Episode 76 – An Unfair Trade
Dusk Rose’s eyes glittered with glee. “Too bad. Even if you take him to the infirmary, they will think it’s just a cold. One-touch…I mean Fever Touch is almost undiscoverable. And even if they believed you when you tell them he was poisoned, they wouldn’t know how to make the antidote.”
She was doomed to fail! Kiel Rroda would most definitely miss his exams!
Elaru had to admit that Dusk Rose was right. Fever Touch was a secret poison of the Etezza family that didn’t stay in the blood system for long. Other than the Etezza family, no one else knew how to make the antidote.
Even if she brought Kiel to the infirmary, they wouldn’t be able to help him. She couldn’t tell them how to make the antidote because she didn’t know how to make it in the first place. She didn’t even know the composition of Fever Touch, let alone the antidote.
She could give healers the sample of the poison, however, finding the antidote would take days. By the time they found it, Kiel would have recovered on his own anyway.
Elaru’s eyebrows furrowed then relaxed, furrowed then relaxed. She seemed to be thinking about something, her eyes staring through things.
Dusk Rose noticed her sudden loss of focus and an idea of rebelling sprung up in his mind. However, before he could consider the thought further, he felt a cold edge pressing down on his throat.
“Don’t even think about it.” It only took a blink of an eye for Elaru to unsheathe her dagger and press it against Dusk’s neck.
“I am not thinking. I swear! Not thinking at all.” Dusk Rose smiled wryly and immediately discarded the idea of rebelling. It wasn’t a life and death conflict. The woman won’t be too heavy handed with him anyway. She’ll probably let him go. Unless he insisted on provoking her. And he wasn’t stupid enough to invite a calamity that could be avoided.
Elaru Wayvin continued to ponder her options for a while longer. The worry etched on her face made Dusk’s lips twitch into an involuntary coy smirk.
After snapping out of her thoughts and noticing the self-satisfied grin etched on Dusk’s face, a mischievous gleam flashed in the depths of Elaru’s eyes.
She pushed Dusk’s body into a sitting position under the tree and then started rummaging through his belongings again.
Dusk’s grin widened. “You’re wasting your time. No matter how you search, you won’t find that which is nonexistent.”
“Oh, don’t you worry about that.” Elaru winked. “What I am searching for is quite corporeal.”
She pulled out a small round container filled with hand cream from Dusk’s pocket.
Seeing his precious Fever Touch in the hands of the enemy, Dusk Rose turned livid. That was his custom mix! His lifeblood!
“How dare you perform robbery in broad daylight?! Even stealing a poison master’s custom mix! Have you no shame?! No sense of honor?!”
Even assassins, spies, and Shadows had their codex of honor, taboos that shouldn’t be touched!
“Robbery? What are you talking about?” Elaru grinned so wide all her pearly white teeth were on display. “I am not robbing you. I am just performing a trade. Your hand cream for my acupuncture needles.”
“Shameless witch!! Do you know how long it took me to refine that box of poison!? That’s my sweat and tears you are holding! My personal mix! Give it back! How can you even compare the value of my mix with your single acupuncture needle?!”
There weren’t many things that could seriously provoke Dusk Rose, but taking away his sweat and blood was definitely among them.
Before Dusk could protest more, Elaru flicked her wrist and another acupuncture needle embedded itself inside Dusk’s neck. Suddenly, Dusk Rose became unable to utter a single sound.
“There. Now you’ve got two needles.” Elaru’s grin never wavered.
As if that makes a difference!!
Yet although he wanted to scream his lungs out, all Dusk Rose could do was glare at her venomously with bloodshot eyes. He was glaring at her so hard that the veins in his eyes were almost bursting.
Elaru completely ignored the glower and positioned Dusk’s limbs as if he was a manikin, making him look as if he was relaxing beneath the tree. If anyone passed by, they would surely think Dusk Rose was just enjoying the greenery in the courtyard.
She even went as far as to take out a booklet from Dusk’s bag and make it look like Dusk was reading it. She then admired her handiwork and chuckled. “It’s gonna rain soon. I hope you don’t get soaked and end up catching a cold.”
She then winked at him and walked away, leading Kiel by the arm. To Dusk Rose, it looked as if she was swaggering away without a care in the world. As if she was rubbing it in, taunting him for being bested by her.
Wait! You can’t possibly leave me here like this?
I can’t even scream for help!!
Dusk Rose’s heart dropped to the pit of his stomach as he watched her leave his line of sight.
If any of his brothers and cousins found out that he got one-upped by a girl of the same age and robbed in broad daylight, they would never let him live down the shame!
Dusk proceeded to curse Elaru Wayvin to death inside his head. Then he proceeded to curse the 10 generations of her ancestors.
But then he realized that he probably shared the majority of those ancestors with her. Therefore, he was cursing his own ancestors too.
Hence, he switched to imagining all the different ways he could kill her after he got out of this predicament. He conveniently ignored the fact that he was a professional hit man and not a murderer – he killed as a part of his job, never for personal reasons. Therefore, no matter how furious he was currently, after he calmed down, he wouldn’t go as far as to attempt murder of the redhead. Payback, yes, murder, no.
When he ran out of ideas how to slaughter her, he proceeded to comfort himself. There is no way she will cure Kiel Rroda in time. He’ll end up missing his exams anyway. And then I can kidnap him later and still manage to finish this mission.
There will certainly be a round two! Just you wait! Blasted woman!
When Dusk Rose’s initial agitation dissipated, he realized that Elaru Wayvin was no longer next to him, and thus, he was no longer under her Mage Armor. He could once again use magic to his heart’s content.
Dusk Rose almost cried from joy. Being able to use magic never felt more wonderful.
He had always taken magic for granted.
People just couldn’t really appreciate things until they lose them.
Is this how convicts feel after being released from Asinraz?
Dusk Rose let out a breath of relief and pondered how to resolve his current predicament.
Perhaps he should target the needles inside his neck with a spell? Although he couldn’t use Accelerate to make the needles fly out of his neck, he could use Morph to change the shape of the needle.
And what was “changing shape”? It was simply repositioning the particles that the object was made out of. It was like molding clay. He could nudge the particles making the tip of the needle to increase the thickness of the parts of the needle that were outside of his neck.
He didn’t need to Morph the entire needle outside his neck, he just needed to move the particles making the tip enough to unblock his nerves. Then when he regained the ability to move his limbs, he could just use his hands to pull it out the remainder of the way.
I can’t believe she just left me like this! Mean woman! We are both colleague Shadows, right? We are working for the same family, right? Is there really need to be so vindictive?! It’s all just business! Why take it so personally?!
Dusk Rose let out several deep breaths to calm down and reach the state of complete focus. He needed to be extra careful and precise, because if he messed up, he could become permanently paralyzed.
He proceeded to cast the Morph spell near the needle. Before the spell was fully formed, he started pushing mana inside the needle. He needed to create spell roots inside the needle to define it as the target of the Morph spell.
Several seconds of concentration and silence had passed before Dusk Rose realized that something wasn’t quite right.
Wait… why can’t I push my mana into the needles?
&$%€!!!! Platinum! They are made out of bloody platinum!!!
Who the frakk makes their weapons out of platinum?!? If you make them out of platinum, then even you can’t use magic on your own weapons!
No way! Did you make them out of platinum on purpose to prevent your victims from using magic to remove the needles?!? Demon! Witch! Zissk!
Poor Dusk Rose couldn’t even scream out his frustrations out loud. Yet that didn’t stop him from cursing and shouting inside his head.
I better not miss my own exams because of you!!! Or else I’ll grind your body into ten thousand pieces, mission or no mission!!
Meanwhile, Elaru Wayvin was racing through the air when she suddenly sneezed. Don’t tell me I caught a cold for real?
She didn’t ponder it for long before returning her focus to the task at hand. She was flying above Ashar at the fastest speed Kiel’s body could handle.
The poison inside Kiel’s body would disappear by itself in 5 to 6 hours, however, by that time it would be too late. He would miss his exams.
She didn’t have the antidote nor did she know the contents of the antidote. If she wanted to get her hands on it, she would need to ask an Etezza for help. However, Fever Touch antidote wasn’t something Etezzas usually carried with them, since most of them were trained until they developed immunity to it.
Therefore, she couldn’t just grab a random Etezza and ask for the antidote. Even if she managed to negotiate and obtain their help, they would need some time to return to the mainhouse and pick up the antidote.
That time would add up and cause Kiel to miss his exams.
She could go directly to the Etezza mainhouse, but what good would that do? She couldn’t just barge into the Etezza family manor and demand an antidote. One couldn’t just meet a high ranking noble just because one wanted to. She needed to have contacts with someone from the main branch of the family to be let in.
She was familiar with only two Etezzas from the main branch, neither of which was currently inside the mainhouse.
Earlier, while she was still with Dusk Rose, she didn’t get lost in thought as Dusk thought. Instead, she had concentrated on increasing the range of her Aethernea of Sight to check if they were home.
Since they weren’t there, her only option would be to break into the Etezza family manor by force to either find someone who she could negotiate with or downright steal the antidote.
For Elaru, self-proclaimed as the greatest breaker in the entire land of Halnea, breaking into the Etezza manor wouldn’t be impossible. Unfortunately, since she had no need to break into their manor in the past, she wasn’t familiar with their enchantments, so breaking in would take some time.
A time that she currently didn’t have.
Back then, while she was still restraining Dusk, Elaru had gone through all of her options and decided on the one that had the highest probability of success.
She would put her hopes in Ixos Eryey, the unparalleled genius in the arts of healing and alchemy, proclaimed as the greatest alchemist in the entire land of Halnea.
If she showed Fever Touch she stole from Dusk Rose to uncle Ixos, he would be able to determine the composition of the poison and reverse-engineer the antidote.
While such a process might take days or even weeks for anyone else, Elaru had faith that to Ixos, such a thing couldn’t even be considered challenging.
And thus Elaru brought Kiel to the Eryey mainhouse, this time, not carrying him over her shoulder, but pulling him next to her, side by side.