Roughly 327 years 49 days ago give or take …
I will help those in need, regardless of race, religion or circumstance.
~ Teachings of Jylne – Second Coruscation~
“You’ll need to keep it clean and dry. Change the bandage once a day for the next week and …” She could tell that the man was no longer listening to her, instead looking down at the bundle of salve and strips of neatly rolled cloth she’d handed to him. Mira didn’t bother repeating herself. It had become abundantly clear in the last weeks that she couldn’t MAKE people pay attention. He’d probably be fine anyway, most of their maladies were small things. Who knew that there were so many boils, gouty feet, and infected teeth in all of Thalron let alone in this small swath that they traveled through?
At first she had been horrified. These things were easily treatable and yet people had been living with them for years in some cases. Some villages had ‘healers’ who were little more than hacks (quite literally in one case, the man was frightfully fond of amputation) for every legitimate cleric or alchemist there were three who seemed only capable of fleecing people out of money they don’t have.
Charging for care? Just the concept was foreign to her and it had been awkward returning the coin that the first few grateful men and women tried to press upon her. Every town in Ladonia had at least one cleric or paladin, often times several, who provided similar services. Hell she was given yearly checkups even when she was healthy and it had never occurred to her to give more than a thank you to the volunteers.
They weren’t at home any longer. These people lived … very different lives. They did what they could as they traveled, staying in random towns along the way. Evenings were spent turning taverns into makeshift clinics. Those who suffered from disease or large injuries were generally tended by Gerik while she worked on those smaller persistent hurts that people brought in.
The worst had been in Whitsburg though. It was technically the last town on their journey. The gnoll band had last raided a few days ago and there were a few with legitimate battle wounds … slices… bites. Those were easy to tend, most were new enough that a simple channel mended the flesh. But the boy … he’d broken his leg well over two months ago in some silly climbing accent. The bone had been set improperly and his foot appeared twisted oddly, he’d never walk properly … unless they rebroke it.
Mira hadn’t the strength for it, but there was no quip to her nemesis about how he should be good at breaking things by now. She had come to resent him a bit less along the way and she thought that the paladin might be sick as the boy’s limb snapped again beneath his hands. They cry wasn’t loud, but the pain had broken through the small measure of Jylne’s virtue and the herbs he’d been given to dull his senses.
How did people live like this? Out here in the middle of nowhere without guidance and support? Gerik lectured here that it was unfair to judge everything based upon how she was raised, but these people, this country, they were supposed to be allies. GOOD people united toward a worthy cause. She’d been regaled with tales of their marvelous floating city … and yet people lived like this.
They’d traveled for weeks to reach this border town and the people there were still a bit shocked that anyone had responded to their requests. They were used to doing for themselves, making their own way in the world, and that was admirable in a way, but it was also … so very futile. At least it seemed that way to her.
They were building a church in which all the gods might be worshiped. Lovely. But what if they could not attract a worthwhile cleric to man it? They were building a wall to deter raiding? Again, good for them, but it was, well at best a palisade and it drooped in places. Her companions spent the morning before leaving hammering in supports more firmly and giving advice about joining the gate so that it couldn’t simply be pushed down.
“We’ll return, when the gnoll threat is quelled Mira, then we can return here and see what else we can do before going home. With their elders, with that damn wall. Perhaps one of the locals can be trained further and future mistakes can be avoided. We cannot save all of them though…” Was there a thread of anger even in her mentor’s voice now at this? Good to know that it bothered him as well and she took more comfort in that than his actual words.
Late, so very late, but she was returning finally.
The gnolls had been monstrous, they’d tortured their captives, sacrificed them to … whatever had been in that chamber below the ruin, but this, NOW? Things were so much worse. She’d seen horrible things during the goblin incursion, prisoners who had been .. gnawed upon. Children who had been tossed into the cages with their own almost feral young.
But these were humans. Men who had nailed those children in the town square, who spitefully sacrificed dozens of chained captives. Just thinking about it made her want to weep again. We can’t save all of them … she had to keep reminding herself that. They’d done the best they could under the circumstances, the people in the wagon were alive and free due to their actions. That meant something right?
Some of the others in this strange group she found herself in viewed the flag flying from the city’s walls with trepidation, but Mira couldn’t see it as anything but a good thing. Finally, finally they’d done something for these people. Now someone just needed to teach them that an army’s place wasn’t behind fortification but out in the world actually DOING something.