Chapter 231: Relapse
“What a lovely thing.
It’s even prettier than a diamond.” Auckes held the Manticore steel sword, brushing his finger across its surface.
The furnace’s fire shone on the sword, making it gleam.
It was slightly longer than standard swords, and black draconid hide was wrapped around its hilt.
It felt comfortable and reliable to the touch.
A bit of silver meteorite ore adorned it, giving the user a firmer grip on it.
A manticore stood on the end of the hilt, proving that this sword was of the Manticore School.
The sword had a horizontal crossguard.
Its blade’s design leaned more toward Hakland’s style.
Unlike the local swords, the sword’s blade looked more like a kris.
It was like a snake that was slithering across the ground.
The blade was connected to the crossguard, as if it were a snake’s tongue joined to a mouth.
Auckes swung it around, and the air buzzed as the blade sliced through it.
The runes on the sword gleamed blue, and it floated in the air for a moment.
The witchers passed the sword, and in the end, Roy was the one holding it.
‘Manticore Steel Sword
Type: Steel sword
Materials: Cured draconid leather, meteorite ore, zircon, emerald dust, manticore poison gland.
Specifications: Weighs 4.01 pounds, hilt measures at ten inches, blade measures at 37 inches
Sharp: Manticore Steel Swords are three times sharper than regular swords.
It cuts open light armor easily, but has reduced durability.
Stinger: Manticore Steel Swords can inject venom into open wounds, killing the victim in mere moments.’
“Thanks for the hard work, Master Berengar,” Roy said.
“No. I should be the one thanking you.” Berengar’s eyes were bloodshot, but he was satisfied.
Crafting a masterpiece like this was a valuable experience for him.
He could master the blueprints and improve his crafting skills as well.
Blacksmithing was more enjoyable than alcohol for him.
“You look tired.
You need to rest.”
“Rest I don’t need any rest.
What I need is my hammer.
I bet Letho thinks so too.”
Letho was in a similarly excited state.
Roy had never seen him like that.
His perpetually deadpan face was actually red with excitement.
“I can see the bottleneck now.
If I can overcome it, I’ll advance to the next level.
I cannot rest!”
“Um, suit yourself, I guess.” Roy paused for a moment and tucked the sword away.
He had something to talk about, but he thought he would save it for later.
At least until they were done blacksmithing.
Roy, Serrit, and Auckes left the blacksmith shop.
It was nearly noon.
The sun was shining on the land, and the river was gleaming like a sapphire.
It was a good day.
“So, wanna spar, kid” Auckes stood on the riverside, thrusting at the air with the Manticore Steel Sword.
The air buzzed, and he almost left afterimages from how fast he was moving.
“Sure.” Roy unsheathed his sword and was about to accept the sparring challenge.
Serrit crossed his arms as he waited for Auckes to pummel the newbie.
It was his daily routine at this point.
However, a visitor halted their plans.
A knight of the order came to the blacksmith shop.
“Witcher…” It was a familiar face.
Roy had seen him before.
He was one of Adda’s most trusted lieutenants—Cleveland.
“I’m here in order to take you three with me.”
“Did the princess send you”
“No.” Cleveland shook his head.
There was a complicated look in his eyes.
“His Majesty the king did.
The princess…” Cleveland gulped.
“She’s in trouble.”
Unlike most middle-aged men, Foltest had no pot belly.
Instead, he was muscular and solemn.
If he was in his younger years, this man would have been beautiful.
After years of being a ruler, he had become a majestic and handsome man. Well, I can see why this guy has a lot of mistresses. Roy looked at him and muttered, “And he isn’t even forty yet.”
He was sitting on a chair made out of dark wood, his chin rested on his hand.
The king was observing the witchers, and an old dog was curled up beside his feet, trying to get some warmth.
Two men and two women stood behind him.
One of them was muscular and had a beard.
Roy saw him before.
He was the mayor of Vizima—Velerad.
The mayor was smiling at him.
The other three were the new royal consultants Foltest hired.
Keira was among them, of course.
Everyone had a grim look on their faces, as if they were going to face a storm.
The air was filled with solemnity.
Keira introduced the witchers to Foltest.
The king was silent for a moment, then he said, “Witchers of the Viper School… Auckes, Serrit, and Roy, is it”
“Yes, Your Majesty.” Auckes pulled his hood back and bowed.
This time, he was looking serious.
“You came from the south”
“Yes, Your Majesty”
“How are you different from the witchers in the north What do you excel in”
“There isn’t much difference, Your Majesty.
We only differ in our fighting styles,” Serrit explained.
“We mostly take elimination requests whenever there are non-human creatures concerned.”
The king shivered for a moment.
“And sometimes we clean up magical complications.
Curses, for example.”
“Have you ever killed nekkers, then”
“We have, Your Majesty.”
“What about drowners And ghouls”
“Those too, Your Majesty.”
Foltest hesitated for a moment, and he asked, “What about strigas”
Serrit and Auckes were surprised.
They had never heard of something like a striga before, but Roy’s heart skipped a beat.
He looked the king in the eye, surprised.
“A striga Does the princess have something to do with this”
“You know of what happened, witcher”
“I have heard of it.” Roy bowed.
He explained to his companions.
“A few years ago, Princess Adda turned into a striga because of a curse and rained down disaster on Vizima’s old wing.
Geralt of the Wolf School passed by and lifted her curse, returning her to human form.”
“But that witcher did not do a thorough job!” Foltest gnashed his teeth and clenched the armrest, looking a bit manic.
“He gave her a pendant, but it lost its effect.
My daughter…” He plopped back into the back of his chair.
Last night…” He closed his eyes and muttered, “I was woken up by a scream.
I saw a monster that was seven feet tall, and it was as big as a barrel of ale.
It had a big mouth that stretched from ear to ear, and sharp teeth lined its maw.
Its eyes were red, and so was its hair, though it resembled a tattered cloth.
It had talons sharper than a cat’s, and it stretched to the ground.
The monster killed a group of servants and guards before it escaped the castle and ran into Old Vizima.”
Old Vizima was located in the west of the Vizima peninsula, and a big lake separated them.
Foltest’s old palace stood there, but it had been deserted for years.
It was home to many paupers.
Old Vizima was just like the rural areas of Vizima.
“Your Majesty…” Roy sighed. I knew it.
The Church of the Lionhead Spider is behind this. “Are you sure it’s a striga and not something else”
“You think I’d mistake it for something else” Foltest stood up and kicked the dog, though he did not mean to.
The dog howled in pain.
“I have seen that thing before, years ago.
I could recognize it anywhere.
I’m sure she’s hiding in the stone coffin of the old palace.
She sleeps in the day and hunts my people in the night! Damn it all! I can’t let that happen! My poor girl!”
“Calm down, Your Majesty.
That does sound like a striga.” Roy had no idea what to feel about this.
“But if I may ask, why did the curse reappear”
Roy was close to Adda.
She was a tough lady. The princess was trying to expand the church in secret, so why’d the curse make a comeback now Instinctively, Roy was reminded of that great spider.
Adda told him how she was cursed.
“Adda wanted to free herself of the curse through Abigail.
Did something go wrong”
“I’d like to know as well!” Foltest roared and broke Roy’s train of thoughts.
“Just when my daughter had finally returned to her human form, she’s subjected to that horror all over again! Who did this” Foltest’s anger was replaced by sadness just a moment later.
“But now’s not the time to dwell on that.
Witchers, I’m asking for your help as a father.
Please, lift the curse.
I will make sure that you are handsomely rewarded.
Auckes and Serrit looked at each other.
They were summoned here all of a sudden and were tasked with lifting a striga’s curse, but they had no idea how to.
“This is different, Your Majesty,” Roy said bitterly.
“The curse made a comeback.
What Geralt did won’t work this time.
We can’t do anything about it.”
“My consultants have found a way to settle this, but they need your help.” Foltest looked away.
“Yes, Your Majesty.” The sorcerer from Cidaris came to the witchers.
Triss and Keira followed him.
The ladies winked, though at different men.
“Witchers, I trust you know the basics of sorcery.
You must have heard of double curses, right”
The witchers nodded.
Fercart explained, “The curse on Princess Adda is a double curse.
There’s a distinct trait to it.
It can take effect two times at most.
If we lift the curse for a second time, the princess will be free from it.
But we must be quick.
We need to keep the curse’s damage to the princess’ mind at a minimum.”