As usual when a new group of refugees arrived, Uluki's first task would be to make sure they were healthy. She would stick to the procedure that had worked so far-- see them individually, and offer them the fake "medicine" that was really just water, while it was her magic that actually healed them.
As Uluki approached Orion with the water skin, he smiled at her but shook his head. "You don't have to play these games, healer, not with Elves. I know what you can do, and what you are."
Uluki's heart seemed to miss a beat, and she grabbed the wall for support. She couldn't help but consider the irony that these refugees, who came here for safety, were such a danger to her. There was the option of not healing them, of course... but it wasn't really
an option. Healing was her calling, not the thing that happened to be her job. To deny her magic to those who needed it would be to deny a fundamental part of her nature. Many of the refugees were sick or injured enough that their problems would eventually be fatal without some sort of healing, and Uluki wasn't about to let that happen just to keep herself a little safer.
"What are you going to do?" she asked carefully, trying to come up with some sort of bargain she could make with him.
Orion laughed. "What am I going to do? Nothing. Why would I? What kind of idiot reports a healer, particularly one who seems inclined to heal him? I'm not that stupid, or that suicidal. I'm planning to survive, thanks."
The self-preservation motive did sort of make sense, but Uluki wasn't entirely convinced. "But... the law? You aren't afraid of getting in trouble?"
Orion laughed again, but this time he didn't sound quite so mirthful. "The law didn't exactly save me, did it? I think I've got better odds with you people." A long cough racked his slender frame, and his bravado fell away like an old blanket. He suddenly sounded younger, more vulnerable. "I don't give a damn if you do magic or not, as long as you take the pain away," he said with surprising candor, revealing for an instant the deep wounds inflicted on the soul as well as the body.
Taking the pain away was something she was good at, and she was able to do so for him and the other refugees, who were in various states of health and ill-health. The Goblins were surprisingly robust, a little malnourished but with no serious injuries or sickness, while the Elves were in the worst shape, riddled with disease and suffering far more physical damage from their abuse than their human counterparts had. The other refugees each fell somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, and all benefited from healing magic.
After she had finished healing the refugees and making sure they had food, bedding, and places to sleep, Uluki was making her way back to check on the others and their progress with their various projects, when Mamie stopped her in the corridor.
"The knight told me to make sure the others are nice to you, so there wouldn't be no arguing or nothing like that. Make us all get along," Mamie informed her impassively.
Uluki's conversation with Orion had given her hope; maybe Mamie was also finally coming around. "Well, that's good. I don't want us to argue. Thank you."
Mamie snorted. "I wouldn't thank me if I was you. Just because we ain't arguing doesn't mean I like you, or I ain't got my eye on you. Sooner or later, you're gonna learn there's no place for your kind here. And you know what? There's not a thing you can do about it. You think the knight will save you? Not likely. Reporting those as use magic is the law-- knight ain't gonna do nothing to us for keeping the law, now is he? Seeing as we're the ones being good citizens, and you and your old man are the criminals. And maybe your man will kill me, or Ambrose, or Del, or whoever else is saying they'll report you, but you know what? It ain't gonna make any difference. You start doing harm to folks for keeping the law, when they ain't doing nothing wrong, everyone else will turn against you too. You gonna kill us all to save yourselves?"
Uluki just listened, dumbfounded, till Mamie paused for breath. "Why are you doing this? We never hurt you. We helped you."
Mamie smiled, but not in a nice way. "It's a new world, fairy. You may try to fool us and bribe us, but we won't just take it anymore. You got no soul, so what's to say you ain't gonna turn on us the moment you feel like it? Now that I'm finally away from Snyde, I ain't gonna live in fear. I ain't gonna let you hurt me, or my kid, or my friends."
"I would never hurt any of you!" But Uluki knew the words would be meaningless to Mamie, even as they left her mouth.
"So you say. But fairies are liars, ain't they? So I don't much care for your words. Wonder if the Judges will, once they find out what you did?"
Uluki wasn't sure how to respond to that. Mamie was, in fact, right about one thing; the law was on Mamie's side, and Uluki had broken it. "He would have died," she said, seizing the only moral high ground she could see to take. "If I did what the law said, people would die."
"Sure they would, but they'd die pure and uncorrupted." The word 'uncorrupted' rolled off her tongue awkwardly, like she was repeating someone else's words, not saying her own. "That's better than living with the stains of magic. 'What is bought with magic is stolen. What is learned by magic is falsehood. What is gained through magic is damnation. What is lost through magic is everything.' That's what it says in the First Settler book, fairy. That's the truth."
Uluki stared at Mamie, trying to figure out if it was a ploy, and to Uluki's surprise, Mamie really seemed to take to heart what she said. There was a certain fire in her eyes, the mark of a true believer. "If you think we're so dangerous, why don't you just leave?" Uluki asked bluntly.
"Because I like it here, and don't reckon I want to. Because it's a good place for my son, aside from a few people like you spoiling it. Because I ain't gonna leave because you saw fit to break the law. And of course, you force me out and I go straight to the Judges. You kill me, and other refugees are gonna start turning against you. I think you're about out of options, fairy."
If Rollick had known Mamie would threaten Uluki, he would have stayed and defended his wife. But of course, he couldn't have predicted that, would have had no way to anticipate that his supply trip would give Mamie the idea of cornering the Duskling, since she could do so without his interference.
There was much to do in the way of preparations before the family set off for... wherever they ended up, including trying to find better travel clothes for the girls. Uluki, tired from the healing she had done, had decided to remain behind, as had Kira, not yet ready to face the crowded downtown area, but Dash, Zee, and Rollick would all be going shopping, accompanied by the Half-Orc Vorakh and one of the nomads, Doeni.
Rollick didn't want to leave the compound vulnerable by taking too many warriors along, especially since the fighting in Shim left them quite short-handed as compared to usual, but he also wanted to make sure the girls were safe. He and Doeni were both trained warriors, and Vorakh, though untrained, was capable in a fight. As, for that matter, was Zee, but she was so unpredictable that her participation in a brawl might not be the most helpful.
It wasn't that Rollick expected them to be attacked while shopping. It was just that, as a warrior, and simply as a person living in various dangerous places, he'd come to expect that an attack was always
at least a possibility, even if the circumstances seemed safe enough. And of course, Snyde was still at large, even if he was currently lying low.
Their departure from the compound did not go unobserved... though it was not Snyde who was watching them. Another, with an entirely different agenda, ran ahead, unseen, to inform his sellsword band, and their leader, Ianna Hij, that the quarry was on the move and ripe for the taking.