Year 1, Month 1, Day 8
Rorona arrives at her workshop after a short day of touring the town. She looks around a bit for Astrid, but Astrid appears to be "out of the office" at the moment. Rorona is strangely relieved that her master isn't in the building, as otherwise she'd get picked on most of the day. She tries to get back to work when someone knocks at the door (an unusual occurrence, since there doesn't seem to be much business at the workshop). A man with a black cape and sword walks in. Rorona, thinking he's a customer, doesn't quite know what to say to him in Astrid's absence. The man says that he's a Royal Messenger acting on behalf of the King. He has a message for Astrid, and it's not a good one - the workshop is to be shut down immediately. Astrid, who was taking a nap in one of the other rooms the whole time, comes out to assess the situation. She knows that the workshop is marked for death, but didn't come out to say anything to the messenger because she loves watching Rorona squirm. Astrid sends Rorona to the castle in her place while she goes back to sleep.
Rorona makes a note of the events in her diary (what you and I would refer to as "saving the game"), and then leaves the workshop for the palace's front desk. As she mumbles to herself about her predicament, the receptionist offers to show her inside and beckons for the royal messenger, a man named Sterkenburg Cranach. He recognizes Rorona and wonders why Astrid didn't come as promised, but then just gives up and introduces himself to Rorona. She's having trouble digesting the name "Sterkenburg", so she tries to shorten it to something a bit more palatable, like "Sterky". He, of course, thinks "Sterk" is more dignified, and asks her to address him that way.
Sterk says that the workshop's closure hasn't yet been made official, and offers Rorona a chance to save it, provided that she completes assignments given to her by the kingdom. An assignment will be given to her every three months over the course of three years (in other words, a dozen tasks to be completed). Every assignment will consist of making something with alchemy, and turning it in to Sterk. Assignments have a strict deadline, so if Rorona doesn't complete them in time, or her performance at evaluation time isn't satisfactory for the kingdom's wishes, then she fails and the workshop is closed for good (and I get a Game Over). There's no limit to how many times she can talk with Sterk, as long as she has the necessary items for evaluation.
Another goal Rorona's shooting for is trying to win the hearts of the townspeople, as Astrid's negligence has given the workshop a bad reputation. In order to keep the workshop running, Rorona has to complete as many assignments as possible. He says that Esty Dee, the receptionist, will be her liaison between the workshop and the townspeople. Rorona tries to digest everything Sterk told her as she returns to the workshop, hoping that the news will give Astrid the motivation to actually do some work. (Fat chance!)
Cordelia von Feuerbach, one of Rorona's childhood friends (Roro's nickname for her is "Cory"; get used to her doing this often), surprises her with a greeting tackle, which she said she did to try and cheer her up. Rorona explains everything about Sterk and the workshop being threatened with closure. This doesn't surprise Cordelia, as the workshop probably won't be missed in the event that it does get shut down. Rorona started working there in the first place because Astrid gave her parents medicine when they got sick in exchange for Rorona's assistance. From her tone of voice, Cordelia doesn't seem to like Astrid very much.
The two girls return to the workshop together. As Astrid picks on Cordelia for a bit, Rorona tells her about what happened on her trip to the castle. Astrid is awfully calm about everything, which makes Cordelia even more upset. She went through the trouble of making a new sign for the workshop in an attempt to draw customers to it. The sign has the name "Atelier Rorona" on it, even though it's "supposed" to be Astrid's workshop. Astrid informally announces that she's transferring ownership of the workshop to her pupil. The girls protest the decision, Cordelia being a bit more...blunt about it. Up until now, Astrid hadn't given Rorona any lessons in alchemy, so she decides to get her started on the right foot with a Beginning Alchemy book, which contains a few basic alchemy recipes - some Alchemy Coal, a bottle of Supplement, and a piece of Zettel.
Year 1, Month 1, Day 10
Rorona apparently got so caught up in learning about alchemy that she fell asleep on the floor. And on top of that, Astrid appears to have flown the coop again, leaving a letter behind that basically says "I believe in you...you can do it!" Astrid is actually standing outside the workshop, just barely out of Rorona's view, chuckling to herself over how easy it is to trick her only student.
Rorona decides it's time to get serious about running the shop, so she reads some more of her book, giving herself a crash course on alchemy. Synthesis involves her putting various ingredients into the cauldron and mixing them together. As long as she is able to find or buy the ingredients, she can make as many items as she needs. Synthesizing takes time and energy, and Rorona won't be able to make too many items if she's too exhausted (her chances of success decrease considerably if she tries to synthesize when her HP are at 0). She starts out by making a simple Supplement, which can be made from just about anything. Successful synthesis grants her a new item and alchemy experience points. As she gains more experience with alchemy, she will have better success making more complex recipes.
Of course, every good alchemist needs ingredients, but since there aren't very many in town, Rorona decides to leave town and try to find some. She's stopped by Cordelia, who tries to talk her out of going into the wild where monsters could possibly attack her. Rorona can hire up to two of her friends to join her ingredient-searching party. Going out of town costs money depending on who's in the party at the time, and this rate goes down as Rorona's friendship with that person increases. (Cordelia is the first and only one to offer her services so far, and she offers Rorona her services for free.)
Year 1, Month 1, Day 11
Rorona and Cordelia prepare to scope out the nearby forest. There are resource-gathering points all over the place, marked by stars on the trail. Her basket can hold up to 60 items at once, so if she wants to get better items, she'll have to discard a few of them to make room. Her first search yields a Candied Branch and a pair of Forest Cabbages. Their search is interrupted by a pair of curious Blue Punis, which they are able to defeat with little trouble. Rorona picks up a handful of Puni Balls from their corpses, which look almost like candy.
Year 1, Month 1, Day 12
With her search done, Rorona parts ways with Cordelia and returns to the workshop for the time being. She realizes that she has to work hard to bring the workshop's reputation up, so she visits Esty at the castle. Rorona inquires about jobs, but is unfamiliar with how they work since she never seems to get any. Esty's job is to record customer's requests and complaints, and pass them on to anyone willing to help out. As long as Rorona is able to fill the order, she will get a monetary reward and a minor reputation boost. If she cancels the job or doesn't complete it in time, then her reputation will take a hit.
With all the knowledge she needs to attempt to make a name for herself, Rorona begins her quest to save her job.