Categories > Games > Jade Empire > Rebirth0 Reviews
The Black Whirlwind was her link to everything.
As she left the Laughing Crane Inn, she decided to give the Magic Abacus the credit he deserved; it couldn't have been more than two and a half miles. Reginald had been left with the task of watching over the Black Whirlwind and their belongings while Beatrix found the doctor. The innkeeper had been quite helpful; he hadn't wanted any trouble and Beatrix had been more than happy to cause trouble unless he shared the location of the town's doctor with her. An easy enough trade with little time wasted between them.
The doctor lived at the far end of town, though if she was awake in the early morning hours was anyone's guess. The small lantern that Beatrix had loaned from the innkeeper to avoid suspicion was enough to lead her down the town's worn dirt paths.
Beatrix eyed one of the more well-to-do houses and decided that it belonged to the doctor. The wood paneling looked ashen beneath the dim firelight of her lantern, but the meticulously tended herb garden was a clear indicator. She knocked on the door.
There was a shuffling noise from within and the murmur of voices. When the panel door slid open, Beatrix was faced with a girl slightly younger than Reginald. The girl leaned heavily on a knotted cane and appeared to have been prematurely woken from her sleep.
"May I help you?" she asked.
"I'm in desperate need of a doctor," Beatrix said.
"You look perfectly fine to me," the girl snorted.
"Yes, but my friend at the Laughing Crane Inn is not," Beatrix replied.
The girl scowled. "My apologies. I'll go wake my mistress."
Beatrix watched the teenager limp over the dirt floor and into the next room. The child's high pitch was contrasted by her mistress' husky tone and for a moment Beatrix found herself shaking. Her excitement got the better of her and Beatrix crept towards the open doorway to the next room as the doctor came out to greet her.
Her hair was still kept in numerous ornate knots and although time had etched a few fine lines around the doctor's eyes, she still had her sharp nose. She blinked as her eyes took in Beatrix before she donned a quirky grin.
"Kia Min?" Beatrix gasped.
"Is it really you?" Min murmured. "Sun Li's most beloved student?"
"Yes." Beatrix nodded, trying to gather her words. "Yes, it's me. I'm looking for a doctor."
"There she is, Mistress," the young girl sniffed as her skirt swished to a halt. "She insisted she needed a doctor, I wouldn't have disturbed you otherwise."
"Hush, Ai Chun," Min commanded.
Ai Chun scowled and shuffled off to the other room.
"The years have treated you well, Jen Zi," Min noted.
"That's what others like to tell me," Beatrix said. "My friend is at the Laughing Crane Inn with an infected wound. Can you help him?"
"I'll try my best." Min offered a quick bow. "Let me gather a bag of herbs and we can walk back to the inn together."
"Thank you." Beatrix bowed deeply.
Min hurried into the backroom and returned with a stuffed satchel. She motioned to her side and Beatrix followed her out into the darkened town.
"Please forgive Ai Chun," Min said, her pace brisk. "Her leg wound is acting up again and it pains her to move."
"Her name sounds familiar," Beatrix noted.
"It should," Min replied. "She's one of the survivors from Two Rivers. She was only four at the time, so maybe that's why you didn't recognize her."
"That must be it," Beatrix murmured.
"I'm amazed that you're still wearing your fighting silks," Min said. "What have you been up to all these years?"
Happiness drained from Beatrix's face. "Life," she said quietly. "I've been working to better myself and the empire."
Min raised an eyebrow. "You're hiding something."
Beatrix's shoulders tensed.
"But I can respect that," the doctor replied. "We're here."
"Of course." Beatrix nodded. "He's in the upstairs room."
The two women hurried in, giving a quick bow of their heads to the innkeeper on their way up the stairs. Reginald was fidgeting when they arrived, the Black Whirlwind unconscious on a sleeping mat.
"My, you certainly keep odd company." Min chuckled.
"He doesn't look very good," Reginald said.
"Let's see what I can do," Min said.
The doctor kneeled besides the Black Whirlwind and quickly stripped his wounds. After a brief inspection, she sent Reginald downstairs to fetch some boiling water from the innkeeper. Min immediately pulled a mortar and pestle from her pouch and began to grind herbs.
"I'm going to make a paste with these out of the boiling water," she explained.
"Will he be alright?" Beatrix asked.
Min paused. "I can see you've given the infection quite a few days to progress. I'll do my best, but only time will tell if we've caught it soon enough."
"Min," Beatrix began. "You were one of the best fighters at Master Li's school. What made you become a doctor?"
Min smiled as she measured another ingredient from her satchel carefully. "You remember the last day we saw each other? It seemed like the very sky was raining death."
"Yes," Beatrix murmured. "I'd like to forget it, but I can't."
"I told you to head to the school and that I'd look for survivors in town," Min continued. "In all, myself included, there were seven. Over the course of two weeks, five died. Ai Chun was the only one that survived and even then, during the attack a support beam from a burning house fell and crushed her left leg."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Beatrix said.
"You don't get it." Min's brows furrowed. "Most of these people had treatable wounds and ailments. I was a fighter and I could fend off any of Gao's men that came after us, but everything I did didn't matter because they died anyway. Infection, fever, blood loss, I couldn't protect them from that."
"You can't blame yourself for that." Beatrix placed her hand on Min's shoulder.
Min shook her head as she gave Beatrix's hand a pat. "I was young and inexperienced and foolhardy," she said. "There's no blame in that. But how could I allow that to happen a second time? The first town Ai Chun and I reached, I apprenticed myself out to the town's doctor."
"I see." Beatrix shifted one eye to the Black Whirlwind. "Is there anything I can do for him?"
"Just keep out of my way and let me work," Min replied as she walked over to the door and slid it open for Reginald. "Thank you for the water."
"It was no trouble," Reginald said.
Reginald kept to the wall of the room as Min went about her work diligently. Beatrix gave the doctor ample space, but kept the distance between the Black Whirlwind and herself short in case of an emergency.
"May I ask you something?" Reginald began.
"Ask," Beatrix said.
"This friend of yours, the Black Whirlwind," Reginald said. "I'm still not sure why we're helping him. He is a murderer."
"When he first joined my group of companions years ago, I didn't think he was any more than a thug," Beatrix admitted. "But I think deep down he really cared about our cause and our friends."
"What makes you say that?" Reginald asked.
"There was an arena in the Imperial City where you could fight for silver," Beatrix said. "The matches were non lethal and we needed the money, so I fought there until I became the arena's Silver Champion. When I was trying for the Gold Champion, I got on the bad side of the arena's owner, Kai Lan. He replaced my scheduled opponents with assassins equipped with poison tipped weapons. I was fast enough to avoid any direct hits, but one of the men managed to scratch my arm."
"You were poisoned?" Reginald raked a hand through his hair.
"If it had been an actual wound, I probably would have died," Beatrix replied. "When I woke up two days later, Kai Lan was dead and the arena was under new management. The Black Whirlwind fought his way through the ranks of champions in the arena in less than two days."
"So the Black Whirlwind's the Gold Champion," Reginald murmured. "And he did that for you?"
Beatrix just smiled. She could have been more forward with the boy, maybe the Black Whirlwind did what he did to avenge her, but maybe he just wanted Kai Lan dead. After all, those two did have a history with each other. But she didn't need dissent in her small group while they were wandering around unfamiliar territory with Beatrix desperately trying to make sense of the last ten years.
The Black Whirlwind was her link to everything.
"Alright," Min announced. "His wounds are treated. We can trade off and keep watch over him tonight. I want him to constantly have a fresh, cool cloth on his head until his fever goes down."
"Reginald," Beatrix said. "You should try to get some sleep. Min, will the Black Whirlwind be okay?"
Min offered a grim smile. "If we can get his fever to drop by midday, he'll live."