The initial indication of this illness is an intense sensation of coldness experienced by the patient. However, recognizing the progression of the disease immediately upon the onset of this symptom was challenging. The Kingdom of Flake, known for its consistently low temperatures, often witnessed drastic drops in temperature overnight. Individuals who exhibited these symptoms initially dismissed them as mere consequences of the cold weather or perhaps the early stages of a common cold.
Moreover, the symptoms of this particular disease developed gradually. In the early stages, they were not distinctively evident. Patients who gradually began feeling colder than usual gradually adapted to this condition, remaining unaware of any underlying issue with their bodies. Suddenly, the symptoms would intensify. By the time extreme chills and shivering engulfed the patient’s entire body, the disease had already advanced significantly.
Instances of this disease were exceptionally rare, and most people were unaware of its existence. Since there were very few doctors who had directly encountered affected individuals, no one knew how to treat it.
“To be precise,” Eugene stated, “the disease is known as linden tea poisoning.”
“What?” Myung King stared at Eugene with a perplexed expression before shaking his head. “That’s… that’s unbelievable. Linden tea has been a traditional beverage in the kingdom for centuries.”
Linden tea, a local specialty of the Kingdom of Flake, possesses warming properties when consumed. It not only aids in fatigue recovery but also promotes skincare and facilitates a restful sleep. These beneficial attributes made linden tea a beloved beverage among the people of Flake, who consumed it regularly as a staple.
However, the cultivation of linden tea leaves was limited to cold regions. Furthermore, once dried like other tea leaves, they became excessively bitter, rendering them nearly undrinkable. Consequently, the harvested leaves had to be consumed within a few days. This restriction meant that linden tea could not be exported or sold outside the region, remaining an exclusive delight within the Kingdom of Flake.
“Linden tea contains a minute amount of toxicity, which generates heat within the body. In small quantities, occasional consumption poses no issue. However, the people of Flake have been regular consumers of this tea since childhood, developing an immunity to its effects.”
Individuals lacking the ability to detoxify the tea’s toxicity would be unable to recognize the associated illness and could succumb to its effects. Over time, this particular constitution would have vanished, leaving no descendants within the Kingdom of Flake.
“But if an outsider, lacking immunity, were to consume excessive amounts of this tea over an extended period without the ability to detoxify its toxicity, complications would arise.”
Myung King sank into deep contemplation. In his quest to uncover his mother’s illness, he stumbled upon the existence of a rare and peculiarly named condition. Affected individuals of the “Frozen Blood Disease” endured agonizing pain triggered by extreme coldness.
No matter how warmly they dressed or how high they raised the room temperature, the patients remained in a constant state of shivering. Their lips turned blue, and their teeth chattered relentlessly. Each time Myung King held his mother’s icy hand, it felt devoid of life, sending shivers down his spine.
After conducting inquiries, Myung King discovered two other patients exhibiting the same symptoms as his mother. As he delved into their personal histories, his eyes quivered with unease. They shared a common trait—they were elderly individuals who had migrated to Flake later in life, not native to the region.
“So, it truly is the linden tea,” Myung King muttered, a heavy sigh escaping his lips.
“Oh dear. Without even realizing it…”
Whenever his mother felt cold, she would seek solace in linden tea, believing it would briefly warm her entire body, starting from her stomach. However, if Anika Jin’s findings were accurate, it meant that his mother had unknowingly been consuming a toxic substance every day.
“Is there a cure? Can my mother recover?” Myung King inquired desperately.
“You mentioned that your mother experienced relief upon ceasing linden tea consumption. If that’s the case, it’s not too late to take action. Naturally, the first step is to abstain from drinking linden tea and prescribe treatments that help lower body temperature. Herbal remedies with cooling properties can be used, but it’s best to avoid strong medications initially. In matters of medicine, a doctor’s expertise surpasses my own,” Eugene advised.
Myung King nodded with unwavering determination, absorbing every word that Eugene spoke, determined not to miss a single detail.
“However, there’s one aspect that puzzles me. If the disease is caused by excessive body heat, why do the outward symptoms appear contrary to that?”
“I’m afraid I don’t have an answer to that either. I stumbled upon the treatment for the disease, but my knowledge is limited to that.”
Within the pages of the stormy night’s novel, the king’s expedition found themselves seeking refuge in the isolated cottage of a solitary hunter. Intrigued by the hunter’s choice to reside alone in such perilous surroundings during the active season, Myung King posed the question. In response, the hunter uttered, “I came here to die, but it seems fate has granted me a longer lifeline.”
A sense of connection enveloped the hunter upon encountering the king, prompting him to relax and share his story. Once a prosperous merchant, he had fallen critically ill with the Frozen Blood Disease, teetering on the brink of death. Believing life to be futile, he abandoned his wealth and sought a place to meet his end. By some twist of fortune or misfortune, he chanced upon the treatment for the disease, and thus revealed his continued existence.
The hunter’s words seized Myung King’s attention. The king empathized deeply and delved into further inquiries, recounting the story of his own mother who had endured the same illness before succumbing to its grip.
That fateful night in the cottage marked a turning point. Myung King’s expression of anguish became a catalyst, gradually encouraging the other kings to open up and share their own hearts. It surpassed mere companionship, paving the way for them to become true confidants.
However, in the novel, the focus did not solely revolve around the Frozen Blood Disease itself. Rather, it explored the psychological state of the king who had lost his mother to the illness. Information pertaining to the disease was confined to the conversation between Myung King and the hunter. Remarkably, half of the information that Eugene had relayed to Myung King derived from the words spoken by Myung King himself.
Eugene couldn’t shake off the feeling that she was somehow playing the role of a charlatan.