“I don’ want to hear excuses!” Charn slammed his fists down on his desk as Caldor lowered himself into the chair. “Yah wasted precious time and are gamblin’ with me son’s life.”
“Hardly,” Caldor sighed.
“What?” Charn hissed.
“I hardly call finding an alternative method to healing your son gambling,” Caldor reiterated. “The girl is the only one that can translate Healer Naygu’s almanac, and therefore it was not a waste of time.”
“More Westy nonsense. Yah really think those prims will have something that we don’? They live in tents and live like savages in those mountains,” Charn spat.
“Lived. They are no more,” Caldor corrected.
“Good riddance I say,” the King spat, dropping into his chair, “to bad they didn’ take that lil brat with them.”
“I do not understand why you have such a dislike for those of the West. They supplied your people with steel and material to make armour,” Caldor noticed the man cross his arms.
“They’re born of the South. Blood of snakes run through their veins. Just ‘cause they’re exiled years ago from that desert piss pot, doesn’ mean they ain’t loyal,” Charn explained. “I don’ want that lil snake near me son.”
Caldor nodded. He understood the king’s concerns, but what Charn needed to understand was the people of the West were not the same as those in the South. Although, historically, they came from the same land; the West lived a neutral life. They shared their wealth with anyone who asked. They lived savage lives because that was the life they chose.
Running his hand through his beard, Caldor noticed Charn grind his teeth.
“Do you still wish for me to proceed with the translation of the manifest?” Caldor asked, noticing the King’s eyes narrow. “It could be your son’s only chance.”
“Translate it, but don’ use any of it unless I approve,” Charn ordered, turning his chair so the back faced Caldor. “Now leave me, I don’ want to listen to yar bull anymore.”
“Of course, my King,” Caldor stood, turning before rolling his eyes.
The King had no reason to be so caustic towards a child he had only briefly been introduced to. His comments towards the South shouldn’t have been a concern in regards to the girl, since she could be molded and influenced by the North. This was an opportunity for the King, but he clearly didn’t see it through his glaring hostility.
There were other things on his mind he needed to focus on; the prince being the entire reason behind going to Morza and finding the girl in the first place. He needed to evaluate the boy’s condition before proceeding. Understanding Cáel’s symptoms would help the girl in finding the correct answer in the text.
Though, having her translate the whole almanac would be useful for my knowledge and the Glass Tower. Caldor liked that idea. If the girl was willing, she could translate the book that would make the Morzi people the speaking point for many in the university. He would be thanked for providing such useful and possibly groundbreaking medicinal discoveries to the modern world.
Approaching the boy’s room, Caldor could hear the faint moans of the boy. The pain medicine he had been given was working, although he hoped the poppy milk would prove to be stronger and work longer.
Opening the door to the boy’s room, Caldor shuffled in, ready to continue where he had left off over a month ago. The boy was quiet, covered with two feather filled quilts as his thin body sunk in the pillows. His cheeks were shallow, his eyes were sunken. The boy hadn’t been eating or sleeping well from what Caldor could gather. No surprise really, since the pain he had been experiencing came and went randomly throughout the day.
There were bottles covering the bedside table. He had not prescribed any of them for the boy the day he had left. Some of them would work for pain, but mixing these together would cause side effects like insomnia, dry mouth, indigestion, and lack of appetite. It was bad enough the boy was in too much pain to eat and sleep all by himself. He didn’t need the added difficulty from the medication. Obviously the Sisters hadn’t considered that when trying to shut the boy up.
The poppy milk would replace all of these, and he would make sure to get some water down the boy’s throat to make sure he was hydrated. After he was done fixing all the mistakes those Sisters had made while he was gone, he would head to the kitchen and see what soup was available. He didn’t care if the boy didn’t want to eat. The fact remained that he needed to, and would, if Caldor had anything to say about it.
There came a sudden foul, pungent smell wafting.
Sniffing the air, Caldor scanned the room. The smell radiated from around the bed in pungent waves like rubbish cooking in the summer heat. The chamber pot was empty and left in the farthest corner of the room. None of the medicines on the table would have made the smell.
Starting at the top of the boy’s head, Caldor sniffed down the boy’s body, pausing around the navel area to take a couple of extra sniffs. The boy hadn’t defecated, which was a pleasant thought since Caldor wasn’t in the mood to clean up the boy.
He continued sniffing until he reached the boy’s feet. The smell was coming from there. It was a mixture of garlic and decaying flesh, with a hint of manure. Caldor couldn’t figure out how the boy’s feet could smell like that until he pulled the sheets away.
They were stained dark brown from a disgusting-looking paste. The smell grew stronger. Caldor held his breath, covering his nose and mouth with the sleeve of his robe before he leaned down to take a closer look.
This wasn’t a terrible infection or some strange symptom. This wasn’t even a foot fungus, which Caldor was all too familiar with. Someone had deliberately put this on the prince’s feet.
The door to the room opened as one of the Sisters sauntered in. A small clay pot was in her hands, and a scarf was over her nose and mouth. She stopped before the bed, noticing Caldor glaring at her over his glasses.
“Tell me you are not the idiots putting troll excrement on the prince’s feet, so Fate help you,” Caldor growled, throwing the quilt back over the boy’s feet. The Sister’s shoulders stiffened at hearing the displeasure in his voice.
“Sister Jola said it would help his circulation,” the young Sister squeaked.
“I see,” Caldor took a deep breath and immediately regretted it. He removed his glasses before cleaning them with the sleeve of his robe. They dared go behind his back to the King and call him a useless healer and then do something so ridiculous even a pellar would laugh. “I will wait here while you go get Sister Jola, and the other Sisters. Understand?”
The woman nodded, hurrying out the door before he put his glasses back on his nose. The King needed to see this, as did Foe.
An hour passed by the time everyone he had wanted in the room was there. Cáel was still dozing, thankfully. Caldor knew the boy wouldn’t have been thrilled to have poop on his feet.
“I gathered you here, because it has come to my attention that we have some imbeciles among us,” Caldor glanced at the Sisters. “Firstly - any of you wish to tell me why the prince is dehydrated and starved? Sister Jola.”
The Sister stepped forward, glancing at the boy. She scanned his body before she turned her attention back to the old sage.
“His pain?” Jola answered with little confidence.
“No,” Caldor stated in a dry, blunt voice. He scuffled over to the table grabbing four of the glass bottles. “I can only assume that the reason you grabbed these was for the fact the word pain relief was written on the label. Did any of you read the rest of it?”
He glanced over the group of Sisters before looking at Charn who stood in the back of the group of women.
“My King, can you read these for me?” Caldor passed him the bottles. “Skip pain relief.”
“Diuretic, appetite suppressant, stimulant?” Charn glanced up at the old sage that just nodded his head.
“Each of those have their own combination of uses. They all work well on their own, but not together. But that is fixable. I have stopped giving him those and have started him on poppy milk,” Caldor explained, taking the edge of the quilt in his hand. “What I gathered you all here for is this.”
The sage pulled back the sheet revealing the boy’s feet. The paste had hardened and the smell was no longer as strong, but it was still strong enough for everyone in the room to turn their noses away. Caldor waited for everyone to react before he covered the boy’s feet.
“What in seven hells is that?” the Steward asked. “Some kind of fungus?”
“No. It is troll excrement,” the old sage noticed Charn’s eyes widen.
“What?” the King shouted, storming forward to pull back the quilt once more. “Why the hell’s there bull on me son’s feet?”
“Sister Jola, can you possibly enlighten the King with an answer?” Caldor turned to look at the group of Sisters. Charn was stunned, his face red and jaw clenched while he fumed with this discovery.
“Troll pellets work to promote circulation. It’s a known practice in the villages outside the city,” Sister Jola sounded more confident with her answer this time.
“It is known folklore. Troll pellets have not been proven to give any medical benefits from anything I have read, dear girl,” Caldor started, noticing the King turn back to look at him. “The only thing this promotes is bromodosis.”
“What’s that?” Charn panicked.
“I assure you, my king, I can fix this problem. There is no need to worry yourself,” Caldor spoke calmly, noticing Foe smirk. “Now, Sisters, if you could be so kind as to change and wash the prince, as well as his bed, so we can go back to practicing real medicine.”
The women lowered their eyes to the bed before they wandered off to complete the task Caldor had given them. Caldor turned his attention back to the boy who was beginning to stir. The prince would awaken soon.
“Thank yah, wee man,” Charn forced out, patting the bed before looking at the Steward who just stood there with his hands on his waist.
The king left the room, leaving Foe and Caldor there to enjoy the moment of success. Foe began to chuckle before running a hand over his face.
“What’s bromodosis?” Foe coughed, trying to be serious.
“Smelly feet - I thought it sounded more ominous with its medical name,” Caldor chuckled, hearing Foe burst out into thunderous laughter.
The sage may have been an outsider but Caldor was a Master for a reason. Those women may have thought he was nothing more than an Eastern Chijin who didn’t care about the prince’s wellbeing, but at least he was competent; at least more competent than they were.