A note from Selkie


As much as I’d like to say death before slavery, as much as I fought being tied down and bound myself, I wasn’t going to pretend that being a slave was worse than death. Not in my books. There was a reason I didn’t try to murder every slave owner in Remus. There was a reason I healed slaves, then didn’t try to break them out of slavery. From some angles, I should. From others?


I was a healer. My fight against slavery was slower, gentler. Less likely to succeed. I pressured people not to have slaves, I refused to use them myself. But if I wanted to fight every slave owner in Remus?


I’d have to start with Kallisto, and probably Julius, Night, and the rest of the Sentinels to start off with. The institution was deeply ingrained in society, and uprooting it was the work of a lifetime.


Many, many, many lifetimes. Good thing I had those, and the ability to slowly make changes that would persist. Unlike so many rebellions that were brutally put down, or even if they had succeeded, there would just be more of the same. No, I’d need wealth and power to influence changes




When push came to shove, [Oath] would probably let me heal a random passerby of a shimagu without penalty. It was a sufficiently grey area, but not a super dark one. However, my own ethics pointed strongly that such an action, even if permitted by my [Oath], wasn’t correct. [Oath] and my ethics weren’t totally intertwined. They weren’t always going to align exactly.


Shimagu were people, and I wasn’t in the business of dishing out as much death as I could. I chose life.


It was the harder path.


It galled me to end up at that conclusion. Let me flip it on its head, see if I came to a different conclusion.


What if a shimagu was trying to take me over? Was that enough harm to myself to become self-defense?


Maybe… not…


No wait, yes it was, I was a dumbass. I’d utterly steamrolled the pirates for trying something similar, although the first ones had held a knife at my throat, and then the captain had ordered them to kill me.


Then again, it was a blessedly moot point. No shimagu would ever try to take over a healer that could delete them with a flicker of a thought, and the moment they tried to cause harm to anyone else, I could use that as justification to burn them out of my body.


Right. All in all, I felt safe from my body being invaded, my own will being violated.


With all that being said, as much as I was pontificating about shimagu being allowed to live, I hated their model. Total bodyjacking? Slavery of the worst sort?


No, fuck them with all the rusty knives I could find.


Now, when the host body of a shimagu was badly hurt, and I needed to choose which one would live? Or heck, maybe it was a case of “both could die”?

It wasn’t quite the case of “save the mother or save the baby” - thank goodness modern Earth medicine made that a practically moot question - but there were parallels.


When given a choice who to heal, and I could only pick one, save one? I could use my own judgement, and “terrible body-jacking slaver” ended up near the bottom of my priority list.


With that being said, they were still on my list of “people to heal”, because I swore not to discriminate. “I dislike how you’re forced to live” wasn’t on my list of “reasons not to heal someone.”


Now, shimagu infesting a monster or beast of some sort? Yeah, go nuts. I wasn’t exactly big on cow’s rights, except perhaps the cow’s right to end up in my stomach. A shimagu wanted to take over a cow, t-rex, bear, shark, or something else?


Please, be my guest. I’d even happily heal them up if they were living like that, with a smile on my face. Unless they tried to eat me.


It was a dragon-eat-dinosaur-eat-human-eat-cow-eat-grass world out there.


There was the added case of “Ok, you’re a shimagu. I’ve got a perfectly good tiger body right here. Leave the person and go to the tiger, or else.


Hopefully the threat would be enough.


I almost wanted to deliberately go around, trying to provoke as many shimagu as I could. “Oooh, look at me! Big scary healer! I’ma get you!”


Now, if they ran away? Not much I could do.


If they took a swing at me?


A flicker of thought, and there’d be one less shimagu in the world.


I recognized that there was some level of cognitive dissonance going on. On one hand, I considered myself a healer, a lifesaver. On the other, I was planning out the best ways to provoke people I disliked into attacking me, so I’d feel justified in killing them. The cognitive dissonance had always been there, but it was getting stronger. Bigger. More obvious.


Ever since I’d been asked to kill that goblin encampment. Ever since I took a job as a Ranger, as a Sentinel, with a healing mindset.


There might be - scratch that, there will be - problems for me down the line because of all this. I… probably wasn’t the most stable and well-adjusted individual. Being away from home and stability for so long hadn’t helped.


With my body count, it’d be frankly alarming if I was.


I was clearly in shimagu territory at this point, and could assume that the bodyjackers lurked around every corner. This made it relatively easy here and now. Flicker a heal at attackers, then if that didn’t work, murder them dead.


What about when I returned home?


I had more than a little Artemis inside of me. I would still probably blast first, and ask questions later. If anyone was stupid enough to attack a level 400+ Sentinel. If I, in full control of my mental facilities, got attacked by a random mugger in Arminium, and killed them. Then it turned out they were controlled by a shimagu the entire time? I would probably eat one of the milder [Oath] penalties - but it was still a violation. If I had to guess, I’d just lose an[Oath] level and feel sick. No pain, no mass loss of levels, nothing. Still, accidental murder - even legally defensible in most situations - was still the death of a person, and I’d beat myself up viciously over it.


More situations!


What about Hunting? I now knew about Void mages, and the potential danger they represented. Was Hunting an active threat? Was the unknowing, unintentional, random nature of his danger enough to rise to the level where I could do something about it? Or was he, in a nutshell, innocent, and not worthy of being taken down?


That was a little easier - he’d done nothing wrong. Existence wasn’t a crime, but I’d be having a long talk with Night and the rest of the Sentinels about him. Heck, Hunting could join in - knowing what sort of threat he posed, he might be able to find a solution himself! Or just, like, retire to somewhere far away or something.


What about, oh, evil Destruction? Had a ton of power, was overlooking a city, was going to unleash a gigantic skill? By some fluke, I was there, and out of range of the skill entirely. I could kill evil Destruction, and stop the skill, but in no way was I at risk of being harmed by it. There was no self-defense.


Someone else with the same [Oath] might be ok doing it. I’d never considered theoretical or future patients to be patients though. I was extremely close to obeying only the letter of the [Oath] in this case, with no added spirit, so to speak. Otherwise, I’d be stuck in a never-ending loop, running around from place to place in a single city, constantly trying to heal people. Constantly working my magic, just in case. Looking for those new, future patients.


Let’s see, just how badly that logic would’ve screwed me up in the past. I wouldn’t have been able to escape the dwarves, I would’ve died in the guardian fight, I would’ve been trapped on the frontlines the first time I showed up, I would’ve been trapped in Arminium with its huge population, I would’ve never been able to leave Aquiliea the first time, I would’ve…

Yeah. I would be so fucked if I didn’t have the rule of “People I can see, right here, right now.”


Future patients weren’t patients.


Back to the evil Destruction question.


Without him attacking me, without a patient to directly defend, I believed “First, do no harm” would apply.


Now, that might not stop me from trying to kill him. But I’d do so with the full knowledge that the action would cause the worst [Oath] violation possible, one that would make the most recent break seem like child’s play.


After all, the gnoll’s body was trying to murder me. It was still an [Oath] violation, but it was one hell of a mitigation.


Which brought me to another idea - I had “layers” of violations so to speak, from “This is such a tiny, technical violation as to not be worth it” all the way to “This is the worst possible.” There was granularity and nuance. Not all violations were the same. Killing a dozen orphans in cold blood wasn’t on the same level as accidentally cutting someone with a knife, and the penalities I faced reflected that.


Another interesting aspect to [Oath] - I had to make the attempt. I had to try to heal people.


I didn’t need to fight particularly hard against being restrained. Something as simple as a hand on my shoulder, stopping me from going? Being picked up and carried away?


I was right on the letter of things, the baseline. “Oh no, I’m trying to heal this person, but I’ve been grabbed and am getting carried away. Oh well.”


It’d helped me numerous times with the Rangers in Perinthus, and generally on the road.


At the same time, I’d observed that I’d been half-trapped by the dwarves, and the patient that I knew was there. I’d believed that I needed to try and save the giant during the battle of the guardians.


What were the differences? Where was my line drawn?


Well. The dwarf - and whoever I’d turned my back on in Perinthus were easy. I went for immediate, real patients in front of me, and that extended to “There is someone I know is hurt right past this unlocked door.”


That was a fascinating thought. I decided to explore it more. Solid wall? Nope. Locked door? Same problem as a solid wall.


Like, obviously if I could go over the wall, it wasn’t a solid wall. But that’s where my line was drawn. “Accessible” patients, I suppose was the criteria I was using.


What made a patient accessible? Well, I suppose I needed to be able to get to them. In the fight with the guardians, fallen trees and rocks hadn’t stopped me. I’d just gone around or over them. I’d been stopped by Galeru, the Rainbow. At that point, I wasn’t able to go further - and the giant had died shortly after.


Quick side-note - trying, and failing wasn’t penalized. I had to put forth my best foot. Success wasn’t mandatory. I could believe a naive, new healer might believe otherwise, but they’d quickly change their mind, or be penalized into oblivion by [Oath].


I had a bit of ego regarding my healing prowess. I kept myself humble by reminding myself that I couldn’t heal everyone or fix everything. Lule and the dragonfire was a good example of that.


What did all of the cases of people restraining me, and I thought it was ok, have in common?


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