Norma drank her cold tea. She continued on while gazing at the empty teacup.
"However, changes gradually crept in. <Purification> that started out once every ten days turned to every eight, six, five days."
She put the cup on table.
"Lecan, you probably can't imagine this. To grow old and be robbed of your bodily functions, to have a body that gets ceaselessly tortured by pain all over. However, <Purification> is capable of ridding that body of all that. Enabling one to freely move, think and work like their younger self."
Jinga pour new tea in the empty cup.
"But that body will deteriorate once a day has elapsed, and with it all the pain and suffering back. Until finally the marquis couldn't bear the anguish any more. What should he do then? It's obvious. Shorten the interval of <Purification>. What started as once every ten days eventually became once every two days."
Norma lifted her teacup, put it before her nose and enjoyed the fragrance.
"Mother was given everything. A treasure-class wand. A necklace that raises her mana pool. A ring that nullifies curses. Dresses tailored by the best craftsmen. Luxurious meals. And knight Jinga, her bodyguard."
Lecan looked at Jinga. His wrinkled face won't allow his emotions to be seen. This man appeared to be an even tougher opponent than he initially thought.
"The end came in the most unceremonious form. One day, a patient sent to father vomited in front of him. Mother cast <Purification> on that patient. She went and did it."
So, was she prohibited from casting <Purification> on anyone besides the marquis.
"Mother and father were lambasted for wasting <Purification> that could only be cast once a day, which could have resulted in the marquis missing having it cast on him."
"Couldn't she just drink a blue potion."
"Of course. In fact, they gave my mother blue potions right away. But blue potions would become less effective if drank consecutively, and mother's mana pool was just too little. What would happen if she had drank two blue potions and then cast <Purification> on someone that wasn't the marquis?"
"That's paranoid. Besides, it's your mother's prerogative."
"That's not how the marquis family saw it. Do you know how much a healthy body worth to a capable influential authoritative figure with excellent track records? The town was celebrating its prosperity. Going to the extreme, it's not an exaggeration to say that mother was the pillar supporting that prosperity."
Lecan drank up his tea as well. Jinga was going to pour him more tea, but Lecan gestured not to.
"The marquis family put my mother under house arrest. That was when I was ten."
Norma glared at wall.
"Ten years, ten years. An old man who was once a step away from death survived for ten years. Not only surviving. He even got free from the confine of bed, did a lot of work and even had more children."
She laughed and smiled at Lecan. A heartwrenching smile.
"Of course anyone is aware of the wonders of <Purification> already. But its true worth was made very clear when they saw a real life precedent in the marquis."
Norma reseat herself deep in her chair, and sent her glance upward to the ceiling while joining both her hands on her belly.
"Mother drank a bluish purple potion every morning and then cast <Purification> on the marquis. Then she drank a small blue potion and cast another <Purification> on someone else in the afternoon. That someone would be individuals who could bring something great to the marquis house, those who could contribute five gold coins to the house every month. It had come to it before I realized."
Bluish purple potions amplify mana for a time. Lecan got several from Golbul Dungeon, but he's never had a chance to use one yet.
"I would be brought to meet mother once every five days. She would ask about how my father was doing all the time. Father wasn't allowed to meet mother. I have no idea why."
Eda threw a question.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
"Is the marquis still doing fine now?"
"No. Four years since my mother was confined, his age finally caught on to him. Apparently <Purification> was mostly ineffective during his last moment. But he still managed to escape death for 14 years, and even worked well moments before his death. <Purification> is truly an amazing magic."
"So did they release your mother afterward?"
"No. The eldest son took over the marquis house and inherited mother. She was practically a property of the marquis family by that point. Father once requested to see mother after the succession. This is what the new marquis said to him. 'That's fine, but can you even cough up five gold coins?'"
"That's so horrible."
"They don't think it is, but it really is horrible, isn't it. To the marquis house, that's just how things are. They're a machine that must protect and expand their territory and house. Even the family head is merely a cog in the machine, they can't go against the motion already cast in its entirety."
"I mean, isn't Norma-san's father a brother of the new marquis?"
"They might be, biologically speaking. But not in standings."
Lecan asked a question to set the topic back on rail.
"When and why did you come here?"
"Oh right, right. My mother left this world when I was 17. Then the marquis family started consulting me about my marriage."
"Are they trying to atone for their treatment on your mother?"
"Pfft. Ah no, excuse me. Eda, you're really such a good girl. I sincerely hope you never lose that pure soul of yours."
"Wait, are you making a fool out of me?"
"No no, not at all. They were fussing over my marriage because of a small hope they carry, for my children to bear the aptitude for <Purification>. Magic aptitudes sometimes run in the family, and those in the same lineage manifest the same type of magic easier. In fact, I can use <Recovery>, weak as it may. Those people would do anything to get their hands on <Purification> once again, no matter how small the chances are."
"How did you escape them."
"The new marquis spoke to father. We shall make the arrangement if you wish to leave this town. However, you cannot take your property with you."
"Fumu. He must have ulterior motives."
"The previous marquis and my mother apparently forged a pact. To not bind me and my father. That was her conditions to serve upon marquis family without resisting."
"I don't get it. Even with that pact, I don't see why they would abide by it, all the more with both party involved dead."
"It was not a mere pact. They called a priest and made an oath to god Erekus. If they broke the pact, the previous marquis would have his soul sent to hell, and crimson flames would engulf the marquis family."
Oaths get broken all the time, even oaths performed with rituals. Lecan personally bore witness to a noble who easily broke an oath their father made to god with a sacrifice the moment that father kicked the bucket. This stuff may be different in this world though.
"When I was 17, meaning nine years ago, my father and I came back to this town. Despite them telling us we couldn't bring our property, we managed to take few medicinal plants and books with us. Well, those things probably weren't worth to be called property from the marquis house's point of view."
She said she came back with her father, but there was nary a shadow of that father in this house. Just when Lecan was wondering how come, Norma gave him the answer.
"Father died in a duel the year after."
"I mentioned about a noble who tried to kill mother with a Flat White Snake, right. A little while after that incident, the family head of that noble and his daughter were called in by the marquis family and met a dreadful end there. Since my mother had become the marquis house's assets. They could not forgive that noble and his daughter for their attempt on her life. I believe they were also intended to be an example. Like, 'This is what entails if you try to mess with her.'"
"And how did that connect to the duel?"
"The son of that noble found out that father had returned to this town and apparently believed he was exiled. A knight of that noble challenged father to a duel of honor. My father accepted the duel and died with one swing of sword."
"Didn't your father discard his family name and live in this town as a commoner."
"My mother's keepsake, her wand had been stolen, you see. We were told that they would return the wand had he won the duel."
"Where the heck is the honor in that."
"Tell me about it. To make matter worse, the other party tried to abduct me after killing my father. I most likely would have met a miserable end had Jinga not been there to save me."
Lecan looked at Jinga. He's standing silently without showing any kind of emotion like always.
"However, that noble had misread the new marquis's character and thought process. The new marquis was enraged. He probably saw it as an insult to the marquis house. The family head of that noble house was replaced with a literal head, several more individuals were also found guilty and executed. Consequently, my safety is guaranteed thanks to that. And this wand returned to my side."
Norma must have inherited her knowledge and skills as a medical practitioner from her father and took over this medical center.
Lecan himself had no interest in Norma's origin and life, but her life story should prove extremely valuable when it comes to protecting Eda. Even wife of a marquis's son ended up living the life of a confined slave. Lecan has just taken a glimpse of the cruel fate that awaits <Purification> users with this story.
Norma is done narrating all she needed to tell, but Lecan's still got some questions left for her.