Legends of Belariath

Morrigan Steel

The Journal Entries of a Paladin/Healer

Account of the Plagues

October 30th

The adversity of Samhien is upon us! My Lord Abracus, hear my plea. Stem it, save them fore they cannot come to know your lessons, your tender mercies if from their mortal coils you part them. Use me as you see fit, I pray, your faithful servant.

This day in passing I spotted Maya and Jesse on their way to the HG, the air about us seemed nearly palatable with a strange feeling. Upon Maya's request I joined them both in a meeting whereupon I learned of the rising cases of illnesses setting about the town of Nanthalion. Up until now I had only been seeing the usual wounds from battle and rapes and one strange case of a woman crying tears of silver {which to this date so far seemed cured following the painful fluid draining remedies and ointments I suggested}.

Jesse was the first alerted to these encroaching plagues and had spent much time in the library tracing and researching the diseases by their symptoms. Black Death, Red Death and Yellow Demise-words that struck fear into the heart of almost any healer upon their utterance. To her I give the credit if it's able to be stopped. Her quick wit, research and alerting us to the potential problem at least gave us a jump to make preparations to handle the onslaught that was sure to come.

Immediately I began to draw on my experiences over the past few months as a healer as I tried to surmise how best to help the townsfolk and HG to survive the upcoming crisis. From this meeting we decided to post notices to keep those not affected out, to only drop off ill friends, family, etc., and be on their way-in affect to place the HG under quarantine. Maya agreed to bring a tent and help erect tents in the yard before the guild for those wounded, yet not ill, in order to keep exposure to the plague as limited as possible. It was determined Maya would serve as internal guard and select from her guards which would best serve outside or in. Several more items of minutia were discussed then we broke to quickly set about what needed done and agreed to meet later on back at the guild.

As for myself, I decided to try and get an extra jump by heading into the guild and unloading any recently delivered supplies of bandages, herbs and the like to make sure everything was ready and accessible so no healer would have to waste time routing for things later in the crisis. Then I made a thorough inspection of the lower floor to be sure all exam rooms were clean and in readiness for the expected incoming. It was then India showed and I went home to rest for the few hours before the agreed time it meet later back at the guild.

Once home I found I was too tense to rest, try as I might. Even my normal steely discipline and prayers failed to calm my heart enough to rest despite knowing I would need this store to draw upon later. I prayed I would not have to, that Lord Abracus would spare us. Lord Abracus, spare those within my home and whom I love.

I made my way back into town and checked on Ehleannur, that he was settled, fed and ready for a long night within the town stables. I so loved him, that brave dapple gray stallion upon whom my life had depended on more than one occasion. This night he received two cubes of sugar, an extra measure of sweet oats and an apple. Then I slipped him two more cubes of sugar due to some internal voice inside me. His fur is so soft and smells of fresh hay with a crispness that only the winter air's kisses leave it as such. Softly I wrapped my arm about his neck in a hug, took a deep inhalation of his scent, felt the silken coarseness of his brushed mane then stepped back to gaze upon the silvery white blaze that streaked down his forehead like a falling star, highlighted by a moonbeam that glistened through a crack within the inn's stable wall. Lord Abracus, watch over him.

The night air was a bit sharp and I made my way from the stable as I heard Ehleannur's soft whicker and strode towards Skye's Bakery. The air smelled so good here, almost like home when Janos has been baking and I was walking towards our stone cottage across the small clearing it was nestled within where a grove of trees surrounded it.

I do not, sadly, remember the exchange Skye and I shared, my mind is too weary now from the long day, though I do remember sharing a few laughs while cleaning some counters within the bakery. And we talked. One of the few I share portions of my heart with, his counsel wise, objective. Even a paladin cannot be so proud to think they too do not need counsel themselves from time to time.

Skye wished to walk with me back to the HG to see if he could help set up the tent. Temptation rose in my thoughts of how nice it would be to have a few pleasurable moments with him but the call to duty was too strong to ignore. As if my heart were a loadstone attuned to the HG it began to be drawn to it. I must go...NOW!

And so he, always willing to support my endeavors, came along though I placed a strict condition upon him. If any about were ill I insisted he leave immediately and sequester himself away from those that would be ill. While it had only be a short time since passing the HG, upon my return Skye and I found a small crowd already gathering.

Some were erecting tents but some were not. Some were ill. Immediately I bade Skye to go, but he would not. He at least wanted to help Maya erect the tents and then he would go. “Stay away from anyone who appears even -remotely- ill,” I begged him. I tasted of his lips in a parting kiss, blew one to Odium, who was across the way and made my way inside. It was then the onslaught began, before I could even secure my blade and cloak and sign in. Lord Abracus, watch over my friends.

The sea of faces began that I would see through that night-Nadine, Ahkar, Philiana, Rei, Chris, Hom, Ravenchild {whom I despise for making me a debt slave and his affronts to my person, but again I sought to restore his health despite that}, Aquena, Ishi, Ielenia and even Maya grew ill.

With Maya I do remember seeing someone sneeze upon her and several hours later saw the red spots then the blood. In this manner is perhaps one way it is passed one unto the other. Maya is one that I consider a dear and true friend as to my earlier journal entries attest to my secret admirations of her bearing and skill ever since my arrival here. Courage I have much but it never springs to my heart or lips to tell of her of such. Lord Abracus, guide her in this dark hour, spare those who are so ill. Ease their suffering and speed their journey to good health.

Shortly after Christine and Rei arrived a thought occurred to me and I quickly drew Maya aside, while noting Jesse tirelessly keeping meticulous notes and tending t those I could not reach when multiples arrived simultaneously. How were these people arriving? Was my thought and so I took it to Maya.

My heart sank when she affirmed my suspicion that some were arriving upon horseback. I suggested to her to quarantine the horses out back, away from any within the stables. For all I knew the horses could carry the disease to others or perhaps infect other horses or the riders when they were well and thereby continuing to spread the diseases. She agreed and so such provisions were made.

Later on he came-Master Quilain. He seemed to have no clue as to the seriousness of the plague despite the note upon the door, his only concern seeming to be 'paperwork', which has been left idle for the months in his absence. After a heated discussion with Maya and myself he left, despite my request he adhere to the quarantine and remain within. It did not make sense to me his request to see a few patients before he would decide to stay or not. Is this the heart of a healer? One of the committed? Is not a true healer to heal, no matter the cost? I question his intentions, find them either traitorous or be a form of madness. Placing a freeze upon hiring's and trainings then disappearing into the wood, for as he attested, to 'vacation' with his Alana. When the guild needed him most, he abandoned it. And so I spoke such to him.

The guild is my heart and where it not for a few devoted like Colyn, it would have passed from existence. As I came across other healers, like Mayen, who wish to become members, I spoke of them to her so that if they came they could perhaps watch and learn as some form of training until they could be registered. While Colyn seemed at ease with letting them practice upon grounds, I was somewhat remiss because any harm done would fall upon the guild reputation. More came to learn, such as Leashen, Marian, Bane and Matwyn. This was a wise move, as I am now discovering.

Odium is ill now and within and Skye returned with baskets of fresh backed goods (and we mustn't forget-Odium's rich, dark cookies! If I had not dropped them upon his belly while tending him I might have lost a few fingers and it also served as an adequate distraction to cure and heal him!!) and Fei with a wagon full of food and drink, which won't last long with what we are housing now within the walls of the guild.

-----a line of ink where the quill was stopped, then dots where it was dropped hurriedly upon the page of the journal-----

The barbarian woman, K2, attacked the guild!! She tried to burn us down!! I would question why, but from my experience among the barbarians we must seem to be a curse to be wiped out. Their customs are as varied as any races I have seen, even among themselves. I made an attempt earlier this year to try and understand her but the harder I tried the more I seemed to humiliate her. I bested her in a battle, which normally would not be so for she is a fine warrior and a handsome woman, in her own right, yet lacks the confidence to realize this. The only reason I did win was due to her large alcohol consumption. I refused to take anything from her in 'victor's spoils', for my honor would not allow me to gain from such a hideous advantage, yet in doing so I dishonored her. It seems their sense of honor is opposite of mine. When she seemed of right mind, I challenged her again in the hopes she would realize what a fine warrior she was for I knew I would fail, such is her expertise. I gauged her right, I did loose and I paid her price, yet again I only humiliated her in some manner, I gather. I shall never understand her customs, try as I might. I do not believe 'friendship' exists in the Hammer clan, though I cannot say for sure.

Quilain returned, both arms broken, which I set and mended. He babbled some strange tale of which I accredited to madness from his trauma that he had the cure. When asked what it was it was akin to 'do nothing and it shall fade away'. This, as a healer, I cannot abide with. I simply cannot stand by watching suffering that may lead to such a horrible death. Especially when the first few victims I tended seem to show a slim sign of feeling better. Again he ignored my urgings to stay and strode off into the night, babbling.

The procedure I have set to follow is to clean the skin, by either majick or by hand with water and soap. Then I set about to perform Cure Disease for each individual strain that I learned from Jesse. At first I considered using as strong a Cure Disease I could muster but when one first initiates a Discern Ailment, each strand seems to give off a different coloring, depth, texture and harmonic within the majickal field. This lends that each Cure Disease must be attuned and weaved differently within the majickal field before entering the body to fight it.

If the night was not draining enough, Kalagoth chose to visit the HG. I do not know how he got past Maya but I know it would not have been easy. I was alerted by a shrilling series of screams within the hall and reached the portal of the room (where I was attending the latest person) to see a flash then a small form of a woman followed by Maya's shouts of warning. I had just completed another long round of Cure Disease enchantments and so was weary, but I attempted to draw up the strongest Energy Bolt I could muster as I heard the familiar whine of one slamming into the woman before me from Maya. Mine shortly followed and the next instant found me picking myself up from the floor as it seemed reflected back to me in some manner and finding Maya in a similar predicament, though hurt much worse as her majick was much greater. She must not fall, she is our rock that we all rely upon so I attempted to help her best I could, despite her telling me how stubborn I was. Kalagoth at this point was gone and not within the guild. Is there no end?

Nadine at this point seems to be recovering, or at least appearing better, from when she was first brought in. She has been busy passing out tea and food to the others that could drink and eat. I even saw her helping herself to bandages and oils to tend others, and so I turned a blind eye to the access of stores for her. One learns to discern that sometimes what appears to be wrong on the surface is in fact a bridge to a greater blessing or truth. That being Jesse and I could not handle everything and Nadine's soft words, cleansing skin and changing bandages is lending succor that at the moment I don't have the time to deliver as well. It allows me to keep moving from one to the other.

Something tickles in my mind that I feel I am missing...but what? Sleep soon I shall and perchance in my dreams the answer will come.

The process seemed to work well so far this night, with Marian out front and scanning each with Discern Ailment before their admittance. Ill are the only ones being allowed within, any other wounds that are non illness related were kept to the tents. I inducted Marian temporarily tonight, on my responsibility.

Angelica showed, was unaware of the plague and took the next shift. As for the other healers, I am at a loss as to why they do not show. Perhaps they too, are in the dark as regards to the plagues.

The duessa we left with Ravenchild. He by his own choice and in their own quarantine since we cannot heal her.

I discovered Maya and Hom were ill with the Red Death, and so I treated them. Maya was my first concern above most for I look to her for leadership.

Nadine sought me again to impart in further detail what she had murmured to me in passing. She taught me how to funnel my concerns into a candle flame so that rest could seek me better. Just as quickly as she entered the room she left, soft as a whisper.

The healer looked up in the encroaching dawn, so weary as she sipped her tea and completed her journal entry of the first night. Then she collapsed upon a couch within the healer's lounge, journal and quill set aside till later. If later would come.

Friday, October 31st, the late evening.

Lord Abracus, hear my plea. Stay the hands which wrought such illness and misery, from all races, despite their ignorance of you and straying from your true path and teachings for us. They cannot learn of you if they have passed over to the lands of The Great Torturer, the Devourer and Warrior Champion of the Frozen Plane of Death. Keep me from complaining of my own pains, my own desires and wants though I weary so. Use me as a conduit for your greatness, not mine own, to keep the kingdom of Stormbringer, the Emperor, whole. Strengthen Maya and guide her. Enshroud Jesse in your protection. Grant wisdom, strength and endurance to those in the tent without seeking to heal and help the healers. Colyn, Mayen, Marian and Craven. May strength weave through the sinews of the guards that protect us sequestered within. Keep my mind clear and despite the growing pit within my stomach that I shall pay a high price for the decisions I make, let them be right, despite the cost to myself. In all things, I give thanks. Your revelation within my thoughts I shall follow.

------the journal entries are not as clear as the previous night's, signs of weariness evident within them, the writing heavier, thoughts more jumbled and stains of redness turned brown upon the last page. An intricate spattering of reddish brown dots upon the corner of the journal------

It occurred to me, while I woke, what I was missing. Perhaps the moans of those sick within reminded me. Their wounds! While I attempted to cure the disease that griped them, I did not seal the wounds that I had discovered, the various pains within their bodies. The red harmonic seemed linked to the red sores, the coughing up of bloody material. The black seemed tied in with the lungs and liquids of the body. The yellow seemed to account for most of the other pains and lack of wanting to eat. These must each be tied in and healed as well!

I shall attempt to weave the Cure Disease with the Healing then lace it into the body for each strand. I pray that it works.

Most seem to show some signs of recovery, though its very minimal, I discovered as I made my rounds. This time I laced healing to each for each strand. I am so weary. I promptly turned down Vanna's offers for pleasure, as my mind and energy are geared to restoration of the ill, not 'play', as it were.

Odium seems affected by Quilain's madness and he strode out in anger after our discussion. At least he left the cookies. Yes, I know, poor joke. They shall be saved in case he returns. I hid them in the cupboard, back of the tea.

I awoke to a bit of a calm, but soon more ill came streaming in. First, Infernis (a man I treated before, but never knew his name-at least now I have learned it!), who arrived and was very badly off. I tended him quickly, using my new ideas.

Next was a barbarian man, Kaleb. He was want near to kill us, he was so ill, and kept claiming some 'woman' gav him this, called her a witch. Then I spoke with Infernis more and he too spoke of THREE such women he encountered a few nights previous who insisted he accept their gifts and kisses. He said they were like nymphs, then suddenly turned ugly, had sores, then turned back to the beauties they appeared to be. Some man seemed to be with them as well. He also said he saw them kissing others, like Ravenchild, and Smaug (who I do not know).

I alerted the guards to this and asked for one of them to go to the inn and see if they could find this Smaug, or any others that had seen the nymphs and ask them to report to the HG as well as volunteers to help protect against further attacks that I was sure would come. More guards seemed to show: Marr, Fei and a few others who offered to help. Craven wished to help heal, but alas when asked to demonstrate his skills they weren't quite what we needed inside, but they were adequate for assisting healers within the tent. Colyn and Mayen appeared and I caught them both up to date. Colyn was a resource I felt best saved for when I feel for I surmised even this was beyond a paladin's natural resistance. Mayen I could not ask to accept such a risk as he was not a guild member. Craven I placed under Colyn.

Phae, India's best friend, showed, with Red Death, as did Raesa. Despite my foreboding I spoke to Raesa of Jesse's desire to use her as a test subject and she agreed. Brave woman. Phae I shall attempt to help as best I can for I fear India's recriminations if I fail almost as much as any of these diseases.

And then I find Phae escaped! India shall skin me alive if something happens to Phae. I do not know how or when but upon delivering tea to her room I found her missing.

Leashen showed and I admitted her. Her knowledge of herbs will be of great benefit since the teas can ease the pain or breathing difficulties and will spare us some energy in healing.

Angelica is ill with all three strains. I am so weary. I informed her of my findings and she went to rest as her symptoms were progressing rapidly. I followed, administered what healing I could. Food and drink came and I attempted to carry in what I could, after instructing Marr to remove food and drink for the volunteers first protecting the guild. I spotted Nadine up and about and helping others again.

Suddenly Mayen was within! Colyn had sent him in and I hope not to his death, though secretly I am glad she did. I can use him greatly and he shall be welcome help. Jesse is still exhausted and sleeping, she worked so very hard. Meanwhile I tended to Saret, a girl who arrived with all three strands. While I worked on her Mayen finished with the boxes of food and drink.

I am not sure if Jesse will be placing Raesa within the room with Aquena, the duessa, which we found we cannot heal. She seems resistant to majicks. Raesa is human. Again I do not buy Quilain's ramblings but Jesse seems bent on determining it and felt Aquena would suffice. I reminded her that she is of a different race and it would mean nothing entirely for those of other races. So Raesa was approached and agreed, much as I would rather not have allowed it. I am so weary, are my thoughts making sense? I wonder. They all seem as one and as many, circular.

Quilain was back again and I removed his note from the door when I discovered it. I placed it upon the headmistress's desk and a note upon Maya's in regards to it. Is he trying undermine our work here? People are getting better, can he not see it? Again his babblings about “The cure is to do nothing, let it fade away.” That, I cannot agree with.

I strode out to speak with Ielenia and Infernis as I heard them out in the foyer talking in the recovery area when there was a noise akin to a great rushing of air then a thud to the heavy oaken doors that guard the guild. A ..thud? The door is thick, heavy and made of heavy oaken timber so whatever caused such a sound must me massive to make such a deep, resounding thud as that! Then I noticed the lower center of the door seemed to turn orange for a brief few moments. DRAGON! Coursed through my thoughts. NO!

Immediately I sent those that could flee out the back door while I shielded them at the head of the corridor. As they reached the back I then made for the door of the guild and opened it to such a heart rendering sight. Colyn, Fei, Marian, Craven were laying strewn about and burnt and a mass of melting flesh and bone protruded from the wooden door. Odium was still standing. Suddenly a cat, Neko, appeared and began screaming orders despite Jesse and I trying to reason with him. We did not want the wounded brought in and exposed to the plagues but upon his insistence we carried them upstairs. I took the mass of flesh and bone up first, for I felt a pulse of life within it still, amazingly. Odium, Mayen, Jesse and others carried wounded while the ill returned. I heard later Amy was the one responsible for the fire, though I do not know for sure. I cannot say and as such I would like to believe otherwise.

It took all I had to dredge up Lay On Hands and weaved it into that lump of flesh and bone and watched it knit back into being before my eyes to the form of Tal. He would be weak, I knew. I on the other hand, was exhausted, so tired, so very drained. It was then I took stalk of the others. I knew all were alive but that Tal was the worst of them as he took the main force of it. Marian, I heard, was tended below as we were unable to get her upstairs.

Odium then was angry with what I did next. I know he will curse me, but he cannot understand that which drives a healer's heart. I was out of healing and so I began to again dip in with Heart's Blood, which I had used once earlier on Saret. It is one of the most painful spells to a healer, to delve within your own flesh and life and split it from your inner core and transfer it to another to sustain them. Every fiber of your body burns and runs deep within the more it is used. I began to portion bits of my own force and deliver it to those hurt the worst, even if I had to crawl to heal them. Fei, Coly, Craven....Colyn gaining the most since she could heal the others from there. I also heard distantly arguments about Zoltaire about to burn the guild....Lord Abracus, save us!

Odium was angry, tired to force me away...I remember Leashen saying something....but I know not what. I am..too...weary.....

------from here the journal entries end, yet from various accounts and impressions and divinations come the rest------

Healer's Succor had ensnared the dying paladin now as she collapsed before Odium and Leashen, the last of her life force then sent within Fei. Neko tried to force Waters of Life past the woman's lips only to have it expelled with her dying breath and poured back out onto the floor. Jesse, a druid healer, set to work upon her. She was able to keep her from totally passing over, yet death still hovered near, waiting like a scavenger.

Perhaps the paladin would have had a chance to life if she had remained where she was, but a force beyond her drove her when all had left her alone. Perhaps she was like the stag she once shot upon a hunt with her liege from Cutter's Pass upon one of the treasured hunts he held. Her aim was true as her arrow passed through its heart yet it turned and charged for her. Other hunters took aim and shot as she did too and yet it still came! Flecks of blood seen upon its wound and mouth, yet its flight seemed unstoppable. It's horns lowered as if to gore her where she stood rooted in awe. There was no time to dive for cover or draw yet another arrow when the stag dropped, a scant foot before the young woman. Upon dressing the stag it was revealed her arrow-marked by the color of its fletching as of her house-had in fact been true through the center of its heart. Her liege and fellow hunters felt the stag was dead upon its feet, its will having propelled it far past where it should have fallen and died. How much stronger is a human will?

Another stated about Morrigan voting not to admit Quilain, when he again tried to enter the guild. The paladin was then seen to lower her head and place it upon her arm upon the back of the chair where she had made it to after stern words from Maya. Quil then admitted and secured away.

Some said they saw the paladin near Maya as she slept, whispering, and a glow from her hand, was she trying to bestow more healing upon the torian? This came from two guards who admitted two more ill with plague. A mother and young daughter. They were instructed, by the paladin, towards the exam rooms and found the only one available was the one small near the herb room. It was so small it would barely make a storage room let alone an exam room.

From here the mother gave her account...”The healer came in after the bearers left and took her place at the foot of the beds, her back to the wall. Her voice was so soft I could barely hear her, and her breathing so labored. Her bony shoulders seemed to rise and fall with great effort in occasional, gasping breaths, as if she was trying to breath through water.”

”Despite the red sores that seem to be appearing and the occasional bloody nose and cough, she remained pleasant. Surely she was in pain, yet it didn't appear so. My daughter was so ill I plead with her to heal her first. She uttered some words, after saying something like..”I only have strength for one of you...”. She seemed to weaken visibly yet the groans of pain from my daughter seemed to ease, though I could not see a difference within her skin.”

”'Bless you!' I told her, for healing my daughter, 'Now I can pass over in peace.' The healer's gaze seemed to turn to mine then she moved to the foot of my bed. Her hand rested on my ankle, her hand so cold. I shall remember her words, always, 'Lord Abracus, surely such willing sacrifice should be rewarded..' it must have been the name of her god, I know not. Again I heard her labored breath, those words like she uttered over my daughter, but the pain didn't abate. Her grip tightened as her cold hand turned warmed by the attempt at healing encircled my ankle further. A wispy...'Please, my lord....preserve those within the Emperor's lands..' more labored breathing, then different words. Then my ankle turned almost painfully hot, surely it caused pain to the healer? If so, I heard no cry of it then my ankle was released and the healer pressed her back to the wall, the relief of my pain so great I cried out.....'What is your name healer, so that I might remember you?' Her reply was so soft I could barely hear her.....'Remember Mayalaya, for her protection, and the healer Jesse, for your cure...' then....'I must...rest.'

The paladin then slid down the wall as she again had entered the Succor, a state of mind that many warriors might know, when the mind has risen above the pain in order that the mortal coil can achieve great things, and healer's recognized as sort of a siren's call that lead many a healer to their death. The paladin cared not to die upon some blade in battle, but only in protection of restoration to another.

The paladin's shoulder then turned inwards and rested against the leg of the bed at the foot, head falling till her chin rested upon her chest, leaving a trail of blood along the wall where the pores upon her back had broken open. Her body was bony, hollowed out, nerve endings burned out beyond feeling by the Heart's Blood spell. She stepped beyond the fatal line and soon was striding towards a familiar place. She was so weary and knelt at the edge of a golden filed she remembered. The tree she leaned against was harsh against the edge of her shoulder but she would stay here, for a time. Soft sunshine warmed her face.

A soft nicker that floated across the breeze from lower in the field sounded familiar, then reorganization brought a smile to her face. “Cinnamon...” her first horse that Lord Wolf had given her upon the first day of her knighthood. She didn't remember he had been killed in battle by a lance while she was protecting Lord Wolf's holdings, before she came to Nanthalion. It was a beautiful red Belgium stallion with a black mane. This time his cry grew in strength. He was calling to her, reminding her practice needed done before supper.

The faint clang of a hammer upon an anvil came from the forge off the stable and strains of her mother singing drifted to her upon the breeze....she didn't remember that both her mother and father were dead....she only knew home laid ahead, across that golden field of peace she must cross.....and so the paladin rose, to begin her journey across with no memory of those she had left behind...