Oh my, are these the Adoulinian tomatoes everyone has been lauding of late? I am certain that my master appreciates your kindness, but I do not recall ordering any of them...
My apologies. I was not aware that they were meant for Castle Adoulin.
If it helps assuage your concerns in the least, this hillock has winded the best of us, and has sent me tumbling head-over-heels to the bottom more than once. Be not ashamed of not making it to the top in a single spurt, and take as much time to recuperate as you require.
For me? Why thank you.
Mmm...it is plain to see why these tomatoes have won such voracious acclaim in so short a time. Those grown on the surrounding islands resemble the wrinkled and frail fingers of mead-flushed octogenarian spinsters, and they taste of drought and death. This one, however, is as healthy as any I have ever seen, and its flavor is simply to die for. They are truly a miracle in the making.
They were plucked fresh from the Civic Arboretum, you say? Well then, please do me the favor of congratulating Chalvava on a job well done the next time you see her. I cannot recall the last time I indulged in such a tantalizing piece of produce.
Speaking of the arboretum...it may not be around long enough to produce a second batch of these decadent tomatoes.
I only say so because hearing grievances from facility opponents on both sides of the colonization movement has become as much a part of my master's daily routine as getting up in the morning. A particularly vocal critic recently assailed us with such a vitriolic rhetorical bombardment that I thought my ears would bleed.
I am not sure how Sir Malecroix stemmed the tide of anger, but he assured me that the storm had passed and that I needn't worry about such enraged visitants any longer.
Read on for Minister of Finance Melvien de Malecroix's introspections regarding the call to close the Civic Arboretum.
Melvien's Personal Reflections: Fruits of Labor
Again I am confronted with the one subject that causes my head to spin and haunts my very dreamsâ€”the rift that the colonization movement has opened between Adoulin's citizens. The gap between the two factions widens with each passing day, and I fear that it will soon be impossible to construct a bridge long enough to span the chasm.
I consider myself a competent and devoted minister and council member, but this issue is fast seeming to prove too much for even me.
To wit, I met with someone staunchly opposed to colonization the other day who called for the closure of our Civic Arboretum.
I know not from whence he got wind of this information, but he was acutely aware of Chancellor Ygnas' clandestine support of the greenhouse. It appeared to me as if this information stoked the man's defiance, but any right-minded opponent of the movement should be overjoyed to hear that the city is striving toward self-sufficiency.
Should the fear mongers prevail and we retreat from the hinterland, we will no longer be able to rely on the good graces of the pioneers or the mountains of foodstuffs and fur they bring back with them from the jungle. Does anyone in Adoulin truly believe we can subsist only on that which we hunt and harvest on the archipelago? I sincerely hope not.
It boggles the mind how dogmatic people can be. Though the herd of colonization detractors should be concerned with the nation's welfare and thus the survival of the arboretum, they instead cast aspersions on the facility because it is supported by a prominent colonization proponent. The ignorance behind these acts is simply astounding.
While this is certainly unsettling, the more serious issue arises from within our own ranksâ€”a faction of initiative supporters who argue that the Civic Arboretum should be abolished because it defeats the purpose of colonization. Their argument is that if such a facility exists, then we must surely be able to feed the whole of Adoulin, and therefore render pioneers and their services meaningless.
This line of thinking is quite possibly the gravest misunderstanding I have encountered in recent memory. The Civic Arboretum is currently nothing more than a place of research; the amount of vegetables grown there is insufficient to feed even a settlement, let alone a city such as Adoulin.
Others put their faith in the new MHMU-run plots of land our current government initiated on the archipelago, but only time will tell if they will provide the key to freeing our nation from the threat of starvation. We must resist putting all our eggs in one basket when it will take so long for them to hatch, especially since these gardens mostly benefit pioneers and not the public.
The Civic Arboretum must not be closed, but at the same time, I realize the facility does have its drawbacks. As the minister of finance, it pains me to continue allocating the alliance's budget to a mere "experiment" time after time. Should money get tighter than it already is, I fear that shutting down the arboretum would be unavoidable.
The only way to rectify this quandary is simple theoretically, yet excruciatingly difficult to implement in practical termsâ€”the crops grown there need to sell. They need to be at least as delicious and appealing as those found in the Ulbukan wilderness.
According to Chalvava, though many speak of the tainted soil that covers much of the hinterland and the fevers caused by ingesting its bounty, oases of pristine and fecund terrain also exist.
These areas are supposedly so perfectly adapted to breeding plant life that should pioneers clear a stretch of their land one day, the flora will completely reclaim its domain the next as if it had never faced the blades or sickles of intruders. This phenomenon is reported to occur in pockets throughout the continent, so it is neither a localized incident nor a fluke.
Think of the possibilities if we could study and then harvest the secrets of these oases; we would be able to expand our agricultural repertoire in the waterways and ensure a stable source of food for the nation. The only cause for trepidation, however, would be finding the proper party to carry out the studies. Of course we could always ask the pioneers, but should we really burden them with our own problems more than we already have?
Come to think of it, I too have trod upon the jungle floor deep within the Ulbukan mainland. My father was an avid botanist and collector of both minerals and blossoms. He would often make pilgrimages into the wilds to sate his ever-growing desire to secure rare specimens, and he would occasionally bring me along. Those days, however, are naught but a distant haze of abstraction at the present. I do not possess the expertise necessary to...
That tangent aside, the essence of my argument is that our underground agrarian experiment is still not nearly as successful as its more mysterious and aboveground natural phenomenon. The plants grown down there develop more slowly and lack in both appearance and flavor.
I first tried the ruddy tomatoes grown in the waterways thanks to Chalvava, who warned me "This is the only-wonly thing we grow that'd be worth selling." The lackluster manner in which she presented them caused me to lower my guard considerably, and I was not prepared for the undeniably juicy sweetness that graced my tongue upon biting through its gently resistant surface. Apparently she and her subordinates had yet to begin the harvest in earnest, but there was no doubting the appeal of this succulent vegetable.
Though the first seedlings the researchers received were brought back by Arciela from one of the jungle's agricultural oases, it is exactly these origins that vex me the most. Shop patrons do not want to put something into their bodies that is associated with a vile and terrifying land that could possibly be cursed. While heuristics such as this are certainly not logical, they are an ineffable part of people's consciences.
Now, how to go about overcoming these negative associations... How do I sway the populace to purchase these tomatoes instead of their clearly inferior counterparts from the Middle Lands?
Wait a moment... What if... Yes!
If people's image of the Ulbukan jungle is the issue, then why bother mentioning it at all? The tomatoes themselves are grown in the Rala Waterways beneath our fair city of Adoulin, so why not emphasize the area in which they are raised rather than the place from which they originated? I could kick myself for not having thought of this sooner!
The only way I know Arciela brought the first specimens back from the mainland was because Chalvava let it slip after fielding numerous questions from me about the topic...
Therefore, it is likely that only a handful of people are privy to the tomatoes' true provenience.
Thus, why not dub them "Adoulinian tomatoes?" If the public then assumes the name refers to its origins, all the better for us. Moreover, "Adoulin" is oft seen as a land of opportunity for adventurers from the Middle Lands, which bodes well for our sales abroad as well as here at home.
As an added benefit, if we can convince the citizenry that the tomatoes are not from the jungle, then the colonization movement's detractors may lower their voice of opposition. Ygnas may still support colonization, but it will seem as if the facility is a completely separate matter.
Finally, if I were to inform colonization supporters that the tomatoes hail from the woods of Ulbuka, they would have to cease their hostility towards the arboretum. As long as I can keep that fact secret from the movement's opposition, neither side will have reason to complain.
This just might work.
One thing still bothers me, though. Could Ygnas have foreseen this turn of events when he made his decision to openly support the Civic Arboretum?
I never picked him for a particularly cunning individual, but...
Melvien de Malecroix
Story : Miyabi Hasegawa
Illustration : Mitsuhiro Arita