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Constans had hitched a ride with some Dougton merchants on the way to Blairville. 

“-and so then he says ‘fine! we’ll just put it back in the cow!’” Constans finished, pantomiming the act of gripping something tight in his hand and thrusting that hand into something unpleasant. The merchants howled with laughter. One even fell off the wagon on the left, which made everyone laugh even harder. Bigby, who was sitting beside Constans at the front of their carriage, was doubled over. Constans politely rubbed the man’s back as he looked from person to person, enjoying the mirth he made. 

The night air was so rich you could almost taste it. It was tinged orange, colored by the rays of setting sunlight crossing through the lazy haze of pipe-smoke he and the fellows produced. Tonight, the stories came out easy and the pace was slow, an ideal night as far as Constans was concerned. He was enjoying being out in the world, away from Coth and among folk who had no idea who he was. He’d named himself “Conner” on the travel manifest, but on account of his green eyes they all called him “Cothite”, which of course he was.

Constans was proud to see that “Cothite” had become a term of endearment for the people of Terrenus; a name for free folk, for brave folk who eschewed the easy life. And if people from the cities were somewhat ambivalent about the Cothite god, well, that was to be expected. One day god would be more to them than some distant religious icon from a small town.

In time, Constans told himself, in time

For now, he was happy to see that Coth had entered the public mind as a beacon of freedom in a land of lawlessness and danger. He was just as happy to see trade resuming on the roads between cities. It meant that people were starting to feel safe again, in no small part because Cothites like himself were out in the world making it so. 

“So Cothite,” Bigby said later, when everyone had caught their breath, “What is bringing you to Blairville? Has your fire god sent you?” 

This question was met with a few grunts of disapproval from the other travelers. It wasn’t in good form to pry too deep into other men’s business. Constans encouraged them to pardon Bigby with a genial wave of his hand, 

“I’m an elf-friend,” he began, “and a lady Ioreth, an elf, has been encouraging me to visit Blairville for some time-“ he began, but was interrupted as three of the men began talking all at once.

“Is it true there are more elves in Coth than men?” One shouted over the others. Constans shook his head,

”No but there are many.” He admitted, “God alone knows why. Anyways, so this lady says I’ve been spending too much time at home, and that I ought to see more of the world. Coth is such a paradise it’s sometimes hard to find a reason to leave, but she was right.”

“Aye, the fair folk always are.” Bigby intoned beside him.

”They are,” Constans agreed, “so I’ve come to see if Blairville is a good and just place, I suppose. I’ve promised my kin I’d tell them of it. Some have never seen it. Some have, but haven’t been back since before the war.”

This answer satisfied his fellow travelers, and it had the added benefit of being mostly true. 

“Things are different now, I’d say.” Another traveler said from the carriage on the right, “All the same old problems, but worse then ever before. The damn mages-“ 

That line of conversation elicited a slurry of opinions all shouted over each other at once. Constans gave an apologetic look to Bigby, who shook his head as the men around them began to jostle for the group’s attention. As always, one voice finally broke out, a grey beard’s to their left:

“My sister is a witch and I say there’s no good reason for putting her on a list, she’s never hurt nobody!” 

“But she could! And who would know?” Another shouted

”Ah, what’s a damn list of wizards going to do to protect anyone anyway?!” 

“It’ll hold people accountable! Show them sorcerous folk we’re watching them!” 

“A politician’s trick! You know it won’t do nothing!” 

Constans felt his eyes bouncing between speakers as he watched in silence, they continued,

“What’s any wizard done to you makes you want to put them on a damn list, huh?”

”My ma told me a wizard turned my uncle Rebo into a weasel once!”

It was quite possibly true, and a sobering enough thought that the group quieted for a moment to think on it. Every man there knew they would find it funny to turn one of their friends or enemies into a weasel, but at the same time knew that they themselves never wanted it to happen to them. That was the crux of the problem, as far as Constans’ investigations into the matter had discovered. In Blairville, the people were clamoring for accountability from the city’s many mages. Yet at the same time, most people understood that accountability had a nasty habit of transforming into tyranny. 

That was all well and good, but as far as Constans was concerned, tyranny was already well present and accounted for in city life.

Yet Ioreth had challenged him to prove it. She had a soft spot for Blairville, he knew, and she was ever the skeptic even while she helped shape Coth’s dogmatic idealogies. Constans felt that if he could convince her, he could convince anyone. So here he was, going to collect the evidence his arguement would need.

“Putting people on a list for maybe being dangerous is foolish.” Bigby finally said, “How many men carry swords in Blairville? No one puts them on a list and they’re plenty dangerous.”

”If I may,” Constans interjected, “a sword is a danger I can see. The man carries it on his hip. Even a secret dagger has to touch me to hurt me. Magic can kill me from miles away, or plague my dreams or do awful things I can’t even imagine. I like magic personally, but I bet no one here could tell me how it’s done, or what anyone could do to stop it if it’s thrown at you.” 

There was a general agreement to this, and another voice rose:

“Listen to the Cothite, Big. Magic is no sword! And frankly I think the only people who ought to have it are priests. At least with a priest Gaia— or whatever god,” he added quickly, nodding to Constans, “can make sure they don’t abuse it. Who does a wizard answer to? Eh? No one! Well, should that be? I say no! And you would too if anyone ever turned your uncle into a weasel!”

Others began to talk, and Constans leaned back in his seat, contemplating. Bigby beside him did the same, taking long draws from his pipe. As the light waned and the moon rose, they looked to the horizon and spotted something in the distance at the same time. 

“What’s that?” Constans said of the huge shape as it came into view.

”Our destination. Troubled Blairville.” Bigby answered mournfully. Indeed it was. That huge shape turned out to be walls, and the little points above were towers, wizard towers mostly. 

“Well, here I am then.” Constans whispered to himself, “Let’s get the measure of this place once and for all, Ioreth.” 

@Minuet of the Nightingale

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Blairville had been her home for a handful of years now, but the winding streets outside of the little ghetto she lived in were just as confusing now as they had been when she first arrived. Normally, Dawn wouldn't risk wandering far without the company of Eleanor, but sometimes events happened outside of her control. 

"Come on Miss Dawn, we hav' to hurry!" The voice of the little boy a few paces ahead of her pleaded, reaching out for her hand and pulling her attention away from the street sign whose name she was trying to decipher. Unfortunately, the jumble of letters was lost on her. Her progress with reading hadn't gone far lately and in a city with so much cultural diversity it could be sometimes hard to make sense of the nuances with the few rules of the common tongue she knew. Her eyes, green softened with a bit of gray, found the gaze of the boy before her and her sense of urgency took over any desire to keep track of where she was; he was right, they couldn't delay with a life on the line. The slim woman, petite and looking as if a stiff breeze could snap her up any moment, nodded her head and the kid raced off down the streets with Dawn on his heels. 

"She's right here, miss! Right here!" The boy yelped, ducking into a tight alley and out of sight. Dawn did hesitate to follow, already disliking how little room she was going to have to work with. The boy had come to a stop next a taller girl with trails of tears on her dirty cheeks, a crumpled lump of ragged cloth on the ground before her. Dawn's delicate nose could pick up the sharp smell of coppery blood cutting through the sickeningly sweet smells of rotting garbage and the sting of old piss. She was used to all those smells, unfortunately. 

"Thank you, Riz," she murmured to the boy and knelt down beside the little bundle of cloth, concerned eyes roving over the tiny form hidden beneath. The little thing had a nasty wound her head, and her left arm was broken in two places from the unnatural bends. There was some blood on her lips, though Dawn wasn't sure if that was from an injury in the mouth or a much worse sign. Carefully she moved around the unconscious little girl, careful to not bump her as she leaned forward and tipped her head to the side; the softest of warm breaths tickled her ears and while it was alarmingly weak, there was no rattle or wheezing. The girl might be lucky, she thought and sat back on her heels to open her the satchel she had brought with her. It was going to be difficult to transport this girl even with her properly braced up, but from the extent of the injuries she could see already, this wasn't something she was going to be able to properly care for in some dingy alley. "Riz, see if you can flag someone down with a cart - tell them there's some coin in it if you have. Use my name or Eleanor's if you have too - someone here should recognize it, I don't think we're far from home." The little boy was quick to respond and hurried back out of the alley to the main road, bare feet slapping on dingy stone. 

"What's your name sweetheart?" Dawn asked softly as she pulled out some bandages and uniform pieces of wood for a quick splint. 

"Magpie, or Maggie," the girl whispered, her eyes unfocused and watery. Probably shocked. Poor thing. 

"Alright Maggie, I need your help. If you could hold these for me, I don't want to put them on the ground." Dawn passed over the cloth bandages and the sticks and the girl took them, nodding her head and actually looking towards Dawn. The Half-Elf woman smiled when the girl seemed to get some bearings back and returned to her work. "Can you tell me what happened?" 

"W-we was playing on the roofs and Dollie tried to jump b-but she tripped. I heard her little head the other building up there and then she fell," Maggie stammered, pointing up towards the tops of the building. Dawn tipped her own head back, soft blonde hair tumbling over her shoulders and she let out a sigh of relief that it was only about two stories. 

"Did you move her after when you all came down?" 

"N-n-no. Riz wanted to shake her, but I said to get you so he didn' get a chance."

Oh the blessed, precious, smart girl! Dawn heaved a relieved sigh and nodded her head. "Thank you, Maggie. You did good." 

Dawn returned to her work, evaluating Dollie to the best of her ability till she was certain the unconscious child hadn't broken her neck or spine (Thank whoever was watching), and moved quickly to pack the head wound tight and secure it with bandages in order to staunch some of the bleeding. It would need stitches, but she wasn't going to do those here. The twisted arm required a bit more work, and Dawn was thankful Dollie was unconscious for it; The Half-Elf straightened the limb as much into place as she could manage before securing it with the a makeshift splint. There were other injuries of course, but they could wait. Then, as she had little other choice, Dawn lifted the tiny thing up, tucking a small blonde head under her chin and heading towards the mouth of the alley. Riz was a few feet away, talking with an older man who appeared to have a hand cart. There were few goods in it and he seemed uncertain, but the second his eyes landed on Dawn carry the girl whatever resistance he seemed to have faded and he nodded down to the boy. Riz spun about, eyes gleaming with a bit of hope as he was undoubtedly about to return to her when he noticed the three females making their way towards him. 

"Thank you," Dawn stated to the man who seemed a mix of confused and concerned as she laid the injured girl in the back of the cart, carefully tucking a limp strand of red stained hair away from the girls grubby but sweet face. "Do you know where Wick Street is? I work at a little clinic right on the corner of it and Cat's Eye." The man nodded, a flash of recognition in his hooded eyes. "Perfect, we need to move as quick as you can." 

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A few hours later, and Constans was enjoying one of Blairville’s many storefronts.

Bigby and the others had dispersed throughout the city, promising to write to one another as the situation in Blairville developed; it was always prudent to keep any friend you made in these troubled times. Constans was disturbed (and admittedly felt a little bit validated) to see that those troubles had hit Blairville hard, despite its tall walls. 

“Ah, sorry sir,” the shopkeeper said to Constans as he picked up a handsome wide-brimmed hat and tried it on, “don’t mind the price listed on that, or any of the others like it. I’m in the process of changing them all now. They’ve become quite the commidity since we stopped hearing from the hat-makers out west. Now they’re sixteen silvers instead of six.” 

Constans put the hat down, and the shopkeeper gave him an understanding frown.

Out west. The lands near Coth, he meant. Constans knew a few hatters who had come to Coth with stories of raiders stealing their stock and destroying their homes and workplaces. It was only a matter of time before the safe citizens of Blairville realized that letting the countryside burn would hurt them in the long run too. 

Though that wasn’t exactly fair. It wasn’t the shopkeepers who had abandoned their rural fellows. They were too busy trying to make a living to keep paying for their spot behind Blairville’s big strong walls. Anyone would have done the same in their position. Perhaps that was what Ioreth had sent him here to realize. His fervor for change could sometime blind him to the humanity of good people caught up in a bad way of life.

And so as he explored further in the city of Blairville he kept his eyes out not only for the signs of its troubles, but also for the little human victories eeking themselves out amongst the saccharine splendor and heavy weight of the city’s fading prosperity. He saw friendly conversations between neighbors, children racing through the back allies with faces painted red from laughter, old wives gathered around wells to trade the gossip of the day, younger girls admiring expensive gowns in shops they hoped one day they’d be rich enough to enter. He saw men grooming horses and whispering tenderly in their ears, smelled the smoke of cooking meat and smiled at the stray dogs pining after it. Lovers kissed in the shadow of a temple. From a midwife’s home Constans heard the scream of a woman giving birth. People didn’t have the luxury of putting their lives on hold just because times were hard, Constans realized, and so it fell to him to make sure the world got better soon, so they could all continue their stories without worrying about the world being torn down around them.

And yet, to transform the world...he would have to tear it down. How else could he obey god? Was there some hidden path between destruction and creation? He doubted it. The screams of the new mother spoke to the eternal truth that birth and pain were inextricable. To give birth to a new and better world, Constans wondered, what pain would the old world have to endure? And more personally, was he ready to subject it to that pain?

He would find out soon. 

Hopelessly lost in these somber thoughts, the prophet of Coth almost walked straight into another scene of struggling humanity in the city— or at least half humanity. Blinking his green eyes in surprise, Constans watched as a young woman, a half elf, convinced a passerby to ferry a small, broken child to another part of town for healing. Here was a true spark of good in a place Constans was so certain had gone bad. 

Constans found that he had no voice as he watched the woman deposit the injured girl into the cart. Her tenderness was almost painful to behold, so sweet and sad. Constans studied her face. Care creased her features in a way he found astonishing. 

He felt a familiar tug in his heart, the same sort of pull he felt whenever Ioreth called him to adventure, or when his pet serpent conveyed to him a portent from god. Destiny was with him. 

Cautiously, he followed the woman, the children, and the cart to the corner of Wick street and Cat’s Eye. He was determined to see the conclusion of this tragic story, and learn more about its unexpected heroine. 

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Dawn was far to busy to take note of anyone paying attention to the scene she was causing - she was focused on the girl while keeping pace with the hand-drawn cart. She didn't want to the little thing to wake up quite yet; she would be in a lot of pain. But at the same time, the lack of movement was starting to worry Dawn. She had to keep telling herself to keep her face as even as possible for the two other children who kept on her heels. Any sign of worry would just make it worse for them and Dawn didn't have the resources to take care of Dollie and manage the feelings of the other two. With some luck, Eleanor might be back and could lend a hand. If not... Dawn glanced over her shoulder for just a moment, olive eyes resting on the taller of the pair. Maggie was quiet, still not fully free from witnessing her friends tragic misstep. She probably hadn't been exposed to the many harsh realities on the streets so far - either she was recently orphaned, or a new runaway. Riz seemed to deal with his own worries in the exact opposite manner; he was nervously filling the silence with ideas of what they would do when Dollie got better. Dawn applauded his optimism and wondered how he had managed to keep it while being on these streets for so long. 

A few moments later, the group rounded a corner and the cart came to a stop. It took Dawn a handful of seconds to realize they had arrived already. She jerked her attention towards the front door of the little medicine shop, realizing the door hadn't properly closed behind her after she had dashed out of there to follow Riz. She really needed to be careful with that as she know had things worth something to thieves. It was hard to remember the little details when trouble was afoot though. 

Coming around to the front of the cart, Dawn pulled a handful of coin from a small pouch hidden in the many layers of her pleated skirts and deposited it in the old man's hand before he got a chance to say anything. She had the strangest feeling he was about to refuse payment, but cut himself short. Whether because he needed the money or didn't want to take up her time arguing, Dawn hadn't the slightest clue. 

"Thank you again for your kindness," she whispered and brushed a kiss on the man's weathered cheek, before heading back to collect her fragile charge. The girl remained limp and barely breathing. 

"Miss," Riz started, at her side rather suddenly and a sense of urgency in his tone. 

"I'm sorry, Riz, but we can't talk right now," she hushed making for the entrance of the clinic. She heard a sigh behind her, a resigned sound and then two sets of footsteps on the floor boards. "Riz, you can stay up front please. If anyone comes in, you'll have to ask them to wait. Maggie, you can stay with Riz or make yourself comfortable in one of the chairs. Please don't touch anything!" 

"Yes Miss! But I just want you to know that a man followed us here," Riz called back, his words forced out so quickly it almost sounded like one massive word and not a sentence. 

"Just tell him to wait!" Dawn called back, her distracted mind not quite catching up with what the boy had just told her as she disappeared into the back room where a small raised bed rested. She laid Dolly down, tossed her bag on a chair, and grabbed a wash basin of water that had been left in the window to keep warm. She wasn't going to have time to boil water to clean the girls wounds, so this would have to do. But first, Dawn had to get the poor thing out of her rags. Under the girls garments revealed a much more worrisome sight. Her skin was black and blue, pulled tight against her ribs except for some light swelling starting on her right side. A gentle touch confirmed she had at least one broken rib and probably a few cracked ones at that. The girls right knee was also horribly bruised and bleeding sluggishly and the blood on her lips was coming from her tongue which she had nearly bitten in half. This... This was starting to get out of her league. She only had a few years of training under her belt, and while she had seen a few serious injuries in her time, it was usually just one of these things and not everything all at once. 

"You don't have a choice, Dawn. There's no one else nearby that you know who can help," She took a few deep breaths and then started to work cleaning the poor thing up, stitching the wound on her head, and cutting away the mangled piece of tongue while knowing she was probably condemning Dollie to a much harder life. Maybe she'd get Eleanor to help teach the girl to read and write while she recovered so she wouldn't be so lost out there after all was said and done... If she recovered. 

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Constans kept a respectable distance, but he noticed one of the children alongside the half-elf glance back at him more than once. He tried to flash the boy a smile, but received only suspicious stares in return. By the time they arrived the boy was looking back to keep track of Constans more often than he was looking where he was going, which gave him the appearance of being a bit drunk. The more Constans smiled at it, the worse the boy seemed to take it. 

The boy’s frustration came to a head when Constans finally arrived at the clinic. Though Riz had disappeared for a moment, he returned with a vengeance.

Hey!” 

The boy stepped in front of Constans and gave him a once-over. Constans might have been a priest once, and he certainly was something close to a prophet now, but he looked more like a poor adventurer. He wore a leather cuirass that might have been a hundred years old with shoulder guards and a floppy skirt hanging from its worn straps. Beneath, he wore a green shirt and tights, the latter of which descended into more modern looking boots. At his hip was a dagger of elven design. It was probably the most expensive thing he had brought; apparently Draug, Ioreth’s brother, had about thirty more just like it, so he’d been told not to fret over it too much.

“Hey yourself, kiddo!” Constans said cheerily, “Are you the bouncer? My name is Constans. Can I come in?” 

“Don’t count on it stranger!” 

Constans touched his chest, feigning insult.

”I’m not a stranger. You know me! What’s my name?” 

“...Constans.”

”And what’s your name?”

The boy knew when he was being led on and crossed his arms defiantly, making sure his little body blocked the entrance.

”Riz.” he answered warily. 

Constans sank into a crouch so he was level with Riz and extended his hand. 

“It’s good to meet you Riz. I sense a lot of worry in you. You’re defending your friends, aren’t you?”

Riz didn’t shake the offered hand, nor did Constans retract it. The boy did nod, however. 

“Let’s make a deal. You shake my hand and try to be my friend, and I’ll help you protect your other friends. We’ll do it together.” 

Riz looked down at the hand. It was big enough to swallow his little hand whole. He looked back up to Constans. 

“How?” 

Magic.” 

Riz widened his eyes. Every boy and girl in the city had seen mages before, but they never talked to kids, and never came to little clinics like Dawn’s. Mages were all very influential and rich and they held big parties and did crazy experiments in their towers and...

Prove it. Prove you know magic.” 

“Okay!” Constans said, smiling like a bit of a boy himself. Somehow, Riz hadn’t expected the man to say yes. Wizards and sorcerers didn’t just do magic when someone asked. Magic was expensive and rare and serious— so why did this guy look like he was happy?

But before he could figure it out, Constans had flicked his elven knife from its sheath and drew it across the pad of his pointer finger. Riz took a half a step back at the sight of the blade, and gasped at the dollop of blood which rose from the cut, but within a moment both the blade and the blood were gone— one back in the sheathe and the other, the blood, wiped away as Constans healed himself with an easy gesture. 

“Your friend got hurt. I saw it.” Constans said, again offering him a hand to shake. “What do you say? Want to be my friend?” 

Riz took the hand.

”Excuse me?” Constans said, as the boy led him into the operating room. The light in Constans’ eyes dimmed sadly to see the scene therein. 

“I’m-“

”This is Constans, he said he’ll be my friend and he’ll help her!” The boy said, pointing to the poor and broken girl laid out on the table, “With magic!

”Well, yeah pretty much.” Constans agreed. 

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There were a lot of people out there who needed the help of someone who knew a thing or two about medicine; Dawn had treated a lot of people under the watch of Eleanor, and more recently on her own accord. Some survived and went on to live happy lives, while some couldn't pull through even with all of her expertise and desire to see them live. It was always a little hard to let go and come to terms with those that didn't survive, but Dawn usually managed to move on... Unless it was children. She was sure she wasn't the only healer out there whose heart was stirred when it came to the plight of the innocent little ones, but nobody really ever talked about it with each other. If Dollie didn't pull through, she would carry some sense of responsibility for the death for the rest of her life. 

But she had done all she could at this point; all that was in her power. 

She stood next to Dollie, carefully wetting the girls hair to try to clean it to the best of her ability because she felt obligated to stay a little longer when the curtain that separated this room from the hallway swung open. Dawn immediately assumed it was Eleanor and that by some miracle she had returned early from her trip just in time to help, but her eyes landed on bright green eyes in a face she hadn't seen before... at least not in person. She was taken aback and immediately on edge as to why this man was walking in on her while she worked before she noticed Riz was there with wide eyes. Dawn glanced at the boy and then the man, and reached towards the small tray of surgical implements for a scaple. It hadn't been cleaned yet, blood still coating the blade. 

"Riz, who is this?" She asked, her voice very soft as visions of strange dreams bubbled in her mind. She had seen this face dozens of times in her sleep as he turned to look at her with a small smile as if he was keeping some secret, and she had seen his profile silhouetted on the top of a hill far more. Those dreams were plagued with images of serpents and green fire, sprawling fields with hundreds of people looking up at her for guidance, and a disjointed voice whispering to her from a green lit candle about how wrong this world was. It felt like those dreams should have been nightmares from the imagery, but she never woke from them feeling frightened or worried. At worst, she might be confused, but most mornings she awoke feeling decidedly peaceful and well rested. 

"Constans. He has magic and said he'd help Dollie!" The boy stated, trying to pull the man forward a bit more. 

Dawn narrowed her eyes into dangerous little slits, the scaple still held in her fingers with a rather assured grip. 

"And he's offering to help for nothing? Doubtful," She replied, her tone a lot colder and definitely targeted at this 'Constans.' He wasn't dressed like any mage she knew... Well, except for Eleanor... But were the chances of her meeting two self-sacrificing magical healers in her life? It had to be very slim. 

"I seen it though! He healed his finger!" The boy exclaimed, trying to grab her attention once more. Dawn couldn't help but let out a derisive snort. Perhaps she was being more judgemental then she normally would - but it was unsettling to realize the man in your dreams was a real person and not some messed up quirk of your imagination. Still, if he could help she would be stupid stop him. 

"Fine, but if you do anything other then help the girl, I will carve you up like a roast chicken,and feed the bits to the pigs." Dawn did actually have a pretty good idea on what parts of the body would be the easiest for her cut through if she ever needed to reduce a body into smaller, more manageable pieces. She didn't suspect she would ever need that information when she had studied it, but she was a curious creature. After giving her warning, she took a step back to let the man get closer to the child, her eyes never leaving him. She didn't even risk blinking. 

 

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“Okay.” Constans wasn’t feeling playful anymore. Whatever happened to this girl had severely injured her. Constans touched her shoulder, above the poor child’s mangled arm. He looked down at her face. Her mouth was still propped open, half her tongue missing. 

But there were no open wounds left on the girl. The tongue had been taken care of first. This, he recognized, followed the elven tradition of healing triage. A cut tongue could bleed profusely and choke a little girl to death. Next, the stichtwork for the head wound. It was a clear pattern: stop the bleeding, then get to the bones. 

And that’s clearly where he’d interrupted her. If she was anything like he’d been before god chose him, before he had the power to heal beyond mortal healing, then she dreaded what came next: the perilous setting of bones and, worse, waking the girl up and explaining that you’d silenced her forever. 

But she wasn’t going to have to hear that today. Constans took a deep breath and spun back to Riz. He let the harshness of his expression soften. 

“Where I live, young friend, there are many elves. They’re the best healers in the world, elves, just like your friend here. Do you see these stiches on your friend’s head?” He said, delicately, tilting the girl’s face toward Riz, “In a year, you won’t be able to see the scar after sunset. When a trained surgeon fixes somebody, they heal correctly. It’s the most important discipline, because a surgeon and a healer understands all about the most important thing in the world: your body.” 

Constans turned around and grabbed the girl’s broken arm at the wrist and shoulder. He pulled the hand holding the wrist, and her arm stretched. He folded it at the elbow, her bones cracking as he stressed the breaks of her arm. He wiggled her joint back and forth three times and layed the arm down, good as new.

From behind, the girl seemed to be reflecting green. Constans’ eyes were glowing like lanterns in the night. 

“Your body is magnificent Riz. With a little help it can fix almost anything. Healers like your elf-friend spend their precious time every day helping people heal themselves.” 

When he glanced back over his shoulder, a radiant green color bathed both woman and child. Constans’ eyes were like gentle suns, burning with liquid green light. 

“But sometimes,” he continued, turning back to the girl and using his fingertips to open her mouth, “the body can’t heal itself. Sometimes you can’t help it.” 

“But my god can.” he said, using his other hand to reach in and pinch her tongue. 

“And that’s what he’s for. Helping people when they can’t help themselves.” 

Leaning over the girl, staring into her mouth, Constans observed god’s handiwork. There was a tongue again, a whole tongue, but the flesh of it was tinged god’s green color. The prophet of Coth stood erect and exhaled. The green light faded from the far side of the room as his eyes dimmed and he turned around looking once more like a very poor adventurer, except for his nice knife.

”Done!” He said, clapping his hands. He stepped aside and gestured, returning the girl to Dawn’s care. 

Edited by Vansin

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At first, Dawn had to refrain from rolling her eyes as the man started to speak, praising her handy work and lumping it with 'the Elves.' Dawn knew no other Elves, and most full-bloods wanted nothing to do with a half-breed such as herself. Granted, Eleanor had been trained by Elven kind back when she had been a girl so it made sense that there was an obvious connection. Still, Dawn had to really hold her tongue to keep from saying she was taught by an old human woman and not any 'fair people of the forest.' Riz seemed rather captivated by the mans words anyway and she supposed there was no need to break that illusion unless the man over-stepped some boundaries.... 

Which Dawn believed he almost did next when he grabbed Dollie's twisted arm and started moving it around. It was silly to be so jarred by the motion since it was pretty similar to how she would have attempted to set the bones back in place, but the casualness of it all caught her off guard. She always had to fight with herself before doing something like that; Of course, she didn't have magic to help her. Whatever suspicion and worry Dawn had fled when she realized Dollie's arm was whole once more and not just re-aligned. She almost didn't even notice the soft glow of warm green light emanating from the child and the strange man as she was too caught up trying to see any strange bumps or bruising on the pale little limb. It just looked good as new... 

Dawn took a step closer, the scaple in her hand clattering to the ground. She felt Constans eyes turn on her for a second, but she barely managed to glance up at his molten green eyes.

If she had thought she had seen all the miracles the day could bring with the healing of the girl's shattered arm, she would have been wrong. The next feat the stranger pulled made her question her reality for a moment. Magic was crazy and powerful, it could do things nobody really understood... But knowing that and seeing a man re-grow a missing piece of a human's body were entirely separate matters. Especially when this man, dressed like some pauper and preaching about his God, had walked into her small little shop and done this with no agreement for payment. 

Dawn didn't even wait for Constans to step aside before starting her examination of the girl - her broken bones were healed better then they would have on their own. The vast majority of bruising was gone. There was still some cut that she had stitched, wounds that were not life threatening in anyway, but all the injuries that Dawn had been worried about were just gone. And Dollie's tongue was back even though she could still see the previous mangled piece in a small metal bowl on the counter nearby. The slightly green tinged skin was curious, but the muscle looked as healthy as could be.

The Half-Elf woman stepped back, took a breath and swung around to face Riz; "Grab your friend from the front room and lock up the shop. I need you two to sit with Dollie to make sure she is not alone when she wakes up." Dawn paused to grab the implements and bloodied rags she had used, mumbling under her breath in disjointed words before she managed to work up the courage to address Constans himself. "You, Holy man, follow me," She stated, her tone not really leaving him any room to question. She marched out of the little room while Riz scampered off to grab Maggie and lead the magic healer towards a back room with an actual door. She bumped it open with her hip, set her dirty tools on a metal countertop that had probably costed a small fortune for someone who lived in this part of town and took another deep breath, clearly gathering herself as pushed her ashen blonde locks away from her face. She turned quickly back to the man, now that her hair was away from her face a rather notable scar was visible curling on from her left eye down to her lips and clearly the cause of the almost constant smirk on her face. 

Dawn said nothing as she approached and she firmly shoved Constans down into a nearby chair of this little room that was clearly meant for the healers only - the walls were lined with tools, bottles, dressing for wounds, and other such medical paraphernalia. There was a small writing desk in one of the corners as well. The Half-Elf said nothing to the man once she had him seated and simply started her own inspection of him - she grabbed his hand, looking at his finger tips then feeling up his arm as if checking for something he might have used to trick the eye during that whole show he had just put on. Dawn knew she was being silly and that that had been actual magic she had just witnessed, but there was still a part of her that couldn't quite accept everything that she had just seen. When she discovered nothing but arm beneath the sleeve, she wrinkled her little nose and met the man's eyes for a whole second before she reached up with both hands, one to secure his chin in place and the other pulling his eye wide as she practically straddled his lap to take a good look at the bright green irises. She wasn't entirely sure what she was looking for, there wasn't going to be a button or a switch in there, but... 

Realization sort of hit her all at once - she was just dealing with her own form of shock. She had been so upset, so stressed over that little girl that she hadn't checked her own state of mind until that very moment. Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment at her actions as she stepped back, putting a good distance between her and Constans. She let the silence hang between them for a moment while she fiddled with her blood stained sleeves; 

"Sorry. You can go now, I don't have anything to really pay you with - I gave most my coin to that old man who'd helped bring the girl here."  

 

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“Oh, you don’t need to pay me anything.” Constans said, having just serenely sat through the woman’s inspection. He had watched her feverishly scramble to find something amiss about him, and wondered how many times she had been lied to and betrayed. Now that she was finished, he was enjoying looking at her. His eyes traced her scar, her lips, her clenched jawline. 

”I’m just here to cause a little trouble, so I’m getting my good deeds out of the way early.” 

Sure, Ioreth could tell him to find the worthy character of Blairville, and he would. He had. This woman was what was good about Blairville. She was committed and skilled and charitable, and look what Blairville did with her. It crushed her slowly in this run down little place. It relegated her healing skills to a mere commodity and it priced them low. 

“Those kids really seem to listen to you. They must trust you a lot. Do you think I could trust you too?”

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Dawn arched an eyebrow at him, her olive eyes still wary but perhaps a touch amused at this strange man. She was thankful he had taken her hands-on observations as calmly as he did. She would have a hard time reasoning away her behavior without sounding paranoid. Which she was a bit in all honesty. The way he was casually looking her over also left her a bit uncertain. Of course, his next line of questioning caught her entirely off guard - so much so she let out a snort of laughter before composing herself;
 
"That would be your call, Holy Man. Have I done enough to earn your trust?" She met his eyes for a brief moment and felt that wave of recognition all over again. Annoying. "I can say I don't trust you yet - I've never met a magic user who performs small miracles for free. And you did just admit you're looking to cause some trouble for little Blairville here." She gave her shoulders a little shrug. "But if you want to tell me all your deepest and darkest secrets, I won't say no. I might question your ability to judge a person though." Ah, she was rambling. Wait, was she trying to impress him or something? What was wrong with her? Dawn wrinkled her nose in obvious displeasure and put her hands on her hips, trying to size this man up. How was he just so... calm with everything? And disarmingly charming?
 
 "Do I know you?" She asked suddenly. "Have we met before and I've just forgotten somehow?" That would at least explain where her mind got his face from - just some random encounter she had on the street who'd been haunting her dreams. It sort of made sense. Of course, she'd feel kind of weird just saying adding that particular fact to this already strange encounter. "Because I can't remember ever meeting you or hearing your name, and yet you strike me as uncomfortably familiar." 
Edited by Minuet of the Nightingale

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"I hope it's not uncomfortable!" he said with a laugh. If anyone had a right to be uncomfortable, it was him! He wasn't, though. 

"I've never seen you before, I don't think. Ever traveled south? Been to any old Gaian churches?" 

The "old Gaian church" he was referring to wasn't so Gaian anymore. Coth had risen around its ruins, and the new religion's ideals had been built on the ruined legacy of a Terrenus that simply didn't exist anymore. He didn't expect her to know that, however. 

"If not, you may never have heard of a Cothite. We're a people who live just outside the marshlands, where the ground is fresh and there's forests and hills. I come from a hill down south, and the town on it. Cothites value liberty from oppression, usually, and I came hear because I heard some disturbing things about magic-users in this city. I heard that the small people of this place were trying to push back against the powerful and the well connected mages and I figured I might be able to help." 

He opened his hands wide, green eyes still admiring Dawn's face. 

"There, now you know my big secret. The reason I bring it up is because you may have seen people hurt by unchecked magic, or might know people looking to get these laws passed to stop the mages from trespassing on people's natural rights. You seem like a good guide, I think you're an honest person. Could you help me?"

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"I... don't care much for Gods," she admitted rather hesitantly since this man was the religious sort. She didn't need to be warned about how her soul wouldn't be let into whatever pleasant afterlife this Faith promised; Dawn really just hoped that when she died that was it. There would be nothing; she just couldn't imagine a place where she'd magically always be happy and at peace, and she'd already lived through Hell. "They've done nothing for me so I don't think I owe them any favors." The half-Elf woman brought her hands together before her, almost self-consciously messing with the dried blood stained sleeves of her dress. "Needless to say, I haven't been to this Coth or any old temples." It was sort of disappointing that this man didn't recognize her... It would probably have calmed her nerves a bit if she could place this weird deja-vu... And justify seeing his face in her dreams. 

"As for magic... Yeah, there's a lot of rampant misuse of it, especially in the ghettos. Magic thieves robbing from stores, nobles with hired hands lashing out because they need to make sure everyone knows they're the biggest kid in the playground," She fell silent for a moment and shrugged her shoulders. "There was this bakery a few blocks away that I used to go too all the time. Ran by an older lady. She was sweet as pie and made the best things I'd ever tasted. She got into some trouble with a merchant who claimed she was stealing his recipes, but in the end things went her way. I'm not sure the specifics, but... Well, not even a day after she won the whole affair, her shop 'mysteriously' burned to the ground." She took a small, sad breath. "She went with it. I hope it was cause the smoke got her first, I can't imagine... Somehow the fire only damaged one building though and nothing was able to put it out till the whole place was gone. That asshole, smug as can be, bought the land the second it was back on the market. He has to be guilty, he's all but admitted to it, but there's not enough evidence to point at him, and I feel like the guards don't even really care anymore." 

Realizing she had sort of gone off on a bit of a tangent, she gave her head a bit of a shake to come back around to the topic at hand. "Anything else I've heard is mostly rumors; some of the kids have been whispering about others being taken. No bodies have been found, but Riz and his guy are sure it's not your standard 'orphan snatching.'" The blonde wrung her hands almost anxiously. "I don't know if that's what you're looking for... I could also point you too a couple people who've been big on trying to get the mage registry up and running. That's about as good of a guide as I'd make - I get lost every time I go more then a block from here." And she didn't exactly know if she wanted to be around him much. He was getting under her skin by just sitting there, calm as a cucumber with that boyish smile on his face. Dawn doubted he'd ever had anything bad happen to him in his entire life. "Riz would be better if you can put up with his... uh... rule breaking." 

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Constans listened in polite silence. He watched the emotion on her face with an understanding expression. She didn't like injustice any more than a Cothite did. Constans was pretty sure anyone in her situation would have felt the same. The poor and abused people of the world were all Cothites, in their own way. It didn't take belief in god to make a person see that fair is fair. God was just the guarantor, the immeasurable ruler capable of actually enforcing a fair world. Eventually, people would see that. Even if they didn't, they could still benefit from it. 

So he listened, with growing concern. Of all the things she said, one comment in particular struck Constans. 

"There's standard orphan snatching?" he whispered incredulously. How easily people rationalized horrors when they got packed together so tightly as they did here. In Coth, he promised himself, such a thing would never be permitted. 

"The idea that children, especially children without a home, are unsafe in a place as prosperous as this is reprehensible." he declared, standing up and nodding at Dawn. 

"This, I can fix. Follow me." 

He strode out of her back room and toward the entrance, paying no mind to whether or not she followed. His green eyes shined brightly as he walked back into the sunlight of mid-day Blairville. He looked up at the sun, almost angry at it. How could god's light shine on a place like this? He felt that old familiar itch, the will of god in the back of his mind. It spurred him onward, but not in the direction he wanted to go. It wanted him to go home.

"You can't expect me to just sit in Coth and do nothing." he said to it, before anyone else managed to join him. When they did, he turned around smiled. 

"Okay. Riz. I'm going to need you to get stolen. Dawn. We're going to catch these people, and we're going to bring them to justice." 

In his hand, he held out a pair of small stones. They were seemingly unremarkable, save for little roughly carved symbols on each. The symbols looked like eyes. 

"Here Riz. Take one. As long as you keep it with you, I'll be able to see you." he turned to Dawn, "Do you know anywhere where a child has recently disappeared?"

Turning back to Riz, he rephrased his question, "Somewhere you'd tell your friends not to go?" 

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Dawn was more then a little jarred at Constans reaction; he was so incredibly naive if he was unaware how prevalent it was for kids to get kidnapped. It was a horrible truth she knew entirely too much about. She watched him as he made his way out of her backroom, claiming he could do something about this, and she gave a shake of her head. Naive and horribly optimistic. Dangerous combination for the fool - he would probably walk straight into the mouth of a beast and not even feel it's jaw closing around his neck. Dawn did follow him though as he beckoned Riz to join them as he stepped outside. Riz's face looked as bewildered as Dawn felt. She gave the boy a shrug and then very slyly twirled her index finger around her temple, indicating Constans was possibly insane.  Riz nodded his head back at her when the man seemed to address the sky. 

Why was it that Godly men and women were always so strange?

Or perhaps she was just judgmental. 

"I don't mean to be that person, Constans, but this is incredibly dangerous! Stupidly dangerous even! You can't just send a child into Gods know where, even if you have magical rocks that you can see through! The type of people who take kids off the street are not nice, and they're certainly not dumb if they keep getting away with it. Don't get me wrong, I would love to wipe them off the face of this planet to save any child what I went through, but I also can't just let you send Riz into this because you want to play the hero!" Oh, she raised her voice there. Dawn took a deep breath and held it. 

"The Market on Ashwood," Riz started. "Most kids know to stay away from there now, that's where the latest spree started." He held his stone up towards the sky, clearly trying to find some trace of magic on it. "The WildVine Ghetto has also seen a lot of kids go missing for years- lots of places to hide in there so we use it to escape guards when desperate." 

Dawn watched Riz, still holding her breath. Shit. Shit all of this was dumb. She couldn't condone this behavior, much less participate in it! But, if Riz was going to follow through with this then what choice was she going to have? She didn't trust Constans enough to have the cunning to pull him out of whatever shit he was about to get this kid into. And what about Dollie? Dawn couldn't just leave her there with no one but Maggie to watch her. 

There was a dull ache starting behind her eyes now, and she brought a hand up to rub at her forehead while mumbling under her breath a string of creative obscenities. 

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Constans looked back at Dawn with pity evident on his face. He felt for her, he really did. She'd let slip that she had had some childhood trauma herself. No doubt all she could see right now were flashbacks of that sad time. Constans sympathized with that sort of emotion. Truly, Dawn was the sort of person God loved most: someone who understood hurt, someone who could take pain and turn it into a desire to protect others. A natural Cothite, if he'd ever met one. 

But not the person who was going to save these children. 

"I'm not playing, Ma'am." he said, and that was all he said to her. He turned to Riz. 

"Okay. Pick your favorite of the two and go. And don't let anyone see that stone. And don't lose it." he said, placing a hand on the boy's shoulder. 

"Be brave. We're going to find those other children, and we're going to bring them back. I promise." he said with solemn confidence.

He stood up, and slyly glanced at the sky as if to share a private look at the face of god. 

You see? he thought to himself, There's good things to do even here. Even for these people. The world would forget them if I don't do anything, and you know it. 

And yet, the urging in the back of his mind reminded him that there were a hundred thousand people just like these; there were countless sad stories, countless broken children who grew into broken adults whose lives he could never touch if he just saved them one-by-one. He knew that they weren't oppressed by mere individuals, but by complex webs of politics and human instincts and terrible governments. He knew deep down that the world was designed so that some people would always be small and, being small, would always make for easy victims. 

That, he knew, was what he had been chosen to change. Not this. And yet...how could he change the world if he couldn't save a few children? 

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