Two days later they reached the city of Thorow. At first light Elise waited as the caravan made camp in the fields outside town. She had hoped to board a boat to the Marches as she had originally planned, but as she looked out upon the land Elise understood what the Knights had meant by ”refugee situation ”.

Tens of thousands of refugees had been pouring into the small port town for the past month and the Scarlet Knights. were struggling to cope with the influx. With so many people arriving at once, food and supplies were becoming scarce. People were getting desperate, and Elise feared for her own safety.

To make matters worse, the sickness which had afflicted some of the refugees in her group had already run rampant throughout the city. Thousands were dying daily.

People were forced to live outdoors wherever they could find shelter. Hundreds of makeshift shelters lined both sides of the streets. Wooden pallets were used as beds for hundreds of homeless people.

Mages and Priests of all kinds worked tirelessly trying to heal the sick and wounded, but their efforts were fruitless.

Everywhere Elise looked she saw people coughing and sneezing. She could smell death in the air, and hear it too.

Even in the midst of all this misery and suffering, Elise found hope. She spotted an old woman hobbling along with her daughter holding tightly to her hand. The pair were covered in dirt and dust from their long trek, and their clothes were tattered and worn.

Despite their appearance, the girls eyes sparkled brightly. She kept looking up at the sky as if expecting a miracle.

Elise smiled at them, and they returned her smile in return. The old woman was dead the next morning.

In the following weeks their group slowly made its way closer to the city gates. By the time they reached the walls of Thorow the plague was raging through the camps like wildfire. Its symptoms included fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, and eventually bleeding from the nose and mouth. Soon enough everyone within a five mile radius became infected.

Elise learned from a Priest working at one of the makeshift hospitals that the disease was highly contagious and deadly, but there were some that had a natural immunity and it seemed that she may have been one of them. To her luck the Priest offered to escort her into the city walls where she would be given a room in the barracks in exchange for a sample of her blood.

”Its strange, ” he said to her as they walked past a massive line of refugees waiting for entry. ”The disease is being called the poor mans plague because it seems to discriminate between rich and poor. Everyone has fallen ill. ”

”How can you tell? ” asked Elise.

”Well, quite simply most of immune seemed to stem from a noble bloodline. I assume you do as well? Your parents? ”

”They were bakers, ” she lied, ”in the town of Treston. ”

”Indeed, ” said the Priest nodding knowingly. ”It seems then that the Divine Mother has looked favorably upon you in more ways than one. ”

”Is that so? ” asked Elise suspiciously. ”What does that mean exactly? ”

”Youll understand soon enough, ” he said cryptically.

After giving him the blood sample, Elise was escorted to a private room where she was given new clothes and a bath. Her hair was washed and brushed until it shone. After drying off she slipped on clean undergarments, and fresh linen robes. She put on a black wool cloak overtop and tied it around her waist. Then she picked up a wooden comb and began carefully brushing out her hair before going to sleep.

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