Epidemic (version 2)

Danai, Urik’s daughter, walked toward where Kami lived for a very different reason this time.  It had been weeks since Urik was ill, and her hand was recovering nicely.  Now, however, Danai was sick.  Her mom had told her it was minor and not to bother Kami, so she wouldn’t—he wouldn’t even have to know she was there.  She just wanted someone to play with.

She entered and snuck back to the room Kami and Jacob shared.  Kami was making a few house calls, Jacob was in bed, and Veria was napping in the corner.  Danai woke Jacob and whispered, “My mom said I can’t play with any friends ‘cuz I’m sick, but I figured you’re already sick, so it should be okay.”

“Oh, okay,” Jacob sleepily replied.  He didn’t have many friends, since he couldn’t do a lot of the things most kids his age did, but Danai came by every so often and kept him company.  She was a little older, but she was nice.

Danai patted her bag and added, “I brought some blocks, ‘cuz your toys aren’t as good as mine.  I bet I can build a higher tower than you can.”  Jacob might not be able to play tag with the other kids, but building with blocks was something he was very good at.  It took patience, and that was a skill he had learned long ago.

“No way,” he protested.  “I’ll prove it to you.  Pass me that big one to start with.”

Several minutes went by as they added to their towers.  Jacob’s tower was growing more slowly, but it had a much more solid foundation.  He watched as Danai reached for one more block.

“It won’t work,” Jacob noted.  “It’s gonna fall.”

“Will not!”

“Will too!”

Danai carefully placed the block on top, frowning in concentration.  “See!  Told’ja!”  She beamed for half a second before the block tipped and the whole tower tumbled over, waking Veria.  “Whoops!  Sorry, doggy!”

Veria eyed Danai warily, uncertain how she felt about the girl’s presence.  As long as Jacob seemed up to playing, she mused, there seemed no harm in it.  She settled down to watch the two play.  After a few minutes, Danai started laughing at a joke she had made, which turned into a coughing fit.  Veria had been around enough sick people to know that something sounded wrong.  She tried to nudge Danai away from Jacob, but Danai just giggled and pushed back.  Hmm…

Veria didn’t want to leave the two children alone, but she also felt it was important to get Kami.  He would know whether it was okay for the two to play together.  If only she knew exactly where he was…  no matter; she would find him.

As Veria scanned the streets, looking for Kami, she ran across someone else searching.  It was Urik, Danai’s mother.  Veria decided to alter her plans.  She went over to Urik and barked quietly.

“Oh, you’re Kami’s dog, aren’t you?  I’ve think I’ve seen you there before.”

Veria did her best to politely nudge the woman toward Jacob and Danai.  “Is Danai with Kami and Jacob?” Urik asked.  Then she chuckled to herself, wondering what she was doing talking to a dog.  Still, the dog seemed insistent, so Urik decided to follow.

Veria led her to Kami’s home, and Urik knocked.  She called to Kami, but Veria opened the door and waved the woman onward.  “That’s quite a trick,” Urik said.  Then she called again, “Kami?  Are you here?”  There was no answer, but there were some suspicious noises coming from the back.

“Uh oh, Mom’s here.  Quick, I need to hide!”  Danai and Jacob looked around, but the room was rather bare.  She dived under Kami’s bed.

Urik knocked on the door, and Jacob answered.  “Is Danai here?” she asked suspiciously.

“Uhh…” Jacob didn’t want to tell on his friend, but he couldn’t think of anything else to say.  “Umm…” he said, glancing at the bed.  Urik raised an eyebrow, marched over, and bent down to peer under the bed.

“Danai!  What did I tell you about playing with other children right now?  You’re sick, and you need to stay home and rest.  Besides, you don’t want to get your friend sick, do you?”

“But Mooom, he’s already sick!  And we weren’t doing anything but playing with blocks anyway.  And it’s so boring at home!  I’ve been stuck there for days!”  Danai pouted, but Urik would have none of it.

“You’ve been home for one day, and you’d be better sooner if you stayed in bed like I told you!  Furthermore, it isn’t—” Urik stopped her lecture as they heard the outer door open and close.  “Kami?” she called.

Kami entered, clearly surprised to see Urik and Danai there.

“I’m sorry to intrude, but Danai snuck out of the house and I found her here,” Urik explained.

She’s sick,” Veria communicated to Kami, “and I don’t think she should be playing with Jacob.”

“Is Danai okay?” Kami asked, striding over to check.

“How did you—oh, I suppose it’s easy for you since you’re a doctor.  She’s fine,” she said, glaring at Danai, “and we weren’t going to bother you with it.”

“I’d be happy to take care of her,” Kami said.  “Let me get a look at her.”

Urik drew Danai back.  “Thank you for your kindness, but I don’t want her rewarded for sneaking out of the house.  She’ll be just fine with a few days’ rest.  We’ll be going now,” she added, “and I’m sorry again for disturbing you.”

Kami assured her it wasn’t a problem, and he then turned to Jacob.  “Are you okay, Jacob?”

“Uh huh.  She brought blocks and we played with them and we builded towers and hers was taller but it fell down,” he said, words rushing out with excitement.  “Mine didn’t,” he added proudly.  “Then she hided under the bed but her mom catched her and got mad.”

The experience had given him some energy, but he now looked rather drained.  “I’m tired now,” he said.

“Okay, let’s get you back in bed,” Kami said.  You’ve had some fun today, so now it’s time to rest.”

“Nooo, I wanna be with you!” Jacob complained.

“Okay, since we don’t have any patients, you can nap on the bed by my research equipment.”  Jacob fell asleep moments later, and Kami got back to his research.

A few hours later, Vaq came in with a broken leg.  He had been climbing a ladder to repair his roof, and the ladder had slipped.  Kami quickly moved Jacob to their room to make space for the man, and then took a look.   It wasn’t a difficult fix, so with a little time and care, Kami was able to send him on his way.  Things continued like that, with Kami going back and forth between mending minor wounds and doing research.

Later that night, Jacob started coughing and appeared flushed, and a quick Flawless Diagnosis Technique showed that Danai had given whatever she had to him.  It wasn’t surprising, given the boy’s immune system, but Kami had still hoped he would escape the disease.

Kami healed Jacob, as he did every evening, fighting the death essence the young boy’s body produced.  With a little extra work, he was able to rid Jacob of the disease from Danai.  Now the only one still dealing with it would be Danai.  Kami wasn’t sure he agreed with Urik that Danai shouldn’t be healed, but he would respect her wishes.

The next day, Kami and Jacob woke to a beautiful morning.  After breakfast, Kami began tinkering with a dispersion system for the sleeping gas he was perfecting.  He was half-listening to Jacob chattering happily about whatever went through his mind, and they continued like this for several hours.  Just when Kami had it almost figured out, he was interrupted by a request for a housecall.  Kami had expected Vaq to have a full recovery, but he had apparently fallen ill with Danai’s mysterious illness.

Kami put Jacob down for a nap and asked Veria to watch him.  He then headed over to Vaq’s house.

“I’m so sorry,” Kami told Vaq.  “Jacob was ill and had been napping on the bed before you came in.  This shouldn’t take long to clear up, but I apologize for the inconvenience.  I just wasn’t thinking.”

Vaq replied, “That’s just fine.  I’m feeling under the weather, but it sounds like this isn’t a real concern.  Thanks for checking on me.”

“Let me at least heal you,” Kami said.  “It won’t take long, and it’s the least I can do after—”

Suddenly, Veria burst through the door.  “Kami,” she thought.  “Jacob is crying.  Nothing seems wrong, but I can’t quiet him down.  Can you come soon?

“Is something wrong?” Vaq asked.

“I think Jacob may be upset about something,” replied Kami.  The villagers seemed uneasy with the idea of a dog who could communicate so perfectly with Kami, so he kept things vague.  “Do you mind if I take care of this first?” he asked while Veria raced home.

“I’m fine, really,” responded Vaq.  “Go take care of Jacob, and I’m sure I’ll be better with a little rest.  I’ve been wanting a day off anyway, and you fixed that broken leg before I got a chance!” he chuckled.

“Okay, if you’re sure.”

Vaq nodded and waved him on, and Kami headed home.

Kami entered the building and went to the back room, where Jacob waited in tears.

“Uncle Kami!” he sobbed.  “I had a dream that the bad man came back and trapped me in a tower made of blocks, and the tower falled down and I got squished!”

Jacob had been kidnapped by the Pool of Death months ago, and he still had frequent nightmares about it.  As if the poor boy didn’t have enough to worry about.  Kami held him and rocked him back and forth until he settled down.

Kami pointed at the bracelet on Jacob’s wrist.  “Jacob, what does this bracelet do?” he prodded.

“It, it tells you where I am.”  It also gave Kami a rough idea of how he felt and his vital signs, but that was a little harder to explain.

“That’s right, Jacob.  I will always be able to find you now, so I can work to keep you safe from bad people.  Remember how I promised that the bad man won’t hurt you anymore?”  The Pool of Death had been killed by Amamire, who sacrificed herself to save Jacob, Kami, and the rest of the party.  That didn’t mean that Jacob was safe, exactly, but at least the bracelet gave Kami a connection to Jacob that he lacked before.

Over the course of the next two days, Kami had several visitors suffering from the same ailment as the others.  He cured each and sent them on their way, until Urik came running in, panicked.

“Urik!  What’s wrong?  Has Danai gotten worse?”

“It isn’t Danai,” Urik said, struggling to catch her breath.  “It’s Vaq.  I stopped by his house to check on him, since I felt bad that he caught Danai’s disease.  He’s not breathing, and I think… I don’t know if he’s still alive.”

Kami was speechless.  He had only had a minor infection the other day—how could this happen?  He mumbled thanks to Urik for the notice and ran out, heading to Vaq’s house at full speed.  Unfortunately, Kami had arrived too late.  Vaq’s body was cold; he had been dead for hours.

Kami carried Vaq to his laboratory in a daze.  Once there, he used Flawless Diagnosis Technique and found that not only did the man have Danai’s disease, but he also was suffering from an advanced case of Jacob’s ailment.  The amount of death essence in Vaq’s body was incredible.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Kami muttered to himself.  “Jacob isn’t contagious unless he goes days without being treated.  Something must have changed…”  Kami suddenly realized that Jacob’s additional sickness must have allowed the death essence in his body to multiply, therefore causing the contagious nature to assert itself after a shorter period of time.  He’d need to keep Jacob in isolation until he could study this more carefully, and perhaps heal him more frequently.

“Jacob,” Kami began.  “I know you like to play in my research area, but you’re going to need to stay in our room for a while.”

“Why?”

“I, uh…” Phineas would surely have had a good story that would reassure Jacob, but Kami knew he had to tell him what was going on.  “I think there’s something about your sickness that might get other people sick, and I need you to stay back here until I can find something to make everything better.”

“How long will it take?”

“I don’t know,” Kami replied.  “I’ll need to run some tests to try to isolate the issue.”  Jacob looked at him quizzically.  “To figure out what’s wrong.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Kami?” a voice called from the door.

“Stay here and rest, Jacob.  I’ll be back soon,” Kami said as he went to greet the visitor.

“Kami, thank goodness you’re here,” the man said, rushing to get his words out.  “Please come—something’s wrong with my wife.”  Dex was a good man, though he was known around town for his strong opinions.  He wasn’t shy about sharing them, either.  Pala, Dex’s wife, had been one of the first to get sick.  She, too, had come to his research lab, where Jacob had been playing.

“I’ll be right there,” Kami said.  They raced to visit Pala, and Kami found her in grave condition.  Examining her, he found that while she had recovered from Danai’s illness, she was now producing death essence herself, much like Vaq.  She was still alive, he thought, but not by much.  Kami sat down to begin healing her, but as he started focusing his Essence, the light left her eyes.  She, too, had succumbed to the death essence.

“No!” Kami cried.  “This can’t be happening!  Not her, too!”

Dex stared at Kami, stunned and in shock.  Kami stood slowly, lost in his emotions.  First Vaq and now Pala… these villagers he had lived with and healed were now dying, and he wasn’t able to do enough to save them.  He had to change things… he had to make things right.  Suddenly, something in him snapped.  He walked out in a daze, leaving Dex to grieve.

“I need to see everyone who has visited my laboratory in the past few days,” Kami thought.  “I can’t see them in the laboratory, though.”  He then came across the perfect idea—the one-room schoolhouse would be large enough to house a number of sick people, without exposing them to Jacob’s disease.

With help from the villagers, Kami managed to set up a secondary hospital there, far from Jacob.  This way he could treat Danai’s disease without exposing them to Jacob’s.  He gathered everyone who had come to him since Danai’s visit.  They were in varying stages of health, ranging from completely asymptomatic to near death.

“I’ll try to make this brief.  As you all know, Jacob is very ill.  With careful healing and care, I have kept his disease stable.  Unfortunately, something about this disease that has been going around caused him to become contagious.  I have gathered you all here because you have visited my laboratory, and I fear that you may have become infected.

“Vaq was among the first to have caught the bug.  I’m not sure exactly how, and I’m not sure quite why, but that appears to have made him susceptible to Jacob’s disease.  Vaq’s body began manufacturing death essence in large quantities, and since he was already weakened by the original bug, he passed on before I even knew how sick he was.”

There were a few gasps as people began to murmur about Vaq’s death.  He had lived alone, and only Urik already knew what had happened.  A few villagers had witnessed Kami carrying him to examine him, but it hadn’t been clear that it was an autopsy rather than a more traditional visit.

“Only moments ago, we lost Pala.  I know several of you have also been ill.  I’d like to examine some of you now to try to determine the nature of this epidem… err, episode.”

Kami went over to Urik and Danai.  “Urik, Danai was the first person I know of to have this bug going around town.  Has she shown any signs of anything else?”

Danai hid behind Urik.  She liked Kami, but she didn’t like the idea of people dying.

“No,” Urik replied, “and she seems to be getting better.”

“May I examine her, please?”

“Certainly.  Danai, Kami’s going to make sure you’re okay.  Come on out.”

“No!  I feel fine and I don’t need a doctor.  ‘Specially not one who didn’t fix me when I was sick.”

Kami knelt down to meet her eyes.  “Your mommy was trying to teach you something very important, but this is even more important.  Please let me make sure that you’re okay.”

Danai hesitated, but finally agreed.  Kami used Flawless Diagnosis Technique and determined that the girl was fine.  She no longer had a fever, and the disease had completely left her body.  Death essence was nowhere to be found.

“You’re healthy, Danai,” he told her.  “Thank you for letting me check.”  He turned to the waiting crowd.  “I need another volunteer.  Remind me—who came to visit me yesterday morning?”

“I came early on, and I started to get better.  Today, though, I’ve been feeling worse and worse,” said one woman.  Kami went to her and determined that she, too, showed signs of death essence.  Several others did, as well.

“Okay,” Kami said.  “This disease is spreading, and we need to stop it now.  I need to heal everyone who has interacted with Jacob or visited us since yesterday morning.  Is anyone missing?”

“I’m here, but I’m fine as it is,” declared Dex.  “I feel just fine, and I don’t need any more of your fancy magic, especially if it was your boy who’s been getting us sick to begin with.”

Kami managed just in time to keep himself from explaining that what he did was really science.  It was all about manipulation of Essence, and once you understood that… but that wasn’t the issue right now.  “Whether you feel ill or not, it’s vitally important that I heal everyone who has been ill and come into contact with Jacob.  I won’t let anyone else die.”  Kami noticed the skepticism on the man’s face.

So did Urik.  She stepped in, noting, “Vaq and Pala already had to lose their lives.  Let’s use what Kami has learned to save the rest of us, in their memory.”

A few people made statements of agreement, but Dex just gave a stony stare.  Kami tried focusing on the other villagers.  “Are there any other objections?” Kami asked.

Dex spoke up once more.  “How do we know we won’t all get sick again from that kid of yours?  What’s the whole point of this if he’s just going to lead to more disease?”

“To be honest, I can’t promise you that Jacob will never infect another person, or that his disease won’t cause further problems.  I can tell you that I’m learning more each day.  These deaths were a horrible way to learn, but I will use this knowledge to save people now and to work to ensure everyone’s safety.”

“Look, you can do whatever fancy magic you want, but I ain’t getting near that kid again.  He’s a danger, and I don’t trust him.”

“Jacob has done nothing wrong,” Kami told Dex heatedly.  “He was infected at a very young age, and he was the only survivor of his entire village.  His only chance at a somewhat normal life is if I can find a cure, and I will do so.  Don’t punish Jacob for the evils of another.”

“But he needs to be—”

Kami cut him off as he heard a wracking cough coming from somewhere in the crowd.  “We can discuss this later.  Now, we need to get this taken care of.”

Dex stormed out.  He hadn’t contracted Danai’s illness, so Kami let him go.  Kami then concentrated and focused his energy.  He put everything he had into this combination of healing charms.  Zipping from one person to the next, every person he touched was suffused with a golden glow, as if they too were Solars who had expended copious amounts of Essence.  He left a golden trail behind him as he criss-crossed the village square in a pattern that made sense to only him.  The villagers had seen him work before, but they were shocked by this display, the fact that they too were glowing, and the brilliant bonfire Kami became.  After spending so much Essence on diagnosing people, he had to draw some from his surroundings.

Less than a minute later, the villagers’ glows began to fade.  Kami’s still burned brilliantly, as he was the one who had done the healing.  The people looked back and forth at each other.  They couldn’t even focus on Kami, since he was shining so brightly.

“You should all be fine now.  Go home and rest,” Kami told them.  They scattered, shocked by what had just happened.  Kami, too, went home, but he was troubled.  Dex was just one person, but what if there were others who felt that way?

After healing everyone who had visited their home in the past two days, Kami went home, planning to rest and recuperate.  Instead, he just turned the events over and over in his mind.  Was there something he had missed?  Could he have saved Pala and Vaq if he had just been more careful?  The fact that Jacob could be contagious to people who were already sick was something that had simply never occurred to Kami, but it made sense in retrospect.

At the sound of another knock, Kami jumped up to answer the door.  “Please don’t come in,” Kami said.  “I’ll be right out.”  He opened the door and saw Tamura, who looked extremely pale.  Some of it was undoubtedly from his anima banner, which was still flaring brilliantly, but her face also looked drawn.  “Tamura!” Kami exclaimed.  “You look—” he cut off his words and instead used Flawless Diagnosis Technique.  Not only did she have Danai’s disease, but her body, too, was producing death essence.

This wasn’t possible.  Tamura hadn’t come into contact with Jacob in days, since well before contracting Danai’s illness.  He quickly healed her and began pondering the matter, until a sudden realization hit him.  He had known that somehow, Jacob’s disease was spreading.  Worse yet, however, was the fact that the disease was being carried by people other than Jacob.

If Jacob’s disease was being carried by this other disease, which was extremely contagious, he was going to have an incredible number of cases on his hands.  Anyone who had come into contact with Jacob had been cured, but those people all had time to infect others before they were healed.  The exact nature of the problem was unclear, but the ramifications of this were horrible.

Kami ran to Urik’s house for assistance.  “Urik, I need you to gather everyone who has been sick over the past few days, regardless of whether they’ve been around Jacob or have already been healed.”  It was unclear whether someone could become infected after being healed, but he wanted to be thorough this time.  “No,” he stopped, shaking his head as he began to realize the full implications.  “No, just the people who are already showing symptoms isn’t enough.  I need you to get everyone together.  Everyone in the village.  I don’t care what they’re doing or how they’re feeling.  Get everyone here now.  Spread the word.”

Urik looked at Kami in confusion, but he had saved their lives several times, and he seemed to have ways of knowing things that others did not.  “If you say it’s important, I’ll start rounding people up.”

Kami gravely said, “It’s a matter of life and death.  If we don’t hurry—if I don’t hurry—I don’t know how many more people we could lose.  I need everyone here.”

Once Urik had gathered everyone in the village courtyard, Kami prepared to address them.  Jacob wasn’t there, since he was remaining at home with Veria, but the entire population of the village had turned out.  That is, Kami reminded himself, everyone except Vaq and Pala… and Dex.

“Has anyone seen Dex recently?” Kami asked.

“I tried to bring him,” Urik volunteered, “but he wouldn’t come.  Said something about not going anywhere near a family of murderers,” she said in an apologetic tone.

Kami winced.  “I understand that he’s having a tough time, but more may die unless he comes.”

Urik added, “I’m sorry, Kami.  He’s not coming.  I tried everything, and he has said he refuses to even speak to you.”

Kami nodded, re-focusing his attention on the matter at hand.

“I realize that many of you have already been healed, and others don’t even feel sick.  However, this disease is somehow spreading from person to person, and I some of you may be asymptomatic right now but have already contracted the disease,” Kami said.  “I’d like to heal everyone once more, all at once.  I’ll take care of Dex later, but I ask that people avoid him and his home until I manage to get things cleared up.”

Without Dex to stir things up, the crowd was more agreeable.  Several seemed unconvinced, but nobody argued.

Kami once more prepared himself to heal the village all at once.  This would take effort, with so many people, but he knew he was more than capable.  Once more, Kami ran around, touching each person and causing them to glow.  With more people, it took longer and took more energy, but he managed easily and sent them home, reminding them to avoid Dex.  Because he hadn’t spent so much Essence shortly beforehand, he was even able to do so in such a way that his anima banner faded after seconds instead of minutes.

Healing the village had been relatively easy.  Now came the hard part.  Dex had refused to come, and Urik was unable to persuade him.  If she was right, and Dex wouldn’t speak with Kami at all, healing the rest of the villagers may not make a difference.  One person could cause all this to happen again.

Kami went home, knowing that the villagers would avoid Dex, at least for a while, and that Dex was unlikely to leave his home while still in acute stages of mourning.  He decided to let the problem percolate in the back of his mind while tending to Jacob.

“What were you doing, Uncle Kami?” Jacob asked.

“I was healing the villagers,” he responded.

“Why were they sick?”

“They were sick because some of them caught your disease and it started spreading.  I know how to heal them, so I fixed them, and now I can focus on learning to heal you.”

“Oh.”  Jacob thought for a few moments.  “So it’s my fault they’re sick?”

“No, Jacob,” Kami quickly replied.  “None of this is your fault.  This is the fault of the bad people who made you sick, and you should never feel like it’s because of anything you did.”

“But if I wasn’t here, they’d be okay?”

“They’re okay now,” Kami reassured him.  “They’re all better now.  Well, most of them, anyway.  But the exception is his own fault and not yours.”

“I don’t wanna make people sick, but I don’t wanna hafta hide all the time,” Jacob complained.

“I know,” Kami said.  “I think things are better now, but I’ll need to run some tests to be sure.  You should be able to play with Danai again soon.”

“Okay.”

“For now, I need to take a careful look at you.  Lie down and relax.”  Kami knelt by Jacob and examined him, sending Essence into each part of his body to try to determine the reason his infection was suddenly spreading.  Unable to find a cause, Kami healed Jacob.  By the time he was done, Jacob was fast asleep.  Kami quietly snuck out to go examine the bodies of Vaq and Pala.

Kami brought the two bodies near each other and reached out, placing a hand on each.  He let his Essence flow through the bodies and examined them for similarities.  They both showed large amounts of what the Doctor called bacteria.  The bacteria themselves, though… Kami redoubled his efforts in an attempt to analyze them.

It appeared that the bacteria had also become infected with Jacob’s disease!  Kami hadn’t realized that was even possible, but once the bacteria were infected, they must have traveled to infect other people with this double disease.  While a person might recover from Danai’s disease in a few days normally, when a weakened body was infected by the death essence-producing infection, the result was, as Kami well knew, catastrophic.

Kami’s healing should have cured the rest of the villagers, but taking care of Dex was still key.  By the time Kami had made his discovery, it was quite late—far too late in the day to pay a visit, even if Dex would see him.  Somehow, though, he simply had to heal Dex.

Healing, Kami knew, required touch to be effective.  While Kami was certainly capable of tackling Dex and holding him down while healing him, that wasn’t exactly his style, to say the least.  Unfortunately, the diplomacy and kindness that was his style didn’t seem to be working.  He needed to find a middle ground.

Kami quietly went to Dex’s house.  He felt uncomfortable about this idea, but he couldn’t think of a better one.  He carefully tiptoed up to the window—and then tripped on a branch in the darkness.  Kami held his breath and heard the man stir, but he didn’t seem to wake.  Once Dex’s breaths had returned to their steady rhythm from before, Kami poked his head up and peered in the window.  He saw Dex’s sleeping form, and he felt a pang of guilt when he noticed the empty place on Dex’s right where Pala should be.

Kami returned his attention to the matter at hand.  Healing required the use of Essence, and touching the subject allowed the Essence flow to directly connect patient and healer.  However, there were methods of channeling Essence through the air to do other things—why not for healing?  It would take a lot of concentration and far more time than usual, but it seemed theoretically possible.

Praying that the man wouldn’t wake, Kami tentatively projected his Essence toward the man.  He began by examining him.  It was difficult, but with time, Kami made progress.  Sure enough, Dex had contracted the deadly combination of diseases, though they were in their early stages.  Diagnosing, however, was the easy part.  Now came the tough part.

Kami accelerated his Essence flow, going deep into Dex’s body and changing what needed to be changed.  He began by eliminating the bacteria that had carried Jacob’s disease, and that went well.  The next step was to cure Dex himself, as his body was now producing death essence.  Years of healing Jacob had made this step familiar, but doing it through sight instead of touch added a whole new layer of difficulty.  Kami’s patience began to pay off, however, as he learned to manipulate the very cells in Dex’s body.  Hours went by, and with one last pass, Kami checked to make sure Dex was clean.  Once he was satisfied, he left, heading home in the pre-dawn light.

While walking home, Kami lost himself in thought.  He had been well-regarded thus far, but this series of incidents with Dex was worrisome.  Having to sneak around to do good made Kami extremely uncomfortable.  It also made him wonder whether this was really the right place for them.  Kami felt that he had made some real progress in understanding Jacob’s disease, but there was only so much that could be done here.  Perhaps it was time to move on.

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