“Hmmph, it took you long enough to come here!” a haughty scholarly dressed man complains. A quick glance at his character window confirms he’s Andrew Stirlea, the guy who more or less is the reason for this whole mess.
“No, we’re early!” Matt responds.
“And who are you, whelp? Don’t you know who I am?!” he angrily retorts.
“It’s easy to guess who you are. You must be Andrew Stirlea.”
“Sir! Andrew Stirlea!”
“No, your rank was revoked when you were dismissed from your post.”
“What would a brat like you know about…”
–att interrupts him by calling out to General Ritchie!
“Oh, General Ritchie! How big is the damage?”
“Prince Matthew! I was about to confirm the damage with the mayor. Good thing you’ve already found him!”
Stirlea and the man who accompanied him gulp for air upon hearing General Ritchie calling Matt “Prince”. The other one must be the mayor.
“Oh, how rude of me. I should properly introduce myself. I’m Matthew Sitnalta, the second prince of Sitnalta. I’m delighted to make your acquaintance.”
“What brings his highness to Cogen?”, the elder nervously asks.
“Nothing much. We were just planning on checking up on the facilities. Alas, that’s not an option right now.”
“Just as the scout reported, the village is more or less completely destroyed, save for the house of Mr. Stirlea”, General Ritchie reports.
“I see. Mr. Stirlea, even though you had been removed from your post years ago, I’d still like to hear your opinion on this. Do you have any idea of how the Mad Cow Disease broke out? I was under the impression the crown was distributing a vaccine…”
Oh, I see, Matt is putting the pressure on him. After all, it was his conspiracy theories that started the whole mess! Stirlea closes his eyes to think.
“I currently don’t have any idea,” he answers quite soon. I notice his eyes wandering for a short moment. He’s definitely lying.
“I see,” Matt replies, “I guess I have to advise the king to ban the cultivation of bovines altogether just to be on the safe side.”
“But your highness, isn’t that going too far?!” the elder asks in horror. I get why: this village doesn’t have any crops. It’s all just pastures. A ban would spell the end of this village.
“No, we were lucky the army happened to be in the general area when we got word of the outbreak…
Let’s leave dealing with those people to Matt for now. If I listen in any more, I’ll eventually start laughing. I’m more interested in that biomagical disease, anyway. What can my Menu tell me?
Glossary: Mad Cow Disease
An artificial self-replicating magic-circle. It forcefully monsterfies domestic bovines to Minotaurs. Ineffective against other domestic animals and bovine monsters.
“Pat,” I whisper, “are there any other bovine monsters?”
“Sure, there are Bouffantbulls and Bomiles. Bomiles leave quite an impression whenever you meet them. They are quite adorable with their mostly pink body. They have more detailed features too, but they like rolling around so much the blur of pink is generally all what you see. Why do you ask?”
“I think the Mad Cow Disease doesn’t affect Monsters.”
“Are you sure?”
“That’d be perfect if it worked!” the elder exclaims. Apparently he’s been listening in.
Matt, Ritchie and Stirlea turn towards us.
“What would be perfect?” Matt asks.
I repeat the idea of cultivating bovine monsters.
“Isn’t that dangerous?”, General Ritchie asks.
Just as I’m about to answer I notice a pink mass rolling towards us. Noticing my gaze, the others look in the same direction. I discreetly analyze the mass.
A bovine monster. All monsters of this type are female. The milk it produces is sweet and very nutritious and can be used to heal the ill or weary. The taste and nutrition of its milk improves with the quality of the pastures it lives in, and the taste itself changes with the season.
It reminds me a lot of a bovine monster of a monster collecting game. That creature was the bane of a lot of people.
“I’m sorry!” a young farmer shouts, “there’s no need to worry. My Bomile likes rolling around. And since the attack broke the fences, it’s roaming about. But it’s totally docile! Just don’t get caught in its rolling path!”
“That’s Whitney. As you can see, she cultivates Bomiles,” the elder explains, “or at least she’s trying to.”
“I can see it didn’t turn into a Minotaur, so it’s definitely a thought worth exploring. But you said he’s trying to cultivate them. What is the problem?” Matt inquires.
“Getting meat and milk is no problem at all. They’re just like regular cows in that regard. But I can’t get the Bomile to reproduce,” Whitney dejectedly answers.
“Hmm, what other bovine monsters do you have?” Matt asks.
“But aren’t Bomile all female?” I ask.
“That thought never occurred to me!” he answers, “but you’re right, in the wild, Bouffantbulls are found in the same areas as Bomile.”
“Can you get the village to change to cultivating Bomile and Bouffantbulls?” Matt asks the elder, “If you can do that, I’m sure I can persuade my father to fund the endeavour.”
“Are you sure?!”, the elder asks.
“Yes, if this works, there would be no need for the vaccine anymore. I’ve heard some people have raised concerns against the vaccine, anyway.”
“Yes, yes, it can be done,” the elder answers. He’s jumping on it quite fast. I guess to him this beats an investigation into the vaccine distribution.
“Slaughtering Bomiles is a somewhat dangerous operation,” he explains, “but it’s not much more dangerous than slaughtering regular cows.”
He turns towards me, “thank you, young one. Your insight will probably save this village!”
“Don’t mention it, I just spoke my mind without thinking…”
Now there’s only one problem left: Mr. Stirlea.