Well. It was almost purely Rangers. I couldn’t think of another person who’d successfully stopped me.
Or rather, I could - the dwarf guard. Crucially, I didn’t consider that a “valid” stop though, and I’d hung around until I knew the patient was better.
Which had a nice side-note. I could delay on healing, as long as I wasn’t abandoning the patient. “Oi, wait a minute” was valid.
Otherwise, like, I would need to stop spars the moment the first cut occurred.
Meditating on the people “allowed” to hold me back, that I’d accept? Yeah, it had to be someone I knew and trusted. Random strangers weren’t enough.
Would I accept the elves holding me back?
Awarthril and Kiyaya, yes. Aegion and Cordamo? Not at all.
Serondes? Probably yes.
I allowed small, physical acts of restraint. Being told “No don’t do that.” wasn’t enough. It had to be physical.
At the same time, a hand on my shoulder was enough. I didn’t need to struggle and fight against other people to get to my patients. Be a little counter-productive.
At the same time, I couldn’t really ask to be restrained. It had to be organic.
Everything was crystalizing towards a single idea. I’d been feeling around at the edges, and I softly verbalized it, an ideal I was living by.
“I will not harm those who are innocent.”
I waited a moment, believing that I’d get some notifications, an update and upgrade to [Oath].
I suppose “I will not harm those who are innocent” was simply a subsection of “First, do no harm”, which led me down another train of thought.
Although, was that correct? Was that the proper interpretation of how I saw the world?
Yes, but no. A hardened criminal, worst of the worst? I’d leave them be. No, my “innocence” examination had more to do with people who were trying to harm me.
“I will not harm those who are not trying to harm me.” Was a better interpretation of how I saw the interplay of those two lines of my Oath. I’d been unconsciously following that principle my entire life. I just had words for it.
In my heart of hearts I knew that someone being body-controlled wasn’t the one trying to kill me. Or, most of the time wasn’t.
What if I was in a war, and one side was objectively the Bad Guys? Ignoring for a moment that war was never that simple, that one side was rarely objectively wrong, and that winners wrote the history, just a fantastical black and white “bad guys VS good guys” fight. Could I heal the bad guys?
That was an easy yes. I healed everyone. Heck, the dwarves had possibly been the bad guys in their war, and I had no compunction about healing them. A person in pain was a person in pain, and everyone deserved health, as a fundamental right.
All of this redoubled my resolve to not let people know that I had the [Oath], although I did still think it was useful, and should be spread. A double-edged sword. The greater good would be served by it spreading, even though it would make my life harder.
Such was the fate of being a healer.
However, thinking about wars made me think of large battles. Upon some self-reflection, my rules did morph and change when it came to large-scale mass battles. If 80,000 people were clashing on a battlefield, with spears stabbing, arrows flying, and uncountable skills being used, I recognized that wading right into the middle of it to try and heal everyone was pointless. I’d just get myself killed, and not be able to heal a fraction of the people I could otherwise.
No, first off, I was most likely neutral in the fight. Off to the side, there, present, trying to get as many people saved with [Cosmic Presence] as I could. Anyone who made it to me? Healed. Anyone who tried to interfere with the healing station I’d set up? Well, that was a clear and obvious violation of my patients. Same with trying to restrict access.
There were probably more nuances and rules to large scale battles and wars. I hadn’t been in enough of them to properly figure them all out.
The cat was entirely out of the bag at this point, regarding [Oath]. I’d written down my [Oath] several times, I’d shared it with multiple healers across cultures, and my books were being copied and spread. Only thing I could do was adopt the Sentinel Dawn persona hard, and hope not too many people remembered that I was Elaine.
Should only take, what, 200 years?
I was almost entirely clean at this point, and I figured I should check on my levels.
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [The Dawn Sentinel] has leveled up to level 419->420! +3 Dexterity, +24 Speed, +24 Vitality, +170 Mana, +170 Mana Regen, +48 Magic power, +48 Magic Control from your Class per level! +1 Free Stat for being Human per level! +1 Mana, +1 Mana Regen from your Element per level!]
Well, ok then. I guess the healing I did while cursed and being murdered was good for something, namely, getting my level back. Yay?
Wait shit. What happened to [The Stars Never Fade]?
[The Stars Never Fade: 1]
Oh good. Looked like the minimum level was 1, and losing a level didn’t lose the skill. Still, I wanted to level it up… just in case.
I wonder if any gnolls were willing to have me experiment on them? “Sorry for killing your partner, here’s an extra 15-30 years of life” was one hell of an apology. Plus, it let me see how the skill worked in a way that, well, putting it bluntly, if it went horribly wrong I wouldn’t lose someone close to me. They were somewhat canine-like, and working on them could help bridge the gap between how [The Stars Never Fade] currently worked, and getting it to work on Kiyaya.
Speaking of, what did I think with [The Stars Never Fade], old age, and [Oath]?
That one was easy. Getting old was a natural process, the road nature and the gods had fated we all take. I’d happily heal an old man of every disease and injury they had, but age itself? The inexorable march of time?
Time came for almost all of us. I didn’t feel obligated to stop it. It was a skill for me to dispense how I saw fit, a gift. Not an obligation.
People didn’t need a second life. People didn’t need youth, not in the same way the needed and deserved life and health.
And when Father Time came knocking? I’d done my job perfectly.
Healers didn’t stop death. We simply delayed it.
Death came for us all.
I was lucky in that I knew the manner of my death, just not the time. Screaming, [Oath] having driven me into an impossible situation.
I’d It’d happen one day.
I shook my head, refocusing on my skills.
My capped skills recapped, which was a relief.
[*ding!* [Cosmic Presence] leveled up! 285->287]
Well, I did complain that [Cosmic Presence] was hard to level up. Mortal injuries not healing in a fight was great for it though.
[Sunrise] sadly suffered the loss of level penalty.
[*ding!* Congratulations! [Butterfly Mystic] has leveled up to level 344->345! +8 Strength, +8 Dexterity, +70 Speed, +70 Vitality, +70 Mana, +70 Mana Regen, +70 Magic power, +70 Magic Control from your Class per level! +1 Free Stat for being Human per level! +1 Strength, +1 Mana Regen from your Element per level!]
Once again my levels yo-yoed on me. I wasn’t going to complain.
[*ding!* [Solar Flare] leveled up! 26->44]
Still not complaining. I needed to figure out how to merge [Solar Flare] with [Sun’s Heart]. Probably just… leveling it a bunch, and it’d naturally merge together. Not much I could do there, besides maybe asking Serondes to make Lava pillars for me to burn while we snogged.
It’d be hot.
[Scintillating Ascent] was again a victim of the [Oath] penalty, but that brought in an interesting question.
What had happened to the minor metamorphosis that I went through each time I leveled up?
[Pristine Memory]’s to the rescue! I reviewed what had happened grimacing as I replayed the exquisite torture I’d gone through, each agony I’d suffered perfectly preserved and catalogued. That would absolutely be visiting me in my dreams, and I idly plucked at my fingers again. I slapped my hand.
No. Bad Elaine.
No starting bad habits.
I went back to checking if I’d felt any metamorphosis during the [Oath] penalty, annnndd… nothing. No change. I looked down at my hand, using my memories to compare before and after.
I’d need to double-check the next time I leveled up, but - silver lining? Did I just get a free level of becoming prettier?
[*ding!* [Pristine Memories] leveled up! 217->218]
If reviewing the horrific torture I went through was the requirement for leveling up [Pristine Memories], it was going to stay at a low level.
[*ding!* [Egg Incubation] leveled up! 46->50]
Extra credit for protecting the egg!
[*ding!* [Oath of Elaine to Lyra] leveled up! 374->376]
Ok, what?! The only thing I could think of was healing all the gnolls, combined with my thoughts and meditations on the subject had paid off.
[*ding!* [Sentinel’s Superiority] leveled up! 394->396]
Yup, Sentinels were the best.
[*ding!* You’ve unlocked the General skill [Unbearably Smug]. Would you like to replace a skill with it? Y/N]
Look. System. I’ve had a long day. Enough with the sass, please.
[*ding!* [Persistent Casting] leveled up! 290->293]
I hated to say it, but I was getting significantly more experience than usual from this fight. I might’ve been the two against one nature of it, but I had this feeling, born from long experience, that it was whatever curse that had slowed down my healing that was responsible for the experience. Not only was it a harder fight, but it was more drawn out.
With a sigh, I finished the last idle scrub, standing up from the now-brown waters, a wrinkled raisin emerging from the depths of the sea. Kiyaya perked up, the loyal wolf having been with me every moment.
“Good girl.” I whispered at her, then started to get dressed.
Time for food.
I was starving.