Phillip was indeed eating candy most of the time.
Annan had a vivid memory of it.
He would chew a bunch of toffee after every few sentences.
He peeled the wrapping quicker than cracking a melon seed.
Annan could even recall the smell of it when he closed his eyes now.
Should he say it was lucky he didn’t eat it?
But, Annan also confirmed at the time that the candy was not a curse vessel.
“I do recall that.” Annan nodded and asked, “What exactly is that candy?”
“It’s the ritual material of His Royal Highness Philip.” Even though Kafni knew that Philip was the one who had plans to kill her, she still politely called him “His Royal Highness”.
Kafni was always this polite to everyone.
She explained softly, “He’s not like us… He doesn’t believe in Silver Sire. Instead, he is a devout believer of the Cup-holding Lady.
“As for Rotten Man, I think he’s just trying to use Him.”
He’s using a deity…
…Wait, it is indeed possible.
Annan squinched his eyes, lost in thought.
Although he and Philip had only met once, Philip didn’t seem like an idiot judging on the interaction at that time.
His speech was eloquent, his plans were reliable, he was proactive as a person, he had great courage, and he had a youthful appearance. In essence, he gave off a favorable first impression, and he had his own loyal underlings.
Such a person obviously had an ambition of his own.
He also wouldn’t be easily fooled.
Rather than saying he was a “Rotten Man believer” or that he “took advantage of the Rotten Man”, Annan believed they were working together.
“Don’t you think that His Royal Highness Philip is much younger than he looks?”
Before Annan could continue asking questions, Kafni then whispered, “This is a ritual of the Cup-holding Lady, called the ‘Sacrament of Blood’. This is a ritual that all Cup-holding Lady believers carry out over a long period… Every day, they would consume refined food containing the blood of any creature to make their own blood healthy.
“And if you used special blood for the ritual, there would be some special effects. For example… rejuvenation.”
Kafni said earnestly, “He completed his ritual by making toffee with mead that was mixed with the demon’s blood. As long as he continued to take it, he would stay young forever… However, he would age rapidly as soon as the consumption is discontinued.
“This toffee is also the antidote for His Royal Highness Philip’s curse.”
“…curse?” Annan heard a familiar phrase, “Is he a Transcended?”
“No, he isn’t. He hates Transcendeds. He had once fallen into a nightmare as a normal person and acquired a curse. He could since then remain energized at all times even without sleep, but his lifespan would deplete at twice the speed.”
Kafni added, “His Royal Highness Philip is not a Transcended, nor a ritualist. He’s also not a priest. However, although he is just an ordinary person, he could utilize rituals very skillfully to achieve his goals, no matter if it is to restore his youth or to kill someone with a curse…”
“…Did you mention rejuvenation?”
“Yes.” Kafni nodded heavily, “Philip once signed a contract with a particular deity. He sold half of his life in exchange for a specific ability. But as to which deity and what ability it was… I do not know. He also never told us.
“I was very young at that time, and I don’t remember very clearly. But I remember that His Royal Highness Philip became very old at that time, and he was getting older with each day. In the end, he seemed to be almost dying of old age.”
“I don’t want to grow old. By just having to experience it once, you will never…” The words Philip said at the time suddenly played in Annan’s heart.
…No wonder. Annan was taken aback.
No wonder Philip would say such a strange thing like “just having to experience it once”.
It’s because he did get older before.
Annan asked, “Did he tell you about his contract with the deity?”
He still had some doubts.
For someone like Philip, who habitually lied, Annan was suspicious of every word he said.
Kafni frowned slightly and tried hard to recall before answering with some doubt, “I don’t quite remember it. I think he was the one who said so. Our situation here is a bit different from your family. If we were particularly enthusiastic about another sibling, everyone — including the King, would be wary of you. His Majesty always disliked his children forming factions, so the relationships within our family are relatively shallow. We don’t usually visit one another, nor would anyone show much concern, even if someone was in an unfortunate circumstance. Because His Royal Highness Philip wanted to keep the ability he got from that ritual a secret, it wouldn’t be right for us to ask him.
“Within less than a year after that, His Royal Highness Philip gradually became younger again. Very few people cared about this matter afterward.”
Is this how the situation is like in the Noah Kingdom’s royal family?
Should I say that it is indeed a family with a lion as its emblem?
…I still have to be skeptical about this statement, then.
Annan nodded and then got lost in thought.
He gradually became clear about the attitude he should maintain towards Philip.
This fellow has sold half of his life to get something. There is no doubt that he is a lunatic even if he conducted his own ritual.
The “life” in the ritual always referred to the first half.
If it was an ordinary person, their blindspots in knowledge itself were enough for them to be deceived.
But Philip was a prince. He couldn’t possibly lack this knowledge.
He even handed that weird candy directly to Annan at the time.
…Um, wait a second? Suddenly, Annan realized something.
He looked up and asked Kafni, “If someone else ate his candy, what would happen?”
“Nothing much I guess, aside from feeling happy and calm. After all, it is made of blood and milk. But because everyone is disgusted by it, no one would eat it.”
“Blood?” Annan was stunned.
The [Demon’s Blood] made from demons… It’s more proper to call it the Demon Juice, right?
Annan suddenly realized what was wrong.
Annan himself had learned the effect and the source of the [Demon’s Blood] through the system panel.
There were Edict school spells that could seemingly analyze the item.
But, there was a shortcoming to the magic.
From Salvatore’s understanding of that hammer, the item analysis magic had its limitations, unable to investigate the item’s effect. However, it could still find out about the item’s names.
Annan asked without hesitation, “Kafni, do you know what the [Demon’s Blood] does?”
“…Isn’t it used to strengthen the properties of the object itself?”
Kafni was a little frightened by Annan’s suddenly raised voice and was a little stunned.
Annan was silent for a while, then asked, “Did he tell you that?
“Have you ever drunk his mead?”
“No, Your Highness. I’ve never drank his mead, nor would I eat his candy.”
The corners of Kafni’s mouth rose as she replied with some contentment, “Rest assured. The children in our family would be continuously faced with kidnapping and assassination attempts before we could remember anything. My earliest memory of assassination happened when I was five. The snacks and black tea I was having at the time had been poisoned… I am greatly experienced in the ways of identifying poisons.”
“No, I mean.”
Annan said slowly, “The [Demon’s Blood] isn’t really just the demon’s blood. Instead, it is a product that came from alteration arts with the scientific name [Demon’s Blood]. Its main ingredient is the soul of the demon. The person who consumes the [Demon’s Blood] will have their erosion rate raised to its maximum. Even an ordinary person will directly become a Transcended at the peak level of Bronze Rank but will soon become an irrational demon due to the curse’s erosion. Did you know about this?
“Even if the toffee is extremely diluted… If you eat it in large amounts, it will probably increase the erosion rate.
“Your erosion rate is so high… Could it be that you’ve drunk the poisoned mead without you noticing it?”
“…” Hearing Annan’s words, Kafni suddenly fell silent.
She shook her head slowly.
Her tone gradually became solemn. Finally, she reached out and took Annan’s hand.
She rarely called Annan by his first name, as she asked softly and eagerly, “Annan… don’t go to the capital, will you?”
“…What’s wrong?” Annan asked.
“Indeed, I haven’t eaten anything from His Royal Highness Philip, but I have received some boozy chocolate from His Majesty.”
Kafni said word by word, “At that time, I had become a Transcended. Not long after that, I almost lost control because of the high erosion rate. Finally, I set foot on the Fallen path under the guidance of the teacher in my dream.
“The teacher later sneaked me out to hunt illegal Transcendeds. I only refused to follow his orders when he wanted me to hunt the wizards from Black Tower. Because at that time, I could already resist that person’s mind control without the teacher’s help. But my father’s mind was still being controlled. He didn’t know anything, and he just lived in the dark… I also couldn’t let him know too much because that person would know everything he knew.
“So he didn’t know that I’m a Fallen, and that I’ve killed people, or that I have a terrifying alias of the ‘Shadow Demon’.
“The effect of the [Demon’s Blood] is not just as what Philip said; I don’t believe anything he says when it comes to food and magical materials. I specifically asked the teacher for help, but the teacher’s answer and that of His Royal Highness Philip was the same.”
Here, Kafni took a deep breath.
She calmed down her emotions before saying slowly, “The teacher who led me on the Fallen path, which I have mentioned to you before, is the Nicholas Flamel that you were looking for.
“The ‘Great Sage’ of the Hermetic School.”
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