“The patients will be gathered in one place then?” As soon as she heard the news from Hossal, Miral was clearly relieved. “That’s great. This place needs to be available for other patients as well, so I was worried about how we would handle it.”
Curling his lip, Hossal looked outside the window.
“But, this means that we will need to be in two places at the same time. We will become absurdly busy.”
Immediately after the incident, Hossal had sent a pigeon to Otawal’s Sacred Land, recounting the situation in great detail. In return, the director of Shin Academy had sent a pigeon promising that he would dispatch doctors and nurses. However, they couldn’t afford to wait for them to arrive from the Sacred Land. Hossal carefully instructed his own pupils, stating that they needed to control everything, from the bedding and diagnosis of those bitten to the meals they were given. His instructions were so through that it caused one to wonder whether all this was necessary.
His pupils were also well versed with medical techniques, but there was no way that he could leave everything to them. What with having to treat patients at the cabin in addition to the usual treatment at the <Hive of Small People>, it was plain as day that the burden on Hossal and Miral would increase tremendously.
Even so, just as Miral had said, they were lucky that they were able to secure a single place to isolate and specifically treat the patients suspected to have caught the Black Wolf Fever, since it was still an infectious disease even though the risk of spread from person to person was fairly low.
“…Say.” Miral reluctantly spoke up.
“How about getting help from Master Rona’s pupils?”
Hossal’s face darkened. Seeing this, Miral forced her voice to remain steady, adding, “In a certain sense, it’s a good opportunity, I think. If we can get them to observe our scientific methods…”
Hossal shook his head with a bitter expression, unexpectedly narrowing his eyes in thought. For a long time he said nothing, just thinking it over, but eventually he raised his head, looking at Miral.
“It’s a dangerous bet, but I guess we can give it a try.”
Miral nodded tensely.
Master Rona indifferently accepted Hossal’s request, and sent a pupil called Mana over to the temporary hospital. Mana was a tall and thin young man with a bit of a hunchback, carrying the medical tools of a clerical healer with him in a cloth bag. At a first glance he looked quite young and unreliable, but when they explained their treatment processes to him, he picked things up quickly despite being unfamiliar with them. Master Rona had apparently sent them an especially gifted youth, even among his pupils.
As soon as Lord Ouhan heard that Master Rona’s pupil would be working under Hossal and helping with the treatment, he was delighted, and readily agreed for the Ziolians that were bitten by the dogs to be transferred to the cabin in the Forest of Dicar. In addition to shouldering various expenses, he even went as far as paying a large doctor’s fee for them.
By noon of the third day after the incident, almost all the patients had been transferred to the cabin, save for Utal, Lord Ouhan’s eldest, who had apparently persuaded his father and was resolutely resisting a transfer to the new hospital.
All of the patients in the hospital had been complaining about fevers and sluggishness. However, these were not unexpected when dealing with infected injuries like dog bites.
It was only on the morning of the sixth day since the hunt that they began to show abnormal symptoms.
“…Master Hossal.” Mana rushed into Hossal’s room.
It had been drizzling since the night before. He had sprinted across the courtyard, and now was brushing wet hair out of his face as he reported to Hossal, his face pale, “Rashes have appeared on a falconer.”
Hossal’s face immediately tensed. Glancing at Miral, he started to walk towards the door. Wordlessly, Miral swiftly retrieved a wooden box from a shelf, and followed after Hossal.
“I’ll take this.” Makokan tried to take the box off her, but Miral shook her head.
“Don’t mind me. It’s light. There’s a specific way to hold this.” Her voice was firm, but her face had become pale.
Despite not knowing what it was, Makokan understood that Hossal and Miral were prepared for something to happen, after seeing their faces.
“You bring that bag over there with you.”
Following Hossal’s order, Makokan trailed after the two, holding a cloth bag.
That was the beginning of the sleepless days.
At first only symptoms common to influenza such as a sore throat and fatigue had appeared, but once the rashes appeared, the other symptoms appeared one after another. It was one of the peculiarities of Black Wolf Fever. The falconer who had broken out in rashes in the early morning, had a high fever by evening, and after barely managing to tell them that his body felt like lead, he fell into a coma. Unfortunately, the medical treatments had no effect and he soon began to furiously convulse. By midnight, he had passed.
When Miral covered his face with a white cloth, the falconer’s wife and daughters, who had been watching from a corner of the room, broke down crying in each other’s arms. They were very pitiful since the infectious nature of the disease meant that they weren’t allowed to approach him, and weren’t able to even hold his hand in his final moments.
Miral sighed deeply, shut her eyes, and let her head hang. She stayed like this for a good while, but eventually she opened her eyes, quietly giving the falconer’s family her condolences as she led them outside, asking them to rest in another room while she cleaned the corpse.
Mana accompanied them. Once they were in the corridor, he quietly approached the falconer’s wife and children, gently introducing himself, “I’m the clerical healer Mana.”
The falconer’s family quickly lifted their faces, looking imploringly at Mana. Meeting their gaze, Mana said calmly, “His last moments were painful, but the God of Heaven has seen his suffering. Right now, God is embracing your husband. He approves of his great efforts in life, and is leading him to his final rest in heaven.”
He said all that without even the slightest fluctuation in his voice. As soon as they heard that, tears welled up in the eyes of the wife and daughters. Mana continued in a quiet voice.
“It must be painful. But, please do your best and live on well. God is watching over you. If you use the fleeting time on this earth that God has given you to lead a magnificent life, you will eventually receive the opportunity to be in your husband’s arms again in heaven. You must be patient until then. Please lead a proper life.”
The wife and daughters started to cry loudly. However, unlike how they had been so far, they seemed somehow lighter – as if they had let go of something.
Miral stared at all this in blank amazement.
Makokan looked at Mana, who had bent down to console the wife and daughters, and thought, As I thought, clerical healers are more like god’s servants than doctors. When it comes to things where humans are powerless, the clerical healers might be able to save people.
That sentiment suddenly crossed his mind.
Caught in her own thoughts, Miral was also staring at Mana and the bereaved family with a difficult expression. She might be feeling the same thing.
After Mana had finished dealing with the family, they gathered again. Miral stepped up next to Hossal who was still looking down at the falconer’s corpse.
“…You think there’s any chance it could have been tetanus?” Her voice was muffled and rather difficult to understand through the cloth mask. .
Hossal shook his head in silence.
“Well, figures. He never did experience an aversion to sound and light, and the progress of the convulsions was different too.” Miral muttered, and feeling Mana’s gaze on her from the corner he had discreetly taken up, she lightly touched a syringe laying next to the bed.
“It didn’t work, I guess. Even though I had some hope for it, since it managed to respond to the <Black Wolf Fever Germ> we cultivated.”
A quiet voice could be heard from a corner of the room, “<Black Wolf Fever Germ>?”
Miral turned around and beckoned Mana closer. When the tall youth was fairly close, Miral quietly said, “We believe that there are very, very tiny creatures that trigger the illness. We’re calling them <Disease Germs>.”
Mana lifted an eyebrow, “Creatures? Ones that trigger illness?”
Hossal said with a tired voice, “I’ll show them to you later.”
Mana’s eyes widened, obviously startled.
“Eh? You’re saying you can see the cause of the disease? If they are big enough to see…”
Hossal shook his head.
“They aren’t big. You can’t see them under normal circumstances. It’s not possible to see the germs of the Black Wolf Fever but you can see the germs of some other diseases.”
“Just what…do you mean…?”
“Sorry, I don’t have the energy to explain all that to you right now.” Sighing deeply, Hossal looked at Miral. “In any case, it looks like it was very likely that those dogs carried <Black Wolf Fever Germs>, I think.”
“Are we going to try administering the two types of medicines to the other patients before the rashes appear? If so, I think we should do so as quickly as possible. The Black Wolf Fever progresses quickly, after all. …To be honest, it’s probably already too late. If we had administered them immediately after they were bitten, perhaps it might have been different.”
Hossal was about to nod as he reached for the syringe, but suddenly narrowed his eyes. For a short while he was frozen as he thought, but soon he shook his head.
“Leaving the <Vaccine> aside, we should administer the <Antibody Treatment> just to the Ziolians.”
Listening to the conversation between the two of them, Makokan was quietly confused.
Does that mean they won’t administer it to the Akafans? …Why?’
Mana was puzzled as well, and asked why they wouldn’t administer it to the Akafans. Miral politely answered him and apparently it was a reply that Mana could accept, but Makokan didn’t have the slightest clue what was going on despite listening the whole time.
I wonder whether I can get them to explain it to me in plainer language, he wondered, but since it was clear that Hossal would shout at him if he spoke up now, he remained silent to the end.
The following morning, rashes appeared on the other Ziolians as well. Perhaps because the medicine administered before the rashes appeared was somewhat effective, they stayed conscious until the next day, but eventually, one after another, fell comatose, convulsed, and died, all without responding to any of the medical treatments.
At this point in time, only Utal and Orim were left alive amongst the Ziolians that the dogs had bitten but as of yet, not a single Akafan had broken out with rashes.
Hossal had barely slept over those two days. His fatigue was so clear that it could be seen from a fair distance.
“…Master Hossal.” Mana timidly said to Hossal, who was eating his breakfast while standing during a short moment of respite. “Would you please drink this?”
Looking at the teacup being held out to him, Hossal lifted an eyebrow. “What’s this?”
“It’s a tea brewed with six types of herbs. It’s a natural remedy that works well against overwork. Master, you might already know of this remedy, but if not, then please try it.” His face was a little pink from embarrassment as he said this. “The last few days you allowed me to witness many new methods of treatment. This is my thanks for all that.”
Hossal lifted the teacup with his eyebrows furrowed, and took in the aroma of the slightly warm tea.
“…I’ve never smelled anything like this before.” Hossal drained the tea in one breath, and then grimaced.
“Was it bitter?”
“No,” Hossal shook his head. “It was far easier to drink than I had expected.”
As soon as he heard that, Mana’s expression relaxed in relief.
“I’m glad to hear that. I’m sure it will work in that case. After all, how easily you are able to drink it reflects how accepting your body is of it.”
Hossal thanked him and returned to the treatment again, but as darkness descended outside, he suddenly noticed that his body felt strangely warm. He was still tired, but it didn’t feel like his body was weighed down with lead anymore. When he informed Mana of that during dinner and thanked him once more, Mana’s face betrayed his genuine happiness.
“That is wonderful. The Pure Spirit faith’s healing art has the best techniques for creating tonics to help humans live healthily. If it could alleviate even a bit of your fatigue, I am more than happy.”
Hossal seriously regarded Mana, then glanced at Miral, before turning his eyes back on Mana.
“…I see.” Some kind of deep emotion filled his voice. “Our medical arts differ in many things, but…I believe there are some things that we both wish for. Though that’s only natural.” And then he suddenly smiled, “If you don’t mind, would you teach me the prescription of that medicinal tea? I’d like to let Miral drink it as well.”
Mana nodded cheerfully.
“That goes without saying. I will write down the prescription and give it to you. Lady Miral is a woman, and from what we’ve seen, a woman’s body requires a different concoction. I shall immediately brew and offer her some.”
Seeing Miral smile and thank him from the bottom of her heart, Mana cast his eyes down with his cheeks flushed.
Watching that exchange from a corner of the room, Makokan barely managed to suppress the smile that was threatening to break out by clenching down his lips.
Clerical healers of the Pure Spirit faith don’t take wives, do they? Well, even without that, this young man seems to still be quite pure-hearted. He looks happy about being addressed by Miral, and even though he seems to be having some difficulty articulating himself, he still answers her.
For the first time in a while Makokan felt a heartwarming sensation fill his body while watching Mana.