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  • Writer's pictureRina

Chapter 84

Tara makes a deal with the Second Prince.


This chapter is dedicated to the wonderful ck! Thank you for your ongoing support!


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Episode 84. About a Year (11)


"My position means I am often exposed to poison, so I have a strong resistance to it."


"So you have an antidote....?" I asked, my heart pounding with anticipation.


"No."


And, yet again, my hopes were dashed.


"But you can slow down the progression of the poison."


"So... Will you help me slow it down?"


‘Why would he do that for me?' I thought he would refuse, but I also didn't think he would leave one of his subordinates in danger. I swallowed hard. A lump had formed in my throat, half anticipation, half fear.


"I'll do it."


"Haah...." A sigh of profound relief escaped me.


"Just let me ask one thing in return."


Of course. There's no way he would simply do something like this for me.


My answer was small and mumbled.


"...Yes."


“If both Andrei and I entrusted you with a mission, but the next day Andrei and I were at odds with each other, who would you choose?”


"Ha… Do I, do I really need to answer that? Truthfully?"


"As I said, it's my responsibility to judge the truth of what you tell me."


How consistent of him...


"I..."


I squeezed my eyes shut and opened them again. I didn't have to tell him the truth here.


It would be far more convenient if I simply said the right words designed to please him so I could escape from this situation. However, he wasn't the kind of man who liked to be placated.


“I would choose whichever side is most advantageous to me.”


"....."


Silence descended on the parlour for a moment. All I could hear was the gradually accelerating sound of my breathing as it grew heavier and heavier. Again, an eerie, cold sweat trickled down my spine.


"Between the two of us. Who do you favour the most?"


"It depends."


"What about right now?"


"Andrei."


"...Interesting."


Really? Here I was on the verge of death, and he found that interesting...?


The ticking of the clock filled the silent room. Kyle sat across from me, examining me with such intensity that it felt like he could see right through me.


I could tell he was evaluating the answer I had just given him.


He called for Chris, who was waiting outside the parlour door.


"Where's the neutralizer plant?"*


‘A neutralizer plant? Ah... A neutralizer plant!’


I watched Kyle's face with interest, waiting to see what would happen next.


The knight, Chris, quickly wiped the surprise from his face, and replied with a respectful affirmative, as per his Master's standards.


"All of the luggage has likely already been transferred to the Integrated Security Unit, Your Highness."


"Bring it to me now."


"Yes, Your Highness!"


As soon as he received the command, Chris rushed out the door.


To constantly carry around such an expensive plant with him...He was an Imperial Prince after all....


Neutralizer plant was a herb that temporarily stopped the progression of poison completely. It was particularly effective against extreme poisons and was highly valued by rich noble families, who often faced the threat of poisoning. It was so difficult to cultivate that it could only be harvested by professional foresters and was extremely expensive.


It was an annual plant that grew only in the northern Tandra Mountains, also known as the roof of the Empire, and was characterized by its purple-tipped leaves.


But that wasn't all. It was also known as the invincibility herb. Eating just one root could more than double a warrior's Aurore, so much so that some were willing to climb the Tandra mountains in search of it.


Of course, it was incredibly difficult to find if you weren't an expert. It was practically the equivalent of thousand-year-old wild mountain ginseng.**


The moment Kyle said 'neutralizer herb', all of the details about it scrolled through my mind.


"Why would you give me such a precious thing?"


"Well, for some reason, I think I'll regret it if I let you die."


I felt sick when the Second Prince mentioned my death, as if his words were about to become reality. 


"I will not die if Andrei provides the antidote immediately," I replied rather pointedly.


“The longer you wait, the higher chance you will deal with chills for the rest of your life. It will eat away at your lifespan.”


"...."


I didn't know what to say, because he was right. The longer I waited to get the antidote, the deeper the poison would penetrate my body. Even if I took the correct antidote later, I would have to deal with long-term side-effects.


If I took a herbal medicine that completely halted the absorption of the poison now, it would significantly reduce the onset of those aftereffects.


***


Kyle stared at Tara's face, which was now completely ashen.


“It will take about 30 minutes for Chris to come back. In the meantime, tell me what happened.”


"....!"


"Honestly. Did you think there wouldn't be a price for my assistance?"


"Well... That's not it... I'm sick, and you probably don't need all the details right away.... I can provide a better report later... Besides... Today is Sunday, this is personal business I conducted in my own free time... I'm... not required... to report it."


‘I need to keep her awake.'


But there was no need to tell her that, it would only scare her. So, Kyle changed the subject.


***


"The neutralizer herb."


"Oh."


‘Give and take. I take back that thought from earlier about him having a good side.'


I considered what I should tell him, but soon realized it was useless.


The Second Prince had come here as soon as the war ended, without attending the victory ceremony.


Andrei's operatives were searching for members of the Scorpion organization in a wide variety of locations, while the Second Prince had honed on the exact sites where the ledgers were located, then swiftly planned and carried out his operations.


He was acting with more accurate information than the Black Society. So I might as well tell him everything.


When it came down to it, I only had one thing I needed to protect: the copy of the ledger which was currently wrapped up in my cloak.


***


"I told Sir Walter that I'd stumbled upon the missing man by accident, but that was a lie. I went in specifically to see if there were any Scorpion operatives...."


"And what did you find there?"


Although she must have been struggling, she calmly arranged the flowers in front of her as she explained what she had been through.


The Third Secretary had a gift for storytelling, and as Kyle listened, he felt as if he were there with her.


"...But when I opened it, I saw a dead body! And for a moment I thought I'd seen a ghost... Ha, ha. And so..."


"Are you too tired to continue?"


"No. I have to... do this. If that's what it takes to get the medicine."


After that, she continued her story. Her breathing grew more and more laboured, and her voice grew quieter and quieter. He could see cold sweat forming on her features, making her look progressively more sickly.


But there was a reason he kept talking to her. The poison would spread much faster through constant physical activity, however, the moment she lost consciousness, the poison could rapidly take over her body unopposed.


Keeping her mentally active like she was now would keep her in a state of suspense and slow down the effects of the poison.***


But she didn't need to know that.


At first, Kyle had decided to feign interest in her story, but before long, he found himself riveted by it. As always, Tara Elias managed to pique his interest every time they met.


"And that's how this happened."


When Tara was done, Kyle couldn't stop the corners of his mouth from turning up.


"... You choked him from behind and knocked him out?"


She shrugged nonchalantly.


"Yes. Ha... I learned from my knight, Bernard."


"You found the secret room, the missing person's body, and the ledger?"


"Yes."


"Well done. Did you take the ledger?"


She hesitated for a moment, then answered.


"... I took the copy of the ledger."


“What if I confiscate it under Imperial law?”


"You have the original, but if you still wish to seize it, hah... there's nothing I can do to stop you. But I can offer you a trade instead."


She didn't back down even when it came to this, Kyle internally applauded her for wanting to bargain.


“Offering to trade for the copy of the ledger? Do you think you have any useful cards, Third Secretary?”


“There will be no need for torture or persuasion from the military. I can give you a co-operative witness that will save you from wasting time.”


"....!"


He had only asked her that in the first place so she wouldn't lose consciousness.


He had predicted that the Black Society would launch a large-scale operation against Scorpion.


By the time she had entered the hall, he had also predicted that they would have dispatched operatives, and that Andrei Pitt had likely taken advantage of having her as his disciple. But that was the extent of his calculations.


The corners of his mouth turned up. This was far beyond his wildest expectations.


He had assessed her potential as being a 5 when he'd first met her, but now she was a solid 25. A 500% growth rate.


He estimated that only about 50 of his subordinates, including her, were capable of doing what she'd done.


"How?"


"... One's greatest fear is often the pain you know best. My witness is well acquainted with the punishments his organization carries out on a daily basis and always believed it would never happen to him. He is now faced with the prospect that it will. The agent I met in the secret room is a middle manager in Scorpion."


She resumed her story and told him about her encounter in the secret room.


***


The Secret Room, 1 hour ago.


Right after Bernard entered the warehouse, and Tara warned him of the danger, she spoke to the bound agent.


[W... What do you mean? I'm just a member, I'm just following orders from above. Even if I get caught by the military, it's not that bad. Just the crime of... of...]


[Involvement in Organized Crime.]


[That's right. I can only be charged with criminal involvement. Besides, I don't know anything and will probably be released soon anyway. What do you mean I'm going to die?]


[Because you'll be killed after you get released. And your organization will be the one who does it.]


[What do you mean... Why would my organization do that to me?]


[Think carefully. What would happen to your low-ranking members if they were arrested by the Military in connection with something this classified?]


The Scorpion agent's brow furrowed, and he seemed to consider Tara's words. Then his face turned pensive.


She didn't say it outright. In most cases, they would usually be killed in prison on the orders of the organization's higher-ups, or would be branded as traitors after they were released so they became a target for all the other members.


He must have come to a similar conclusion himself. 


He gulped. [How can you help me survive...?]


He seemed to realize now why Tara had brought it up.


[You really don't know anything? Come on. You're at least a mid-level member of the organization, since they put you in charge of this place. So you pose a huge threat now that you've been caught.]


[I won't betray them.]


[Well. No matter how much you keep your mouth shut to show your loyalty, they won't believe you. It's easier for the organization to get rid of you than to trust that you'll keep your word. Don't you agree?]


[...How?]


[If you want to live, tell the Military everything. But only after I give the signal.]


[What? Are you insane?]


[I'm only going to explain this once. Listen. The only way you can survive is by telling the Military everything you know. Don't miss a single detail, tell them all of it. They're not just doing this operation, they're investigating every Scorpion base in the realm. But the Empire operates under the rule of law. Without evidence and witnesses, they won't be able to convict or punish anyone.]


[You already have evidence...]


[One issue is that if your higher-ups claim they didn't know anything about it, the Military can't prove anything. They could claim it was just a bunch of mid-level operatives from the disputed territory that was responsible for this whole thing. The second issue is that they'll have lawyers fighting for them. But you can offer something different].


[....?]


____ 

Editor’s Note - 


* The word for the neutralizer herb in the novel is  란초 - Rancho. I spent some time trying to figure out if it had any other meanings but couldn't find anything . The closest related word is  난초 - Nancho, the Korean word for 'orchid'. I ended up opting for the manhwa translation of ‘neutralizer herb/plant’ because the word Rancho already exists in English and means something very different.


** Here Tara compares the neutralizer herb with 자연산 산삼 natural mountain ginseng. In traditional Korean medicine wild ginseng is often attributed very powerful healing properties. In martial arts novels wild ginseng or 'thousand-year' ginseng acts as a power boost that gives the people who consume it supernatural abilities and strength. 


*** The translation we came up with for these past couple of sentences is slightly different from the manhwa, but there are some conflicts in Kyle's logic here about how to help a poisoning victim. Keeping someone active is not the best move when someone is suffering from poison. The correct way to deal with poison or snake venom is to remove the victim from the source of the poisoning and once they are safe keep them as stationary as possible because physical activity will usually circulate poison faster through the bloodstream. The only reason it might make sense to keep someone conscious is if they need to be conscious to receive medical treatment, but this does not apply in modern medicine. I think Kyle’s logic might be forgivable here because Tara won’t be able to take the neutralizer plant if she’s unconscious. Since we don't live in Oceria it's generally advised that you call 911 and/or poison control rather than feeding anyone magical herbs. 


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1 Comment


ProMama
ProMama
Jun 06

The number of Rofan leads with built up immunity to poison is truly a winner to behold~

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