The following day, thanks to a full night of sleep, Lith had regained his cool, and started to plan his next moves.
First, he needed to find a cure for all the four different kinds of parasites.
It wasn\'t only a matter of using that knowledge to guide from the shadows the healers and alchemist.
Helping the Crown into developing a fake magic spell or drug was of secondary importance.
The priority was to find a cure for himself, so that even if everything went south and the plagues spreaded to the rest of the Kingdom, he would still be the master of his own destiny.
The mana blocking parasite was the one that worried him the most.
Unlike the others, it didn\'t deal any direct damage to the host, but without mana, a magician was like a wingless eagle.
Lith had no idea if it would have the same effect on Awakened ones, but he wasn\'t willing to take unnecessary risks.
The first parasite he would study was the one turning healing magic into wounds.
It was the only one he was already familiar with, having treated its effects in the past.
He could use that advantage to quickly understand how the parasites worked and then apply that knowledge to eradicate them for good.
Outside his tent, Lith found a soldier waiting for him.
Good morning, sir.
The Colonel sent me to escort you to his tent for the morning debriefing. Despite both were wearing a mask, Lith could hear the soldier\'s voice brimming with curiosity.
His farmer clothes stuck out like a sore thumb, but with his pocket dimension still offline, he hadn\'t much of a choice.
It was barely dawn, but the encampment was already bustling with activity.
When he entered, both Kilian and Varegrave stood up from their chairs, inviting him to join them for breakfast.
With all that had happened the day before, Lith had skipped dinner, so he was starving.
He didn\'t like Varegrave, but in his book hunger beat pride with a tennis score.
The furniture in the tent had been changed, the hardwood desk and chair were no longer in sight, replaced by a smaller square dining table.
This is definitely my kind of debriefing. Eggs, sausages, bacon, everything had a delicious smell.
Lith filled his plate, waiting for an explanation.
Glad to see you have recovered completely.
The buzz cut is a smart move, it will help you blend in.
Kilian\'s words made little sense to him, until watching at his reflection in a glass, he discovered that not only his har was back, but also all the burn marks had disappeared, leaving no scar or discoloration.
- Solus, when the heck did it happen
It seems that when you sleep, your healing abilities become strong enough to border regeneration.
There was nothing I could do to stop it, and you were exhausted. –
What are the plans for today Lith tried to change the topic.
That kind of healing was too sophisticated for a simple student, and even if he wanted to, he was unable to replicate it.
The state of national emergency has been declared yesterday.
By the end of today the Master Healers from the six big academies should arrive. Varegrave\'s voice was firm, but from his bloodshot eyes and the dark circles around them, Lith assumed the Colonel had spent a sleepless night.
To avoid a recurrence of the sabotage that costed Velagros his life, I have sent a detail to escort the groups here safely.
It will take at least until tomorrow to arrange a proper housing for everyone and explain the situation.
In the meantime, I have to ask you to keep working on the plagues.
Despite the information blackout, the news about Kandria are spreading.
We have to solve this situation before our weakness is exposed to the neighbouring countries.
When you are done eating, I would like for you to wear these clothes.
Varegrave took out of his dimensional amulet a grey military uniform consisting of leather boots, grey linen pants and shirt with a white dot on both shoulders, white gloves and a mask of the same colour.
Your current outfit makes you an easy target.
I have reasons to believe that there are traitors even among us.
That uniform, instead, will simply identify you as a plague doctor.
Such status will grant you several privileges, among which free movement in all the facilities and authority over the soldiers.
Yeah, speaking of privileges, can I get back the ability to use dimensional items and all kinds of spells
I\'m sorry. Varegrave shook his head.
But I can\'t fulfil neither of your requests.
The protocol to grant such privileges inside the Small World is classified.
And you are still a civilian.
Lith gritted his teeth but remained silent.
He had noticed how even Kilian kept his communication amulet in his pocket, instead of storing it away.
That, coupled with the fact several tents were employed as food storage, meant that aside from Varegrave, probably no one could use dimensional items.
Any other request
Lith spent the rest of the morning studying the anti healing parasite.
People with open wounds were the perfect test subjects, since it made it easier to extract both the parasite and the toxins.
Also, being the parasite with the highest mortality rate, it would give him the opportunity to study what happened after the host\'s death.
First, Lith tried to get a hold of a single parasite with spirit magic.
It turned out to be extremely difficult, since the creature was enveloped with toxins that disrupted his mana flow.
Once he succeeded, the parasite went into a spasm, causing a lot of pain in the patient, despite already being heavily sedated.
His next step was to try to get rid of the toxins before attempting to remove the parasite, but it went even worse.
The creature turned out to not be a picky eater, it would consume not only the host\'s mana, but also the one Lith spent to flush out the toxins.
The double feeding had an invigorating effect on the parasite, that quickly released more toxins restoring the balance.
To add insult to the injury, his attempt triggered their reproductive cycle.
Lith didn\'t know how long would it take for the eggs to hatch, but he assessed that once it happened, it would become impossible even for him to save the patient.
- Dammit, either their creator is a true mage too or is even more paranoid than I am.
I can only hope it\'s the latter case, otherwise the whole Kingdom is screwed.
These things are a masterpiece, while I\'m still stuck at the basics of tier four. –
During the afternoon, he decided to change approach.
He needed more information to come up with a decent plan, so he went to the morgue.
Thanks to the new and improved Life Vision, he was able to see the aura of death surrounding a corpse.
That way, even if Invigoration was useless on inanimated objects, he could still find the parasites, whether they outlived their host or not.
In any case, he could learn a lot, maybe even collect samples for the alchemists to study.
Unnoticed to him, three figures stealthily followed him while he walked through the camp, asking for directions.
The morgue was located in a tent bigger than the field hospital itself.
There were no curtains inside, it was like one huge room.
It was perfectly lit by yellow magic stones hanging from the ceiling, while several blue crystals were etched into the tent\'s fabric, constantly emitting a cold air.
The temperature inside was so low that Lith could see his breath steam.
The whole space was filled with metal shelves, where countless corpses had been lined up after being wrapped with special blankets that helped to prevent the decomposition.
The recently deceased, instead, were in an open space a few meters from the entrance, still laying on the stretchers they had been brought in with.
Lith was surprised to find the body of the man he had visited just the day before.
His leg was still split open, his face had the paleness of death, but at least he seemed at peace, finally free from the pain.
Lith still remembered were most of the parasites were located, so he tried to conjure an air dome to protect himself from blood spatters, and an air knife to cut through the flesh.
- Blast! I forgot I don\'t have air magic anymore.
I need a damn surgeon.
Without magic, I\'ll end up butchering the body, and bye-bye small, delicate parasites. –
Before he could get out, the curtain of the tent opened.
A masked soldier pointed a sword at him.
Don\'t try calling for help, the tent is sound proof. His voice was made even more menacing by the plague mask.
Either you follow me obediently, or your brother will die!