Interlude: Excerpt from the reports of Victor Talbot
[This report is a copy of several letters I had sent earlier.
I do not know who will be reading these notes, but there is something I would like to make clear ahead of time.
After polishing and revising my reports, I have simplified my observations into exceedingly straightforward phrases.
In order to prevent any possible misunderstandings, I would like to note that I am not the kind of person who normally uses such crude language when drawing up a report.
These particular reports, however, are a special exception, as they also serve as personal letters to a recipient who knows me very well. They are written in a very informal style.
In other words, should these reports be exposed to the world after my death, I would like to make it clear that the views expressed in these letters are personal in nature, and that I have no intention whatsoever of disgracing House Dormentaire or defaming my employer’s family.
Please keep this in mind as you read on.]
[Hey. How’ve you been?
Feel any lonely ‘cause I haven’t written to you in so long?
I’m doing this ‘cause you keep making a fuss about getting your reports, but old man Szilard’s probably gonna give you all the tiny details in his letter. So I’ll just write whatever like usual.
Bet you’d be happier that way, too. It’ll be just like I’m right next to you.
This letter had better keep you up all night, thinking about me.
We got to Lotto Valentino just fine, but about that crazy thing you built in the harbor--that Strassburg guy must be even smarter and crazier than I heard about.
And you Dormentaires are no slouches, either--actually building a monster like that.]
[About Lotto Valentino? What can I say? It was more than I expected, for one.
I’ve only been here for a day, but let’s start with the facts:
This city is out of its fucking mind.
That’s both my report and my personal opinion.
You know, when I first saw the city from on horseback, I almost felt sorry for it.
A tiny group of bad guys hiding behind the powerless aristocrats, making drugs and counterfeit gold, who end up turning House Dormentaire against the entire city.
So when I thought about it that way, I felt bad for all the people that lost their city to a little band of criminals.
But after sunset, our spy ______ (Translator’s note: The spy’s name was not copied onto this duplicate) told me all the details. I thought I was gonna be sick.
Who knew? The ones who made the drugs were the people living here.
Apparently the drug trade started when some aristocrat named ‘Avaro’ commissioned it from an alchemist. I don’t know what happened, but after that, the commoners started producing the drugs.
Everyone in town, from seamen to grannies selling vegetables, bought little kids from slave traders and forced them to work in those godawful drug-laden workshops. They fed the drugs to those kids and worked them until they lost their minds and died!
I asked him how many kids the city killed that way. ______ just bit his lip with this really bitter look. Said something about how he might’ve been able to save a lot of them if he’d started spying on this city earlier. Talk about diligent, huh? If we’d known about this ahead of time, you’d have snapped up control over the drugs before anyone could even blink, right? And if you’d left that work to me, I’d never have used little kids. That’s just messed up. I bet old man Szilard might, but I’d have beaten the idea outta him if he tried. Probably.
And about that--I’m just talking hypotheticals. You already know, right? I’m completely opposed to drugs like that. What the hell’s fun about getting high on stuff like opium and losing your mind? I guess I’d make an exception for medication, but still.
Come to think of it, this alchemist I met today--Begg--apparently only ever makes drugs. I think he’s the one who made the first of the drugs for that aristocrat. I don’t think we’ll get along.
I couldn’t say anything to his face, though, seeing as he’s a friend of ______.
But hey, did you know?
______ might’ve already told you this, but...
This entire city’s full of villains. The aristocrats are the ones living moral lives.
And if you expected me to go nuts about keeping the peace or something, you’re dead wrong.
Sure, all the stuff that went on in this city leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
And if I’d known about all this before I got here, I might not even have wanted to come.
I felt like selling off all the Lotto Valentino bastards to slave traders when I first heard about the disgusting things that went on.
That’s how revolting it all was.
And I don’t know if you already know this, but there’s this girl named Niki who’s working as a maid for the Meyer family--that’s where ______ works--and wait ‘til you read this. She used to be one of those slave kids.
The young lady told me everything with a straight face. She didn’t hold back a thing.
I mean, she was calm. But you could tell it was the kind of story you couldn’t not tell with a straight face. She’s even younger than I am, but man. That’s some incredible strength of will.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not gonna cheat on you--you’re still the best.
Although you’re probably going through men and women every night in bed.
Sorry, I got off topic.
Actually, that was on purpose.
All the stuff Niki told me about was so repulsive that I just had to think about something a little more lighthearted.
So let me write this again, for emphasis.
Every last adult in Lotto Valentino is rotten to the core.
But they’re all wearing these faces, as if they think they’re doing all this in order to survive. As if they’re not at fault. It’s nauseating just looking at them.
Though I guess I can’t say everyone is guilty. ______ says that some people never got involved.
According to him, this lady who runs the patisserie halfway up the hill was just way too stubborn to join up with those bastards. So I’m thinking I might go get some treats there tomorrow. I doubt they’ll go stale that quickly, so I’ll send some over to you later.
Back on topic. I’m saying that the people here are all anonymous commoners who’re trying really hard not to think that they’re the villains. Sickening.
And here I was, half-hoping to find some evil secret society to uncover and destroy.
I told old man Szilard about it, and he just laughed at me.
What’s wrong with an alchemist having a few dreams, right?
Anyway, you’re not here just to read my travelogues, huh? Carla’s reports are probably gonna overlap with mine, so let me give you a bit of subjectivity.
Something happened today.
Turns out it’s been exactly a year since the Dormentaire ship burned down in the harbor.
I’m still investigating to see if that’s relevant to any of the stuff I talked about, so just wait for next week’s report for more info.
So all I can tell you today is the fact that there was a bit of an incident today.
I split off from Carla and ran into a bunch of weirdos in the harbor district.
Not ‘weird’ just in terms of their skin color or their nationality. I’m talking about the kind of people they were.]
Continued in Chapter 2.
Continued in Chapter 2.