Jourd’Bellona, 5th Primera
They arrived at Harbourtown just after midnight to a scene out of a nightmare.
The buildings still stood, for the most part, but bodies littered the streets and the harbour was filled with broken boats waiting to be repaired. The sea was a dark, frothy mass, full of floating debris and corpses. Martial law was in effect, Aro could see, and all around them people busied themselves with repairing the damage.
“Does…does Harbourtown always look like this?” asked Ghia from beside him, her voice small and her face pale.
“No. There’s…there’s been a battle, it seems,” Aro answered her.
A passing soldier glanced at them and Aro hailed her. “Major Aro of the Second Regiment and Head Healer Ghia of Athering. We bring what aid we can – to whom do we report?”
“Bellica Agate is acting Eorl. Her Ladyship Gray was injured in the attack. You can find the bellica at The Worn Blessing,” the woman replied, gesturing down the street to an oceanside tavern. Aro thanked her and she went on her way.
They made their way through town towards the tavern as quickly as was prudent, picking their way through the debris-ridden street. “Should we dismount and walk?” asked Ghia, watching people having to walk around their horses.
He shook his head. “No point. And I’d rather not step on whoever fell on these streets.”
She swallowed nervously and nodded. “Right.” A deep sigh followed, and Aro suddenly realised this must be the first actual battlefield she’d ever seen.
Poor kid, he thought. He knew this trip must be hard on her – and yet she undertook it willingly, to help Anala. Aro would be forever grateful to Ghia for that.
They reached the tavern presently, dismounted and tied up their horses quickly. The interior looked like a madhouse: makeshift beds dotted the dining room, holding injured soldiers and civilians. A tired-looking bellica held conference with a man Aro assumed to be the equally tired-looking innkeeper. The major worked his way through the mess to reach the woman.
“Bellica Agate,” he said. She gave him a cursory glance. “Major Aro of the Second Regiment. I come with Athering’s Head Healer to offer you aid.”
Agate looked up with more interest, and then frowned. “Healing we could use. Where is she?”
Aro turned, expecting to see the healer beside him, and frowned as well. Scanning the room, he saw that Ghia was already at work, taking charge, directing other healers, and moving from bed to bed as she bandaged and medicated.
“Ghia,” he called, and she looked up. He made the sign to report. She nodded, gave the last of her instructions to another healer, walked over and addressed Agate directly, without preamble.
“I take it upstairs beds and the clinic are filled to capacity?” Agate gave a brief nod. “I need the aid of all medicorps in the city, Bellica, and any others you can spare. I’m going to need to move some people. We need to reorganise according to…severity,” her voice dropped, and Aro realised what she meant. It was a tough choice to make. He did not envy a healer that. “The tavern is a peaceful place,” she continued. “People will be…comfortable here.”
“I’ve no problem with your orders, Head Healer, but you’ll have to talk to Sebastien about turning his tavern into a casa de Muerta,” said Agate, sotto voce, and then she turned to Aro. “Come. You want to help? The city needs to be cleaned, and I’m short troops.” She walked to the door.
Aro looked between Agate and Ghia, torn between duty and love.
“Go, Aro. I’ve got Anala. She lives yet,” Ghia said to him, and he didn’t hesitate another moment. Quickly he ran after Agate and set his mind to the grisly task ahead.