With colonization reaching a frantic pace in Adoulin, it's no wonder that reporters from the Adoulin Examiner would be following these advances. Two such reporters, Famlienne of the Order of Woltaris and Skeptical Owl of the Inventors' Coalition, have been tasked with collecting information regarding the colonization effort. Being the oldest of friends despite their differences, these two are considered the perfect pair to relate to the cooperation of the five races for the advancement of Adoulin's future.
Read on below the break to learn more about the journey of these wayward friends, and if you feel like sharing your thoughts about these two and the colonization process, feel free to do so over on the ZAM forums!
Welcome to Adoulin, able adventurers!
We proudly proffer a suite of services to satisfy your every need. In addition to the tremendous trappings of our rental houses, we work our wonder on small islands to... to... <Munch> <munch>... <Burp>!
E-excuse me, kupo!
What I meant to mention while I masticated was that the M.H.M.U aims to assist you in your painstaking pioneering efforts!
Speaking of services, are you familiar with the West's newest jaunty journal, the Adoulin Examiner, kupo?
Two of its most rapacious reporters are collecting candid close-ups of colonization enterprises!
What's even more exciting is that the inaugural issue is an introspective on the intrigue that inevitably intertwines Adoulin and Ulbuka, kupo!
"The tide of colonization has risen, and nothing will come of opposing it!"
"I suppose not..."
Skeptical Owl nodded politely in response to Famlienne's passionate plea.
Adoulin's soil was certainly not as fertile as that of other lands. Providing three simple meals a day for its population would prove to be a fool's game if it continues to expand at this dizzying rate. To say that colonizing the harsh lands of Eastern Ulbuka was a pressing matter would be understating the gravity of the situation. Yet Skeptical Owl knew better than to think Famlienne's opinions were born out of merely a sense of justice.
"If we can convince everyone that the pioneering initiative is for the good of the people, Minister Melvien would be quite pleased with us!"
"I suppose so..."
Famlienne was quite a striking woman, even to Skeptical Owl's undiscerning eyes. Her soft, curved figure and lustrous skin spoke volumes about the beauty of the South. What's more, she was of noble birth, with intimate ties to the Order of Woltaris—and her father was a decorated knight, to boot.
The current head of the order, a striking young man who jointly serves as Adoulin's Minister of Finance, was ripe for the plucking. Famlienne was most attracted to those of physical beauty, so Owl's budding hopes were dashed long before their relationship could have blossomed into something more.
"He might even give us a pat on the head for our enterprising efforts."
"...And you enjoy being treated like a child?"
"All journeys begin with but a single step."
"Just make sure you're headed in the right direction."
Famlienne puffed out her cheeks in exasperation. Skeptical Owl, for his part, took the wise option of not pointing out that her face looked like a balloon sold at a town fair.
"Famlienne, didn't we come out here to collect information for our first article?"
"I most certainly did not forget, Skeppy."
"I told you, I prefer Skeptical Owl."
"There is no need to be so stuffy about it. How many years have we known each other, now?"
"All the same..."
A Galka and an Elvaan exchanging playful banter was a rare sight, indeed.
"And how many times do I have to tell you to call me 'Fam?' After all, we're like 'Fam'ily."
"...Moving right along."
"You are colder than a snowy winter's eve!"
Though two peas in a pod they were not—one a boorish Galka, the other a refined Elvaan—there was a practical reason why the two had been assigned to collate information for an article about the colonization effort. After all, what better way to show cooperation between the five civilized races, joining hand in hand to support the continued prosperity of Adoulin, than by having two polar opposites collaborate to draft a lighthearted record of pioneering vignettes?
"So Famlienne, we've managed to make it all the way here to a cave leading to the Altana-forsaken swamps of Foret de Hennetiel. Now what?"
"Well, the records tell a harrowing tale from the last decade, where the son of a merchant in Eastern Adoulin fell ill with a rare disease."
"Yes, his cough was said to be terrible."
"And thyme moss, a plant found just on the outskirts of town, should have been a potent enough remedy. Yet that was not sufficient to cure his ailment."
The husband's father had heard tales passed down from generation to generation of a legendary herb even more potent than thyme moss. Yet the rub was in finding it, as none was known to grow anywhere near civilized lands.
"The grandfather, despite his advanced age, was determined to trek all the way to Foret de Hennetiel to claim a bounty that none had seen in countless years."
Of course, he had not told his family of this plan.
"The founder king's dying words were still followed to the letter then, with nary a foot tread on those hallowed grounds since they were spoken —and certainly no Pioneers' Coalition to aid him."
"The roads created during the Great Expedition must've been grown over, too."
"Beyond a doubt. The forest had reclaimed what man sought to create. The grandfather set out on an adventure of such import that he was willing to break the solemn pact and eschew the forest's visual warnings for it."
He never returned home. Though the Adoulin's finest were only charged with protecting the city, that one time they went above and beyond the call of duty, sending out a search party to find the poor soul. Yet the only thing left of him was his beloved harvesting sickle. When they picked it up off the ground, a single leaf, half crumpled upon itself, fluttered down from its blade, alighting on the soft dirt below.
"And you think that this plant still exists in Hennetiel?"
"It must. One of the prime reasons we press forward into the inner depths of Eastern Ulbuka is precisely to make valuable discoveries that better the lives of those in the city."
"See? I told you pioneering is important."
"I never said it wasn't. The problem is that we might have to head back before our surveys are complete."
"If you've gotten us lost, you can just say so."
"It's not my fault! Those pioneers are a bit too quick on their feet for me to keep pace! They are so mean! What a travesty of justice! They sped along their merry way, and disappeared in the blink of an eye!"
It was no accident. Skeptical Owl could tell that her legs were starting to cramp as she begun to slow down, so he signaled with a slight shifting of his eyes that it was okay for them to forge ahead.
"My pride as the daughter of a highly respected knight has been torn to shreds by this whole ordeal!"
"Then you've got to work out a bit more."
He removed a tiny scroll from within the recesses of his pouch. Famlienne expected what was coming and acquiesced.
Teleporting back to town was as simple as reading a few simple words off the weathered parchment. Chanting in unison, they released the energies contained within and began to dematerialize.
"We can always come back."
"And next time, I shall make sure to be fully prepared!"
The force behind Famlienne's declaration echoed from stone wall to stone wall, fading softly with each bounce. A rushing wind swept through the Sih Gates as the two vanished.
"Some valuable resources can only be found in the hinterlands. This much is certain."
"Though there are those striving to cultivate what we find in the wilds back in the city..."
"...We must proceed in order to retrieve even more rare species for study and planting."
"This sounds exactly like what we need to summarize."
We continued to debate the necessity of colonization as we progressed into the continent. Eventually, we reached the Sih Gates together with the Middle Lands adventurers who were gracious enough to let us tag along. However, we ended up bidding our farewells there, as beyond lay unimaginably treacherous and unexplored lands.
It was with pangs of regret that we returned to Adoulin, but we must not let our disappointment overwhelm us. We are confident that we will be able to bring you further reports on the state of Ulbuka in the weeks and months ahead.
Your trusted pioneer observers,
Fam and Owl
- Story : Miyabi Hasegawa
- Illustration : Mitsuhiro Arita