Gwen observed the Centaurs' expressions grow from dark to dangerous.
Despite their impending doom, the Tasmüyiz took their time, though she was of the opinion their delay were blameless. To her knowledge, the Khanate did not possess a public education system. Whatever its men and women knew, they learned by observing their elders, peers, or Clansmen or by surviving punishment. Knowing that these Tasmüyiz were free-range slaves— why should their owners expect a raggedy band of menials to marshal with the efficiency of militants trained from birth?
Thirty minutes later, with the Tasmüyiz boxed in like agitated bees, the Khan spoke.
"Cousins of the Plains! Your Khan is today the bearer of woe," Temir Tengri's voice projected across his city without effort. "The Plague of winter past is upon the pavilion once more. Free Riders have fallen ill, their blood burning away their life force even as the Horde musters for war."
A wilting hush overcame the squares of Tasmüyiz; then, great groans erupted as the rats fell to their knees. From Gwen's vantage, it looked like wheat being scythed.
From the golden tent to the southern gate, there sat twenty legions of the pavilion's slave hordes. These must be the regional Clans, Gwen figured from the slight variation in fur and colouring. Across a single square, she counted over a hundred individuals, with the same number stretching down the open corridor. Interestingly, there weren't just Rat-kin, but also dog-headed Kobolds, droopy-eared Rabbit-kin and scattered mobs of low-tier Greenskins.
"Dini Saran will now speak." Temir Khan was not one to waste breaths on slaves. "Cherbi— ready the men."
A billowing cry erupted from the enormous roan's thick lips, imparting tinnitus in the Human Mages until they fought off the effect by circulating mana. In one breath, the Centaur troops lining either side drew from their saddle scabbards pilums, swords, clubs and all manner of personal weaponry.
"You can't be serious—" Gwen turned to the closest source of viable information. "Magus... Lazarus, regarding what Dini Saran insinuated, they're not going ahead with it, are they?"
"Not yet. The Horse Lords are giving the Tasmüyiz a choice," the Necromancer responded to her anxiety with perplexed curiosity.
"Gwen looked on with confusion. "To do what?"
Her answer came in the form of Saran taking her place in front of the blocks of Tasmüyiz. "Clan Chiefs, come forward!"
From each block, tittering old rats stumbled forward. Most dressed no better than their fellows. One or two, Gwen noted with distaste, were fat with luxury. These, she figured, must be the Chiefs with Clans directly serving the Golden Pavilion.
In a semi-circle around their Dini, the Clan leaders performed kowtows.
"My friends, we've had this conversation before." Saran's motherly presence gave her sermon a paternal air. "This time, I hope your ilk will abide by what's right and not disappoint Temir Khan."
Before Saran had even finished, a few of the Elders flattened their bodies against the grass.
"What you ask is impossible, Dini!"
"With all my soul, Dini, I would urge the kin to confess, but—"
The protests, Gwen could see, made the Centaurs' miens meaner still. As for the Khan, if she squinted, Gwen could see the Essence steaming from his unhappy body.
"What are they asking the Tasmüyiz to do?" she once more asked the Necromancer.
Against her expectation of a rebuke, Lazarus happily answered her question. "The last time this happened, Saran asked the Elders to give up the sick and the infected. The Elders agreed, though not all of the sick volunteered. After several weeks of rooting out an even bigger disease cluster, the contagion spread to the Southern tribes far from the Golden Pavilion. Thousands of Nokud lost their lives. In his displeasure, the Khan issued an Ustgakh— an order of extermination."
Gwen glanced at the Horse Lords gripping their armaments.
"They're asking people in a deadly pandemic to out themselves?" she protested a little too audibly for courtly decorum. The more she thought about the Tasmüyizs' grisly future, the more her chest constricted with repression. "Or what?"
"Gwen, stay put." Magister Taylor's Silent Message bloomed beside her. "Let the Centaurs deal with their internal troubles."
"Let—" The kindling of guilt from her earlier encounter with the "Golden Snitch" was now a torch burning inside her belly. She felt suddenly claustrophobic among the crowded, noisy herd of stallions. Overpowering the horse-musk, the stink from the Tasmüyiz was to Gwen a miasmic admixture of fear and terror. Moreso than pleasing her peers, she wanted to call out "Bullshit!" at Saran's gaslighting of the Rat-kin.
Not too far from her embittered gall, the Dini's interrogation continued.
"Your... inability is no concern of mine, nor the Khan's. The Horde's fighting potential is paramount for our survival and your Clans' survival by extension. For the sake of generosity, Temir Khan will gift you one more opportunity. If you should fail, we are in no worse circumstance than what the Khan initially intended."
Visibly, the twenty or so Clan Chiefs fell into greater despair.
"TUMENS! MINGATS!" Feeling that the Chiefs were insufficiently motivated, Khudu, the Cherbi of the Khan, bellowed orders. "READY ARMS."
"For TEMIR KHAN!" the amassed herds of horses huffed.
The sound of promised violence was enough to put steel back into the Elders' liquid spines. Like bipedal maracas, the thoroughly shaken leaders of the various tribes returned to their respective quadrants to plead with their kin. Gwen closely observed the block closest to them. Like an undulating wave, throngs of Tasmüyiz raggedly rose to meet their Elder. With solemnity, words exchanged, heads hung, and ears drooped.
Unable to watch any longer, Gwen sent a Message to Meister Bekker, expressing that she wanted to intervene.
"I figured you might," Bekker said. "But why?"
"Stability and status quo," Gwen hastily presented her case, forcing her voice to remain distant. The real reason was primal and instinctual. "Longevity for the Horse Lords, guaranteed supply of foodstuffs. There are almost a hundred and fifty thousand of the poor sods out there. To me, that's a skilled labour force too precious to waste. Surely, Meister, we can achieve mutual gain by extending a hand of mercy?"
Meister Bekker's reply bore a tone of amusement. "And help them thrive? Did you forget that the Centaurs are a temporary ally? We know this. They know this. Nither of our kind wants the balance disrupted."
"Say you save them." Taylor, whom the party used as a conduit, butted in with his enquiry. "Where's our benefit? You can't expect us to consent just because you feel sorry for the rats."
Gwen had an answer ready before the Diviner had finished complaining.
"To subvert a cabal of militant autocrats," she spoke quickly but firmly, striking while the horseshoe's hot. "One must first usurp their base. There is little hope that we'll never get the Centaurs to recognise the old Protectorate, but what about the Tasmüyiz? I don't mean to have these Rat-kin rebel against the Horse Lords, but as you know, their kind is wholly responsible for hay, harvests and other menial labour. If so, what part of the Steppes could the Tasmüyiz not reach? What news on the Steppes would escape them? Meek, they might be, but they are many! If we show them the Mageocracy's magnanimity, what worshipful might take root in their little hearts? Under my thumb, these survivors and their descendants will be our eyes and ears."
"What you said has been attempted before…" Taylor sounded unconvinced.
"But NOT by yours truly!" Gwen quickly followed with a huff of indignation. "Jean-Paul— Meister Bekker, tell Magister Taylor of what I've done to the Isle of Dogs! Is it not prime real estate? Am I not worshipped by its workers? Loved by the Dwarves? Held in the highest regard by Lord Ravenport, my old chum? I'll muster the Tasmüyiz, sick or otherwise, and we'll soon have eyes and ears everywhere!"
"You paint a splendid picture. But I shall withhold my opinion." Taylor appeared to give her words some thought. "Meister?"
"Gwen's here to learn, but she's an independent agent. Besides, the Lady of Ely is her backer, not me." Meister Bekker's tone remained likewise ambivalent. "Gwen, if you think this is an opportunity—"
"I do, and I'll build a Magistership out of it!" Her heart was near bursting from her chest. Over yonder, the Tasmüyiz looked ready to present themselves to the Khan and his Şöpter Shaman corps. "After this, they'll be updating the Magister-work-experience handbook with a new case study."
"I like Gwen's confidence, but we don't have the resources to entertain her bluster," Taylor reminded his co-superior.
"No need. I am self-sufficient," Gwen interrupted. "I won't need a single field ration or HDM from your rings. I won't even need any of your Mages. If you would recall, I've been promised field support from the Order of the Bath."
"Neither our stock nor our personnel?" Taylor's bottom line was unambiguous. "Then I have no objections. Do whatever you will, so long as you don't bog down the campaign to come."
"If Magister Taylor isn't objecting, then neither shall I," Bekker replied cautiously. "To confirm, you'll be handling this alone until we can spare the men. That's my condition. Major Kotts?"
"I'll reserve judgement. It is a test, after all."
"Of course." Gwen exhaled, circling Essence through her conduits so her fingers would stop shaking. The good thing about having a sterling reputation was that one's superiors were at least happy to contemplating giving her a fair go, especially when the venture was low-risk and cost-free.
Downfield, the Tasmüyizs' fate flatlined with the Cherbi's patience.
In front of her eyes, hundreds of Clan slaves, large and small, old and young, filed from among the ranks with grim expressions into a clique of the condemned. Some, Gwen could see, were visibly ill, with a few having to be carried by their fellow sufferers. Like hags, these poor sods were— backs bent, knees buckling from the agony to come, coughing uncontrollably from despair.
"Esteemed Litvak—" The silver bells on the Şöpter woman's horns chimed as she swung her head toward the Human Mages. "If we may borrow your talents?"
"Of course, your Grace." The Necromancer's casual use of the Empire's titles made the Shard Mages wrinkle their brows. Lazarus returned their disdain with a wane smile, then stepped out from their ranks towards the huddle of mangy Rat-kin.
"Life Siphon." The Necromancer's casting was textbook as he vocalised the invocations necessary for conjuring his distinct brand of Necromancy.
To Gwen, seeing actual Necromancy up-close and undisguised was a nouveau experience, like someone rolling a fat joint in plain sight. The spell was simple— she understood the Sigils, the Invocations, and the phrasing— though she lacked the distilled Negative Energy and the will to inhale the knowledge.
"You." Lazarus indicated to a sickly old rat barely holding on to life. "Remain where you are. Upon your body, I sense a Plaguemancer's touch."
The Rat-kin must have made his peace, for the old rat remained seated while his kin parted like the Red Sea.
"Venerable one, how long have you been sick?" Lazarus sounded to Gwen like a hospice physician.
"Almost ten days, milord."
"I don't know," the Rat-kin wheezed. "My bones feel like they are on fire."
The Necromancer nodded. "That's a known symptom. I'll make this painless. Are you ready to break free from the karmic cycle and become a Free Soul?"
"I don't know," the Rat-kin's reply inferred he preferred living.
Under Gwen's watchful eyes, the rat chosen by Lazarus sagged like an emptied bag of root vegetables. After a second, the Necromancer raised his hand and regarded the green-yellow mass of mana in his palm while below, the Rat-kin withered into a desiccated corpse-husk.
"This is the source-phage." The Necromancer indicted to his audience. "I have obtained a sequence of the original mana signature. Now, we may proceed with discerning the extent of the pandemic."
Lazarus began a second invocation, one wrought from the School of Divination.
"He can employ multiple Schools of Magic?" Gwen turned to Jean-Paul.
"Modern Necromancers borrow from the IMS, but older followers of the Art studied it before the Imperial System buried that knowledge," Jean-Paul replied helpfully. "I suppose this Lazarus must be a witness of what the Vatican calls the Old Ways. Master says it's a very versatile, if difficult, stream of traditional arcanistry."
"The Old Ways…" Gwen kept her eyes peeled. "He's using our Sigils and Invocations, though."
"And you're using the IMS to cast Greenskin Shamanism, Necromancy and even Svartálfar Soul Sorcery." Jean-Paul reminded her. "It isn't as though we invented Sigils, that's borrowed from Álfar Aranistry, just as Glyphs were originally Dwarven Runescripts."
"So he's an Old School Necromancer... just standing around casting spells." She glanced at her Magisters and Maguses from the Shard, who stood unmoved and unimpressed.
"What of it?" Jean-Paul said. "Don't you use Bone Shield? That's similar."
Gwen twisted her lips. Similar, sure, but her Master was Henry Kilroy. This guy— who was his backer?
Lazarus Litvak interrupted her thoughts.
Immediately, the group of sick and ill Tasmüyiz lit up in hues of yellow and green. While the rats trembled and shook, the Necromancer walked among them, inspecting the findings. Lazarus singled out a few of the particular "well-lit" specimens for Life Siphon, then re-cast Identify to fine-tune his Divination.
"You— you— and you—" To Gwen's surprise, Lazarus pointed to dozens of individuals "regularly sick" and told them to leave the group and return to their irrespective Clans.
Compassion from a Corpse Conjurer?! Gwen suddenly saw Lazarus Litvak in a new light, shocked by the sympathy shown by the big-bad Death-for-hire.
Once he collected enough "phage", Lazarus turned to the rest of the Tasmüyiz in the original phalanxes. The unfortunate results furthermore affirmed her conviction.
Lazarus' spell did not stretch very far, barely fifty meters into the rag-tag cohort. Still, even covering a fraction of the gathered Rat-kin, he had gathered irrefutable evidence that even under the threat of death and the begging tones of their Elders, Rat-kin deserved eradication. There weren't just yellow and green spots in the yet unsegregated crowd but whole swarths in the hundreds, mostly in clumps of a dozen or more.
A great groan signalled the deflation of all hope.
Gwen sighed for the invariability of "Human" nature.
Saran's gaslighting was a good strategy, she conceded. But that was also why she was inspired to save the Tasmüyiz. She did not blame the poor sods who only now acknowledged that their elders were absolutely not joking when he asked them to out themselves even if they remotely suspected themselves of illness. That they didn't was the accursed hope that one might live— that one might escape persecution by remaining silent. After all, they were Tasmüyiz. "Still and silent" was a part of their existential being. The cruelty here, Gwen concluded, belonged to the Khan and his lauded stratagem to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Saran shrugged. The outcome was a forgone conclusion.
Audibly, Saran asked Lazarus to venture among each of the blocks of Tasmüyiz so that there was no doubt of their guilt.
Gwen observed the Faun's role-playing until her final verdict confirmed their worst suspicions— that no camp of Rat-kin, Kobold, Gob or Rabbit-kin could supersede their worst natures.
"Great Khan—" Saran returned to the dais with Lazarus trailing behind her. "Your humble servant has failed. Please punish this one so your boundless anger may rest."
The Horse Lord rose from his golden chaise, crushing the will of the shaking Tasmüyiz with his presence alone.
Gwen took a deep breath, then relaxed her over-tense muscles.
The opportunity had ripened.
Once the Great Khan delivered his decree, getting the Horse Lord to rescind his command would be an exercise in futility.
"O MERCY— GREAT KHAN—"
All eyes fell upon her.
The masquerade was on.
"I wish to be of service! Allow this meek one to take your sick and wounded so that all the Steppe will know of your boundless pity and compassion!"
"War Mage!" The Khan's mighty Cherbi stepped forward, one hand resting on the pommel of a short-handled glaive. "You overstep your boundary, even as a guest—"
"Forgive me, Honoured Cherbi—" Gwen bowed from the waist until her hair traced the floor. "Lord Khan, I was MOVED by the majesty of your futile attempt at quenching treachery with compassion. Though these Tasmüyiz who art but earth have soiled your trust with treason, their bodies yet possess the means to labour for your gain. The Great Horde would require supplies, Great Khan, one that will suffer if you were to visit the Clans with your rightful vengeance. Allow them to pay, O Lord, not through dusty death— but with their life!"
Khudu's body imposed itself between her and the Khan. "You jest, Human."
Gwen raised her head.
Their gazes met: his dark and brutal, hers full of defiance.
Essence Aura or Desolation? She wondered. What would impress the Khan while displacing his barbarian?
"Temir Khan." It was Saran who broke the growing silence. "Though I am ignorant of her motives, I do not believe Magus Song speaks in jest. And Lord Cherbi, need I remind you that this young woman is the Devourer of Shenyang?"
The unexpected assistance from the Shaman was enough to inspire a response from Temir Tengri. "You wish to claim these slaves, Magus Song?"
"I wish to aid our cause, Great Khan, the Shard's and the Horde's." Gwen straightened her spine. "Leave their diseased bodies to me. I shall supply your citizens while keeping the illness from spreading, and in the process, spare the campaign from the grief of losing valuable labour."
The Khan's great head turned toward Gwen's fellow Mages.
"Gwen speaks true," Meister Bekker delivered as promised. "To my knowledge, she does possess the means to turn your dilemma into a boon."
"Magus Song likewise has my support, though I know not how she will achieve her purpose," Magister Taylor gave his less optimistic opinion. "But know that even should she fail, so long as Magister Hill prepares our Translocation Mandalas and keep them safe, I can guarantee the campaign will have no shortage of feed and supply."
Gwen made herself appear taller yet again as the Khan's gaze swept over her body.
"My Khan…" Khudu the Cherbi did not move from his spot. "I do not trust this one's... ability."
"Then trust this!" Gwen waved a hand.
A crate of HDMs displaced the dust, followed by a ton of rations and an ever-impressive pallet of SPAM.
"Believe me, Great Khan, when I say that alone and without the need to tax provisions brought by Meister Bekker and Magister Taylor, I'll be fine. The Cherbi may not trust me, but he cannot deny my inventory, my connections, and that I AM the Shoggoth's Summoner."
"Such generosity." Saran's lips parted to reveal rows of ivory teeth. "Great Khan, if Magus Song wishes for this honour— what reason do we have to deny her? The pavilion has yet to give a decree, meaning it now has an opportunity to shed itself of an undesired saddle. Why tax your coffers when Magus Song has bent her back to shoulder the burden?"
Strangely, the Shaman's support made her less confident.
What did the Şöpter see? Gwen wondered uneasily. What did Saran want? Undoubtedly, the Shaman's purpose wasn't to preserve food, fodder and rats.
Gwen observed the makeshift court of the Khan's advisors. To Temir's left stood his disapproving Cherbi. To his right stood the smiling Saran. Curiously, the Khan's disposition subconsciously shifted toward the Şöpter Shaman standing on two hooves instead of his four-legged cousin.
"Then we shall entertain Magus Song with the spared lives of these treasonous slaves." Temir Khan appeared to have reached a decision. "Esteemed Master Litvak. I ask that you separate the sick from the hale and persist in your labour until Magus Song's generosity is satisfied."
"I shall do as you command." The Necromancer bowed.
"Magus Song," the Khan continued. "Certain conditions must be met if you wish our mercy entertained. Would you like to hear them?"
"I am all ears, Khan of Khans." Gwen curtsied. To the left of the Khan's court, her fellow Mages visibly relaxed.
Like a dissipating thunder cloud, the murderous tension in the air had faded, leaving only the stink of soiled pants, moist loincloths and mangy fur, making thick the anxious air.
"First—" Temir Khan gestured to her new slaves. "The diseased cannot remain here; all who bear the phage seeds will part from Nukus for the Eastern Reaches. There is an oasis there, in a place called Shalkar. That will be your encampment."
"As you command." Gwen had no idea where this place called Shalkar could be, but for now, the bluster must play on. To her dismay, Magister Taylor shook his head, after which the Ambassador engaged in a round of Silent Message with their Meister, who appeared amused.
"Secondly—" the Khan continued. "To show our generosity, we shall not task you with the survival of our slaves, only in keeping them away. Magus Song, you shall be the keeper of the ill ejected into the Eastern Reach for the duration of the Southern Campaign. We grant you the status of a Tumen and the privilege that comes with maintaining the Tasmüyiz under your command. When we return victorious, you may return the survivors in exchange for rewards." The Khan's eyes rested on her with interest. "Until then, or until the campaign ends, the Golden Pavilion will provide nothing. You alone shall shoulder the burden of restricting these Tasmüyiz. If you should fail—"
"— Magus Song will personally perform the duty your men had chosen to withhold today," Meister Bekker finished for their host. "Of that, Great Khan, you can be sure. Is that acceptable, Gwen?"
"Wholly acceptable," Gwen affirmed her conviction. Now that she was over the hump of possibilities and into the realm of responsibility, she relaxed. Compared to the moral agony of doing nothing and watching a hundred thousand bodies piling into mass graves dug by orphans, the stress of getting down on her knees to do the dirty work was positively pleasant.
In her mind, Gwen could already imagine Elvia's cringing face.
Help the Centaurs! Bring stability to the South! That's what she had promised her Evee.
Now they had to trek through the Eastern Steppes to get to an oasis so she could set up a makeshift quarantine camp.
It was just as well Elvia would support her two hundred per cent in this endeavour. If her friend even had an ounce of sentimentality left in her after all that Faith Magic training, she would chomp at the bits to save the blameless Tasmüyiz, themselves victims of unsanctioned Necromancy from Spectre.
"Then our paths align—" the Khan's booming voice rolled over the encampment. "In the interest of safety, Master Lazarus, make haste!"
Gwen's quest was in motion the moment Temir Tengri returned to the pavilion, meaning she had at best until nightfall to move the segregated rats. Griping that she had increased his work a hundred-fold, the Necromancer Lazarus Lavtik bemoaned his duty of separating the infected "phage bearers" from those merely ill or malnourished.
After speaking with the Necromancer, her first stop was back to her companions, who now regarded her with expressions ranging from impressed to disgruntled. Whatever the case, all complaints died after Meister Bekker informed the crew that both their commanders supported Gwen's self-elected actions and that as a Magister-in-waiting with her potential, her "Maverick" actions were within expectation.
"How do you intend to move 'your people' to Shalkar?" Magister Taylor motioned for their Translocation Specialist to join their consultation circle, then conjured forth a map. "That's three hundred kilometres away across nothing but rolling badlands with deserts in-between."
"… slowly?" Gwen answered optimistically.
"Do you intend to move all of them?"
"I don't think you understand, Magus Song." Eli Hill pointed to the map. "It might take you less than two hours to fly that distance, but on foot, a Transmuter can cover at most ten kilometres of moderate wilderness, assuming no Magical Creatures, per hour. Even with healthy Rat-kin, you're looking at thirty, forty or fifty hours of non-stop travel. As your logistical advisor, I can inform you that HEALTHY civilians can endure a forced march of four-plus-four hours if you desire minimal loss of numbers. Realistically, you will be travelling for anywhere between five days to a week to reach Shalkar, do you understand?"
Gwen's eyes grew glazed when the hard facts struck her like a moist slab of thawing fish. Instantly, the skin under her figure-hugging suit grew clammy.
"In addition, you'll be heading a column of the sick and dying," Hill continued to deliver his opinion. "I shall inform you of some parallel statistics on when I was responsible for transporting refugees from the Algerian coast fleeing the Mermen. Even with three Mage Flights and mechanised transportation, our attrition rate for refugees with minor injuries and rationed supplies was forty-seven per cent."
"F-forty seven per cent?!" Gwen felt her heart sink. She glanced at the groups now streaming out of the camp into the desert, where only a few hours ago, they had fought the Sand Wyrm. Now, the bloodstained sand served as their temporary holding cell, one from which any individual could seek to leave on pain of collective death. If half of the poor sods were going to die before they even reached Shalkar, Gwen shuddered, then her self-indulgent quest was merely an act of masochism. "That's bloody terrible! Were you attacked?"
"We were— but we handled it," Hill explained. "Far from monsters, it was hunger, thirst and fatigue that struck down the weak. The sun killed the rest. Without cover, you can hardly expect urban folk to survive in a desert. That said, your wards have fur— so who knows?"
Gwen felt suddenly at a loss. She brought food and water— arguably not enough food for what was shaping up to be something like almost ten thousand outcasts, but enough. Nonetheless, the journey to the oasis suddenly became far more complicated than going from A to B.
"Gwen… you anticipated the attrition, I hope. The Steppes isn't a wine tour." Major Kott said with caution.
Gwen smiled in such a way that made the Mages raise their brows.
"Oh Lord…" Major Kott, the only Mage genuinely possessing an understanding of her impulsiveness, touched three fingers to his temple. "At this rate, you won't even need to get to Shalkar. How about you pitch in something else to please the Khan, and Meister Bekker can try to convince him otherwise? Maybe set up a camp closer to Nukus?"
"No." Bekker shook her head. "The Khan's decree is final, as is my word. Gwen has to swallow her bitter pill. Besides, I thought her plan was perfectly sound."
Kott looked at Gwen.
At Meister Bekker's prompt, Gwen rummaged through her mental and physical inventory. She had cases of Maotai, but not enough to infuse ten thousand or more individuals. Concurrently, there was nothing magical about her SPAM or her military rations. And even diluting her Remove Disease potions with Healing Potions, she would have a few hundred doses at best.
The two Golem Suits? That's not going to help, for now.
Her Habitat? She could cram two hundred rats into the grey Astral Space, that's it.
Call for Golos? Unless Gogo spontaneously learned healing magic from Ruxin, he was at best a guard dog.
Evee? She would soon ask Taylor to contact the Ordo's chapel in Baku, but even if her friend were to leave London right away, she could only bring herself and Mathias and a few Storage Rings of supplies sourced from Walken.
Finally, she could improve the health of the Rat-kin with Essence, but she wasn't an endless fountain of youth.
In short, many items would help.
But she couldn't think of a single way to help ten thousand refugees survive an Exodus through the desert, at least not without the heavens providing manna bread.
Were sacrifices necessary then?
Unbidden, she glanced at the Centaurs forming a bulwark to fence off the infected refugees. Saran's Shamans were among the Horse Lords, applying mysterious blood-paste to the bodies of those singled out by Lazarus.
The stray solutions inside her head finally entwined like the hook and loop of a velcro band. Through clouds of befuddlement, erudition struck like an Empowered Lightning Bolt.
There WAS a simple way to keep the Tasmüyiz hale.
First in life.
And in death.