Chapter 330 Strongest Sage, Infers
"Maybe it's like the typical scenario where the demon has killed and replaced the town lord here?"
"That sounds plausible... But this territory..."
Replacing a town lord is indeed a typical scenario.
It would afford the demon a degree of authority, easier time to create situations that benefit it, and there's little worry of getting found out as long as the demon erases the victim's body well.
It's especially effective for demons that are good at concealing their mana.
However... I don't believe there's much to gain for Zadokilgias to pose as a lord of this small town.
To begin with, the kingdom is keeping an eye on this lord for unjust taxing.
What's even the point of impersonating the guy.
Zadokilgias is most likely setting up a scheme that will certainly turn the table on its subjugation party.
With the amount of mana Zadokilgias sent through Dragon Veins, it must have anticipated the first subjugation party sent after it would be also the most elite unit, thus as long as it managed to beat them, it could take it easy afterward.
The problem is how...
I drew water from a nearby well.
Then I drink a little bit of it.
And then I felt mana in my body getting ever so slightly weakened.
"I knew it."
The well water has been tampered with.
I'm guessing... some sort of specialized magic must have been cast in underground water.
"Is there something wrong with the water?"
"Yeah. You'll see yourself if you drink even a little... Careful not to take in too much now."
The three girls timidly drank the water after I told them that.
Alma and Ruli frowned.
"Uun, it kinda feels gross..."
"The difference is so subtle that I wouldn't have noticed had Mathi-kun not told me... But it feels really cold somehow. And not a pleasant one, more like it gives me the chill from deep inside..."
"This water is so good! ...I don't think there's anything wrong with it!"
Ruli and Alma understood.
As for Iris... I suppose this water won't affect her. To her, it's nothing but tasty water.
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"Is this a poison?"
"No. It's most likely... Normal water with its mana absorption property enhanced. The way you handle mana will be slightly altered if you drink a lot of this water."
Water has a property of absorbing much more mana than air.
Hence why mana from detection magic doesn't pass through water easily.
This well water has its mana absorption property deliberately enhanced.
Drinking this water won't affect anything initially.
Thus, even those sufficiently proficient at controlling mana likely won't notice the trick in this water if they're not already on alert.
The issue will surface... once you've drunk a large quantity of this water.
Human drinks about 1.5 liter of water a day.
The water then circulates throughout the whole body through blood vessels.
Having water with this property circulating inside your body... will result in an increased amount of bodily mana, but in exchange, your magic cast time will become slightly longer than usual.
It's not a total loss since it does increase your mana pool, but it also alters how your magic work.
The more experienced a magic combatant is, the better their understanding of their own mana control.
Conversely, that also means they won't be able to unleash their power as well if there is a sudden change in their mana characteristic.
Zadokilgias must have anticipated that the subjugation party would visit this town first.
And then... The party would likely end up staying in this town after failing to find the well hidden Zadokilgias.
Afterward, they would definitely make a contact with this town's water then.
"Slightly alter mana handle... You mean it won't kill us or get us an upset stomach?"
"Yeah. And it's not like you can't cast magic anymore either, everything will go back to normal a few days after you've stopped drinking this water."
"This scheme is kind of lame..."
"...Which precisely makes it hard to detect..."
"You got it."
Ruli is indeed correct, the trick put in this water is emphasized on [being undetectable].
Hence it's not really a potent poison... or rather, it can't even be called poison.
It simply hampers one's fighting ability a bit for a time.
In other word...
"The goal of this water is to defeat the persons who drink it. As such, it stands to reason the demon must be here in this town."
It'd let the subjugation party drink the water, and once the group has been weakened, the demon will launch an attack on its own term, fighting with the advantage on its side... That must be Zadokilgias's objective.
Which naturally means... The subjugation party (meaning us) needs to be at a place where the attack will occur.
This scheme can only work if the schemer has complete confidence in their hiding skill... and Zadokilgias definitely would.
"Does that mean, it's hiding inside this town..."
"Yeah. And I've got a good guess where it is."
"There's no better place to hide than... Adventurer Guild."