Chapter 43: The Plague Doctor part 2
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I should have expected it, really. You did not make a name for yourself by going around curing an incurable plague for years without charging an exorbitant amount of money. That was why I never heard of him; doing things pro bono and not just helping rich people was a surefire way to not become renowned.

It was the same thing in my world. Well, at least for lawyers; I remembered not being able to name a single pro bono lawyer until I researched them (which was what made me interested in law in the first place). Not that any of that even mattered anymore— my aspirations and goals from my previous life played no part in my present situation.

Which was sitting down and doing nothing.

After the Plague Doctor made his introduction and assured everyone that he was helping them for free with no strings attached, he proceeded to treat his patients immediately.

That was two hours ago. He locked the door to their room, saying he needed privacy, and had not come out since.

Honestly, I probably should have left a long time ago. There was no reason for me to stay, now that I was not needed anymore; that was what Jay kept telling me.

But I opted not to leave; since I was already here, I had to make sure that this Plague Doctor was not some sort of con artist trying to scam this orphanage— not that I thought that that was the case. He probably was legit, however I just had to make sure he truly did cure this Ms Sharity and little Patty. Just to fully confirm it.

And anyways, I was trying to gain more information about these so-called ‘debt collectors’. They did not visit often previously, because, according to Jay, Ms Sharity always made her payments on time. However, when they did visit, they would always cause a ruckus: they would threaten to take the house as theirs, or even one of the kids to ‘work’ for them. Thankfully, neither has happened, and I would prefer if it stayed that way.

Unfortunately, Jay could not really tell me much more about them; I wanted to know where their base of operations was, but apparently they worked from out of town, only coming in occasionally for jobs and such. Which screamed all shades of shady to me, if I were being perfectly honest.

With the more questions I asked, I was getting more and more convinced that they were slavers, to the point that even Jay started getting suspicious too. I was just about to leave and begin a real investigation instead of getting answers from kids (mainly Jay) when the door holding the patients and the Plague Doctor slowly creaked open.

All heads snapped to it. Everyone waited with bated breath as someone exited the room. A middle aged woman, holding the hands of a little girl, stepped out of the room. Their clothes were a mess, they had pale skin, and their cheeks were sucked in. But otherwise, they looked fine.

“Ms— Ms Sharity?” Jay stood up, eyes already welling up.

“Patty…?” Hannah uttered the name breathlessly.

The woman opened her mouth, about to say something. But she hesitated. Then a hollow voice came from behind them, accompanied by the figure of a bird.

“There’s no need to be afraid. You are cured. Go ahead and greet your family.”

And, almost as if that was the cue they were waiting for, everyone exploded forward. The family— the orphanage— all embraced each other. Clasping hands tightly around each other into a massive group hug.

“My children… how I’ve missed seeing all of you.”

It was a heartwarming scene; something straight out of a movie, right before the credits began to roll. I almost expected to see a title screen pop up, as sappy music played in the background.

I watched this happen, standing off to the side. I probably should not have been here for this, but I was too engrossed in the moment to care. However, everyone— myself included this time— was taken out of the moment by loud shouting come from the outside. I knew what to expect even before Ms Sharity spoke.

“Oh no,” she said, voice filled with dread. “Everyone, please wait inside. I’ll go out and talk to them.”

“We can’t just leave you—”

“Listen to her, Jay.” The teenage boy nodded at the woman. “I’ll wait by the front door. In case anything happens.”

“Thank you, Eaton.”

The family began to move. The younger kids ran off to hide in a room, while the older ones like Hannah, watched from the living room windows. Jay on the other hand, came up to me with a scowl on his face.

“That Eaton, he really…” he trailed off. Then his eyes flickered to something on my waist. “Melas, I need—”

“I’m not just giving all my gold to a bunch of debt collectors, Jay. Especially not for strangers.” I answered before he even finished speaking. Perhaps I was being too blunt, but that was the point of why I came here in the first place— to keep both my money and a clear conscience.

“Fine!” Jay snapped, throwing his hands up in the air. “Then I’m going out there and letting them take me. I can’t let them hurt Ms Sharity.”

“Stop being so rash," I said, drawing my dagger, "if the worst really comes to the worst— I’ll deal with it.”

He hesitated for a moment, but then he nodded. “If you say so…”

I walked past him, up to the front door. I waited right behind Eaton, who was standing a few feet outside, while too focused on the conversation between Ms Sharity and the group of men to even notice me. I listened in too, as the woman pleaded.

“...but I only ever borrowed 5 gold coins from you over the years! And I’ve already paid back more than half of it. How could I possibly owe you 20?!”

“Sorry Miss,” one of the men said, not too kindly. “You missed this month's payment. Price goes up when that happens.”

“By four times?!” she asked, aghast. “I’ve been consistently paying on time for—”

“Hm, says right here that you missed payments on this date, and this date, and…” A second man handed her a sheet of paper. She sputtered.

“I— this was years ago!”

The men collectively snickered, and only the first guy was cordial enough to give an unhelpful shrug. “Sorry, but it adds up.”

Ms Sharity stared at them in complete disbelief. She sunk to her knees, completely speechless at the situation she was in.

I wanted to intervene. I really did. But I was waiting, biding time for the moment. For them to state their true intentions—

“If we can’t get our money, we have to come back with something—”

“Actually, I don’t think that’s necessary.”

Darn. Someone interrupted them. I did not even have to turn around to know who it was— the voice that sounded like it came in through a metal pipe gave it away.

The Plague Doctor strolled past me, through the door, and towards the group gathered out front. A man stepped forward to intercept him.

“I’m sorry, Sir. But I suggest you stay out of our business.” He folded his arms, trying to flex all his muscles as he did. He was not exactly the biggest person in the world, and neither were any of the men armed with weapons. However, what he said was quite clearly meant to be a threat, considering his six other friends began posturing themselves too.

“Greetings, gentlemen. May I inquire as to what seems to be occurring here?” The Plague Doctor ignored him completely. “Because if you insist on harming the innocent family living in this orphanage— well I’d have to insist you do not, as I’ve just put in considerable effort into helping them.”

“Hey, are you deaf?” the man shouted. “I said fuck off!”

“I do apologize, however I must insist you refrain from yelling. You see, the saliva produced from your enunciation gets projected onto my mask— sometimes on the glass at my eyes. And it gets really difficult to see when that happens.”

“So you’re blind as well as deaf?” Another man asked. “Because I find that hard to believe. If you continue ignoring us, we’ll have to make you listen.”

“Hm.” The Plague Doctor considered this. “I don’t suppose any of you can answer my question? It appears your friend here seems to be a little hard of hearing.”

Wh—”

The Plague Doctor struck his cane onto the man’s right ear. He stumbled onto the ground, grasping at the side of his head, and screamed.

“Kill him—”

The man was immediately cut off by a second strike to the back of the neck. He fell incapacitiated to the ground as his friends charged the Plague Doctor.

That was a lot of people. Six versus one. I had seen people face off twice as many opponents before, and come out unscathed. However I knew nothing about this Plague Doctor; I did not want to find out that he was a poor fighter who just made a bad decision.

I was about to jump in to help when I saw the flash. A glowing bottle flew up in the air. Straight from the Plague Doctor’s coat.

I barely even saw him flick it at the men, let alone notice him pulling out the potion.

He swung his cane at the potion, smashing it into pieces. It exploded into light. A dazzling blinding light that forced me to look away and cover my eyes, accompanied by a loud ringing sound. It was like a flashbang grenade!

For a moment, I could not see anything. But I reacted quickly. My vision came back, and I reoriented myself—

Only to see four of the men lying flat on the ground, and the last two stumbling back, having just recovered from being blind. The Plague Doctor tilted his head to the side.

“If you don’t wish to end up like your friends, I suggest you leave.”

One of the men only seemed to get more enraged by that. He clenched his fists and punched at the Plague Doctor. The Plague Doctor easily dodged to the side, earning a scream from the man.

Hahhhh!”

He began flailing the Plague Doctor without stopping Throwing punches and kicks like a madman. The Plague Doctor avoided all of it. He sidestepped a punch. Blocked a kick with his cane. Ducked under a follow up swing—

And then, with little to no effort at all, the Plague Doctor jabbed the butt of his cane into the man’s stomach. The man reeled back, air escaping his lungs. Then he fell to the ground, eyes rolled up into his head.

“Y-you— murderer!”

The last man shouted.

“Oh calm down, he’s not dead. But he’s in a lot of pain. If you don’t want to end up like him, I suggest you take my advice.”

He hesitated for a moment. However he quickly made up his mind after looking at all his collapsed friends, and fled the scene.

Seeing the last man flee, I sighed in relief. And was nearly ran over by a bunch of kids bursting out of the orphanage. They all began thanking the Plague Doctor, as Ms Sharity once again fell to her knees— but this time, in gratitude.

“Thank you so much. I— we can’t ever make it up to you.”

“I simply saw a family in need and did what any person would do. Do not worry about them. Notify the town guards of what happened here, and they’ll bring them in for extortion and other such crimes.”

“But you hwealed us,” the little girl— Patty— said, holding his hand. “Thwank you.”

The Plague Doctor did not say anything in response. But I thought I could almost see him smile underneath that mask. Then I narrowed my eyes for a moment, catching a glimpse of another vial on his belt. An Alchemist? Was that how he cured them from the Noxeus?

If he found a cure to this deadly plague, he should have shared it with other Alchemists to spread its production as widely as possible; that was, if he actually wanted to help as many people as possible.

Stop, I told myself. I should have learned from earlier today, when I doubted Jay’s story to not be so cynical despite what I went through in the Free Lands. Because what Jay said was true: his orphanage was in debt, and his caretaker was dying. That was why I came here—

A cheer came from the children gathered around the Plague Doctor.

Yes, I came here to help—

“Thank you, Plague Doctor! You saved us!”

The reason I—

“It’s thanks to you, Ms Hannah, that I even could help you in the first place.”

I…was... that—

What was the point of me coming here again?! I did absolutely nothing!

I threw my hands up in the air, and stormed back to my inn.

I didn’t even get any snacks. What a complete waste of my time!

 

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