Title: Pilgrims' Plight
Author: player of Alvyara
Alvyara glanced at the red canvas tents and their guards as she passed, trying not to look like she was staring. What was going on in those camps, indeed? Shaking her head, she continued walking. She climbed on long strides into the hills west of the Landing, past the bone pillar with its still-crackling green flame, up to the bald summit where Kai's shrine waited for its own breed of pilgrim. This place, with its cool winds, was a welcome escape from the heat of town.
She pushed into the low bushes, scanning for any marallis berries the birds hadn't yet picked off. There was one - deep red as blood, hiding under a leaf. She brought it to her lips to test its ripeness, but it split between her pinching fingers before reaching her mouth, spurting a spray of garnet-hued juice over her lips and cheek. She sighed.
She had washed the blood from her face as soon as she got home, that night Malluch healed her. The hope that there might be some reason in him had lasted a little longer, but not much. As soon as he had begun reading the litany of Stone's hubris outside the museum, her internal eye-roll became the only marker of her feelings toward him. He was a blind fanatic and no mistake.
Still, she couldn't quite put herself in the shoes of anyone at the meeting last night. Had they not seen what had happened to her? Vlashandra had taken much more than her looks - her very essence and life-force had been siphoned, leaving her weak as an invalid. And Malluch had cured that, hadn't he? She thought.. she was feeling so much better, these days, it seemed. That she had made this climb was surely evidence of that. And she didn't know what Alisette meant when the halfling had spoken about coldness. All she had felt when Malluch had touched her was his gentleness.
After two hours, her basket was filled, and she climbed to the very summit to take in the view. From here she could see all the tents of the Blood Host scattered through the trees below. It wasn't Malluch who mattered to her; it was the people in those tents. She had known what it was like to have a suffering no empath could cure, and it was a certain thing there were many below with ailments far worse than hers. People who deserved help. The others in town may not believe her - may call his work parlor tricks, say rightfully that he held mad ideas and deified an evil man, that he still had time to serve - but it was plain wrong to leave the innocent to suffer if there was any chance he could heal them, too...
There was no question Thadston would act. At the worst, anything that smelled of "cult" would be expunged from the town, and her friends would face danger or exile; at the least, Malluch would be taken into custody soon. Was there any chance that a true show of service and succor might stay the marshall's hand, sway the mayor's mind? Searching over the people milling through the encampments for some sign of Malluch, she focused on a single thought, as if he might hear her. Show them again, she thought. Show them your healing power beyond doubt, if you truly have it. Or all these people will be lost.