Episode 4: Until I Have the Right Hand – Chapter 17.2
Not only had Alan discovered quite a lot in just a day, but he had even collected evidence. Calian smiled, not knowing just how many mages had to be rallied in order to gather this much information.
“Until then, we must not let Silica know that I have noticed that my tea is poisoned. That being said, I have been drinking that tea in front of all the maids. Since I have no way of throwing it out without drinking it, I shall continue to drink the tea even while I take the antidote.” Calian continued, “On top of that, Yan and the other maids will be in deep trouble if word goes out that my morning tea was tampered with. Since they have been giving me poison for quite a while, in no way will they be able to continue working without any punishment.”
“Though the baby elephant would be just fine,” muttered Alan to himself.
“Nothing, Your Highness. In any case, why do you trust that attendant so deeply?”
“He can’t lie. His face tells me everything.” Calian lifted his arm and pointed at his own face. Then, he stared down at his right palm. A small, but clear scar ran across it. It was from back when Franz hurt his hand. He remembered Yan’s face as Yan held his hand and cried like a small child. “More importantly, I just… trust him. That’s all.”
Alan nodded without adding anything else. Calian continued.
“This poison had to be given to me over a long period of time. Silica must also have kept in mind that there was a possibility that I would notice. The fact that she went along with it despite knowing this must mean that she has a surefire plan to escape any accusations made against her. She had even talked about killing me while I was standing right before her.”
Calian recalled Silica’s attitude during their dinner with Viscount Lennon Brissen. She had acted as if she would never take the consequences of her actions. “If we make one wrong move, I would only end up losing my people without being able to take down Silica. She most likely would accuse me of false charge. Once that happens, it would be difficult for me to protect myself when attacked by an assassin or poisoned once again.
“So until I have the right hand—at least until I find a way to make her completely give up on trying to poison me—I will ingest them concurrently. One way or another, I will fend off the visible daggers that fly towards me.”
Alan sighed deeply as he stared at Calian, thoughts running across his face like tangled yarn.
Calian smiled and picked up a tablet with his fingers. “Thanks for the antidote.”
Without hesitation, he plopped the tablet into his mouth and swallowed it.
Alan knit his brows. “Didn’t I tell you to be suspicious of everything you eat? What if I had given you actual poison?”
“I couldn’t help it, then. That would only mean that you couldn’t trust me as much as I trusted you, teacher. I would be at fault for not being able to convince you to trust me.”
Alan chuckled. “Shrewd words you use, Your Highness.”
“This is the tongue that managed to win over the famous Alan Manassil, after all.” Calian replied proudly, as if he had just been complimented.
Alan remained silent for a moment before asking, “As you wish. What else would you like me to do for you, Your Highness?”
Although Alan had already done enough to save his life, Calian still needed Alan’s help. Calian answered quietly.
“Please take me out of the palace tomorrow evening.”
It was more than doable. Alan nodded.
“As many times as you wish, Your Highness.”
* * *
As Calian lightly juggled the pouch of antidotes, the tablets inside rolled around and into each other. Since Alan left, Calian was breaking his promise to Yan for the very first time. He was lost in thought as he fidgeted with the pouch without even touching his lunch.
Knowing that Calian had been discussing his health with Alan, Yan glanced at his master nervously. However, he stood beside Calian without a word.
The pouch sounded once again.
“Yan,” began Calian.
“Yes, Your Highness.”
“Do I have anything to attend within ten days where nobles would be present?”
“Since there weren’t any during the month before the celebration, there will be quite a few over the next few weeks.”
That’s a relief. Calian nodded. “What are they specifically?”
Yan lowered his gaze and organised his thoughts, retracing Calian’s schedule in his head. He began to list the events in chronological order. Occasions both internal and external to the palace flooded out of his mouth. Calian could feel his face droop in exhaustion. That’s kind of… a ridiculous amount.
Calian raised his hand to pause the list. “Alright, that’s great. Thanks.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
Calian was currently trying to come up with a plan to make Silica give up on poisoning him. There was one idea that hit him while he was talking to Alan, and it was the only plan that he could carry out within ten days. This was the reason for his asking Alan to take him out of the palace. Thankfully, there was one outing with the nobles that was just right for his plan.
However, he knew that it would be quite risky. He had to ponder on it for a while. Suddenly, he was reminded of what Bern’s father—Devlan, the current King of Secretia—had said in Bern’s past life.
—If you wish to take your opponent’s card, you must gamble with your own first.
I guess I am reminded of you during times like this, Father.
Calian finally decided that he would accept the risk.
As he was about to stand up, his eyes met Yan’s. It was as if Yan’s expression was speaking to him: aren’t you going to eat? Calian chuckled and sat back down, placing the pouch on the table. The swishing noise echoed through the room once again.
Naturally, Yan’s eyes traced the pouch. There was no doubt that Yan was very concerned about him. Calian decided to provide an explanation, although while omitting a few facts.
“It’s medicine. By the time I finish taking them, I’ll be all better. But you have to promise…” Calian paused.
“I will not speak of it to anyone else. Please do not worry,” assured Yan, reading Calian’s intention.
I don’t know if I should call him keen or dense. Calian smiled and began his belated meal.