“Excellent!” Korun said, scribbling furiously on his paper. “Now, the way we do things is we’ve got the healer in a secured room, and we’ll bring you one patient at a time. You heal them, we move onto the next one.”
I frowned at that.
“Something wrong?” He said, picking up on my frown.
“Yeah… that’s pretty slow.” I said. “Like, I’ve done these types of events before. Last time I needed to have people brought to me I was half the level, and it was disease, not injury I was tackling.”
“And disease takes less to heal than injuries, right?” Korun said, flipping to another set of notes. “At least, that’s what my other healers are saying. Is the same true for humans?” He asked.
“Yup!” I cheerfully confirmed, seeing no harm in the knowledge, as he scribbled furiously on another piece of paper.
“Right. I’m going to strongly caution you against healing like that, since being able to heal 36 people a day for thirty days is a lot better than you healing 216 people once then getting wacked by the orcs, but I’ll allow it this time.” Korun reasoned.
My eyes narrowed at ‘allow it this time’, but before I could properly dissect the statement, Korun had to go and make a mess.
“Ahha!” He said, jumping onto his desk again, renewing the paperwork snowfall. Seriously, how did he get anything done? His organization was terrible.
“We can have some secondary teams waiting nearby, see if we can lure the orcs out of hiding with you! Sure, it’d suck if you died, but if we can get one of the Saboteur teams in the process, it’ll totally be worth it. Guard. GUARD!” He yelled, one of the outside guards peeking in.
“Get me the Lead Commander, the Gold Commander, and the Adamantium Commander. Got a job for them.”
“Um. Sure boss. What do I say when they tell me to rust off, because they’re hunting the orcs?” The guard nervously swallowed.
“THAT THIS IS AN ORC HUNTING OPERATION!” Korun screamed at him, like the poor guard was the one defying orders, and not the one stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Said poor guard vanished, and Korun dropped to his seat again.
I’m not sure how I felt at how little regard he seemed to show for the potential of me dying, but eh. Can’t have it all.
“Anyways. We have some nice accommodations for you, and I’m going to see if I can get that blasted rabbit to up the security on your rooms. I am right in thinking you have nowhere to stay?” He asked, peering at me like I might have somehow acquired lodging in the fifteen steps needed to get here.
“Um, no.” I said. “Something that you arrange sounds nice. I’d like to stick with the dwarves I came with if possible.”
Free lodging? Sure, I’d take it.
“Good, good. I’ll look into having some of them bunk with you. Perhaps that Ned, you’re both healers, we can secure both of you for the price of one.”
Wait. No. Not like that. Before I could say anything, Korun plowed onwards.
“Now, you’re the frontline scout for you humans. Are you interested in meeting the Council of Elders, or no?” He asked me, carefully neutral.
Oh gods no. Politics again.
You know what? Fuck politics. Fuck trying to be nice and polite. Just fuck everything about this mission. I was totally done, and wanted nothing more than to go home and soak in a nice bath.
“Nope! No interest in the slightest.” I said, ignoring Thoren’s incredulous look.
I probably should’ve agreed to meet, but at this point, I’d call “making it home” a big win.
“Right then. They’ll eventually find out about you, and will probably insist on meeting later, but I won’t send an urgent message saying you should meet.”
More writing. Poor dude. I hope he had a class for all this. Some of his displayed skills suggested that he had some skills relating to admin work.
I checked quickly. [Warrior]. Around level 450 or so.
Ouch. Hope his second class was an administrative one. Then again, he probably got promoted once his second class was past 256, which meant no chance of a reset or side-grade. Downside to the way the System worked, but then again, someone didn’t need an [Administrator] class to be a good administrator. They just wouldn’t get magical assistance for it.
“Right! I think that’s it. If there’s nothing else, Thoren can guide you to one of the infirmaries.” He said, focusing back on his papers.
This was my chance.
“Actually, there is one more thing.” I said, with my most serious ‘there is a Problem’ tone of voice. “Healer Ned.”
“What about him?” Korun said.
“While down in the mines, he, well, changed. He went from being an ass, to being confused, stilted, then forgetting basic things that happened. I also believe that he set off one of the traps you laid down - you know, the ones that trigger on non-dwarves? Lastly, his healing rate doesn’t match his claimed healing abilities.”
Korun frowned at me.
“Most of those aren’t quite problems. Healers - heck, everyone - lie about their abilities constantly. And he wouldn’t be the first Nolgardian to have mentally broken or snapped after the attack. That happens. The trap thing concerns my beard, although, were you near him at the time?” Korun asked.
“Yeah… I was right behind him…” I admitted, knowing how it’d look.
“That could do it then. But just to be safe, when he gets a moment break, we’ll do another scan. Ask him politely to walk through an area we’ve set to detect non-dwarves, and get one of our healers to check on him. Happy?” He asked.
“Any chance I could not bunk with him?” I asked, hoping to get some minor win. They weren’t taking my complaints seriously, and it was going to end in tears. I just wanted to make sure they weren’t “boo hoo poor Elaine, we should’ve listened.”
“If it makes you happy, sure.” He said, finding yet another piece of paper in his endless piles and crossing something off.
I felt like Korun wasn’t taking this as seriously as he should be - he hadn’t seen it the way I had, didn’t know the things I knew. He was just hearing a single verbal report from an unknown species, that was unverifiable and the concern didn’t seem to be shared by others.
I suppose a “Let’s double-check you are a dwarf” would have to be good enough. I mean, practically speaking, could they do anything else?
“Alright.” I said, nodding. “Thank you.”
Ned was no longer my responsibility. I’d kept my team safe, we were now in a new place, and I’d given them a warning about him. What they did with that information was their responsibility. Only way I’d be stepping back in is if he needed medical attention.
Otherwise? I was washing my hands of the whole thing.
“Great! Thoren, if you’d do the honors?” Korun said, dismissing us.
Thoren and I left Korun’s office, to meet the rest of Thoren’s team outside. My stomach half-gurgled, reminding me that I’d been eating nothing but insects for the last week.
“Any chance we can stop for some food on the way over?” I asked.
Thoren hesitated a moment as we started to climb down the stairs, the dwarves keeping me in the middle of their formation.
“We could, but would you be able to eat something on the go? I don’t know why Korun took so long.”
I shrugged. Potato, potato, as long as they had potatoes I was good.
“Yeah, sure. I’ve been eating insects for the past week or more - hard to tell time down here! I’m ravenous, I could eat a whole orc again.”
Thoren gave me a somewhat skeptical look.
Ok, fine, so a whole orc was like three times my size.
“Really?” He asked.
“Yup, really. Got a Spatial stomach just for storing stuff.” I said with a totally straight face, then cracking into a laugh.
“Nah, Radiance as you saw - are seeing now - but I am hungry.”
[Shine] was permanently on. Low-level not to wreck anyone’s eyesight, but hopefully powerful enough to mess with illusions.
He finally got the hint, and as we exited the dwarves military-administrative-I-don’t-even-know building, had a quick word with one of his minions, who hurried off to find food.
We moved through the streets, and I was more than a little embarrassed.
“Move! Out of the way! Healer coming through! Yeah, you, out of the way!”
One of Thoren’s minions shoved someone out of the way, and I could just flat-out die of embarrassment. I didn’t want this treatment at all.
I didn’t need to worry about orc commandos, the dwarves would make me kill myself in shame.
I should totally live in the infirmary for like, a week, then get out of here.
We made it in, and infirmaries were the same the world around. The only notable part was the apparent multi-floor nature of the building - a gentle ramp led upwards - and that all the dwarves seemed to be military, with bundles of armor next to each bed, and a quick scan showed everyone [Identify]ing as a combat class, with only a few exceptions.
I rolled my shoulders as I felt a huge grin creep onto my face. This was it! This is what I was made for! Good, wholesome healing.
Thoren was running interference with the dwarves who were running the show, but “we brought a healer to go nuts” greased a lot of hinges.
“Right, any reason not to get started?” I asked Thoren, who shrugged at me.
“I dunno, you’re the healer.”
Welp, nothing for it. What was nice with this many people in one spot - [Cosmic Presence] should be going nuts. It-
[*ding!* [Cosmic Presence] has leveled up! 270 -> 271]
Yeah, like that. I’d just leveled it earlier today to boot! Probably should’ve told Korun about the skill, but at the same time, it wasn’t like they could move people in here from other buildings, and my aura was ginormous. Big enough to cover this building, while I was in it.
The nice part with [Cosmic Presence] was with this many people here, I was preemptively healing everyone in my radius. My radius was large, and it did take a short amount of time with each person, which had the net effect that once I got going, each person would take less mana than normal to heal, given the amount of work [Cosmic Presence] had done before I’d made it.
I got to the first patient, and after a cursory look I tapped his foot and healed him up, noticing that the mana I lost was rapidly being restored. I probably could just burn my way through this entire building, like I claimed.
I was excited. I turned off notifications, I wanted to see them all at once when I was done.
Second patient was missing an arm. No problem, it was only around a few thousand mana to restore it with all six fingers, and I started to pick up speed.
What was interesting with the two patients I’d seen, was it looked like a Water healer, or a Water-aligned healer, had already seen to them. Cuts were closed, with that uniform fleshy look that I associated with magic healing, but the “help your body along” variety, not the “restore body parts” type.
Third patient had gotten peppered with rocks, or something, and his chest was a mess. They’d gotten the stones out, but he had torn muscles and broken bones everywhere. Nothing super major, but enough low-level damage to take someone out of a fight, and keep them out of the fight. I touched, and my eyes widened.
“60,000 mana!” I exclaimed, looking at the dwarf, and glancing back at my mana bar. “Wow! Glad I made it!”
Hang on. Being beheaded took almost that much mana, and the dwarf, while in bad shape, hadn’t been a decapitated head lying on a bed. Also, 60,000 mana for one dwarf? I was going to need to eat crow at this rate.
Then again, saving this many people from Black Crow kinda was eating crow in a sense.
“Um. Wow. Thanks, I guess?” He said, sitting up and flexing his arms.
“Hang on.” He said, looking at his right arm. “What happened to my arm!?” He said in a panic.
“I healed it?” I asked, checking over his arm, touching him again. No feedback, no problems. “It seems good. Skin, muscle, blood, bone, what’s wrong?”
“Bone! That’s what’s wrong!” He yelled in anguish. “It cost me 12,000 Drul to get enchanted metal to replace the bones in my arm!” He said, practically sobbing.
“Errrr…. Oops?” I said.
“Didn’t anyone ever - oh hi” The dwarf had started to work up a real rage, yelling and screaming, before Thoren and the rest of his escort stepped in.
They didn’t say anything. They didn’t need to. They all had their weapons drawn, and they loomed over the poor dwarf, who decided that shutting up was the better part of valor.
It was kinda impressive, how people as short as I was could loom so well. I’d need to take notes.
“Is this a common thing?” I asked Thoren.
“What part?” He asked back, somewhat confused.
“The metal in his arm!” I said.
“Oh yeah. All sorts of dwarves do it. Metal arm, steel ribs, built-in knuckles, iron hands. Heck, I replaced my leg bones to run faster. Dwarves do it for all sorts of reasons to boot! Those that worship the god of the forge believe it brings them closer to him, others do it so they can fight better, or want a hand that’s immune to fire, or run faster, or just look good. I know one dwarf wi”
I gave him a Look.
“And with all that metal in them, how, exactly, do they get any healing?” I demanded.
Some confused looks and mutterings went around, and a runner was sent. It would be too much for me to expect meatheads to know how medicine worked. I barely knew how meatheading worked!
“So what did the metal in your arm do?” I asked the dwarf who I’d inadvertently screwed.
“It was unbreakable. Had enchantments to make me stronger and faster. Had an [Earth Shot] enchantment mimic on it. Plus it kept me warm. And some other enchanter rust that I ignored. Now it’s gone. All gone.” He said, morosely looking at his arm.
“Erm. I’m very sorry. I haven’t healed here before.” I said.
I needed a solution to this problem.
Hang on, while I was thinking, I could make myself useful.
I was about to ask for everyone with metal in their arm to raise their hand, before reconsidering. That was, to me, the abnormal, but there weren’t just metal-in-random-places dwarves and normal dwarves. There were also dwarves that were asleep, that might’ve lost their hearing, or just plain weren’t paying attention.
“Oi! Can anyone without metal implants raise their hand!” I yelled, only getting a few hands nearby up in response.
This was going to take ages.
“Thoren. Can you get a pair of the guards to wander around, and get people to raise their hands? I’m going to be moving at a good clip.” I explained.
“It is running the escort a bit thin…” He hedged.
I rolled my eyes at him.
“They’re going to be a short distance away. It’ll be fine.”
I spent a moment thinking, then realized I had more.
“Plus, I’m the healer. I’m the boss here. Work with me.”
Thoren frowned, but then turned and pointed to two of the guards, who started shouting on their way down the infirmary.
I decided to show them up, and wherever they went, I was right behind them, high-fiving every raised hand, instantly healing people back up.
“No metal? Good! High five, you’re back in it, go!” I said, slapping the hand of another dwarf before moving onto the next. I heard him behind me.
“Ha! You spent the last ten years giving me rust about your oh-so-wonderful iron knuckles! Well, who’s laughing now!” He said, teasing another friend of his in a good mannered way as he started to get his gear on, chuckling that he was finally free.
Food arrived around this time, and I switched from high-fives to high-elbows, as I tried to keep a container of some sort of mushroom soup stable with one hand, and eat with the other.
I’d murder the bloody dwarves for making a game out of high-elbowing me and seeing if they could get me to spill a bit, but they were having too much fun with it. Way too high-energy for sick and injured patients. There was probably someone with an [Energize Patients] skill in the building.
Or wait, it’d probably be a Metal class or, hmmm. Mirror. Yeah, probably Mirror. [See how energetic I am!] or something like that.
Either way, I was getting most of the food in me, and only a little on me, and orcish commandos weren’t bursting through the ceiling, skills blazing.
A few of the dwarves were sadder cases though. They listlessly lifted their hands for healing, and once I healed them, they just dropped their hands back to the side.
Their bodies were whole, but their minds were broken, damaged in a way I couldn’t repair. I was just thankful that none of them thought I was a threat, or started shooting skills at me.
I’d blazed through most of the floor when the minion sent to find out how metal was normally handled came back with another dwarf in tow.
“This is healer Elaine. She has questions about healing around Metallic Enrichments.” Minion-dwarf introduced us.
“Walk with me.” I said, handing my leftover bowl to a guard, and continuing to walk and heal. I did like my crowd of guards/helpers making my life easy.
“What do you need to know?” The dwarf asked me.
“Well, how healing usually works with the Metallic Enrichments.” I said, finger-touching another dwarf and healing his amputated legs in a flash.
“Well, the healer usually starts healing, and when they’re done healing, they stop.” She said, acting confused. “Most Enrichments resist healing, so it’s not a problem.”
I half-stumbled at that, but caught myself and continued on.
“Ah, see, I’ve got a bit of a problem. When I heal someone, I automatically flush out all foreign materials.” I said.
“You didn’t notice anything was wrong when he seemed healed, but it was taking ages?” The helper asked me.
I shook my head as I kept walking, the guards rattling after me.
“Did the entire thing in one flash. 60,000 mana down the drain. The anti-healing probably explained why it took so much mana though.” I said, thinking about it.
What was strange was I swore I’d arranged my skills so that I could flush stuff out of the body like that - in my torso and head only! The fact that I could do it on large foreign objects in arms was puzzling me a hair right here and now. I was sure once I spent a few minutes thinking about it properly, it’d come to me.
“That’s impossible.” She scuffed at me. “You’d need-”
“I have over 100,000 magic power and control and the mana to match.” I said, cutting her off and enjoying a little smile to myself. I was underselling myself, but only telling the truth, and, well, those basic numbers were already out in the wild so to speak.
One of the downsides to metal armor? Clumsily hitting each other with it made quite a nasty noise.
I smiled to myself as the worst orchestra percussion symphony ever went into full swing behind me.