A/N: Okay, this storyline continues from Destiny Revealed and actually reveals some spoilers from Heart of a Child that haven't been put up for reading yet. So, if you don't want to find out ahead of time what happens there, you might want to stop reading Caleb's series until after HoC is done.
On its own, as it was, Sybak was overwhelming at first to anyone who went there for educational advancement. Then the students would get into the libraries, the museums, the many small archives that would specialize in this and that, and minds would be made or broken with the abundance of information. For many who strove to become scholars, this was the place to be to learn and gain greater understanding of the world. For those looking to make a quick coin servicing students by offering hot cooked meals, school supplies, and room and board for visiting family and friends, it was a gald mine of opportunity. And for Caleb, the automatic doll with a soul, and Peppermint FireBlossom, a recently freed mana beast devoted to protecting and energizing her rescuer, it was the first step in a journey to archive the world. As previously promised by the doll, Pepper visited Genis and Jase just outside the city. After a discussion about the problem of keeping her busy while Caleb absorbed everything Sybak held in written form, Genis offered to invite her to the academy.
The months that passed seemed almost endless. Pepper became the beloved school mascot once the staff and students got over their fear and shock at a mana beast dropping in to chew on the leaves from the trees growing in their yard, often becoming a point of lecture in the part-time orations Genis would sometimes be requested to do by the dean of the academy. Genis found it gratifying to have something other than the World Reunification journey to talk about, as some parts of the quest were points of painful experiences for him. Art classes loved having Pepper as a model for paintings, sculptures, and other media. Pepper loved the attention, lapped it up and grew fat and lazy off of the apples and fruits the students brought to her. She worked it off quickly each time Caleb noticed her lounging for too long, knowing he could pester her endlessly about it.
Caleb himself spent many hours in the libraries and museums, reading every book stored in the buildings at speeds that shocked the other students, and studying the artifacts and relics until every detail was preserved in his memory. Hair tied up in a tight bun and hidden under a new beret, a pair of tinted glasses to mask his eyes from view, the doll could walk among the people of Sybak without fear of being mistaken for the former Chosen of Tethe'alla, Zelos Wilder, who remained confined to Iselia with his adopted family for reasons not yet disclosed by Origin. Normally, Caleb would be at home with the dwarf Altessa, cooking, cleaning, and doing the duties his older sister, Tabatha, once did. After a trip to find out Pepper's roots and save the other mana beasts, Caleb returned home only to discover that Altessa had planned to free him of his duties for a long while. Now equipped with the latest energy system the dwarf had to offer and a Sorcerer's Ring and modified Elemental Cargo of his own, Caleb was free to do as he pleased with his life. He chose to archive the world for the future.
Being an automatic doll, Caleb had no need to sleep or eat, but on occasion he drank a glass of water to ensure a particularly new system in his body stayed functional. As a parting gift that Altessa never told him about he was equipped to have the ability to cry true tears. Caleb wasn't sure how it worked, but in times when he felt sad or extremely happy about things, the system kicked in and tears would stream down his face as real as any living being's own. The most he learned about the system was that for it to work consistently, Caleb needed to drink a glass of water at least once every few weeks, more if he had overdone the waterworks due to some event or another that generally made him cry more than he usually did.
Even with that, he still needed to blend in with the rest of the people. So Caleb used a portion of his saved allowance to rent a room at a local hotel and quickly got a job at a nearby restaurant cooking lunches and dinners for students. He had to talk fast to keep his hat and sunglasses on for the whole time, but after a small sampling of his cooking, further improved thanks to his friendship with the Wonder Chef himself, the manager let him do as he pleased. With a place to go to recharge and review what he learned, and Pepper set up in a nearby stall with the promise not to spook the horses any more than they already were, they were set to stay in Sybak as long as necessary to absorb the collected information there.
Time passed and as spring began to creep back into the land, Caleb closed the last book in the last library and sat back with a contented sigh. The librarians looked at the walls of books that surrounded him and sighed as well, this would be another of those times where they would be up all night putting books away. Caleb got up and smiled at the staff as he left.
"That's everything Sybak has archived, down to the books and artifacts only the Chosen could access. Which he did, heh." the doll chuckled and waved up at the academy building, fairly sure Genis would see and send Pepper back along to him. Sure enough, the white and red mana beast came bounding out the yard and trotted up next to him, clacking cheerfully and smacking her lips. "You got treated to apples again?" Caleb asked with a wry smile, "Well, let me go talk to Genis for a bit, then we'll get ready to leave." Pepper nodded and sat put, white feather wings folded down and tail curled around her feet as Caleb strode into the school in search of the half-elf.
He explained to the staff and to Genis that his business in the city was done and he would be leaving that day, taking Pepper along with him, of course. The student body and staff wished them luck on their journey and cheered a good-bye to Pepper as the two of them went on their way.
"Come back and visit again!" Genis called out.
Checking out of the hotel was easy enough, but quitting his job was a touch more difficult. The manager pleaded for him to stay, even offering to raise his pay and place him in a higher position. Caleb declined and spotted a cook on the street walking by with an oversized spoon strapped to his back. He suggested that the manager talk to that cook and left, happy to know that he had helped the Wonder Organization just a bit.
"Now that our affairs are in order, why don't we go and visit Martel at the Yggdrasill Tree? If Orator is from before the Kharlan War ended, then maybe he knows a lot about the world before Mithos messed it up." Caleb remarked and smiled when Pepper clacked happily at the idea. "You just want to munch on more Mana Fruit, huh?" He paused near the library across the entrance to Sybak and looked around for a place to sit, "Let me check my pack and see if I already have one for you." He finally decided to sit on an oddly shaped bench that looked like some blind artist decided to carve a teddy bear out of a stone chair with a dull knife.
"Gah!" the bench grunted once he plopped down and Caleb jumped off in shock, "Watch what you're doing! Ow!" The doll spun around and watched as the bench erupted into smoke, revealing the blonde Wonder Chef kneeling over in roughly the same configuration as the bench. He was wincing, one arm pulling back to rub at his back. "Ow... I should have listened to Father about not using the bench guise near buildings..." The chef stood straight, gripping the fork in one hand as always, and stretched back to pop out a few kinks.
"Wren!" Caleb exclaimed joyfully once the shock wore off. The Wonder Chef blinked and looked at him in surprise. "I didn't know you were in Sybak! How long have you been here?!"
"About a month. Caleb? You're here too?" the Wonder Chef, known best to Caleb as Wren, yelped back and laughed, holding out his hands in friendly greeting, "It's been too long! I dropped by your house a little earlier in the winter, but no one was there. I thought you and Altessa were out on a shopping trip somewhere!" Pepper butted in and eyed the blonde, startling him. "Yah! What is that?!" Wren cried, leaping back and bumping into the library. He brought the Wonder Fork around defensively.
"Ah, sorry. This is Peppermint FireBlossom, Pepper for short. She's a mana beast and a sweet girl. Don't worry, she won't bite or anything." Caleb introduced his companion. Wren eyed the creature warily.
"Friendly, huh?" he questioned and flinched when Pepper took a sniff at him, "She's not sizing me up for a snack later, is she?"
"Nah, she eats mostly fruits, leaves, and small animals. She loves apples, though." Caleb assured him and stroked Pepper's snout. "Basically, she'll eat anything you put in front of her that smells of food. Hey, she likes trying out my recipes for me!"
"Oh, really? Well, then I guess we'll get along." Wren laughed nervously and reached out to stroke her as well. Pepper clacked, then nuzzled the chef. "She definitely is friendly. So, what are you doing in Sybak? Running more errands for Altessa?" he asked the doll. Caleb shook his head.
"Nope. Altessa left on a journey to educate dwarves around the world last fall. I'm on a journey of my own with Pepper." he told his old friend, "We're gathering and storing all the information and knowledge of the world to save for the future, in case another great disaster falls on Symphonia that forces it to lose its history again. Kinda like what Mithos did when he rewrote history for both Sylvarant and Tethe'alla."
"So you're on your own, huh?" Wren remarked and walked over to sit on a real bench, setting the fork down beside him. "I can see how that works out. With a mana beast providing you with endless mana, you're free to do whatever you want." He grinned up at Caleb. "Can I come along?" he asked.
"Aren't you here on Wonder Organization business?" Caleb asked in return, folding his arms over his chest and eyeing him sternly, "You have only been back on the job for a couple of seasons and you tried bailing the first season."
"Ugh, don't remind me." Wren sighed and slumped back against the bench, throwing his arms onto the back as he relaxed. "I had a mess of doctors and therapists on my case day and night. And on top of all that... well, never mind." he trailed off and sighed. "I was here to see if I could find any new recipes to take back to the Organization. It's embarrassing to say but we're just about out of new ideas for modifying normal recipes to be used by warriors and other Wonder Cooks in their battles."
"So if you found some totally new ways of cooking food..." the doll began.
"Then the Wonder Organization can begin experimenting with ways of enhancing and modifying them. That's what we did with the recipes I taught to Lloyd's group, Tabatha, and you." Wren finished with a nod. "I just finished searching this library, and I really don't want to have to go to the others, even though a lot of people are counting on me to find proof that... Well, I'm just sick of it."
"I can make it easier on you. There are no recipes here that you haven't already used." Caleb told him, "I finished reading everything here in Sybak."
"Oh? That's useful." Wren remarked and sat up, looking more glum than cheered by the fact, "Well, now I don't know what to do!"
"Come with me, then. I'm going to visit Martel and Orator at the Yggdrasill Tree. Maybe Orator knows of some ancient recipes that were lost during the Kharlan War." Caleb tried to cheer him up. Wren only sighed again.
"I doubt it. The Wonder Chef Family was founded long before the Kharlan War even came up, when magitechnology was still a new thing to be tested and experimented with. My family and our archives all survived the war and Mithos' purgings. So we've got information that was lost from the world." he muttered.
"Then I'll be attacking your archives after I talk with Orator. And cheer up already! We'll find something along the way!" Caleb told him firmly, "I've never seen you look more depressed than when you found out who you were after losing your memories!"
"And I probably would have been better off that way, too..."
"That's it!" Caleb griped and pulled Wren completely off the bench, ignoring his yells of surprise as he slung the blonde onto his shoulder, then spun around and began marching out of Sybak.
"Caleb! Put me down! What are you doing?! Hey! Hey! You can't do this to me! I'm the Wonder Chef! Caleb!" Wren shrieked as Pepper fell in line behind him and amused herself by sticking her tongue out at the thrashing chef.