This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
Scylla tilted her head, with a slight look of confusion at the edge of her lips. If they had a need for a healer, surely she would not be met with such surprise.
She looked back at the lot number, double checking to make sure that she was at the right company house before reaching in her back pouch for the carefully folded piece of parchment.
“Brother E-Sumi-Yan sent me here from the Gridanian Conjurer’s Guild.” Scylla squinted at the dark-haired girl. “I was told that your company was in need of the services of a healer?”
“Gridania sent you? Here? As in, to our Free Company?” Koh blinked at the woman with increasing surprise. She wrung her hands a bit. “I mean… I’m no Conjurer, and my skills are a bit on the rusty side, but surely they knew I’ve been acting as the healer for this group for moons now.”
Scylla had half a mind to simply pivot her heels and turn back towards the ship that would lead back to Gridania. It was tempting to leave this morbid curiosity behind, and be welcomed back to a quiet life amongst the glade.
“Well… it would seem that I have come too late.” Scylla nervously laughed, trying to hide the conflicting feelings of both relief and disappointment. “I suppose you don’t need my services as requested?”
Koh was taken aback a bit at the woman’s words, realizing how defensive she sounded, and only just first meeting her. A bit abashed, she stammered an apology.
“I… I’m very sorry. That probably sounded quite rude. Forgive me.”
She just couldn’t shake the oddity of this, though. She’d never heard of a guild sending someone to a Free Company, especially one that wasn’t openly recruiting like their own.
Perhaps they’d witnessed her inability to properly diagnose Amon’s illness while she was trying to treat him, unsuccessfully, for everything except what really ailed him. Perhaps the Conjurers deemed her as unable to properly serve as a healer for her friends and Free Company.
All of which… probably was not too untrue. She did the best that she could, but her focus as a Scholar was always on the research and study. Her healing skills severely lagged behind.
All of these things ran through her mind as she pressed her fingers to her chest. “Of course we’d never turn down an offer from the esteemed Conjurer’s Guild. Only… you do realize that we’re but a small Company, and not one that has much to offer in advancement or even payment. I mean… we’ve only just recently been in the black for living expenses.”
She laughed at this nervously, but it was a sad and sorry truth.
“Invitation accepted.” Scylla strode by with a mask of confidence, poking her head into the door between the young scholar and the frame. It certainly was a modest house, dressed up in the local native style. Piles of books lay strewn over the floor cushions that seemed to serve as seating in this area.
Scylla threw down her knapsack, and laid her staff along the side of the wall, making herself comfortable on one of the cushions. “And no offense taken… uh…?”
“My name is Koh. I’m a researcher with the Sons of Saint Coinach, who operate mostly from Mor Dhona. You may have heard of us.” She gave a relieved smile, glad that the woman had so easily accepted her apology with no sign of taking offense.
“I admit that acting as healer is only secondary to my actual work… studying artifacts in the field and writing research around discoveries is my main focus. I was recruited into a healing role just due to there… not being another… As I said, our Company is small. We mostly get by through odd jobs and occasional work we obtain from the Grand Company.”
She almost added an ‘Are you SURE this is the place you are supposed to be,’ but decided to let the White Mage make up her own mind about things.
“A researcher with the Sons?” Scylla coughed. “A little far from Mor Dhona, aren’t you?”
I wonder if she’s a troublemaker. Maybe all of the leaders of these companies send us troublemakers out here?
“Well, you know how sometimes one thing leads to another?” Koh rubbed the back of her head. That seemed to be the story of her life. “Somehow I ended up here, looking after this rag-tag group. Though… you still haven’t really told me how you came to know of us. People aren’t exactly clamoring to join up.”
Scylla bit on her tongue. How much she wanted to tell her about the nightmares and missing memories, the dreams of the masked monster and his beasts chasing her.
But what would that do besides scare the girl and end with me lock-jacketed back in a Serpent’s Gaol?
“Stranger things have happened, Koh.” Scylla folded her hands, leaning back. “So, tell me a little bit about this motley group that I’ve signed myself up for?”