Bad to Worse
Another day in the life of a Patrol hare, with equal parts death-dealing and death-dodging.
- Whereabouts: Salamandastron/Western Shore
- Characters: Dagda, Sersi
A scramble of arms and legs and groans and kicking and wrenching seize the precipice of the niche that leads to the mountain's mouth; it's mid-day, and the sun's vexing ray's are narrowly escaped by two figures-- one upright, one diagonal, who seek shelter within the shaded fissure. Crimson tides wash them inward, and those who've spied the struggle may recognize the erect hare as Sersi. She's covered in blood, and she's toting along some hapless hare whose luck has run short, whose ichor leaves a reckless trail as she drags him along. "Jus' a bi' further, now, me dear cousin; 'ang in, yeah?" she murmurs breathlessly to the buck, paws firm beneath his arms. He groans to alert the doe that he's heard, but words escape him this hour.
It's a nice day, really, and Dagda's got a length of freetime today. The buck is headed on the way to Halyard, walking down the passage to the entrance. He spots a pair of silhouettes blocking the light of the day; nothing unusual, until he notices the way one is slumped against the other. A slow, sick roiling begins in his stomach, one paw immediately clutching at the strap of his satchel as his pace instinctively quickens.
It's not until the shadows fall fully upon the pair that Sersi allows time for respite, nestling the hare's back against her thighs as her knees fall onto the ground- and perhaps the silhouettes will become fully fleshed forms to half-blinded sight. Sawtoothed gasps grab for air, and although the doe tries to fill this interval with searching the hare for the severity of his wounds, it seems her own need for reprieve blurs her vision; so puffing, she glances back, hoping for sight of anyone who can help her manage; and luck graces the pair as a certain healer- and by fluke, the best healer- falls into her sights. "Dag, ah- Dagda!" she calls.
"Sersi!" The name barks out of Dagda's mouth as recognition dawns on his face with the combination of improved vision and his name. The buck hurries forward, suddenly very glad his satchel is with him. In a moment he is on his knees beside the doe, looking the other buck over. "Wha' happened? Do y'know where he's hurt th' worst? Are you ok?" The healer spares a moment to look at her first.
"Don't worry about me," yips the doe, shaking her head at his concern and gesturing to the hare, whose consciousness is fluttering. "M'not certain- but I think it's, ah- pretty bad. Too much blood." She pauses to pat the buck's cheek, bidding his eyes stay open as she cradles his neck; theres a flood of gore streaming from his mid-section, and now that he's not being dragged, his paws seek to cover it in subconscious preservation. His effort is vain and ineffectual, and red spurts between his digits, pooling at his side. Sersi curses, and the dreadful look in her eye gives away her worst fear: the hare may very well not leave this passage in the realm of the living. "... routine patrol- was ambushed; more vermin, not far from the mountain," she adds, glassy gaze gripping for Dagda's.
Dagda lends her his eyes for a moment, suddenly calm and in control. "Everythin's goin' t' be alrigh', Sersi. Listen t' me. I need you t' go t' th' infirm for me, tell 'em t' send a stretcher /now./ Emergency. I'll do what I c'n for this buck. /Move./" The healer takes the other buck by the shoulders, leaning him forward for her to get up, then easing him into a prone position on the passageway floor. The satchel is hurriedly thrown down at the healer's side, flap tossed up and open. All the gauze he can find is extracted from the bag while his other paw pulls a knife from the holster at his side.
Sersi's eyes lock onto Dagda's as he speaks, grasping for any spare ounce of his self-possession; and finding that ounce, her legs surge her upward- though she pauses, briefly, to glance at the buck, frightened suddenly by the scene. She patters hindward, nodding in place of words (which seem caught somewhere in her throat), then takes off down the passage. The injured hare's eyes flit about, confused at the movement- but he's too gripped by death's lurk to recall the pair's words, or the events which led to this. One paw snatches for Dagda's arm, or leg, or whatever is nearest, claws grappling for anything, and his eyes widen with sudden clarity, words ringing clearer than they should. "Please, sah- am I to die this day?"
"Not if I have anythin' t' say about it," Dagda answers, cutting the other buck's tunic open and laying it back to get a better view of what he's dealing with. The gauze is immediately pressed to the largest wound, paw dipping back in the bag for more that he presses on the other bleeding areas. "Hang in there, m'lad," he murmurs, wondering how the buck is still conscious after losing so much blood. Perhaps that's a good sign. The healer gets the final bit of his gauze from the satchel, and, holding it in his palm, presses down on the largest of the wounds, keeping pressure on it to stanch the flow.
He's a fighter, in several senses of the word, and the poor buck's eyes struggle to stay open to watch Dagda; the shock is clear, as the pain is neglected by his resolute brain. The pressure of the gauze comforts him, and his eyelids lull shut at Dagda's words while his ichor stains the healer's paws. The time that passes between Sersi's departure and return seems an eternity, likely, by the two in the niche; but it's only a matter of minutes before footfalls of a small constituency of infirm-hares echo down the passage. Sersi shouts an obvious, "Over here!" to the stretcher-wielding beasts before falling behind as they catch sight. She skims the wall near Dagda, but the blood blocks her from viewing much of anything; she inhales sharply through her nose, and moves out of the way.
By the time help arrives, the gauze has bled through, and rather than remove it, Dagda's tunic has come off to serve in a capacity other than clothing yet again. Both paws still press on the buck's biggest injury as the stretcher sets down next to the fallen fighter. "Carefully," Dagda barks out in quick instruction. The stretcher-bearers lift the buck by his feet and shoulders and set him down again on the stretcher, lifting it up again. "Get 'im t' th' infirm, on th' double." The buck watches as they hurry off, staying behind rather than slowing them down.
Sersi now grants the wall her patronage, back firmly pressed against the coolness as she watches, wide-eyed in both wonderment and distress. Her eyes trail along with the stretcher, but her legs are anchored where she stands; and perhaps it's better, as not soon after, her knees buckle, and she slides down the wall and onto the ground, unable to support her own weight. Her head spins, and she again seeks the comfort of Dagda's gaze; she blinks away a few numb tears, and opens her mouth to speak. It takes a second before her voice starts. "... by happenstance I joined them; there are still several on the beach, bu' not in such grave need. We were back t' back, he an' I," she sputters, vision blurring and losing focus on the buck; her words seem more aimed at herself than at Dagda. But she snaps back just as soon as it may be realized; "Will he make it?"
"Maybe." Dagda is already gathering up his satchel, flipping the flap back over the top. "More, y' say? 've got t' go, then." The light shirt he wears under his uniform is already marked with moisture from the stress of the situation. "Come on, you c'n help me." The buck steps over to Sersi, crouching before her and putting out a paw to help her up. His eyes lock onto hers for a moment. "We c'n break down t'gethah latah; righ' now these hares need our help."
Shirking petrification, the doe meets Dagda's stare; the flesh beneath her eyes flinch, quelling tears and panic, and she blinks away the fret, vigor suddenly renewed. She grips his paw, hefting herself up and toward the buck. "Aye," she says firmly, then, "Let's be swift."
Dagda grips the doe's paw firmly, leading her towards the infirmary. They arrive behind the buck, who is being worked on by a team of healers. Dagda skirts the group, collecting as much healing equipment as he can lay his paws on and ramming it all into his satchel. "Let's go," he breathes, heading out the door and catching Sersi's paw again.
While Dagda scurries around, the doe halts at the door a second longer, tiptoes granting height to peer 'round the shoulders of healers tending to the hare; a sense of responsibility still resides in the depths of her mind. Unsatisfied with her vantage point but realizing the urgency, she, too, makes quick word of grabbing supplies- whatever is closest and most obvious to her- and manages fills several pockets of her tunic before the buck's tug leads her back out. It doesn't take long to scuttle back out- and the throbbing of the sun's heat is ignored, now, as the doe brusquely points downshore; "This way- where the bordering trees stand high and thick."
Tense eyes search the indicated area, Dagda carrying his satchel by the shoulder strap and feeling slightly exposed without his uniform tunic. The sun isn't quite as oppressive in the light shirt, but protection against steel typically takes priority over the rays of the sun. "How many?" the healer questions, hurrying towards the treeline.
Sersi, while trotting alongside Dagda, unhooks the bow from her back and draws an arrow, thumb and forefinger clutching at its fletching after she sets its end onto the hemp of her bow. "Four," she mutters, eyes prying along the vicinity ahead, scouring for silhouettes, and quickening her pace at the sight of the Patrollers. Two lay prone, one is knelt, and one is edging towards the forest fringe, rapier borne. Two slain or unconscious vermin also lie at the edge of the unit nearest the forest, whom the doe avoids by her own height's breadth; she strays from Dagda's side to join the armed hare, eyes searching for sign of movement. She holds her tongue, creeping ahead of the rapier-wielding Patrol hare, lifting her bow and peering through its sight.
Dagda makes a quick circle to triage the Patrollers. The wounded one is quickly examined for severity of wounds, then he's checking the prone pair as well, passing over one immediately after a pulse-check. The other becomes the first patient, a quick knife opening up clothing where needed to apply gauze and wraps. Long but shallow cuts get a treatment of the healer's own invention, a bandage in the middle of an adhesive strip, stuck down over them. He doesn't attempt to revive at this point, but moves to the kneeling hare and repeats the process.
The duo of armed hares exchanged glances, and Sersi casts an eye at her partner; a questioning one, and it grants the response: "Jus' took off, th' bloody blightah; managed t'ge' ahold o' Fleetwood," and the hare spits into the sand, weapon paw lifting to wipe the edges of his mouth. Sersi's eyes dart back, and she makes haste in the direction that's indicated by rapier-hare's gaze, footfalls careful and swift. Meanwhile, the kneeling hare gives Dagda a mournful grin; "In the knick o' time, aye? Thanks, cousin; we tried t'fend 'em off while Sersi went f'r 'elp, bu' our luck for th' day musta run out. He's dead, eh?" He gestures at the hare whose wounds were ignored. A whistle stings across the air as Sersi lets loose her string, and the baying of its target indicates her aim was true.
"Yeh, too late f'r him," Dagda replies, getting all the bleeding covered. The buck finishes up, gives the other buck a pat on the shoulder. He stands up, heading over Sersi's way. "We need t' get help for this lot, or get them back."
"Let's get 'em back; we've got three fully workin' pairs of arms and legs, an' if this stoat were on 'is way for help- well, he won't make it far," Sersi replies, eyes pinned upon her bow's distant touch; a lump in her throat is driven down before she turns her eyes, cold and crystalline, to view Dagda. "I'll help him along," she points to the yielded buck, then directs her other paw to the two lying in the sands; "If you two will carry them." Prudent and poised, she positions her bow's string across her chest while its wood curves against her back, and wanders to hoist the hare upward, his arm pulls across her shoulders and held there while her other arm hooks around his back.
"Alright. Let's get movin'." Dagda nods to Sersi, heading towards the fallen hare. "You, with me," he beckons of the rapier-bearing Patroller. "You carry th' body. I'll take th' injured one." Two poles are quickly gathered up and rammed into a tunic's sleeves, forming a makeshift travois he loads the unconscious hare onto. "Move out, Patrollahs," the healer calls, pulling the sledge behind him.
And so the hares trot away from their locus, cautious but expedient, back toward the mountain; Sersi and her passenger at the rear of their formation, with Dagda in front. It takes a bit longer with wounded in tow, but there's no sign of anymore scoundrels on the beach; it appears the five are safe- relatively, with injuries aside. The trail of blood they follow beg Sersi's notice, and she makes it a point to swipe her steps across the fresh stains that aren't cast aside by Dagda's rig.
Before long the little group arrives back at the mountain. Another group of healers is waiting at the entrance, ushering them inside. Dagda gratefully gives up his travois to the stretcher-bearing duo, leaning back against the wall, relishing the shade and cool stone after the loaded jog back to safety. One healer stays behind to update him on the first Patroller. "'e looks like 'e's gonna be okay, sah, barrin' infection. We'll keep 'im cleaned out." "Good," Dagda replies, nodding with satisfaction.
The words of good fortune are a gift to Sersi's skull-bound ears, and she rescinds her carriage of the hare once he's within reach of more well-equipped hands. The doe promptly plunges toward loam beside Dagda's feet, her sweat-drenched hide collecting small pebbles and soil as she shifts, and her fatigue begins to creep upon her; exasperated, she looks up to Dagda, sighing. The state of the doe may be noted, now; her tunic is stained from neckline to hem with blood that is not her own, as are her arms, feet, neck, and cheeks. Her breaths are jagged and wheezing, and she looks dismal as ever as she watches the slain hare toted away.
And a very good indication of shock, as it were. Dagda's paw rests gently atop the doe's shoulder, concerned eyes searching for hers. "You alrigh'? Let's get farthah inside, alrigh'?"
Glazed eyes peer at his, squinting; Sersi's addled mind ushers only a half-hearted and delayed response. "Jus' give me a minute," she begs, staunch in her position. Eyelids drop, and she sets her head on the wall.
"Alrigh'," the buck answers, dropping his paw from her shoulder to find hers. Dag settles back against the passage to wait.
His paw is gripped at first with loose grasp, though after a few moments it tightens, and she pries her eyes open once more; seeing her own blood-soaked hands, she quickly sets her crestfallen eyes on Dagda. "Don't y'need t'join them in the infirm?" she queries with sudden urgency. She frowns, then mutters off-hand, "I need t'get this gore off my fur; it's... everywhere. On everythin'."
Dagda shakes his head slowly. "There's a full staff in there, an' today was m'day off. I'd only be gettin' in th' way." His eyes spend a moment studying her blood-crusted condition. "C'mon. Let's get you t' th' baths t' get cleaned up." The healer pushes himself off the passage wall, looking back at her beckoningly.
"... fantastic way t'spend a day off, right?" Sersi jokes tepidly, offering a half-hearted smirk. She lingers against the niche's impeding walls a trickle longer before mustering the strength to join Dagda on her feet. She's wobbly at best, so the doe finds steadiness upon the buck's arm.
"No bettah way." Dagda grins a bit wider than he feels like, faking some extra mirth to put the doe more at ease. "Let's be off, then."
It's not terribly far to walk, and before long the pair arrives at the baths, with the two of them walking abreast. "This goin' t' be enough t' get you clean, or shall I wait here?" The buck indicates the 'bowls' designed for washing.
Sersi stares at the bowls, time passing her in odd ways such that her response is delayed by several peculiar moments; she then half-laughs, turning to Dagda; "Y'might want t'wait here- or you could, ah, grab something from the dormitory for me to change into," she says, blinking; "There're things in the trunk at the foot of my bed, yeah?" A thoughtful second draws into another moment. "It's th' one with a dried corsage at its nightstand." Another half-laugh escapes in place of an embarrassing flush. "Then wait 'ere in case y'hear someone drowning."
Dagda just smiles at her several half-jokes/half-laughs, unobtrusively attempting to prevent aggravating her condition. "Alrigh', I'll be back in a tick. Don't drown." The healer heads off at a purposeful rate, looking more official than ever despite his lack of a uniform.
"Why would y'want to be back in a /tick/?" the doe murmurs, more to herself than the buck, chuckling at the thought of a parasitic arachnid, rather than what the buck obviously meant. She shakes her head as she wanders into the enclosure meant for does, and hopefully she does not drown.