The tips of her fingers brushed across the man’s forehead, a deep frown furrowing her expression as she felt the heat of the fever burning bright in his skin. The poor Breton likely wouldn’t make it through the night, she knew – her efforts were wasted on him, afflicted as he was. Even her most potent of potions had utterly failed to chase the disease from his flesh and restore him to wellness – there were some deaths that even her considerable talents could not prevent. The Divines gave and took, as was their right; all she could do now was ease his passage.
With a soft sigh, she pulled the skein of water from her hip, carefully parting his jaw and pouring the cold liquid over his dry tongue; this elicited a gasp and a snarl from him, as he stirred – fever-bright eyes opening and widening at the sight of her, bent over him. He struggled, trying to pull away, but too weak to succeed. “Shhh…” Her voice was a whisper, even as his arm rose, trying to bat her away. A soft sigh, and she bowed her head, averting her gaze.
“Friend… you are a long way from home, and you are dying. I will do what I can to take your pain and ease your passage, but now would be the time to make peace with the Gods.”
The man grunted and struggled to pull away from her ministrations; she let him go without resistance, hands coming to rest in her leather-clad lap, eyes closing and head bowed as she listened to him struggle to sit up, and then collapse a few feet away in the mud.
“Wh-what are you. Who are. Where am I?”
His voice was a broken rasp, confused and afraid; her heart ached for him. He was barely out of boy-hood, cheeks downy with a half grown beard.
It wasn’t the first time a patient had tried to flee her ministrations in fear, and it wouldn’t be the last. Even for an Orsimer, the afflicted of Malacath, she was hardly beautiful – hair thin and the color of straw, skin a murky shade of green the exact color of pondwater in high summer, a fetid green. Her tusks curved from her lips, protudent in such a way that gaze her an expression of perpetual uncertainty; of course she looked like a monster to him, so accustomed to fair-skinned Breton ladies in fine silk dresses. Kharza was in rags, leather, and her prized chainmail hauberk. She knew she stank of the poverty that was her lot in life. She wasn’t angry with the boy – only sad for him.
“I am Kharza.”
He whimpered and reached a hand toward her – death being more fearful, by far, than the ugly woman. “Please don’t leave… oh Gods, please don’t leave me here to die!”
“Of course I won’t… shhh, friend. I will do what I can. The end has not yet come.”
Her voice was soft, a bit rough from disuse, and she drew him closer, carefully tending the dying man. It would be a long day, but… it was all she could give him. Her time and care, in these final hours. Perhaps it wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing at all.
No man should have to die alone.