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Fighting the sickness PDF Print
Sunday, 30 November 2014
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Fighting the sickness
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‘I'm thinking we'll get some rain, m'lord', said Odo while scratching his straggly beard.

‘Let us pray you are wrong', Galadum replied. Their hope for clear skies had little to do with what the raindrops would do to them, but more about what it would do to the muddy ground. It was already hard for the few remaining able workers to dig the mass graves; too much rain would make it next to impossible.


The young lord shuddered, momentarily overcome by the sheer amount of pain and grief he had endured in so short a time. While the dukedom was cursed with new diseases every year, unleashed upon the people by jealous monsters, sorcerers and spirits who wanted to corrupt the beauty of Brionne, it had still come as a surprise to him. Both his mother and his nursemaid had always told him how Givry had been blessed by the gods, that the idyllic village would never be touched by plague. Now he was left all alone, the last of an illustrious line of noblemen that stretched back centuries, the fiefdom transformed into a unwashed den of infection.


It took a few moments for Galadum to compose himself. As he did, he quickly glanced from side to side. Either no one had noticed his brief lapse, or they had chosen not to notice. He resolved to do better in the future. As his father was...had been wont to tell, a noble lord has to lead by example. He could not expect his subjects to do their work while he was somewhere crying in a corner. Especially not when so many had lost as much if not more than him.

‘Do you think the abbess was delayed, Odo?', he enquired.

His aide shook his head. ‘She isn't the sort to be kept waiting, m'lord. ‘Sides, it looks as if there are fewer bodies waiting to be buried every day. ‘Nother week, maybe two, and this will've passed.'

The slight smile on Galadum's face told the world about how much the young nobleman believed that. Then again, neither of them were the expert here. He would ask the abbess Agnes once she was here. She and her sect of nuns of Shallya had treated plagues great and small for decades, travelling from place to place heedless of contamination or death. If the abbess did not know the answer, she would at least be capable of an educated guess.


As if she had heard them talking about her - which considering how quickly she noticed it when people were twiddling their thumbs wouldn't surprise Galadum in the slightest - the abbess of Shallya walked into the street. Everyone, even Noel, the priest of Morr, gave her a wide berth in order to avoid her displeasure. If Odo had been the organizer of their efforts of combating the plague, she was the motivator. Her sermons had, through an interesting mixture of praising and bullying, spurred the people to do even more than they did before to help their brethren. It had been at her coaxing that Galadum had opened Givry for all the peasants, the idea being that with superior housing the infected could receive a more humane and effective treatment, and the still-healthy could better stave off the plague. It was a rather pointless act, since the low-born had all but overrun the village already, but she had insisted on his official permission and he had been too terrified of her to deny it.


‘You have my thanks for your quick arrival, mother superior', he said as she came up to them.

‘Would you kindly dispense with the damn pleasantries, Galadum', she replied in her usual gruff manner. ‘I have other places to be and people to treat.'


He inwardly cursed her course manners, and found it vaguely resentful that a supposedly beneficent abbess of the goddess of mercy could do and say as she pleased while a demanding yet respectful worker like Odo was insulted at every turn. Now however was not the time to reprimand her. It was time for the magnificent speech he had prepared for this very occasion. ‘Yonder we can see how father Noel and his dutiful charges have to haul another cartload of the dearly departed to a nameless pit on the village outskirts. As each day the cart is filled to the brim with bodies, I find that my conscience grows ever heavier. My grandfather -‘

‘Get on with it!', she interrupted with visible anger.

‘I wish for your blessing', he blurted out, hoping to avoid her tongue lashing.

Her demeanor changed in an instant from angry to worried. ‘Have you taken ill? Do you have a fever, or the urge to scratch yourselves anywhere on your body?'

‘I do not have the Blazing Pox', he hurriedly assured her. ‘It's just that aside from father Noel you are the only priest remaining in Givry. Well, there are the other priests, initiates and laypeople in your sect I suppose, but the point is that you are the ranking authority when it comes to the will of the gods, and I wish for their blessing to aid me in my quest.'

Her eyes narrowed with suspicion. ‘What is this nonsense about a quest?'

Galadum blinked a few times, confused at her response. ‘The quest to find the miscreants who unleashed this plague upon our fair village, of course. I cannot really think of a more noble cause. Furthermore, while a traditional errantry tour for me is out of the question now, I cannot become the count of Givry without some kind of test of my prowess. That is what makes the nobility of Bretonnia truly noble; that we rule our people not just because it is our birthright, but that each generation we prove our right to rule.'

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 January 2015 )
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