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The twisting she felt in the pit of her stomach was not due to fear of facing any enemy. No, this time it was due to a fear of facing her Chieftain and Sergeant and, once again, being insubordinate in the extreme and defying their direct orders. Her offering her tabard to the Chieftain was bluntly refused, even when it became apparent that he was livid with fury at what he no doubt saw as wilful stubbornness.


Well, yes, it was stubbornness. It would have been far far easier to have caved in, abandoned her position and just do as ordered. Instead, she stood and faced humiliation, near-interrogation and scorn for holding to her statements. The gentle priestess' face flamed in shame once more as she remembered... remembered each insult, each word, each thing said to her. And in front of the company yet, such shame was endured. What they must think of her...


What was perfectly obvious to her was just a weak refusal to do as ordered to them. No, she would not fire a ranged weapon, please excuse me sir. No, she would not contemplate loading a canister of poison into a basket and hurling it out amongst their foes. She could not pick up sword and shield either, nor spear, nor crossbow. It was all the same: she was a priestess, a healer, one who went to battle in order to make sure those who could use such things stayed alive to do so. When it came her turn to ensure a foe never rose again, it was done with a holy power than came hurtling towards them, from a goodly distance away.


Talmarisa didn't expect any except for Gremkarc to be able to do more than bandage whatever wounds she took, no matter how they were ordered to do so, no matter how much they "practiced" a healing touch. Why by the Sun did they expect her to be able to use ranged weapons and poison in defence of a fortification if such was needed? She just... couldn't.


And poison. The gentle healer shuddered. No healer could stoop to the use of such. It went against everything that healing meant, everything her calling taught her and against life itself. Even when she had walked through shadow, she still embodied life: she was just a bit more aggressive in defending it then, that was all. Now however, with the release of the Source from its captivity, willing or not as that may have been, those Sin'dorei who secretly worshipped the Light were free to drop their cloaks of subterfuge.


Sister Talmarisa gave a soft sigh as she folded bandages, eyeing the stocks in the cupboard at Warsong Hold. Still so much to put aside for the army. At least it was easy enough to do and it gave her time to think.


Junka had asked her why, why she wouldn't, why she wouldn't even practice, last night. No harm was meant by practice! Nothing would be injured, no one hurt. She had fouled that explanation too. For her, being a priest was not merely signing up for lessons at the local temple one day. No, it was a system of belief, of visible faith put into daily practice. It was the core of everything she could do for others. How could she possibly risk being stripped of her gifts, her skills, her talents, for the sake of... practice?


Junka also posed her a situation, in extremis, whereby her doing or not doing a thing was a pivotal point in a critical battle. Her cheeks flamed once more. He too thought she would betray them when need was greatest. How could she live with that thought? Well, she didn't really have any choice now, did she? Her nimble fingers folded yet another bandage. They barely knew her, after all. None of them, really, knew her at all. She was just a stranger still, sent out from the reserve forces to help keep them alive. Perfectly logical for them to doubt her, not trust her fully, and to look askance at her motivations.


How she longed for the simplicity of a cloistered life, how deep her weariness with having to face this war without... without... No! Banish those thoughts, do it now. The priestess wrenched her mind to other things, the stack of bandages growing as she redoubled her efforts. Those memories were dangerous in the extreme and would provoke true weakness within her. It was hard enough as it was already. To be taken for a coward, to be humiliated in front of those she must care for, to be scorned by those she must respect... more than enough trouble for her to tend as it was, without adding anything else.


The rough laughter of warriors coming in from patrol roused her, their greetings to her as they passed where she sat on her stool made her sit a bit straighter. Revered was her name amongst these defenders of Warsong Hold for what she had already done to aid their efforts. They knew her, trusted her. Why could not her Chieftain and Sergeant?


"Would not" and "could not" were two different things. "I won't" was stupidity and disobeying duty. "I can't" was a limitation that no amount of desire could overcome. And at times... it was obedience to a higher duty, one that took precedence over mortal commands and orders. Degrees of duty, oh yes, duty. That was all that was left to her and duty was certainly not blind obedience to orders.


Dig a ditch? Surely, though weak as she was it would take her some time. Build a wall? Yessir, how tall? Cover the rear of a forward offensive and dispatch wounded enemies so they could not rise again and attack from behind? Certainly, sir. That was why she carried a dagger, neatly honed and sharp, so that when she slit a throat it would be fast and clean. It would be a better death than what one could expect from the enemy.


They didn't know her, that was all it was. That had to be it. She was, to them, untested, untried in battle, and as such, suspect. It was the way of war. The priestess knew that much. Time would show them. She prayed it would erase the way they thought of her now, but knowing mortal minds as she did, she also knew there would remain a kernel of doubt tucked away somewhere, just waiting to leap into the light of day.


The stack of cloth had vanished somehow. In its place were piles of neatly made bandages. Without doubt she would have to spend more time doing this in the coming days. Talmarisa rose, gathered the piles one at a time and placed them in the tall cupboard. She ran her hand down the rough wood of the door as she closed it, to keep the bandages clean. Walking around the infirmary, she replenished the water buckets, straightened the splints, made sure the surgical instruments were at hand.


A shout of alarm outside... wounded coming in. She glanced around. All was ready.


"Priestess, come!"


"Wounded here, help him he is bleeding out!"


Screams from shattered bodies. Moans from dying men. The stink of pain and horror once more. This was her world, THIS was her duty, her calling, her... faith. She glowed with the power of the Light, her touch soothing, her voice calming, the gentle sounds of her hymn of hope providing a small space of peace for these valiant ones. This was why she had followed the call to the outer world once more.


As she nodded to one attendant, she felt her elbow taken from behind. Turning, she saw one of the less injured Orcs behind her.


"Thank you," He said gruffly. It probably wasn't something he said too often. No time, you know. "That was my brother."


And it was enough.


No, she couldn't fire a catapult, or other siege engine. No, she could not bear sword and shield into battle. But "thank you" made it all go away.


"You're welcome, brother, you are welcome."


Talmarisa then turned to the next wounded Orc, her soul once again back on track. It was enough.

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