《The Youngest Divinity》Chapter 5: Tea with esthern extract and hira root



Tea with esthern extract and hira root

Few people in the castle spoke to Dominic outside of official business. He was technically an important figure—the viscount’s new healer—so it was difficult for any regular servants to strike up a conversation, but at the same time he was a single human in an estate crawling with demons. Any employees who had high enough status to talk to him turned up their noses and simply didn’t want to. He’d assumed that he’d just live like a ghost, going to treat the viscount every few days and then dropping off the map in between. But not long had passed since he’d arrived when somebody unexpected reached out to him.

The letter of invitation was written on expensive bordered paper and sealed with the insignia of Helwin. He couldn’t read any of it, but the servant who delivered it had informed him who it was from: Ithelon Helwin V—the viscount’s son. The very person Silas had told him to avoid.

Dominic folded up the letter and prepared to go out.

He pushed open the door and glanced at the guard posted outside.

“I’ll be gone for a bit,” he told him.

“Are you going outside?”


The guard nodded stiffly. Dominic walked past him and moved down the hall.

It was a little surprising to him that the viscount’s son still lived on the property. Considering the current state of the lord, the heir couldn’t have been a young person anymore. It was strange that he hadn’t set out on his own, though Dominic was fairly sure of the reason.

Just like everybody else, he was probably waiting for his father to die.

He followed the scent of mana that had been dusted lightly over the letter. It was distinct from the chill that covered the mansion, and it was stronger than any of the servants’.

Dried flowers and old paper. A light scent of strong tea. And an aura that felt a little bit like metal, like the edge of a blade. Dominic made his way down to the annex, following the strange combination, and stopped at the set of doors it was oozing out from.

Before he could knock, a voice rang out from inside.

“Come in.”

Dominic put his palm on the black wood door and pushed.

His senses were flooded with the smell of ink and tea. It wasn’t a peaceful scent. It was sharp, almost scaly, as the mana brushed past his skin.

By a window facing the city, a man who looked to be in his twenties or thirties sat comfortably at a table, a book in hand. He had horns similar to the viscount’s, though slightly shorter, and his hair was long and light green. He glanced up as Dominic arrived, smiling cordially.

“Welcome,” he greeted simply. He didn’t have the same heavy grace that the viscount had, but it was child’s play to tell that he was the viscount’s son.

Dominic moved forward and took a seat across from him at the table.

“I didn’t give you permission to sit with me?” the man remarked.

“Forgive me if I was being presumptuous,” Dominic replied, not sounding particularly apologetic, “but there’s tea for two here.”

The man chuckled.

“Call me Thelo,” he said, putting down the book in his hand.

“I don’t have the status to call a noble by their first name, Young Master.”

“It’s obvious you don’t care,” Thelo remarked, smiling. “You’re not even trying to hide it.”

Dominic was silent for a moment, studying him, before he finally responded.


“That’s because you aren’t either, Thelo,” he said.

The scent coming from the man was unmistakable. Among the smell of paper and ink and tea and wood that stuffed the room, there were hints of things that shouldn’t have been there. Wilted flowers. Broken porcelain. And the sour, unquestionable sting of poison. Any smart noble would’ve hidden such things. He was letting Dominic know on purpose.

Thelo’s smile spread.

“Is there a need to hide it?” he said. “I have no desire to take after my old man.”

He traced the rim of his teacup with the tip of his finger.

“Your relationship with the viscount isn’t good?” Dominic presumed.

“That’s a civil way of putting it.”

It was obvious by his tone who was responsible for poisoning the viscount. He had probably been trying for a long time to finish off the lord. Dominic normally wouldn’t care what conflicts noble sons had with their domineering fathers, but it mattered now. He had ended up unwillingly trapped in the middle.

“Why did you call me?” he asked, getting to the point.

Thelo looked him up and down. A sly smile spread across his face.

“It’s been a while since he’s hired a healer,” he said. “This is an opportunity I didn’t think would come by again.”

He held out his hand.

“How much do you want?”

Dominic stared at his outstretched palm. A healer was one of the closest people there could be to the viscount. His goal was obviously the death of his father. It wasn’t hard to connect the dots. He glanced up and met Thelo’s gaze.

“So you’re the reason he’s run out of healers,” he remarked.

Thelo stared at him, then retracted his hand and laughed. It was obvious that many of the previous healers had been caught trying to assassinate the viscount for him and been executed. It was no wonder why there weren’t any left.

“You’re not the first to refuse, but you’re the first to put it like that,” he said, amused. “Do you need something besides money?”

Dominic lowered his gaze, watching the tea leaves in his cup rise and fall.

“A reason,” he answered. “None of this has anything to do with me.”

“Are you sure?”

Thelo raised an eyebrow.

“Regardless of your circumstances, you probably want to live comfortably, yes?” he said. “The viscount only knows how to destroy. You shouldn’t want him to stick around long. Besides…”

Thelo leaned back, spreading his arms.

“Helwin is fucked financially,” he continued, “because that old fool doesn’t know how to bow his head. All he’s succeeded in doing is make enemies in high places by refusing to back down. It’ll be hard to live well in a place like this.”

“So you’re better than him at bowing your head?” Dominic replied.

“Of course,” he answered confidently. “Isn’t that better than obstinacy without reason?”

“Regardless, I don’t see why Helwin should concern me. I could easily go somewhere else.”

Thelo shrugged.

“Well, even if that doesn’t move you, you’ll probably have a real reason soon,” he said.

“What kind of reason?”

“He’ll probably try to kill you.”

“Even if I don’t take your offer?”

“Even so. Dominic—”

Thelo lazily pointed a finger at him.

“—You’re not like the other healers. He’s not interested in you just because you can keep his organs from withering.”

Dominic was quiet for a moment as he thought. No matter how many ideas he went through, there was only one real possibility.


“It’s because of the fog,” he said.

Thelo nodded.

“The servants who dragged you here said they saw you walk out of that mess,” he explained. “Helwin used to be powerful because of its shoreline, you know. If there is even the remotest of remote possibilities that someone can find a way through the fog and open the way, my old man won’t ever let that chance go.”

He tapped the edge of his teacup.

“We’d be the first territory in a thousand years to see the ocean. Even I admit that it’s tempting.”

A thousand years. Dominic frowned.

“He’ll undoubtedly make you go back once you finish healing him,” Thelo continued. “You’ll die.”

Even Thelo didn’t seem to truly believe the rumor that Dominic had come out of the fog, though it was completely true. It was that impossible of a thing.

“So you should just join hands with me and snuff out that old fool before he gets around to tormenting you.”

“What if I just run away?” Dominic asked.

“Then the head of that crow kid that’s been tailing you will hang on the gates.”

Dominic tensed, his expression darkening. He hardly knew Aster, but that didn’t mean he’d let a threat slide.


“Don’t misunderstand,” Thelo added quickly, holding his hands up in mock surrender. “I wouldn’t do anything. But I noticed, and that means my old man probably has too. And him…he has a long record of negotiating in blood.”

The corner of his lip twitched a bit as he recalled it, his perfectly arranged mask cracking for just one moment.

“He hung my nanny out there, he hung my tutor out there, he hung my fiancée out there, and now he’s waiting for a chance to see me sway in the wind too.”

Thelo looked back towards Dominic.

“So you’ve got two options, Dominic,” he said, leaning forward. “Either you become an ice-hearted son of a bitch like me and watch their heads swing, or you kill him first.”

Dominic frowned. It could’ve been easy for Thelo to lie for his own ends, but not once did his mana waver. It was cold but clear. He had only spoken the truth.

He glanced down at the tea which had been set out before him. The unmistakable tang of poison was still there, wafting up to his nose with the rising steam.

“What did you add to this?” he asked. “Seershade? Hira root?”

“Esthern extract,” Thelo replied calmly, stirring his with a spoon, “and a pinch of hira, as you guessed.”

“How strong is it?”

“Probably enough to send my old man off with a single sip?”

He chuckled.

“Does it matter to a healer though?” he commented. “You can just heal it out of your system before it even takes hold.”

He was right. But the scent was coming from Thelo’s cup too.

“What about you?” Dominic asked. “Were you counting on me to heal you?”

Thelo waved him off.

“No need,” he replied. “The viscount is constantly trying to kill me. I have trained immunities to many poisons.”

He picked up his cup, chuckling to himself.

“Haven’t you ever wondered why I’m an only child despite being in a noble family, Dominic?”

He swirled his cup around, watching the leaves at the bottom move.

“They say nobles who only have one child either hate their spouse or hate their kids,” Thelo said. “Can you guess which it is?”


Dominic mixed his tea with a spoon.

“I can imagine he probably hated both,” he presumed.

“Was it that obvious?”

It was. The viscount’s mana gave off the stench of a person who would have no issue disposing of his own family.

“He could never stand children that stepped out of line,” Thelo said, “but they all did at one point or another. And once they angered him, there was no turning back.”

He played with the spoon in his cup, running his fingertip slowly over the intricately carved handle.

“Half were killed,” he said. “The other half killed themselves. Most of them died before I was even born. And now I’m the only one left.”

He glanced up at Dominic.

“So what are you going to do, Dominic?” he pressed. “My offer stands. I’ll give you anything within my power.”

He hesitated for a moment. Thelo’s gaze, despite how long he had spent being constantly beaten down by his own father, was not empty. His eyes were pitch black, yet they seemed to burn with vigor.

Dominic picked up the tea in front of him, raised it to lips, and drank. The taste was bitter and sharp, the powdery residue of poison coating the inside of his throat as it slid down. He emptied the entire cup before setting it back on the table.

“I am going to have to refuse your offer, Young Master,” Dominic replied, pushing himself up from his seat.

“Even at the price of that crow child?”

“No one will be able to touch the crow.”

Thelo smiled.

“So you had already begun preparing for this inevitability,” he said. “Well, I thought it might be so. You lied to the lord about your abilities to begin with.”

Dominic froze, gaze flicking back towards Thelo. The demon was calm as he picked up his cup and brought it to his lips.

“You drank that tea without hesitation,” he remarked. “If you had enough confidence to neutralize esthern and hira with your magic, you could easily have healed the damage to his body in one go.”

Thelo tilted his head back and drank his poison concoction. He gulped all of it down and set the empty cup back onto the table.

“You lied,” he said, “I assume to give yourself more time. Am I wrong?”

Dominic frowned.

“I am still going to have to reject your offer, Young Master,” he repeated.

“I understand. You must already be prepared. You have no need for me.”

Thelo played with the rim of his teacup, tracing it with his fingertips. He glanced back up at Dominic, a hint of amusement in his eyes.

“I wonder what else you’re hiding from us?”

Thelo smiled. Dominic didn’t respond.

“No matter,” he continued, “my offer still stands. If you ever change your mind, I’ll be here.”

Dominic stared at the empty cup he was toying with. The tea was gone, but it still stank. Pressed herbs and black blood. Gagging and vomiting and curling up in pain. Beatings and fleeing and bleeding and seeing heads hang on the gates, spewing red in the wind. A long held grudge that would never die. Dominic looked up. The stench was coming from Thelo, not the tea.

How he could sit there smiling—how had not gone mad with rage already—was beyond him.

Dominic took a step back from the table.

“Thank you for your offer, Young Master,” he said, bowing cordially. “I’ll keep it in mind.”

Thelo’s smile slowly widened.

“Of course,” he replied. “I’ll hope for good news, Dominic.”

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