On to our second prelude of the session, this one covering a Twilight doctor from An-Teng. We actually referenced the 3e disease rules for this one, and they were pretty clear and straightforward. There were also a lot of bumbling minor NPCs running around, which looks like it’ll be a hallmark of this game.
“Great healer! Come quickly!”
Harmonious Sanguine Blade took a moment to finish grinding up a dried scorpion in his mortar before rising to greet the dockworker who’d entered his clinic. His new client, a round-faced fellow named Bozhao Lucky Moon, explained that the Redwater District—a riverside area downstream from a dyeworks—was suffering from an outbreak of the bloody flux. He and his family had fled before the quarantine, and though they weren’t sick, he wanted medicine to ensure that they wouldn’t contract the illness themselves.
Blade sent Lucky Moon off to bring his family. When they arrived, a quick diagnosis confirmed that they while they weren’t in the best of health, they hadn’t contracted dysentery. To calm their fears, the Twilight fed them herbal tea that he told them was medicine. Lucky Moon offered profuse thanks, adding that while he was happy that his family was safe, he feared for his neighbors and hoped that Blade would see to their health as well. The healer penned a quick note to his apprentice regarding his absence—in case another client arrived, or his noble patron required his services, or his father or sister came looking for him—then gathered the appropriate medicines in a bag and set off.
At a barricade manned by constables in the azure leathers of the Ministry of the Blue Robe—Zhaojun’s security service—Blade proclaimed his intent to enter the quarantined area and tend to the sick. He readily agreed to a warning from the lieutenant in charge that he could not then leave until the quarantine had been lifted. He then entered the Redwater District, a once-prosperous area that had fallen on hard times after the Realm conquest. While some of the old fine townhouses remained well tended, others had been converted to tenements, while further apartments and hovels had been crammed in where gardens and pavilions once stood. Many buildings were boarded shut, their residents having fled the area; the streets were largely empty; moans of pain, mingled with the stench of illness, drifted from open windows.
Blade found his way to a public laundry-house that was being used as a makeshift hospice, where dozens of groaning citizens received what little care their neighbors could provide. Presenting his bona fides to the old woman in charge, he spent several hours preparing and administering herbal remedies to those worst off, then moved on to the overcrowded tenements nearby.
Sometime after midnight, Blade’s work was disturbed by a loud, repeated banging from an adjacent building. When it became clear that the noises wouldn’t cease, he headed next door, prying away boards so he could slip inside. Sneaking to the back of the well-kept house, he watched a group of gaudily dressed street thugs break a hole in the back wall large enough for them to enter through.
As the thieves began rifling through the room for valuables, Harmonious Sanguine Blade stepped out of the shadows. “Gentlemen,” he said as they raised their hammers, “this area is under quarantine. Don’t you know that your health—your very life—is in danger?”
“Hah,” one burglar said, “Hammer Gang don’t gotta worry! Look, we got talismans!” He pointed to a beaded, feathered satchel of aromatic herbs he wore around his neck. “Got ‘em from a thaumaturge!”
“Be that as it may,” said Blade, “I am a master chirurgeon, called in to deal with the epidemic, and I assure you that even those… talismans… may not protect you. Allow me to examine you for signs of the flux. Then you may go about your business as you please.”
The healer studied each of the thugs in turn—a largely spurious exercise, given the limited vectors by which dysentery might be transmitted, which he made far more uncomfortable than was strictly necessary—while the others roamed the house in search of loot. As they finished up, Blade gave them a clear bill of health.
“Thanks, I guess,” said one of the gang members. “We’d better hurry and hit the next house.”
“Then I’ll have to accompany you,” Blade replied. “The longer you’re in Redwater, the more likely you are to be afflicted by the miasma, and I’ll need to re-examine you after each house to make sure you don’t catch the flux.”
After a brief argument, the Hammer Gang members agreed that they’d stolen enough for one night—they could bring a few bits of furniture out to make sure they were fully laden—and that maybe it wasn’t worth hanging about and risking the flux or whatever unpleasant treatment was required to treat it.
One thug remained unconvinced. “Snakefire Gang wouldn’t put up with this,” he grumbled, and not the first time.
“Say ‘Snakefire’ one more time and I break your face and throw you in the river,” said one of his companions, hefting his hammer meaningfully.
Harmonious Sanguine Blade waited a few minutes to ensure the thieves didn’t come back. He then returned to his patients, satisfied that he would suffer no further interruptions. Tomorrow he could determine the source of the outbreak. Tonight? He had work to do.