Part 45: Triage
Chapter 34 - Triage
Music - "Suffering and Shame"
Download (Thanks to Grawl)
24 Declianum 1216 - 18 O'clock
I opened the door to one of the specially created summoning rooms. The hinges squeaked noisily from much use, but that was fine, the room was empty due to the end-of-year break. I gently pushed the door shut and walked over to a bookstand and placed the pages from the summoning book I had copied down onto it.
I looked over the notes carefully, when I heard the door shut. I looked over and saw the door was closed.
Didn't I already close that? ... Maybe it's just nerves.
I decided I'd better hurry, before someone came by. I carefully drew the lines and runes in chalk on the raised stone slab in the middle of the room explicitly meant for that purpose, then I returned to the bookstand, looked over the notes one last time.
I can do this. This isn't that much more difficult in principle to some of the other summons.
I took a deep, nervous breath, and then let it out. I spoke the words to the spell, and a bright flash of green light filled the room. The demon I had summoned appeared in the middle of the stone slab, glaring at me
I spoke the words to command it, but it just stood there, unresponsive. I spoke them again, more forcefully. Nothing happened, but the demon let out a low, ominous growl from deep in its throat.
"Obey! I command it!" I shouted.
Slowly, deliberately, the demon took one careful step after another, leaving the slab. It shouldn't have been able to do that. It's grinned, it was not a happy sight seeing those rows of razor-sharp teeth.
I spoke the words again, telling it to stop, but it just kept on coming right for me.
Out of the corner of my eye I caught some movement, and turned to see Tom and Eloric appearing into sight as they dispelled their invisibility spell.
"Jeremiah! Kill it quickly!!" exclaimed Eloric.
Maybe I'm pronouncing the words wrong. Let me just... hold on.
Eloric and Tom attacked the demon with fireball and lightning, but it shrugged the strikes of destructive energy off as if they were mere raindrops. The demon roared with hatred and continued marching straight for me.
My mind had gone blank with fear in the face of the enraged demon. It raised a claw to strike...
"Move! Move!" Tom shouted, but I was frozen.
Tom rushed in and pushed me out of the way. I'm sure he meant to get himself to saftely as well, but he was a fraction of a second too late. The demon's claw slashed through the air in a blur. Tom went flying across the room, spinning helplessly. He bounced off the wall and crashed into the ground.
"Tom!" I shouted. He wasn't moving, but I resisted the urge to check on him. I had to get rid of the demon before it got rid of us. I desperately flipped through my notes. I started speaking various summoning and control spells. Eloric cast various destructive magic spells, trying to get the demons focus off of me.
"Jeremiah! Unsummon it!" Eloric said urgently.
"I-I'm trying! It's not working! I don't know what went wrong!" I shouted.
One of Eloric's spells must have hit a sensitive spot on the demon, because it howled in pain and started heading toward him.
I didn't know what else to do. I dropped the useless notes and charged the demon. I didn't expect to hurt it, I just couldn't watch without trying something.
Eloric tried backing away, but the demon was too fast. The Djinn raised a sharp claw, still glistening with Tom's blood, but I grabbed the beast's arm before it could swing at Eloric, but I grasped only a handful of shifting sand. It had to solid form to grasp. The demon didn't even bother to look at me. A quick flick of its arm was all it needed to send me sprawling. I couldn't get to my feet in time to help.
"No!" Eloric cried as another quick swipe from the demon sent him flying across the room, smashing a table into kindling. He lay very still. The demon turned to me. I closed my eyes and waited for the blow which would kill me as well.
Instead I heard a voice casting a spell, and I felt a nearby discharge of magic. I opened my eyes to see that the demon was paralyzed inside a magical cage, glowing blue.
I turned and saw the elf Shaluthion, the master of summoning. His normally stoic face was ashen as he saw the mess. "Mister Liro!" What happened here?
My mouth opened and closed repeatedly. I didn't know what I could say.
Shaluthion saw Tom lying near him and moved swiftly to check on him. I was still dumb from shock. I saw Shaluthion shake his head sadly. "His neck's broken. He's gone."
I staggered under the weight of the news. It wasn't supposed to happen like this. They shouldn't have even been here. They were trying to save me from myself, and... and...
I... I killed him... it's my fault....
"Mister Liro!" Shaluthion shouted. "Focus! What happened here? Tell me now!"
I looked over at Eloric's prone form still lying in the wreckage of the table. He showed no signs of life. My stomach lurched. I raced from the room, hot tears streaming down my face. Shaluthion shouted something at me, but I didn't hear it. I ran and ran, not caring where I was going, and when I was too tired to run, I collapsed to my knees and vomited.
I'd killed both of my best friends. How could I explain that? I couldn't... I couldn't go back...
I awoke from the memory to find myself in Elrath's cellar, with a Djinn towering over me. The memory was horrible, but at least it gave me a way out.
Words will never be good enough to express it properly... I'm sorry for what happened, Tom, Eloric. Thank you for trying to help... but I wish you hadn't.
"About the Game" posted:
- This skill temporarily traps your enemy inside a magic barrier. At Rank 1, it costs 10 magic, lasts for 3 seconds and targets need at least 5 Spiritual Resistance to escape the trap. At Rank 5 it costs 18 magic, last for 15 seconds and targets need at least 35 Spiritual Resistance to escape.
The cage also serves as protection for the trapped creature; many magical attacks won't affect a trapped creature. But Hell Spikes (and polymorph) are two of the exceptions.
The demon I faced in this cellar was a far weaker version of the one I had failed to control. It wasn't unbeatable.
I cast an energy cage around it. It was a weak cage, it wouldn't hold for long, but it gave me some breathing room to down a potion, and think about how I could defeat it.
I retreated around a blood-stained table covered in human bones, in time to see the demon break free and come after me. But I was ready.
It got caught in the wall of electricity, and howled defiantly, but the howl faded to just a whisper of blowing sand, and that as well settled to nothing.
With the demon dead, I was able to get a good look at the place. It was full of various experiments and chemical vials, There was plenty of blood staining the floors and tables. Whoever Elrath was, he certainly was no healer.
I moved carefully when investigating corners of the room, which was a good idea. Elrath had left more magical traps behind.
I spotted a crumpled letter on the table in the center of the room. It seemed like Elrath didn't like what it had to say. I unfolded it and saw why.
Several of the mysteries were finally unraveled. The reason for the orcs pushing hard to reach the barracks - they knew! They thought that they'd be fighting soldiers who were sick with Elrath's poison. If Elrath had succeeded in poisoning the Barracks well, then Ferol would already be swarming with Orcs.
The sender of the letter, "I"; who was he? Who were the "we" he spoke of - the Black Ring? Were "I" and Elrath members of the Black Ring? "I" seemed to be close to Janus... and so was Elrath.
Could Janus be a member of the Black Ring? ... No, that doesn't make any sense. Janus can't be aware of "I"'s plan to poison the barracks - Janus loses his power if the dukedom gets overrun by orcs. So it looks like Janus has a traitor in his court. ... but does that connect to the assassination of Pendrak Ferol? If so, how?
This wasn't the time or place to be considering such things. I carefully folded the letter and tucked it safely into one of my pockets. I looked around the room for anything else which might be useful, and I spotted two bottles on a shelf. They had labels written in small, neat handwriting. "Cure for the Grey Death. One dose exactly."
But... my heart sank. There were only two bottles there. There were three patients left. I searched every corner of the room, and found no more bottles. There were plenty of papers and alchemical formulae, but they were written in some kind of personal shorthand of Elrath's, I couldn't understand it. I left the notes behind and headed out.
"About the Game" posted:
The plot thickens...
Be sure to grab the two red flasks on top of the bookshelves before leaving Elrath's house, you won't get a second chance.
Unfortunately, I didn't escape detection
Damn! Otho was supposed to be keeping him busy at the quarantine section all day!
Elrath was angry, but he was trying to make me feel shame. It wasn't going to work.
"You dare to call yourself a Doctor!" I yelled at him angrily. "Well, I've found a very interesting letter in your secret cellar DOCTOR Elrath! What have you to say about it?
Elrath dropped the shame approach and went for self-righteous indignation instead. "YOU SNUCK INTO MY HOME! How dare you!" He shouted, his face red with anger. "I have powerful friends at the royal court, you know."
"Really?" I said mildly. "Please, tell me all about them. I'm all ears."
Elrath glowered at me. "Do not think that you can get away with this outrage. You shall pay for this. Get OUT!"
"See you in prison, Doctor," I taunted him as I left his house.
I took the teleporter to the Dwarven Bread Inn and hurriedly made my way to see Commander Ralph.
WHAT! How can that be? He fights valiantly to help the afflicted and is respected by many people in the town! How could he be responsible for this plague? Do you have any proof for this claim?
Yes. I wasn't intending to investigate, but in the farmlands, I met Hugh Dellabaere who told me of crop failures -
...And you found a cave full of poison barrels and some orcs. I heard about this. What does it have to do with Elrath?
The orc in the cave dropped a key, and I discovered that it opened the storage room in the cellar of the Blue Boar. Inside was more of the poison. It turned out that Elrath was the one renting that room. He admitted to storing the poison for research, but claimed that he lost the key. Something about his manner seemed off to me. I snuck into the quarantined area.
And I along with the healer Otho discovered this flask concealed in the bushes near the well.
I produced the tainted flask from my pack.
Poison. The well water also smelled faintly of the poison as well. It's hard to detect unless you know what you're smelling for. One of the patients - Sara - told me that Elrath said that Corroner suffocated in his sleep from the fever, which even I know is impossible. So I broke into Elrath's house, and in his cellar I found a secret room full of horrors, and this...
I reached into my backpack and pulled out the letter. I handed it to Ralph.
Here. Take a look at this letter I found in the doctor's house. It seems that this doctor is nothing more that a despicable murderer.
But... this is terrible! One moment... GUARDS! Go and arrest Doctor Elrath immediately. I apologize for shouting at you, Jeremiah. It's just so hard to believe he could do this.
I found what looks like a cure for the Grey Death, but there were only two doses, and there are three patients. I'd like permission for the healers to investigate Elrath's house in hopes of finding a way to make another cure.
Of course. You have it, Jeremiah.
I'm sorry, Mr, Liro, but we caught him in the act of destroying his notes. We saved what we could, but...
I'll get the healers here. They'll know what to do.
The healers of Aleroth spent the rest of the day poring over the remains of Elrath's lab. and the notes while others tended the dying in the quarantined section. I even returned to Aleroth to get Mardaneus to come help.
I'm sorry, Jeremiah. There's just not enough information left. We'll keep trying of course, but -
Mid-sentence, Joram came in, his face grim.
I'm sorry, but the victims... they're getting worse.
Even with them on clean water?
The damage to their liver and kidneys was too severe. I do not believe they will survive the night without treatment. Their last hours will be agonizing...
What about these cure flasks I found? Can you figure out what's in this cure? Maybe if we can figure that out, we can make more.
That's not possible. We'd need to spend days with it, and it would use up an entire bottle, dooming a second person.
Well, maybe if we divide these two bottles up into three equal portions.
Lad - it can't be done. Some of the only parts of notes still unburned say that those bottles only contain exactly the right amount for a cure. Any less, and it's no good at all.
Mardaneus finally stopped to face me.
There's only one solution, terrible as it is. We can only save two of the sick. The third will die.
There was just silence.
Don't ye remember, Jeremiah? We can't choose. We've all taken a vow of healing. It's not our place to decide. We can't decide.
Then who decides?
All the eyes turned to me.
I turned away from them.
But I believed the healers were being honest, when they said that there was nothing to do. And I knew that they couldn't bring themselves to make the choice which had to be made.
"Damn you all... damn you all for asking me to choose," I said angrily.
I turned to face the healers. Anger and shame closed up my throat.
"And damn me for going along with it," I choked out.
I had made my choice. The cures had been given to the other two patients. Unfortunately, my conscience wouldn't just let me walk away, as much as I might wish to.
My choice, mine, has condemned an innocent person to a painful death. If I just walk away and pretend like it never happened... it'd be Tom all over again. I'm not going to be that person again. No more running from the consequences.
I'm sorry, Tibus. I found a cure... but there was only enough for two people. I gave the cures to the other sick patients.
What?! But why? I could've made you rich, you know! My family is the richest family in Verdistis!
I thought about telling him my honest thoughts.
To be blunt, you've just demonstrated why I chose them. They were worried about how their survivors would make it without them.
But I didn't say them out loud. I wished that I could have saved them all. There was no need to make the dying man feel even worse than he was already.
I'm sorry. I truly am.
How could you do this? I'm dying! Bah! I don't want to speak to you anymore, you stinking bastard!!!
It was not I who poisoned you, but it was my decision that has ended your life. Curse me all you want, I don't blame you.
Go away - let me die without having to look at your rotten face!
No. I'm staying. I don't want to ever forget what I did.
Leave me alone! Where's my father? I want to see my father - aaauuuuhhhhhh!
His face grimaced in agony, and then he passed out, although occasionally he would mumble something.
Someone entered the shack. I could tell from the light tread that it was Joram. I didn't turn to look at him. Tibus was asleep, although occasionally his face would grimace in pain.
"How are the other victims?" I said softly to Joram.
"They're already showing signs of recovery. I think that they'll be just fine. You saved their lives, Jeremiah."
I said nothing. Joram pulled up another chair.
"Any word from the priest?" Joram asked.
Again I didn't turn to face Joram and just continued watching the patient.
"A messenger gave a note. 'Deepest regrets, can't come'. He's still scared of the 'plague'," I said sourly, then I spat in disgust. "Cowardly wretch."
"What about Tibus's father?" Joram asked.
I grunted scornfully. "No idea. He didn't even send a note."
Tibus groaned again. "...'m sorry I failed..." . He was starting to shake I gripped the man's hands, trying to keep him from waking himself up.
It didn't work. He woke up again. "Please it hurts, it hurts. Where's my father?"
I'm sorry, but -
He's on his way. He'll be here soon.
I looked at Joram, then got up and walked out of the room. Joram followed.
I whispered to him.
I'm surprised at you. You lied to him.
I know. But I can't help him anymore... at least, not physically. Sometimes lying is the greater kindness. ... Look, I know this is troubling, you don't have to be here.
Your vow wouldn't let you make a choice, would it? So I did it for you. You and the rest of the healers get to go home and comfort yourself with the truth - that it wasn't your decision. I don't have that luxury. So yes, I do have to be here, and see exactly what I have done.
A-anyone there? *cough* *cough* 'm thirsty...
I'll go get him some water.
I went back into the room.
Joram's gone to get you your water.
Tibus clutched his stomach and his face contorted in a mask of agony, but he made no sounds.
I'm sorry... the healers can't do anything for you.
No... there must be something.
There is one thing I could do for you.
I could... end your suffering now. I could take the pillow and cover your face until you stop breathing. It wouldn't hurt a bit. But it's your choice.
No... don't kill me.
There was silence for a moment.
Are you a religious man?
Not very, I'll admit. But lately, I've seen some things...
I've never *cough* *cough* been much for the Gods myself. But... do you think - do you think that if I prayed, the Gods will help me?
I don't know.
Tibus closed his eyes, and started mumbling prayers under his breath, too quietly for me to catch more than a word or two.
... sorry I failed in your eyes, father. I did the best I could.
Mystery entity... when I was near death, you helped me. Could you restore him?
No. I am sorry, but I cannot. I barely had the energy to fend off your death, and even then it was only for a minute. He is beyond mortal aid.
Joram returned with the water. We resumed our vigil over the dying man. Tibus's bouts of consciousness became fewer and shorter, his cramps and spasms more intense and more frequent, his breathing became more ragged and laboured. Until after several hours, Tibus let out one last breath, and didn't inhale again. Joram checked his pulse and found nothing.
He's dead. Thank you for being here, Jeremiah. You should go get some rest now. I'll take care of things here and send word to Sir Dante.
Yes. Tibus here is... I'm sorry... he was Dante's son.
I still hadn't found out where the Assassins had hidden their guild, and my decision had killed the son of the man who could tell me.
What is it? What's wrong?
... Everything, Joram. But nothing can be helped now. I'm going back to the Blue Board to rest. It's been a tiring day.
I headed back to the Blue Boar Inn to sleep - well, to lie down. I doubted that I'd get any sleep at all.
As I approached the door of the inn, a man stepped out and blocked the door. He was dressed in black and purple. He reminded me of Crawler. I put my hand on my dagger. From behind me came another voice.
The assassins were no tougher than Crawler was, and just as flammable. I searched the bodies, and found a note on one of them.
That's it; It's time to deal with the Assassin's Guild.
Next Time: The River of Gold
Behind the Scenes
So uh... on that rather depressing update, that concludes the Harvest Disaster and Plague Victims questlines.
Game-breaker alert: Don't kill both Joram and Otho! You might think that you're done with the healers by now, but don't kill both Joram and Otho, otherwise you could break the main quest much, much later. You can kill EITHER Joram OR Otho, if you want, but not both, otherwise you'll break the game.
Turning the letter over to Comander Ralph completes the plague quest and it gets us an invitation to Stormfist Castle and can advance the main plot. We CAN... but I'm not doing that yet.
The fact that Elrath hires assassins to kill you is the reason why I finished the Elrath quest before the Dante quest.
The poisoning victims never actually die in the game. This might be by design so you can do the pickpocketing trick, or it might be because the poison isn't intended to be fatal.
What's fake in this update?
- The image of Jeremiah learning Energy Cage on the ground was faked, I added the text and Icon.
- I added extra lines of Jeremiah presenting his case to Ralph. The game only cares about the letter from Elrath's cellar, not about any other evidence.
- The image of all the healers and guards in the cellar was fake.
- There wasn't anyone in the bed in Tibus's (Cideric's) house, I copied the "someone is in bed" blanket from somewhere else and put it there. It conveniently hides the person's head, too.
- Joram wasn't really there, another faked image.
- I used the teleporter stone to get to the Blue Boar Inn from the marketplace. I rearranged the placement of the assassins (copy and clone to erase where they were) because one was facing away from him, another was far away, and the third was inside the inn and invisible. None were in the direction Jeremiah was facing. I also removed the teleporter stone from the image.
- After you've found the evidence in Elrath's house, the instant you leave the Rivertown market - no matter where you go, you're attacked by the assassins. I didn't actually know that, I thought it only happened at the Dwarven Bread Inn - which is the first place you usually go, so you can report to Commander Ralph.
- There were only three assassins. I added the fourth to explain why Jeremiah is apparently not looking at any of three who were visible.