won't find a lot of plant materials?
It's certainly possible.
Oh, and what's that big ruin in the distance?
I have no idea... Hopefully the lab will take us to them. We might have to go underground.
Keep your head down, Escha. We're going to be going through some tight passages.
What kind of alchemy were they doing here?
Hey Logy, how long do you think this place has been abandoned?
At least since the previous civilization. The ruins above are pretty destroyed, but the inside is cleaner. Maybe that means that whatever happened to the previous civilization didn't happen to the lower areas of this lab.
But the lower areas are still pretty messy, too...
You're right. I just wonder what did happen here. They might have left this facility in a hurry.
These walls look like they could collapse at any moment... Logy, we shouldn't stay in this area too long.
Looks like the center of the lab is around here. Which means...
We're getting closer to the lower areas of the lab.
I wonder if there's a connection between the mountain atelier and this place.
Well...it could be. The people who were working in that atelier could have known about this location, but the alchemy process is completely different. I haven't seen any cauldrons, so maybe this location is using alchemy similar to the methods in Central.
So the art of cauldron alchemy is a rediscovered technique in alchemy?
It's only a hunch... I'm sure Threia is enjoying this place a lot.
King of the lizards
Where did that dragon come from!?
It looks really scary...
How can it take so much damage? Maybe living around here has strengthened it...
Linca is so powerful!
Something smells good...
Where are we...? Are we back on the surface?
Wow, what a huge set of ruins... What do you think that is over there?
Ah, I've seen ruins like these before. Wasn't expecting to find 'em here, though.
You know something, Reyfer?
You see that strange vegetation growin' here and there?
Yeah...it's all over. There wasn't any of that growing outside the ruins...
That's the strange thing about some of these ruins. They're practically in a damn forest!
Hmm, I never noticed. I'd like to explore the ruins some more, but...I don't think we should go deeper.
Strange, though... In my experience, ruins like these are secluded, out in the mountains... It's not the kind of thing you'd find connected to another ruin. That's downright unheard-of.
Does that mean that the place we just walked through is related to this ruin somehow?
Dunno which facility was built to support the other, but who knows? One of 'em has to have treasure!
And here I thought you were being serious for once. Foolish of me, I suppose.
Hmm... We really can't investigate much more like this, so let's wrap it up when we have the chance.
You're right. We'll go back and write a report on our findings here.
It's not just the plants...it seems like the air is different around here, too. Could this location have anything to do with changing the composition of the soil?
At least we should find some amazing materials here, too! Oh, and Logy, why don't you want to investigate more?
Well, with all the plant growth around here, we'd have to cut through a lot of it to investigate more. We'd completely disrupt the environment. The best thing we can do is just let the next team that comes here know what we found.
Oh, that makes sense... Oh, and wasn't there another path before we came up here?
What...is this place?
There's a lot of old documents around here, too. I'm not sure how valuable any of them are, though.
Let's head back. I've got a lot to write about for our next report...