Chapter 68

As soon as the epidemic began to wane, Shalom suddenly showed interest in Zich. Joachim said it was because Shalom was trying to keep them in check, but Zich knew about the existence of assassins and Fest, so he had a different perspective.

‘Joachim is not wrong.’

As a supporter of Biyom, Shalom wouldn’t have liked Joachim gaining credit for stopping the spread of infectious diseases. Likewise, this also would have made him dislike Zich.

‘But Joachim said he was highly competent and had a good head on his shoulders.’

He used to be a knight before, but he was not the brawny type.

‘Then why did he leave without scolding me?’

Zich didn’t outrightly tell people he was a noble; Joachim was also not the type of person to go around telling other people’s secrets. However, Shalom didn’t use his nobility to criticize Zich for his rude behaviors as a commoner. 

In his interaction with Shalom, Zich displayed his awful personality; but surprisingly, he was precisely calculating his rude behavior.

‘Judging by that old man’s personality, I don’t think he will easily look over a commoner’s rude words just because he thinks they are right.’

Zich had several possible theories. First, since Joachim was next to them and supported Zich, Shalom could have a hard time blatantly disregarding him. Zich was also the person who found the cure, so he received a lot of admiration and respect from the people around him. Honestly, Zich had utilized both of these factors to act even more rudely toward the old man. 

‘But my behavior was not proper. If he was as competent as Joachim said, he should have used my commoner status and his nobility to his advantage.’

Shalom could have used his nobility status to bring Zich down and then connect it with Joachim to also tarnish Joachim’s reputation. But Shalom didn’t do that. He only focused on whether or not Zich knew the cure for other diseases and where Zich got his information from.

‘There are only two possibilities now. First, Shalom thinks that I am not competent enough to meet his standards. Or second, he is so uninterested in these types of affairs that he didn’t even think about using my behavior to his advantage.’

If it was the latter, another question appeared in his mind.

‘This bastard, is he really working for Biyom?’

Nothing was clear. But one thing Zich was sure about was that Shalom was a very suspicious person.

‘Okay, good. So I have one suspect so far.’

Shalom could be Fest, or part of the assassin group, or have an entirely different plan. But Zich was satisfied to note down one suspect. 

While thinking about various topics, Zich reached his destination before he realized it. If he turned around just once, he would be right in front of the building that manufactured the cure. He had taught all the apothecaries how to make the cure, but they weren’t used to making it yet so they still needed Zich’s help. Zich quickly sped up his steps.

‘What?’

Zich halted after entering the manufacturing center. Inside the building, there were the same apothecaries and one unfamiliar person. 

“Ah, he’s here.” One of the apothecaries gestured towards Zich. “That person is Mr. Zich. He is the person who gave us the cure for Igram.”

The unfamiliar person got up from the chair.

She was a woman. The first thing that popped up in Zich’s mind to describe her was the word, ‘black.’ Zich wasn’t talking about her personality, but the way she dressed. She wore a black hat, a black veil that covered her whole face, a black dress, black gloves, and even black shoes. It was as if she was wearing funeral clothes.

‘Wait, it’s not ‘as if.’. I think she really is wearing funeral clothes?’

The woman walked towards Zich. Her controlled and careful steps gave off an aura of elegance. 

Click, clack!

The sound of her heels stopped. She stood right in front of Zich. He could see her face through the veil; she looked like she was in her mid-twenties, and she was a beautiful, elegant woman.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Greta Bargot.”

She gracefully bowed her head. Zich followed her movements.

“I’m Zich.”

She looked at Zich all over. Her face was full of curiosity, and her face looked as if she was thinking, ‘Is this the person who found the cure…!’

Before Zich could ask who she was, the apothecary introduced her.

“This is Ms. Bargot. She is the owner of the Bargot Business.”

‘Bargot Business?’

Zich had heard of it before, but it was not the same name that he was familiar with. 

“Are you talking about the Bargot Trading House?”

The Bargot Trading House. When Zich was young and pushed around by everyone at Steelwall, the Bargot Trading House was renowned all around the world. As a trading house based in the Dracul estate, its fame spread all the way to Steelwall, a location at the edge of a neighboring country.

However, Zich had never interacted with them.

“It’s called a business now, not a trading house. The trading house collapsed after my husband’s passing.”

Ms. Bargot explained this while making a bitter smile; Zich now knew why he had never interacted with the Bargot Trading House. When Zich left his family and began his journey for the first time, the Bargot Trading House had already collapsed and was disappearing quickly into the back alleyway of history books.

‘From what I remember, after the owner of the trading house died, it was ripped into many parts.’

After connecting Ms. Bargot’s words and his knowledge, Zich could figure out that the past owner of the trading house was Ms. Bargot’s husband.

‘I thought the trading house completely disappeared. I can’t believe it still exists.’

However, the Bargot Business seemed as if it was greatly scaled-down, so it no longer had any international influence or presence. If so, it was understandable why Zich thought the business had completely collapsed.

‘But judging by what I know, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say that they collapsed.’

“Please excuse my rudeness.”

“It’s alright. It’s true anyways.”

“May I ask why you came to see me? Moreover, how were you able to find this place?”

Even though several patients were getting treated here, the manufacturing center was barricaded and blocked from other people. A simple business owner would not be able to come here.

“Mr. Zich, I will explain that.” The same apothecary intervened again. “Ms. Bargot has tremendous interest in infectious diseases. She invests a lot in disease research and has a lot of medical knowledge. She also does a lot of personal research as well. Honestly speaking, it’s not an exaggeration to say that she knows a lot more about infectious diseases than all of us.”

“No, you praise me too much.” With humility, Ms. Bargot waved her hand. But judging by the apothecary’s eyes, it seemed as if he was not exaggerating. For a second, Zich thought maybe the apothecary had some kind of crush on the young and beautiful widow, but his eyes were too clear. The apothecary was looking at Ms. Bargot with pure admiration.

“Since Ms. Bargot has so much interest in infectious diseases, she wanted to meet the person who found the Igram cure. Ah, we were the ones who let her come here. To be more precise, it was another team member of ours. With her knowledge, I’m sure that she will be a lot of help to us.”

“Is that so?” Zich stared back at Ms. Bargot. At his obvious stare, she stiffened a little bit. “That’s impressive. You look really young, but you are so highly praised by everyone here.”

“No, it’s not like that. The small business I have now goes along well by itself, even without my intervention, so I wanted to focus on things I’m personally interested in.” She made a very bitter smile. “My husband and child both died from infectious diseases. Through my efforts, I want to prevent at least one person from going through what I went through.”

It was a noble cause. But rather than a noble cause, her next few words revealed how miserable her life was.

“If not for that, I would have no reason to live anymore.”

*    *    *

Ms. Bargot wanted to continue her conversation with Zich. From the rumors, Zich was a mysterious traveler who found the cure for the infamous Igram disease and was sharing it around to everyone with great generosity. She wanted to approach him after hearing these fantastical rumors about Zich and was expecting a mysterious person with extensive medical knowledge. But Zich could only show his real self.

“Did you really happen to find the cure in a book?”

“Yes, it’s true.”

Her disappointment was obvious. For people to not misunderstand the extent of his medical knowledge, Zich told people he found the cure in a book—but the nature of rumors was to exaggerate things to the extremes. The rumors that were spreading about Zich were reaching the point where people were saying that he was an incarnation of a legendary medical guru.

“Your knowledge about diseases…”

“I know a bit of the basics, but nothing at the professional level.”

“Do you know about Kimusu? Mihil and Lastone?”

“For Kimusu, are you talking about plants that stretch their roots inside the ground? It helps lower fevers. I don’t know about Mihil and Lastone.”

Ms. Bargot asked a few more questions, and Zich replied back faithfully. 

“…You really know as much as an amateur.”

“Ms. Bargot, that’s what I told you.”

Zich could clearly see how disappointed she was, but he was firm about his stance. He didn’t lie or exaggerate the amount of medical knowledge he knew. He couldn’t do anything about the rumors that spread about him. But he was not in the wrong.

‘It’s a really good thing I said I found the cure in a book.’ If Zich had lied and said he made the cure by himself, his lie would have been caught right away. 

“…I apologize. I was only thinking about myself.” Realizing that she showed her disappointment too outrightly, Ms. Bargot lowered her head. “I’m sorry. It’s because I had such high expectations while coming here. Even though we won’t be able to fully cure all the infectious diseases, with your help, we’ll be able to put up a strong fight against Igram.”

“I understand.”

“I shouldn’t be so disappointed since the cure for Igram was found.”

As if she was trying to infuse positivity into her body, she stretched out her arms and then placed one hand towards Zich. 

“And I’m going to do all I can to fix this situation. Since your face and name are well-known, please accompany me and help me around.”

“If you are trying to gain credibility, wouldn’t Sir Joachim be a much better choice?”

“Sir Joachim is the second son of Count Dracul. It’s too hard to be around him. Compared to him, I feel much more comfortable with you, and you also have basic medical knowledge and admiration from the public. A person like you—you won’t refuse a request from a frail lady like me, right?”

Zich smirked. He grabbed her outstretched hands and made a small wink.

“Of course I will help, my lady.”

*    *    *

Even though the medical staff greatly recommended her,  Zich was able to personally confirm some of Ms. Bargot’s medical knowledge. He hadn’t fully trusted her professional expertise, and Zich was shocked by the extent of her medical knowledge.

“The spread of Igram usually occurs between people using the same water source. You should investigate the well or other water sources that the patients use and block off that water source. You also have to barricade the areas that use the same water source.”

The first thing Ms. Bargot did: was to expand the quarantine area and categorize the people who were in there as observational studies for workers to send constant reports of them. 

“This disease spreads from person to person, but it doesn’t spread just by being next to an infected person. It spreads by physical contact and by the exchange of fluids such as saliva. You should be careful about patients’ coughs and sneezes and make sure to avoid patients’ bodily fluids at all costs. Of course, you should also minimize all physical contact with patients.” She delivered specific infection routes to prevent person-to-person infection. “All the medical staff and anyone who makes contact with the patients must be clean at all costs. Please prepare clean water, and every time a person makes contact with a patient, they must wash their hands. At the minimum, also wash your whole body at least once every day.”

Ms. Bargot also thoroughly managed the caretakers and medical staff to make sure they didn’t become carriers of the disease.

“After looking over the ingredients needed for the cure, there are some foods that might lower the cure’s effectiveness. I will give you a list, so please exclude them from the patients’ food. And I will also give a list of foods that will increase the effectiveness of the cure. Please give these foods to the patients at least once a day.”

With a glance, Ms. Bargot was able to analyze and figure out all the ingredients needed in the Igram cure. And her medical knowledge even went as far as knowing which foods increased or lowered the effectiveness of the cure. The strategies and information she knew were things Zich knew a little bit about while traveling in the future, so he was amazed that her knowledge was so ahead of the times. It also helped him accept her words more easily.

Moreover, she was highly regarded by the medical staff; so, the staff readily accepted her suggestions and quickly implemented her policies. However, her policies were not implemented in all the treatment areas from the start; like Zich’s clinical trials, they decided on a specific area to test out her policies. But soon after, her policies worked so well that they decided to apply her policies to all the areas. 

Joachim, who doubted Ms. Bargot’s methods and policies in the beginning, smiled brightly whenever he saw her now.

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