A note from Selkie

My chapters are getting longer, so yay?

Like, right now I might be able to go back to 5x/week if I aggressively split my 4k chapters into 2k chapters. But I won't. 

So right now the words/week is going to be a bit low, and in like, two weeks the words/week is going to be insane.

Also, as of Saturday I think my backlog will be fully, properly revived, and I'll be examining reupping the posting rate. 

The next morning rolled around, and I was jumpy and bouncy as could be. I was the first one awake, and I woke up half the team as I eagerly put on every piece of my armor, greaves banging and clattering on vambraces as I rushed through the process of putting everything on.

Artemis groaned and rolled over, throwing a pebble – without any skill behind it – at me. It was satisfying to hear it clang against my armor and drop off, without me feeling a thing.

I wouldn’t dare to think I was invincible. Last time I’d started to say that, Julius had half-broken my shoulder. There was always a bigger fish. Watching stones bounce off of me without any effect, though, was still incredibly satisfying. Only a few steps down from eating a mango.

Artemis just made another complaining noise at the additional noise she managed to make, and shortly after, everyone was awake.

“Relax.” Maximus said, eating his breakfast, as I was shifting from foot to foot as fast as I could.

I gave him a Look, trying to say that I was already using all my self-control to stay in the Argo, to not just run out and run to the meeting hall already, whooping and screaming about Cholera.

It’d probably diminish the impact if I did it that way, I mused to myself. I had to look calm, presentable, reasonable. Not the crazy girl babbling about “wild” and “outlandish” medical theories.

Some of my impatient energy must’ve been transmitted to the rest of the team, as they were dressed and fed in record time.

Well, it was an eternity of torment for me.

We made it to the meeting hall, and we were the first ones there, some temple staff moving chairs and tables around in mysterious ways known only to them and their gods.

Everyone started to trickle in, and Markus spread the word that I had Big News. Waiting far too long, there were finally enough people around for me to start. We commandeered a table, with most of the important healers sitting around it, while I was standing. Most of the apprentices, and a number of the less-powerful healers were just milling about. [Oath] was the only reason I had a literal seat at the table, instead of being one of the nameless background healers that could only look on. Well, [Oath] and being a Ranger. Without [Oath], it’d just be Julius at the table, and I’d get all the news and information second-hand.

To my satisfaction, a good number of the looking-on healers were higher level than me.

We had Markus, the Pyronox, master of a half-dozen or more apprentices. Caecilius, the [Plague Healer]. Ponticus, the Light healer with questionable dietary preferences. Verta, stout head of the local healers. Hesoid, the Decay mage, applying magic in interesting ways. Berucus, the powerful Dark healer. Glacia, still wrapped in cloth, lying to someone, gender still unknown to me. The last healer that was part of the council. I never caught his name, or what he did.

“Today’s meeting should be interesting. Let’s first get some minor points out of the way. Ponticus, would you like to start?” Markus said, bringing the meeting to order.

“I’d like to congratulate both Hesoid and Glacius for classing up this week.” He said. A murmur went around the table, a round of scattered applause.

“I’d like to compliment Elaine on her massive growth this past week.” Hesoid said next. “It’s good to know that she’s gotten some of that remarkable growth rate we’ve all experienced. While she hasn’t hit a class-up, she must’ve gotten what, 15 levels this past week alone? An astounding growth rate, the likes I’ve rarely seen. By a similar token, I heard that she’s been hitting the sickest patients at an incredible rate. You’re a credit to us all.”

There were some congratulatory noises heading my way, and I looked down, blushing.

“Verta? Do you have anything?” Markus asked.

“We lost Daphna last night.” Verta said somberly, pouring some water on our celebratory mood.

“Oh no! What happened?” Berucus asked.

“She was mugged on her way home. Didn’t survive.” Verta said grimly. “All healers should get a guard escort on the way home. We stay so late, it’s not safe for us on the street. Those of us that are healer-tagged look like targets. If it’s that they think we have money, or just that we seem like an easy target for outrage over the plague, who knows.”

“Let’s look into that. Caecilius?”

“Now that we’re in the more serious and somber notes, it seems like the plague’s become worse. More people are sick, and the people who are sick are even worse off.” He said.

There was some scattered agreement around the table.

“Julius, do you have any news before we get to Elaine’s news?” Markus asked.

Julius gave a small jerk of his chin, and Maximus and Kallisto were suddenly near the table as well.

“Poor news I’m afraid. In other times us Rangers would come down hard on this, but given the situation, I’m handing this over to the rest of you to determine what happens.” Julius said in a serious tone that demanded attention, but not a grim, dark tone.

“Sounds serious.” Markus said.

“We’ve determined, using Elaine to confirm, that not all healers are properly, fully healing people.” Julius said. “Furthermore, the healer in question seems to be targeting wealthier patients to not fully heal, only suppress the disease, so they have to come back to him later. It’s clear that this healer’s able to fully, properly heal patients when he chooses to, and is deliberately choosing not to.”

“That’s preposterous!” Berucus cried out. “I’d never do that!”

Julius looked at him, as everyone else slowly turned to look at him as well.

“When did I ever say it was you doing it?” Julius said softly. Berucus paled, looking around at the table. “I do thank you for your confession though, it makes proving this much easier.”

Berucus looked around, panic on his face. He tried to get up and bolt away, only for Maximus and Kallisto to put their hands on his shoulders, keeping him in his chair.

“Right, normally people committing fraud are turned over to the guard.” Julius said conversationally. “Given the scale, and the impact of what he’s done, normally we’d step in and administer justice, a much harsher sentence than fraud normally gets, which is a 40 rod fine, or twice the amount stolen, whichever is higher. However, I recognize that these are abnormal times, and I turn justice over to the rest of you to determine and administer.” Julius said.

“On that note, if anyone else has similar ideas, just keep in mind that we’re in the area, taking a long, hard look at anything and everything plague-related. We’re all in this together, let’s try not to make things worse.” Julius ended his speech.

The rest of the healer’s council glanced at each other.

“We’ll deal with you later.” Markus said, glaring at Berucus. If looks could kill, Verta would be charged with murder. Not that she’d ever be convicted.

“Sorry for not looping you in Elaine.” Julius leaned over and whispered to me. “Didn’t want your sense muddled by wondering the what-ifs, and you have enough on your plate without worrying about a healer running a scam.”

I nodded slowly. I didn’t like not being in the loop, but at the same time, I wasn’t needed for this, besides being a disease-detector. I already had enough on my plate, healing a constant stream of patients, thinking about the disease, trying to work it out, staring at the map, trying to find patterns, wondering if I was damning six other people by healing the one sick person, teaching the apprentices in bursts and spurts. My plate was more than full, and wondering “are some of the healers deliberately not helping” wasn’t something I needed to also be thinking about. I appreciated Julius and Maximus not stretching my responsibilities.

“I’m guessing,” the [Plague Healer] slowly said. “that from the sound of it, you have even bigger news?”

I glanced at Julius, who lowered his head fractionally. That’s all I needed to finally explode.

“I think I’ve worked out what we’re calling the Vomiting Plague, what Caecilius called Plague 2. It’s a disease called Cholera.” I said, rolling out the map that I’d spent countless hours staring at, hundreds, if not thousands of pin points on the map.

“Quick lesson on germs. There are hundreds, thousands, of tiny creatures living everywhere. Gnats look like giants compared to them. They live in the water, the air, the ground, - everywhere. Most are harmless. Most of the harmful ones our bodies fight naturally, without a problem. The last few remaining ones cause disease.”

[*ding!* Congratulations! [Oath] has reached level 136!]

I was getting skeptical looks around the table. Markus rescued me.

“I’ve been having my apprentices sit with Elaine all week, learning her ideas. Most of their efficiency has improved. Given her backing, given what she’s been able to do in a week, I believe it’s worth listening to her, and evaluating the idea on its own merit.”

That shut up the mutterings going around the table.

“Thanks Markus.”

“The way Cholera works, is it lives in the water. You drink it. It multiplies inside of you. You get sick, you vomit, you have diarrhea. That expels the bacteria, it hits water again, and the cycle continues.” I explained.

“Look at the map.” I said, pointing to the blue dots scattered all over the city. The other healers huddled around the map, Julius leaning back with a proud smile on his face. “If we assume that the water’s the problem, you can see a line roughly here, going downstream, of people with Cholera, or the Vomiting Plague. Very few people upstream of the river have the disease, but quite a lot of people have it downstream.”

“Wouldn’t the river just wash it all away?” Hesoid asked skeptically.

“It should. Which means somehow, more is getting into the river.” I said.

“The outhouse on Carpenter’s street.” Verta gasped. “One of my healers complained that it was smelling terrible, that the enchantments on it were dead. It’s right there,” she said, pointing to a spot on the map right where the river started to have plague cases. "The people responsible for that area are either dead or fled, and it, like dozens of other things, haven’t been fixed or maintained.”

“If it’s leaking into the river, that could cause the entire outbreak. Someone gets sick drinking the water, they go to the outhouse, it ends up dumping back into the river.” I said. “Fix the outhouse, fix the leak, and it should, mostly vanish. It’s possible that there’s more than one contaminated source at this point, but we’d be playing ‘remove the sources’, and it should get a positive spiral. As we remove a source, hundreds of people aren’t getting it, which means fewer areas are potentially getting contaminated.”

“Do you know anything about treating this disease that doesn’t require a skill?” Markus asked thoughtfully.

“It kills via dehydration. You don’t need to cure the disease if you can get people to drink enough uncontaminated water. Boiling water is enough to make it safe.” I said, pleased as punch that everyone was listening to me! Things would happen! “Sure, they’ll still feel terrible, but Herodotos, for example, could single-handedly prevent people from dying. Their bodies will fight off the germ invaders on their own, and then they’ll get better.”

I tilted my head, thinking for a moment.

“Of course, it might be more efficient, and help stop the spread of the disease, by having him just flat-out heal the patient. Bit of a wash really.”

[*ding!* Congratulations! [Medicine] has reached level 151!]

I leaned back as everyone processed the bombshell, eager talking with each other. The hubbub of noise was terrible; so much so that it was attracting everyone else to the table to see what all the fuss was about. I just smiled, and enjoyed.

I’d done my part. Fought the disease with everything I had, worked my ass off, found out what the disease was. Brought it to the attention of people with more local knowledge than me, and Verta was able almost immediately to figure out the problem. Ha! Go local healers. That’ll show the big fancy out-of-town healers who the real heroines were.

The extra levels were just a bonus.

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 14]

[Mana: 9400/9400]

[Mana Regen: 14091]


[Free Stats: 6]

[Strength: 37]

[Dexterity: 129]

[Vitality: 90]

[Speed: 130]

[Mana: 940]

[Mana Regeneration: 1655]

[Magic Power: 842]

[Magic Control: 1409]

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Healer - Celestial: Lv 160]]

[Celestial Affinity: 160]

[Warmth of the Sun: 125]

[Medicine: 151]

[Center of the Galaxy: 128]

[Phases of the Moon: 151]

[Moonlight: 1]

[Veil of the Aurora: 111]

[Vastness of the Stars: 128]

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

[Fire Affinity: 39]

[Fire Resistance: 39]

[Fire Conjuration: 39]

[Fire Manipulation: 39]

[Fuel for the Fire: 33]

[: ]

[: ]

[: ]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Identify: 81]

[Recollection of a Distant Life: 80]

[Pretty: 101]

[Vigilant: 110]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 135]

[Ranger's Lore: 67]

[Running: 74]

[Learning: 122]


A note from Selkie

It tickles my funny bone that Elaine considers herself one of the "town" healers, not one of the fancy "out of town" healers, in spite of being a fancy out-of-town healer herself.

I'd normally have a lot more notes but Flora's demanding attention. Cheers!

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.

Help keep BTDEM going - it's as simple as rating, as easy as reviewing.

Or you can help pay my rent, which is a MUCH more direct way of keeping things going! It's the start of the month after all, max Patreon benefits!

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