His tone, expression, and every movement seemed to provoke Zich. Although Zich had continued to meet people who approached him with bloodthirst and a sword, Shalom was the first one to pick a fight with Zich since he left Steelwall.
‘Ah, actually there was Drew.’
“I asked you if you were Zich!”
Shalom pressed on Zich who was a bit dazed from the ridiculousness of the situation.
‘…Whatever my plan is, should I decide after killing this guy?’
For a moment, the current, pure (?) Zich thought of acting like his past Demon Lord days.
“What are you doing, Shalom!”
Fortunately, Joachim intervened and prevented Zich from acting out on his anger.
‘…Yeah, I should bear it. Just for a bit. Joachim is here, and I don’t have the power to take full responsibility for the consequences.’
Currently, he wasn’t at Zich Moore’s level and couldn’t pull out his sword at every small annoyance and wreak havoc to his surroundings.
‘Okay, calm down. I am pure. I have become clean.’
Zich calmed his heart; it was like trying to pour icy water onto a beating heart, engulfed by a fierce fire. While Zich calmed himself down and tried to pass this test of patience and self-control, a small argument went back and forth between Joachim and Shalom.
“I’ve told you many times! Mr. Zich has helped us tremendously, so you can’t treat him rudely! I’m not going to say much about the way you treat me since that’s our family’s matter, but Mr. Zich has nothing to do with our family! What is this attitude you are showing him?!”
“I want to ask you, Sir Joachim. How can you trust this man so much? Like you said, he has nothing to do with our family or this estate—he’s a stranger.”
“Didn’t you hear that he found the cure for Igram?”
“That makes it even more suspicious. Isn’t he just a traveler? How did he know about the cure for Igram? More so, didn’t he appear at the perfect time when Ospurin was hit by an epidemic? Don’t you think it’s too much of a coincidence, sir?”
“Then, what? Are you saying that Mr. Zich was the one who spread the disease?”
“I didn’t go that far, but it’s true that he is very suspicious.”
“You really are…!”
Joachim bit his lips to repress his burning rage. However, Shalom didn’t care for Joachim and stared—no, glared back at Zich. It almost seemed like Shalom was trying to rip Zich apart with his eyes.
“Are you Zich?”
“I think you already know. Why do you keep asking me?”
Zich’s gaze was haughty, and his tone was sarcastic. Shalom’s eyebrows twitched.
“I am going to ask you one more time.”
Shalom’s body exuded an immense pressure; it was strong enough to cause Joachim to unconsciously take a step back.
“I asked you if you were Zich!”
It wasn’t that Shalom didn’t know Zich’s name. This was a battle of nerves. Even if Shalom was aware of Zich’s name, he was trying to make Zich answer his question; it was so that he could psychologically assert his dominance. However, Shalom couldn’t have had a worse opponent than Zich.
‘What the hell is this old fart doing?’
Shalom’s actions were childish and the pressure he was exuding was ridiculous. He seemed like someone who could have been a leading figure in his prime, but his pressure was nothing to Zich who could control his mana however he wanted. Thus, Zich changed his posture. He twisted one of his feet crookedly and supported his back with only one hand. Then he tilted his head and spoke.
“I heard you, the first time. As I said before, don’t you already know my name? Or are you losing your memories due to your old age? Did you forget my name in that short amount of time?”
Shalom’s eyes twitched.
“…You bastard, you have no manners.”
“It depends on who I’m talking to. I’m the type of person who believes that courtesy is reciprocal and not one-sided.”
In other words, since Shalom was rude to him, Zich also wouldn’t be polite. Shalom’s eyes grew menacing, and his cheeks shuddered like they were vibrating.
“…Fine. I will acknowledge your spirit, courage, or whatever it is.”
Seeing that Zich wasn’t about to back down, Shalom took a step back.
“But you have to answer this question! Where did you get the cure to Igram?”
“I saw it in a book before.”
Since Zich had expected this question to come up, he answered it easily. However, his answer was too simple and shabby, especially considering that he had prepared his answer beforehand. Naturally, Shalom didn’t believe it either.
“A book? A book that contains information about the cure for Igram? How can you expect me to believe that?!”
It was the first time this cure had ever been introduced to this world—meaning that no one knew of its existence before then. Thus, it was simply unbelievable that the cure’s formula had been inside a book all along. Even Joachim hadn’t asked about the cure’s origins in case it was a sensitive topic, and he looked at Zich with disbelief. If Joachim felt this way even though he had great faith in Zich, how much more would Shalom be unconvinced?
However, Shalom continued the conversation with a smirk on his face.
“Fine! Let’s say that your ridiculous joke is true! Then what kind of book is that?!”
“Let me think… I saw the book so long ago that I can’t remember it well.”
“Are you kidding me?!” Shalom shouted.
His voice was so loud that it probably hurt his throat, but Zich responded by tilting his chin a bit.
“Aren’t you the one joking? What do you want to hear? That I invented the medicine? Or that somebody told me the method to make it? If I say that, will it change anything?”
“What matters is that I created a cure for Igram, and people suffering from the disease became better. You can’t accept that I found the formula of the cure through a book, so how would you be able to accept any other explanation? Moreover, is there a reason for me to convince you by explaining each step of my process in finding the cure?”
“Don’t grit your teeth. All it’ll do is wear down your teeth. I can’t prove my statement, and even if I could, I have no intention of convincing you by showing you evidence.”
Because it didn’t matter whether or not people believed his words, Zich hadn’t prepared more than a shabby answer. More specifically, Zich knew that people wouldn’t accept whatever explanation he gave them. The cure for Igram was the creation of a collaborative effort of priests, doctors, and apothecaries. Who would simply believe that a common traveler like Zich knew the cure’s formula?
Anyone would be suspicious. In truth, even Joachim doubted Zich.
‘If I say that I created the formula, they will definitely doubt me since my knowledge in physiology or medicine doesn’t go beyond an amateur level. And if I tell them a mysterious figure told me the formula, they will also not believe me. I mean, who would keep their identity a secret when they can get all kinds of wealth and honor for finding the cure?’
Zich didn’t even want to try convincing someone who wouldn’t be convinced no matter what.
“Whatever anyone says, I saw it in a book.”
‘Who cares if they don’t believe me or not. And it’s not like I’m lying.’
Zich saw the formula from a book that Joachim was reading before his regression, so he wasn’t even lying. Shalom’s face turned purple in rage like he wanted to kill Zich. However, Shalom repressed his emotions.
“Fine. Then, did that book have cures for other infectious diseases?”
“No, all I saw in that book was the cure for Igram.”
‘And this is also not a lie.’
Zich knew the cure for other infectious diseases, but he had seen their formulas in other books. The book which talked about Igram’s cure only contained information about Igram.
“…Are you telling the truth?”
“Come on, have you been tricked all your life?”
Shalom closely inspected Zich’s face, but Zich didn’t feel pressured by him. Furthermore, it wasn’t like he was lying, so Zich was confident in his words.
With those words, Shalom disappeared without a farewell. Shalom’s actions were also incredibly rude to Joachim, who Shalom was supposed to serve, but Joachim seemed to be used to it.
“I apologize, Mr. Zich. A person from our family has caused you discomfort.”
Instead of feeling upset by Shalom’s attitude towards him, Joachim apologetically bowed his head at Zich.
“It doesn’t matter to me. But who is that man? I think I’ve seen him next to your older brother before.”
“His name is Bessnol Shalom. He is our family’s butler.”
“He seems to have a lot of spirit for a butler.”
“Shalom used to be our family knight. He used to be a skillful captain of our family’s Order of Knights. However, he had to retire because of a leg injury, and my father took Shalom in as our butler for his service.”
Zich remembered how Shalom lightly limped; that was probably the aftereffects of Shalom’s leg injury.
“Why is a person like that fussing over me?”
“He probably thought that I’ll gain greater authority if I successfully cure Igram in Ospurin. So, he probably came to pressure us while trying to grasp the current situation. You see, he is completely on my brother’s side,” Joachim said bitterly.
If Igram wasn’t simply controlled but cured, people’s interests would naturally lean towards Joachim, and that would be an eyesore to the forces supporting Biyom.
‘But how could he show that kind of attitude to someone who stopped an epidemic that could’ve swept across the entire city of Ospurin?’
No matter how much Joachim tried to understand Shalom’s behavior, he couldn’t. Even Joachim didn’t trust Zich about everything; he was especially curious about the cure’s origins. However, Zich was Ospurin’s savior, so Joachim looked at Zich favorably and couldn’t understand Shalom’s rude attitude.
But he also had a similar thought as Shalom about one matter.
“Do you really not know the cures for other infectious diseases?” Joachim asked while knowing that his question might be offensive to Zich. He wasn’t just asking for himself. If Zich knew the cures for other diseases, many more people could be saved. However, Zich shook his head.
“That book really only had the formula to Igram’s cure.”
Zich lied with a clever twist of his words.
‘If I tell him that I know the cure to other infectious diseases right now, it will become really bothersome.’
Of course, since giving cures to diseases was also a kind act, Zich didn’t intend to keep the information to himself.
‘I will tell Lubella some later.’
Karuwiman could spread cures and medicines to places more efficiently than any other organization. Furthermore, since they owed him a favor, they would cover up his identity thoroughly. Zich didn’t intend to refuse fame if it was given to him, but he wasn’t so hungry for fame that he wanted it through cures that he didn’t create. He knew that the fame that he didn’t get by his own efforts would bring all kinds of baggage and nuisances.
“That’s a pity, but I’m probably also being too greedy. It’s already a miracle that a cure for Igram was found.”
Joachim respected Zich’s privacy.
“Is that all you wanted to ask?”
“Yes, it’s because Shalom insisted on talking to you. I’m so sorry for bothering you when you are busy making the cure. Feel free to leave now.”
“That person named Shalom. How skilled is he?”
Joachim answered Zich’s question without much thought.
“His abilities as a knight were greatly affected by his injury, but I heard that he is still a skilled fighter. His ability as a butler is also top-class. Since he has a good head on his shoulders, he handles our family’s matters well.”
“If his head is good, he must also be good at trickery.”
Perhaps, Zich had a grudge to settle. Joachim repressed his desire to sigh and nodded his head.
“Yes, that is true.”
“Thank you for answering. Then I will leave now. I still have a lot of medicine to make.”
“I apologize again for this incident. I know I am shameless for asking you this, but please do all you can for the sick.”
Joachim sent Zich off while bowing his head deeply, and Zich began to head back to the path he came from. While walking, Zich thought of Shalom again. He was a rude, old man—yet, what was more important to Zich was not the old man’s image.
‘Could he be Fest?’Previous Chapter Next Chapter