Chapter 25 – Completion of The Curse-Cleansing Potion
“Oh, Hiroki! Lusha, Ren, and Ruri, too! Welcome back!!”
“Yep, good to be back, Pino.”
With the Drops of the Great Tree, and Ishtar’s ring, we safely returned to the alchemist’s house where the Pino and the others were. By the way, Lusha wore the ring underneath her glove, so it’s not usually visible. Normal people wouldn’t notice she was using such a powerful piece of equipment.
“Doesn’t look like you guys had any problems along the way, did you?”
“We didn’t. We got the Great Tree’s Drops properly, and here we are.”
“Great, that’s perfect!”
I gave Pino the bottle with the Great Tree’s Drops. “I’m sorry to ask you as soon as I got back, but can you make the curse-cleansing potion right away?”
“Of course I can. In lieu of payment, can you do me a favor?”
“If I’m capable of it, I will.”
“Thank you very much. Well then, let’s go make this potion, post-haste!”
Pino opened a nearby door and went down a staircase to the basement, telling us to follow. I didn’t see Hassan and Liliana in the living room right after we entered the room, so they’d probably gone out somewhere.
I followed Pino down the stairs along with Lusha, Ren, and Ruri. The basement was like a research room for alchemy. Various medicines were lined up on the shelves, and medicinal herbs hung on the walls. A unique smell found its way into my nose. Was it the scent of a flower, or a chemical ― or a mixture of the two?
Pino laughed as we looked around the room like curious tourists. “A lot of this stuff is dangerous, so don’t go around touching everything, alright?”
“Of course. There are so many things here I’ve never seen before, so I’m curious. You’ve even got potted plants, huh?”
“Oh, that’s just… wait, you don’t need to stand at attention like that. It’s kind of embarrassing, just relax!”
“Was it that obvious? Sorry, I’ll do my best.” Pino smiled when I shifted to a more natural posture.
Along the wall was a rectangular flower pot with long grass. I wondered if it was native to the area, even though it was in the basement where there’s no sunlight. Pino then told me it was another ingredient for the curse-cleansing potion.
“Really, this too?”
“I guess it uses quite a lot of ingredients… I’ll compensate you for the ingredients other than what we brought in, so please let me know how much that will be.”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll just ask Hiroki for a favor later. Um, Ren was it? You guys too, relax! This place isn’t going to bite you!”
“Okay then, and thanks.”
I was kinda worried since I didn’t know what she was going to ask me to do, but since I’m right here and ready to cure Ren, I decided to just go along with everything. Pino stared at our group.
“Well then… was Ren the one who got cursed?”
“What ― I never told you about that!”
“I’m an Alchemist, so of course I know the symptoms!”
Ren was the most surprised at Pino. It’s only natural. He was putting up with the pain as much as he could and behaving like nothing was wrong. You could tell just by looking at him that he was wondering how she knew that.
After placing the Great Tree’s Drops and Apricot grass on the desk, Pino walked towards Ren.
“Show me the current state of the curse.”
Ren hesitated for a moment, before taking off his cape and coat. We could clearly see a snake-like pattern wrapping around his arm. Lusha and I frowned in spite of ourselves.
Ren’s curse was already on the verge of reaching his chest. Pino looked at Ren almost as if she was impressed, and touched the snake mark with her hand. After touching it several times, Ren’s eyebrows creased in pain.
“You’ve done well to endure it for this long… it must have been very painful.”
He laughed. “I couldn’t let something like this affect me too much.”
“Really? Well, you’ll be rid of it soon.”
Ren sat on a nearby chair and took a deep breath. His breathing was getting a little rougher, and looking at the curse, I realized it might have been flaring up. Ruri patted Ren’s back and tried to calm him down.
Pino put her hand on the flowerpot and looked back at us. “Hey everyone, plug your ears.”
I followed Pino’s instructions while wondering what she was going to do. Ren did seem to be suffering, but he was slowly able to plug his ears.
What exactly is about to happen? Barely a moment after I wondered, I found out. A loud scream echoed through the room, and I was so shocked I thought my heart would jump out of my chest. It’s like the dizziness you’d get from being hit over the head.
Still shaking, I looked at Pino and saw the grass from the flower pot in her hand, with its dangling root that had a human face on it. Could that possibly be…?
“Is that Mandragora…?”
“Oh, you know about it? You’re correct. Mandragora is a pretty valuable ingredient.”
She put the Mandragora in a mortar and used her Alchemy skills, mashing the root until it resembled sticky yams.
“No, I’d only heard about it… is it safe to hear the Mandragora’s screams?”
It’s a famous legend that the Mandragora’s scream will kill you, but we’re still alive after hearing it. I’m a little woozy, though. Pino laughed and said, “You can tell we’re all fine, right? A particularly weak or frail person might die, but Hiroki and the others are strong enough! None of you even fell over! If you pick these a lot, you can actually get used to it, so it’s nothing to worry about.”
I wanted to hold my head. “That still seems pretty dangerous…”
“Well, you’re safe, aren’t you? And that’s good. So, next we add the Apricot grass here…”
Pino laid down the Apricot grass that had been ripped off and and mixed it well before putting the stuff in a flask and using more of her Alchemy skills.
“[Drying], [Acceleration], [Time Control]… Alright.”
The gooey mixture turned into a fluffy powder. The white color was so beautiful you couldn’t imagine it coming from the brown goop from before. When she added the Great Tree’s Drops, it glowed softly.
“[Temperature Control], [Heating] a bit more, [Heating]…”
This seemed to be a more difficult step, and Pino’s eyes grew intensely focused. I couldn’t have imagined such a face from her usual appearance. She breathed steadily, occasionally glancing over at us.
How long had it been so deadly quiet? Pino was concentrating on the flask and using her Alchemy skills without a single word. Performing skills for such a long time will surely consume a lot of magic.
…It’s definitely hard to make this unless you’re a skilled Alchemist.
An hour passed, and Pino cried out, “It’s done!”
“Yeah, I’m finished, now you can lift Ren’s curse!”
I raised my voice and Lusha and Ruri were also relieved. Ren seems to have been dozing off in his seat, and jumped up in surprise when we started yelling, which got a laugh out of the rest of us.
“Ah, sorry about that, I guess I dozed off…”
“It’s fine, you must be tired. More importantly, the curse-cleansing potion is finished.”
When I pointed toward Pino, he blinked his eyes several times before becoming transfixed by the bottle in Pino’s hands, filled with a lovely golden liquid. He gulped and slowly got up from his chair, going over to Pino to receive the curse-cleansing potion from her.
“…Is this it? The curse-cleansing potion? It’s so beautiful.”
“Come on, drink it quickly! With that, the curse should be lifted!”
Ruri prodded him to hurry up, since he seemed to hesitate upon seeing the potion. Ren always acted like it was no big deal, but Ruri was with him the whole time. She definitely would have seen him up close during every moment of his suffering. I’m sure she wanted to lift the curse even more than I did.
Ren nodded slowly and opened the bottle. When he drank it, the snake’s mark wrapped around his body faded out and disappeared, leaving behind only beautiful skin, as if nothing had ever happened.
“…Whoa, it’s amazing! The pain is really gone!”
“Ren, thank goodness!!”
“You’re not going to die from the curse anymore!”
Ruri and I startled Ren with a hug when the curse disappeared. He seemed outright bewildered, and couldn’t even pay enough attention to stand at all ― sitting on the floor instead. The pile of books next to him fell over, but I wasn’t in a state to care about that right now.
“Well, I… I’m saved? Somehow… it hasn’t really sunk in just yet.”
“It’s exactly as you said, Ren.”
“But did the curse really break down? Check your status.”
“Oh, that’s right. We can know for sure by looking at my status. [Status].”
Name: Ren Watanabe
Magic Power: 1
Skills: [Language Acquisition (Passive)] [Attack Power Enhancement (Passive)] [Self-Regeneration Enhancement (Passive)] [Taunt]
Other: Contract Bracelet
His level went up… no, not that! I quickly went down to check the “other” section. Back in the inn, the word “Curse” had been clearly written there, next to the Contract Bracelet, but it had disappeared without a trace.
Thank goodness. I was relieved. I was so relieved. I smiled at Ren, and he told me to stop repeating myself, so I shut up and nodded. Large tears were spilling from his eyes.
“…Thank you. Seriously, the curse really has been lifted. I was terrified of dying.”
“That’s a natural fear. We won’t let you die if we have anything to say about it!”
“That’s right, I’m glad you’re safe. We have to learn from this so we won’t have to go through it again.”
Ren tried to wipe away the tears with his hands, but they just kept coming. I said, “Come on, man, it’s okay,” but one can’t just stop crying on a whim.
“I’ve been stronger than I ever thought I could be, but I was so scared. Scared I’d die here and leave everyone behind. Scared I’d never go home again.”
“But you found the Apricot grass for me, Hiroki… and Ruri, you were stronger than I expected, and always supported me. Thank you, both of you.”
Ren smiled at us. I looked at Ruri and saw she was crying too, caught up in Ren’s little speech. I thought for a moment that girls really were more apt to shed tears, but then I noticed my cheeks were wet, too.
…I guess it makes sense. These are happy tears, after all.
“You’ve always been helping me, Ren. You even signed a contract with that king! I have no reason not to help you.”
The two of us were happy to give Ren more compliments.
And suddenly, I thought about Lusha and Pino, thinking we’ve shown them something awkward. I thought I’d need to tell them Ren was safe for now, but they weren’t there anymore.
Apparently, they stepped out to let these people from the same hometown have a moment together.
“Aw, thanks, guys…”
We all cried together for a while, in celebration of lifting Ren’s curse.