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A note from Selkie

Had a bit of a scare over the weekend, bounced back to the hospital and had to spend ~48 hours additionally there. Everything is OK though, and we're back home and healthy, and I'm back posting chapters! Woohoo!

On that note, sooooo tired. 

 

I'd like to thank all of my beta readers for keeping me sane, and helping keep the quality high. Without them, this story would be much worse. Thank you Arkeus, Endoria, Scryde, Yoneye, SageBahamut, and Rmullins.

Maximus tilted his head at me, clearly noticing that I’d gotten notifications and wanting to know more. I shook my head at him, indicating that I’d tell him later.

“Be careful at first with it, until you’ve got the hang of it. It should level quickly here, which should be quite a boost for you.” I said. “Feel free to let your fellow, er, apprentices stop you by the way. No penalty for trying and failing.”

“By the way, after this meeting’s over, I’m hoping to give a brief lecture on all the things I know relating to the human body and disease, specifically knowledge I think will be useful for fighting this plague. You’re all invited – and so are all the other healers here – I think it’ll help.”

I stepped back, deferring back to Julius.

“I’d like to know what steps you’ve taken so far to handle this plague.” Julius asked. “It’ll give us a stepping point to work off of.”

“As I mentioned before, I have a few skills relating to plagues.” Caecilius stated, crossing his arms. “There’s two plagues. There was briefly a third one, but that vanished almost as soon as it showed up.”

“We tried to purify everyone in the town.” Markus jumped in. “Had every single person leave the town through one gate, with the help of the guard. Every healer participated, so we could do it in a single go. People lined up, got healed by one of the healers, then stepped through my Pyronox gate just to be sure. Halfway through, people realized that plague was still going from the people outside; was bouncing around from person to person. A minor panic occurred then.” From his tone, ‘minor’ and ‘panic’ were both massively understating what had happened. I could only imagine – people being told they were healed, going into a large field outside with a lot of other people, then realizing the plague was ripping through the theoretically safe people? Cripes.

“No healer would confess to having screwed up, and even if they did, my Pyronox should’ve gotten it. The 3rd legion was in the area, and they lost patience at that point. They gave the healers – and a few people per healer, usually the wealthiest who could bribe their way into having a spot with them – an out, then walled the rest of us in. The healers left are the ones who decided to stay.”

“Why on Pallos did the 3rd let healers and some people leave, when it was clear they didn’t have it under control?” Julius asked with a frown. “I get letting people who are clear leave. I get forcing everyone to stay. But forcing everyone to stay, and only letting some people out? It smells.”

Markus nodded.

“I believe a large sum of money changed hands, and ‘letting some healers out’ was simply a convenient excuse, a cover story. No matter how you look at it, there hasn’t been reports of the plague outside of Perinthus, so either it worked, the plague is localized to sprout here, or they quietly killed all of them once they were out – to not start a riot on ‘they’re killing healers.’”

“To boot, they’re not letting any more healers out.” Verta jumped in. “Some bullshit reasoning.”

Julius narrowed his eyes. “Once this is over, we might have a visit with them. Before that, we have more pressing issues.”

Yikes. That sounded difficult. A mass ‘purify every single person in town’ event didn’t work? People were still sick after it?

Julius was still front and center with Markus, as I turned to Maximus to whisper notes to him.

“My first thought is something that’s both inside and outside the town – I’d lean towards rodents and insects. Although something acting so fast as to be visible still outside the town? Either this plagues an incredibly quick killer, or a healer screwed up and let sick people through. But someone obviously sick wouldn’t make it through – they’d get stopped either physically, or cleansed by Markus’s barrier. I need to know more.”

I waited for a brief lull in the conversation, then jumped in.

“Excuse me,” I said with all the grace of a wrecking ball. “how could you tell that people were still infected?”

“A few people started coughing and bleeding while outside.” Caecilius, the sack-on-head man told me. “It worked on what I’m calling Plague 2, the diarrhea, vomiting, and tongue-swelling one, but Plague 1, the bleeding and coughing one, was in full force.”

“That’s so weird. Thanks for telling me.” I said, having a bunch of thoughts I was keeping to myself. I knew diseases. Somewhat. Not terribly well. Not as well as a doctor would, but better than most people on Pallos. But if I went around saying “you’re wrong, you’re wrong” to the people that had been here for months, on my first day here? I’d probably end up eating a ton of crow. My social graces were practically non-existent, but I’d been working with Kallisto, and had some vague ideas on how to not be a complete idiot in a social setting.

Contradicting someone more than twice my level, with decades of experience in general and months for this disease specifically, fell into ‘being a complete idiot.’ I’d gather evidence, see the disease for myself, make my own conclusion, talk with them. Try to bring them around to my way of thinking.

Kallisto had reminded me that while I knew my stuff, my credibility was probably pretty low. Directly going against the famous-seeming [Plague Healer] would destroy it beyond repair.

Julius, Markus, Caecilius, and the rest kept talking for a bit longer, me paying rapt attention, but not much more interesting was said. The conversation eventually broke up, the informal leaders wandering around to chat with others.

We split up into pairs, Origen being the odd man out with Maximus and Arthur, Kallisto and Artemis working together, and Julius and I as a team. We weren’t in pairs this time out of a worry that something would happen – Maximus, Julius, and Kallisto were the best at gathering information and investigating in a social manner, while the rest of us were less-useful at that. This way, any good information would make its way back to the Ranger’s collective think-tank.

I started off by meeting Whipping Man, who smirked at seeing my eyes roam over his many scars, lashed into him by the cruel bite of a whip.

“Hi. Hesoid.” He said, introducing himself. I used [Identify] on him, and got back [Mage]. Somewhere in the 235-245 range. His eyes swirled with darkness.

“You’re a healer?” I asked, slightly skeptical.

“Decay-mage actually.” He said. “Turns out, with the right application of my skills, I can cure some of the people in the town. Caecilius, the [Plague Healer], is completely right in my opinion. There are two plagues. I can cure one, but it’s a coin toss if someone I ‘heal’ from the second one lives or not. Doesn’t make me that popular I’ll tell you, with a reputation that I ‘might’ heal you. Doesn’t help that most people aren’t distinguishing the difference between the two, and just assume it’s one big plague. Which makes sense – how can two plagues descend at once? This area knows disease, it knows how to fight off sickness, so two outbreaks stretches the imagination.”

Wow. That was a lot.

“Are you local to the area?” Julius asked.

“Yup! Lived around here all my life. Love this town, greatest town in the Republic. Wouldn’t want to leave here for anything. When the call came, I decided to see if I could stretch my skills to help, and, well, I barely can.”

“What’s the story with your scars?” I asked, fascinated. “I can fix them for you if you’d like.”

He laughed at me.

“Ah, lassie, I can’t tell you how many healers here have offered that for me, but usually in a pair! It’s amazing how one so young can heal so well. No, I appreciate the offer, but I like ‘em. I was a slave for a few years, working as a field hand. Overseer had a nasty hand, liked the whip. I got my lucky break, little more than a year ago, got offered this Mage class on a class-up, and took it. Worked off my debt, and now I’m a freeman. Too damn hot to be wearing tunics, and I like how uncomfortable everyone gets looking at my scars – too many people are soft, they don’t like the reminder of how slavery can be in the Republic. My little revenge.” He said with a smile.

“Neat.” I said. I didn’t like slavery all that much, and while I’d seen a number of former slaves, both escaped and those who’d genuinely worked their way out of it, most tried to erase their past, blend in like any other freeman. After all, short of advertising it like Hesoid did, there was no way of telling that someone was a former slave, not unless they’d been branded as dangerous. Most people liked to smoothly integrate back into society, and even owned a slave or two of their own.

Those made the best, or the worst, slave owners according to the grapevine. Either they remembered their time, and were kinder, more humane as a result, or saw their slaves as an outlet for all their pent-up anger, and the cycle continued.

We thanked Hesoid for his time, and wandered the room, chatting with some other healers, getting to know them and their story. They followed a theme – usually a local slave/freeman/citizen from the area – most of the foreign healers bailed when the 3rd announced they were closing the town down – with a Water/Dark healing class, with the occasional rare Light or advanced element showing up. Most were of the opinion that this was a single plague – two plagues hitting at once was unheard of, and this was their town, their whole lives.

They knew how disease and sickness worked, and it showed up in spurts, usually from the nearby Kadan jungle, the healers would fix everyone who got sick, and life went on as normal. If anything, they were more prepared than the average town for a plague, but on the other hand, the fast, constant response to many little outbreaks had left them somewhat unprepared for a larger, sustained outbreak.

Eventually we got around to Mummy-Bard, as I’d dubbed him, holding a harp, with a bodyguard looming over his shoulder. He was standing in a corner, not being terribly social, but at the same time, nobody forced him to be here, nobody was holding a spear to his throat and making him talk to people instead of being outside, playing his harp.

I approached, and he made some gestures to his bodyguard. Interesting. Was he mute? The bodyguard stepped forward, intercepting us, and growled.

“She can talk. You can’t.” He said, pointing at Julius.

We traded looks. I identified him, as I was sure Julius was also doing. [Healer]. Either just got his 256 class-up, or was on the cusp of it. I shrugged. Healer-tagged. What was the worst that could happen?

Then again, I was also healer-tagged, with blazing flames at my fingertips. I was still in full armor, cape swirling around me like some sort of hero. It felt frankly awesome. How often did you get to wear a cape and look like and feel like a badass, and not awkwardly being the only one wearing one?

Focus Elaine, I told myself.

Julius shrugged back, and nodded his agreement. I stepped forward, only to feel, less than see, a type of barrier spring up around us.

It took me a moment to realize what had happened. I couldn’t hear anyone else, but I could still see them. Ah, some sort of sound skill. I couldn’t see his eyes – how did [Identify] even work when you couldn’t really see a person, so wrapped up in cloth? Magic shenanigans. – but it seemed obvious that his element was Sound, and creating a sound-proof barrier seemed like child’s play for the element.

“Hello.” SHE said with a soft voice. “I’m Glacia. I overheard your conversation earlier with Markus and the bunch. It’s wonderful to meet you Elaine.”

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 14]

[Mana: 3970/3970]

[Mana Regen: 6111]

Stats

[Free Stats: 174]

[Strength: 43]

[Dexterity: 79]

[Vitality: 65]

[Speed: 80]

[Mana: 668]

[Mana Regeneration: 1100]

[Magic Power: 626]

[Magic Control: 1121]

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Healer - Celestial: Lv 144]]

[Celestial Affinity: 144]

[Warmth of the Sun: 117]

[Medicine: 124]

[Center of the Galaxy: 126]

[Phases of the Moon: 104]

[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: 111]

[Ranger's Lore: 67]

[Running: 74]

[Learning: 119]

 

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A note from Selkie

More healers!


If you could give me an advanced review, that'd be great. They're weighted more heavily than anything else, and I've been looking carefully at trending - it's clear that the rating the novel has is super important. Hence, advanced reviews help me go up in the trending list. They help more people see it, which gets more people rating and following it, which has a synergistic effect that hopefully turns into a runaway effect, which gets enough people interested that I get to do this full-time. Seriously, it matters, and it helps.

BTDEM is bog standard in many ways. However, I'm willing to do things that turn some readers off - and so far, more of my reviews have been from people that I make mad more than people who are happy. Just how the internet works. I'm hoping some of you that are enjoying things are willing to leave reviews or advanced reviews. They matter. You matter.

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Selkie

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