Fable - Ask Path of Miracles

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White Swallow

The White Swallow of Narra
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Hope would not dwindle. While other cities would, in despair toss afflicted outside their gates, shun them and cover them in bells and outlandish garbs to forever announce their plight to the others. In Sey'Kube they were given shelter. Since gathered from all around the region, whether they belonged to the protected of the Shtakmati state or not.

An almost cutesy alignment of banners followed the athletic Anaphite.
The golden arrows and stars on red. The two white swallows on black. The White shield and gold flowers on a field of green. A red rearing horse on black.
The cathaphracti were fearsome looking and their amount alone scared off all raiders that showed up. The trip so far was peaceful and likely would remain until the arrival to Sey'Kube.
It likely wasn't much further, for the mountains of Seret were already long in view.

HotepseAken
 
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HotepseAken

The Grand Physician
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HotepseAken was rather enthusiastic about this whole ordeal. Being invited to help treat the lepers of Amol-Kalit? That was indeed an exciting and worthy task, especially if sharing Anaphite knowledge with a worthy civilization was to be had; the ultimate goal of the Anaphite grand design they worked so tirelessly as a sequestered species for. While the leper was not so much an issue, the conditions they lived in certainly were. The eradication of all disease was, therefore, part and parcel to sparing these people misery.

What better way to exercise compassion and understanding for another people than those most rejected by a belligerent race? This would do more than just advance the world to new heights, but likewise help HotepseAken better value less sophisticated life. This was something that it seemed the third generation of his species was experiencing more than the previous two; his sister was from the fourth, and seemed from what he could tell to be more alike these mortal races than any before. Perhaps it was just his perspective?

Still... he loved her, little ear, and if understanding and perhaps learning to tolerate humans and orcs would help him understand her better... well, it was worth it.

The horses of the Cataphracts trotted as HotepseAken jogged at a comfortable pace. There was no need for any of them to rush; he had refused their offer of a horse earlier, on the basis that he would likely crush the poor thing, and despite his limp he wasn't holding his companions up.

"How much further," he asked, looking up to the captain of the company; he liked the man, he handled his company with skill, something the master physician could respect, "I am eager to meet my patron and his team. Pleasant though this jog has been," he added, realizing that might have been offensive...

His ears twitched; there was another rider approaching, riding hard: a white horse, though he was having trouble picking out the rider. His cloak was pulled tight, or maybe hers. He really couldn't tell.

"Seems we have some company..." HotepseAken offered, though he was unlikely to do anything about it. These soldiers he had traveled with for these past days had been excellent companions, but this was their homeland. Not his... anymore.

This place was just as beautiful as it had always been, for so many forgotten years. It was such a thrill to return, even however briefly, especially when welcomed eagerly.
 
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White Swallow

The White Swallow of Narra
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"Not long," Uttered a soldier whom rode beside the white swallow.
"First we will pass by castle As Nineban. Within it's shadow, we will be safe."



Past them rode the man of the green banners, white shield and golden flowers. His horse was light russet.
"My my, just a scout, who knows how many lie behind the dune."
The man twirled his mustache.
 
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HotepseAken

The Grand Physician
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'Within its shadow, we will be safe' was a strange turn of phrase; did his patron not fully realize whom he had contracted to aid? No matter: what little threat there might be was minor, and even then death was an impossibility so long as nothing so gross of scope as to be unthinkable occured.

No, the jaunt to As Nineban was a quiet one. The path leading up the mountainside was well maintained for such a fortress, the clear signs of meticulous care writ as broom scratches and organized lines of rocks. Upkeep notwithstanding, the fastness was impressive in itself. Some bygone era of inspired elegance touched the earth here in artful crenalations and reaching spires, as if perhaps his own ancestors had walked this path when they descended to the earth.

"Have you encountered any ruins," questioned HotepseAken, "We are near one of the first Necropolis; thirteen league, I might suppose..."

He had been there recently, about two-hundred years ago. Hotepse supposed that his current patron, the one called the White Swallow, likely hadn't been active by then. He... seemed human, aloof though he was. Some mortals held a mystique to them; inscrutable was not an adjective possessed solely by the Anaphite.

"I believe I shall visit after we have finished here," he idly announced. Even as long lived as his people were, the weight of ages was not something he and his kin could ignore.

His ears twitched: he could hear the calls along the distant walls, announcements made of the approaching allied soldiers. Preparations were being drawn up, the will of their Lord enacted without his word need spoken.

"I am eager to tour the facilities," Hotepse added, deciding talk of work more pertinent after a silence post-chatter, "see what I have to work with. I will require supplies; Ice, honey, distilled purified beer, the basics for treating symptoms. Cloth as well, bandages and bedding are critical in ensuring a clean environment."

They slowed to a walk, knocking their staff expertly. The scales bounced free of their moorings, jingling lightly as they swayed to a steady tempo.

Clack... clack... clack...

The "Dogtor" had arrived.
 

White Swallow

The White Swallow of Narra
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The White Swallow swayed on his horse as any sign of the rogue rider had disappeared.
Truly, travel like this was the safest within the sands.
His calm gaze turned to the Anaphite, blinking slowly.
»Perhaps our Vedargasian friend would know,« rode out Yelhix'w, twirling his moustache as he usually does. The swallow likely had something to say, unclear as his visage was under his helmet, but remained silences until; »Yalhiku...let me-«
»The lion feasts first, remember this, Alsanunu. You and Nariman may think yourself equal to Zakariyya, but you are not even equal to me,« Yelhix'w's voice was aloof, his horse distancing from them swiftly before joining ahead of them with Zakariyya. »Little bird you may be swift...« His voice trailed away like the wind.

The swallow gazed back at the Anaphite, at first in silence.
»We can stay a little while in As Nineban to recoup. You may perhaps want to see Hakim Amandim Al-Nartarpur. He may have studied some ruins, but I would not know exactly which.«

The Swallow dismounted at the gate before As Nineban. The ride up was steep and the air was filled with the gushing water of the River Seh.

The man then motioned at a messanger rider before telling him, at the witness of the Anaphite.
»Have them in Sey'Kube prepare honey and cloth and ready space for the ill.«
»We may also require distilled beer and and ice...Blessed Kalik, may the acquisition of those be swift.«
 

HotepseAken

The Grand Physician
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The exchange between the two men had not gone unnoticed; difficult though it would be to believe, their ears were not for show in the least. They didn't really care, though. What was another self-important Human, one of so many met and forgotten over many lifetimes?

"I will make do with what I have," HotepseAken replies, their eyes scanning the distance, "Describe to me this 'Amandim' you spoke of, I would know more of them, if you would entertain me."

The walk to the castle went on for several hours, before the road split at a guard station. Some forty men, clad in mail beneath their heraldry and armed well watched the intersection so close to the castle far above among the peaks.

HotepseAken was impressed. He hadn't seen this, last he was through this region. Last he wandered this way, either the fortress had not yet been built or he skirted it. Either way, a fortification so precariously yet solidly built was something worthy of respect.

"How long shall we rest here?" Hotepse asked openly, looking about with indifference to the answer as the castle that they approached had dwarfed the colorfulness of his company with it's own personality, "I do not wish to take longer than you require."

The stonework was exquisite; He ran a hand along it, trailing clawed fingers gently to take in the texture. Iron, maybe even steel, tools it felt like; the chisel marks didn't feel like Bronze nor copper even. His guess was more educated than not, but a guess it was. He was willing to admit readily he was not infallible, especially outside of his area of study.

The paint was more interesting however. Painted stone, ornately detailed, giving a richness of tone and complexity that couldn't be described besides "with care and passion". The warm windows, far unlike the ones commonly seen in the far north, were open and unbarred. This was... homey. It felt familiar, somewhat. The edges of Hotepse's lips curled upwards in a smile, feeling the warm air cool slowly as the sun set.
 
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White Swallow

The White Swallow of Narra
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»We may not have much time to talk, but In As Nineban, we'll soon be there. You can meet Hakim Amandim in person there.«
»He is the doctor in the castle with an interest in history,« the white swallow continued to engage until it was time to settle themselves for their shortlived stay.

»We will stay for the night, the outsides have many roaming dangers we wish not to disturb.«
The White swallow was short with any explanation, departing from The Anaphite's side to take in the nostalgic scent of the castle.


Not long after, various other people of status came about, more so rather curious about the strange one of black fur, but they preferred to keep to themselves.
One of them finally stepped through and approached Hotepse.
He was different in appearance than his contemporaries. His skin was darker and his hair black with a raven-blue sheen. »I hope I do not disturb you, my name is Amandim, but they call me Hakim Amandim Al-Nartarpur.«
 

HotepseAken

The Grand Physician
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HotepseAken listened to the many voices about the fortress; some were indifferent, a few frightful, but most were passively weary, equally curious and off-put. A towering Jackal-man wasn't something that usually became commonplace, much like spotting a massive ogre in a market square.

He went through the motions of cleaning his tools, though they had not seen use in several days. Last time had been a week ago, when one of the riders had taken a fall when their horse stumbled. Hotepse smiled at the memory, pleased that the minor wound healed cleanly and without scar. A lesser Physician might have left a mark, a barber-surgeon might have cost the man his arm.

The (respectful) interruption of the meditation by the very man HotepseAken had hoped to speak with was a pleasant one, and he gave a faint smile, ears pivoting away as their glowing eyes opened and settled on the newcomer.

"Aah, yes," Hotepse regarded the man, before greeting him "Im Hotep Say, Aken Hakim, I have heard of you. It was mentioned you were among the wise of this land...."

HotepseAken nodded, "A pleasure to meet another learned in the ways of life."

They motioned to share where they sat, and produced a scroll from one of their pouches; unrolling it, they awaited Amandim giving it a read. It was an experimental procedure, one utilizing a few magic charms, sanctified oils, as well as directions on how to operate with the least impact. All of this to, hopefully, reduce, treat, or potentially cure leprosy.

"I found this in our Necropolis, six-hundred years ago," HotepseAken explained, moving a claw across the carefully inked heiroglyphics, "SawynewtImtyr reviewed our existing procedures and penned this new one. It is my hope to put her theories to the test, and with luck finally be rid of this condition."

The idea that this human, one learned in the arts of medicine, might have feedback or ideas, excited and invigorated HotepseAken. This was proving to be a wonderful undertaking for certain.

"It was her supposition that Leprosy was a disease unrelated to what we often see or detect, after comparing symptoms across many multiple patients," he explained, "as such, treating those symptoms may allow for addressing of the underlying cause with time."

It was a bold assertion; while Anaphite medicine was likely the most advanced in the world, there were things even they hadn't fully resolved. Some conditions, leprosy being one of them, were such a golden lion: a blight that was their singular desire to destroy utterly.

"We have ruled out that touch transmits the condition," he added, "We believe it is transmitted through fluids. It is my hope to test this as well, during my stay."

HotepseAken was quite pleased with himself; certainly, this wise human would have some local insight or wisdom to share. Perhaps that could be the key to defeating this disease forever. The idea pleased him deeply, slightly widening the soft smile he wore.
 
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White Swallow

The White Swallow of Narra
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While the White Swallow reunited with his men and old companions, Amandim of Nartarpur was happy enough to spend the rest of the evening with the Anaphite.

He had a hard time comprehending this situation if at all. Like seeing a unicorn, but the unicorn has the same interests as you and could speak. Enthralling. His eyes glistened as if he were a child in a candy shop.

He sat down nearby him and nodded. Still, the Vedargasian Hakim appeared so small and minuscule.
The producing of the scripture particularly enthralled him.
»This ancient?« He whispered, quite impressed. The few nearby soldiers that knew him by his stern mannerism cackled in the background.

»I fear I have little to contribute, whenever we were met with lepers we cleaned them and kept them separate from the rest, but your insight is enlightening. I see now why it is important to treat them such if their disease is spread in such a manner. We can help prevent it from spreading any further.«

»You are going to Sey'Kube? That is correct if I'm not mistaken...«


Amandim caressed his raven hair. »I think they could let me go with you if only so briefly. I haven't been outside this castle for many years now.«
 
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HotepseAken

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HotepseAken nodded along, thinking for a moment over the response. They nodded however, "Yes, I am headed for Sey'Kube. Afterwards, I shall apply the prescribed treatment. With hope, we shall be able to treat and even cure the Leper population."

HotepseAken leaned back, closing their eyes for a moment to think. Hadn't been outside in some time? It was a far fetched expectation then, to ask after it, but...

"Perhaps you know of a cavern," HotepseAken questioned, "in the region? It is an area my people have a long history with... It is unlike any on this earth, twisted and mishapen as if a great force of heat and pressure had warped this place."

He paused, before adding, "After I have finished my task here, I suspect I shall visit this place when I leave," There was an edge to his voice, as if trying to figure this man out better. If Amandim joined him to Sey'Kube, there would certainly be an entertaining exchange as they traveled. Even so...

"Morning will not be long away," cautioned the Anaphite, finishing up with his tools, "it may be difficult to travel if we speak overlong. Rest for tonight, we shall in the least ride a ways together I suspect."

The Anaphite spoke a little longer, before parting ways and returning to their meditation. The quiet sunk in, and shortly the sun rose. Feeling the warmth on their ears, they quickly rolled up their tools, stood, and strode to the gates. The Soldiers manning the gate didn't bother barring the way, yet the ancient Jackalman waiting for his companions to arrive. The final leg of the journey was nearly upon them.
 
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White Swallow

The White Swallow of Narra
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Indeed, rumours occasionally were told by villagers of strange ruins or caves, but those sources usually came from children exploring too far.
their accounts were usually inaccurate and hard to gauge.

»Indeed, I will not hold you up any longer than I must,« he eventually chuckled before bowing. »Rest well, blessings from Nartarpur to you.« Amandim then left.



The soil was still cool when the horses were saddled up, and beside's The White Swallow's and Schihim's troop also sat Hakim Amandim al-Nartarpur.
» So you finally set for the world,« pompously jested Schihim at Hakim Amandim.
» I should remind you that I rank right beneath Dai and above the quartermaster and commander of As Nineban,« he leered.
» Oh, apologies my sensitive flower'o'the paradise.«

The White swallow directed his horse towards Horepse as the two began to squabble more and more.
» I hope this won't continue for the whole trip,« he murmured.
 
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HotepseAken

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The bickering between humans was... amusing. Thankfully for HotepseAken, the bickering did not cease. On and on the two nattered one way and the other, passing the time for Hotepse quite quickly actually.

HotepseAken watched the cliffs and hills, ears rotating slowly, twitching at distant sounds. The region was decidedly active, distant parties all traveling on different roads, all towards this one city: Sey'Kube.

It would be several more hours, the better part of a day really, before they made it to the gates. Then of course, the real work could begin: seeing patients, providing care, and educating junior medicine men in proper healing. There would, of course, be precious little to do while the patients bodies healed, as that was the secret of medicine:

The Gods had given all that lived vitality. That vitality, if allowed, would recover and flourish. Thus was what the creator decreed.

HotepseAken hadn't been there for that bit, he had been told it when he was young, and again when he decided to put his history as a Strider behind himself and pick up medicine. Striding was difficult with a limp, but medicine almost seemed to favor it. It truly was as if the Creator had intervened, setting the Grand Physician on his path.

His rank wasn't just a statement of prestige however, rather acknowledgement. There was no finer Physician in the world, for he alone had collected, scrutinized, and refined the works of all those who came before and continued to queation. The mortal races held ingenuity from desperation, something that could be incorporated and exploited.

HotepseAken valued human life, not because they lived, but because they could die. Humans, so peculiar, wasted their precious hours on such frivolity. It honestly warmed his heart.

"I heard something," called one of the riders; the bickering died down slowly in the background, "Rocks just fell from up above..."

HotepseAken swiveled his ears, checking for noise. It was quiet. The rocks had fallen, he noticed that, but...

There: a bowstring straining. The Anaphite looked up, directly towards the sound. Nothing could be seen... but it was there. He knew it. Nothing could hide the continued straining of the string, creaking with every gentle twitch of the body.

The strain slowly died down. The archer, far from sight, had released the tension and the sound of flint on leather announced the arrow had been put away. HotepseAken smiled openly at that.

"It was a mountain animal," the Doctor confirmed, "I believe some sort of watcher in the cliffs. It has since moved on."

A few eyes were cast his way, surprise and skepticism distributed across those turning their gaze to him. His ears simply swiveled a few times, the Anaphite still smiling, though it grew more gentle now. Those of sharper wit smirked and nodded, one's eyes widened and he exclaimed lowly his epiphany. In either case, none acted nor spoke of the event for some time.

The bickering had ended as well; As Nineban was a memory at this point, and most of the riders had sunken to their thoughts. The horses were doing well, most seemed to be enjoying an unnaturally cool day while a few just seemed eager to get-up-and-go. Now that there was nothing to really focus on, Hotepse noticed the temperature more clearly.

It was a solid seven or so degrees cooler than it ought to be; he suspected a northern wind, or perhaps rain winds from elsewhere had blown over the mountains, clotting the sun out of its rightful misery-inducing time to bake the earth a solid hue or tan and red.

The smell of clay and rock was easily picked out, however; clay pits not far away drew up well water to moisten the earth in the right places, letting the workers pull free material for pots, cook wear, bowls, cups, and all other assortments. Even bricks, if they had the means to fire them hot enough.

HotepseAken did not know if this was the case; places like the Spine used different methods, and he was no expert on trade goods and building materials. The only thing he really knew, when it came to such things, was that salt was always considered valuable, and could make a useful building material in the desert. He supposed that counted for something...

HotepseAken paused his train of thought, looking across the rocky highway onwards to great doors of wood and iron. Tall walls with tiled patterns before them, the kinds which openly declared wealth and prestige ringed a hill upon a hill upon a hill. A city lie within, some rising altar of human determination; hard scrabble as it was, this place was a home unlike any other.

"Sey'Kube," someone said, though Hotepse did not place the voice as impressed as he was with this city, "the gleaming jewel of the Seret. Other cities may be more opulent, others may be larger or more populated... but none are as loved, as precious and protected, nor rich in good folk and good commerce."

Quite the introduction... Hotepse was impressed. It was rare he would be so, at that: he had seen things even Dragons would find hard to believe, monuments lost to time and the elements, things which defied gods and the petty will of kings, grand edifices of magnanimity. The Lost Colossus did not measure up to this, this living heart of something precious. The walls, the parapets, the bastions... sculpted. Meticulously. Detailed and ornamented with what could only be called love. It was not a display of wealth, it was a display of care. Of spirit.

Sey'Kube, the city of spirit, the city of the Sayyaduna. Sey'Kube, the city of lepers. Sey'Kube...

HotepseAken nodded approvingly. He was beginning to like these humans. They had that something, that care for the world around them that was so hard to find. The drive that couldn't be found in most places. They took the time, the sacrifice, to make it worth it.

HotepseAken was beginning to think these Shakhmat might be just what the Setep needed.

He walked alongside the warband, parading their new arrival rather eagerly. People gathered by the crowds, watching from rooftops of the small, squat brick houses that lined the road. They were awed by this strange creature, this jackal man. A few whispered names, the most loudly shared being "Sages", a nickname granted so them long ago. It was one that HotepseAken actually liked. Far better than being called a demon.

Those annoying creatures were insufferable.

HotepseAken looked about, gingerly taking in the details. Dust clogged this road, yet vibrant colors adorned its people. Ahead, the gate finally came into view.

The doors parted and the city proper was exposed. If HotepseAken was impressed before, now he was properly pleased.

The roads were organized; ridges ran along them, keeping traffic from exiting into the alleys. The houses were painted, red and yellow and green with even blends of all three in different varieties. The doors, carved and decorated with charms and words, paints and lacquers.

The smell of spice wafted. A bazaar, nearby the outer gate, a plaza of exotic wares. Furs from the spine, glass wares of an amazing quality, metals alloyed in arcane processes only so many could recall... HotepseAken stepped aside, gingerly lifting a steel knife. It was discolored, with a pattern almost too fine to pick out. It was a quality of steel which could not be found elsewhere but the southern coast. It was a technique that the Anaphite had long thought lost.

He returned it, smiling openly and with warmth. It wasn't the most comforting thing, though anyone who knew the intent would have found it rather charming on a small dog. As it stood, a muscled mountain of Divine servant was difficult to find adorable. He followed once more.

Pottery, copper jewelry, golden crafts, instruments from across the world...

HotepseAken stopped. He almost laughed, seeing a sign that read "Chicken Left Shutter" in Anaphite, and beneath it "Ancient Relics". He simply had to correct this, lest he actually snicker.

He approached the stand, likely gaining an annoyed sigh from his escorts once more. The more pompous of the riders likely was finding the wordless departures annoying already, though his new... acquaintance, Amandim, was likely close behind. This was, after all, a learning moment. The Anaphite was approaching a relic stand, things foraged from long ago.

HotepseAken looked over the wares, the merchant trying to regain his poise and make his pitch. The Anaphite ignored him; this was too good. They were, of course, forgeries. All of them. Still, the wording was beautiful.

"Children Sunset" Hotepse read aloud, turning from a mendelian to another clay jug, "Lizard lizard lizard lizard, spelled wrong each time..."

He shook his head, before noticing one item in particular. He picked it up, hearing yet ignoring the cries of "You have to buy that!"

Quickly, HotepseAken scratched a few corrections into the ceramic. A change here, an adjustment there, "Much better. The grammar was off, I am afraid," he said at last, looking down to the merchant, "though this was your best yet... that one though," he motioned to a jeweled scarab, "that's total nonsense, unfortunately."

HotepseAken shook his head, smiling, and began to return again. The Bazaar was impressive, yet the inner gates to the larger city awaited. The were open already, likely at the start of the day, and the entourage proceeded within. Hotepse for his part wasn't slackjawed here, though the modesty beautifully understated what artistic expression reigned.

Sculpted plantlife, organized rugs and pottery, the symmetry and chaos all about in the perfect expression of care and focus, it was all beautiful. The people tended their small beauties with such diligence as to lend an aesthetic of intricacy not distracted by opulent over-stimulation. The people rebelled against moderation with an excess of detail, fine lines across woodwork, outerwalls carefully shaped to fit the profile of the entire street. The entourage walked on, the castle he presumed awaiting them.

It was quite the fortress; he could even smell water flowing nearby, hearing the sounds of birds a short ways away. If anything seemed out of place, it was the lack of running water throughout the city. For some reason, HotepseAken had anticipated, or perhaps hoped, for public fountains to populate the city more liberally. Few gardens as well, sadly. He sighed to himself, his smile fading away to his perpetual mild scowl.

Sey'Kube was an attractive, rich, yet humble city. The heat of clay dust and the fragrance of flowers and spices polluted the air like a song. Music too could be heard, fairly easily at that, throughout the entire city. Here in its head, atop it all, he saw nothing more to impress beyond what had been seen so far.

HotepseAken was uncertain who, or what, was to happen next. All the same, he was eager to begin. His parade came to a halt, banners fluttering, cavalry lined up in neat order amid the court yard.

They had succeeded: the Grand Physician was in Sey'Kube.
 
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White Swallow

The White Swallow of Narra
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The heat of the glaring sun was not missed, after a long march, it was welcome. Aside from a scare here or there, not even amir Farid Ibn Baha's forces were seen among the path they took.
Granted, the Swallow's and Schihim's and Yelhix'w's warband are more than enough to deal with him now.
It used to be different a year ago. And still, it is better to remain hidden when alone.

»Yalhiku...Your sister is married to Zakariyya, right? You two are close,« trotted Schihim over to Yalhix'w.
»Yeah, what's the matter? « he craned his head towards him.
»Maybe use your nepotist magic, to remove me from lame escort duties,« he cackled, grinning.
»OH you, « Yelhix'w snapped his scabbard at the rump of Schihim's horse. The riled up thing rushed forward for some two hundred meters.
Some of the soldiers shared a cackle.

Sachim might have been effective, he was popularly regarded as an ass.
This left Yelhix'w relatively miffed until the scouts warband leader returned to exchange some other words with him before departing with his troop further ahead to scout for danger.

The trip was then relatively peaceful and Sey'Kube already grew tall and strong. As some of the soldiers began to recite it's strength and care as a bastion of the Sahiyi, the White Swallow remarked with his own words too.
»In a world of many sights to see, the most beautiful is a home of pleasant memories, is it not true?« His head tilted towards Amandim.
»Speak for yourself, Nigal, «
The white swallow tilted his head, winking, »Yet you still care for news of Vedargas, especially Nartarpur.«

Within the city, their pace significantly slowed down as Hotepse meandered within the market stalls. Some annoyed, wanting to finish their mission as soon as possible while others idly remained in place.
Amandim only snorted at Hotepse's antics at one of the antique shops.


Once they entered the gate of the keep, the mounted soldiers halted, yet urged the Anaphite to enter. Their duty was done for and they left to meet up with Azrana who eagerly awaited them at the gate.

The yard of the castle was cleared of life. The soldiers that would have spent their time drilling in the courtyard now lined the walls. Sent to do other things, a day of leisure it should be for them, but quite a few decided to relax in the castle vicinity, yet kept a respectable distance from the lepers in the yard. With anticipation, they gazed below. Some even leaned their heads over crossed over arms. Their eyes from under grey shawls lazily gazing at the arrival of the Anaphite.
Some perked at the sight in interest.
Other exchanged glances, perhaps spoke something, they seemed interested in what's going to happen.

As if hauling a significant quantity of alcohol to a dry town did not rile up enough attention already. The soldiers didn't recall fondly having to guard the damned barrels day and night.


Lepers were slowly ushered from their makeshift quarters to present them before the Hakims. The two of whom were soon joined by others in the city. Some apothecaries, other physicians or scholars of the craft once Amandim spread the word back then when they still marched through the city proper.
While eager helpers seemed plentiful, the sight over the miserable people was horrid.
 
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HotepseAken

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HotepseAken looked over what he was given. A crowd, some fifty-plus lepers, each in various states of malaise. A rather sorry lot, the poor things.

HotepseAken approached one, gingerly taking his head in his massive hand; he examined him without comment, gaging roughly how destructive the condition had been. This specimen was missing bits of ear, parts of his nose, and lumps almost shut his eyes. A sorry, sad figure.

Pathetic though he was, HotepseAken gave him a tender touch upon the cheek, smiling down at the man.

"Be at peace; your affliction shall be banished," he said, the hint of a smile over his muzzle. He turned then, to his students, these wise men and learned souls, "I am not here to cure Lepers," he announced boldly.

"I do not cure diseases," he continued, looking across the scholars and herbalists, "I am here to treat illness, yes, yet my cure is for ignorance.

"Where once you did not know, we shall discover together. Where your techniques failed, we shall refine our methods. Where your knowledge was lacking, we shall enlighten each other.

"I can cure these men and women," HotepseAken stated flatly, "yet unless you can cure them, there is no reason for me to do so."

The fact of the matter was that, no matter how tireless or proactive HotepseAken was, he could never fight this disease on his own. No, his means to defeat this sickness was to teach, to learn the mundane methods and apply them. To spread them.

"If you know everything," HotepseAken said, "If you are certain of much, then be certain of this: there is no cure for you. However;" he turned, looking back at the lepers, "If wisdom is your nature, if you know you know little..."

HotepseAken took a step backwards, planting his staff into the ground. Flames burst from the scales, burning a bright white and dim gray respectively; "Then together we shall end this blight, now and forever."

HotepseAken sunk to a sitting position, producing his manuscripts and tablets, drawing a long stick of bronze from his staff, "We begin immediately," he stated matter-of-factly, and began to illustrate in the dust of the floor the most crucial of basics.

Sterilization, pasturizing, distilling, infection's spread, and the Phage theory of Blight, wherein degrading substances could corrupt life into more blight. HotepseAken spoke patiently, openly, stating facts and figures, measurements and ratios, as well as introducing names for unique herbs found in all corners of the world.

Phials were produced as they day wound on, with HotepseAken speaking of the healing effect of high-proof beer, how it purged corruption and stimulated regrowth. He carefully laid out the function of organs, both their impact on the spiritual and physical health of the living human. It was a crash course, a lot of information to take in but all of it lain as plainly as possible.

"I have been practicing medicine for over two-thousand years," Hotepse stated, "I have eradicated Yellow Pox seven-hundred years ago, and have scribed three tablets on proper rehabilitation of damaged limbs," he motioned to one leper, his current example.

Many cots had been set up, supplies brought into a secluded chamber that would now serve as Hotepse's temple. He lifted the man's arm with no firmness, asking the man with a brief pressure to lift of his own volition; he held it in place himself.

He motioned with his bronze stick along the veins which warriors knew well, explaining how they connected to other parts of the body. HotepseAken had learned this all long, long ago. His theory, however, for aiding and treating the lepers, relied upon proper and effective treatment of symptoms and any concurrent infections. As such, he pointed out an infection and began to explain how the use of purified beer-soaked bandages, changed routinely, could drive the infection into remission and aid the Leper himself to defeat it.

Night fell, with HotepseAken finally relenting. The Lepers themselves had settled into their adjusted accommodations, with their previous rooms having been ordered to have fires set within them to ensure the removal of pests. HotepseAken himself had discovered a rather annoying outbreak of Black Vein Disease, a treatable disease that could kill without proper aid.

He explained, as the Hakim sat with him at the end of the day, how the current theory of leprosy was that it was a weakness. That, without the other diseases, the Lepers would be no different from average mortals. He sat with the healers and apothecaries, finally asking for their beliefs on the subject after all that he had explained. A few times during the day had a rather stubborn fool decried the statements HotepseAken made as made up and baseless lies.

The only reply he offered was a momentary glare of disappointment, then moved on. The Soldiers had only escorted a single man from the quarters today, something HotepseAken was more than pleased by. These people of this beautiful city were eager to learn, to perfect their art. The Anaphite felt kindred with these short-lived folk, and was energized. He was, well, practically drunk off the emotion of excitement and discovery.

If things kept up like this, he could go a few months now before needing to feed again, and he was certainly feeling a bit peckish last week. Now, he was relaxed and freely speaking, sharing when prompted yet taking in all that the scholars whom joined him had to share. Even if he was the superior physician, he knew that he did not know everything. Often, there was a gem hidden within tradition to be gleaned.

Hotepse sat beside Amandim as they relaxed in the afternoon; there would be quite the few months before them of examination, proscribement of treatment, and assigning apprentices tasks to ease them in. Already, word had begun to spread of a wise elf of unique features sharing great wisdom, though HotepseAken knew the rumors would solidify into something more accurate.

"-of course, not knowing how to hold it, I gripped the saw too gently," Hotepse shared with Amandim, speaking of his first amputation, "I am quite certain that had we not sedated the woman, she would have thrashed me away with that slip," he chuckled, lifting his arm; a thin line ran across his hand, "as it stands, I had merely cut myself. A lesson I have never forgotten."

He concluded his little story as the two sat a lot of his new students had made their way to their homes, retiring to enjoy the evening on their own. A few had stayed, eager to learn and hear more. Though, without a full class, HotepseAken had done more listening than speaking.

"What of you, wise Amandim," the Physician asked, "any reminders from your follies that you carry?" The Anaphite was pleased greatly with the day, and was in the mood for a spot of levity, thus the stories.
 
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White Swallow

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As the day moved on, the soldiers that were not on duty slowly dispersed as boredom slowly engulfed their bodies.


Many hours later in the evening, however, Amandim leaned back.
»I could tell so many of the soldiers I've treated, but no tale is for me is more decisive than the one that led me here.«
»In Nartarpur I had the honour to learn under the grandest physician of our Nation. Sakstrakshi Nipuna, perhaps you've stumbled upon some of his books? «
Surgeon Nipuna was famed for cataract removals and other operations, as well as being the author of several books relating to surgery both life-saving and cosmetic.

»He coaxed me to join the warrior caste when Vedargas was at war. It would have given me fame and prestige when I would have returned to Nartarpur to assume my position as a doctor.«
Hakim Amandim leaned back, caressing his beard, feeling a rush of nostalgia enter his body.

»Yet with the war over and I returned home, Nartarpur already had a surgeon and I was without a promised profession.«

»But war truly spread my name like the wind the seeds, in both the lines of enemies and beyond. One day I was approached by white-robed men. Back then they were just some pacifists, the Sahiyi subclass of the Henremdi monotheists. Never bothered anyone, but these were no scholars, thy were...warriors.«

»Unusual right? Forth came Arsalaan, back then so young and he said to me: 'Hakim Amandim, we have need of you.' «
He shrugged.
»At first I declined, but nothing I can say now would give justice to the rhetorics that Arsalaan possessed.«
Perhaps an unusual side of Amandim presented itself. The man was often described as rather tight up the arse by the soldiers of As Nineban.
But it seemed, at least by the tone of how he spoke of them, that he somewhat cared about the soldiers at least.
»And back I was at dressing wounds and sewing cuts.«
 
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HotepseAken

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Sakstrakshi Nipuna was a name that the Grand Physician recognized; he had studied and spoke with the man at length, long ago. As he understood, in his twilight years he had become a rather spiritual man and blended faith with medicine rather effectively. The information the two had shared had, thus far, proven rather influential in HotepseAken's work. The Anaphite nodded along, listening to the story with patience and eagerness.

Socializing wasn't a thing that the Doctor did often. The constant moving and short lives of those he interacted with most proved difficult to forming a truly lasting bond. Even with Amandim, despite the budding fondness the Anaphite felt, that awareness that his life was already in its twilight tainted this moment. Oh, how much he wished to engage in a truly righteous discussion with the man, as his peers could, talking for months on end regarding an endless flow of topics and ideas. The plazas of the Enclaves were ever a place of life and excitement.

HotepseAken did not fully anticipate that Amandim was a warrior however. It wasn't unusual in his culture, certainly, but most doctors of lesser races tended to begin their research and study in their youth so as to fully absorb the information and gain the best of it. HotepseAken was, much alike to Amandim, considered uptight. He was relaxing somewhat here, perhaps because of the rather unique place and situation he found himself in.

"My own story is not so glamourous," HotepseAken confided, "I had spent many centuries as a ranger, watching the world. Eventually, I returned home to find a new interest, and saw something to further my skills as a ranger. Unfortunately, I was so taken with medicine, I forswore that life calling for this one."

It was a little more nuanced than that, of course, but that was the jist of it. He smiled, nodding; it was a simple career change, long ago. No great discussions nor offers from on high. Perhaps the most outstanding thing was his slowly dawning awareness that mortal souls could possess wisdom of their own, things worth preserving.

"I never did stop wandering, however," he reflected. In fact, now, he wandered more than ever.
 
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»Now that I recall him...He occasionally mentioned conversing with doctors from various walks of life.« Amandim leaned back, observing Hotepse. Perhaps it wasn't that farfetched that he'd meet Hakim Sakstrakshi Nipuna.
The man was a worldly one, and no doubt did humankind if even so many prefer to stay put, have a desire to go far and beyond.
Perhaps Amandim already began to mourn the day Hotepse may leave.

»You might have enjoyed conversing with the Sayyiduna when he still presented his cheek to the world.«
»One day in a conversation he said to me...«

»Thirst for knowledge is just the other side of seeking power. With knowledge, one finds the ultimate tool to dominate over life and death, but what is the difference between the power of a warmonger and that of a physician? Do not both exert their knowledge to decide the fates of others? Do not both strive to know more of this world?«

»Is the path that leads to medicine the basal instinct to help one another? Is the path laden in goodwill and the desire to help others so they may not suffer like those before them? Is the root of the difference love

»And even in the caste of Hakims, one finds those of hardened hearts. Those that join the ranks of aides to cause harm.«

»Truly the psyche of man is complex.«
Amandim leaned back. »He is a weird man, if he still lives that is.«

»After all of this, I'll need to leave back to As Nineban, but have you seen the many new faces that have joined to listen and help? How many do you think have what it takes to become a Hakim? how many do you think hold knowledge or curiosity none of us have, that might ave otherwise been forgotten for this or that reason?«