The Villainess Enjoys a Carefree Married Life in a Former Enemy Country in Her Seventh Loop. - 9
- The Villainess Enjoys a Carefree Married Life in a Former Enemy Country in Her Seventh Loop.
- 9 - Go Ahead, Take Your Pick
When Rishe opened the door of the carriage, there was no sign of the bandits around.
She was presently unarmed, so she headed toward the center of the commotion, paying attention to her surroundings. The screams and angry roars echoing from the front soon died down.
The cause became immediately apparent.
A dozen or so men, who appeared to be bandits, were rolling on the ground.
Arnold, who was standing in the center of the bunch, looked down at one of the bandits and rolled him onto his back. He thrusted his drawn sword to his throat and frowned in displeasure.
「Is that all you’ve got? I had the knights back off and went out of my way to greet you alone. How dreadfully mundane.」
Arnold stomped firmly on the bandit’s belly and turned a murderous gaze on him.
The look on his face was terribly cold. It was not anger at the entity that attacked them, but disappointment that they did not live up to his expectations.
The air Arnold radiated made the knights, who were supposedly his subordinates, frightened. With his bloody sword in his hand, he gently shook it to shed the blood.
Is he going to kill the bandit?
Despite Rishe’s misgivings, Arnold wiped the sword with the bandit’s clothes and sheathed it.
On a closer look, it seemed that all the bandits lying around were just unconscious.
(He didn’t kill any of them! Is it because we’re still in another kingdom’s territory?)
Regardless, does this mean that he’s rational enough not to step on such a terrible move?
Or, is Arnold still not at the point where he kills people indiscriminately?
As I was observing, Arnold glanced at me, apparently noticing my gaze. He was quite astonished. It was an honest expression, a far cry from the bloodthirsty one I have seen in the past.
「How did you get out of the carriage?」
「That’s a secret. If I tell you, you’ll surely take countermeasures.」
「Hah, you really never cease to surprise me.」
You had such a cold expression on your face just seconds ago, you know? Don’t present such a mischievous front that befits your age out of the blue. As I was feeling disconcerted, a lone man got out of the carriage.
「Your Highness! You’re being reckless again!」
The disgruntled man who disembarked was as tall as Arnold. With short silver hair and arched eyebrows, he must be Arnold’s squire, named Oliver.
「What do you think the knights are here for? Engaging the bandits out of necessity is one thing, but ordering the knights to back off so you can fight alone is just pushing it!」
This Oliver was totally undaunted by Arnold. Arnold introduced him to Rishe five days ago before they left her homeland, and he greeted her as if she were one of his own people, saying, 『Please take care of Our Highness from now on.』
Rather than the fearsome Crown Prince, Arnold, too, had a somewhat helpless look on his face toward Oliver.
「I sensed the impending blood thirst from these thieves. These kind of people are tricky. It’s better for me to step out alone to protect the national interest than to let the knights fight and cause damage in a place that isn’t a battlefield… In fact, those who engaged in the initial response have sustained injuries.」
He was right. Several knights were leaning against a tree, limp. Arnold gave instructions to the knights who retreated.
「First unit, tend to the wounded. Second unit, arrest these bandits.」
「Good grief… that’s just a consequential theory, Your Highness. I’m glad that nothing happened, but you even took Rishe-sama out.」
「I didn’t take her out of the carriage.」
Rishe quickly averted her gaze when he said this.
That aside, what was more concerning was the condition of the knights. Judging from their bleeding, their injuries weren’t that deep, but they all appeared drained of their strength.
「Ahem, can I be of help?」
When Rishe spoke to the knight who was attending to the wounded, he raised his head to Rishe in surprise.
「Nonsense! You’re the Crown Princess-to-be… Please return to the carriage and take a rest.」
There was nothing particularly strange about the knight’s words if that was all the focus.
But the way he looked at Rishe was as if he didn’t want her to get too close to his precious friends.
(He’s more wary than unwelcoming…)
One of the knights groaned as his companions held him up.
「”Hey, what’s wrong? You okay?”」
「My body’s growing numb…」
「What?… Don’t tell me…」
The knight hurriedly picked up the sword that had fallen at his feet, and turned pallid as he examined the blade.
「Your Highness! Please look. It seems that the bandits had coated their weapons with some kind of poison.」
Arnold frowned and added instructions to the knights.
「Immediately find where their injuries are. Bind the wounds near the heart and suck the poison out from the wound.」
His instructions were quite precise. Rishe glanced around and approached the bandits, who were already tied up.
When she drew a dagger out of its sheath, the blade was coated with a glistening liquid, just as the knight had said.
(Quite generously applied. It’s an inexpensive and amply available poison.)
She faned it with her hand to check the smell and found no pungent odor. This time, she directly placed it near her nose to analyze it more closely.
(It smells sweet, like an overripe apple… It is definitely a mixture of shear grass and bluestone mushrooms. It’s generally consistent with the symptoms of the knights.)
Rishe stood up and headed toward the carriage she was riding in.
「Your Highness, Her Highness, Lady Rishe, is going back to the carriage.」
「That’s fine with me. Let her do what she wants.」
「Well, you mentioned that she’s trained in swords, but I don’t think she has any battlefield experience. Such a horrific sight would be cruel to the such a pampered young lady!」
(There it is. This, and this, and then…)
While listening to the conversation of Arnold and the others, Rishe searched for the items she was looking for.
「The poison is probably an anesthetic of some kind. I’ve heard that some hunters around here use it to weaken large prey. The amount of poison on the blade should be less than lethal.」
「We’re still in trouble, though. The shortest estimate for us to reach Garkhain is two more days. Along with tending to the paralyzed knights, the journey will take longer than that.」
「Then we’ll have to find the hunters’ settlement. If we can get the antidote――…」
Rishe returned to them and quickly raised her hand.
「I have it, the antidote.」
All eyes simultaneously gathered on Rishe at once.
Arnold’s conjecture was consistent with Rishe’s speculations.
This sweet-smelling poison was used for hunting all over the continent. It was made from materials that could be harvested in the springtime and was valued because the toxin would disappear when heated by flame.
Rishe herself had several opportunities to see this poison in the past. In her herbalist life, she had treated patients who had ingested this poison.
「The lethal dose for an adult male is one glass of wine, barely a hundredth of what penetrated the knights’ bodies.」
While having the wounded knights lie on their sides, Rishe explained to Arnold, all the while working on a certain task.
「However, they’d better not lie on their backs, as this can also cause tongue and other movements to deteriorate. The root of the tongue can fall down toward the throat and block the airway.」
「I see… I understand what you’re saying, but so what?」
Arnold asked, peering into Rishe’s hand.
「What exactly are you doing?」
「Huh? As you can see, I’m making the antidote.」
Rishe replied seriously as she kneaded the herbs in a bowl.
The white soup bowl was filled with flowers just picked this morning.
She was crushing the flowers with the back of a spoon, and when the time was right, she’d add another flower, and then ground the mixture again.
「This poison is invaluable to hunters because it’s cheap, readily available, and the antidote is easy to secure.」
The poisons produced by these spring wildflowers came from the same forests where the antidote also grew.
It was said that hunters discovered a deer, which remained normal after eating poisonous blue stone mushrooms, also ate some wild plants along with them, so they developed it as an experimental subject.
「The truth is, it works better if we boil it, but let’s make do with this one for the time being. There’s no time to lose.」
After adding a small amount of water to the crushed herbs and using a cloth to strain it, Rishe stood up with a bowl of green medicine in her hand.
Only then did she discover that everyone around her was looking at her in a daze.
She glanced at Arnold, troubled and unable to figure out why they were staring at her.
Beside Oliver’s, who was staring at her blankly, Arnold also remained silent as if thinking about something. If she was going to treat them, she better get started the soonest possible.
After mulling over it, it dawned on Rishe.
(Oh, are they suspecting me by any chance?)
But on second thought, it was only natural.
(I wouldn’t want to use a medicine that a stranger concocted, either. But the longer it takes for them to ingest the antidote, the harder it is to get rid of their numbness…)
At the very least, Rishe wanted to ease their fears. With this in mind, she walked toward Arnold.
She rolled up the sleeves of her dress, and then half-drew the sword he was carrying from its scabbard.
「Let me borrow this, Your Highness.」
After telling him this, she pressed the soft skin of the inside of her arm against the sword. Although it caused a faint pain, it was nothing compared to the knights’ injuries and lives.
「What are you doing?!」
Arnold blinked at the red streak that formed on Rishe’s arm. He almost grabbed her arm, but Rishe immediately backed away.
Rishe didn’t expect him to be so disconcerted. But this was not the time to deal with him. While holding the bowl that was about to spill its contents, she glanced back at the knights.
「Rest assured, this liquid isn’t poison.」
With that said, she scooped a spoonful of the medicine and dabbed it on the wound she had slashed. It stung a bit, a sign that the herbal ingredients had been extracted.
「It is a mixture of lycoris herb, lucua flowers, and carrillier berries ground together. If you’re still skeptical, I’ll gladly take a sip.」
In truth, it was bitter and Rishe wished to avoid it as much as possible. She hid her true sentiments, though, and looked down at the knight closest to her.
「The poison you have received is such that its numbness will last for several days. So, it’s your call.」
「Would you like to take a chance on this medicine, or suffer with that uncomfortable numbness and wait patiently till we reach Garkhain? Or we could also ask His Highness to find a hunters’ settlement to get the antidote they use ――」
Rishe smilingly listed their choices.
「You can take your pick, Your Highness.」
Arnold regarded Rishe with a look of complexity never seen on his face before.