Part 21: Chapter XVIII: The Illusory Side of the Floating Ruin
Um, well, if it's a question we can answer, sure.
It's quite simple... Oh, before that. Have you heard of a book titled "From the Wilderness"?
No... I've never heard of it.
Hmm, nope, can't say I have.
Oh dear! That won't do! I see I must give you this valuable book, for the sake of your intellectual development.
I-is this really okay!? If it's that valuable... Wait, the author is...
"From the Wilderness" by Harry Olson... Huh?
Yes, this is my very first literary work... It's influenced by many different fields of study.
(Looks like Harry does all kinds of things...)
Now now, there's no need for praise. I didn't write it to be lauded.
If I encounter any interesting events or phenomena in this region, I'd like to include them in my next book. That's why I wished to ask for your cooperation. If you encounter anything, please don't hesitate to contact me!
O-okay... We'll do that...
To the place of illusion
Oh, Shallies, hello. Perfect timing. I have information concerning Keith.
What?! Where is that geezer!?
Apparently they're ruins in the Dusk Sea called the Castle of Mirages, and he's headed there.
The Castle of Mirages...
I hear it's in the deep sea near the eastern continent. Maybe you should ask the people in Faav Village?
Got it! Thank you!
To tell the truth... I have a very compelling piece of information. Are you interested?
Um... I can't really say without knowing what it's about...
As you know, the city's water shortage is getting worse... But this could also be a great opportunity.
As the water shortage continues, more people will get desperate for water, and the price will rise. Don't you think it would be a good idea to stock up on water now and take advantage of that? It'll sell like crazy, even if the price is just a little higher than normal! Isn't that right?
Yeah... I think so!
Right!? Well then, we can take advantage of this new opportunity together!
Huh... What would you want us to do?
All you two need to do is collect water. I'd like to go myself, but I don't have the skills for that, and I can't leave my shop. If you go collect it, I can use my great skills as a merchant to sell it to everyone!
Hm...what do you think, Lotte?
I think we should do it. Katla needs the money, too...
Yeah, it sounds like a good idea. (It's true that the water supply is shrinking... This could also help the people of the city...) I understand, I'll help.
Alright, it's decided! I'll be waiting for you to bring the water!
So I guess Rose was telling the truth about the Castle of Mirages. Still, it's strange Keith found them before we did.
I wonder how long he's been working here in Stellard?
I never thought I'd hear of Keith again...
Whoa! You've met him before?
Yeah. When I was first starting my training as a witch, I met him a few times. That's also where I know Harry from, too. They were working out of the same town for a while, before Keith disappeared. I don't know when Harry left, but met him again in Colseit with Escha.
I see... What kind of person is Keith?
Well, you probably heard about him from Solle, but he's a really cranky guy who doesn't really like talking with people unless it's something he finds interesting. He's definitely smart, he's just really hard to work with sometimes.
But master, you're not an alchemist. Why would you know about Keith?
He worked with my alchemist friend from that time, and he seems to like her, at least. It doesn't seem like she's in Stellard, though...
Oh hello, you two. Speaking with you reminds me of my youth, it's quite moving.
How long have you worked here? For years, I only knew my village... I'm a little jealous.
Hmm, Harry's youth... I can't even imagine it. What did you do?
Yeees, I see...!
Harry!? What's wrong!?
Are you not feeling well...!?
No, quite the opposite! Sorry for worrying you. And thank you! For giving me such a splendid idea!
We didn't really do anything...
No, after hearing your question, I thought of an idea for the theme of my next book!
The theme? What do you mean?
The world must know how the man with all these qualities, Harry Olson, came to be! I could never express my gratitude for your aid in realizing this...!
N-No, don't worry about it!
Oh, of course! Once I complete this autobiography, I'll present it to you first. This I swear. I'll bet you can't wait!
I guess that does sound kind of interesting...
Yes, but probably not in the way he thinks.
We should probably ask around for any leads to the Castle of Mirages... I don't even know where to start...
Tower of plants
Mm? Oh, hello, ladies. We meet again!
Um, Harry...? Do you know a man named Keithgriff?
You're searching for Keith? Why?
We have business... Wait. You know Keith??
I've never directly spoken to him, but I have seen him before. Unfortunately, I haven't seen him around here.
Hmm, I see...
More importantly, have you visited the Heaven's Vine?
What?! How have you not heard of it?!
It's to the south of the town, beyond the cove. You should go there! Now! Go!
Wait a second! We're looking for Keith!
It's okay, Lotte. We don't have any other clues, so we can at least take a look.
Whaaaa! ...You seem like you've slackened up a bit lately, Stera...
Heh... I decided to relax a little bit... Thanks to you, Lotte.
It seems like there could be treasure here, but I just can't see anything.
I guess traveling the Dusk Sea must have been more common in the past.
With the revival of trade routes, we could see more places like this in the future...
The long climb
Music: Sleeping Vines
This is the Heaven's Vine?! ... It's amazing!
Are we... Supposed to climb this?
I wonder how far it goes...
Probably to. End of sky.
What is it?
Is it okay if I just fly up?
The wonders of nature sure are amazing, huh Solle?
It's strange you would say that, Escha.
Why is that?
After your investigations back in Colseit, I thought you had seen almost everything.
There's still so many amazing places in the world, I won't be able to see them all. I would have never guessed there would be a plant reaching into the sky...
Castles in the sky
W-wait... I need some time to get used to the height... Eeek, I looked down!
Shal, weren't you saying before that you wanted to fly?
I-it's completely different to fly yourself, and to be in a really high place!
Huh...? Hey, what's that building?
Yeah... That's probably the "Castle of Mirages".
Do you think Keithgriff is there?
How would we know?
You should check. It's up to you to discover things on your own. And if there's something you want, you need to reach out and grab it yourself. That's what it means to be a treasure hunter.
...Jurie, that is so cool!
...Sounds like random guesswork to me, leaving things to chance.
Wait, what's that over there?
Oh... An automaton! I'm sure Al would be happy if we brought this to him.
Let's just keep moving through here.
No mistake about it. Check that out over there.
We've got this!
Yes! Now just one more dragon.
If I may ask, how did a village end up here?
This village was originally intended as a trading post between Stellard and Faav Village, to bypass the more dangerous route overland. However, with the expansion of the Dusk Sea, almost everyone moved away.
Except for. Homunculi!
Y-Yes, that's correct. How did you know?
Can sense. Homunculi!
Interesting... Anyway, there's not much here. Where are you headed?
To the Castle of Mirages. Have you...ever been there?
Oh that...? Wait, that's a legend, isn't it?
Huh? We saw it...
I've heard the legends too, but... You seriously saw it?
I can't say I ever have, and I come here a lot to trade with the homunculi. Well, good luck making it there.
Music: Illusions Shown by the Coral
We finally made it... The Castle of Mirages. Hmm, it smells kind of familiar...
Apparently, this used to be an ocean. There're signs of water and seaweed scattered around from long ago.
This was underwater?! Wow... Was the ocean really that big?
It was probably a beautiful place... I'm curious to know what it looked like.
These ruins... May have originally been created using alchemy.
What? ...All of this?
Yeah... The floor and walls look a little familiar. It could be from a time period close to the alchemy I use.
The alchemy you use... Isn't that a new type?
Alchemy is all based off forgotten knowledge. The time when alchemy was flourishing lasted a long time. The alchemy you two use is close to the origin of alchemy, passed down through the ages. The alchemy I use was created after that era.
So what's the difference?
The alchemy I practice is easier to use, and designed for the general populace. That's why it's easier to learn. The alchemy you two use is greatly affected by natural talent, because it's much closer to pure alchemy.
I didn't know...
I hate to say it, but I don't have the natural talent you two have. That's why I decided to study this.
Still, it's not something that just anyone can learn by studying hard.
It's true! And you're helping us all out, Miruca!
Miruca, you're amazing. Everyone oughta know.
Oh wow! It's a Time Flower!
Whoa! Aren't these things super valuable?
I've never seen them before. We could make some incredible things with this. Let's be extra careful with it...
The Slags around here are especially violent. We should be very careful.
What amazing architecture...
Oh... An automaton! I'm sure Al would be happy if we brought this to him.
It's so strange to find ruins like this. Ruins that are remains of ancient alchemy.
Yeah, I guess it's not surprising we're finding a lot of automatons around here. Still, this entire place doesn't feel real, you know?
Yeah... This still feels like a dream. Keith would definitely be interested in a place like this.
What kind of bomb is this...?
Oh no! The bridge is out!
There HAS to be a way across the gap.
Maybe the monsters have something to do with this?
That's it! The monsters are connected to the room. We just have to defeat all of them to create the bridge.
Thank goodness that's done. Let's keep going. We have to be near the top.
The Alchemist of Dusk
Hmm... Why have you come to this place?
Ah, about my mom's illness... Thank you so much!
Yeah, it's related to what I asked before...
Oh, that. I see. I'm not a doctor, I haven't done anything worth your gratitude.
I'm sure you didn't come all this way just to chat. If you have business with me, be quick about it.
...We want you to lend us your strength, Keith.
You're investigating the Dusk, right? That's why you know so much about water sources and control equipment. We want you to investigate the droughts with us, and find the cause!
I have no interest in that. You should ask the government about your water sources and equipment.
But... Aren't the droughts related to the Dusk...?
I won't deny it. Droughts are just one of many surface phenomenon.
Still... There're so many people suffering because of it...
Do you know what this place is?
Well then, let me answer for you. It's an ancient alchemy ruin. Places like this, all across the world, are the clues to finding out the truth behind the Dusk. Each one of them tells their own story, but none are the whole truth. How can helping the city's water equipment assist with knowing that truth?
Doesn't it bother you people are suffering because of the Dusk?
Charity isn't my thing. I simply want to find the truth behind this world.
We just want to help the people suffering from the droughts! That's why we need your help!
How much good do you think one person can do to stop the Dusk?
But if anyone can help, it's you!
...You don't get it. Listen, if you want people to help you, you need some kind of incentive for them. If you can prove to me that helping you solve these droughts will help me find the truth... I might help you.
My studies have shown me that the droughts aren't directly causing it. And other regions, far away from here, have sufficient water. Of course, I can't say if it will always remain that way, but the rate of expansion of the Dusk indicates that droughts can't explain everything. There is a chance my conjecture is wrong... There's no hard evidence to assemble a theory behind it.
And that means...
Odelia, I'm returning to Stellard after I'm done here. I'd like some time to sort my findings.
Um...what if we have that proof now!?
Then we wouldn't be having this conversation.
Can you just come by Stera's atelier when we get back to Stellard!? I swear we'll have something to tell you then.
...Coming all this way is proof enough of your determination, though determination alone won't solve your problems. When you return to Stellard, send for me when you think you have the information that would interest me. Odelia, we're leaving now.
Huh... What kind of information would Keithgriff find worthy...?
(The droughts... The disappearance of water... The creation of the Dusk Sea... Master?) ...
Oh, sorry... I was just thinking...
It's no big deal... Remember when we talked about our dreams?
Yes. You said you wanted to fly.
Yeah, but... That was wrong. I just didn't have anything better at the time. But now... I think I found my dream.
What...is this thing?
Let's find out!
Oh, that helps... Well, unless you have more places you want investigate, I think we can leave.
The deeds of ages past
The Lord of Water showed me that, at some point in the past, before the Dusk Sea, humans were fighting each other for a long time. They did something that angered the Lord of Water, and she got angry with humans after that.
These are the Lord of Water's memories?
Will they help?
Hmm, the information doesn't sound bad. Unfortunately, I can't contract with the spirits myself.
Keith, will this help you understand the Dusk?
The Castle of Mirages, the water sources nearby, the memories of the Lord of Water... I could form a theory now.
Hmm... What did she do then?
Huh? Didn't it try to clean it?
Almost, but not quite. In order to protect herself, she hid the water.
It HID it? That's...
The cause of the drought.
So Teo was right. The Lord of Water DID create the Dusk Sea!
I wouldn't go that far just yet, but humans would certainly be left with the idea that she did. Of course, then the question becomes, what did humans do with the remaining water?
Woah! That means that, now that the Lord of Water is on our side, the drought will go away?
No. It still doesn't trust humans. All it did was form a contract with me. All the contract says is that she'll lend me some of her strength. There's no way she would listen to me if I asked her to fix the droughts!
Then... What should we do...?
You need to find out why the Lord of Water stopped trusting humans, and fix it.
There may be a hint buried in the earth... You may find the deeds of humans hidden below.
What's that supposed to mean?
Does that mean... You'll lend us your strength?
Thank you, Keith!
I'd like to sort out the hypothesis I just came up with... Give me a little time. You could practice your alchemy while you wait.
We should let Solle know that Keith has decided to help us.
So close, yet so far away
Oh, there you are.
We heard there was a message from Central!
Yes, from their investigation. Apparently the cause of the droughts is underground in this area. The information you got on the water sources was extremely useful.
Solle, what's underground?
We asked you here to find out.
Huh?! Us? But isn't this a really important, high-profile investigation?
Of course... And that's why we're asking you to do it. Nobody in this town knows more than you do.
Didn't you want a big job? This is perfect for you!
...Yeah. But I don't really care if it's a big job or not...
Are you kidding me? What changed?
I don't care about fame. The reason I took up alchemy and became Master Wilbell's apprentice... It was so other people would accept me... I wanted to find something I could do on my own... But I had an epiphany of sorts while watching Stera.
Yeah. You said your dream was to save your village, and become someone worthy of becoming the next chief. It sounds simple, but it's actually pretty difficult, right? I understand now what I want to do, and it's simple, too.
What do you want to do, Lotte?
Mm. That's so simple it's boring.
And that's totally fine! What I need to do right now is help save Stellard. I have to think about what I'll do after saving the city, though.
Wow, that sure does sound pretty heroic.
Hehe! Is there something wrong with that?
No, it's great! It sounds like a dream you'd think up.
I think so too... Lotte, you're so kind. I'm sure many people will be glad for your help.
Stop it...! You're embarrassing me... Anyway, we need to do everything we can for Stellard right now. Solle, what can we do?
The Union is using all its effort to find an entrance to the underground. Do you mind waiting for a little while?
Yes. The new theory says the droughts are caused by devices made by people. If that's the case, there should be an underground area people can enter. Maybe the device would be there... We're currently trying to find where the area could be, and how to get into it.
A human made device? Keithgriff said the same thing...
He said... The deeds of humans are buried underground.
Hmm... Raoul, mind if we call Keithgriff Hazeldine here?
I'll have you two come back another day as well.
This was a lot of work. It's heavy, so even just carrying it is hard.
Thanks for that! Right, seeing how you've done the work, I should at least pay you for it.
Just 300 Cole? That's a little...
Don't worry! When I start selling, I'll make a ton of money and pay you a lot more! I'll keep the water at my shop. Wait until it all sells out!
*yawn* Oh, I'm sorry! Lotte, I'm kind of sleepy right now. Why don't we do some work tomorrow?
Sure, that sounds good. I have to stop by my house, anyway.
Very good, thanks to everyone. It seems like the medicine is working well.
Um, mom? There's something I want to ask, but... When Shallie brought you the medicine, did she seem different?
Different? ...No, she seemed like the cute Shallie I've always known.
I was actually fighting with Stera then... But she still came here for you...
I was so glad I forgot all about fighting, and made up with her. Am I just moody or something?
Of course not. Both you and your friend Shallie are true friends. That's why you were able to make amends.
Okay... Thanks, mom!
Oh, Miruca came by earlier. She said she wanted to continue teaching you Imbuing. You should go over there.
Yeah... It's been a while since we've just hung out together.
Yes, I'm here to receive an item I requested from the Corporation.
And yet you've been loafing around here for a pretty long time.
N-No way... You're the one who offered me tea, Miruca.
Okay, enough arguing! And stop taking things so seriously!
...I'm not really.
Give me a break here. You should already know quite well that I have quite the delicate heart.
Would such a delicate person really say something like that...?
Shall... You say some good things sometimes.
Wait a second! Don't tell me you've forgotten how much you two used to make me cry...!
Ahaha, now that you mention it...
I remember. All you did was cry all the time. You were really gloomy.
Gah... That's not really the part I wanted you to remember...
Oh, but Miruca would always sit by your side while you were crying. I remember that too!
That's right! Miruca was so serious, even back then, but when I cried, she would become a little kinder. Maybe I should start crying whenever Miruca treats me coldly.
Th-That might be a good idea! Let's try it!
I-I think she might actually do it. That's kind of scary...
Huh? Weren't we talking about how kind Miruca really was?
Hahaha, were we? Anyway, talking to you like this makes me remember the past, and I feel better...
You're heir to the Perriend Corporation. You can't act like a kid forever.
I'm just stating the truth.
Miruca's already a full-fledged alchemist, too... I guess I'm the only one who's still just playing around...
I'm not that great yet... I just wanted to be self-sufficient...
Everyone's growing up...
...Hey, are you two forgetting about me?
You should just stay the way you are now, Shallie.
Right. You're best like this, Shal.
Wh-What's that supposed to mean!?
Yeah, whenever we try to pass a certain point, it makes us walk around in circles... Is this some sort of curse...?!
Teo, do you have any ideas...?
I've heard a lot about sunken ghost ships on the Dusk Sea... They're filled with confusing illusions...
Is there a way to get rid of the illusions?
So if we make this, we can keep going? Thanks, Mr. Teokhuga!
You know so much, Teo...!
Whoa... This could take a while until we can make it...
Well, do you want to go around the town again? It will feel nice after we went through the Castle of Mirages and the Heaven's Vine...
Oh, yeah! I'm still kinda tired.
Heh heh! The stuff I found was pretty useful, right?
It wasn't just you, Shal. Don't let your head get too big.
She worked pretty hard. She kept saying it was for you.
There, see? Heh heh heh, you'd better be grateful!
Okay then. You really did help out. Thanks to you, my research is going well.
Are you studying the civilization from the past era?
Yeah, I get bored if I just Imbue things all the time. The past civilization had very advanced technology. I want to use that power here and now, as well.
Wow, that sounds awesome!
It's still just an empty theory at this point.
But it's still pretty hard to think that way normally. It's amazing that you keep such high ambitious goals all the time, Miruca.
No kidding! If I had your Imbuing skills, I'd probably be satisfied with just that.
Shal, you're just lacking in ambition. You can do things if you try... It's kind of a waste.
Really!? Well if you say so, maybe I'll try a little harder. Alright, starting today, my goal is to beat Miruca!