Part 23: Chapter XX: The True Side of the Buried Remains
The unlikely solution
Then... The cause of the drought was nearby the whole time?
This is hard to believe...
Is it possible to get to where the device is?
There's no doubt a path exists... The problem is the entrance.
Where's the entrance?
The Ruins of Frozen Time.
What? No way...
There's an enormous gate there. It has to be opened first.
How would we open it?
Opening a locked door is the same, no matter what the size of the door. You use a key, or destroy it.
Can we really destroy it??
I've already tried, and no, we can't.
I'll pretend I didn't hear that...
Sounds like the only way is to find the key, then.
If you're curious, it's a singing type of automaton, a different model from myself.
I... What? Automatons can sing?
It looks like it, after examining the automaton in the Ruins of Frozen Time. Including the remaining one, only a total of 6 singing ones exist.
So the gate will open if we gather all 6?
The resonance generated by the sounds made by all 6 will open the gates.
But it's not like it's easy to find the automatons!
How many have we found somewhere?
There was one in Faav Village... The one they called a goddess.
And then there's still 4 left. There's nobody who'd collect things like that, either... Wait...
Music: Bursting March
Ahhh!! There IS someone! Someone's who's really into that kinda stuff!
She might not seem as lovely as Odelia, but she's a very, very special treasure to me...
Don't worry, it's just a quick check!
Wow! She sang!
Isn't she wonderful? I get to hear her lovely singing voice once in a while...
There's no mistaking it.
Albert... We have to borrow this!
Okay, I don't min-... What?
We're done here. We should get looking somewhere else.
W-wait a minute! Why?! Why are you taking her away!
Sorry, Al... This is an emergency. We'll return her later.
We'll be using it for its original purpose... You don't need to apologize.
You already have Odelia, why would you take Odetta too?! It's awful!
Odetta? Did you name this automaton yourself, Al...?
What are we gonna do about Al?
It's not necessary to do anything about him. We need to stay focused on collecting the automatons. How many were you two able to collect?
We've found three. That means there's only one we don't know about.
Did you forget already? There's one already at the Ruins of Frozen Time. Once we retrieve the one in the village, that will be all of them. Now, let's go.
Uugh, it's that stubborn old man...!
Well, if it isn't the fake magician.
What do you mean, fake!? My magic is real!!
Master! Wasn't the existence of magicians supposed to be a secret?
Be quiet, Shallie. Listen up! Alchemy is what should be called "fake" magic!
Alchemy is a respectable field of science. There's no mystery behind it, everything can be explained. Even the phenomenon of your so-called magic causes can be explained through reason.
I... I borrow the power of natural spirits... Ugh, you're pissing me off! Let's duel!
Uumm! Please don't do that on the ship!
Yeah! I don't want to die yet!
The village goddess
But... Can we really take it?
No, we can't! You can't just take it on your own.
Hey! Our goddess! What are you doing to her!?
I told you...
Helloooo ladies. What are you doing?
You're Reyfer, right?
Yep, the skilled treasure hunter. So, what're you doing?
Um... We need this automaton...
Oh, well, okay, you guys can just take it.
It's okay, right?
Of course it is...! If you say so...
There ya go.
Reyfer... It looks like the villagers really trust you.
Less me, more Harry. He was throwing a lot of money around when we first got to the village. Just goes to show what you can get away with when you're loaded.
Whaaat...? That doesn't seem right...
Ahaha, I guess.
If you don't mind my asking, what are you gonna use it for?
It's kinda hard to explain... We think this thing is part of a key that opens up an ancient ruin.
An automaton being a key? I've never heard of that.
It's a part of an ancient alchemy system.
Oh. Huh... Learn stuff every day. Well, I'm sure smart girls like you will put it to good use. By the way, if you find yourself on the eastern continent again, why don't both of you, Harry, and myself do some treasure hunting?
Yeah, see you later!
You take care now.
Yes, most likely. Let's go. I want to start the experiments.
I wonder what will happen... I probably shouldn't be, but, I'm really excited!
By the way, Keith.
Why is all of this around Stellard? The number of ruins, the automatons, the Castle of Mirages... Why are so many things near the city?
The Stellard area, in the distant past, was likely a sort of hub of alchemy research. The scale of the ruins in this area is remarkable, and there's likely even more we don't--
Wait a minute...! I'm going, too!
Because I'm worried about my Odetta, that's why!
...I see no problem with it. Let's keep going.
That's the last one...!
Ahh... Don't treat Odetta so roughly... You aren't doing anything dangerous that could harm her, right??
...It should start now. That is... If my theory is correct.
Music: Automata Song
Wow, they're really singing! I didn't know it'd come together in an acutal song when all of them are together!
Lotte...! The Gate!
What...? What is this?!
Let's go. The truth is in there.
I-I didn't think Odetta had so much power... I really do love you, Odetta.
What about him?
Leave him. He won't be any use inside anyway.
It's not that dangerous out here, so he should be fine.
...I guess so...
This is a large-scale teleportation device. We'll have to return to the ship to make it through. Let's go.
I was just thinking about how our ship is able to travel underground like this.
It's really amazing!
Where's this coming from all of a sudden?
...Well.. There's nothing in Lugion Village. It's like time itself has frozen in place there. Yet, we have a ship like this. Don't you think that's strange?
What's wrong with that?
Even Stellard doesn't have a ship like this. I just thought it's strange how we were able to build it.
It must have been destiny for someone in the village to travel to a far off land.
You're saying this ship was built by destiny? That's ridiculous. Well, I guess I can't rule that out for sure, after seeing this. If we're able to build a ship like this, maybe our homeland isn't so backwards after all...
(But if that's true, is it really okay that I'm using it? Or maybe...)
The world beneath
Music: In the Old Road
A mere shadow of the past civilization, I'm afraid. It's an example of the arrogance of mankind.
What else would you call it? Their deeds ruined the world above, so they come underground to continue their errors, without ever stopping to question if what they're doing is responsible for it. It's disgusting.
Um... Do you not like people, Keith?
Why do you ask?
Whenever you mention things, you always seem like you feel that way...
Human history is a record of the same errors over and over again. We're capable of learning, and thought, and yet everyone keeps making the same mistakes. You'll learn that after you've been around for a while, whether you want to or not. And it'll disgust you.
And yet, you don't quit being an alchemist or seeking the truth...
I wish to know the truth of this world... Not humanity.
The truth... Of the world...
Have you had enough pointless, idle chatter? We should keep moving.
This passage is severely damaged. It's not likely we'll be able to make much progress in this area. Even so, they must have used this area for transportation, so keep your eyes open.
Who knows what amazing things we can find from the past...
An analysis shows this ruin goes further, but the path is currently blocked by debris.
It's no use, then. Let's continue exploring where we can.
That looks like the same kind of device that brought the ship here...
It doesn't look like we can bring the ship with us, though. I sure hope we can come back from wherever this will take us...
Aaah! What was that?!
What is this place...? It doesn't look like the surface, but there're so many plants...
We've been teleported to another area by a device left in the ruins... It's an underground herbal garden.
Herbal garden? These are all herbs?
Not all of them, exactly... Though there are signs of artificial civilization.
So you said we were teleported, but... Where are we?
By the coordinates, we're to the southeast of Faav Village on the eastern continent.
We came this far in just an instant?!
The water is so pretty... I didn't know something like this could exist...
This region isn't the only area places like this exist.
Yes. They're at many important locations. Plants were important for discovering the source of life.
The source of life?
Alchemy was created to pursue these things.
I didn't know...
Plants require earth, water, and the appropriate atmosphere.
Water, air, and earth? What are things like that called again?
The four elements? I see... Plants would represent all of them.
No, they represent all of them... Fire is heat, and heat drives all life forms.
Ugh, this is too hard. I don't get it.
Ohh, good answer Lotte! That makes it way easier to understand.
Heh... I guess. I didn't really get the complicated stuff...
Facilities like this are said to raise exceptional plants.
Exceptional...? Then is the Heaven's Vine one of them...?!
Wow... If that's true, alchemy is a truly wonderful, mysterious power.
Wonderful?! Hah! Don't make me laugh. Ancient, powerful alchemy was forbidden. There's quite a bit of evidence.
A Dunkelheit! I've heard these could be found in other regions, but an incredibly rare ingredient like this...!
Whoa! Can you imagine what we can make with this?
The ancient library
Is this... A laboratory?
Odelia, can you verify these documents?
Yes, sir. This is a research center like the ones in other regions, and these documents are research data. There's control data that appears to be for water purification devices tied to various regions... As well as data about the manufacture of artificial life forms.
I knew it... Part of the reason why the ocean in this region is now called the Dusk Sea.
I don't understand...
The purification device here turned sea water and other sources into fresh water before distributing it.
Huh? 'Sea' water? Fresh water?
Settlements like Stellard that are ground level, with plentiful water, have a relay version of this device.
I see... But if there was such a device, why would there be a drought...?
There seems to be a problem with this device. It's using much more sea water than the natural cycle and replenish. The fault comes from people thinking that sea water is limitless.
But, while the Lord of Water was in better health, she managed to keep the issue in check.
What? So the Lord of Water was originally a friend of humanity?
That's a fair guess... But I don't know the truth for sure. But the time when this device started to emit contamination, and the time when the droughts started, are different. So, they kept it going as it was spewing pollutants.
That's why they borrowed the Lord of Water's power...
Yes. But the conflicts between humans and their reckless cultivation continues to contaminate the oceans. That's most likely when the Lord of Water abandoned humanity.
It lost its strength, and the ocean, among other water sources couldn't keep up with the rate of intake. That's probably the immediate cause of the droughts.
So that's what happened.
Well... What will you do, now?
And what would you do if that completely stopped the distribution of water?
The thing continues to take in what little water remains. If you leave it, the water will go dry eventually, and it will keep spitting out pollutants. But not right away. if you stop it, the natural cycle might help it recover eventually. But the chances are low. Also, even if it did, it would take an unbelievable amount of time for the water sources to go back to normal.
...But... We might have to accept that as the result.
Yeah... Though, nature is pretty resilient, I'm sure it'll bounce back quickly. The Lord of Water lent Master her strength, and these plants are doing so well, too...! Even if it's not during our lifetimes, I think nature would return to life.
Do whatever you want, you're free to believe what you please.
What do you think will happen?
Asking my opinion won't change anything. Make up your mind and act on it.
...Lotte, let's go back to Stellard first... We can't decide this on our own.
Yeah... We need to talk with Raoul and Mr. Perriend and have everyone decide.
It looks like the herb garden goes deeper in...
We're not going to be able to bring the ship here. I'll return to the ship now. You can explore further if you like.
Hey...what's that over there?
What the... Stera! Look at this!
You think so too? She looks exactly the same, right?
Yeah... Like a twin! But why?
Whaa...? Then that means Linca was born here?
I don't know... But this could be the part of the darkness behind alchemy that Keith was talking about. Don't you remember the books about artificial life forms in the lab?
Artificial...? Then Linca is...
...We might want to tell Linca about this.
But... What exactly is it? A mysterious item that I don't understand...
Yeah, good idea. Keith usually knows a lot about these kinds of things... We should be getting back, too.
Abundant City of Water
We think we should stop that purification device. At this rate, all water sources will end up dry, like the Dusk Sea...
What would happen to the city if you shut it down?
It would no longer be an oasis. The water would drop to incomparable levels.
Still, at this rate, the water in all the towns, not just Stellard, will go dry. That's why...
Sounds like it's decided. There's no room for argument... Go shut the device down.
...I don't like it.
As a city of water, Stellard has great influence over the settlements around it, and Central. If the water is lost, Stellard will lose its reputation.
Wait a minute, please tell me you're not trying to save face at a time like this, chairman. Now's the time to think about water everywhere, not just in our own town.
Saving face... I guess I can't help that you'd feel that way. I just want to protect the city's honor and prosperity.
There was no guess to why people gathered here with its water. It's essential for agriculture, after all. Settlements started dotting the area in pursuit of the water, and Stellard grew as a city. It became a hub for commerce and production, and developed quickly. But other than Stellard, the region wasn't as abundant with water sources...
It wasn't the disparity you see in Stellard. Those with water survived, those without... People cannot survive without water. That's why Stellard started using its water supply control system to manage the water. It was to distribute it to the places that need it, and prevent wasting it That's how the city continued to protect the water for the region.
If we can't control the water, conflicts will start happening again. And mostly, Stellard is hope for people suffering from lack of water. If the water here disappears, the hope will disappear from everyone in the region. I can't agree about shutting down the device...
I know. There's no other way. I just don't want to see the city wither away... Do whatever you like.
...Perriend. I'm sorry.
It'll be okay, Perriend, this town is really strong! Even without water, Stellard will still be Stellard!
...Of course. Have you determined a way to get to the control device?
No. The only route we've found is blocked by debris. I'm currently looking into an alternate solution, but it will take time.
I see... Let me know when you go, so I can begin preparing for the change. Just make sure you're sure of your decision.
...Thanks, Mr. Perriend.
Hello! Are you two here to see Mr. Perriend? Quite admirable! You all could learn a great deal!
And you are...?
Harry Olson, chairman of the Harry Company.
Harry Company? I've never heard of it...
Naturally! It is much further away than Central, after all. I've come here to introduce myself. Please accept this book as a sign of friendship. My work has been praised far and wide, in many different fields.
..."From the Wilderness"...? I see...
The more I see of this city, the more magnificent it becomes! Your water system is amazing, and such prosperity!
Well... We are pretty proud of our water purification system. It's our trump card against the Dusk.
I see! How interesting! This is something I'd like to write about--inform the entire world... No! That might end up exposing an important secret treasure of Stellard, and sully it in some way...
That doesn't matter. Treasure always shines brightly, regardless of how well-known it becomes. Mr. Olson, was it? I greet you as a fellow company chairman.
Mr. Perriend, I thought you would say something like that!
Anyway, why don't you tell me more about your journeys, Mr. Olson?
Th-They're getting along...!?
This may be rude to say, but... I'm quite surprised as well.
...Hey, you two.
Hello, young ladies! How are you?
Um, we thought it was odd to see you two together...
Me and him? Well you see, Raoul might be the boss now, but when he was young we would always do crazy things together!
Wow, I didn't know!
C'mon now, what do you mean when I was young? Don't treat me like an old man.
When a treasure hunter decides to settle down, he's officially an old man.
...Well, that's frustrating, but I can't really deny it.
Heh heh, so you finally accept it...
Anyway, back to the point. Well, Raoul? Wanna leave the Union to the younger folks for a while to partner up with me, like we used to?
That's a tempting offer...
...But unfortunately, I can't. I still can't leave the Union to others.
I knew you'd say that. That's why you're an old man!
Reyfer... You don't need to go that far...
Sure, but you're buying the drinks.
Yeah, I'll buy you as much as you want.
These two seem really similar...
They look completely different... But they seem to be really good friends.
It would be nice to accept some jobs, but Raoul might be busy for a while. Let's go see what Miruca and Keith are doing.
...What? Is there a problem if my sister's here?
No, it was just, ahh, a little surprising, that's all. But still...
I've wanted to try writing a book for a while now... This place is pretty quiet, and I can help with the shop too.
A book... That sounds exciting!
What are you writing about?
The places I've traveled to up until now. I want to make it something kids can enjoy, but... That's really hard.
I'm sure you'll be able to write a wonderful story, Jurie!
Looks like there're some high expectations. You'd better not write anything weird.
...This is a lot of responsibility.
Did you two have business here?
No...not really. We can come back later.
I am a librarian at a facility known as the Zweiteturm. I am still gathering and sorting information in that capacity.
Huh, that sounds like work where you'd really need to use your head. Pretty awesome.
There's no question when it comes to the assigned duty of an automaton. We have been optimized for our roles. However, some automatons exist that can perform roles beyond their assigned duties. One, for instance, became an adoptive mother and housekeeper after being released from her duties.
It sounds like automatons can do anything...!
Yes, top class automatons must be capable of functioning in any capacity to be categorized as such. Therefore I decided to become the assistant to a researcher seeking the truth of the world. I am a top class automaton, after all. I cannot allow other automatons to surpass my capabilities.
Can you...fight, too?
...I do have some self-defense mechanisms, but my abilities are limited compared to 10 years ago. Since 7 years ago, I have traveled with my master.
Her abilities were exceptional, but now, she is not capable of much. It's unfortunate.
I wish to be of service in any way I can to my master.
You've got a lot of enthusiasm, Odelia...!
By the way, master.
Perhaps we should have some tea? I've become tired of speaking. Also, I would like to have some fine sweets.
...She'd be "top class" if she didn't act like this.
Ahaha, but she really is like a human. I think that's amazing...
She sure eats a lot, though...
Yeah, I don't even know how she fits in all in...
Wait! I just thought of something!
...It's a tool that was used for alchemy in the past.
Then that means it's valuable...?
We really have no way to utilize that technology. It's basically useless. Lost technology like this is uncountable.
I see... (I'd never seen it before, so I thought it might be something rare...)
It's okay. What do you need?
There's something we wanted to tell you...
Someone who looks just like me...
Could that mean...
Yes. We came here to ask if you wanted to go see for yourself...
... No. Going to see my origins won't change what already happened. I'll pass.
Whaat!? But it seemed like a really important place, don't you think you should at least see it!?
Is this really okay?
To tell the truth, I already had the feeling that my sisters and I were created through unnatural means. I have memories of escaping from a dark place while very young... I also remember my sisters being with me.
So the dark place was that underground facility...
I haven't seen it for myself so I can't be sure, but that's likely it. I didn't know about the existence of artificial lifeforms, so I believe I had escaped from a military institution.
The Linca in Colseit said that she met Linca number three, and that her personality was completely different. But she still seemed to think that she was her long lost sister.
I don't know how my sisters feel. But I for one don't really care to know the truth. ...My life right now is everything to me. I have no need to change that.
I still have mixed feelings about wanting to know, and not wanting to know. Who am I, and why was I created?
...That reminds me, Keith said something to me once...
I can understand why Keith has such mixed feelings toward alchemy...
...But still, I'm glad to have met you, Ms. Linca. You helped me so many times, while I was still getting used to Mr. Perriend's behavior...
It's true that the chairman's behavior can cause misunderstandings...
Hahh, cleaning duty every day... I want to do something that's more significant!
Uh, let's see... I mean, you know... An amazing, wonderful thing that people will praise you for... But more importantly...! What's your dream, Miruca? ...I'm guessing it was to become a great alchemist. You studied in Central, and you have piles of work requests... It's like you're already living the dream! Uu, I'm jealous...!
It doesn't feel like it to me.
It's great! You're an elite alchemist with a Central style atelier. How cool is that?
...How about you go wash your face or something and wake up?
Huh, where are you going?
I'm going home.
What!? All of a sudden like that!?
Huh... I wonder what's got into Miruca today...
Sorry for coming by unannounced... Am I interrupting something?
Not at all. I had some free time...
So what can I do for you today? Need something Imbued?
Oh... Actually I wanted to talk.
Talk...? With me?
Yeah... About Lotte, actually.
Shal? What do you want to know?
Well, you've been friends since you were kids, right? I wanted to hear about her childhood.
Can't you ask her? ...Never mind. Shal was...pretty much like how she is now when she was young. She would always go out on adventures and try to make money for as long as I've known her. Jurie always said I should go with her to keep her out of trouble...
But one day, she didn't come back before dark. Her mom was getting Jurie and some other hunters to look for her, but it was getting dark. ...And then Shal came back crying, after getting lost.
Hehe, sounds just like Lotte...
She's been an airhead for as long as I can remember.
I'm a little jealous.
...Of being an airhead?
Not that. Where I grew up, there weren't any kids my age around... I was always alone. You and Lotte know a lot about each other since you grew up together, right? I just really like that thought...
It's different now... I haven't had time to see her much lately, and I don't think we get along as well as we did.
I don't think that's true...
It's fine. It's not my business what Shal chooses to do without me.