I Thought You Were A Time-Limited Husband - Chapter 3
“I wish you the best of luck, Doctor Helkin,” Alice said, smiling softly to Doctor Helkin.
“So, if you take small doses of the freshly made poison, you will die within three months?” Madame Quillian asked abruptly, not even giving him a chance to say hello.
In response, Doctor Helkin nodded confidently, “Yes, the newly created poison is more powerful than the previous one, and leaves no traces. Just a small amount of this poison can cause your organs to start rotting away immediately. Because it leaves no traces, no one will discover it during an autopsy.”
Alice, who was quietly listening to their conversation, picked up a teacup to hide her furrowed face. The dark and bitter conversation was a sharp contrast to the sweet taste of the black tea she was drinking.
A poison that makes the organs rot — she couldn’t even imagine the pain that those words described, even though she would be the one to feed that poison to Kaillus.
Madame Quillian’s eyes lit up in interest as her face burst into a satisfied smile. “Incredible. The previous poison that made Kaillus fall ill was already amazing, but making another, more harmful one is truly unbelievable. The amount of money I have spent on you has not gone to waste.”
Helkin bowed his head a few times, “I’m always grateful to you Madame.”
It was true that Helkin had been taking an unimaginable amount of money from Madame Quillian.
“Will he feel pain when his organs rot?” Madame Quillian asked.
“…… He won’t feel any pain as the Duke is in a state of very deep sleep.”
“Hmm, really? That’s a shame.”
What? Alice’s face stiffened when she heard Madame Quillian’s words. No matter how much you don’t get along, isn’t it too cruel to wish him pain?
She felt goosebumps on her body at Madame Quillian’s cruelty, who sincerely wished for Kaillus to die a painful death. It was almost as if the Madame wasn’t satisfied with just killing her own son, and wanted more pain to be inflicted on him.
Even Helkin, who was known as an eccentric man, twitched his face at the blatant regret shown on Madame Quillian’s face.
“Ah, but three months is a bit of a problem,” Madame Quillian said, furrowing her eyebrows. “Edelm should be at least 16 years old……. His Majesty won’t approve his succession until he’s 16, which is why I told you to put the current Duke Kaillus in deep sleep rather than kill him.”
Edelm is Kaillus’ brother and Madame Quillian’s biological son.
“We would be in trouble if Duke Kaillus would die now. As Edelm is not yet 16, other successors from the branch of the family may emerge and claim succession.”
“Ah,” the doctor sighed with realization, “The young master had told me to make the Duke a sleeping poison to wait for his succession.”
“Yes. Edelm needs to receive the title so I can manage the dukedom instead of acting as its protector. Moreover, when Edelm becomes an adult and takes over the Dukedom, it would be neat and clean, then the vassals will not be able to say anything.”
“Don’t worry about that. Three months would be the earliest but we can drag it up to six months if we adjust the poison intake amount.”
“You can do that?”
“Yes, our Young Madame here can adjust the amount of poison as I tell her,” Doctor Helkin said, as he turned towards Alice.
“Did you understand what the doctor said?” Madame Quillian asked.
“Yes mother, I’ll adjust the dosage well.”
Madame Quillian’s face softened, “I’m glad you understand.”
Just as Mrs. Quillian was scanning Alice, her maid came in with a knock on the door. “Madame, the young master has sent a letter.”
“Really?” the Madame asked, pleasantly surprised. “I was worried about his well being in the academy since he hasn’t been sending me letters for a while. Come and bring it.”
It was strange to see the quick shift in emotions between a stepmother who was plotting to kill her own stepson, to a loving mother awaiting her son’s letter.
“I’ll be going back now, Mother, and discuss more details of the poison with Doctor Helkin. Please take your time reading your letter, Mother,” Alice said, understanding that this was the perfect time to leave.
“Alright, go ahead.”
Distracted by the letter, Madame Quillian waved her hands and gave her order, so Alice went out with Helkin.
“Let’s talk more in a quiet place,” Alice told Helkin.
Alice wanted to strike the iron while it was still hot with Helkin.
(T/N: ‘strike the iron while it’s hot’ means taking advantage of the opportunity as soon as it exists [Source: cambridge.dictionary.org])
“Of course, Young Madame.”
* * * *
Helkin took her to his studio, which was convenient because Alice had wanted to go there.
‘I will be discussing something important regarding the task given to me by the Madame so please wait for me outside.’
Alice had told Maris, who had been following her.
With the door tightly closed, an excellent soundproofing system, and no assistants inside except Helkin in this fairly large studio, it was a perfect place for an in-depth discussion.
Alice was now sitting across Helkin in his studio.
When the corners of Alice’s lips rose slightly, Helkin spoke first. “Then let me explain the dosage of poison that I mentioned earlier. This new poison is usually 10 milla –”
(T/N: milla (Old Castilian mile) was a unit of length or distance in the Old Castilian system of units. As for why it is used as a unit of measurement here by Doctor Helkin, only the author knows.)
“Doctor Helkin, 35 years, a poison expert who knows all the poison in the world. You have a hobby of collecting rare poisonous herbs..”
“What are you doing now Young Madame……?”
Helkin, who was explaining about the poison, hardened his expression when he heard Alice recite his personal information.
“I know a lot about you.”
“…… I didn’t realize the Young Madame was interested in me even though you’ve just been married to the Duke.” His eyes became wary at Alice’s strange behavior.
“Hmm, you’re the one Mother had introduced me to, so I looked for information about you before I became the Duchess. Interestingly, I found something out that I didn’t think fit into your persona.”
“…… I’m not hiding anything.”
“There’s nothing to hide, because the more I dig, the more ridiculous it becomes.”
“Ahem, I don’t know why the Young Madame is being like this, but if the Madame finds out you’ve been rude to me, she won’t stay still.”
“I know that very well. Mother is a merciless person. But Helkin, didn’t you touch the Duke’s estate even though you knew full well what type of person she is?”
“What are you……!” Helkin’s eyes widened. “Do not try to frame me with such nonsense Young Madame! I won’t tolerate any more disrespect!” Helkin jumped up and shouted.
It was a sight to see that the thief’s legs became numb.
With a calm face, Alice lifted her face and raised her hand pointing directly to the bookshelf.
“That bookshelf. Can you still be this confident if I call people to push away that bookshelf over there?”
Behind the bookshelf was Helkin’s secret space that Alice knew about, but that the Duke’s family did not. She only knew about it because she had read about it in the novel.
Inside that secret space, was a collection full of rare poisonous herbs that Helkin had stolen from the mansion. Each of those poisonous herbs were expensive enough to buy one mansion each.
Even though Madame Quillian had cared about Helkin and the work that he was doing for her, she did not pay that much money or give him those herbs. Helkin had the courage to steal from the treasure house in the pretext of research, taking advantage of the time when Kaillus fell ill and hadn’t been able to work properly.
He is by no means the best person to help her with Madame Quillian’s plans about the Duke, but he was useful because she knows his weaknesses.
“Well, I can call someone right now if that’s what you want.”
As she was about to get up from her seat, Helkin grabbed her arm stiffly and shouted, “You can’t! No, …… how did Young Madame…….”
“I told you. I know a lot about you.”
Alice looked at Helkin’s trembling eyes, so she sat back down and Helkin did the same, holding his also trembling hands.
“Helkin, Will you be able to survive…… if I tell mother about this?”
Of course, he would not escape death.
Madame Quillian is greedy and arrogant. Will such a person forgive Helkin for stealing the Duke’s property? As soon as she learns about Helkin’s actions, she will immediately order for his head, calling him a poisonous or ungrateful brat.
Helkin, who had the same thoughts, stroked his neck with his trembling hands.
“You don’t have to be so scared. I’m not trying to get you killed, rather, I’m making a deal with you.”
Alice squinted her eyes at Helkin. Alice was also relentlessly walking on a thin sheet of ice, never knowing when she would die.
“A deal…… What do you want from me?”
“There’s exactly one thing I want.” Her pink lips opened as Helkin swallowed his saliva with great tension.