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Kreed · 60 · 3877

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Offline Kreed

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The insistence of sleep, Akuma initially assumed, was a means of avoidance and dismissal of difficult conversation. It would have been very much in character for Joe to stop short of any growth and dig in his heels. The demon could not conceal its surprise, however, when the soldier advocated for help. This was most unprecedented. Between Fulbeck's pride and the pair's tendency to hold each other at odds, Joe must have been truly desperate to seek Akuma's assistance - and out loud as a direct request, no less! It was an active effort not to comment on the request; here, the man was willingly putting a vulnerable side of him on display. It would not do - if they were to get along - to nip at a fresh wound quite so eagerly as instinct beckoned.

Akuma quickly recaptured his expression and reined it back into something next to neutrality; the only deviation to be seen was a slight furrow of the brow, either in concern or a sign of active listening or thought. He hummed once and gave a single nod. "Yes. It will take a moment to brew and a moment longer still to steep...but I know of a tea that is quite effective."

He paused, eyes scanning Joe's face before his head tilted slightly. "I will meet you in the cabins once I've gotten someone to boil me some water. It would do you well to prepare for sleep and settle in so that it's at its most effective."


Offline Jabbathejack

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"In the bunk room?" Joe shook his head wearily. "I've just bloody been from there, haven't I?"

"My bunk's gone, yours too. I ain't about to turf out one of those though. They need it more than I."

He rubbed at his eyes, shaking his head once more.
"No, forget I asked. I'll make do here." He gave a tired smile. "Thank you all the same."


Offline Kreed

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Oh no, there would be no asking for his help and then turning him away once he offered. That wasn't how Akuma operated. He shook his head as Joe changed his mind. There would be no brushing off the demon now.

"Much too late for that." And it was, even though he'd had yet to lift a finger to help the bastard. "I said I would, and now I have to. Stay put if you must, but you'll be hard pressed to come into anything remotely resembling a fair sleep with all the noise on deck." He was off again, with the quick, careful pace with which many elves also seemed to move.

It was perhaps five minutes or so before the demon reappeared with a canteen and a small case. He settled on his knees in front of where Joe was seated, opening the wooden box to reveal several labelled bags of dried herbs and similar matter, as well as a mortar and pestle. Wordlessly, Akuma measured out his first ingredient: a root, of some sort, small, fibruous, and a pale red-brown in colour. He laid it gently in what might have been cheesecloth in a decidedly very small amount, before moving on to his second ingredient. This was an item similar in colour, but larger in size and cut in thick c shaped curls. Faintly, the markings of darker spots on the outside of the dried exterior could still be made out. This was, doubtlessly, some type of bark. At least, it was until the demon promptly ground it down into a coarse powder before, too, adding the dust to the cloth. This combination, he tied loosely in the cloth and let it steep in hot water, which began slowly but distinctly rich brown.

"This will help you sleep. Once it steeps a few more minutes, I'd recommend sipping it slowly. Its effect isn't immediate, but it can be quite potent."


Offline Jabbathejack

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Joe opened his eyes wearily as the demon returned. Frowning, he watched the careful process, recognising exactly none of the ingredients.

"I'll just have to take your word for it." He accepted the cup, sniffing tentatively at the contents, yet of course, he could not identify the smell either. It was, surprisingly, a quite nice aroma lifting up from the cup as the brew steeped, reminding Joe of being in the woods just after it had rained.

"Stuff brought back from Kaiten I assume?"

Glancing up at Akuma briefly, Joe turned back to the cup and blew on the liquid gently, cooling it a little before he took a small sip.

"Knowing my bloody luck, it'll probably have the opposite effect on a human and keep me awake all hours."
He managed a tired smile. "At least it doesn't taste too bad."

"Thanks." His smile seemed a little more genuine. "I reckon I'm best staying out here, out of the way. I don't think there's anywhere else to get a bit of kip. Shanks might object to me stringing up a hammock though."


Offline Kreed

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"Valerian root is actually in Thrain", Akuma said. He remained on the floor, resting his weight on his shins watching while Joe took his first tentative sip, and snorted in faint amusement.

"You know it's medicinal, yet you treat it like a delicacy." Compared to the way Fulbeck tended to put away food after a day of training, it was an amusing contrast to say the least. He shook his head and began at last to put his things away. "You should put something over yourself, like a sheet, so you don't get burned in the sun, and to block out the light."

Of course, coming to Thrain, there was little sun to speak of, but for Akuma, even a small amount could be unbearable in a few hours' time on the open water. He slowly stood and inclined his head in a short, shallow nod when the human thanked him. "Give it time to do its work."


Offline Jabbathejack

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Joe shrugged tiredly; he was a city boy through and through, how the hell was he to know about herbs?
"I know about horse medicine, not human."

Despite his fatigue, he wasn't too tired to listen to sense. He'd originally had his coat balled into a makeshift pillow, but with a faint grunt, he shifted his position and shook it out, pulling it over him like a blanket.

***

The sun was low down when he finally awoke; the movement of the ship had changed, with a far steeper incline of the waves than before. Grimacing, Joe pulled himself to his feet and stretched, feeling a pop of joints.

After a moment to gather his thoughts together, shaking off the initial disorientation after sleeping for so long, Joe made his way back below decks, ready to get back to work.


Offline Kreed

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"I don't imagine it being much different." A smile tugged at the demon's lips, but he made no effort to elaborate. He watched Fulbeck get comfortable before stepping back. "Sleep well."



"Is this the yarrow or the calendula?"

"What's the difference?"

Akuma and Tawny sat on their knees near the injured. Between the two of them was Akuma's wooden box of herbs, and Tawny held up two unlabelled vials, one full of blue liquid and the other a light amber.

"Yarrow is blue", Akuma said, "and it's an astringent. The calendula is to help with bruising, minor burns, and superficial cuts and scrapes. It has to be mixed into a tincture and heavily diluted."

Tawny frowned and set them both aside. Neither seemed appropriate for the scorched limbs of the elf that rested quietly on the cot before them, breath steady but deep with discomfort. Her green eyes narrowed in thought, brow furrowing as she poured over the contents of the box while the demon calmly looked on. Eyes bounced between a few options before gradually dancing between two choices. After a moment's deliberation, Akuma spoke up.

"Noemti'ae raiti'oez."

Tawny met his eyes and he smiled faintly, subtly tapping the compartment where a small jar of broad, still green leaves was kept.

"Our word for it is mountain lettuce," he watched as Tawny picked up the jar and opened it, giving the contents a tentative sniff before examining the leaves inside, "but I believe your people call it--"

"This is chicory-bastard-on-the-ridge." Tawny gave a quiet snort. "I didn't know it could be used for burns."

"Apply honey first, then wrap the leaves around the burn with gossamer. The combination takes the sting out but keeps the moisture in, so the skin doesn't crack."

With a grunt, Akuma moved to stand and stretch his knees before moving on to the next patient. Tawny's hands moved for the jar of honey - one among many of the supplies carefully placed in the wooden box. Both paused as Joe appeared below decks. Tawny smiled in greeting, a sunny contrast to Akuma's simple grunt and nod. 

"Glad to see you upright", Tawny said.

"Have a nice nap, Fulbeck?"


Offline Jabbathejack

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"All right." Joe spared them both a grim nod. He felt a touch of guilt at sleeping for so long, even though he had practically been ordered to by Mara.

"Still waking up." As if to prove his words, he rubbed at his eyes.

"Ahh, Fulbeck." Joe turned at Mara's voice and he headed over, ready to follow orders. Mara looked even more tired than he had been earlier.
"Excellent, here, hold this for me."

The mage pressed a bucket of water into his arms, waving away his concern as she directed him towards a group of the released slaves.
"Go on, start cleaning wounds."

From the looks of it, all those who had been at death's door had been healed, but there were far more wounded than what could be healed by the mages in a single day.

"Easy, mate." Joe muttered as he moved the clean the back of a man. The poor sod twitched as the clean, cool water touched his skin and he turned, staring up at Joe with wild eyes. He grabbed hold of Joe's arm with a grip that was surprisingly strong.

"It's all right, mate." Joe grimaced, trying to break his grip as gently as he could. "You're safe."
"Who's flag do you sail under?" The man whispered hoarsely.
"King Andrean." Joe replied, without even a moment's pause. "You're safe now."


Offline Kreed

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"I see."

Akuma smirked faintly and Tawny giggled quietly before turning back to her work with her chicory-bastard-on-the-ridge. The demon was less eager to return to work, having been at it for some time. He gave the blond an amused once-over, eyes lingering on his mussed hair.

"You sure you're awake?" His smirk widened and his tone a humoured turn. "You're almost endearing half-asleep."

Any banter was disrupted at the arrival of Mara, and Joe was turned away and put to work. Akuma stood slowly and followed the mage's stride, matching her pace before intercepting, calm but with a maternal softness to his voice.

"You've been working hard." He reached out lightly, putting a friendly hand on her shoulder. "You should rest a moment yourself. Our healers have done what they needed to. Traditional medicine should be adequate for the remainder of our wounded."

Tawny was quiet as Joe worked, waiting until he had gotten the soldier under control before joining him with a faint smile. "You have good bedside manner", she said. "I wouldn't have guessed." Being as gruff as he was, picturing the soldier as a decent medic was a bit of a stretch. If she'd not witnessed it herself, she'd have expected him to be much more cut and dry.

"Do you want to learn some elvish healing tricks Quick showed me? No magic involved. Just plants and stuff. It's not too much different than cooking in a way."


Offline Jabbathejack

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"King Andrean?" The man's eyes widened. "He's a king now?"
"Aye." Joe muttered grimly as he finally managed to free himself from his grip. "Like I said, you're safe."

He looked up as Tawny approached, rinsing out his blood stained rag.
"These people deserve..." He trailed off, turning bleakly back to his patient. They deserved some semblance of decency at the very least.

"Yeah." He muttered, answering Tawny. "If it works."

But after the sleeping potion he'd taken, he knew that this had a good chance of working.

***

Mara paused, glancing at the demon.
"There's still so much to do." She whispered, but even as she said the words, she knew that Quicksilver had a point.

"I understand." She relented, shaking her head as she exhaled. "I'd be more use having had at least some sleep."

Mara nodded grimly.
"I won't be long. If you need me, come and find me."


Offline Kreed

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"Aye. I'll make a point not to need you," Akuma said. He smiled faintly and put a light hand to her shoulder. Giving Mara a light squeeze, he spoke softly so that only she could hear, watching closely for her reaction. "You deserve a break. Take advantage of the voyage while you can. As soon as we reach land, Andrean will have you put to work again." He released the mage and allowed her to go, turning back to his fellow soldiers just as Tawny frowned lightly in thought at Joe's response.

"I think it works", she said. "The elves have been practicing for thousands of years, and that's in spite of all of their magic. That has to count for something, right?"

"Of course it works," Akuma scoffed as he rejoined them, eyes flitting toward Joe as he spoke. "And what do you use in Thrain, with no healers and no herbal remedies? Do tell."


Offline Jabbathejack

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Mara returned the small smile, leaning in to hear what the demon was saying.
"Alas, you're probably right, but I find I'm best when I'm active. When I try to take a break, there's a part of me that insists there's something wrong."

She nodded.
"Well, I'll be on my way. Thank you."

She turned and headed out to her cabin, glad of a little peace and quiet.

***

"There's healers and herbs, just..." Joe relented, glancing up at the demon briefly as he worked. "They don't usually have magic."

He turned back to his patient, rinsing out the rag and cleaning the wounds gently. He didn't want to talk about that sort of thing right now, not in front of so many injured, but back in Thrain healing was by no means a certainty. Infection was a serious killer. Duelling was largely frowned upon, but Joe had heard tales of men sticking the tips of their blades in a dung heap on their way. If they lost the duel, they at least had a chance of killing their opponent a few days later from a bad wound. Herbs be damned, if the infection got you, you didn't have a chance.


Offline Kreed

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"Magic is fine, but it's a drain of personal resources," Akuma said. "Some can't produce any at all without taking the life energy from somewhere else. Counterproductive in the art of medicine. Alchemy has a steadfast position in the realm of healing."

Not to mention poisons. It was no small fortune that the demon had gone unscathed. One small cut in the wrong place and he would have been incapable of tending to the injured. Such unpleasantries, however, were solely hypothetical. It wouldn't do to dwell on them.

"Tawny", Akuma turned their eyes onto the young woman. "You should take a break too. I know that fight took more out of you than you're letting on."

Tawny paused and glanced down at her current project, a poultice spread out on a wide leaf wrapped about a deep gash with a bit of twine. She looked for a moment as though she might protest, but slowly stood and nodded. It was though she had finally taken a moment to realize her own exhaustion.

"Yes, I'd like that, I think. Better I be at my best." She smiled between her two comrades before settling on Akuma. "You should too, Quick. You've been at it all afternoon."

"Aye, when I'm ready. I won't push myself too far."

Tawny gave a final nod to each of them before allowing herself to wander off, stiff from her long period of time on the floor beside the wounded. Akuma turned to look at Joe, silent except for the breathing of their fallen. After a moment of deliberation, the demon spoke up.

"We should talk about what happened in Kaiten. The duel."


Offline Jabbathejack

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Even though Joe was thankful for the change of subject away from the obvious flaws in Thrainish medical practices. he frowned as his demon companion mentioned their duel on the docks, just before they were due to sail.

Joe grunted as he turned back to the patient.
"It was hardly what I'd call a duel."

To Joe, a duel was between two, or more combatants, fighting over some slight or other. The intention to kill was important, and along with it, the attempt to leave at the end of it with both honour and life more or less intact. Although he had been sure that the demon was going to kill him, he realised in hindsight that his life had not been in danger. His honour, however... well, that had been in tatters long before.


Offline Kreed

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"Indeed", the demon said coolly.

Akuma's lips pursed in thought, and he turned his eyes away from Joe. He focused on an irregularity in the floorboards beneath them, eyes hidden behind thick, white lashes as he thought carefully about his response.

"I'm sorry."

It was with some reluctance that Akuma admitted his mistake, particularly because Joe himself had not been quite so apologetic given his own multitude of shortcomings for the duration of the trip. The demon sighed as he continued, looking down at the human with a soft frown playing at his features.

"I was only somewhat angry with you, because of the discussion of race the day before. But...I realize that it put you in an impossible situation, where you were afraid to out me." His expression softened, brows relaxing and eyes clouded with something that might have been a dull, deep ache if one looked closely.

"You know what it's like to have so little agency. I must have made you feel like I did in that moment, knowing what I know about you." He paused, considering his next words carefully. They weren't easy to say. "I suppose in that moment I felt...vulnerable and I lashed out at you because you were the easiest target at the time. That was wrong."