“Father, is there anything else that you need?”
“I’m alright for this here now. But the next batch will be a bit tricky, so I’ve got to get started on it soon.”
The trembling apothecary replies with a cough interspersed.
That’s a little worrying.
“I’ll help out too.”
I begin tidying the messed-up room.
Arleaf watches her dad so that she can make his work easier, even if only a bit.
A coughing fit interrupts his work, but he soldiers on.
He blends herbs both poisonous and not, along with some dried monster organs all together with his mortar and pestle.
He then distills and boils the mixture, but the lengthy and complicated process still isn’t finished.
During a break in their work, I meet Arleaf’s mother for the first time. She walked out to the shop from her bedroom.
“Mother. Hold on, okay?”
Arleaf wipes the cold sweat off her mom’s face, wrings out the towel, and places it on her forehead to cool her down.
I take a peek at Arleaf’s mom.
I can see where Arleaf gets her good looks from. 𝚒𝒏𝓃𝓻e𝑎𝙙. 𝙘ｏ𝑚
There’s a red spot around her collarbone... I see a petal.
A single petal... and according to Veno, she dies if the petal disappears.
It’s no laughing matter anymore.
There’s no way they didn’t notice her condition until now.
While we wait for the medicine to be finished, I can only hope both Arleaf’s parents get better after taking it.
I’m not here to watch them work; I help out with the compounding.
Seems like they’ve gotta turn a bunch of different ingredients into medicine.
And after helping out at Arleaf’s home for a few hours...
Arleaf’s dad mutters out while holding back his coughs.
‘How baffling... that would only halt its progression but not completely cure the person of the disease. Does he want to test the vitality of the patients?’
Why would they make something like that?
Didn’t you say that they can easily recover if they take their meds?
‘Judging by that man’s work, it looks as though he knows not how to make medicine to treat Bloodflower... aye, it seems not all humans have found a cure.’
Hold on, Veno.
You’re saying the cure isn’t common knowledge?
‘If that is the finished product, then indeed, I think he knows not.’
... that reminds me, Veno even knows how to make stamina recovery potions.
‘Perhaps, that is how the apothecary makes his money. By selling his symptomatic treatment and not curing the cause, he will have an unending source of income.’
No way he’d do that.
Never mind himself, that’s his wife who’s been infected.
That kind of profiteering just doesn’t make sense.
‘I wonder. Humans are greedy animals. There are humans that can simply abandon the sick, even if they are blood-related. For example, if a man wants another woman, his first wife becomes a nuisance.’
You’re cold. Why are humans such despicable creatures to you, Veno?
You’re normally brimming with curiosity, and so I even go out of my way to tell you about things...
He stays silent after hearing me out.
However it may be, Veno, do you know how to make a proper cure?
If you do, tell me and I’ll advise them.
‘By doing so, thou art beckoning misfortune upon thyself. Even I would avoid doing so. Dost thou recognize the risk of this action?’
... what do you mean by that?
‘Thou wilt not be recognized for thine efforts if thou should fail. We shall be driven out of this village.’
How awful for you to speak like that.
I’m trying to do what I can to save these people. How can I do nothing and watch them suffer?
‘That medicine depends on the fortitude of the patient. There is a chance of survival; there is no need to be pessimistic.’
I can’t stand such a cold-hearted idea of prioritizing my own survival.
‘Thou... I do not disagree with thine feelings. In fact, I find it very noble. However... I have experienced how foolish humans can be, thus the reason for my advice.’
But I haven’t heard a single damn reason from you! How the hell am I supposed to understand anything?
‘Hah... listen then. Hear my advice then extend thine hand. I fear the burden of the repercussions will be too heavy for thee. I ask thee to refrain from making a hasty decision.’
A hasty decision?
‘Aye. Saving others will incur an appropriate liability. Should thou fail, they will hesitate not to turn upon thee. It matters not whether our intentions are good or not, they will come for thine head.’
Veno begins to explain.
Once, there was a person trying to find a cure to the epidemic. By chance, he concocted a potion that was effective and shared it with the people closest to him.
The ones who received help were thankful to him. Unfortunately, the cure he created was by accident.
He was not able to eradicate the disease.
Once the story of how he found a cure spread out, others surrounded him desperately demanded him to recreate the cure.
Of course, he had no more cure to offer. He tried reasoning that he had only unexpectedly stumbled upon a working formula.
Those who clung to that small glimmer of hope found nothing in return. Anything else they did was rash and thoughtless, Veno lamented.
This is the guy that spread the disease around, isn’t he?
I bet that bunch bought their cure for an unimaginable amount of money!
That’s right, they’re his accomplices. That makes them no better than him.
They’re witches—no, demons!
Let’s get them! We’ll hunt them witches!
Try them all!
The family of the dead arm themselves and lynch the ones who were saved.
The ones who were saved were branded as witches...
‘... a long time ago, I was given a record of pharmaceutical insight. I spoke with this person and learned that he was repenting for living. Repenting, as the others who were not so lucky had shifted their blame on him, making him a scapegoat.’
... Veno must have a point in telling me all this.
Man is bound to commit acts of foolishness.
I can deduce that he’s trying to tell me that I could possibly hurt the innocent.
‘Thus, if I teach thee how to create a cure, thou ought to take responsibility. Ascertain whether thou can and should.’
... I can’t half-ass this.
I really have to do this well and follow through with it.
‘I have come to be fond of thee. Hence I wish not to see thee needlessly hurt.’
I believe him.
Really, that kind of thing isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
What if I give people a hope but can’t follow through with it? That’s scary to think of.
Not to mention, I’m a nobody.
They’re just some village people from a strange and unknown parallel world.
Suddenly, I had a flashback of everything that had happened since I came here.
Arleaf saved me, helped me complete quests, and got me a good rate at the inn.
And though this village may be rather quiet, people took me in.
Everyone’s been warm and cordial to me.
To think that I could emotionally wall them off and think about my survival first...
I was only staying here to train and develop myself before the pursuers get to me.
The swamp was simply convenient for me. I can make all these excuses, but I can’t excuse the fact that everyone treated me well.
I chuckle a little at Veno.
‘What is it? Is something funny?’
I’m a wanted criminal because of you.
If I do good, then they’ll have less of a reason to pursue us.
That means I should help them out to fulfill my childish sense of justice.
Even if Veno’s medicine doesn’t work, it doesn’t change a thing.
I’d rather regret doing something than regret not doing anything at all.
‘Good grief... well, we have become stronger. Thou need only to do thine best. However, if others seem to do anything foolish, thou must follow my orders. Thou must protect thyself against any possible dangers.’
Suppose the villagers do anything foolish like Veno said, I have to listen to what Veno tells me to do to survive.
I pray for that day never to come.
‘Then, I shall teach thee how to create a remedy for Bloodflower. Listen closely.’
As Arleaf’s father completes the finishing touches on his medicine, I grab the bowl he was planning to use.
“That won’t heal this disease.”
“Hah? What are you sayin’, Cohgray?”
Arleaf’s father glares at me with doubtful eyes while Arleaf worriedly watches us.
“You know that too, don’t you? This will only alleviate the symptoms of Bloodflower and nothing more. It depends on the patient’s system to fight the disease.”
“... ah. But as everyone knows, this is the only thing that works against Bloodflower.”
“I know of a cure for Bloodflower. I didn’t think it had spread this far, so I was a bit shocked is all.”
“The hell you sayin’? If you’re going to screw around, then get the hell out of—cough cough cough.”
The instant the man looked at me when I interrupted him, his face flushed red with anger, only to be cut off by his violent coughing.
I took the opportunity to bare his chest.
Only one petal of blood remains.
His condition is as bad as his wife’s, who has been confined to her bed for a while.
Impressive. Normally at this stage, people can’t get up.
That’s what Veno’s said in his analysis of the disease.
Arleaf calls out while rubbing her father’s back, trying to soothe his cough.
“Cough cough. Ar-Arlea—cough.”
Arleaf’s father points at me, trying to get me out of his way.
“Father, I didn’t know your condition worsened this much...”
Flustered at the state her dad is in, Arleaf avoids looking him in the eyes.
It doesn’t seem like Arleaf’s dad has the strength to force me out of his way either.
“Are you saying—there’s such a mi-miraculous drug...?”
“Watch me. All I need to do is add a little more to what you’ve just made.”
I repeated what Veno had just said to me and continue Arleaf’s dad’s work.
The poisonous herb pogneuk magically appears in front of my eyes.
Consumption of it causes shortness of breath.
‘Mash the pogneuk with the mortar and pestle then add the neutralizer, making a potion. Add in a pinch of dietetrodake spores.’
I add the ingredients exactly as Veno instructs me to.
‘Then, take five milliliters of water squeezed out of marphina and mix that in. We do not have enough from the previous time we made it.’
I just wanted to double-check whether I’m making this right.
Most of what I added in is toxic.
This only looks real deadly to me. You sure this is okay?
‘Worry not and just do as I say. Up comes the hardest part. So that it accounts for five percent of the potion the apothecary has made, add in our concoction. Any less and it shall not be effective. Any more and it shall spell death.’
Gah... you couldn’t have made this any harder, could you?
I can probably use Detect Poison on the final product, but I can’t stand to see myself fail now.
I try to stop my hand from shaking so much and hope that this is five percent.
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