Chapter 77– Plague VII
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Patients continued to come and go, with varying amounts of mana costs. My initial guess had been horribly off. The two patients I’d seen were among the worst cases of each, and established a sort of “cap” on how much mana I’d use at most. Less-severe cases took less mana. Not that I saw many of those.

Once we’d gotten a bit of a rhythm down, it got easier. Origen helped find and ferry people back and forth - the central organization didn’t extend so far as to provide the service themselves, they left it to us. The only other person besides me without an apprentice was Glacia, who didn’t see anyone directly, she just used a massive area heal. And Hesoid, but I had no idea what his system was. Then I healed them, and if they needed water, I’d send them to Verta, or one of the other Water-healers. The length of the hallway, the time it took to chat with them briefly to get an idea of what symptoms they had, what their problem was, and to cure them, was just barely keeping on top of my mana regeneration.

In other words, I could do this all day. As long as I had enough food.

Julius and Arthur stopped by with an incredibly detailed map of the town. I raised my eyebrows. That must’ve been tricky to acquire, although I had no doubt that he was more than happy to ‘request’ it directly.

He looked at me, seeing my gaze. “From the governor himself.” He said. “We’re setting it up here, and as we trace different cases, learn where they live, we’ll put a marker on the map. As you find out where your patients are from, you can also put a marker down. Maybe we’ll see something by visualizing it like this.”

Artemis and I nodded our approval. Julius placed the large hide map on another table they acquired – fortunately this room was rather roomy, normally being a worship space – and dumped out dozens of tiny pins, each with a small amount of dyed cloth on the end. Probably courtesy of the governor again.

“Red for Bleeding. Blue for Vomiting. Orange for major injuries. Green for other. We’ll swing by now and then, if you change your mind about it being two plagues, let us know, and we’ll merge or split as needed.” Julius said, placing down a half-dozen Red and Blue pins. Artemis picked up a few, placing them down where patients had said they lived. I hadn’t realized she was paying attention.


Sometime later, Markus, the Pyronox, showed up at my door, [Oath]-apprentice in tow.

“Elaine, am I bothering you?” He asked, right as I finished healing another patient of the Bloody Plague.

“No, what’s going on?” I asked.

“First off, congratulations. All of your patients are coming out completely clean. You’ve burned the disease out of them well. Good work!” He smiled at me.

I knew I was doing a good job, but hearing it so earnestly, so honestly, from one of the senior healers, someone who had decades of work doing this, to be recognized for what I was doing and my skills, had me resisting squirming in happiness. I couldn’t stop a stupid grin from breaking out on my face though. I completely ignored the fact that they’d been intercepting and checking my patients without letting me know.

Artemis gave my shoulder a friendly squeeze, quietly congratulating me in her own way.

“I’m also impressed that you had the presence of mind to send a patient you couldn’t fully fix to Verta. That was an excellent call on your part, and shows a maturity I wouldn’t expect from someone your age.” He continued on.

“Well, she does have some Divine screwery going on.” Artemis said, lazily inserting herself into the conversation. “She’s quite a bit older than she looks, which causes her no end of problems. Or do you think we normally let 14-year-olds be full Rangers?”

Markus tilted his head forward, silent acknowledgement of his mistake.

“You can hear it, but the evidence of my own eyes, and her low level relative to the other proper healers here, made me think otherwise. I should’ve properly taken her age into account. I chose to believe what I was seeing, instead of what I was hearing. Now that I’ve seen otherwise, well, that’s part of why I’m here.”

“The other reason I’m here is Herodotos here. He took that [Oath] of yours, he’s a Water-aligned healer, I figured I could kill two birds with one stone by lending him to you. You can teach him some ins and outs of how that [Oath] works, he can fix any water-loss problems you encounter, and you stop sending patients all over the place.” That last one got me a glare that had me shifting uncomfortably in my chair, amplified by my guard being down from the prior high I was on. Look, it was my first day, ok?

Artemis and I glanced at each other.

“We need to have a quick chat, ok?” She said, gesturing to me. Before I heard his reply, I snapped [Veil] up, the original skill it evolved from brought back to its primary purpose, a private place to chat.

“Thoughts?” I asked Artemis, knowing she clearly wanted to chat about this.

“On one hand, my sense that someone’s trying to spy on us is going off. On the other, all of his concerns and reasons are legitimate, and it’s not like we’re currently running an investigation on them. An extra person to help can probably make us go a long way. Your thoughts?” She asked.

“We’d share anything we learned anyways. Gotta be a little careful about my background, since Julius has suddenly decided it’s classified. However, the help outweighs the problems, and if we need a private chat, well, [Veil]’s here to help.

Artemis snorted at me.

“It’s easier to say ‘classified, Divine intervention’ than try and explain your story. If you want to tell someone, go for it.”

Fair enough.

I dropped my [Veil], smiling at Markus and Herodotos. “Sure, you can stay. Pull up a chair!”

“Thank you, Elaine. Looking forward to working with you in the future. You’ll go far.” Markus said, as he started to leave the room.

“Oh, looks like your next patient is here. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hold you up.” Markus said, doing an awkward shuffle around the door as Origen showed up with the next patient.

“Hello, welcome! I have an apprentice with me today, hope you don’t mind.” I said cheerfully. I doubted they’d mind – who got a chance to get free healing.

The woman made a confused noise, pointing back and forth between us, the omni-present stench of death and rot becoming a hair stronger as she got closer.

I rolled my eyes.

“Yes, I’m teaching today, he’s the apprentice. We got it right.” I said, guessing and answering the obvious question. The poor lady looked to be in so much pain and misery she didn’t care about the details, just about getting healed.

“Right, Herodotos, what would you do at this point?” I asked him, putting my hand on her arm, in a spot between two oozing sores.

“Well, it seems like this disease causes an imbalance of black bile and blood – too much black bile, and too much blood. The body we see here is trying to expel the excess humors to bring itself back into balance, so we should focus an image on those two humors being in excess, and leeching them out to restore the body.”

My eyebrows were practically vanishing into my hair.

“How much mana does it take for that to work?” I asked him.

“Markus is great! He only needs 1800 mana to burn out a plague this bad out of the body, and restore the humors.” Herodotos enthusiastically told me, clearly proud of his teacher, wanting to brag about him. “However, it takes me closer to 2400 mana, and I don’t quite get them all. Part of that’s because of my element.” He said sadly. “Part of it is my low control, leads to me being inefficient.” He hung his head slightly.

I made a non-committal noise. At that cost, I wasn’t going to have my water dispenser on legs waste his mana that inefficiently. I focused, healing the lady up to full, and dealing with the normal enthusiastic greeting that came after. We also got where she lived, and Artemis put another pin in the map. It was slowly coming together – there wasn’t enough showing to get any ideas yet – but it was taking shape.

She left, and Herodotos looked at me strangely.

“So, uh, did you forget to do something?” He asked me.

I could feel Artemis looking at him.

“Forget what? Let me know while the patient’s around if you think I’m forgetting something. Making sure they’re ok is worth more than my ego.” I said.

“Payment! Money! Sweet sweet coins!” Herodotos said enthusiastically. “Markus said I’d get half of what you made if I stuck with you.”

Artemis and I looked at each other, then burst out laughing.

“Markus pulled a bit of a prank on you I think.” Artemis said, unable to shake the chuckles. “We’re not charging anything.”

Herodotos’s face was priceless. A mixture of outrage, of indignation, and a bit of chagrin at having been so thoroughly had, at getting pranked by his teacher, and inadvertently, us.

“My understanding of medicine is completely different from yours.” I started a short lecture while the next patient was heading down. “To me, this plague comes from tiny, tiny, so small you can’t see them, so miniscule they don’t even have a class, creatures, that invade your body, and grow and multiply. They’re called bacteria. Markus has over a hundred levels on me, but it only took me 770 mana just now to cure her. Part of that’s my high control, no idea what Markus has but I’ve got to be rivaling him. Part of that is I have a much better picture of what’s going on, and what I need to do.”

“Ah, but Markus has a boosting skill as well. Not as strong as ours, but he has one! Most people have some sort of boosting skill.” Herodotos said, loyally defending his master.

I tilted my head in acknowledgement of him probably being right, of Markus having better stats than me. It just made my accomplishment all the better.

I also remembered Maximus mentioning something a long time ago about most classes having some sort of boost or another. Julius probably had a conditional boost to his speed stat, Origen probably had more control when dealing with inscriptions. Lose a skill slot, get some stats, I’d be crazy to think I was the only one with a skill like this.

They just didn’t have the same raw power – or restrictions – that I had.

He looked at me skeptically as the next patient came in. A short conversation – this was a kid, and it looked like he’d been hit with both plagues – a quick healing, I passed him off to Herodotos to fix the hydration problem – and we had a few more minutes while Origen went to grab the next person.

“Where does bacteria live normally?” He asked, skepticism written on his face. If Markus didn’t have a policy of “listen to all healers, great and small.”, I’m sure I’d be ignored.

“Oh everywhere. Air. Water. Other creatures. Our bodies have a bunch of tiny defenders as well, that are constantly fighting them.” I was seized by inspiration. “Like how we’re constantly fighting the Formorians. If the walls break, and they flood in and cause a ton of damage, that’s like the disease getting a foothold, and us becoming sick as the disease ravages our body.”

The hours flew by, me lecturing Herodotos on medicine, patients coming in and out, pins on the map constantly growing, some from me, some from the Investigation pairs popping in and dumping a bunch onto the map all at once. A shape was starting to form, but I was too busy right now to focus on it. I was low on mana, I’d seen patients at a rate just a hair higher than my regeneration – down to my last 500 or so, and going a bit slower to keep my regeneration abreast of new people coming in – and I glanced over at Herodotos. His eyes were still glazed over. They’d been glazed over for the past two hours or so.

Probably just still processing what I was telling him. I was about to jump into my next lecture – how blood circulated throughout the body – when a knock on the door interrupted my thought process. Artemis tensed. Today had been incredibly boring for her, which, if anything, put her on more of a hair-trigger. She started to wind up a throw, conjured rock appearing in her hand. Before I could say anything, Markus let himself in.

Rude.

Artemis half-stumbled as she aborted the shot, gracefully rolling it into a strange maneuver that I could only think of as “I always meant to do this.”

I rolled my eyes at her.

“Might want to wait a moment after knocking.” I said to Markus’s surprised face. “Artemis is a hair… twitchy… and having walked through saber-tooth cat territory has done absolutely nothing for her and her reflexes.”

Artemis fake-coughed at me in annoyance. My eyes were going to get strained at this rate.

“What can I do for you Markus?” I asked, changing the subject.

“Well, it’s getting pretty late, I was hoping to grab my apprentice back.” He said, eyes drifting over to the map we had laid out. “Unless you have any more need of him?”

Herodotos was off like a shot before I could say a single word. “IThinkShe’llBeFineWithoutMeLet’sGo!”

“Well, sounds like you had fun. Let’s go.” Markus said, one last long glance at the map before turning and leaving without another word.

I rolled my eyes at him, Origen fortunately bringing another Bloody Plague victim.

“Hey Origen, can you focus on bringing more patients with bleeding wounds, oozing pus? I’ve lost my water source.”

Origen nodded acknowledgement, and I continued working.

And working.

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Constellation of the Healer] has leveled up to level 146! +10 Free Stats, +15 Mana, +15 Mana Regen, +15 Magic power, +15 Magic Control from your Class! +1 Free Stat for being Human! +1 Mana, +1 Mana Regen from your Element!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Celestial Affinity] has reached level 146!]

“Elaine, we should get dinner.” No need right now, there were people to see.

And working.

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Medicine] has reached level 126!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Phases of the Moon] has reached level 106!]

“Healy-bug, should we stop? Call it a night?” Artemis asked. I ignored her.

And working.

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Oath of Elaine to Lyra] has reached level 113!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Warmth of the Sun] has reached level 118!]

And –

Julius and company came back after another patient.

“Yay, you’re back.” I tried to say with enthusiasm, but I couldn’t muster up any energy. Today was exhausting, and I was ravenous. There were more people to heal though.

“It’s incredibly late. We were waiting for you, but when you weren’t showing up, we got worried and came over. Is everything ok?” Julius asked.

“No.” I said grumpily. “Too many sick people. Too many people almost dying. Too many…” I trailed off, gesturing wildly at the air around me.

There were glances traded all around.

“We are,” Artemis’s words were interrupted by a massive yawn coming from her. “fine!” She said explosively, riding the end of the yawn.

More glances. Use your words damnit. I was tired. I was holding on by a thread. I needed to see another patient. Then another.

Origen brought another patient in, and I waited a few more moments, making sure I had enough mana to properly heal him. I put my hands on him, focusing, pouring mana into him and burning out the disease once again. Ran out of mana. Waited another moment, healed him again. Still had some left. Proper job done. I stifled a yawn as he walked away, peeling off his bloody shirt, seeming to throw it in the hallways as he left. Litterbug. Needed trashcans. Needed… I dunno, I was exhausted and tired.

“Elaine.” Julius said, carefully. “You’re out of mana aren’t you.”

I nodded sleepily. I wondered how he knew.

In an oh-so-careful voice, like he was talking to a stray cat that he was trying to coax closer, Julius asked me.

“Elaine, why don’t you draw in mana from your earrings, and see if we have the plague at all?”

“Sure thing.” I tried to say, but it came out somewhat stifled, somewhat stilted. I wasn’t that tired!

I did what he said, trying to heal everyone from the Investigation team. Everyone needed a fairly solid burn through my resources. The only exception was Kallisto, who pumped his fist victoriously.

“Why don’t you take a short rest?” Artemis suggested gently, after a few more looks around were suggested. “Just until your mana’s almost full again.”

I tried to think about it. It was hard, like wading through a swamp. If I waited…. Then healed a bunch all at once… it was the same number of people. Ok. I could take a short break.

I leaned back, and relaxed a hair, allowing my eyes to close.

I woke up to bright light, staring at the ceiling of the Argo the next morning.

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 14]

[Mana: 7020/7020]

[Mana Regen: 9185]

 

Stats

[Free Stats: 198]

[Strength: 43]

[Dexterity: 79]

[Vitality: 65]

[Speed: 80]

[Mana: 702]

[Mana Regeneration: 1140]

[Magic Power: 653]

[Magic Control: 1157]

 

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Healer - Celestial: Lv 146]]

[Celestial Affinity: 146]

[Warmth of the Sun: 118]

[Medicine: 126]

[Center of the Galaxy: 126]

[Phases of the Moon: 106]

[Eyes of the Milky Way: 94]

[Veil of the Aurora: 110]

[Vastness of the Stars: 127]

 

[Class 2: [Pyromancer - Fire: Lv 39]]

[Fire Affinity: 39]

[Fire Resistance: 39]

[Fire Conjuration: 39]

[Fire Manipulation: 39]

[Fuel for the Fire: 31]

[: ]

[: ]

[: ]

 

[Class 3: Locked]

 

General Skills

[Identify: 81]

[Recollection of a Distant Life: 79]

[Pretty: 101]

[Vigilant: 110]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 113]

[Ranger's Lore: 67]

[Running: 74]

[Learning: 120]

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