Garkhen slept poorly that night, his dreams a confused, disturbing jumble. He tossed and turned, his mind haunted by the images of what he had seen during the day, mixed and distorted by his dreaming mind. While he could remember little enough of the specifics in the morning, it was still more than he wished.
The next day was, indeed, worse than the last, both due to his poor night’s sleep and due to the steadily growing stream of horrific injuries. Lt. Ailill ordered him to use his healing spell-prayers earlier and more often, and by the end of the day, the half-dragon could hardly stay on his feet.
Over the course of the next several days, Garkhen settled into a sort of equilibrium, where he was able to keep himself functional enough that he could manage to get through each day without exhausting himself too early, though sometimes it was a near thing. And Lieutenant Ailill had been right—he had to conserve his energy to save as many lives as he could.
That didn’t keep those who died from haunting his dreams.
For all that he knew he was doing all he could, Garkhen felt that somehow, he should be able to save all of them. That he should be skilled enough, should have enough endurance to heal every wounded soldier brought in. And sometimes… sometimes he thought that if he were there, on the front lines, perhaps they wouldn’t have been injured in the first place.
In the rare moments that had to rest, Garkhen silently observed the other healers. The three priests of Mashano from Telarnen’s Company clearly showed their fatigue. Lt. Ailill… he seemed increasingly brusque. Garkhen slowly came to wonder if perhaps his manner was, in truth, an attempt to hide his own fatigue and nightmares. As for the others… he soon came to realize how fortunate he was to be in the Company. It was clear the others preferred to keep their distance from him, and he heard, a few times, comments about the “monster in the other room”.
It was worst when the soldiers he treated reacted similarly. Those who were still lucid would usually disguise whatever surprise or fear they felt at his presence quickly, but those who were not… it pained him whenever it became clear their screams were due to his appearance rather than their wounds.
Those screams haunted his dreams, too.
Not exactly the most cheerful post, but, well, war is not a cheerful thing. As Garkhen is discovering.
This is the end of Chapter 6. The next chapter will be somewhat happier, don’t worry. Well, for some people.