“Iris… she was a good girl…” Adir tells, “she was usually very forthcoming, but she could be quite stubborn at times. Oh, she couldn’t cook even if her life depended on it.”
That sounds quite familiar…
“When she got pregnant, she didn’t tell anyone who the father was. She even refused to marry me to let me take care of her. At that time, I thought she didn’t want to be a bother. You see, I already planned on travelling to improve my craft. ‘Become the best chef in the country, so you can win over this child when you return!’ she said.”
“The food you make certainly is tasty,” Rowan answers, “I’m sure she would have liked it.”
“I need to excuse myself for a moment,” Rory states and leaves with Howard.
“I’m going to get jealous just because you say you like his cooking,” I tease Rowan, “at least not yet. I’m still learning.”
“Unlike me, you’ll get the hang of it,” he answers.
“Rowan takes after Iris, in a lot of ways,” Nell explains to Adir, laughing.
“Is that why Aster is taking up cooking?” he asks.
“No, I recently discovered the food that my people eat, at least to me, is rather bland, no I’d say it’s with no taste. If I were to visit my mother, I’d be quite in a pickle if I can’t cook food myself.”
“So you’re from abroad, that’s why you knew about pasta.”
“I know about them, but I’ve never tried making them.”
“If what Nell tells me is right, I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it fast. This flat pasta is actually the easiest to make, it’s perfect for your first try.”
“I see, thanks for the hint.”
“I’m sorry, I had to leave,” Rory says as he and Howard return, “we should be returning to the castle.”
“I hope you’ll come again,” Adir sees us off.
“We’ll prepare for the trip,” Kate says.
“Please send for us when you’re ready to depart to Dewick,” Tate adds.
“I’m looking forward to meeting you,” Rowan and I see the twins off.
We make our way back to the Shining Dove. On the way, we stop briefly at a tea shop, where Howard quickly gets a bag of a certain tea that Rory likes. Judging from Finn’s reaction, it doesn’t seem like she likes it.
As we reach our room, Finn finally breaks her front and asks Rory: “Are you alright?” She sounds worried.
“Finn…” he answers.
“They would have found out eventually. After all, paper can’t conceal burning fire.”
“So there is something with you…” I comment.
“I guess the cat is out of the bag…” he answers, “lately, I’ve been getting bouts of sudden sweating and sometimes my hearing gets worse. We’ve been able to keep it away from the public, panic would break out if it were to become public.”
“Is it poison?” Rowan asks.
“No, we’ve checked everything multiple times. It’s a known illness. Nobody knows where this comes from, but it seems to afflict nobility a lot. There’s no cure for it. In the final stages, your skin and eyes change colour.”
“How long do you have?”
“Two years, maybe five, it could also be ten.”
“So Rowan is to take your place as royal heir in case you don’t make it?” I ask.
“Me? The royal heir?” Rowan says, “no no no, that’s impossible… I don’t even want that.”
“It’s not a question of what you want…” Rory starts.
“Mittens, what do you think?” I nonchalantly interrupt the conversation.
“The symptoms coincide with those of long-term overdose of common medicines,” Mittens answers.
“I think so too,” I state, “Rory, is there something you regularly eat or drink? Even something small, that’s just for good health or treats?”
“There’s that tea that you like to drink,” Finn suggests.
“Is it the tea that Howard bought earlier?”
“Can we leave town?”
“We can, we just have to return before dinner time.”
“Let’s go to my flying home. There’s something I’d like to check. I need a sample of that tea.”
I lead everyone outside the city to the shuttle.
🙐 🙑 🙓 🙒 🙐 🙑 🙓 🙒 🙐 🙑 🙓 🙒
“This is the Speeding Kitten, Mittens is the voice of this flying home,” I present the shuttle to them.
“So this is your flying home…” Rory and Finn state in awe.
We enter the shuttle.
“There have been records of how a flying home looks like,” Finn says, “and the records don’t agree. I believe each flying home that was seen till now is different. And from what I can see, this doesn’t look like how the text described other flying homes…”
“Mittens has been listening in our conversations, so I’ll just introduce you.”
The image of Mittens appears on the screen in the lounge. For some reason, Rowan stares at the screen along with the other four. That’s right! I’ve never shown Mitten visual representation to Rowan before!
“Mittens, these are Finn, Emily, Rory and Howard. Everyone, that’s the visual representation of Mittens. Mittens mind is in this flying home, so that’s just an image for easier communication.”
I take some of the tea and put it in the replicator for Mittens to analyze.
“Mittens, how is the tea?”
“As we suspected,” Mittens answers, “the tea contains high amounts of active salicylates.”
“Rory, I know this sounds counterintuitive, but it’s that very tea that is making you sick. It’s an excellent tea to drink to treat fevers, but drinking it regularly harms your body.”
“It’s the tea?” he answers, “come to think of it, I’ve even been drinking more of it lately, and it’s gotten worse. So I think what you say is true. I’ll stop drinking the tea for now and see how it goes.”
“I’d be quite happy if you did that. I don’t fancy losing my brother-in-law this fast just after getting one.”