"Master Altessa! We're home!" Caleb called out cheerfully as he leaped through the doorway, "I'll need to borrow some tools again to widen Pepper's stall! She's gotten really big!" Altessa walked out of his workshop, a small welding device in one hand.
"I see you are well. It's been more than a week." he commented. Caleb nodded as he set his pack down on the table.
"I know. I'm sorry for that, too. I'll get right to work on my chores!" he apologized. Altessa shook his head.
"No, I need you in my workshop. Maintenance check." he told the doll and returned to the workshop. Caleb looked confused, but obeyed and followed him. The worktable that had been used to build him was clear and the specific tools needed were laid out in preparation.
"Is there something wrong, Master Altessa? You seem... preoccupied." the doll asked worriedly as he climbed onto the table.
"It is nothing I can't handle. Now, I'll need to suspend your mana crystal power conduits in order to do the upgrade." Altessa went on, opening the cavity that held the mana crystal within the doll.
"Upgrade? But, you said it was..." Caleb began and stopped when Altessa pulled on the tiny set of feeding lines that forced the state of suspended animation. The doll's eyes faded to dullness and he lay still, stretched out on the table as frozen as the day he was first created.
"With this, you will no longer be bound to me." the dwarf whispered and set to work, looking once more at the two additional mana crystals that were set aside just for this day.
"...just a... check?" Caleb finished his sentence sometime later, staring up at the ceiling in confusion. He sat up and winced, hand going up to press against his chest. "Owww. What's... this? I feel strange." Altessa was packing a few tools into a small pouch, then slid them into Caleb's pack.
"The feeling will pass. It's just your body trying to get you adjusted to the Tri-Crystal System I installed." the dwarf told him. He handed the pack to the doll and picked up two more items from his desk. "This is the third Sorcerer's Ring ever created, and this is the refitted Elemental Cargo, capable of sailing on water." Altessa gave both the ring and the wing pack to the doll. "Use them well."
"Ah, all right." Caleb murmured, still confused, "What will I need them for?"
"Altessa, is everything ready?" a new voice called out. Altessa picked up a second travel pack, already stuffed with belongings. The two of them went into the main room to meet the newcomer.
"Good day, Yuan. Yes, I'm ready. Let me just brief Caleb." the dwarf told the blue-haired half-elf standing patiently in the room.
"All right. And can someone tell me what that creature is, standing outside and peeking in here?" Yuan asked.
"That's Pepper. My friend. She's a mana beast." Caleb told him. Yuan furrowed his eyebrows.
"Mana beast? ...Something tells me I don't want to ask." he muttered to himself.
"Master Altessa, what's going on? Who is he? Where are we going?" Caleb turned his attention back to the dwarf, growing more confused by the minute. Altessa sighed heavily.
"I'm going on a journey with Dirk to teach our skills to dwarves around the world. There are few of them left because of Cruxis, and their skills are severely lacking." the dwarf told the doll, "And in this journey, I must go alone. I cannot take you with me."
"What?" Caleb whispered in shock, stunned by what he was now hearing, "Y-you're abandoning me?"
"I'm releasing you from service. Now that I am fully recovered from my injuries, I don't have need of a servant. You've always had the choice to be free, but you never took it because of me." Altessa went on, "The Tri-Crystal System was developed to give you that true freedom from me. You have a primary crystal, a secondary crystal that is smaller than the first and will act as an emergency power source should the primary fail, and a third crystal for free use." The dwarf held out a pair of crystals, one was the usual size Caleb ran off of, cut with six sides to it. The other was thinner, cut with four sides. "Your secondary is also tied to your peripheral devices, such as your illuminated optics and mana detection sensors. The free use mana crystal is the same size and strength as your primary crystal."
"That's too much power in me. What am I to do with that much extra energy?" Caleb asked, sorrow welling up within him as he held his pack tightly.
"I've adjusted your system setup to use it in a new way if you choose to follow such a path." Altessa explained, "Caleb, you will be my greatest creation... an automated doll who can cast magic."
"Magic!" Caleb cried, "Me! Only those of elven blood can cast magic!"
"And those who have aionis within their bodies and enough mana to use the spells. I built you with an aionis based alloy, and with an extra mana crystal of that size, you will be able to cast magic." Altessa corrected, "I've included a small book on basic spells in your pack."
"What if I run out of power in my primary crystal? I can't run on a small crystal for very long!"
"Pepper is a mana beast. She can recharge your crystals by pulling mana from around her and sending it into the crystal. Martel told me about her abilities. With her beside you, you will never have need of energy."
"What if it breaks!"
"Pepper can also repair and reform mana crystals. You now have the tools necessary to switch out crystals as needed on your own. You won't need to be held in suspended animation for such operations ever again." Altessa told him, "You are completely independent now, so stop trying to find ways out of it!"
"But what am I supposed to do on my own!" Caleb yelled in a panic, "I've been your servant all this time! I don't know any other life!"
"You are an advanced automatic doll, and as such you are capable of acquiring and retaining vast amounts of information and data." Yuan pointed out quietly, "You can travel the world gathering information on everything about this world, its history, cultures, plants and animals. Mithos destroyed the true history of this world and there is almost nothing left to tell us about the time before the Kharlan War. If something should happen to Symphonia again, you may be our only hope of recovering lost knowledge."
"Me?" Caleb murmured in a tiny voice.
"This cave is now yours to do with as you wish. You may continue to live comfortably here as a recluse, or you may travel the world on a quest of your own, the choices are endless and all yours to make." Altessa added, "I'm leaving now, Caleb. Your life is truly yours. Do well with it." With that he turned and followed Yuan outside to a Rheaird waiting for him. Caleb raced outside in time to see both men fly away into the air.
"Wait! Master Al-tess-a!" he cried and stood numbly as they became little more than specks in the sky. For a moment he hoped that they would return, say it was only a horrid joke and that Altessa still needed him for something or other. But, no, they were gone, and he was left alone, save for Pepper standing by and cocking her head, looking as lost as he felt. "What am I to do now?" Caleb whispered and blinked as his vision seemed to blur. Reaching up, he touched his cheeks and stared in shock at the droplets of water sitting on his fingertips, "Tears? I have tears now? Altessa, did you give me the ability to cry as well?" He searched his pack and found a folded note tucked inside.
"'This letter is all I can use to tell you that I will truly miss you. You've been a wonderful companion and a good friend. I will think of you often as I make my journey. I am proud of you. Always.'" Caleb read silently and packed the note away. He looked over at the house, then at Pepper, who grew bored of the whole thing and was now chewing at the fur on her rump to smooth it out. "Pepper, what do you think? Do you want to stay here or go traveling some more?" he asked. Pepper lifted her head to look at him, an expression that read along the lines of 'Hey, wherever you go, I go. We're the package deal!' He smiled brightly, wiping away the tears that were still a bit of a shock.
"All right then. I like the idea of collecting information. I learned a lot about mana beasts, things that not even a half-elf knew! Not even Genis!" Caleb began, "So, I'll go out and learn lots more about Symphonia, everything that's in the world and around it! Then, I can tell others about what I've learned and that knowledge will help people understand each other and the world." He walked up and stroked Pepper's snout cheerfully. "And since the two of us will be untouched by time, we'll be able to protect and save that knowledge for future generations." he added and pumped his fist into the air, "Let's go on a journey of our own, Pepper! To save the knowledge of the world!" Pepper whistled and clacked, jumping around joyfully. "To Sybak, and the libraries and museums it has to offer!" Caleb declared and turned to lock up the house.