Lilith began teaching stealth skills to any who was interested. I found it intriguing that most were women. I taught mace and shield, though we used cudgels, and I didn’t have a shield arm any longer. I still remember the basics well enough to teach others. Liz and Chloe took a squad with them on patrol out to the farms in the area in search of undead. Pavil lead a second patrol out to specific farms. Liz and company were deliberately hunting. We know of at least one ghoul who had escaped Broadmire and we didn’t want that thing roaming free.
Danby began teaching blade work. Ordo and he traded off. One worked with recruits while the other worked the picket lines, then they traded off in the afternoon.
Gizela and Belle split the remaining folks into two groups. One Gizela taught staff work, and Belle taught the other first aid. Most everyone had a little bit of both, growing up on a farm meant you had to be able to staunch a bleeding wound, or defend yourself from wild animals. But the two women took things to a new level for most of them. After the noon day meal, I sent those I was teaching to work with Gizela, she is amazingly fast with that staff of hers. I can only imagine the speed she had in her youth.
I thought long and hard about magic and the implications for a culture that abhorred it. Honestly I couldn’t teach what I did to anyone who did not worship one of the various deities, and I had no clear idea where to start. Lilith had a small sense of how to get started as a wizard, but she had only been exposed to more advanced practitioners and was unclear how best to teach a beginner. Basically what we decided to do was during our interview try and discover if there were others like Pavil who had gifts that they had kept hidden.
And what an excellent idea that was. Two people, adult women with more than one child in tow grew angry at the implications and we had to placate them. These two also wanted to return home as soon as feasible. Seems they had only come because the rest of their kith and kin had come. No questions there.
But we did find three who exhibited some form of power. One was a boy of seven who had a way with animals. He had learned how to calm them, make them like him, do complicated tricks and such. I decided to have him spend some time with Liz.
Another child, a girl of four had a way of starting fires that had her mother worried sick. For a while she thought the girl’s older brother had been starting the fires as a form of attention seeking, but the mother had finally witnessed one such event when no one else was present. Of course the mother was worried, and did not want her daughter to be murdered or sent to Eronel, so she had kept the girl hidden for the better part of a year. The mother broke down crying when she explained that she had missed her sister’s betrothal because she couldn’t leave the child with relatives. Lilith would talk with this child and mother. But I didn’t think we had a way of training her too much. Lilith was dubious but willing to give it a try.
The third was a young woman of seventeen summers. She had a bit of healing in her, smaller things like stopping bleeding, bringing down fevers and the like. She told me in secrecy that her old grandfather had been telling her tales of the old gods since she was a wee babe, and that he had given her a holy symbol of her very own when she came of age. She had kept it hidden, of course. She’d eschewed marrying on her own, instead offering her services to sit with the sick and dying. It was funny how often people she sat with made miraculous recoveries. I would chat more with this one.
Then there was Pavil who had been straight forward with me and asked for time. So we did not ask her again. I know she had some strong potential, but we did not want to do anything to scare her into silence, or worse, running off.
We trained in the morning and in the afternoons , one shift doing weapons and the other doing soft skills. We needed these people to go home without fear of falling to the next strong arm who came along. And with the undead in the valley, there was no telling when one would show up one day.
After three days of this, everyone was starting to gain some discipline and form. Danby saw to it that no one complained about chores. He was leading by example. Gizela and Belle had grown so fond of the man, that they apologized for knocking him about. For his part, Danby had taking a liking to the two old women and told them it had been a long time coming. This drew titters from the bystanders. Then when he said they had knocked some sense into him open laughter spread through the camp. Things were looking up.
After dinner each night, we had songs. Everyone did their best to learn the ones we had shared previously and as they grew more comfortable they joined in the singing. It was a very moving experience, that many voices mingled in a common cause. Bob would be moved by the chorus we had become. The way their voices resonated in my chest, I felt as if we were touching something powerful. I told them the beauty of their voices would reach the Far Shores and those we had lost.
And so they sang even louder as the sparks from our fires danced upward to meet the stars.