Matt and I enter the castle.
“Prince Matthew, you have a guest,” one servant reports.
“Count Donnell? For an urgent audience, isn’t it?” Matt answers. The servant nods.
“I’ll see him. But meeting the king comes first. Tell him I’ll send for him as soon as I’m done with that.”
“Certainly,” the servants leaves.
We enter the throne room.
“Matt, Pat, you have returned,” King Timon greets us.
“I read the preliminary report you sent ahead, Matt. Considering the information we were given, I fully support your decision. We’ll subsidize their effort to cultivate monster meat and milk. If it proves successful, we’ll spread it to other villages.
However, I’m surprised they didn’t mind eating monster meat. Didn’t the late Stirlea oppose that?”
“He did,” Matt answers, “the mayor of the village assured me they were only worried about the side effects of the vaccine. It’s common sense adventurers eat monster meat and they don’t experience the effects Stirlea postulated.”
“I see. One last thing, don’t you think Stirlea’s death was way too convenient?”
“I’m sorry, but I have a sudden guest waiting for me. This topic needs to be discussed at a later time. I ask for your understanding.”
“I see. We will discuss it in the future. You may leave.”
Matt and I bow and leave the room.
“We aren’t in a hurry, why…”
“Father’s intel is good. Prepare yourself, this is going to be a long evening.”
We enter Matt’s office. He sends someone for Count Donnell. After a few minutes, he enters. He’s a Hume, about half a gross of age. He looks like the rumours say he looks: his skin covered in some obvious colouring and always in a bad mood.
“Prince Matthew, I’m glad you could make time on such short notice.”
“Think nothing of it, Count Donnell.”
“Before we discuss business, let me congratulate you on the success of your first mission. I brought some wine for the occasion. Sir Boots, would you kindly get us some cups, please?”
“With pleasure,” I answer.
I get two cups from Matt’s cupboard. Count Donnell pours the wine into the cups.
“I’m sorry,” Matt answers, “but I’m very tired from the trip. I should abstain from alcohol for today. Nonetheless I thank you for the gesture.”
“This is nothing. I’m sure you can…”
“Prince Matthew is still tired from the trip,” I interrupt him, “so I will humour you instead. Cheers!” I take the cup and take a sip.
Immediately, my throat and stomach are burning. I spit out everything I haven’t swallowed yet.
“What on earth was in the cup?!” I yell. No, this can’t be just strong liquor. Strong liquor would burn, sure, but it would also subside quite quickly. But this… I can feel the burning getting stronger. It must be some kind of fast-acting magical poison! I mean, I have spit out most of it, and it’s still affecting me this much! I knew there was always the possibility of this happening. I didn’t think someone would actually try this so publicly.
The pain is getting unbearable. I fall on my floor holding my stomach. It’s getting even hotter! And it’s spreading through my veins. I can feel my sweat on my skin, but even that feels like it’s burning my skin! My surroundings are fading. I can hear Matt shouting something. But I can’t understand him anymore. All I’m left with is this burning sensation throughout my body.
I guess this is it for me. It was a great time I had with you guys. I wished I had more time with you…