Oct 01, 2020 2:27 PM
Raafi falls into the Sunless Skies
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...that can't be good. He teleports to the port and zips toward the fire.

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It has grown to consume nearly the whole building, and is only barely being kept from the neighboring ones by gushing water hoses. Smoke billows out of the windows, chased by tongues of flame. Embers smolder on the bales of rough cotton in the loading bay, where the bucket brigade is still working. One brick wall has collapsed, and the constables grow more confused and dis-coordinated with the smoke and crackling noise covering everything.

Many of the ash-covered wounded are being loaded into carriages, some on stretchers and some under their own power, and rushed over the bridge towards St. Cavendish (which is the largest hospital in the city, and also the closest).

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He spends a few seconds chanting, and five watery forms appear, each easily three times the height of a human; they spend another few seconds listening to him - if that's a language, it's not remotely one meant for humans to understand or speak - and then approach the burning building and begin putting out the fire.

That done, he dashes again - moving at twice the speed a human usually can - to a group of wounded, arranges five of them to be touching each other, and teleports all five and himself to St. Cavendish's lobby.

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(The water elementals cause a small panic, but on net they're helpful.)

In the hospital, the front-desk nurse has been coordinating incoming doctors. She swears in surprise, then points everyone another nurse, who takes them away to a ward. The patients are in slow motion. The nurses and doctors, wearing curious backpack-clocks, are moving normally. The second nurse urges the five patients in, but holds Raafi back and waves over the man from the hiring office he first talked to.

"Raafi! The whole ward is being slowed - Helps with triage. It's only thanks to you we can afford the Hours to do this. You'll need a carriage-clock to go in. What have you got left for today?"

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"Eight mass cures and twenty-one singles - sort them by severity if you can, but anyone who gets any magical healing won't die unless they're further injured afterward. I can take fifteen people per mass cure, within thirty feet of each other."

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"That should be enough to cover the worst cases. But the Fulbright factory has hundreds of employees and we don't have a full accounting yet. Still much better than not. Let's get your carriage-clock sorted and I'll pass that on."

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He nods. "That's not counting potions, if there's more - I'll need ten minutes in a private room to get those out. They're irreplaceable, but," he shrugs. "Get me the clock thing."

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He gestures towards a side-hall. "Irreplaceable, hmm. You get the magic back every day, right, what if we gave you an extra day? Hours can accelerate as well as slow."

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He goes where he's directed. "I - probably? I can't guarantee it but if I'm living the day through, there is some flexibility. I could check but it'd cost a spell."

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He unhooks a backpack from the wall and winds something on it around. "Here. Just put it on your back. When it starts ticking faster, you need a new one. An extra day - If it works, it would almost certainly save lives, the wounded aren't slowing down. You say 'probably'. That sounds like more than fifty percent? As a doctor- Seems like just another form of triage, risk one possible death to check for a chance of preventing many more. If it was me, I'd ask the director, but if I couldn't reach him I would do it. What do you think?"

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He puts the pack on. "More than fifty percent," he nods. "As a new experience, if I approach it right - seventy, eighty percent - not actually worth the spell to check, I don't think, just do it."

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"Right, I'll go - organize that. It'll be fairly expensive but we're hurting less for money thanks to you. Good luck, and thank you." He bustles off.

One of the doctors he's worked with regularly guides him into the slowed-down ward - sound is oddly muffled in here. The patients still move in extreme slow-motion, most of them have their eyes covered so they won't be alarmed at the flickering figures hovering over them. They group up the worst cases for him like well-oiled clockwork.

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He's right behind them with the spells, from big ones that leave their recipients whole down to tiny sparks of blue that barely seem to do anything but leave patients breathing a little easier. He's done well before the pack starts to run down, and goes to look for the other doctor.

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The doctor is fussing over the appropriated hour-loom with a harried-looking west-end engineer. It's a complicated, spindly, and mostly exposed thing, like a grandfather clock, an orrery, a typewriter, and a sewing machine all had a baby. A small box of cracked pink and purple Hour-geodes, sighing a low tone, sits nearby.

"That should do it," the engineer says with finality.

"-Ah. Good timing, Raafi. Auspicious, that. Hopefully this works. This one is secondhand."

"It'll work," the engineer confidently states, setting hour-geodes into the orrery-like spots. "One day, twenty four hours, will occur inside that suite when I pull this lever, in about ten minutes out here. Best not to open the door or look out the windows too much, though."

"There's a restroom and a sink. I'm told they'll probably work but it's also best not to wonder how, exactly."

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He nods. "I don't need the full twenty-four; sixteen will do it. If that's easy enough to change."

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"-Give me a minute." Some sketched math, three adjusted levers, and a removed orrery-arm later, he nods again. "There we are. It might run a bit longer than sixteen, I erred on the side of that."

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"All right. See you in a few minutes."

Sixteen hours. He can sleep for half of them. The other eight - he knew he'd feel trapped but he was expecting less of that; not being able to look out the window is a surprise. He'll manage, though - it's an experience, and there's value in that, even if it's not the experience he was expecting.

He reads, and paces, and takes notes, and paces, and fiddles with a puzzle box, and paces. Looks out the window anyway, occasionally; he's trying not to do it much, but a glance every few hours is probably safe enough, without a sterner warning. Wishes he was surer about whether it'd be safe to open his portable hole, here; the temptation itches at him a bit in a way that it wouldn't if he were sure. Eats the sandwiches they set out for him, when it feels like dinnertime. Paces some more. Writes. Prays. Sleeps, eventually.

It's not morning when he wakes up any more than it was morning when he went to sleep, but it feels like it, and that's good enough, most of the time. He prays, thinking back on the hours spent in this room: there is value there - it's unusual for him to have even a single hour by himself, without outside distractions, and he appreciates the experience, the reminder of what it's like; he doesn't like it much, but that's always been secondary. This is part of his journey, too, and he offers it up to Fharlanghn like anything else.

His spells come in, the same set from yesterday, just in case he happens to not use them all and can distribute some to the clients waiting for him elsewhere in the city. Unlikely, but he might as well try for it.

He's brought a chair over to sit by the door, waiting, when the hour-loom completes its work.

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Whenever he looks out the window, things appear to be moving at normal-speed. But even if he takes an hour between glances, people are in the same spots between looks.

They open the door again ten minutes later. "Fire's out. We should have a final tally of the injured soon but it's looking like about two hundred fifty total. Were the water-people your doing?"

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"Mmhmm. And my devotions went fine, I have more spells."

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"Excellent! You've saved many, many lives today. And... Yesterday?"

The slowed-down ward is a bit less chaotic now. They only ask for the minor healing spells on a few patients they judge at risk of death, planning on waiting until it's clear the last of the injured are accounted for before asking him for more.

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He does that, and while they're waiting for the final accounting he finds a corner and gets out his portable hole to retrieve a different walking stick from. "It's magic," he explains to the aide they have trailing him. "The other one is too, but this one lets me store healing spells in it, I can get three more people today and replace the spells later."

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They're a bit wary of a strange and supposedly magical staff, but he's been trustworthy and helpful so far. In another hour or two, the last of the wounded are accounted for and the looms spinning a weave of slowed time over the ward have run dry. But many of them are already recovered, and the dead are limited to those consumed in the fire itself.

One of the junior nurses passes him a small packet of papers. "Here, as thanks. Ministry-Stamped Permits. They're all for hospital-related things, but the forms and permits are vague and wide-reaching enough that they're honestly almost interchangeable - a vagary of the bureaucratic machine. Could help you deal with officials."

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"Sounds like they'll come in handy, thank you."

He sends runners to let the rest of the day's healing clients know that he'll reschedule them for tomorrow due to the fire, and heads back over to talk to the reporter again.

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She's there, a bit ash-covered and trying not to grin. It's a tragedy, not a bloody great story, that's what everyone wants to hear. (But it's a bloody great story.)

"Raafi! I'd understand if you had to reschedule. I swear, that sort of thing doesn't happen very often."

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"I'd hope not! I'm fine to talk, though - I was just at the hospital; they're still working on a few of the worst affected, but everyone who made it out of the building will survive."

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