Sickbringer

by

penove

Chapter II - Assisting the Enemy

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A note from penove

I made this first two chapters shorter, as I was thinking of sticking the prologue and the first together, but it seemed weird. Chapter length will be around 2000 words normally.


The outdoors were freezing, unlike the warmth of the house.

Xanthus and Geoff followed the nurse about a quarter of a mile outside the village. The nurse seemed nervous, and Xanthus began to get the feeling it was due to his eyes.

The village of Farrowood knew that Xanthus was no threat, at least because of his green iris, but she was an outsider. She must only fear him because he is considered cursed. He knew these guards had shown up though, out of nowhere, and when the emperor sends guards to a small town in secret, it’s never in the benefit of the people.

“Do you suppose we’ll get that bill paid?” Geoff grumbled. He’d luckily had a little time to change out of his goblin-sized pajamas and into something a little more suitable. He wore a very traditional rich gobo outfit with many shiny golden tassels and dark purple fabric. He looked like an emissary or someone of importance. Goblins often have a habit of mimicking those who they look up to, namely rich and powerful people, so much so, Geoff had spent a large amount of his paycheck on clothing.

“I hope so… I don’t want it to bounce… gosh what if it-” Xanthus worried.

“Don’t work yourself up about this. We’ll be back in a jiff.” the goblin consoled. Compared to other goblins, Geoff wasn’t as uncivilized, but his roots were still deep inside him.

“Here.” the nurse interrupted, probably not hearing their conversation at all. They were in front of several white canvas tents, just the sort the imperial military would use. The tents had a couple people standing outside them, all nurses, and a single male physician. Inside, they saw the silhouettes of multiple beds with humans laying on them.

“And what was your name, miss?” Geoff asked, smirking up at the woman.

“Hera. Why do you need to know?” she asked, showing them toward a tent.

“In case we need to scream for you in an emergency, sweetcheeks.” Geoff winked, walking into the tent. Guards in their light armor lay on tarp beds, groaning in pain. What Xanthus could see of their faces was pale and white, groggy and sick. This condition was expected, and confirmed his suspicions that these people had been infected by him.

“What is the sickness?” Xanthus asked mandatorily, it’d seem strange not to, despite him already knowing.

“It’s the Laevian Flu, it doesn’t seem contagious though.”

“Laevian Flu is very contagious, it’s contracted through the breath. Have you worn surgical masks?” Xan asked, looking at the lack of her mask. He looked back and saw the rest of the doctors wore one.

“We have done our best to prevent it from spreading.” Hera stuttered, grabbing a white mask from a prop-up table and equipping it. Xanthus joined her in facial protection.

“Luckily, I have something that can get them out of bed within the day. This virus is deadly, but if treated, it will dissipate fast. We’ll have to quarantine everyone here.” Xanthus ordered. Hera nodded and ran over to the other doctors and started getting people busy.

Xanthus walked over to one of the guards. “Hello. How do you feel currently?” he said to the guard, who lay belly up, his skin a ghostly white, and snot streaking down his grim face.

“I… I want to die…” the guard croaked, the bone chilling words every doctor doesn’t want to hear leaving his lips.

“Please don’t fear. If you soldier on, I can have you on your feet by tomorrow, can you do that for me?” Xanthus reassured, the soldier opened an eye wearily and weakly, gazing at him, he let out a hoarse cough, and then nodded.

“Good.” the physician said, putting down his leather bag and looking through it. He riffled through until he removed a glass vial. “Drink this.” he said softly to the sick guard, handing him the medicine.

The guard slowly reached out and grabbed the vial, chugging the whole thing in one go.

“Thank… you...” he whispered, still rough and tired.

“Check back in with me in thirty or so minutes.” Xanthus told the man, and moved onto the next.

He saw each face, each face he’d meticulously poisoned in secret through darts, each face infected with the virus he’d constructed for days to mimic the Laevian Flu, each face belonging to a body he’d set up to make it look like a mere outbreak. He had to undo his work, it was unfortunate, but necessary. His task had already been a success anyhow, and while death was a constant for him, he didn’t enjoy it.

As he finished with his last patient of five, he felt like he came out of pure focus. And then he noticed the lack of his goblin companion.

“Geoff?” he called out. No response.

“Where did you go?” Xanthus muttered to himself, exiting the other side of the tent and looking around.

The tents were at the edge of the forest, the same one the storehouse was in. Xanthus looked around for Geoff, peering left and right. It came to his surprise when upon one turn a guard was staring him straight in his face.

“You told me not to tell anybody. I have upheld that… But why have you returned?” the young man accused quietly. He had something in his face that Xanthus remembered, but the words made him know instantly.

“I’m here because I have to… Why are you here though?” Xan softly replied with his own question.

“You infected my friends. I want to watch you fix them, you can, right?” the guard requested.

Xanthus looked at the man, he was scrappy, thin for a guard, probably wouldn’t have been normally selected, suggesting he’d received special access to his job. He had not just ginger hair, it was red, he’d dyed it, including his goatee, he looked like someone that’d have one. The color reminded him of Geoff’s, but while Geoff had class, the man had less of it than a goblin.

The most noticeable thing about him though was his sunken eyes, he was a hard worker, like him. Xanthus respected that, as truthfully, he had a hard time going through laborious trials and tribulations.

“You may watch.” Xanthus allowed, ushering him back into the tent. “Um… what do they call you?”

“Routy. And you?”

The physician paused for a moment, he turned back and looked the man in the eyes. “Dr. Onyx. I’m Dr. Cedric Onyx.”

Xanthus had obviously hidden his identity. If you’d been through he had, you’d do it too.

His name hung outside his shop, and stood at his register on a gold plaque. His diploma from medicine school read the same. For all this time, he’d been two people. To his closest friends, his name was Xanthus, and they knew to never say that name to others, they would only speak of Dr. Cedric Onyx.

“Alright, Mr. Onyx. Show me how you do it.” Routy bossily ordered out of Xanthus. Quite brave, given Xanthus nearly killed him the prior night. And he began to feel like he should have.

“I’m currently waiting on these tired patients to get some rest as the medicine I gave them sets in.” Xanthus explained quietly, passive aggressively telling the loud Routy to speak softer around the sick people he actually cared about healing.

Xanthus wasn’t often rude, but this Routy guy barging in wasn’t really the nicest thing either. It was then that Xanthus grew suspicious. Why would Routy even want to watch? Heck, why would Routy even want to be near him? It was very unusual.

“So you aren’t helping them?” Routy basically accused. He walked toward Xanthus and looked at him threateningly. Xanthus noticed something though, there were little drops of perspiration coming from his brow. He was afraid.

“I already did, sir. Don’t worry.” Xanthus assured kindly. He didn’t want a fight, unlike this person. Or perhaps not, perhaps fear would take him far enough aback.

After around thirty minutes of sitting and waiting as he took some notes, with Routy awkwardly there too, I will add, Xanthus deemed the medicine had taken its effect. In reality, the vials he’d given the men were filled with antidote for the sickness, which usually attacked the lungs, throat, and stomach, slowly killing its victims through air loss. It was quite a special kind of evil.

Several of the five men’s conditions had lessened considerably. All they needed was a bit of bed rest now after they had some immunity boosts and then it’d be up to their body to fight the remaining sickness.

Xanthus then went around, handing out the second dose of medicine as Routy onlooked from a distance like a hawk, carefully watching the physician with immense suspicion.

“Thank you.” the last guard smiled in satisfaction, taking his pills with water.

“No problem, just shout for the nurses if you feel anything, but as I said to the others, you just will need some rest, so try to get some.” Xanthus recommended.

“I won’t need to try hard, hahahah…” the man chuckled. “How did you do this? I felt like I was gonna die.” he asked curiously.

“Oh, Laevian Flu isn’t hard to cure with the right stuff. It did decimate over on the Western continent, but they found very effective cures, and they have since made their way over here.” Xanthus explained, flexing his medical knowledge.

“Interesting… is Laevian common in the East?” the man asked, laying back down.

“Not really, but I think if there is an outbreak here, it won’t be very hard to contain if they get their medicine. It’s contagious though. But, that’s enough for the history lesson.” Xanthus smirked, turning to leave the tent. “Have a good rest.”

He’d only chosen Laevian because the flu would leave the victim’s body after their death, and he thought all these men would die before anyone found them, but he hoped he’d not started a mass outbreak, or else they’d want more of his assistance. He didn’t have that time to waste on these uppity royal folk.

Outside, he saw Geoff talking with Hera. “Hi…” he approached nervously. “The situation is under control. Just be on standby, and… uh, things should be done by tomorrow morning. I’d still try to quarantine them, in case they are still contagious.”

“Yes sir, the last thing we’d want is it spreading to Farrowood.” Hera nodded.

“Indeed.” Geoff agreed.

“Hey, I… actually never got your name, Cedric, right? Like on your shop?” Hera asked, perking up.

“Oh oh, yes yes.” he stuttered.

“I want to recommend you to my boss in Bellaver, I hope you don’t mind. You have saved these men’s lives so effortlessly.”

“What? Um… well…” the physician stuttered, twiddling his fingers.

“Alright. I understand.” Hera replied.

“I think... we’re gonna head out then. Thanks anyway.” Xanthus said, shaken, looking down at Geoff. “It was nice to meet you all, let’s hope this doesn’t happen again.” The goblin smiled as he and his master left the premises. However, Routy followed them.

“Mr. Cedric Onyx?” he asked, walking up behind them.

“Ah, who’s this?” Geoff grinned, looking back at the young man, and his face drooped. “Oh, you.”

“This… is Routy, and he’s promised not to tell anybody about what happened.” Xanthus introduced, making sure nobody was around.

“You looking to die, kid?” Geoff threatened, tilting his head menacingly.

“No, just wondering why you’re leaving so soon? The men still look pretty sick.” Routy asked, with a hint of snark.

“I can assure you, they are perfectly fine, little boy. Perhaps you could run back to your attractive nurse friends. They’ll need someone to help them.” Geoff blew Routy off, with a straight face too.

“Well, if they are going to get better so soon, I suppose I could come inside your house, while I still have time here.” Routy said, a frown drawing itself across the alchemist’s face. “The boss said I’d have to be on my way back to the capital when and if the soldiers get better. And if you say they are going to be better soon, that sounds like a great time to learn some more of your inter-”

“Fuck off.” Xanthus swore at a normal volume, pushing Routy backward with a single hand. “Stay with your people.”

And with that, Routy just stood there as they walked away.

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About the author

penove

Bio: I make videogame music, play competitive online games, obsess over Nintendo stuff, and read/write. I have a warm heart, though some people suggest otherwise. I probably can do magic, but I think I'll wait till I'm a ghost to deliver that shocking revelation.

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