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A note from Selkie

Art contest! https://www.patreon.com/posts/48122499

Submissions accepted through April 1st, and even then I might extend the deadline a hair.

 

A note on the posting schedule - because I accidentally posted an extra chapter last Thursday, this Wednesday will have NO CHAPTER, because I like my sanity and posting tons extra isn't how I maintain it.

I woke up in the guard barracks, them being the best place for me to sleep. Bless the added padding Sentinel armor got. While it wasn’t terribly comfortable, it was at least bearable. And the Hell Months had gotten me well-suited to sleeping in, well, anything and anywhere really.

I spent some time chatting with some of the guards over breakfast. I liked guards, and if we were going to be working closely, I wanted them liking me and putting forth a good effort, not grumbling about the Sentinel coming in and upending everything.

More leadership stuff. I was happier doing this.

We finished up, and I left to wander the streets.

As a rough ballpark, a healthy town without major problems had roughly one full-time healer for every thousand people, and, for lack of a better term, a ‘partial’ healer for every six hundred or so people. Verta and my mom would both have qualified as a ‘partial’ healer, someone who wasn’t healing full time, just someone with it as one of their classes, who did some healing now and then. Oh, and apprentices. They counted as well. Before I’d gotten [Detailed Restoration] and ran away from home, I’d qualified as one as well.

Anyways. With Caecilius and his likely apprentice, the 5-7 full time healers, and the 9-11 ‘partials’, I was looking at 16-21 healers in total for this operation.

Max.

Some might be sick. Some just might want to sit it out. Some of the partials might not be allowed to participate. Bleh.

I started to walk through the streets, drawing all sorts of looks. It was clear I wasn’t a guard, and Rangers and the like didn’t usually walk around armored. Some pointing and muttering occurred when people spotted my Sentinel badge, the badge being rare enough, and Deva far away enough from the capital, that it wasn’t exactly a common or well-known sight, in spite of how well-known Sentinels were.

I was looking for some of the other healers, to chat with them. See what they knew, see if they were up for a mass heal event.

I hadn’t appreciated just how much organization had gone into Perinthus, and all of the healers working together. Trying to one-woman my way through all of this, to solving the problem? Yikes. Harder than I’d thought.

I saw a sign, a herb leaf, indicating that a healer’s clinic was here. I entered, only to find myself in what was basically an apothecary.

Either I’d read the sign wrong, or this was a rare wood-healer, one who brewed tinctures and tonics, as opposed to simply throwing mana and skills at the problem. They were handy when you weren’t in town, and only made irregular trips, or suspected you’d need something on the road, or just wanted a backup of some sort.

Either way, I was of the opinion that yes, Wood healers were ‘real’ healers.

“Hello, can I help you?” A man called from the back, stepping out into the main store area.

“Oh no.” He said, seeing me, turning tail, and sprinting to the back of the store, knocking down a shelf of potions along the way.

I raised my eyebrows. What was that all about?

….

I decided to poke around the store a bit. – I practically felt obligated to, and I was allowed to. Potions, neatly labeled. Herbs, hanging from the ceiling. Well, anything that’s making the dude abandon ship so fast wasn’t going to be out in the open. Time to poke around in the back?

I pushed my way through the door leading to what was probably his living quarters, feeling like I was intruding. Just a quick little peek around… is there anything super-duper obvious that I’d need to make a fuss about?

Bed, clothes, trapdoor, table, kitchen, recliner – wait, trapdoor?

Damnit. Please no underground slave ring, please no underground slave ring.

I went down the open trapdoor – seriously, what was the point if you were just going to leave it open – finding myself in what could only be a skill-empowered underground grow operation.

Flowers. Dozens of purple flowers all over the place, in various stages of growth. Perfectly normal for an alchemist/Wood healer/apothecary to be growing their own herbs…

Except these weren’t herbs. These weren’t purple flowers.

These were the Purple Flowers, the dangerous, addictive drug that stained teeth purple. I’d never seen them in person before – something about not having all that great an interest in trying out drugs – but I’d gotten descriptions of them, and these fit perfectly.

Ah shit. I knew there’d been a bunch more people than normal running around with slightly stained teeth. Welp. This was going to be a mess.

Couldn’t I just heal a plague, like a normal healer? Instead, I was going to be down a healer for the mass heal event, and it wasn’t like Deva was swimming in them.

Looking around – the grow operation was, from the small theoretical knowledge I had on the topic, way more than a town this size needed.

Man. All the dude needed to do was play cool, and I’d have never noticed. But noooo. Assumed Sentinels were all-knowing, all-powerful, and his ego assumed I’d been sent after him.

I went pale as I realized I had a problem.

Drugs on this scale were a lot of money. And I was deep inside the dude’s lair. He was either bailing, or getting reinforcements, and getting trapped in here against a bunch of angry, potentially drug-addicted Classers would end poorly for me. Being a Sentinel, I could try to intimidate my way out of it, but yeah. I wasn’t going to stick around.

Dammit. Where was a local guard patrol? I was handing this off to them. Way above – hang on, that was all wrong now – way below my paygrade. Plus, a team of guards was better suited for handling this than I was.

I groaned, realizing another consequence.

I’d have to ask to directions to another healer now. I just couldn’t catch a break, could I?

……..

Guard informed, I was outside the door of another healer. Four other healers, this one included, called Deva home.

“Hello?” I said, stepping inside.

“Heya! Um.” The [Receptionist] said, his standard greeting completely thrown off by my attire. “Is something the matter?”

“Well, yes, but not urgently so. Hoping to chat with the healer when he’s next free?”

The man nodded furiously, before vanishing into the back. I sighed.

It was better than being outright dismissed, ignored, or doing a massive accidental drug bust I guess?

The healer came out, demeanor suggesting ex-military. Made me think of the healers on the frontlines – was he retired from that?

A quick peek at his level with [Identify] suggested that was the case, as his level was much higher than I’d guess normally – around 260 or so.

“Sentinel.” He said, throwing off a crisp salute. Definitely ex-military.

“Healer.” I said, with the same respectful tone, throwing back a perfect salute of my own.

“Come, let’s talk about whatever your issue is.”

“I hope I’m not disturbing you too badly.” I said. I really did hope that.

“For a Sentinel, anything.” He said. He only had eyes for the badge, wasn’t seeing me behind them. That, or the badge was overriding. I wasn’t going to argue.

“I’m Dawn. Nice to meet you.” I said, trying to set the tone of the conversation, extending my hand for a shake.

“Flavinius. Coral healer. Blood specialist.” He said, taking my hand, the formal tension somewhat eased.

“I specialize in healing.” I said, somewhat stating the obvious. “Rumors reached us about a minor plague here, and quite frankly, I just got promoted last Convocation. We figured this would be a solid first mission for me, let me cut my teeth on operating as a Sentinel, instead of as a Ranger.”

Honesty. Candor. I did my best not to lie, but I figured being completely open with Flavinius would get me far.

He nodded at me.

“Not that deadly. Somewhat persistent. Has the potential to become larger. Yeah, I can see this being a solid initial mission. What do you need from me?”

I explained my plan of a straightforward mass-heal event. It did seem to be the standard, initial response to a plague, when sources and reservoirs weren’t well known.

Flavinius nodded.

“Seems wise to handle this ahead of time. Which other healers have you talked with, and what’s the next step?”

Bless him. Bless ex-army medics. No arguing, no questioning, just agreement.

I scratched my head awkwardly.

“Well, I tried to talk with some Wood healer, but he just screamed and ran. Turned out to be growing a huge amount of Purple Flower.”

“Really? He was the cause of the problem?”

“Well, unless he was renting out his basement to his neighbor and didn’t want to be implicated.” I said with a straight face.

Flavinius laughed.

“Who else?”

“Nobody so far. I know I’m also looking for a [Plague Healer] Caecilius, rumored to be in town. Incredibly powerful, specialized in this sort of work.”

“Well, I know them all. Why don’t I arrange for all of us to have a meal together this evening?” Flavinius suggested.

I opened my mouth, almost agreeing, before remembering – I was booked for the captain of the guard this evening.

“I’ve got an appointment with the captain of the guard. Tomorrow, lunch?” I asked.

“Perfect.” He said.

Bless him. I whole-heartedly endorsed the idea, and Flavinius even went so far as to suggest hosting it himself.

At this point, I made it my mission to locate Caecilius. However, my geography knowledge was muttering at me, saying that something wasn’t quite right… I needed a quick talk with Ocean.

……

“Yo.” I said, plonking down next to Ocean, who was sitting with his new fishing friends. “Quick question for you.”

“Oh?” Ocean said, as the other fishermen were giving me mixed looks. No – giving Ocean mixed looks. “Who’s this and why’s the blasted Sentinel treating him so casually?” Was what the looks said.

“Just how far from the capital are we, and how long is the trip normally?”

“Ten days.”

That might be why Caecilius wasn’t super obvious. If he’d left when Markus thought, he’d have just gotten here.

Wait.

Holy shit Ocean was fast. No wonder he was the secondary rapid deployment.

Still. He should be around somewhere, although maybe he was still getting settled in. I could ask Ocean for help – but I’d gotten most of the help I wanted from him, and something like this was mundane, low-level. I felt the need to prove myself, and it wasn’t like finding Caecilius would make or break things.

“Cheers thanks!”

Ocean waved, and re-cast his line, the hook and bait going an improbably far distance. I narrowed my eyes. Was there even that much line…?

Skills. Who knows, maybe that was part of his [Love of the Sea].

Right. If I was Caecilius, where would I be? I doubt he’d be wandering the streets like I was. He didn’t have any sort of obvious stall in the marketplace, like I tended towards.

Where did I find him last time? The temple.

Seemed to be a good place to go looking for him. Every town had a temple, and while they didn’t specialize in healing, they could, occasionally, do some minor healing, and people often went to the temple for… things… like…

Yeah my religion wasn’t particularly good. Apart from occasionally showing up to pray for Lyra, and being amused to watch my mana bounce around as I sent a prayer off, I didn’t really do much with it. The existence of gods and the like should’ve maybe had me take a more active, direct interest, but there’d always been something else to do. The priests spoke of miracles and divine revelation, but it was impossible for me to tell if they were real miracles, real divine revelations, or more Oracle of Delphi-style ‘prophecies’ and the like. Miracles directly from the divine, or ‘miracles’ that were just smoke and mirrors, and the clever application of skills?

Magic made it really hard to tell if a miracle was real, or just some skill.

Anyways. I could see a wandering healer setting up in the temple, instead of a market square, and I made my way over to see if he was there – or had stopped by there – healing the occasional person as I made my way through the streets.

The temple wasn’t nearly as big as other temples I’d seen, but Deva wasn’t particularly large. I made my way inside, to speak with the [Acolyte] inside.

“Welcome. What can the temple do for you today?” He asked. Dude looked old. Not old-old, but late 50’s, early 60’s easy. Curious. Did he never want to be a priest, or was there some reason he never went up the ladder? Or was there something else going on?

Ah well.

“Heya! I’m looking for Caecilius, a [Plague Healer]. Think he might’ve stopped by here?”

“First room on the left.” He said. “He asks for payment up front.”

Well then. That was remarkably easy!

“Thanks!” I said, making my way over.

I got to the door in question, and knocked.

“Come in.” A voice I recognized said.

I entered, to finally find Caecilius and his apprentice! Hurray!

 

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 18]

[Mana: 49600/49600]

[Mana Regen: 40336 (+3086.16)]

Stats

[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]



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A note from Selkie

Elaine's latest struggle continues!


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!

PS: Signing up for Patreon gets access to all book ePubs.

Discord for chatting: https://discord.gg/GStatMC

Now, if you'd like to help me pay my rent, you can! With 10 advanced chapters, bonus chapters, bonus worldbuilding content, discord roles, and more!

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Selkie

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