Aria and Tora in Arda
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Up close, a tiger is majestic. Fearsome. The beauty and lethality of the jungle; nature's killing machine adorned with magic items; a duality incarnate.

She doesn't overwhelm them with her size; a war-horse stands taller and masses twice as much, while Tora's head barely comes up to their shoulders. But she has presence, and when she looks you in the eye and demands respect, the unleveled human blinks first.

(In Oppara, they billed her kind as 'the second least of the dangerous beasts'. Aria disabused them of that.)

 

"They're afraid, as always," she pronounces after a sniff. "I'll be around, maybe catch a nap." And she saunters off, tail waving hypnotically behind her.

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"See you later, dear." And to the humans: "let's go."

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Sveyn is glad that the toothy big cat isn't coming into the village.  But he's definitely going to round up his sheep now that it'll be staying out here away from its mistress.

The sheep come quickly at Nosy the dog's nudges; they're used to Nosy and know what to do.  He'll bring them into the pen early, following the others toward the village, happier than he's been for... months at least, if not years.

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To start with, they walk through fields of tall waving wheat that looks almost ready for harvest.  Well, there's mostly wheat; there's a little barley too, and a few fields closer in that've been harvested already that look like they'd been planted with something else.  Some farmers come out as they go past; Osbald quickly explains "She's a foreign wizard!  Come to heal people!  Come see!"

Aldsdale isn't the smallest village as villages go.  There're maybe forty wooden houses, most of them with a loft above and two or three rooms below, and holes in the ceiling for smoke from the fire in the center.  In the winter, the windows would be closed and sealed with straw and mud; now in the heat of summer, they're wide open for anyone on the street to look in.   Almost all the houses have a kitchen-garden outside, bordered by wood and built up from the streets to between knee- and waist-high, as if they're large boxes.  (Or rather, the gardens are closer to the original ground level; the streets sink down a little as they enter the town.)

Osbald blows his own horn as they enter, a happy call.  Dozens of people pour out from the houses and yards and gardens to meet them.

(Aria might notice there're a lot more scars and pale faces from sicknesses than she's used to.)

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Aria wasn't really expecting an audience but that's her own fault, she should have thought ahead. Of course a village with no cleric and no memory of clerics would turn out to see a healer! She wants to caution them that she can't channel or even spontaneously cure wounds, and can't spare more than one or two slots for curing disease. A druid is a poor substitute for the cleric of Erastil this village ought to have... but they don't know to expect any more than that.

The village itself looks as good as she could expect in the circumstance. The plants and animals look well-cared for; the humans carrying obvious signs of past disease and trauma but not, for the most part, of hunger. The people don't seem afraid of each other. They're not even afraid of a strange mage showing up and proposing to cast spells on their sick, which is a frankly unusual degree of trust for people who claim to have no access to healing!

Detect magic detects nothing at all, not even lingering auras.

She smiles and nods to the people (this is approximately her entire repertoire for strange human cultures) and follows where they lead her.

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They stop in an open space near the other end of the village, with people hanging back somewhat and whispering to each other about who she is and where she's from.  Several of the warier people are guessing she's an Elf from the Golden Wood.  One person is thinking she must be the Queen of Gondor ("they say they have hands of healing!")

But that doesn't go on too long before two women bring up their sick babies and look at her pleadingly.  Behind the crowd, she can catch glimpses of a few more people coming, being supported by relatives.

 

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Aria is beginning to regret, not her spur-of-the-moment decision to heal a few people, but that she didn't set their expectations appropriately. These people don't know what to expect from a cleric, which also means they probably don't know that healing disease is much, much harder than physical injuries.

The problem isn't healing some people, which is a strict improvement. The problem is choosing which people to heal, while still leaving the rest happy. They might noe understand triage, either, the way those lightly injured can be left to heal on their own while those too severely injured, the youngest and oldest and sickest, are left to die when resources are spare.

"Physical injuries are easier to heal. Disease is much harder, and I can cure only a very few at once. So I will wait for everyone who might need it to gather before starting." Let's see what they make of that on their own.

"Also, I am currently human, and never a queen." The Queen of Gondor, who can heal people, goes on her list of vague rumours to maybe ask about later.

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Several people's faces fall, including Osbald's, and a few more move away - some to the back of the crowd, and some more to bring their relatives.

(Meanwhile, there're whispers - "Currently human?  Can she turn into an Elf?")

One man comes forward with a visibly-bloodstained sling and bandage on his arm.  "I hurt this in the fields - can you do anything?"

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She inspects his arm to see if it needs bonesetting or anything else before being healed.

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The bone already got set, and the really large gash has only just started to heal over.  It's already been swelling up, though.

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At least the first case is easy! She takes out her oldest bag of goodberries (she has a daily rotation) and gives him one. "Eat it," she instructs, while watching his arm closely to determine if more will be needed.

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He takes a cautious nibble, and then eats the whole thing.

Suddenly, with something like a huge itching, the gash closes.  He flexes his arm in shock to see it work, and then bows to Aria.  "Thank you, ma'am!"

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"Be careful with the arm for a while," she instructs him. "It's freshly healed, and the bone is likely still weak. Treat it as you would if it had healed naturally."

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He nods, weeping with joy.  "Yes, ma'am, thank you!"

A young woman comes forward with her hand covered with blistered burns, and a man limping with an old scar on his leg.  Also, five visibly sick people are hanging back, along with mothers holding several babies.

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(Osbald is standing next to the group of sick people, holding a half-asleep girl who looks maybe seven years old.)

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The woman can have a berry, and a second one if the first isn't enough.

 

Aria isn't going to cure more than two people of disease, and that's already more than most village clerics could manage. There are five diseased people in every village in the country; even if she spends all her high-level slots on it, disease will spread faster than she can remove it.

And that is the natural order of things. How convenient that she is Chaotic at present, and not Good; she's not even going to feel bad about it.

But she is long experienced in non-magical medicine. Can she tell what kind of disease they suffer from? Is it the same one for all of them, should they be quarantined away from the rest of the village? Are their lives in danger, has anyone already died of this disease or suffered long-term effects that won't go away? Or is it something that they are almost certain to recover from if they are healthy and strong enough?

As for the babies, being sick is natural for them; do they suffer from the same disease as the adults, are they likely to get better or to die of it?

She can prepare diagnose disease but it only affects one person; there are likely to be enough clearly-diseased people here to make further diagnosis pointless. It would better to spend the first-circle slot on remove sickness to give someone a better fighting chance.

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It's two different diseases - two babies and three older people (including Osbald's daughter) have a bad intestinal fever, but the others just have a rash... which, for the babies, has gotten worse from their scratching at it.

Well, you could say three... one older woman with the fever also has a cough that's been getting worse.  Her daughter's brought her here; she weakly raises her hand to thank Aria but says she's had a long life already.

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Aria nods solemnly. One way to be in tune in nature is to know when your time comes to go; for the old to make room for their young. She hopes it helps the woman make her way to an afterlife she likes.

The rash isn't debilitating or fatal; healthy people will overcome it on their own. A cleric's daily channel might help clear it quicker, but alas.

The fever calls for a spell, but of course she doesn't have enough for everyone. And even in this small community, others may have been infected but don't show symptoms yet, or have recovered but still be infectious. The best way to stop the fever sweeping through the population is to isolate the sick, but that is often impractical or insufficient.

She chooses two people to heal of the disease. Osbald's daughter, and someone else who is at risk: a child, or a particularly ill person. For the others, the best she can (cheaply) do is delay the disease for a day's span, restore them to health with a berry, and so give them the best fighting chance when it comes back.

She tells them what she has decided to do; it would be cruel, she thinks, to burden them with the decision of who to heal, and she is not particularly in the mood for a drawn-out discussion. The babies will remain the most at risk of dying, as is nature's way; Aria sees nothing unusual or surprising in this.

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