“It’s the poison,” replied Erna with a stiff face.
Her name is Riana. Working one level below Orpé, she was the one who helped Orpé. She wasn’t a wizard, but five years ago she had been hired to help Orpé with the surplus of documents, and she’d worked with the Wizard Group.
That woman had been found dead this morning in the corner of a closet in the Grand Castle.
She hadn’t been seen since lunchtime the day before, so the people of the Wizard Group went out looking for her but hadn’t been able to find her. They returned home and wondered why she was unavailable, so after work, the colleagues went to her home, but the lights in her house were off and no one was there.
Sensing there was some problem, they went out looking for Riana. And this morning, one day later, her body had been discovered in a closet that wasn’t often used.
The cause was poison. The problem, however…
“It’s similar to the poison that was used on you. They say that if the poison you ate was for inducing pain, the one Riana ate was used to kill quickly.”
Erna pressed her tingly temples. No one in the Grand Castle was permitted to use magic except her, but that didn’t mean this wasn’t able to happen–because all they had to do was simply feed poison to someone directly. She can’t block that with magic.
Erna relayed the coroners’ report to Kalion, and his forehead wrinkled as soon as he started reading it.
There weren’t any crucial marks on Riana’s body that showed resistance, which meant that she hadn’t been dragged but had gone there on her own. There was the possibility that she’d been dragged there after having been poisoned, of course. However, moving the body posed the risk of exposure. So, it was highly likely that she had come to the closet when she was still alive to avoid the others.
“Are there people who cross paths with her?” Kalion asked.
“There are a lot.” Erna replied, scratching her chin.
Riana was someone who worked just as diligently as Orpé. There was nowhere that woman didn’t go. On top of that, instead of the always-on-guard Orpé, she was the one who had been in charge of contact with the council.
There were more than twenty people who had met Riana before her disappearance before lunch. The last thing she had done before lunch, at the instruction of Erna, was deliver an order to lift Adelaide’s sentence in which she had to meet all of Haband’s delegates. After that was her disappearance.
“What’s new with the rumors?” Kalion asked Erna while tapping on the document with his finger.
Riana was undoubtedly on Erna’s side. If someone like that had been murdered…
Either this was a threat, or someone had really colluded with another force and had stolen information from Erna’s side. There wasn’t enough time to go through every little detail. Today, it was Erna’s aide. Tomorrow, someone else could die.
Kalion shook his head, “Let’s do it.”
Erna didn’t need to ask further; she understood immediately. Wasn’t there only one thing he meant when he spoke in a voice like he was going to kill someone?
“Tomorrow morning, right away.”
* * *
Everyone in the Grand Castle witnessed Kalion come out for the first time in a long time. He had been recuperating in the couple’s bedroom for the past few days. Contrary to their expectations that he would appear much livelier, his face was rather grimmer than the time after he had blacked out.
As Erna was the only one who had seen him during that time, the servants’ faces turned to shock when he looked different from what they’d expected. Worse, Kalion’s ensuing words widened their eyes.
“Out of my way, now!” Kalion smacked away the hand of Erna, who was trying to support him. “What in the hell did you feed me in there? I’ve just now regained consciousness because I didn’t eat the food you gave me.”
“It’s not that. You’re mistaken…!”
“Cedric! Call the knights!”
The servants were bewildered. They didn’t know what to do when they saw Kalion screaming on his way out of the couple’s bedroom. On top of that, what he’d said made all of their stomachs churn.
What did Erna give him?
The most frequently uttered word that people in the Grand Castle had been using these past few days crossed everyone’s mind: poison.
“Kalion, calm down! Please just listen,” pleaded Erna desperately as she tried to grab him. Then, Kalion swiped his hand violently again and tried to push her away.
At that moment, the others couldn’t notice, but Erna threw herself into Kalion’s swinging hand. Her body fell in the air before landing on the floor with a dull sound.
“Oh my god! Call the doctor!”
Rolling on the floor, Erna struggled to get up even with help from servants. She had only been struck one, but one cheek was bright red, and her lip was torn. The pain was searing, but she hardened her heart for the sole purpose of this act. She turned to Kalion while spitting out red blood.
Kalion knew that he shouldn’t have agreed to hit her in the first place. No matter how hard they’d practiced last night, Kalion couldn’t bring himself to hit Erna. So, rather than doing what they’d promised, she’d thrown her body into his swinging hand.
The strike shook her brain even though Kalion didn’t use much strength. She could see Kalion with her blurry field of vision. That idiot. She had told him to spit on the ground or swear when she rolled around on the ground, but why hadn’t he done that? They would be caught if they hesitated like this. Erna eventually had to make up her mind. Sorry, Kalion.
She moved her fingers and magical runes appeared in the air.
Kalion’s body flew into the air and slammed into a wall.
Though apologetic, Erna had to finish off the play they had started.