Part 26: Chapter XXII: The Sweet Side of the Dynamic Festival
The last job
Everyone. We've received a message from Central.
We've been waiting!
What does it say?
They say it's both the jurisdiction and responsibility of Stellard to correct the ancient water device.
Vague words, as usual from Central.
Agreed, but, you're not one to talk.
Pireit, are you on Stellard or Central's side?
Of course I'm with Stellard. I have to look out for the people in this town.
Hah... That's my line...
Regardless of Central's wording, I can't imagine they wouldn't leave it to your best judgment on what to do about the device. Though, it doesn't sound like you have much of a choice about what to do.
Right... Anyway, Shallistera.
I know you're not from around here, and I'm really sorry for involving you in our problems. But I want to ask for your help one more time. We need your strength.
No, don't worry about it. I'll save both my village and Stellard.
Haha, we're all counting on you!
What, nothing to say to me?!
Yeah? Wait... What's that supposed to mean?
Haha, I'm kidding. You've really changed! I'm sure you'll be someone who changes the entire town. ...I'm counting on you, too.
On another matter, can you bring Kortes down here? There's something I should speak to him and you two about.
Thanks to you, we've received reports that citizens getting hurt has dropped dramatically.
...I see. That's good.
We're thankful for all the help, but... There's one concern I want to mention.
Yes. There's worry that the sudden drop in dragon populations could cause an effect on the ecosystem.
Dragons perch atop the natural world. Now that they're mostly gone, there could be some changes to the system.
It's unclear. The ecology of dragons is not well understood. However, I doubt that nothing will happen.
Doesn't that mean we should just stop hunting dragons?
It won't be that easy. Ceasing the hunt will not cause dragon populations to return to normal immediately.
...So you're saying, after all this, it would have been better if we hadn't done it?
No, I'm not. This city was being terrorized by dragons, in a relatively large number of incidents. Those incidents should start declining rapidly now. This is undoubtedly a good thing. However... We also don't know what's going to happen moving forward. Nothing is certain when it comes to nature.
Then what should we do?
That's right. Let's leave the complicated stuff to Solle, and get back to our work.
...Yeah. There's nothing to worry about. We'll just take care of our own work.
I'll continue monitoring enviornments around Stellard and let you know if anything changes. By the way, I've found some locations of powerful monsters around the Dusk Sea. One of them has been found in the underground city.
Let's get going.
...Homura seems really depressed... I don't know what to do to cheer him up...
...The feelings of a homunculus... I had never even thought of that.
What's wrong, Odelia?
As an automaton, I'm a type of artificial lifeform as well.
...She seems to be annoyed.
You can understand how automatons feel!?
...Let's follow her. Come with me.
...And so I baked these this morning. Oh, Shallies! Come on over. Have some cookies! ...Back to the point, being human doesn't make someone better. You can't choose how you're born...
Well. That's true.
However, you can't deny that humans are our creators.
Yeah, but I think automatons and homunculi have plenty of aspects that are better than humans too. Anyway, there're still plenty of cookies, help yourselves!
I think humans created artificial lifeforms, searching for a chance that there's soemthing greater than humans... Although I don't know for sure what the people of the past civilization thought...
...Concerning these cookies, I think I would like them better if they were sweeter.
...Although. This is. Still good.
I don't really understand... But I'm glad they're smiling again...
No, don't worry about it. Let me know if I can help.
So cleaning is one of your fortes as well?
I am a first class automaton. As well as a librarian, few can match my cleaning abilities.
I could clean in your stead, if you'd like...
No, it's a good way for an old man like me to stay fit.
Cleaning is healthy...? I must tell my master about this at once! Master!
I think we'd see something even more funny if we followed Odelia...
That must be it. Let's take care of this.
Music: FJ: Fatal Blow
Well, that was pretty fun.
So, what's next?
We never did investigate the Altar of Spirits again... We were attacked by that dragon before we could arrive, then we decided to turn back.
So we're going back there, huh?
Yeah! I'm sure Central has great expectations for him, too.
...A person who others rely on? What do you think of someone like that?
Um, well... Hmm... Someone who can get work done, and is really smart...
And also an honest character... Maybe?
Do you want to be someone other people can rely on?
Um... I think it would be nice to validate people's expectations... Why?
You had an aura like that when you first got here.
Oh, yeah... You're right.
But my way of thinking changed a little. I think it's better to be someone who is reliable, rather than just doing the bare minimum.
...That is a good answer.
What about you, Solle? Do you have any plans of moving up in Central's organization?
No, I haven't given it much thought. There's still too much work to be done here in Stellard before I can think about my future.
Being a government worker might be harder than being an alchemist...
What kind of monster is this...?
Alright! I did it!
It seems there are more monsters around the Dusk Sea than I first thought...
...You mentioned there was an ancient alchemy facility in the herb garden, correct?
Um, yes... That's correct. It seems Linca and her sisters were born there, but they escaped from the facility at some point.
I see. Well, I would like to explore it personally. Let's head there next.
My memory processing is excellent. I never forget anything. Why do you ask?
I was just wondering what everyone we knew is doing now...
As long as they haven't passed away from anything forseen, they are likely living.
Okay, well, I know that but... Maybe it was my mistake asking an automaton about a matter of feelings.
Are you saying that you're remembering the past and you feel sentimental?
Agh! How did you know?
I'm different than I was in the past.
Ayesha is currently investigating another region.
You didn't know? Ayesha is master's apprentice.
I... I knew, but... I didn't know... It's weird, I feel happy knowing someone from back then is still the same. Is...her sister with her?
Yes, Nio is currently traveling with Ayesha.
The four of you together, huh?
Does that surprise you?
...I guess not. When I met Ayesha, I always knew we were going to travel different paths. There was just no room for an alchemist and a witch on either of our adventures. Still...
Do you wish to see her again?
Yeah... I do. It's been a long time since we traveled together, and I miss her a lot.
Sentimentalism at its finest.
So Keith's apprentice was a girl...
That's what you got from that?!
These are the alchemy devices. I see...
Ms. Linca said she didn't want to see these, but...
It can be difficult to face your origins as an artificial lifeform. It's hard for us humans to understand.
Are you alright, Homhom?
...Yes. Strong monster. Near!
I see it. Let's take care of this.
Whew! This is turning into good exercise.
You may be enjoying this hunting a bit too much...
Nah, this is still just a job. Anyway, Solle, do we have any more reports of monsters?
None that I can remember. It might be wise to return to Stellard for now.
I remember it when I see Solle. I never thought I'd see him here again.
Colseit branch. With no Solle. Worried.
Nah, they still have Logy. Even without Escha, he's pretty capable. Not as good as her, though.
Was Solle like that in Colseit too?
What do you mean, "like that"?
Um, super mechanical, loves sweets...
Repertoire. More known now.
I'm not really asking about his sweets....
Let's see. He does seem busier now, but he's enjoying his work more, too.
Solle learned much. From Escha.
Do you miss Colseit, Master?
I can't say I don't miss it, but I'm in training. I travel a lot. I end up really liking the towns I visit. Have you two ever heard of Vierzeberg?
No, I haven't...
Well, it was one of the first towns I started training in. Colseit was a lot smaller than Vierzeberg, and Harry was there as well. He was really famous back there. It's been a long time since I was training there... Still, I enjoy being on the road.
I want to go to Colseit with everyone some day.
Ooh, me too! I want to visit lots of different towns!
We've certainly found a lot of valuable ingredients so far. I wonder what I should do with them. Drawing out power, amplfying effects...
What is it, Teo?
You've grown quite a bit. You could even say you're a fully qualified alchemist...
No way, I still have so much to learn...
Oh, give me a bit of credit... Take this.
A secret book handed down among village chiefs, entrusted to the head of the clan. For when you've proven yourself.
Teo... I don't know if I can accept this yet...
I spoke with your father before we left, young Miss.
You did!? What did he say?
He said he was proud of you coming so far on your own, and that the future of the village would be safe in your hands. He knew you wouldn't give up until you had saved the village from the drought. I know he would approve of you learning these recipes for now, so we can start to heal this world.
Father... Thank you. I'll do my best not to embarrass my father!
...What? I don't intend to answer any pointless questions.
(What's going on? There's so much tension...)
(Lotte... You're going to be seen!!)
Hey, you! I don't intend to put on a show for you.
Do you want to use your knowledge and experience to further alchemy research in Central?
That's absurd. You're an official. I'm sure you're aware of my crimes?
Yes, I know. And I still want to ask you. I believe your experience outweighs those crimes.
That's an unusual attitude for an official. Also, why would I become involved in something so pointless? My opinions haven't changed. In fact, seeing my theory proven only increases my sense of an impending crisis.
And that justifies destruction of alchemy equipment? If you hadn't done that, then we might have found a solution already.
I don't care to justify anything I've done. Other peoples' opinions of my actions make no difference to me.
I see. I was simply curious if you've gained a shred of hope after seeing the actions of young alchemists.
Such pointless curiosity.
Hey Solle, why are monsters getting more active lately?
It's hard to say. It may be that time of year when wildlife naturally gets more aggressive, or it could be a consequence of the drought.
You mean, more monsters are coming out because they don't have enough water?
That's not a bad theory. If there's less water, there's more competition for limited resources. Of course, that shouldn't apply to slags.
Well, no matter what comes at us, we'll take care of it.
Yeah, I studied it a little... But I'm definitely not as skilled as you.
New and old alchemies share an origin, though one progressed with science, the other, tradition... Ridiculous.
Central entrusts dangerous technology to those who are underqualified.
This is why alchemy should be unified again, to eliminate the unworthy.
I don't know... They both seem really serious, though...
You two... Did you want something?
Ah! N-no, we were just going downstairs...
He gets upset when I treat him like that... I can't even massage his shoulders.
Oh, grandpa! Mind if I try?
Grandpa, can you sit here and close your eyes for me?
As a thanks for everything, I'll rub your shoulders!
Ohh... That would be great. My shoulders are so tense from cleaning.
Alright, here goes!
Yes, it feels nice...
Maybe just a tad harder?
Okay, that sounds fine... We should be Oh! ...Getting back to Stellard soon...
Oh, hello Ms. Linca.
Yo. Linca seven.
I have documents from the chairman. Please check them over.
Thank you. I'm grateful that you're quick with your work.
Linca eight. Bad at paperwork. Right Solle?
...That's right. The Linca in Colseit excelled at combat, but her paperwork was quite poor. Even when we tried to teach her, her work never got done, and it was of poor quality when it was. She just doesn't have any talent for it.
Huh!? Solle, you know other Lincas... Yet you weren't surprised?
There's nothing strange. The Linca here just needs to be herself.
I translate. Solle's words. Linca seven. Different. From Linca eight. Makes her unique.
Homura, there's no need to...
I feel same. No problems.
...You're right. I'm grateful.
It doesn't matter how similar she looks to someone else. Ms. Linca will always be Ms. Linca.
Shallie, the Chairman wished to express his gratitude at the dangerous monster hunting you have been doing recently. He said you're performing a valuable service to Stellard by keeping such dangerous monsters away from the city.
Oh, that's good... I'm glad I can help.
What is it? Worried about something?
Remember before when you asked Keith to help with my mom's medicine? If we asked, maybe he could also help us improve our alchemy skills, too...
Maybe... But Keith is always talking about how he doesn't like people who don't think for themselves...
Oh, yeah... Still! Maybe he could just provide some guidance, or tell us a handy way to improve our alchemy!
He might agree to that. Maybe we should both ask...?
Alright, then, let's go talk to Keith!
We ARE serious! I need to learn more alchemy...
I feel the same as Stera, I want to know more about alchemy too!
...I have a general idea of the level of your skills ever since you fulfilled the request I sent to the Union. You may be skilled for your age, but from my perspective, you've barely advanced beyond the beginner level.
Uu, you might be right...
However, I do have an appreciation for talent. You've managed to come this far without an apprenticeship. I won't tell you much. You must prove yourselves with the results of your intention and determination.
...Does that mean you'll teach us alchemy, then!?
Thank you so much, we'll work really hard!
I don't need your gratitude. Complete the tasks I set forth for now. You must relearn the basics first.
Do you remember the device that sent us to the Herb Garden? The item I want you to make utilizes a similar technology as that. If you're able to make it, I will consider teaching you further.
You've been smoking too much, master.
It's true that quitting wouldn't affect my life much, but... It's good to have some luxuries. I'm sure you can sympathize with that. There's something that you can't seem to live without either.
A luxury... I suppose you mean my sweets. I agree completely.
There you have it. Could I ask something of you?
What do you need?
I'd like you to gather the herbs listed here. I don't mind if other varities are mixed in a little, so try to hurry.
These herbs... I've gathered them in the Dusk Sea. We'll be right back, Mr. Keith!
Sorry about that. I'll be more careful not to run out in the future.
Gah! What's this flavor!?
Whaaat!? Did I mix in something bad!?
...I can't smoke this! How awful...!!
Yes, this is the flavor... Oh, sorry about that. I didn't mean to say that what you brought is bad. It seems that I've grown accustomed to this medicinal herb mix, and can't use anything else...
(I guess he's trying to look after his health... That's unexpected.) If it's medicinal, what does it do?
Everything in this mix won't hurt you, even when inhaled... My apprentice kept complaining when I smoked tobacco... I've been using this herbal mix since then, so she stops pestering me about my health...
...It seems he's finally calmed down. Perhaps I should eat some sweets myself...
Should I make some tea?
I'll prepare some snacks!
...Well, I suppose a break like this is good once in a while, too.
Shallie, have you finished the sweets yet?
Oh crap, we forgot! We'll get to work right now!
Shallie, thank you very much for these variety of sweets.
There's so many, I figure you'll have to like at least one...
Very well then...
Um... Would you like some tea?
Oh right! I'm sure they would be better with something to drink!
... Thank you. However...
Unfortunately, the sweets you provided may be a little difficult to properly describe with a single bite.
Maybe she means they...weren't as good as she'd hoped?
Yes. The path of sweets is an arduous and noble path. I'd like to request something more magnificent next time.
Odelia is starting to sound a little like Keith...
Oh? ...It's said that top class automatons begin to resemble their masters. Perhaps that is your explanation.
This is how one should feel when one resolves to learn alchemy.
As a servant of my master, please understand that my expectations are similarly high.
Uu, what's going on here...
I feel like they're both mad at us... W-We'll work harder.
I await your next attempt.
And don't forget to continue practicing your alchemy. I have yet to see your results.
Ugh, Stera... Maybe we should retreat.
Escha. You okay?
Oh, Homura... Is something wrong with Escha?
Symptom. Of not. Enough sweets. I know. That feeling.
There's even less fruit here than I imagined... I'm trying to get some more, but... At this rate, I won't be able to make enough sweets, and I'll waste away!
I don't really mind as long as I have meat... But there just isn't much fruit around.
Shallies! Please bring me any fruit you find!
That was fast! Wow, you found so much! Thank you, this is excellent! Hehehe, looks like it's time for me to get to work...!
You're making sweets? I look forward to them...!
Wait a second. Hmm... I know! I've got a great idea! Let's all make sweets together, and use them to gain favor with the people here in the city.
Huh? All of us?
Yeah! It'd be fun to get some people who are good at making sweets, and show them to everyone!
Yes, it sounds both fun and delicious!
I'd like to find at least 3 other people to help make sweets, if you could help find a few?...
We just need to find people to participate, right? Got it, we'll go ask!
Let me know once you've found enough people. I'm counting on you!
Now who should we ask...?
We should definitely ask Solle. I'm sure he'd love to make sweets for everyone.
Then there's Odelia. You know how serious she gets when it comes to sweets. Let's see... I guess it couldn't hurt to ask Miruca.
Doesn't it sound fun? I think it's perfect for you, as someone who loves sweets... Do you wanna do it?
No, I don't.
I knew it! Of course you'd want-... Wait, wait?!
Why? Is there some sort of problem?
I only make sweets in order to de-stress, and as payment for the homunculi.
Whaaat... I wanted to try eating your sweets, Solle...
Solle. Don't say. Sad thing.
Hm, is something the matter?
I know. Your skill. For making sweets.
Don't miss chance. To show everyone. Your sweets. Enter. And win!
Whoa, Homhom's getting fired up! Yeah, tell him how it is!
...Hm. I hadn't considered the value of winning. This could add enough margin to make it worthwhile. Very well. Please tell Escha that I'll make my best sweets as a participant.
We understand! We'll go tell her!
Heh. Should be. More fun now.
Instant refusal!? You could at least think about it a little more.
I'm good at Imbuing, but I don't really like things like that.
...I see. I forgot about your extreme dislike of things you find bothersome.
How could you forget something like that?
That's unfortunate. I kind of wanted to see Miruca making sweets.
I won't participate myself, but I can tell you about someone who will...
You know someone? I wonder who...?
Wahh! Jurie, don't sneak up behind people like that! You scared me.
Despite her appearances, my sister is unexpectedly good at cooking.
...Don't say "unexpectedly". "As you can see" would be better.
No, it really IS unexpected. But back to the point... Please, help with the fair!
I got it. I need to prepare my tools...
Um, Jurie. What do you mean by "tools"...?
That's fine! What matters is that we've got another participant!
Do you need something, Shallie?
Then does that mean you'll participate?
I require permission from Keithgriff, but my determination should be enough to get it.
Thanks! You seem really excited! I hope I get to see people enjoy your sweets!
As the sweets queen, I shall try all the sweets made by the other participants.
One cannot judge the flavor of sweets without eating them. And it's good manners to eat what's presented. Thus, all sweets belong to me. Master even mentioned my capacity for sweets seemed bottomless.
Um, are you even listening to us? Odelia...
Please accept my desire to participate. You cannot refuse.
Uuu, Odelia's acting different than normal, she's really scary...
It seems like she's misunderstood something... But she said she'll do it, so that's good enough!
So that's what she said.
Hmph... Well, it doesn't matter what she does in her free time. I don't mind.
Hmm? Yes, we found some people, but...
Really? That's great! Then I need to prepare for the fair... Can I get you two to lend me a hand, please?
Now? This is a little sudden...
You need to strike while the iron's hot! These things aren't fun if you want until the excitement's died off!
Uu, I guess we just need to get ready, then...
Yeah... Oh well, we'll just have to do our best!
I can't wait to show you what I can do today! Please, eat as much as you want!
Next, let's see what our other participants have to say...
I'm confident in my abilities to make the best sweets you've ever tasted...!
All your sweets belong to me! It matters not what kind they are, I'll enjoy eaeting them all equally.
Everyone seems so confident! I look forward to seeing the results.
Wait a minute. You've completely forgotten the crowd favorite!
Whoa, Solle! You're totally set to win this...
If I'm going to participate, I'm going to give it my all!
Solle. Do your best. Win. Win!
Solle... He's got so much passion for making sweets...!
Making sweets is the greatest joy in life... Be prepared to taste the best sweets you've ever had!
Grr... I won't lose!
I'm starting to sense a hint of something behind the sweetness...
It's getting pretty heated... I guess you could say they're having fun?...
Starting. To worry. But... Doesn't matter. If get sweets!