L5R : Jade Winds
Hida Nakamuro, MD
Although healing was not taught formally in the Crab dojos, everyone knew a little, if only how to clean a wound and put on a bandage. If you couldn’t do at least that much, you were no use to anyone once you crossed the Wall. A shugenja could patch you up, but what if one wasn’t available? A Crab injured by a Tainted creature on the wrong side of the Wall could not wait to be treated, even if the only help available was to scrub the wound with jade, or to amputate the affected part as quickly as possible. Taint waited for no one. It made sense to learn what you could, when you could.
Now he was grateful for the knowledge he’d picked up over the years. While the Tamori lived, he had left the doctoring to her — she was clearly more skilled than he, and it was traditionally the shugenja’s role. But he had watched her as she worked, helping when she needed another pair of hands. Her techniques were more refined than his; her patients did not come running to her on the battlefield with an 8’ tall Oni close behind. He learned things from her — that sometimes it made sense to spend a little extra time examining a wound before working on it, and the value of having a full medical kit at all times. He got into the habit of stocking her kit for her in the evenings, arranging the powders and bandages just so, the way she liked them. One time, in haste, he simply threw everything into the battered wooden box, scorched along one edge. She had taken him aside and told him that knowing exactly where everything was could make the difference between life and death. So he learned to take almost as much care with her kit as he did with his own weapons.
When she had died — when the Fire Dragon’s task had proved more important than either her life or her death — he had taken her kit for safe-keeping. Or at least that was what he told himself. It was a remembrance, but such a practical thing that no one could fault him for saving it. The box was sturdier than the pouch he used, and had several small compartments, making it easier to organize. Beside her needle and thread he placed a sharpened metal chopstick for probing wounds, and a small amount of powdered jade. The Tamori had little experience with Shadowlands creatures, after all. The mon carved on the inside of the box lid was that of the Agasha family. He wondered which of her ancestors it had originally belonged to, and why they had decided to stay with the Dragon clan when the rest had left several decades ago.
His first few attempts had been disastrous. The Tamori’s death by drowning had unnerved him, and he could not focus on his task. Then the Fire Dragon had intervened, and though the shugenja’s subsequent revival had been strange and unsettling, he knew that it was the will of Heaven, and he had accepted it as such. It was not something he had to worry about any longer. He had gone with her reanimated corpse to light the fonts on the floating mountain, and she had told him she would miss him. Strange to hear such sentiment from the mouth of one he knew to be dead, and to hear it without feeling the need to strike her decaying body down where it stood.
Later, in the Phoenix’s tower, Koro Visuta had triggered a fire trap, and the burn ointment had been in his hands before he was conscious of removing it from the box. His speed had saved the monk from everything but a few blisters. The monk had thanked him and gone on to heal others with his atemi strikes. Nakamuro had repacked the wooden box carefully, silently sending up a prayer to the Fortunes as he did so. He did not know which Fortune watched over healers, but reasoned that a prayer to all would not go amiss.
Then they had been captured, and held for days in a modified horse barn. During their escape, they had found first their belongings, including the Tamori’s box, and then Hikozaemon, horribly tortured by the honorless gaijin. Nakamuro would gladly have strangled them with his bare hands if they had appeared before him. To do this to his servant! But he had banked his fury to concentrate on the task at hand. Together with Koro Visuta, he had managed to get Hikozaemon walking again, though he feared the effects of the torture would stay with the former porter for years to come.
And then the gaijin had appeared before him. The earth shook, and for want of time, he had simply hacked them down where they stood. Even the cat-headed shugenja proved vulnerable to Rokugani blades. A rush outside, and they had all gathered in an open place as the earth rippled under them and the fort crumbled like so much sand. After long minutes the earth had calmed somewhat, and for the next hour or so he had been busy, cleaning, bandaging and splinting, looking up only once when the Mirumoto slew the gaijin woman who had mistaken them for allies. He thought that had been excessive, but one look at the Mirumoto’s face had convinced him to leave well enough alone.
Curiously, he had been unable to do much for his own injuries, which were extensive. Some of that was no doubt due to having to rely on Koro Visuta’s descriptions of what he could not see. The monk tended to speak in terms of chi and energy when Nakamuro would have preferred a more practical accounting of color, shape, and blood loss. He also found himself incapable of explaining how much pressure to apply, or the quantity of healing powders to use. In the end he gave up, knowing he had survived worse. Sleep was what he needed most.
They sheltered with two gaijin children in the last standing tower of the fortress. After a night of wind and hard rain, he found all his patients much improved.There was now plenty of water, and he spent another hour or so cleaning and rebandaging. A night’s rest had re-invigorated him, and he felt much better, especially after Koro Visuta once again unblocked his chi. The monk was crazy, there was no doubt about that, but there was nothing wrong with his training.
Now it was time to move on. He checked the kit once more, making sure everything was clean and in its place. He would need more healing remedies soon — the ones the Tamori had made were almost used up. The idea that he would have to trust someone else for them made him uneasy. Tamori Yuriko had been good at potions. The one she used to set him on fire had been a personal favorite. It was like losing yet another piece of her to the Void. But she was gone now, and there was nothing for it. He would just have to make do.