Well, with the bard done, and the day elapsing, I wanted to make my way to the market, and start building a reputation. Get some experience in, maybe get a level. Although, normal, single-person healing in a safe location, when the injury was relatively mild was terrible experience these days. It’d take me weeks, if not months, to get a single level – and that was after [Learning] had boosted my experience. Most people who worked their profession their entire lifetime ended up with a lower level than me. I couldn’t expect good experience and levels from this – but it wasn’t the reason I was doing it.
I was doing it because I wanted to. Because that’s what drew me to healing in the first place. A calling, a way to make the world a better place, one [Phases of the Moon] at a time. Sure, in the grand scheme of things fixing cataracts in an aging woman was minor. For her? She could see so much better. She could see her grandkid’s face clearly. It meant the world to her.
Sometimes I’d be healing a splinter. Sometimes, I’d be restoring an eye. Either way, I needed to stop thinking about it, and go and do it.
Being in Sentinel gear was great. Crowds parted before me like the red sea, and the hustle and bustle and pushing through crowds that I needed to do in my normal clothes wasn’t present. The only thing I needed to be concerned about were wagons, who couldn’t move fast enough to get out of my way.
Which didn’t stop [Wagon Drivers] from apologizing profusely. I just smiled, told them it was no problem, and walked around it, like a normal person.
It was funny that because of my size, most people didn’t see me until I was nearby, at which point they started as they tried to clear a path. After the 5th “don’t worry about it” I gave up, and saved my breath.
I made it to the marketplace where I had my stall, and winked at the guard who’d accosted me yesterday, who’d tried to – probably correctly in his estimation – kick me out. Gently. Not too hard.
I held no grudge. From his point of view, it was perfectly reasonable.
I made my way giddy with glee to my stall, to find Neptune and Autumn at the next stall, busy bartering and trading with passing customers. They didn’t seem to notice me, so engrossed in their trading, and I took a seat down at my stall, still as sparse as ever, and put my bag down next to me.
“With all due respect, Sentinel, I believe the stall’s taken.” Neptune said, as politely and as deferentially as possible.
Oooooh, I was going to have fun with this.
“Oh? Tell me more.” I asked, leaning over and looking at him, smile dancing on my lips.
Autumn had gotten a good look at me, and she was starry-eyed, bouncing up and down with excitement. I winked at her, and put a finger on my lips. The universal signal for “shhh don’t tell him.”
She didn’t, but she grabbed his hand and tugged at him.
“The spot’s taken, and while I’m sure the owner won’t mind…”
Ah, I’ve had enough fun. He had turned around, and was busy staring at my chest – namely, my badge.
“Dad!” Autumn exclaimed.
“I’m-“ He started to say.
“Hey. My eyes are up here.” I said, note of amusement in my voice. No way to see anything, not with the armor I had on, but hey. The line was still good.
Instead of looking up, he looked down.
I rolled my eyes. I was trying here!
“Autumn, would you do the honors?” I asked her.
She nodded furiously, so hard I was afraid she’d hurt herself.
“Dad! It’s Elaine!” The words exploded out of her mouth, practically tripping over each other.
“Wha?” Neptune looked up, and blinked, mouth forming a great big O.
The look on his face!
The look on her face!
Me sitting down, clearly claiming a spot, had, like moths to a flame, drawn quite a crowd towards me. It was almost impossible to have a quick, private chat with Neptune, as dozens of people pressed forward, all wanting a “quick chat” with me.
I hadn’t quite thought this all the way through. I’d assumed it’d be like when I was a Ranger and healing. Rangers, however rare they were, weren’t that rare. You could see a half-dozen every few months in town, and there was a squad permanently running around in the capital.
Sentinels, however, were an entirely different breed. We were the venerated best, with the closest contact most people had with one of us was Brawling at the arena. Even then, he was hyped as a celebrity, and all of us, and the organization, were all considered A-list celebrities.
And I’d just sat down in the middle of town, and basically made it known that I was open to chatting with everyone.
At first there’d been a sort of nervous crowd. Who wanted to talk with the Sentinel first? Who knew what my temperament was?
Autumn sadly betrayed me. She was fearless – still a kid – and rightly assumed that I’d be the exact same as “Healer Elaine”. Which opened the floodgates.
Mostly to people who didn’t want or need healing. Which was defeating the entire point. Still, I was polite, chatting, and desperately needing some help.
“Autumn.” I bent down to chat with her quickly, throwing a [Veil] up for privacy. “Could you get a few guards over here? This is going to cause some problems.”
She nodded, immediately getting it.
I dropped [Veil].
“Alright, go!” I said, watching her expertly scamper through the crowd – even sliding between someone’s legs at one point when the press of bodies was too much.
The guards arrived in a quick manner, and broke the crowd up somewhat. Mostly, they focused on stopping the press of bodies from getting too large, which would inevitably turn out poorly.
I really, really didn’t want to know what poorly entailed.
I eventually solved my problem with the most unlikely of solutions.
“You know,” I said to her, faking how casual I was being. “If there are all these people who just want to talk with me, and not get healing, we get paid a lot less. Which means you get paid a lot less. Isn’t me talking with all these people and not getting paid a violation of your rule 1…?”
The little merchant was off like a shot. People were standing between her and her precious, precious coins.
“Hi! Here for healing?” She asked the next person, really aggressively.
“Well, no, I heard that-“
“Well clear out! This is for healing! NEXT!” She shouted, shooing the dude away.
I had to bite my hand to stop myself from laughing out loud. The way my shoulders were shaking made it obvious what was happening. Neptune had no such reservations.
Eventually, the novelty of Sentinel Dawn hanging out in the marketplace wore off, helped considerably by the guards and by Autumn chasing off hanger-ons, keeping the stall for just healing.
Not that all manner of extremely minor, questionable healing was suddenly and mysteriously showing up. I’d never seen anyone come to a healer for a scraped knee before, but now they were everywhere. Ah well. I wasn’t about to start sending the message that I was for “serious healing” only – it’d just scare off people who thought “Oh this is no big deal” and miss a serious tumor growing or something.
During one lull, I finally got a chance to talk with Autumn and Neptune properly.
“Why didn’t you say you were a Sentinel at first?!” Neptune asked, still bowing and scraping somewhat deferentially – but more towards a “client with a LOT OF MONEY” way than a “sucking up” way. Similar, but slightly different. A hair less odious. I was pleased that his merchant instincts were taking hold again. It meant I couldn’t have caused that much brain damage.
I shrugged at him.
“Mostly because I’m Healer Elaine first and foremost, and it’s a better way of getting to know people. Plus,” I said, lowering my voice conspiratorially and throwing up [Veil] around us. “Between me and you, thieves are the bane of my existence, and there had been a sort of game to grab Sentinel badges. We get in serious trouble if we lose one.”
Autumn’s eyes went wide.
“Wait. You can get in trouble?”
I chuckled at her.
“Of course, I can get in trouble! Everyone’s got a boss. Except maybe your dad.”
Neptune snorted at me.
“I have a boss. My clients!”
Fair enough. I wasn’t going to debate merchant-ness.
I pulled the Medical Manuscripts out of my bag, one scroll at a time.
“Anyways. Here. For you to study when I’m not around. It’s just about all of my healing knowledge in one spot.”
Autumn immediately tore into the first scroll. Neptune coughed.
“Ahem. What do you say?”
“Oh right. Thank you for the present.” Autumn said, almost automatically, eyes still glued to the manuscripts.
She brought a smile to my face.
“You’re welcome! When I’m traveling, you should read those! Ask me questions about them when I’m about. Plus, you get to see more healing!”
I looked at Neptune. He looked back.
I could see that he knew now. When I said I was “traveling”, I was on a mission. Something so big, so nasty, that a Sentinel was called in to fix.
Something that meant that I might not be coming home after.
I dropped [Veil].
“Right! Next patient!” I called out, getting Autumn’s attention, and continuing her education.
I was glad that she was treating me, more or less, the same as before. A nice touchstone.
All good things must come to an end, and as the sun was setting, the marketplace was closing up.
Neptune and I had a long, long talk about Autumn and apprenticing. Who would’ve thunk, being a Sentinel radically changed his ideas and thoughts of Autumn being my apprentice.
I’d decided. When I was walking through the streets, whenever I could with the moons up and out, I’d blast [Moonlight], just generally being a solid healing beacon for anyone lucky enough to be nearby. It probably wouldn’t help terribly with my experience, but again. It wasn’t about the experience; it was about helping.
Ok, fine, I’d probably get a solid chunk more experience from walking around with [Moonlight] up than I would from the marketplace. Still. I was doing good things for the Sentinel’s reputation, and that had to make Night and others happy.
Which reminded me – I’d need to start doing social events again.
Speaking of social! Albina was waiting for me at Ranger HQ when I got back!
“You’re back! Alive! Are you ok? Were there any problems? Come, come! You’ve gotta tell me all about it!”
I let Albina start to drag me off, before realizing she had no idea where to drag me off to. With a laugh, I showed her to my “public” quarters, which I’d barely visited, and let her do her thing, while I gave her an extremely pared-down version of what had happened.
For example, the pirates were pared down to “a small spot of bother”. She didn’t need to know how close I’d come to dead, how much of my blood I’d left behind.
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Pretty] has reached level 137!]
The Sentinel morning meeting, the next day. Usual round of business, and I was quite frankly surprised how much business we could generate daily.
“Dawn has begun to work in the marketplace, offering steeply discounted healing. Her work has been exceedingly popular, and according to the local guards, popular to the extent of nearly causing a riot.” Night said, once the meeting had gone on for some time, and it was my business being discussed.
“With that being said, now that the local guard is more apprised of the situation, I do not anticipate the issue arising again. The novelty of Dawn healing in public should wear thin after some time, and I would like to recognize her excellent contributions.”
A brief round of applause, somewhat cursory. I didn’t mind. Anything to keep the meeting going faster.
“With that being said. Dawn. You are correct in that you need someone to help handle the large-scale organizational aspects when you go on a mission, which is somewhat unique to you, and your situation. Bulwark occasionally faces similar issues, however, he simply needs strong locals to assist, which is entirely different from the large-scale organizational issues you find yourself presented with. We have worked out a person to go with you on some of your larger-scale missions, to handle the organizational aspect while you handle the healing.”
Oh great. They picked someone without checking if I’d work well with them. With how casually sexist most of the country was, it’d be a miracle if they were happy taking orders from a girl, likely one half their age.
“Ranger Kallisto seemed to be the perfect fit for the assignment. Not only do the two of you have a prior history – I am correct in understanding that it is a positive prior history, yes?”
I mutely nodded. Right. Kallisto would be absolutely perfect.
“The two of you not only have a prior history, but Ranger Kallisto is a member of Ranger Team 1, permanently stationed in the capital, has excellent social skills, can smooth multiple paths, and, the Quartermaster was particularly insistent on this point, doesn’t cost anything more.” Night continued.
“Additionally, you have your first meeting with Command later today. It is expected that you will dress well.”
Groans from the other Sentinels.
“Those are the WORST.” Sky yelled. “Run Dawn, run now before they catch you! You don’t get in too much trouble for skipping meetings!”
Night turned to glare at Sky.
The last shred of an illusion I had of Sentinels being highly professional bailed with him.
I spent the morning screwing with the Trainees along with the other Sentinels, then before long, I was at the doors to Ranger Command.
“Sentinel Dawn. Enter.” Julius’s reassuring voice called out. Was he speaking on the basis of being the most junior Commander, or on the basis of knowing me personally?
With sweaty palms, I entered the room, head held high, projecting more confidence than I felt. Fake it till I make it. I’d heard for ages that there was a Sentinel to break ties if Command disagreed or was split on something, but there was none now.
I guess – I guess I was the tiebreaker. Able to cast votes and make decisions that would impact the entire Ranger organization – and my vote was the only one that mattered. Since I’d only be voting when it was a draw, when I needed to decide the course of the organization.
I felt the weight of my obligations settle on me, and I could see why Sky wanted to be slippery, why he wanted to avoid it. It was heavy, a pressing, crushing weight of responsibility. A wrong vote could literally end with a city destroyed, as resources or people were in the wrong spot, at the wrong time and place.
I wasn’t going to be Sky.
I wasn’t going to dodge and skirt my responsibilities.
I was going to rise to the occasion, rise to the challenge.
“Sentinel Dawn. Thank you for making time for us.” Julius said.
I saluted him.
“Commanders. What can I do for you?”
“Well, fairly routine. We’d like to know how your mission in Deva went.”
Ranger Command Scrolls on Sentinel Dawn, nomen Elaine, written by [Historian] Herodotus.
Promoted to Sentinel on the Ranger Convocation of 4798.
Class 1: Healing, Celestial
Class 2: Mage, Radiance
Promoted to Sentinel at level 240, on recommendation from Ranger Julius. See scroll: “Commander Julius, 4798-48XX.”
Feat: Single-handedly curing a town of 60,000+ of multiple plagues, including a deadly Classer responsible. See scroll “Plague of Perinthus, 4795”
Voting: 5 in favor. 4 against.
Of note: First woman Sentinel. First Sentinel promoted on a healing basis.
Experimental. Watch career closely, determine if additional Sentinels on a healing basis are desired.
Date: Summer, 4798.
Mission: Deva. Minor plague. Dawn petitioned to attend to the plague as a test run of her abilities and equipment. Motion approved, 8-0.
Result: Plague cured within days. Medium-sized illegal drug operation destroyed. Medium-sized pirate crew entirely destroyed.
Petitioned to have a team member to handle organizational matters, to allow Dawn to focus on healing.
Petition approved, 6-2. After a brief search, Ranger Kallisto was assigned to the matter. See scroll “Ranger Kallisto, 4794-48XX”
Petitioned to have a team member that additionally handled plagues.
Petitioned denied, 8-0. Reminded Dawn that this was her area of expertise.
Date: Winter, 4798.
Mission: Massalix. Tsunami destroyed a large portion of the city. Motion to send Bulwark and Dawn approved 7-1. Motion to send Magic denied, 5-4. Bulwark and Dawn sent to restore the city walls, and cure injuries in the population.
Result: Outer walls rebuilt in two days. Population ‘fully healed’ within seven days. Three sea monsters slain. One bandit group eliminated.
Date: Spring, 4799.
Mission: Volcanic eruption in Pompius. Motion to send Dawn approved 8-0. Motion to send Brawling denied, 7-1.
Motion to send Brawling approved, 8-0.
Result: Brawling dug out significant portions of the town. Dawn healed a large number of civilians, curing crippling injuries from toxic gasses, among others.
Pompius declared destroyed. Scouting for a location for a new city.
Brawling and Dawn escorted the survivors to a new location.
Ranger Kallisto widely praised by both Sentinels for his organizational efforts.
Date: Summer, 4799.
Mission: Rebellion entrenched outside of Aquiliea. Destruction sent to handle the problem. Dawn petitioned to join. Denied 5-3. Petitioned a second time, strongly. Mentioned Aquiliea is her hometown. Additional arguments made. Approved, 5-4.
Result: Rebellion refused to negotiate. Attempted to kill Destruction and Dawn. Fought their way out.
Destruction destroyed the entire settlement.
Dawn healed the survivors. Schism reported among the survivors, causing infighting.
Recommend sending Dawn on additional rebellion suppression missions.
Date: Summer, 4799.
Mission: Plague in Genua. Motion to send Dawn approved 8-0.
Result: Dawn sent. Plague cured within two days. Reported a potential problematic Classer. Follow-up report sent to the guard, to pass onto the next Ranger squad.
Date: Fall, 4799.
Mission: Ranger Team 13 reported massive casualties, in Virinium. Reported Virinium has no Light healer capable of healing them. Requesting assistance. Motion to send Dawn approved 5-4. Dawn broke the tie.
Result: Sky ferried Dawn over, Team 13 was fully restored, and able to continue, instead of all needing to be retrieved. Additional Ranger team in the field.
“Discussion on Rapid Deployment Healers” scroll directly related.
Incidents with Sentinel Dawn.
During her first mission in Deva, one pirate was taken captive. Had significant complaints about Dawn torturing him, by constantly healing him as he took repeated sword strokes, without any form of pain blocking.
Complaint was found to be substantiated, with extenuating circumstances excusing Dawn. Dawn is additionally System-Bound to not cause incidents or harm in a deliberate manner.
Dawn was not reprimanded in any way for this.
Dawn repeatedly requests deployment to the frontlines, to provide additional healing and experience. Requests generally granted. Dawn is still a lower level than we’d like for a Sentinel.
During her mission in Massalix, Dawn located and healed a number of a local Selkie tribe, against the objections of both the locals and Bulwark. Refused to back down in her defense of them, refused to allow their extermination. Bulwark was unable to publicly refute her, due to the current policy of not allowing Sentinels to violently disagree in public.
Tribe of selkies escaped whole.
No selkie attacks reported in Massalix.
Date: Fall, 4798.
There were hopes that Dawn could provide a social face for the Sentinels and Rangers, to provide a friendly face.
This hope has been entirely dashed.
Motion to disallow Dawn from attending any other social gatherings passed 8-0. She may not attend, even if she wishes to with an invitation.
See scroll “After Action Report on the Pastos Incident” for full details.
Dawn reports seeing Toxic on the frontlines, but that Toxic will not meet with her. Dawn has expressed concern over this, given a prior positive history.
Dawn is reminded that Ranger Command doesn’t get involved in personal matters between Sentinels.
Mission: [REDACTED]. Date: Fall 4799. See scroll: [REDACTED].
Result: Dawn missing in action.