Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 52

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LII

“Now that I have the floor, I have something to say. Enough of this farce.” Richard looked out across the room, where there was mostly stunned silence. “Though it took a few actual days to get to the point, and of course inconvenienced many people with a long period of travel, it is quite obvious that this whole gathering was for an idiotic purpose.” Richard strolled back and forth on the stage, looking out at each section. By his side, his arms trembled, possibly from exertion, adrenaline, or anger. A small amount of green blood dripped down his clenched fists. “Of course, the plight of your people is not idiotic. Instead, it was the plan. Have all the fertile nobles marry and have children? That would not do anything to solve your situation, merely slightly prolonging it. It was quite clearly a ploy by this fool…” Richard pointed to Geran, who was still laying flat on his back, “To reach above his station and marry a princess. Regardless of how poorly that would have gone with a stupid husband married to an intelligent wife, it was in fact just a power grab the whole time. Because, as jerkface here knew full well, there would never be children from the marriage, even if his wife deigned to touch him. That is, quite simply, that he isn’t fertile.”

At that, there were cries of shock and outrage from the hall. One man even shouted, “We can’t let this foreigner impinge on our traditions and slander the good name of our people!” A slight murmur started in response to that, growing slightly.

Richard’s voice echoed loudly through the chamber. “SHUT UP! You have no right to speak of tradition. In fact, you have no right to speak at all. I have the floor. Besides, it is quite easy to see if my words are slander. Any doctor who is not in the employ of his family will quite easily be able to test that he isn’t fertile, as the records state.” At this point, a Noxian man who seemed to have a miniature laboratory on a cart pushed up to the stage. He looked up at Richard. Richard dragged the unconscious form of Geran to the edge of the stage, then unceremoniously shoved him off. “Go ahead.” The Royal Doctor proceeded to bend down and swabbed some of the blood from Geran’s face, then placed it in a vial along with an already prepared formula.

After a few moments, the color changed, and the doctor held it up toward the audience. “As you can see…” at this point the screen on the stage showed an image from a camera, which zoomed in on the scene, “Geran Oulbriph is indeed not fertile.” More cries of shock and outrage were heard… but Richard thought they might be more on his side now.

“The evidence before you now is proof this man was just a filthy liar. Certainly, your people need a solution, but trying to tie down your young nobles and cementing their future in a different direction is not the way. After all, many of them are quite intelligent, and might even find a solution, given the chance. If, instead, you delegate them purely to the role of making babies, you might as well just give up now. So I say, enough of this farce! This gathering has no important purpose to serve. It is over.” Then, Richard fell face first off the stage.

Nearly everyone was just sitting in shocked silence, but one Noxian, with a true look of horror on his face said, “B-but… he didn’t say who was to take the stage next!”

—–

As Richard woke up, he felt tired, and a bit achy… but this wasn’t the worst he’d felt. As he blinked the sleep out of his eyes, he saw Susan sitting next to him. As for where Richard was, well, it wasn’t an entirely unfamiliar place. Though Noxian hospitals were slightly different, he could still tell it was a hospital bed. “Good morning.”

Susan had been looking elsewhere, so she jumped slightly in surprise upon hearing Richard’s voice. “Oh! You’re awake! Are you okay?” She seemed very worried, though Richard didn’t think he was in a particularly bad state.

“Hmm. I’m fine, I think. Oh yeah, I haven’t been hospitalized since we met, have I?”

“Are you really okay? They said there were no remaining traces of toxins in your system but… There was blood everywhere, and you collapsed…”

“My blood is red you know. I… don’t think I was bleeding, was I? Besides, the blood was mostly on my fists.”

Susan blinked a few times. “I… certainly didn’t see any red. People don’t just fall over if they’re in good condition though!”

Richard shrugged. “I just tired myself out. I think.” Richard turned his head, unfortunately looking at the bright light coming in the window. “How did everything turn out?”

Susan shook her head. “I don’t know, there was a lot of stuff going on, and everything seemed very serious.”

“I might be able to shed some light,” Carl’s voice came in through the door, along with the rest of him. Carl shrugged, “It depends on what perspective you look at it from. For some… very poorly.” Carl grinned, “Though personally I would say things went fantastically.”

“Hmm… How long was I unconscious?”

“Actually, it’s just evening now. So, not too long. Especially considering you probably shouldn’t have woken up at all. Yet, somehow, instead of collapsing because of the pain of the toxins or from your heart stopping or something, you just fainted, as if you hadn’t eaten or slept in a week. Or a month. The toxins… well, the Royal doctor immediately proceeded to treat them, only to find no symptoms. Still, you got a big dose of general antitoxin anyway.”

Richard thought back to what he had been doing. During the duel, although his physical body had been punching, the part of him that was energy had been working to eradicate the toxins as they got into his system, as well as immunizing his body as much as possible. That took a lot of energy. In fact, Richard felt like that part of him was less now. Diminished. He hadn’t really been aware of it, but it had been slowly growing over time. Now that there was a large change, it was obvious. “Hmm… yep.”

“…I don’t know what that means. Not that I didn’t know it from the past few days, but my sister sure was right about you being strange.”

Richard tried to shrug, but it wasn’t really visible from his position. “That’s what I hear.” He reached up to his face. “Why doesn’t my face hurt? I’m pretty sure it was headed directly for the ground.”

“Well, your father caught you.”

“That’s right I did!” Mr. Smith walked into the room. Only now did Richard realize how large and luxurious of a hospital room this was. It could probably comfortable fit a half dozen more beds, or twenty people standing around. “What kind of father would let their son hit their head on the ground?”

Elena’s voice replied, starting from outside the door as she walked into the room, “I don’t know, what kind of father would let their son get into an almost certainly deadly duel?”

Mr. Smith shrugged. “I wasn’t sure what he was doing, and then it was too late. Besides, I told you I don’t want to be a hypocrite.” Then he muttered under his breath… “besides I could have stopped it at any time.”

Elena shook her head, then looked at Richard, “Are you okay? I mean, I know the doctor said you should recover… and you seem to have a knack for that, but I was worried! Why did you do something so dangerous?”

“Why?” Richard tilted his head questioningly, “For a friend. Before you say anything, I’m now well into the Xevaronian camp on friendship. You won’t be able to convince me not to do what I want to help my friends.”

“Did you consider that maybe I didn’t need your help? That we could have done something about it in another way?”

“I did think about it. Personally, I didn’t find any reasonable alternative. You already mentioned there would probably have to be concessions to avoid the stated plan, but it’s impossible to say how that really would have worked out. Besides, I was one hundred percent confident with my ability to defeat him. Also I just really wanted to punch him in the face.

“You sure did that. Have you seen his face?

“No.”

“Well… actually you can’t see his face, because it’s just bandages.” Elena snickered slightly. “Ahem. Anyway, though I am mad at you for doing something stupid, and think you should have talked about what you were doing… it seems to have worked out.”

Richard sighed. He was alive, and he had gotten to speak, and also to punch Geran many times… so it had indeed worked out. Still, he wasn’t going to relax just yet. There were still questions to be answered.

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