Episode 4: Until I Have the Right Hand – Chapter 17.1
Something was definitely wrong about his body.
“ I didn’t think much of it,” said Calian. “At first, I assumed that it was because I wasn’t active enough. Ever since I started feeling chest pain, I thought that it was my mana acting up. I was also worried that there might be something wrong with my heart.”
It seemed that he was wrong about all of them.
“I guess this is the antidote,” muttered Calian.
Alan nodded. “Yes. I made it in a rush, but I have already confirmed its effectiveness. You should be fully cured by the time that pouch is empty, Your Highness. Once you feel better, I will start looking at your magic.”
Calian’s gaze was glued onto the pouch. Alan stared at Calian for a few more seconds before calmly offering an explanation, as if he were talking about someone other than Calian—someone completely unrelated to him.
“It’s a deadly poison called ‘tacrimosa’. It is manufactured using a few poisonous plants and the blood and venom of a snake called crimosa. If a prince who was in perfect health were to die a sudden death, it would seem quite strange. It seems that the perpetrator wished for it to look as if you were slowly falling ill. However, most poison would be cured by the power of the blessing. The only choice they had was to regularly make you ingest small amounts of lethal poison.”
It was truly a cruel move.
Calian was only fourteen. His only fault was his resemblance to Freya.
Alan continued, “Thus, they needed something that is odourless, tasteless, unreactive to silver, symptomatically similar to illness, and able to be mass-produced. Tacrimosa is the only poison that is fitting of all of these conditions and your symptoms.”
Calian looked down once again without interjecting.
Alan had gathered his information by sitting in the Mages’ Union Headquarters all day yesterday and coercing the mages residing on Teinansha. Alan resumed his explanation:
“Without the blessing… one would start to cough as if their lungs were inflamed, vomit blood, and pass away within a week, even just by ingesting a very small amount. Your heart must have been overworking to regenerate the body from such lethal poison. That is why it seemed as if your healing abilities had disappeared, and also why your body started rejecting mana usage. It is only to be expected that your body would protest in pain when you try to use more power on top of all the work that’s already being done.”
As Calian tried to fasten the pouch, it slipped from his hands. A few tablets of antidotes fell onto his lap. Calian hurriedly picked them up and put them back into the pouch. His fingers trembled as they touched the tablets.
Fear didn’t make him tremble. Rage did.
Calian was definitely assassinated. His cause of death wasn’t poison. Considering that I wasn’t able to use mana from the beginning, it’s certainly not the case that I was poisoned due to my acting out of the ordinary. This, therefore, means that Calian was always meant to be poisoned—even in the past.
This realisation brought about another question, which came with uncontrollable rage.
“Why—” Calian clasped the pouch tightly and looked up at Alan.
Why did they have to choke the already dying child to death?
Alan’s shoulders flinched. He saw his student’s red eyes fill up with murderous intent, albeit for a split second. Although it disappeared without a trace, it wasn’t something that a young boy should be able to express.
“I’m truly sorry, teacher. I could never even have guessed.”
“…there is more to sharpness than just a dagger before thine eyes. Things that cannot be seen may sometimes bear a larger thorn,” replied Alan, attempting to shake off the chilling glisten that he saw in Calian’s eyes.
Calian took Alan’s words to heart. Swordmasters were unharmed by poison, and this fact led him to his inattention. Despite Bern’s copious experience on the battlefield where attempts of assassination of every way, shape, and form were very common, he had been caught off-guard.
I was too preoccupied over the fact that Calian was choked to death that I missed the possibility of poison.
Despite the obvious symptoms, he had not thought of poison. Calian, more than anyone else, must not have made this big mistake.
“Am I in a grave state?”
“As far as I was concerned, you seemed to be straddling the line between life and death.”
Calian chuckled. His tension eased a little as he asked, “If I were to concurrently take the poison and the antidote, would my symptoms get worse?”
Alan’s face crumpled. “I strongly vouch against that thought. Although the process would be delayed, you would be bound to meet your demise.”
“How much would it be delayed?”
“I cannot say for sure, considering that I am not a healer. Ten days, perhaps fifteen.”
Calian smiled in satisfaction. “That’s more than enough. I shall take them both.”
“Are you really telling me that you’d take the antidote with the goddamn poison?”
Is he trying to insult me or asking me out of pure curiosity?
“Yes. The symptoms being signs of poison are very different from simply being signs of an illness in that I must react carefully. I cannot just refuse to take it all of a sudden,” said Calian, gazing into Alan’s concerned eyes. “I believe that the poison was in the tea that I drink every morning. There’s nothing else that I consume regularly every day. However, I always drank it in the presence of everyone else. I wish not to doubt the maids, but I must not overlook anything.”
Maybe, just maybe… the Old Calian realised that he was slowly being poisoned. He might have refused to drink the poisoned tea.
If Silica had noticed that Calian realised that his tea was poisoned, it was certainly possible for her to have sent an assassin to an already dying child. Knowing Silica, she definitely would have.
If I immediately refuse to drink my tea, she would find another way. But since my situation now is different from the situation then… I can’t say for sure that they would try to kill me using the same method.
While Calian organised his thoughts, Alan began to speak once again. “Your Highness, you need not worry about not having enough evidence against the culprit. I have already secured evidence that Brissen Merchantry has been buying an unusual number of snakes—supposedly for their skin. Even as we speak, the Mages’ Union is thoroughly investigating this matter.”
“Thank you. We can leave that as our last resort. However, we will not be able to take down Silica with just that much evidence. We must find a different way.”