The first order of business was reassurance, to calm and placate the crowd. Yeah, I was a Sentinel, yeah I could say jump and everyone in the tent would ask me how high. Didn’t mean that angering a bunch of already on the edge people was a smart move. I actually had no idea what I [Identify]’d as right now. My highest class was displayed – and I was tied, 256 to 256. I had no idea what the tiebreaker rules were. First class in the list? Prior highest class? Or did it “look” and see how much experience I had stocked up, and display that?
My heart skipped as I realized something terrible, an awful possibility occurring to me. If my [Ranger-Mage] class was displayed first, that might mean my eyes were showing Radiance, not Celestial. I liked my star-speckled eyes too much to lose them, even briefly!
Either way, I had the crowd of injured men looking at me, and pain caused people to do stupid things. It was easier to lash out at people, especially when it looked like I’d taken away their lifeline.
I thought as fast as I could while I started speaking to the crowd.
“I am Sentinel Dawn.” I announced, cursing that my short stature meant that most people couldn’t see me. Not everyone knew what all the Sentinels did, especially when my name wasn’t something like ‘healing’. “I am Sentinel based on my healing powers and abilities, and I’m here to provide assistance.”
My mind was racing as I went over some basics. One healer. Huge crowd. Lots of injured people. A healer ran ragged. Shit triage.
“I already cleared out a full tent of wounded, and they are now back in action.” I called out, which got a number of appreciative murmurs. It wouldn’t surprise me if most people knew at least someone badly injured, a squad mate if not a friend, and hearing that I’d single-handedly cleared out a tent of wounded?
Immediate street cred. There was now another healer around, one with some serious juice if my Sentinel title was anything to go off of.
Thank goodness for the careful reputation and image management we all did. It was paying off in spades right now, as we needed to land and have people listen to us now.
“Who’s next?” I asked, and the people who were keeping things straight and sane shuffled the next person forward.
I looked at him. A Green, by any metric. I wasn’t going to start throwing stones here and now, and my mana hadn’t recovered yet from clearing out the entire triage tent. I healed him, noticing only a small dip in my mana, and I refrained from slapping my forehead as the puzzle finally clicked.
I must be tired and exhausted. That was the only reason it took me this long to figure it out. Wish I had [Greater Invigorate] right now.
They were desperate, and their healer – I’m not even sure they had more than one – couldn’t keep up with the casualties. Someone had made the call, either the healer or whoever was in command, to throw a quick-fix bandaid on whoever was about to die, and to fix up people who had minor injuries, so they could get back in the fight. Prioritizing getting as many people fighting-fit right now with as little mana as possible.
It made cold, sickening sense. Fortunately, my mana was regenerating a hair faster than the minor injuries coming in could drain it – and I had the healer busy sleeping and regenerating himself.
In addition – the call hadn’t been made yet to abandon Reds, and only work on Greens. If the situation got worse, I could see that call being made.
I spent a little more time thinking about it. Why were there so many wounded soldiers in the tent, when Green and Red were getting priority?
Glanced at the snoring healer.
Ah. He probably had a skill similar to my [Warmth of the Sun], and by cramming a bunch of people together, he was maximizing the impact of the skill.
How similar healing skills overlapped with each other wasn’t an area I had much experience with. That would require time and research, and while I was all for the pursuit of knowledge, what would be required to pursue that knowledge I was firmly against.
If nothing else, it would mean that I’d need to be in close contact with a large number of injured people, and not heal them. That wasn’t kosher, nor was that in line with my [Oath].
I mean, yeah, I was in close contact with a bunch of people right now that I wasn’t healing, but at the same time, I was trying to heal as many of them as Elainely possible.
The only time to even get some information was in situations like this one, and it wasn’t like we could easily compare person to person. Healing was an art.
Either way, I was feeling somewhat pleased that my mana was regenerating at an acceptable rate, when another Red casualty came screaming in on a stretcher.
I took a quick diagnostic look as he was rushed to me, and touched him as soon as he arrived, entirely fixing his injuries. I didn’t just downgrade him from Red to Orange, I downgraded him to “battle ready”. Well. Except for all the broken and missing gear, but that wasn’t my problem.
“Thank you so much, I thought I was a goner!” The soldier said.
I plastered a smile on my face.
“You’re welcome. Next!” I called, channeling Autumn. I had no desire for small talk right now. Not when the little reserves of mana I’d gotten back had just been wiped out entirely.
Arguably I should make small talk. I should delay, get my mana up. I was just so tired though. On the small decisions, I was making the easy choice, not the right one, and being a brusque grump was what I wanted to do.
I was mentally thanking myself for deciding to see how the current system worked before making changes. No wonder it was “stabilize Red, fix Green.” Dealing with the masses of Orange would drain more mana per soldier, resulting in fewer soldiers back on the front lines.
I glanced back at the healer, still dead to the world. I pitied him. He must’ve been stuck in this cycle for ages, with no relief. A quick nap here and there, interrupted by soldiers barging in with another Red that needed stabilization right now, only to get back in the healing groove until he passed out again, exhausted. Day after day, week after week, of non-stop back-to-back healing.
No wonder he was at level 256. The stress and environment were perfect for power leveling, but he obviously never had a time to grab a class up. Heck, with how his cheekbones were showing, it looked like he barely had time for a meal.
This sucked, but I needed the other healer alive. My demonstration earlier had me believing that one healer couldn’t keep on top of things, with Orange casualties steadily piling up. However, I’d gone through like a whirlwind, and knocked out an entire tent full of Orange casualties. I think it was enough to tip the balance.
Even as I was looking through, new Orange soldiers were entering the tent, while some who’d been in here some time were being encouraged to leave, to make room for newcomers. Made sense. A deep cut needed basic clotting, but once a soldier was no longer at risk of bleeding out, for example, it was prudent of them to move onwards to one of the tents, and give a spot for someone else.
It had been a long night, followed by a long day, fighting for our lives. I’d seen earthquakes, divine fire, angels descending from the heavens. The end of Priest Demos, fighting through the endless Formorians, climbing a wall, orienting ourselves into a new place, a new camp, healing an entire tent of grievously wounded soldiers, and now this. Frontline triage.
Of course, none of the soldiers here knew what I’d just been through. They didn’t know the bone-deep weariness that was setting in. They just saw a Sentinel, an invincible presence in their mind, show up, relieve their healer, and start healing. I couldn’t flag now, couldn’t call it quits after an hour or so and trade off with the still-resting healer.
By all accounts, I should wake the dude up so he could use his mana, then go back to sleep. At the same time, the healer was clearly in need of a long, long rest.
I weighed it in my mind as I continued healing. The needs of the many, versus the needs of one. Obviously, the healer had been picking the needs of the many every single time. How much was enough? How much sacrifice could a single person be asked to make? Where was the line?
I made the snap, arbitrary decision that the line was here and now. Also, I was ravenous. Starving, even.
“Heya.” I said to one of the guard-soldiers, who had seamlessly transitioned from guarding the still-nameless healer, to guarding me as I did my work. “How do meals around here work?” I asked him.
He looked at me with an “oh shit” look, and saluted.
“Apologies, Sentinel.” He said. “It didn’t occur to me.”
He gestured with his head to one of the other guards behind me, who I heard leaving the tent.
“Get a bunch! I’ve had a crazy night!” I turned and called to him.
Room service. Perfect.
Then again, the current healer probably already had a similar set up.
It was like having Kallisto around! Except I could almost literally walk in and hijack the entire arrangement.
I didn’t entirely want to be chatty, but I did need info. Blargh. Sleep is what I needed.
“So.” I said conversationally to the chatty guard, as I continued to deal with the steady trickle of soldiers coming in. In, touch, leave. In, touch, leave. “Why’s there only one healer?” I asked him.
He saluted me, which I thought was a bit over the top, but then again. Chain of command. Better to be safe than sorry when one’s a grunt, dealing with the highest levels.
“Begging your pardon Sentinel, but most of the healers were quartered in another portion of the wall to begin with. The Formorians breached the walls in multiple locations, and it was only a lucky fluke that Healer Myron was in our section to begin with. Something about hanging out with friends. We’re able to communicate with some of the other sections, but we’re not exactly able to properly meet up with them to exchange supplies – or healers.” He said. “The huge suckers keep randomly charging through.”
Welp. Ok then. That explained a bunch.
“Can one of you get me a runner, courier, messenger, whatever?” I asked. Gofer was still hanging around, but his stunning lack of competency had me wishing for an actual runner of some variety. For all I knew, I’d ask him to find Bulwark, and he’d end up inside the Formorian lair.
Another one of the guards vanished, off to do my bidding.
The next wounded to show up was Green. Green. Green. Red!
It was like a demented game of red light, green light, and I was thanking my lucky stars that I wasn’t the one needing to have the conversation with injured legionnaires that, no, sadly, they didn’t fit into the right healing category, and would have to wait.
The endless treadmill of casualties continued. Breakfast arrived, and I happily ate with one hand, while continuing to heal with the other blood-soaked hand. I winked at one soldier who looked particularly repulsed that I was cheerfully chowing on chicken while healing. Much better than Formorian!
The soldier who’d gone out came back, finding his way back into position. I eyed him as I continued healing, but said nothing. He’d report soon enough.
“Sentinel. The Legate says he has no messengers to spare.” He said. “He also ordered you to come see him.”
I twisted in my seat to look at him, arching an eyebrow. The soldier was staring ahead, ramrod straight, with a face that said to never play poker with him.
“He is familiar with the chain of command?” I asked him after a moment, turning back, continuing my heal-a-thon.
“With all due respect, Sentinel….” The soldier trailed off.
Ah. Quite possibly one of those. The polar opposite of the grizzled veteran I’d asked for help earlier.
Oh well. Wasn’t much I could do about it. Barring him trying something incredibly stupid like trying to arrest me mid-healing, and I could ignore him.
And it wasn’t like I was alone. Bulwark and Toxic were also running around. Plus, said idiot would need to convince a number of other soldiers to go along with his plans, and when it came to being between a rock and a hard place?
It wasn’t like I was the one ordering soldiers into battle. I was the one saving their lives, saving their comrade’s lives.
Being a healer was awesome at times. I felt nearly untouchable.
I stopped a manic grin from crossing my face as I kept up the healing line. Wouldn’t be good for people to think I was grinning at their misfortune.
“Well, if he needs me, he knows where to find me.” I said, with a nonchalant shrug. “It’s not like I’d be anywhere else, or doing anything else.”
My stomach rumbled in protest. Heaping breakfast had barely put a dent in it.
I decided to straight-up own it. It’d only be embarrassing and awkward if I made it embarrassing and awkward.
“Any chance anyone could rustle up some breakfast?” I asked with an entirely straight face. “I just showed up, and I have no idea where the mess is.”
I got three strange looks and one strangled chuckle at that. I somehow managed to keep a poker face the entire time.
I acquired a second breakfast, midday snack, early lunch, regular lunch, an “oh look at the time, we should get lunch”, a nice afternoon snack, early dinner, regular dinner, late dinner, and I was chowing down on a midnight snack when healer Myron woke up.
I nodded over to him, blinking sleep out of my eyes. I was talking with my mouth full, but who cared about etiquette in a warzone?
“I think both of us could use a large meal.” I said loudly, to nobody in particular. Screw it. I was still ravenous from the marathon healing session.
The designated meal-fetcher rolled his eyes, and left the tent. I had no idea what the poor [Quartermaster] or [Chef] thought – “No, no, for real, I’m getting all these extra meals for a Sentinel. No seriously, we have one in our healing tent now, and she’s hungry. Yes, she. Dawn. Healing. Yes, there’s a healing Sentinel.”
Communication in Remus was spotty at best. Good songs were the best chance of word getting around about us, and it wasn’t like people had been singing about me for decades, long enough for me to be a household name. I had some notoriety in the capital, but outside of there? No idea.
Myron bolted upright, having gotten a solid 14-16ish hours of sleep. He hit his forehead with his hand, and scrambled up.
“Dolts! Imbeciles! Fools! Why did you let me sleep so much!?” He roared at the guards, shaking his finger at them. “People are dying! They need me! It is- “
That was my cue!
“It’s time for you to chill.” I said. “I got this. Or rather, now you got this while I take a nap. Wake me up in…” I trailed off, doing some quick mental calculations. “64 patients. Cheers!”
I waved off the spluttering indignant noises the dude made, and skipped over to the corner.
My gear included my blanket and pillow that I’d been using while in the grove, and I’d settled an internal debate ages ago.
Where should I sleep?
I wasn’t a dumbass. I wasn’t about to put myself in a position of vulnerability around a bunch of strange men. That was just inviting trouble, Sentinel or not.
No, the easiest, safest place to get a good hour sleep was… right here.
I set my cot up next to where Myron had his cot, closed my eyes, and was out like a light.