Chapter 244: Bad News
Lith followed Solus's plan, describing the vision in great detail.
For the made up part, he described the assailant as a shadow, just like for all the others.
Death Vision provided him plenty of material about how the King would look like after having his throat cut.
"Damned dryad magic!" King Meron slammed his fist on the armrest.
"It gives us too little information.
At least now we know that the civil war should not happen anymore and that we are safe until next spring."
Knowing how much time he had left before the events in his vision could happen was at the same time a reason for worry and relief.
It gave them a deadline but also an idea about their enemy.
There couldn't be many people capable of getting rid of the Queen's corps.
Also, until the attack on the academy happened, Lith had no reason to worry.
The problem was if they would be able to prevent it and how the future would change after that step.
When Professor Manohar and Marth arrived, they checked Lith's condition before examining Linjos.
"This is simply unbelievable." Marth said.
"None of my diagnostic spells detects anything, but now that I know what to look for, it's easy to recognize the dampening effect of the toxins."
"Agreed." Manohar nodded while extracting the toxins from the Headmaster's body.
"It's unbelievable that someone could miss such a blatant effect, be it the patient or the healer."
Linjos and Marth both ignored his remark.
They knew that in Manohar's eyes any result but perfection was due to incompetence.
"Usually I wouldn't ask something like this, but are you sure you don't want to share your diagnostic spell, Lith" Marth asked.
"It helped us greatly during the plague and now it has allowed to unveil a dangerous plot against all the academies.
If it's as good as I think it is, you may as well be set for life with the profits you would make by selling it."
Marth needed sheer willpower to not let his frustration transpire, yet Lith was able to perceive it nonetheless.
His jaw muscles were slightly tensed and there was an edge in his voice that was hard to miss with his enhanced senses.
'Poor guy, not only he has to deal with Manohar on daily basis, but now he also has to face the fact that despite being younger I'm already a better diagnostician than him thanks to Invigoration.' Lith thought.
'Yeah, you have become for Marth what he is for Vastor.' Lith had yet to cut the mind link off, in case something else happened, allowing Solus to indulge his company.
If it's at least half as good as mine, it would be a disaster." Manohar said.
"You know why it's so hard to find a decent healer Because mages just rote memorize everything without even trying to understand what a spell does and why.
Healers are forced to be better than regular mages because illnesses change, new poisons are created, and many things are still unknown about the human body.
"If you share your spell, it will be great in the short term and a nightmare in the long term.
Everyone will stop using that stone they call brain and rely on your spell for everything, while others, better paid and motivated, will exploit its limits.
"So, when a new threat will appear, your spell will be 100% useless and the so called healers will be helpless against it because out of practice."
An embarrassed silence befell into the room.
It was hard to reply to Manohar's temper tantrums, but it was even harder when he actually said something wise.
Lith exploited his help to politely refuse Marth's offer.
"Thanks for your offer, Professor Marth, but I think I will follow Professor Manohar's advice.
It took me years to create it, so far it's my opus.
It's not only a matter of money, but also prestige.
With it I'm the second best diagnostician in the Griffon Kingdom, without it I'd just be a student like all the others.
Unlike Professor Manohar, I'm no genius."
King Meron sighed loudly.
He knew Tyris had sent Farg to look after Lith, but he didn't know why.
Yet he was sure there had to be a good reason for it.
He really wanted to get his hands on the diagnostic spell, but keeping Lith as an asset was much more important.
According to several witnesses, he had fought against a Valor.
It was unknown what had happened, except that despite being alone and just a fourth year student he had survived and brought to safety another four people.
Adding that to all his past endeavors, his ability as Healer, Forgemaster and now Necromancer, he really was too good to be true.
Queen Sylpha was even considering if to introduce the sixth and the seventh princesses to him.
They were too low in the hereditary line to be of political importance, so they could be used to ensure his loyalty to the Crown.
King Meron didn't put much hope in the idea, though.
None of his daughters was a real beauty nor a seductress.
They had taken much from their mother's temper and had yet to understand that their status of princesses would last only until a new King or Queen would be selected.
Their pride blinded them enough for them to find the idea of marrying a commoner disgusting.
Another thing that heavily weighted on his mind was the meaning of the vision.
He knew that, albeit vague, a dryad's gift was as rare as trustworthy.
'I wonder how Lith's death will trigger mine and Sylpha's.
Also, it's completely unclear if the events at the academy and the death of his family are related or even if they happen at the same time.
' Normally, I would just reinforce the White Griffon's security and wait for the events to play out, but now I have to protect Lutia as well.
If his family dies, Lith could commit suicide making the vision come true.
We must solve the issue with the toxins fast, so that when spring arrives, I can focus my forces on both tasks!' Meron thought.
"Gentlemen, we have no time for debating the magical research." King Meron said.
"Manohar, I need you to provide a diagnostic spell able to spot the toxins that anyone can use.
Marth can help you, but Lith can't and no one else must be informed about today's events.
"We will only use royal healers and royal constables to control the situation.
Lith's involvement must be kept hidden or belittled if found out.
My hypothesis is that his family will be targeted because he discovered the plot against the academies.
"If I'm right, the attack on the White Griffon and on his family during next spring will happen by the same hand.
Lith, you can return to your quarters.
There's nothing you can do and it's better if you don't stay too long in the Headmaster's office.
It could arouse too many questions."
Lith nodded and promptly left the room.
Solus inwardly sighed, she knew what was about to happen.
'Before I go, do you mind if I give you an unsolicited piece of advice' She asked.
Lith pondered for a while.
On one hand he didn't want to cut the mind link, on the other one he was still far from forgiving her.
Solus had been brilliant and useful as always, but her company was still bittersweet.
'You should talk to the others about the vision, they have the right to know.
Based on what happened in the vision, it's not only Phloria who is going to die, but all of them.'
Lith was flabbergasted by her words.
'Do you remember the dryad's words The vision shows what your soul cares the most for, so it's natural for it to cover your family and Phloria.
She is the only friend you have left.'
Solus had enjoyed their reunion, but she had perceived the fracture between them.
Lith needed her, she could sense his longing for her company and help, but it was more like an addict on withdrawal rather than the desire to be back together.
He still didn't trust her and whatever was going to happen to their relationship, Solus didn't want to be treated just like a commodity.
She wanted for him to accept her like she did for him, with her flaws and mistakes.
'I think that whoever is behind the attack on the academy, will try to get their revenge on you by exploiting the chaos during the battle.
Killing your group is relatively easy, if they get ambushed like you have seen happening to Phloria.
'They'll attack you too, but you are likely to survive.
Otherwise it would make no sense going after your family.
You should warn Yurial and the others, because if I'm right, the only reason they didn't appear in your vision is because you don't care enough for them.'
'Thanks, Solus.' Lith nodded, closing the mind link.
It was hard for him deciding what to do.
If he told them that he had seen them dying in the vision, it would help their relationship, flattering them.
Yet if the King talked about the vision with the royal constables, Jirni was bound to learn about it.
She would question why he omitted to tell the King about the threat pending on her other two daughters and would easily discover the lie.
Telling them the truth was his only option.
Lith used the communication amulet to reach them and ask them to come to his room.
When they were assembled, he told them the truth about the young Tanash's condition before sharing with them the conversation with the Headmaster and the changes in his vision.
"So, the good news is no civil war and the bad news is that I'm going to die" Phloria did her best to stay strong, but the thought of having a little more than three months to live was crushing her.
"No, you are wrong about the bad news." Lith corrected her, explaining to them Solus's reasoning about why the others didn't appear in the vision.
"I think all of us are going to die.
I'm more likely to survive because of my paranoia.
Backstabbing me is not that easy.
You guys, on the contrary, are easy targets."
"Wait a minute!" Yurial blurted out.
"Thanks for caring enough to warn us but not enough to include us in your vision." His voice was oozing sarcasm.
"I think you are making a mistake though.
No one can die in the academy.
Do you remember what Lord Ernas told us Isn't it more likely that whoever it is, will target only Phloria because of your relationship Everyone knows about you two."
Yurial was worried about Phloria, but as much as he hated the thought of spending the rest of his life with Libea, he really hoped to live long enough to have children and maybe find love.
"Do you really think that none of us thought about that" Lith sighed instead of scoffing.
Thanks to the little time spent with Solus he was now able be less of a jerk.
"Attacking the academy is madness itself, unless it's an inside job from someone that knows to bypass its power core or forcing the arrays to shut down.
Since the attack will happen, I'm pretty sure that Linjos will have the power core triple checked for tampering.
"It doesn't mean that the traitor can't sabotage or destroy it, though.
If Balkor's minions managed to do it, then anyone with the proper knowledge can."
After the attack, the Crown had tried to keep the fall of the Crystal and Earth Griffon academies a secret, but it didn't last for long.
Balkor had triumphantly spread the news himself.
Everyone refused to believe him until the academies reopened.
Forging a new power core was a mammoth task at best, if not impossible at all.
When the Crystal and Earth Griffon remained closed and their students transferred to other academies, it became impossible to deny the truth anymore.
Yurial and the girls turned pale, their sliver of hope shattered mercilessly.
Phloria felt no joy at the idea that everyone in the room was a walking dead.
"What do we do now Can we at least tell our parents" Friya asked.
"I don't think so." Quylla felt her mouth dry.
"Our communications can be intercepted.
The King is doing his best to keep everything a secret, Lith shouldn't have talked about it even with us."
Quylla felt guilty for having spoken behind Lith's back in the past, questioning his real identity.
Even though he suffered from mood swings and with his not so nice character, he would never let them down.
Yurial and Friya felt the same, but their guilt was quickly overruled by the fear of the tomorrow.
One after the other, they left the room after thanking Lith and promising they would not talk about it except that in person.
Only Phloria remained behind.
Lith had held her hand the whole time.
His grip was firm but gentle, letting her understand there was something he needed to talk with her.
'I waited all this time for a chance to know what's going on with him and Lith decides to open up right now I don't know if to be flattered by his consideration or angry for his horrible timing.' Phloria thought.