19 Chapter 19 - Poison
There was so much food, the table was bending in the middle. Joseph didn't think he had seen so much food in his entire life. In fact, thinking about it, he didn't think he had seen this much food in any of his lives. Even Stella looked surprised, and she helped prepare it.
His father stood up, to make the opening remarks, but butterflies were dancing in his stomach. Why were so many people here? He didn't know half of them, and he knew he would remember them if he had been met them before. Wasn't this supposed to be a private affair? Hadn't his father not wanted anyone else to know that he could do magic? Or was this one of those bragging things, don't mess with me, my son can do magic now?
He had to clear everything from his mind, and focus on the rune again, to keep from being too nervous when it was time to do the spell. There was only enough magic in the paper for him to cast the spell once, and that was stretching it, so he wanted to make sure he didn't mess this up.
Stella had to touch him when his father was done, and it was time for him to step forward. He smiled at her, and glanced around the room. That was a bad idea, everyone was looking at him, and his butterflies returned.
'Alright, time for that single minded to kick in,' he thought to the system.
Suddenly, there was only the rune on the paper. TEST FOOD was in his mind. The rune on the paper began to glow, and he fed his mana into it slowly and stable. It lifted off of the paper, to the murmurs of astonishment from everyone in the room. He continued to feed mana into it until it grew to twice its size.
Joseph only had one chance to get this right, and it had to be perfect. The paper disintegrated from his hand, and he lifted them to just under the rune as it shimmered and glowed in the air before him. It pulsed slowly, as if alive, then expanded to cover the whole table. Then was gone.
He lurched as the energy for the spell was sucked out of him. Information flooded his mind from each dish.
(YOU HAVE FLAWLESSLY CAST YOUR FIRST SPELL)
Joseph was staring at the food, in horror. The system message was ignored.
"It's poisoned," he whispered. The mana still shimmered over the food, slowly dissipating. His head was pounding.
"Dad," he said louder, turning to him, "It's poisoned!"
"What?" he asked, almost thinking it was a joke. But after looking at his face, his tightened in anger.
"The fruits and vegetables are fine, but all of the bread is fatal. The potato soup is fine, but all the other soups are poison. The egg dish is fine…" He worked his way from dish to dish, repeating the information that had been given by the spell.
Time slowed as connections were made. It was the flour!
"It's the flour! Everything that had flour in it is what you said was poisonous," Stella said.
"But not potato soup?" asked his father.
"You use buckwheat flour in potato soup," they both said at the same time. They looked at each other, then away.
His father jumped into action, shouting orders to the slaves that were present.
Everyone was looking at him, and he felt very self-conscious. This was supposed to be his big moment, and instead, it was a horrible mess. He felt better that his dad believed him immediately, even if some of the guests were questioning whether he had failed the spell. It was his first attempt after all.
(FOR FLAWLESSLY CASTING YOUR FIRST SPELL, YOU HAVE BEEN AWARDED MAGERY 1)
(MISSION – CAST YOUR FIRST SPELL)
(REWARD – 5 LIFE POINTS)
He kept his eyes on his father, so that when he looked at him, he understood that he wasn't lying, despite the people's murmured comments. Seeing the look in his eyes, his dad nodded to him, to let him know that he had done well.
The healers arrived, and confirmed that it was true. People were sent to check on Phenic, because all the food came from him. Some of the guests were wondering if he had done it on purpose, but Joseph knew that wasn't true. His dad honestly trusted Phenic.
He sat down, to stay out of the way, as things were so crazy. Thankfully, Fred's choice to restrict usage of the flour to tonight's supper, had saved everyone in the caravan from being poisoned. Those who had taste tested the food, were easily treated.
When the people sent to check on Phenic, returned, the news was heart wrenching. He was dead, along with his wife and their two oldest sons. The newborn baby girl was still alive, only because she had been too young to eat real food. Even Phenic's flour was poisoned. The blame had to be further back. His father told them to trace it down.
The baby girl was brought back, and Joseph watched his father comfort the babe. Tears were in his eyes, and Joseph knew that if his father were able to punish whoever did this, they would pay dearly.
By the time he returned to his carriage, he was exhausted. His dad still had much to do. He was taking it upon himself to bury the family and to see to his estate. There was family nearby who would deal with most everything.
They had found out, when his father sent word to the town guards, that while there wasn't a food mage capable of detecting the poison, they were skilled enough to detect it when looking for it. His dad was calling him a savior. If he hadn't found it, a lot of lives would have been lost. There wasn't a healer that had enough mana to save everyone.
Joseph knew his father was immune to poison, but no one else knew.
"System," he thought. "I want to allocate all available life points towards less sleep."
(6 LIFE POINTS AVAILABLE WILL REDUCE YOU TO 3 HOURS OF SLEEP A DAY)
(3 HOURS OF LESS SLEEP ACQUIRED)
His mental effort could still give him headaches, so his hours of study would have to go up as his willpower increased. Now it was time to talk to father about what kind of kind classes he needed to take to be a better king. But that could wait until tomorrow.