Justice and Mercy
In part four of our local hero series, highlighting extraordinary acts by ordinary federation citizens, this reporter visited the snowy town of Acarum and spoke to Barazehr and Ruwal, who saved their squad and several others when their mission in the Citadel of Torment went awry.
Barahzer is powerfully built even for an amana stark contrast to Ruwal, a slim and delicate elf. When I met them, Barahzer was polishing her nicked and dented shield, and Ruwal was mending a gash in his purple robes. I asked them about their adventure in the citadel.
"It seemed simple," Ruwal began. "We'd cleared the lower floors and secured the only entrance. The only foes remaining were holdouts high in the tower."
Barahzer laughed bitterly. "We were sweeping the top floor with two other squads. One minute we were fine. The next there were two-headed demons everywhere! Still don't know where they came from."
"Hiding in closets, perhaps?" Ruwal suggested wryly. "The demons overwhelmed and scattered the other squads. We retreated to the staircases, but our injured couldn't outrun the enemy. Our archer and sorcerers fell in the first seconds. They hurled our other healer, a mystic, over the railing to his death."
Barahzer picked up there. "I held one staircase, but the warrior on the other went down, so I signaled Ruwal and fought back up to the top platform."
Was it hard guarding the widely-separated stairways? "Yeah," she admitted, "but I have reach with my lance, and I was swearing and yelling, keeping their attention. The hard part was that they'd flank me and get by my shield. I'd be dead if not for Ruwal!"
Priests can quickly heal even grievous injuries, but when I suggested Ruwal had his hands full healing her, Barahzer corrected me. "He's not a bandage! He healed me and the others, but I meant he blew away anyone trying to flank me."
I knew priests defended themselves in battle, but it seems well-trained priests can fight offensively as well. I asked Ruwal to explain a veteran priest's role in battle. "Like lancers, priests protect and rescue the injured. It's safest to heal from cover, but on fluid battlefields, a priest must cut a path to those in need."
"He did this one thunderclap spell," Barahzer said proudly, clapping her hands together for emphasis. "Boom! Killed a demon right behind me. Of course, then everyone wanted a piece of him, but I fended them off!"
"We protect each other so we can both do our jobs," Ruwal interjected. "As long as Barahzer's back is clear, she can stop an army. As long as I'm protected, I can heal the squad."
The two clearly know each other well. I asked when they met. They laugh in unison and say "Celestial Hills!" Both fresh out of training, they were escorting a trade caravan to Velika when a huge naga mercenary knocked out the other escorts.
"It was menacing the civilians when Barahzer charged its flank," Ruwal recounted. "She kept its attention until I could get the archer and warrior back on their feet."
"Longest minute of my life," the aman chuckled, clapping the elf on his shoulder, "but we held our ground and we won. I transferred to his squad in Velika."
How does one become a lancer? "I wasn't always tough," Barahzer admits. "This castanic kid used to trip me at school. Never got caught. When my father caught me crying, I asked him to beat the little bully. Instead, he gave me wrestling lessons. When the little thug tried again, I fed him his bootlaces."
And that's been her approach thereafter. "The world's full of thugs. My job is standing up to them. I'm a wall when I'm standing, and a river when I move. Either way, you're not getting past me."
And Ruwal? "Sorcerers serve their fellows and country by killing the enemy, saving lives by taking them. Even the best soldier can't avoid every sword-stroke or arcane lash. Kulkari chieftains can afford to squander their hordes. The federation can'tit offsets its typically inferior numbers with bravery and expert training. When bravery and training are overwhelmed, healers close the gap."
At the end of our interview, their commander, Kaidun, comes by with citations for the heroes. All in a day's work.
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