Three days later, around noon, the caravan finally reached its destination. Ronan looked at the vast plains stretching all the way beyond the horizon.
Their destination was Kathyad, a small frontier town transformed into a makeshift fortress city over the past year. It now served as the Frontline camp of Duke Wellington's allied army.
They say that the war brings ruin and riches. Before the war, Kathyad was just a little hunting village serving as a relay point, and yet within a year, it had transformed into a medium-sized city. Ronan estimated that no less than half a million people were present within this makeshift city.
The number of warriors probably didn’t reach a hundred thousand mark, but an army needed more than just warriors. To ensure that everything runs smoothly requires many servants, including cooks, cleaners, porters, smiths, craftsmen, laborers, etc…
Ronan took a deep breath and steadied himself. He was finally at a place vastly different than his little mercenary village. More than half of the most prominent people in the Wellington territory, including the nobles, the wizards, and the knights were here.
The caravan moved forward slowly as each batch needed to be inspected thoroughly. Ronan and the medical camp’s destination was the Frontline central hospital. All the associated medical personnel from the various factions had to head there. The Wellington Hospital staff was in charge of the Frontline hospital.
This was done to increase efficiency, decrease wastage, properly use all available personnel, and decrease the mortality of injured warriors. In a war expected to last months, if not years, death due to treatable injuries would be a great loss. Such a scenario had to be avoided at all costs.
As they split from the mercenaries, the medical camp made up of fifty aides, nine apprentices, three senior apprentices, and a doctor went to report to the Reserve officer of the Kathyad fortress.
In the Albus village, Dr.Virat was one of the two doctors present. He was always treated with respect, even by the leaders. A senior apprentice was a big thing, and each doctor had no more than a few of those under him. However, to those from the capital, Dr.Virat was just a rural doctor with no knowledge of recent innovations.
Everyone else was just considered aides as far as the Reserve officer was concerned.
Ronan could see his nonchalant behavior and knew what he was thinking about. However, even if they were ignored, they were needed personnel in times of war. The officer didn’t dare to slight them too much and approved their assignment to the Frontline Hospital.
Dr.Virat led the group towards the designated location. Ronan thought that perhaps the hospital would be empty because the expedition hasn’t truly started yet. Soon he realized he couldn’t be further away from the truth.
Apparently, a recent beast tide was responsible for the large gathering at the entrance.
Many makeshift buildings were constructed, and the entire hospital was walled off to prevent any unnecessary accidents.
Ronan estimated that it would have at least ten thousand beds which was a massive size by any measurement. Even modern hospitals back on earth didn’t have nearly as many beds. However, Ronan wasn’t sure if they would be enough.
Just the current population, with so many warriors, meant casualties and injuries would be in the order of tens of thousands.
Though impressive, the medical infrastructure would likely be strained severely. Ronan realized that the medical personnel was also likely to be below the ideal number. As Dr.Virat presented their assignment orders, the camp officer immediately allocated them to their duties. This urgency showed that Ronan’s concerns weren’t without reason.
Although Ronan and everyone else might think of this expedition as an opportunity. For most doctors and apprentices in the capital, it was a nightmare.
The Albus village didn’t charge anything for apprentices education, but in the capital, education was costly. Only wealthy people and noble children could become apprentices.
These people had no reason to come to the frontlines and work hard while putting their lives on the line. If not for the mobilization orders issued by the Duke, the Wellington hospital, which was the center of the Dutchy's health infrastructure, wouldn’t have stepped up, and the frontlines would be even more strapped for personnel.
Under usual circumstances, Dr.Virat and his apprentices would be evaluated, and only then be assigned their duties. But under the current circumstances, the camp officer simply took their qualifications at face value and roughly assigned them to various jobs.
Ronan’s application stated that as a senior apprentice. His skills included various suture techniques and surgical skills along with theoretical knowledge. The officer had no time to verify each one by their face and simply assigned Ronan to the surgical department.
Had he screened Ronan, he would have never dared to do that. How can a thirteen-year-old be trusted with such an important job?
So maybe due to luck or fate, Ronan was assigned to the surgical dept just as he desired. Taking his orders, Ronan informed Dr.Virat and followed the directions towards the department.
Soon he could see a protected area guarded by some men with the name surgical dept clearly written on the building. Ronan thought the additional security was likely to prevent the theft of the precise instruments, which he knew were worth their weight in gold.
In this era, with no modern manufacturing technologies, only master craftsmen could make these instruments used in surgeries.
Ronan showed his orders and walked in under the weird gazes of the guards. As he walked into the building, he was greeted with the familiar smell of disinfectant. Ronan greeted a worker and asked for the Surgical director’s office. Soon he was guided into an office where three old men with silver hair were discussing something.
Seeing Ronan walk in with a paper, a look of surprise and confusion flashed in their eyes. Because as far as they were concerned, only senior apprentices were allowed inside the surgical dept and Ronan looked nothing like one.
Ronan knew that this was the important moment that would decide his fate.
“Sir, I am Ronan, and I was ordered to work under the surgical dept.” Ronan tried his best to appear calm.
“Only senior apprentices are allowed to be here. Who gave you those orders? You can go back and tell him to assign you somewhere else.“ the man on the left said without hesitation. A slight irritation was visible on his brow.
Ronan swallowed slightly and said, “Sir, I am a senior apprentice under Dr.Virat, who is officially recognized by the imperial medical council.”
The three men looked surprised, but they quickly became puzzled with doubt.
The kind-looking man on the right thought about something and said, “Son, I understand that you may want to work here, but you cannot lie. As a future doctor, you will get plenty of opportunities to polish your skills but now is not your time.”
He looked like he was really giving advice for Ronan’s sake.
Ronan knew that he had to somehow convince them so he took out a recommendation letter issued by Dr.Virat and said, “Sir, I became a senior apprentice a year ago after studying under Dr.Virat for two years.
My master has judged that I possessed enough skills to be promoted, and this letter proves my qualifications. I understand if you are doubtful of my skills. I am willing to undergo a test. All I ask from you is a fair evaluation.”
The three men looked at each other, and the man on the left looked like he was ready to object when the man sitting at the head of the table stopped him. He took the letter presented by Ronan and glanced at it before putting it back down.
“It seems like you are really a senior apprentice. However, you must understand that the youngest senior apprentice working here is only fifteen. He was trained from a young age in the imperial capital.
Hence, we cannot simply accept a thirteen-year-old trained in a village to have the same qualifications as everyone else here. That would be disrespectful to all their hard work.”
The man leaned back on his chair and said, “But I understand where you are coming from. I will give you a fair chance. I'm doing surgery later today, and you will assist me. This is your chance to prove your skill, and I sincerely hope that you pass this test.”
Ronan bowed deeply and said, “Thank you, sir, I would try my absolute best.”
The man waved his hand and said, “No need for that. I am not doing you a favor. Except for the apprentices trained at imperial medical college or at the Wellington hospital, everyone else would need to take an exam to show their qualifications.
Your situation is special, so you are taking a tougher test.
If you can pass this in front of the other doctors and the apprentices, they can no longer use your age as an excuse to exclude you. If you can’t, there isn’t anything I can do for you. However, if you fail miserably, I will also look for your master, and revoke your qualification as a senior apprentice. Do you still want to take the risk?”
Ronan confidently said, “Yes, sir.”
The man nodded and said, “Alright, go to the operating room. The surgery will start in an hour. My name is Dr.August, and I am the director of this surgical dept.”
He pointed to the man sitting on his right and said, “This is Dr.Layak, and he is the Director of Dept operations. All the apprentices are under his direct command, so you will need his approval.”
He then pointed at the kind-looking man and said, “This is Dr.Faust. He is deputy director of this camp.”
Ronan bowed to all of them and said, “Yes, Sir.”
As Ronan left the room, Dr.August picked up the recommendation letter and said, “Interesting.”
Dr.Layak snorted and said, “Brother, you play too much. Many doctors are dying to work with you, and you chose a kid. Imagine how many people will grumble behind your back.”
Dr.Faust didn’t say much, but he too looked at Dr.August amused by his decision. He thought that Ronan got his position due to his connections. It wasn’t unusual.
Dr.August smiled and said, “I was going to reject him as well until I saw this piece of paper. His master is confident that this kid will definitely surpass him in the future, and it would be his greatest legacy to have guided him onto this path.
The Doctors who are forced to accept apprentices, and those who do it for money, wouldn’t write such a statement. Sure, it is possible that the kid is lying but what if he isn’t.
I want to see what made this Dr.Virat bet his reputation on a kid, and if he is truly a genius, I don’t want to lose such a gem who delivered himself to our doorstep.”
The two men went silent as they thought it made sense. Anyway, the kid had less than an hour to prepare and would have to show his skills in front of several doctors and senior apprentices. It is a daunting task to most, if not all the apprentices. Hence, the test was by no means simple. They were now looking forward to Ronan’s performance.