It was already at the end of autumn when I had my meeting with Corneille, Freche’s third son. The confusion and clean-up of the summer’s series of incidents had finally been settled.
We exchanged a few words and drank some tea before getting down to business in the Academy parlour, which had become the temple with what few personnel were left.
“Is this what you were talking about?”
He took out a crema-coloured lump nervously. I took it and handed it to Radka, who was standing behind me.
Radka smelled it to confirm that it was what it was meant to be and touched my right shoulder. That was the signal to tell me that it was.
“It seems so. Thank you for obtaining it, Corneille Freche. My business with you is now done.”
“That’s good. I feel relieved.”
He patted his chest in relief and looked anxiously at the lump in Radka’s hand.
“Umm, is it really alright? Because that’s… that, right? The thing that caused a big disturbance in the capital.”
“The addictive beeswax. That’s right.”
It was the rembia beeswax that Viscount Roguesia had been making.
“So, it is…”
I helped him break off the engagement between Feyria Roguesia and Gosta Agren in exchange for the beeswax. It was a drug, so he had to do some shady trading for it. I nodded, and he turned pale.
I shook my head, “It’s fine.”
“This beeswax will be allowed to be purchased and possessed as a ‘pharmaceutical drug’ from tomorrow.”
“That’s right. You will need a prescription from a licensed doctor, but any noble will be able to purchase and possess a certain quantity of this beeswax. It will be treated as medicine according to the doctor’s prescription, and the patient will be responsible for its addictive side effects. Such medicines will be designated and controlled by the state.”
Arxia has laws and systems in place to control dangerous poisons and drugs, but all drugs that were deemed dangerous were all banned from production, sale and use even if they could be used for medicinal purposes. That was why there was little progress in medicine, and a high rate of death by illness despite there being a well-developed exam and licensing system for doctors… Although, the average life expectancy in this kingdom is higher than any of its surrounding kingdoms.
Noble children often go on to become doctors and everyone was concerned about the lack of variety and research for drugs. As soon as a drug is found to be toxic to the human body, it is subjected to regulation, no matter how effective it is in treating any disease. Drugs and poisons are two sides of the same coin, and because of that situation, technological development has been slow and ineffective.
… I didn’t do much. I just talked to the adults around me at the end-of-season ball about a vague idea I had for a system. I believe I talked a lot with nobles who had lost family members because of the drug restrictions, and with nobles from fiefs that were cultivating medicinal plants.
“Beeswax mixed with rembia juice can be addictive, but it’s on the mild side among the regulated products. It won’t affect you too much as long as you don’t use it every day. And it has a long history of use as folk medicine, especially for forest syndrome in the southern kingdoms… and in Rindarl.”
“What is forest syndrome?”
“… Forest syndrome is a disease that isn’t often heard about in the south. It is caused by inhaling the scales of the cotton butterfly, a monster that has a symbiotic relationship with the cypraeid trees, causing respiratory failure due to the inflammation of the bronchial tubes, and the lungs are also weakened due to the toxins. There are a lot of cypraeid forests in the north, and there are a lot of cotton butterflies too. Rembias works as a repellent for the butterflies, and the smoke from it has been shown to have a mild anti-inflammatory and detoxifying effect. The documents I prepared in advanced contained a detailed list of medicinal properties, which I have presented to your father, and he was the first to approve it as a pharmaceutical drug.”
I learned more about the medicinal properties of the rembia beeswax from Rindarl’s former slaves who are still staying in Arxia. They are people from the southern kingdom. Besides making tea with the petals, they knew that mixing rembia juice with sugar made a weak antidote and the smoke can be inhaled to smooth swollen throats.
Marquis Rettalgau confirmed with the peace ambassador that the information about rembias cultivated in the south of Rindarl being used as medicine, or drugs, in the north came from a neighbouring kingdom since the source of Agren’s information was Nordsterm. The peace ambassador wanted to give Arxia a good impression, so he immediately submitted documents summarising the effects of the medicine and the cases in which it was prescribed for. When it was included in the information that Earl Thelesia had gathered for me, I was surprised that the Prime Minister would be making a direct move.
“Eh, ah.” Corneille looked puzzled as his eyes moved around listlessly. I tilted my head and he lowered his gaze uncomfortably.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t understand half of what you said since there were many unfamiliar words.”
“… Ah, no. That’s my fault for not being considerate enough.”
Medical science is specialist knowledge in this world and the technical terms used in medical science aren’t commonly known. Even words that were commonly known to people in the memory of my previous life are not often included in the education for nobles.
Lately, I’ve been talking only with nobles who have knowledge about pharmaceutics and medical science, so I forgot about that… It was my fault for using words that he wouldn’t understand.
“Simply put, rembia is very useful as medicine for certain local diseases in the north. It’s easier to use when it’s processed as wax since the smoke can be inhaled.”
“You’ve simplified all that quite a bit.”
“You should ask your father about this more since you’ll be deeply involved with this in the future.”
After all, this was the main industry of the land his bride-to-be will inherit. I’m certain the Earl Freche will make sure that Corneille, of all people, learns about it.
“That’s true. ――― Well, that concludes our business. Thank you for your help, Earl Kaldia.”
“No, thank you.”
I knocked on the door.
“Enter,” I heard Maya, the maid, reply.
“Excuse me, Elize-dono.”
Elize smiled like a blooming flower and called my name. She was sitting on her bed with the windows closed and her complexion didn’t look good. She seemed to be feeling under the weather today.
There were no cotton butterfly scales in the capital, and yet she was this weak because the poison from the scales had already accumulated in her lungs.
“I’m happy that I get to see you often these days. But aren’t you busy?”
“I also want to see you as much as I can when I have time, Elize-dono, just like how you always come to see me.”
Elize widened her eyes in surprise, then she closed her eyes and laughed in embarrassment.
“I can’t bear to hear that you’ve been bedridden. I wanted to see you healthy… So…”
I suddenly felt heat around my face as if blood had rushed to it.
… What? It’s so embarrassing.
“What are you embarrassed for?”
Radka stood behind me and shook his head. I see, am I embarrassed?
“Hmm, ahem. Elize-dono, there’s something I want to give you today. Can you accept it?”
“Yes? What is it?”
She tilted her head, then widened her eyes in surprise even more when a person of indeterminable gender and age in a white robe peeked out from behind me.
“… Oh, it’s this girl?”
As the priest was about to approach Elize with a curious look, Radka, who was further behind, plucked the hem of her veil and stopped her.
“This is Priestess Faris, a licensed national doctor. She has come here today as a doctor. I’ve already informed your father and uncle about this, so don’t worry.”
“A national doctor,” Elize said in a quiet voice while stunned.
There aren’t many national doctors. The huge amount of knowledge and money required for the exam narrows down the participants, and it is said that only half of the doctors who take that exam pass.
The national medical license was established as a qualification to become a doctor for the royal family, and there was little need for it at a non-governmental level.
Such doctors will probably increase in the future as the demand for handling pharmaceutical drugs rises, but there are less than fifty national doctors at the moment.
“I heard you have forest syndrome. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
Elize was puzzled by the suddenness of the situation, but she immediately relaxed when I nodded my head.
“Please take care of me.”
Priestess Faris asked Elize how she coughed, how often she had seizures and how long they lasted. Elize answered the various questions and Maya occasionally commented as well.
After questioning Elize, Priestess Faris wrote on the card that served as a permission slip for the medicine, ‘Burn the rembia beeswax for 15 minutes every day, and when the seizures decrease, then only burn it when she has seizures,’ and handed it to me. “Aren’t you glad?” she said.
“Coughing from the forest syndrome can become a habit. It can eat away at your strength even more than being weakened by the poison. But you must persevere. The day will come when you can go where you want to go and touch what you want to touch as long as you have the medicine. Have hope, and rest assured.”
She spoke in a very priestess-like way. Just listening to it was enough to give one a sense of security.
Radka and I watched in silence as Priestess Faris patted Elize’s shoulder in comfort.
“Thank you very much… Eliza-dono.”
Elize’s eyes were moist with happiness.
Priestess Faris slipped out of the room without making a sound. Radka and I walked over to Elize’s bed.
“It’s something I’ve been wanting to give you. I hope you’ll accept it.”
I said and Radka gently presented Elize with the beeswax box in his hand.
“What is this?”
“It’s rembia beeswax, the medicine for forest syndrome. It has legal restrictions on its usage, so you have to follow what Priestess Faris said, but the poison will clear from your lungs in a few years.”
Elize stared at the box on her lap in surprise.
Of course, the medicine was expensive. Rembia beeswax, a pharmaceutical drug, is probably the most expensive drug to be prescribed. That was why it was obtained through the black market.
“Why don’t you come visit Kaldia when you’re no longer having seizures? The new feudal lord’s mansion stands on a hill by the river… it’s not as beautiful as the Golden Hill, but the water glistening in sunlight is very beautiful. I would love for you to see it.”
I felt very embarrassed. I could feel heat gathering in my face.
“I want to see it. I’ll definitely visit. Thank you very much, Eliza-sama… I’m very, very happy.”
Elize burst into tears. Radka and I were startled by her tears and quickly comforted her. She cried like that for a while.