~ Chapter 55: Nine months ago (Part 2) ~
“Then... How am I supposed to change things? How can I not make you lose standing with the outside and inside at the same time?” I asked a bit desperately.
“Relax, it's not something impossible, just rather improbable. At your current level of strength it's impossible, but if you were to become a Breakthrough-er, then it could change something.” he nodded.
“So there's a chance, right? Wait... Breakthrough-er? How is me getting stronger connected to all of this?” I asked confused.
“Humans are beings who put more value on one's ability to be cunning and aware of one's political surroundings. On the other hand, dragons value one's individual and group strength as well as their assertiveness in critical matters.” he replied.
“So, humans lie and cheat while dragons hit their chests with their fists and roar?” I asked raising an eyebrow.
My words caused Feryumstark to burst out in laughter.
“That's quite so, little human!” he said after he calmed down.
“Hm...” I leaned back and rubbed my chin.
“Hou? Is there something on your mind?” he asked squinting his eyes.
“You said I need to be assertive and strong, right?” I asked.
“Yes.” he nodded.
“Let's say I can do that. What I don't understand is how this is going to get me out of my current predicament.” I said knitting my brow and raising my shoulders.
“It's simple. You stage a display of strength through which you prove your assertiveness.” he smirked.
“Like a duel?” I asked raising an eyebrow.
“Like challenging me directly to battle.” he smirked.
“Impossible! I'll die!” I immediately complained.
“Come now! If you have fought against Brekkar or Kataryna, then surely you can put up a fight against me! Your Luck should definitely guarantee your survival!” he pushed.
“Not in one piece!” I retorted.
The gaze in the King's eyes suddenly changed to a serious one and then moved towards the door. He opened it just enough for his servant to pass the tray holding two warm cups of tea and some small snacks. Without saying a word, he took it and then closed the door.
“The tea is here.” he told me.
“Ah... OK.” I nodded.
Feryumstark placed the tray on the table next to the wall and then brought me the cup of tea.
“Thank you!” I nodded and accepted it politely.
“You're welcome. But I have to say, not many get the chance of being served tea by royalty.” he said as he sat on his chair.
“Well, I did tell you, didn't I? I don't come from a country that holds royalty in such a high regard.” I smirked.
“However, it's not like you don't know manners in regard to being around one either. Seryanna must have taught you some.” he pointed out and then took a sip from his cup.
“Yes, she did, but if I were to act while keeping mind of those, how would you be able to judge my true character and more so have an easy discussion with me? I'm well aware that your words can be the same as orders for me, but maintaining a stiff conversation wouldn't have been very productive for either of us. Plus, it's annoying.” I shrugged and then I took a sip of tea.
It was delicious, but unfortunately, I wasn't that much of a tea drinker. I had no idea how to properly appreciate it. For me, it was just warm, calming, and delicious.
“This is my wife's favorite. Rossenrhode mixed with Blueberries and just a pinch of Mint.” he showed me a gentle smile while looking down at his cup.
I gazed over at the sleeping Queen and asked him “I've been meaning to ask, but aren't we going to wake her up with our conversation?”
“Impossible.” he shook his head. “She can barely stay awake more than a few minutes each day. When she wakes up, I'm usually here, ready to give her the medicine prescribed by the healers. It's the cup over there, on the nightstand.” he pointed at a tea cup similar to ours, but with a black liquid inside.
“May I look at it?” I asked.
“Just don't spill it or breath in it.” he said and calmly took a sip of his tea.
I nodded and then approached the tea.
“Activate...” I muttered as I thought about using [Identificus Processus Juridicus].
Back then, the process of activating a skill was still a bit of mystery to me. There were times when I used them without saying a word, while other times when instead of saying 'Activate', I shouted the skill's name. All of these options came naturally to me, and I never noticed the difference. It was only AFTER I spent a few months in the Seculiar Forest to train that I come to understand the trick behind it.
The system of activating the skills took into account the fact that we, the human heroes, never used Magic Energy back on Earth. It was a new, mysterious sensation to all of us, that was why our brains simply weren't wired appropriately for it and had to learn it step by step. There was also a psychological factor involved. If we believed we could activate it without saying a word, we would, if we didn't, we had to try and bypass whatever fear or worry made us unable to.
The [Identificus Processus Juridicus] was successfully activated and returned the following information to me:
(Poisoned Black Sunder Rossenrhode Tea): Revitalizing Tea flavored with the Rossenrhode plant for a more pleasant taste. It has the properties of calming the nerves and inducing a relaxing sensation to the body. The concoction had been poisoned with Ryumarry roots, an odorless and tasteless substance that weakens the immune system, causes dizziness, heavy sleepiness, and an overall sensation of fatigue. [Bartender]: Ingredients: Rossenrhode leafs. Rossenrhode root. Ryumarry root. Playas leafs. Citrus peel. Adeline root. Water. Sugar. Requires a Trusted Journeyman Alchemist to make.
I gulped after I read this.
“For how long did you say she has been taking this stuff?” I asked him.
“A year after she was poisoned, why?” he replied and squinted his eyes at me.
Seeing the change in my expression, he placed the tea down and walked up to me.
“Did you find anything suspicious?” he asked me.
“I just need to confirm something. Do you know the ingredients of this... stuff?” I asked him pointing at the tea.
“Yes.” he nodded “Playas leafs, Rossenrhode leafs, Rossenrhode root, Citrus peel, Adeline root, water, and sugar depending on the taste of the drinker.” he said.
“Are you sure?” I asked him.
“Yes. Definitely! I drank it myself when they started giving it to my wife. It's meant to help her recover and keep her alive in the hope of finding an antidote for the poison. Unfortunately, in the past eight years or so, I noticed a decline in her state of health... Lately she can barely keep her eyes open long enough for me to help her drink the tea.” he looked down with a sad gaze in his eyes.
“I'm not surprised.” I shrugged.
“What do you mean?” he squinted his eyes at me.
“Well, my skill [Bartender], the one I told you about, allows me to see the ingredients of potions or in what potions I can use the said ingredients. It also tells me what type of Alchemist I need to be in order to be able to brew it.” I explained.
“What did you find?” he asked in a serious tone of voice.
“[Identificus Processus Juridicus] told me this is Poisoned Black Sunder Rossenrhode tea. [Bartender] confirmed the poison used. Now I'm going to read you exactly what it says here: Ryumarry roots, an odorless and tasteless substance that weakens the immune system, causes dizziness, heavy sleepiness, and an overall sensation of fatigue.” I replied and looked back at him.
The killing intent of the King was back, but this time it didn't feel aimed at me. Nonetheless, I could feel the pressure of pure power emanating from his body. He wasn't happy at all with what he heard.
“You are telling me someone has been poisoning my wife? AGAIN?!” he growled.
“Yes.” I nodded. “And if you think about it, the effects of the poison, although not lethal, they do coincide with what you have witnessed: the heavy sleepiness and weakness of her body.” I told him.
He remained quiet, just kept glaring at the cup of tea he had personally made his wife drink. It was impossible for me to understand the hurricane of emotions raging inside his heart at the moment, so I continued to speak.
“The most troubling one is the weakening of the immune system. This one basically guarantees that the previous potion can act faster and better than before. The fact that it took you so long to find out was also because you most likely were led to believe that this was part of the natural process of the other poison. If fed in small quantities, this Ryumarry root will only act as sleeping medicine, but since the Queen kept drinking it for over eight years, it slowly built up in her system. Her body being unable to process and expel it completely led to the current situation where she can barely keep her eyes open for a few minutes a day. Maybe if not for her being a dragoness, she might have died a long time ago.” I nodded.
“What makes you think it was for eight years and not more?” he questioned.
“From what I heard, her health started to decline around eight years ago. Until then, the culprit probably didn't mix in the poison. They let you believe that she was taking something good, tested, clean, until they were certain it became a habit, just the usual medicine. Proof of this was the fact that you didn't even suspect this tea to be poisoned with something else, especially not something as simple as Ryumarry, which on its own doesn't have the power to kill a dragon. All this time, you and everyone else believed it was actually the first poison showing its effects.” I explained.
“Is there anything we can do about it right now?” he asked as his anger slowly started to subside.
Maybe he came to the conclusion that raging in here would have been bad for all of us. Then again, he would end up making the poisoner wary of him and flee before he got the chance to catch him.
“Right now if I ask to see her status, I will only see her name and power level. If you can wake her up and get her to accept to be my friend, I can then see both the poison in question, her current ailments and even how to cure them, if I am skilled enough.” I told him.
“This shouldn't be a problem... She'll wake up soon, that's why I had the tea prepared beforehand.” he told me and then walked up to the cup and poured it in the waste bucket, which thankfully was empty.
“I had the feeling that instead of the bucket you were going to pour it in the pot of one of those plants here.” I said.
“And kill an innocent plant? My wife would kill me if she found out.” he smirked.
“I see... Well, I guess we'll wait until she wakes up, then?” I asked him.
“Indeed, we will... And thank you.” he bowed his head in front of me.
“Huh? What for?” I asked surprised, taken aback by this gesture.
“For finding out about the poison in the tea.” he told me.
“Don't worry about it. Now, let's talk a bit more about the assertiveness and imposing my strength stuff you mentioned earlier.” I showed him a smile.
“Indeed, let us elaborate more on it. Hm, you could start by telling me your list of combat skills or anything that could be used for intimidation. This [Bartender] of yours should be kept a secret, for now.” he said and nodded.
We returned to our seats, and just for safe measure, I analyzed the tea we were drinking as well, but this one had not been poisoned.
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