written by Fyren
The corpse pit is now home to three of our departed. The cold keeps the bodies eerily well preserved. Well preserved enough that we can use the deceased for their organs, at least this is what one of my doctors have told me. I stand over the pit, looking at the scene laid out before me, and both my heart and stomach seem to be whirling. The sight of the dead isn’t what does it though. A woman, very much live, is sitting in the pit and holding the hand of a frozen corpse that days ago used to be her husband. She is wailing into the bitter wind in a way that could make a banshee jealous.The doctor by my side whispers in my ear “We need his kidneys”. Good god… is this what I have wrought through my leadership? Have we any shred of decency or humanity left? “Come back later, take him in the dead of night. No need to cause further alarm.” I tell him quietly. He nods and heads back to his post. I take a deep breath to steady myself, before descending into the pit.
As I approach, the woman collects enough of her wits to fix me with a stare that would have been cold, if that word had not recently gained new meaning for all of us. “He was a good man you know, he didn’t deserve this.” she chokes out in between her sobs, tears freezing on her cheeks before they are able to go anywhere. “I know” I reply softly, but loud enough to be heard over the wind. “None of us deserve any of this” I continue “I can promise you this though, he will never be forgotten and his legacy lives in all of us here who survive.” I have never given an elegy of any kind before. This was the best I could muster. I stand to leave and hold out a hand to the widow, she doesn’t take it and I don’t really feel like pressing the matter.
The day is drawing to a close. “At least no one died today.” I grumble to myself as I sit on a box near the generator. The scene in the corpse pit haunts me, and likely will for the rest of my days. A horn blast sounds and rouses me from my melancholy. The rangers have returned from the frostlands once again. They march triumphantly down the street, each one carrying their weight in supplies. Despite their backs being hunched with the burden their heads are held high. The one who became the impromptu captain of the group leads them right to me, he drops his pack at my feet with a smile on his face. “It wasn’t just an outpost we found. There was a note left that seems to indicate there is another city out there. A city like ours.” The ranger captain can barely contain his excitement. He hands me the note.
If you take supplies please report them to the quartermaster’s office in the city.
Another city? The possibilities of this discovery are endless, not all of them good. I give the rangers leave to head back out as soon as they are able. Some want to leave immediately, but I insist that they at least stay the night to get some rest and a warm meal. With the supplies they brought back with them, we are able to build a second coal mine. These rangers, these heroes, may have just ensured the survival of us all.
The following day is long and filled with construction as we put the influx of supplies to good use. The rangers had already set out when the rest of the settlement was only just waking. I spend the day laboring alongside the others and we manage to complete several new facilities. Despite things looking a bit better, at least from my perspective, my rest that evening is disrupted. It sounds like an angry mob outside. I listen at the flap of my tent. Sure enough, there is a crowd gathered around the generator and while I cannot make out any words I hear plenty of angry shouting. Soon, the disorganized shouting becomes a chant. “Treat the sick! Treat the sick! Treat the sick!” The protest eventually dies down and the people go to sleep.
In the morning I address the situation. I stand on a box, huddled in my furs. “We only have so many doctors and nurses. I assure you we are doing the best we can.” This elicits more angry shouts from the crowd. I hold out my hands. “I understand your frustration! We need a way to exercise some of that frustration. As such, we will be constructing a fighting arena.” The crowd is taken aback and a bit confused.I use the moment of confusion to step down from my perch and retreat to my tent. “If they are busy fighting each other, they won’t fight me.” I mutter under my breath as the tent flaps closed behind me.
continued in Ranging Far and Wide