Subterfuge of Toxins and Remedies – Part 05

The cathedral, a colossal stone structure, housed living quarters for priests and deacons behind the chapel. The interior was adorned with lavish furnishings that matched its grandeur.

In particular, the chamber of the priest overseeing the capital’s churches reeked of opulence, from the rug made from a rare monster sprawled across the floor, to the table, office desk, and massive bookshelves crafted from single slabs of wood. Numerous magic lamps cast their light on the gold coins stacked on the table.

The priest occupying the chamber grinned broadly. “I can’t stop myself from smiling. His Holiness’ idea is nothing short of brilliant. We’ve managed to amass this much coin in just a matter of days.”

“You can thank the little brat Kujastria for that,” the portly man seated across from him, an archpriest sent from Bios as an envoy, replied unenthusiastically. “She wouldn’t accept His Holiness’ demands for cooperation immediately. It seems like a bunch of imbeciles took over the kingdom.”

“Could it be that news of the Quinbrand Empire has reached this land?”

“I highly doubt it. Aren’t the kingdom and the empire currently at war?”

“Yes, but I’ve heard that the Queen is adopting a diplomatic approach in dealing with the Empire.”

The archpriest grunted. “Is that why she’s delaying her response to His Holiness’s offer?!” He struck the table with his thick palm, causing the stack of gold coins to jingle.

Kujastria had not informed the archpriest about the envoy from the Quinbrand Empire. She was delaying her response to Bios while carefully considering the Empire’s proposal.

Startled by the furious archpriest, the priest quickly fetched a fine bottle of wine from the shelf and offered it. To him, the archpriest of Bios was a god-like existence.

The priest accompanying the archpriest, though not currently in the room, was commonly known as a central priest, whereas priests serving in other countries were referred to as regional priests. The distinction between them was clear, with central priests holding a significantly higher status within the church hierarchy. Archpriests, on the other hand, served exclusively in Bios, so they ranked even higher than them.

Offending the archpriest could abruptly terminate his future prospects. Conversely, gaining the archpriest’s favor could elevate him to even loftier positions. Thus, the priest exerted extra effort to curry the archpriest’s goodwill.

“Your judgment was truly exceptional,” he said. “The use of Accursed Toxin was ingenious. With an epidemic breaking out in the Queen’s domain and only the Church able to offer a solution, even she will be compelled to accept your proposal.”

Taking a sip of wine, the archpriest remarked, “Heh, indeed. I had expected this outcome the moment the brat did not give an immediate response.”

“My, my! You are truly remarkable. Have another drink.”

The archpriest had no knowledge of Quinbrand’s movements. His release of the poison was driven purely by spite for being unable to receive an immediate favorable response from Kujastria.

“It’s an astounding poison,” the archpriest said. “It appears like an illness, incurable by conventional medicine. All you have to do is toss it in a well, and it’s highly contagious. His Holiness’s ingenuity in concocting this poison is truly fearsome.”

“Indeed. Simply hearing about it conveys its remarkable nature. And since we have the cure, we can rest assured.”

“The Empire claims they have developed their own method of acquiring Blessings. Well, they will be doused with even more of this poison. No—let’s call it divine punishment.” Wearing a nasty grin, the archpriest picked up a gold coin. “Now, then. How will the wise Queen respond? We still have plenty of divine punishment in reserve.”

After scheming over drinks, they headed to a brothel, not noticing the figure lurking among the bookshelves.

The following day, the archpriest accepted a proposal from Queen Kujastria.

“The kingdom will offer its assistance to Bios. We will provide you with the specifics at a later date, but know that we are committed to making every effort. Now, before we proceed, an epidemic has broken out in the city, and we have heard that the Church has a cure for it. Would it be possible to provide us with as much of it as we need?”

“Very well.”

Overjoyed, the archpriest ordered the priests of the royal capital to exhaust their supply of the cure. To him, the cure held little value, as without them spreading the poison, the disease wouldn’t arise.

The archpriest chuckled, then burst into laughter. “This has gone exceedingly well, it’s almost terrifying! With this, I’ve taken the lead in the race for the next Pope!”

Not wishing to stay longer now that the deal was sealed, the archpriest departed the royal capital in a specially prepared carriage in high spirits.

The central priest accompanying him furrowed his brow. “Isn’t the Queen’s sudden change in attitude odd?”

His words were drowned out by the archpriest’s laughter.

Meanwhile, in the audience chamber…

“We proposed to hold the next meeting as soon as possible,” Kujastria said, “but they left without even exchanging any official documents. Bios must have a shortage of personnel.”

“They must have great confidence in their poison,” Duke Nightblaze replied. “I’m glad Silver Face was there. Who would’ve thought that the epidemic was caused by poison rather than a disease?”

Late last night, Silver Face, who hadn’t shown his face in a while, visited Kujastria. It happened just as Kujastria received the initial reports of the epidemic. The information Silver Face brought about Bios being behind it had been immensely helpful.

“If the Church hadn’t revealed the existence of the cure so soon, we might have been deceived as well. I have nothing but gratitude for him.”

“Still, are you certain about this? I’ve heard the selling price of the Church’s cure is 500,000 gilans. Buying all of their stock would cost a substantial sum. Not to mention, the cause of this epidemic is poison they’ve spread themselves.” Duke Nightblaze clenched his fists in anger.

“It’s perfectly fine. We can treat the money we pay to the Church in exchange for the cure the same as the war support funds for the Theocracy of Bios.”

“Hmm? Could you please elaborate?”

“First we determine how much we’ll send as support and then tell the priest at the cathedral that we’ll add it to the cost of the cure. He will consider transporting such a significant sum to Bios an accomplishment and will be more than delighted.”

“I see! We are basically telling them to wait because we’ll pay them all at once.”

Kujastria nodded. They had already concluded that the priest at the central cathedral was working for Bios.

“I did say we would support Bios with utmost effort, but I never mentioned when we would decide on the amount. We will buy ourselves at least one month, ideally, more than three months.”

“I see… You’ve thought this through.”

“Duke Nightblaze,” Kujastria said with a smile.

Duke Nightblaze promptly straightened himself. He saw dark flames burning in the depths of her eyes.

“It might not look it, but I am furious. I will not let them get away with harming the innocent citizens of the city.”

Duke Nightblaze let out a dry laugh, half-terrified, half hopeful of the future. Did they put an extraordinary girl on the throne? Cold sweat trickled down his back.

“The question now is: can Silver Face cure them?” Kujastria pressed her index finger on her chin.

“That sounds difficult. Not even the best Healers in the castle could neutralize the poison.”

After learning from Silver Face that it wasn’t a disease but poison, they sent Healers to the patients early in the morning for some tests. However, any attempt at neutralizing the poison didn’t work. Silver Face himself said that he would perform some tests himself, but neutralizing a poison that the Church—an organization that employed a multitude of Healers—was confidently spreading would not be easy.

“Even if healing through magic doesn’t work, we will manage,” the Duke said. “We’ve secured the cure, so the royal capital can rest easy.”


“Your Majesty? Is something the matter?”

“Ideally, I would like Silver Face to succeed in making a magic antidote. I want to keep the cure in reserve.”

“Keep it in reserve?”

Just then, a staff came in to announce the arrival of the Count from the Quinbrand Empire.

The Count entered the audience chamber, his haggard appearance a stark contrast to just a few days ago. Duke Nightblaze was rendered speechless, but Kujastria had anticipated this.

“Your Excellency, it appears you’ve made contact with the Empire.”

In this world, there existed various magical devices for long-distance communication. The Count, here as a diplomatic envoy, undoubtedly used one of these devices to reach out to the Empire.

“I have,” the man replied. “Something happened after I departed the Empire. There’s been a breakout of an epidemic called the Black Rot.”

The Empire had killed the archpriest sent by Bios. It wasn’t difficult to fathom that they might retaliate using the poison.

“Allow me to get straight to the point,” Kujastria said. “How dire is the Empire’s situation?”

The Count stared at Kujastria in surprise. His silence seemed like an attempt to discern Kujastria’s true intentions.

“From the information I received last night, the death toll has exceeded a thousand, and it’s still rising.”

That many? Kujastria swallowed the words.

Pure anguish filled the Count’s face as he added, “Even our beloved Emperor is exhibiting early symptoms of the disease.”

Kujastria now understood why he looked so worn.

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