I never was the type to back down from a challenge, especially when it came to the art of medicine. Most aspiring doctors are already overwhelmed by the vast stores of knowledge they must claim and learn to use when attempting to complete their medical degrees. This was not enough for me. Conventional medicine has given Subeta great benefit, but sometimes normal methods are simply not enough to help the body overcome a particularly nasty virus.
I traveled the lands, learning herbal cures and therapies that are not mentioned in the Subeta Medical Encyclopedia. I learned to combine tradition and lore, developing an instinct for how to best meet a patient's needs. I graduated top of my class, one of the rare few to be accepted by Selina as a consultant of the Healer's Abode. It is an honor I do my best to live up to every day.
Do not mistake me for one of those fools taken in by every bottle of serpenth oil claiming to perform medical miracles. One must be a skeptic at all times when a new procedure or product is introduced. I keep up with all the most current medical journals and buy my herb stock only from sources I know I can trust. I would rather sleep in a tent and eat soup from a can than earn my coin by taking advantage of my patients.
Selina greets me with a smile as I pass through the gold-plated glass doors spelled against severe weather and all types of germs. It is always a thrill to receive a message from Subeta's most skilled healer. She relies on her chosen doctors to seek out those too ill and weak to make the journey to the Sacred Lands. I never know if I will brave the cold of Arctic Frost or the sweltering heat of the Omen Islands but I have yet to attempt an assignment I could not complete.
"Good health and prosperity, Dr. Mino. You have no doubt heard stories of the outbreak on our western shore, where the dunes separate the far-flung settlements by as much as a full day's travel. I have received a message from the residents of Dunsea who are in desperate need of a healer. A terrible fever drains the life force of the victims there and saps the color from their fur. Based on the description of the symptoms, I have no doubt that you will be able to solve this mystery, but I must warn you that the pirates of Port Plunder did not hesitate to take advantage of their weakened neighbors."
I despise cowardly pirates who prey on the weak and keep the old tradition of slavery alive. I do not even need to think about my answer. I must go to Dunsea and offer what aid I can.
I concern myself with only those medical supplies I will need, leaving more general supply gathering to Azdyr. I know I can rely on him to see to commonplace items like food and blankets. Adopting him was one of the wisest decisions I ever made. My minion serves as the practical one when my brain is running through possible remedies.
The western shore of the Sacred Lands is a wide stretch of sandy beach with little to entice outsiders into visiting. This beach has no sailboat races or fruity umbrella drinks to offer. Tent cities spring up seemingly in no sensible order, revealing the places where poor Subetans descended from the Saheric ended up. Azdyr charts our course with the compass provided on the little boat I rented, using a fluffy paw to point me in the right direction. The tents of Dunsea are patched in many places but the fabrics used to form them are colorful and inviting. There are a few rows of finer houses though these show the effects of outdated paint and worn wood.
One house has been burned to the ground though the scorch marks are clearly a few days old. I can hear fearful whispering as residents peer out of frosted glass windows and cloth flaps barely secured by bits of frayed rope. One brave wyllop comes forward from the central house, leaning heavily on his cane. His coat still has the creamy look common to his species though the bright orange spots on his back are turned a dull gray.
"Good day to you, sir. My name is Dr. Mino and I come as a representative of the Healer's Abode. Word has reached us of your plight and I am here to help in any way I can."
His whiskers droop in relief. "We'd almost given up hope. You are most welcome to our home."
All seven of the children are in their beds. They blink dull eyes as I examine them, giving each a few drops of sleep medicine. All but the oldest have gone completely gray and even his creamy fur is tinged with silver. The parents are no better. Only Grandfather Lightwhisker is still on his feet. He does his best to follow me around as I do my work, despite the fact that his paws are shaking. I guide him to a chair and tell him not to leave it. I cannot be worrying that he will fall when my full concentration is needed. I call out notes to Azdyr as I work out the ingredients I will need. Despite my careful preparations, there are some herbs that simply must be gathered fresh.
Azdyr is once again my navigator as we set out for the nearest oasis. My finds are better than I'd hoped, producing wild licorice to soothe the savage cough and a nice head of bumbus weed to aid the syrup I've prepared in bringing down those fevers. I am convinced the color drain will be reversed when the fever is broken but I add a pinch of desert aurora as a precaution.
We spend the night at the edge of the water, enjoying the absolute stillness of a desert night. Our thick coats keep Azdyr and I warm until well after the moon is risen. We snuggle together beneath a knit blanket that has served such a purpose in seven distinct lands. We set out for our return as the sun is breaking the horizon.
The stink of smoke hits my nose before the curve of the dunes allows me a view of the suffering village. It would seem the pirates were not successful in their attempts to find spoils further inland. They have returned to Dunsea and they do not leave even the meanest tent unturned.
I want to rush in with hooves and teeth and make these pirates suffer as they cause suffering to the innocent. I may have a temper, but I am not a fool. The sheen of my fur and the quality of my doctor's bag will serve to increase the wrath of these ruffians. Medical tools can be replaced but the medicines I carry could mean life or death for the ailing Lightwhiskers.
The house of the Lightwhiskers has so far remained unnoticed. I could make it to the back door without attracting attention. Ten lives are in my hooves and as much as it pains me, I must accept the fact that I cannot save everyone in peril.
The frightened screams of a young feli shatter my resolve. The dirty pirate dragging her from her tent home leers down at his prize. You can almost see her bones through her pelt and patches of greying fur have fallen loose. She is in no condition to fight her much larger captor.
I do not like to use my abilities. Magic can so easily be used as a cheat and I did not achieve my dreams in life by cheating. Still, there are times when distaste must be put aside and action must be taken.
With my power of illusion, I can convince you that you are floating in a land made of whipped cream fluff or that a great fanged beast is slowly devouring you one limb at a time. I can cast my illusion net over a distance of nearly a hundred feet and affect the thoughts of any creature within my range. Every pirate on the street is suddenly surrounded by the ghosts of those they have killed. It is not hard to pluck the right faces from the surface of their thoughts as they spur themselves forward with memories of past plunders.
Hardened veterans of the sea freeze in place and begin to whimper like small children as ghosts with gaping wounds surround them and hurl accusations. Azdyr and I are transformed into apparitions with bite as we add to the confusion with teeth and hooves that take on an unearthly glow. I watch with great satisfaction as the captain howls an order for retreat. The feli is dropped in the dust as the looters run the length of the beach with phantom enemies in close pursuit.
She offers no resistance as I lift her with care. My hosts are wary of a feli in their midst but they will not turn away the Subetan that single-handedly frightened away an entire band of pirates. By the time every little wyllop is on his or her feet and regaining color, they have found a marvelous cook who is sure to stay with the family for many years to come.
My report to Selina minimizes my role in the saving of the village, focusing heavily on the medical knowledge gained through my work and keeping the pirate attack description to only two lines. I do not care to be made a hero. True glory is in protecting those unable to protect themselves.