Contrary to Lith\'s expectations, Colonel Varegrave didn\'t raise objections to his proposal, allowing him to start studying the mana blocking parasites.
The only issue was that many preparations were required, and the safety measures were much stricter than before.
Most of the victims had turned extremely violent, so they needed to be hands and feet strapped to the stretchers to avoid escape attempts.
Everything that regarded the magical community needed the Mage Association permission, so Captain Kilian was assigned to him as escort and assistant whenever he came in contact with one of the patients.
There were a couple of reasons behind Varegrave\'s meek attitude.
After speaking with Professor Marth, he had been able to put his wounded pride aside and admit to himself how wrong he had been doubting Lith\'s loyalty to the Kingdom.
Second, and most important, he was dealing with an internal investigation that had exploded between his hands out of the blue.
After Lith had killed the traitorous lieutenant Vickas and his two accomplishes, the cogs of fate had started to move.
With the tight discipline the encampment was operated with, the sudden disappearance of middle level officers couldn\'t go unnoticed for long.
By the end of the first day, the military personnel were on alert, looking for three possible deserters.
The worst case scenario was that one of them, if not all, had been infected, and had decided to attempt escaping from the quarantine zone to see their families one last time before their demise.
Varegrave couldn\'t take any risk, if the plague spreaded in the rest of the Kingdom, the whole world would have been in danger.
Their living quarters were tooth comb searched looking for any clue about their intentions or destination.
By the following day, the situation turned even worse.
By checking their military records and work schedules, Varegrave discovered that all three of them, at the moment of their disappearance, were on patrol duty in the sector where Lith\'s tent was located.
Normally he would have considered it to be a coincidence, but after what happened to his sworn brother Velagros, he couldn\'t dismiss the idea they were traitors sent to finish the job.
Varegrave asked for Kilian\'s help, and both had their most loyal men search every place the three missing officers had been seen at, looking for clues.
The good news was that thanks to Small World, escaping was far from easy, and all the guards at the checkpoints, the only ways out the quarantine zone, were all elite veterans of proven loyalty.
Even if one of them was a traitor too, in an eight men team it would be impossible for him to help his accomplices without the others noticing.
Also, according to the Ward block security, they had been seen going in, but never got out.
Being Lith safe and sound, he couldn\'t be their target.
The thorough search of the encampment lead to the finding of a hidden stash and most of the magical items that once belonged to the three lieutenants.
The stash contained incriminating evidence against three powerful noble families and two of the missing soldiers, marking them as potential traitors against the Crown.
According to a letter found inside the stash, lieutenant Vickas had been approached by his foster father, Duke Selimar, who had asked him to betray the Kingdom in exchange of the promise of becoming his heir.
Vickas explained how he had pretended to accept, while gathering evidence to bring down the noble faction.
According to the letter, he had only managed to identify two more, and concluded saying that if anything happened to him, it was likely he had been discovered and killed.
Varegrave was moved by Vickas\' brave selflessness, cursing himself for not being a leader capable to inspire trust.
If Vickas had come asking for his help, maybe things would have ended differently.
The final nail in the coffin of Varegrave\'s hopes for a happy ending, was that all the magical items retrieved now lacked any imprinting.
That could mean that their owners were dead.
Discovering how deeply rooted was the noble\'s faction grasp inside the military ranks, Varegrave entrusted all the gathered evidence to Kilian, letting the Queen\'s corps do the rest.
Unbeknownst to Lith, his plan had worked almost flawlessly.
It had been him forcing Vickas to write the letter on his notebook, to collect all the magical items and putting them were they could be found.
Last but not least, he had found the hidden stash each lieutenant had and put everything together in a single one to make the cover story he had devised work.
The only flaw was that he had no idea how to explain the disappearance of the three dead bodies.
If the traitors had overpowered and killed the heroic Vickas, getting rid of the corpse was natural, but if even them had died, who could have cleaned the scene
The evidence contained into the secret stash wasn\'t enough to accuse one of the great noble families of treason, but it undermined their credibility, linking them to several unsolved crimes.
It would allow the Crown to suppress all their activities and cripple their influence until the investigation was over.
Preventing the civil war from occurring was a top priority, so Varegrave could only ignore that mystery for the time being.
- Dammit, in the King\'s shoes, I\'d kill an incompetent fool as myself without a second thought. He thought.
I was so busy doubting Lith\'s loyalty that I missed the real traitors right under my nose I can already hear the King and Queen quarrel about how corrupted the army his.
She will never let His Majesty hear the end of it. –
Considering the matter of the other three parasites resolved, Lith started to examine several infected from the mana blocking parasite looking for the perfect specimen.
He was determined to find the worst case of infection possible and use it for his work.
Unlike him, fake magicians weren\'t able to alter the magical flow of their spells unless they had been expressively devised to allow it.
To make things worse, Lith had no idea how a tier five spell worked, so he had to make sure to provide them a foolproof cure.
Lith\'s plan was to study an advanced case, gathering all the necessary data he needed to create a trail of breadcrumbs that Marth\'s team could follow.
Otherwise they would need to make adjustments every time they encountered a circumstance unknown at the time the spell had been created.
The tent arranged for Lith\'s studies was quite big, it had a diameter of almost ten meters (33 feet) with two seats and a small desk as its only furniture.
Most of his specimens came with a straight jacket and chains at their ankles, if not full body strapped like a salami.
Unlike the others, the victims of the fourth kind of parasite had healthy bodies full of vigour.
The restraints were safety measures to avoid escape attempts and limit the risks of infection in case they attempted to bite during a fit of rage.
You don\'t know who I am, you filthy military dog!
Also, instead of treating the soldiers and the healers with respect, most of them would yell all the time, bantering their previous status like they were speaking to a slow-witted servant.
I\'m Garith Senti, the youngest guild master Kandria\'s guild ever had. Lith\'s first patient was a handsome man, well-built, tall with blonde hair and blue eyes, that in that moment were staring at Lith like he was dog po*p on top of his morning waffles.
I demand to be set free and treated with all the honours I deserve! Once I get out of here, I will make sure everyone of you dies a dog\'s death!
Shut up, please.
You disturb my concentration, making my work harder.
Even using Invigoration was a challenge.
The specimens\' bodies were afflicted by a toxin unlike the others Lith had studied so far.
It didn\'t inflict any direct damage, but was capable of scrambling both internal and external mana, turning any spell in a waste of energy.
Overcoming its jamming effect required Lith\'s sheer willpower and concentration, draining his mana reserves like he was treating a whole village at the same time.
Your job Ha! You are but an incompetent idiot, otherwise I wouldn\'t be rotting in a shabby tent like a vagrant from over a month!
Then he managed to spit on Lith\'s right eye crystal with uncanny precision, before erupting into a laughter.
Lith had never been a Florence Nightingale.
His usual calm and respectful demeanour came from the awareness that after being held prisoners for so long, those people deserved to be treated with human respect to ensure their cooperation.
You know what, mister Senti Lith cleaned his eye crystal with a handkerchief, and then used it to wipe off some dirt from the sole of his boots.
They say that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
But flies are actually easily attracted with sh*t. Then, he shoved the handkerchief in Garith\'s mouth.