I blinked, taking the mug from Ocean, downing it. It woke me up, made me realize just how hungry and thirsty I was. Without saying anything, Ocean refilled my mug, handing me more field rations, which I promptly devoured.

“How long?” I asked, between mouthfuls.

“Three days. I was starting to get concerned.” Ocean said.

Three days!? No wonder he was getting concerned!

I chowed down ravenously, then started to break into my backpack. Ocean grabbed my arm, stopping me.

“We’re at a town. Better buy stuff here, and save your rations for on the road.”

Mmmm. Good point.

“What happens now?” I asked, refocusing on my mission.

“Well, a good majority of the time, there’s the Ranger team that called you hanging around to give you a debrief. Usually trying to contain whatever mess is going on. On occasion, they’ve left to continue their round, and the info’s been left with the local guard, or the next team’s around to give you the run down – enough time could pass between the message and you getting here that the next team’s arrived.”

“The remaining usual case is an information package, on all the details of a problem. Usually a fast-moving problem, or a slippery classer. At which point it’s a hunt to find the problem – and almost every time Hunting is sent on those.”

“This time, you’re practically chasing rumors though, which is going to make it hard.”

“Or easy, depending on the prevalence.” Ocean shrugged.

“Anyways, we’re here. You’re the boss. You decide what to do.”

Well then. Investigations and Leadership classes were suddenly coming in handy, and the History, Geography, and Politics lessons were useful in giving me context to do everything in. Good foresight.

Ok, let’s think about this, do some planning. A plague was something massive. I could try to one-woman army my way through it – which was the whole idea of a Sentinel – but so many people were touched and impacted that there was no way I could organize a response on my own.

I was the daughter of a guard, grew up around them, and had nothing but respect and admiration for them. They were also the perfect people to work with on this, having the personnel and the network to make anything I needed happen.

A significant part of authority and leadership was being recognized as the authority, as the leader. The governor was the governor because everyone decided he was. If I walked in and started making demands, good chance I’d be ignored. If I walked in on my own, there was a good chance I’d be questioned if I really was a Sentinel, or making stuff up. Same deal as when I was a Ranger.

Being the first woman Sentinel was still ringing in my mind, and odds were good Deva had never heard of me, not with the speed Ocean traveled, not with the non-critical aspect of it.

One of the best ways to be recognized as an authority figure – have another authority figure, a well-known one, introduce you.

My eyes turned to Ocean.

“Right. Here’s the plan. I’m going to walk around a bit, get a general feel of the place. See if there’s a super obvious plague or anything, grab lunch, then I’ll swing back, grab you, and we’re going to talk with the captain of the guard together.”

“Oh?” Ocean said, leaning back. “This is your mission, not mine.”

It seemed like all the Sentinels liked testing and challenging each other a bit. More to see what the thinking and logic was than anything else. I’d seen Night do it to Toxic.

“Sure. All I’m asking is for you to introduce me. With my age, gender, and height, it’s likely I’d be disbelieved when I mention I’m a Sentinel, which undermines all of us. Gods know it happened enough when I was a Ranger, and that was traveling with a full team. Having a well-respected, well-established Sentinel introduce me in the first place though will go a long way towards mitigating that.”

Ocean nodded.

“Right. Well-reasoned. I’ve already talked with the [Harbor Master], and you’re all clear to enter town.”

“Thanks!” I appreciated that.

I left Ocean’s boat, and started to wander around town. There were a number of people with faintly purple teeth. Wonder if they had a problem with drugs here. My ‘wandering around town’ was really more me just hitting up every food vendor I could between healing people on the street.

I’d frankly forgotten about that. The severity of a few people hacking their way down the street obligated me to stop, and ask if they’d like to get healed.

Most said yes. A few looked at me distrustfully and declined, either biased against a woman, refusing to acknowledge they were sick, or simply believing there had to be some catch to the ‘free healing’. Couldn’t blame them, enough conmen ran around. The disease wasn’t at the stage where I was going to force an override on their decision – not yet.

There was certainly a minor problem going on, but business was, by and large, as normal. I suppose any plague where news left the town about it – Deva was tiny, relatively speaking, maybe 6000 people – would be large enough to see.

I got a solid look at the disease to boot. After the 12th patient or so, I was pretty sure I had a nearly complete picture, barring rare symptoms. Didn’t matter. Not for curing a disease. Markus’s rumors had been fairly accurate. Lots of coughing, some bloody flecks in the worst cases. Well, the worst cases that were still out and about.

No carts of dead people. Nobody yelling ‘bring out your dead’. No mass pyres of bodies.

A low-level plague, perfect for me to cut my teeth on. By now I had a solid grasp of what the disease was, how it worked, and how to cure it. The added [Medicine] and [Oath] levels, along with flat-out experience, did wonders.

No major reservoirs, purely human to human transmission. No strange magical twists. Just simple pneumonic plague. Easy enough to cure.

I made my way back to the docks, where Ocean was happily sitting, legs dangling in the sea, having somehow obtained – or taken out from his own stash – a fishing rod, happily trying his hand at dinner, casually chatting with some of the other fishermen. I dare say, he was trying to be somewhat normal.

I sympathized. Although it’d only last until someone [Identify]’d him really.

I tapped him on the shoulder, carefully not calling him Ocean. Most people would probably think it was just a weird name, but, well, I had no idea how famous Ocean was amongst sea-faring people, just like most people not involved with medicine didn’t know how famous I was.

Heck, I had no idea how famous I was. Markus and his apprentices seemed to think I was a hot shot, with my Medical Manuscript, but I had no idea if that extended at all, or was purely a local phenomenon.

“Heya. Got a few minutes for me to borrow you?”

One of the fishermen started to say something crude, but Ocean cut him off.

“Sure, let’s go.”

Finding the captain of the guard was trivial. We went up to a patrol, and asked them nicely. They were happy to point us to where we wanted to go. Something about me being in full army-issued combat gear helped grease the wheels.

We found the Guard’s Barracks easily enough, and getting in was as simple as walking in. Our first real obstacle was outside of the captain’s office, where a pair of guards were hanging out. Made sense – didn’t want just anyone to be able to waltz into his office.

“Name and purpose of visit?” One of the guards asked, in standard guard leathers and baton. Tone wasn’t bored. Wasn’t excited. Purely professional.

We glanced at each other, and I tilted my head ever so slightly towards Ocean.

“Sentinel Ocean. Sentinel Dawn. Here to speak with the captain.” Ocean said, in his best ‘professional’ tone. He took out his badge, and showed it. I followed suit.

Bless the guards. They looked at each other, and one said “Please wait a moment” while the other one vanished into the captain’s room. He came out a moment later.

“Go on in.”

We entered to see the captain sitting behind his desk, a dozen scrolls scattered all over. Paperwork bamboowork. Couldn’t escape it even on Pallos.

“Welcome. Can’t ever say I’m happy to see a Sentinel, let alone two. What’s going on?” The captain said, straight to business.

We showed him our badges quickly, then put them away. Ocean shrugged, and in a friendly, casual tone started talking.

“I’m Ocean. I’m just rapidly deploying Dawn here, and given the scale and nature of the problem, we felt that introductions were in order. Dawn’s had some, ah, historical problems with people not believing her existence.”

The captain looked me over, up and down.

“Yeah, I can believe that. No offense, but I wouldn’t believe you’re a Sentinel. Never heard of you, and you don’t look like one.”

I gave a half-twitch of my mouth, half-bemused one-sided smile. The ball was now in my court.

“Yeah. I get that a bunch. I’m Dawn, nice to meet you. Grew up around guards, big fan.” I said, offering my hand to shake. Making connections. Establishing common ground.

Socializing. Bleck.

The captain, bless him, took my hand and shook it.

“Pleasure to meet you. Now. What problem’s caused you to come all this way? Is there some Classer I don’t know about who’s going to ruin my week? Some rampaging dinosaur about to destroy my walls?”

I schooled myself to not look at Ocean for support. This was my ball, this was my court. I was in charge here.

“Pretty simple. I’m all about healing. Heard rumors of a low level plague – well, not that low level, not if I’m hearing about it – and we figured I’d jump in and stamp it out while it was in the early stages, before it got nasty.”

The captain frowned.

“We don’t have a plague.” He said, steel in his voice.

“You absolutely do. It’s not what you usually think of when you think of a plague, but give it another week, another month, and you’ll have a full-blown problem on your hands. I’m here to kill it now, before it becomes a serious problem.”

The captain frowned, drumming his fingers on his desk.

“What would you need from us?”

“Mostly depends on the full severity. I haven’t gotten a chance to do a full dive. However, a full town purge should work in short order. Caecilius, a [Plague Healer] over level 300 is rumored to be in town. Was thinking of recruiting him, recruiting some local healers, and in more or less a single night, getting everyone through the gates, healed up, and that’s it. We’re done. The guard would be invaluable for helping organize the event, and keeping the peace. I’m a single woman. I can’t direct thousands of people to do the same thing at the same time on my own, especially not as a stranger. The guard can. I can organize the healers – if I know who they are. Again, something the guard’s intimately familiar with.”

He still looked unhappy.

“Look, I just need some solid cooperation for a few days, then I’m out of your hair.” Find a way to align incentives, make it so we’re all on the same page. “I’m trying to stop this from becoming something much worse, something that takes weeks or months to resolve. I get that it doesn’t look like much now. Heck, it could even burn itself out. Why risk it?”

Lastly, sweeten the pot.

“I’ll also be hanging around for some time after, offering free healing. I don’t know if you’ve got a powerful Light healer, but I’m naturally able to fix just about any problem.”

I paused a moment, thinking about it.

“Guards and retired guards would naturally get priority.”

“Fine. Let me speak to the governor about it. He’d need to sign off on this.” The captain said. It was clear we were being dismissed.

“Does lunch tomorrow sound like a good time to meet up again and chat?” If I left it to him, I’d never talk with him again, just another person in the long line of VIPs wanting his time. I needed to take the initiative.

“Make it dinner. Will probably meet with the governor at lunch.” He said, taking out another scroll, starting to read it.

Fine, fine. Hint taken.

Ocean and I left without saluting. In the field, as Sentinels, people saluted us first, then we saluted them back. It indicated rank, indicated that they considered us higher up the food chain. To salute first would indicate that we thought the captain was higher ranking than we were, and that we’d listen to his orders.

Not how we worked.

Still. Politics. Bleck. Just arrange everyone in front of me, a small mountain of Arcanite, and the moons at my back, and this would be done in an hour.

We made it outside, and started to meander back towards the docks, occasionally getting hijacked by someone sick.

“Not bad.” Ocean said. “Not bad at all.”

I beamed at the compliment. I’d gotten chances to practice leadership at Academy, but it was in an academic sense, Lava challenging me being the only real leadership hurdle I’d experienced. Now I was out in the real world, putting into practice what I’d learned for the first time.

“Well, tomorrow’s another day.” I said. “Gotta see if I can find Caecilius, and see if I can start organizing other healers. Need to get this done one way or another.”

Ocean nodded at me.

“By the way, my help here is done. It’s all on you now. Good luck!”

Ah dammit. Fine. I’d manage.


[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 18]

[Mana: 49600/49600]

[Mana Regen: 40336 (+3086.16)]


[Free Stats: 18]

[Strength: 236]

[Dexterity: 203]

[Vitality: 560]

[Speed: 480]

[Mana: 4960]

[Mana Regeneration: 4676 (+1318.632)]

[Magic Power: 4325 (+44331.25)]

[Magic Control: 4325 (+44331.25)]

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Healer - Celestial: Lv 242]]

[Celestial Affinity: 242]

[Warmth of the Sun: 198]

[Medicine: 210]

[Center of the Galaxy: 236]

[Phases of the Moon: 242]

[Moonlight: 242]

[Veil of the Aurora: 212]

[Vastness of the Stars: 139]

[Class 2: [Ranger-Mage - Radiance: Lv 180]]

[Radiance Affinity: 180]

[Radiance Resistance: 180]

[Radiance Conjuration: 180]

[Radiance Manipulation: 180]

[Sun-Kissed: 141]

[Blaze: 180]

[Talaria: 161]

[Nova: 180]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Identify: 136]

[Recollection of a Distant Life: 159]

[Pretty: 135]

[Bullet Time: 189]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 205]

[Sentinel's Superiority: 196]

[Persistent Casting: 35]

[Learning: 242]


A note from Selkie

Heya! This isn't my best arc - it's when I was burning out 

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! Sign up for Patreon! Buy a book!

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