Guide to Being an Empath in Elanthia and Living Through It (obsolete book)
- Note: This is an older revision of this book. The current version of this book in game is Guide to Being an Empath in Elanthia.
by Battle Empath Alyenah Teplo of the Gryphon Clan
To my sisters, Celione and Amethystle,
and to my friend and teacher Acynarian -
we walk one path.
Table of Contents
How do I begin?
When I was growing up, my mama always kissed my brother's and my boo-boos away. Usually that was help enough, and when it wasn't, there were herbs and poultices aplenty. There was no suffering in our farmhouse, just occasional accidents. If my parents had not met with the fatal ambush when I was but 10, I would probably be kissing away my babies' ouches just like mama did, in my own yard. Just that when I was helping Mistress Tartberry at her orphanage years after that tragedy, someone noticed that what I touched healed up faster. Someone of a strange profession - an empath.
That began my road into one of the noblest and hardest professions in Elanthia, and now I can look back and say that I've learned a lot on that road. Maybe enough to share with those who walk their first steps. So welcome, my brothers and sisters, to the life in Empath Guild, and to its joys and hardships.
How do I begin?
If you had a talk with one of our guildleaders, most likely Lady Annael in Crossing, you've begun already. Find a mirror, and take a good look at yourself, for it will be rare from now on that your face and body will not be covered with injuries you've taken from others. Annael and other guildleaders will teach you spells to heal yourself up, even now you should ask her for the one that heals external wounds. But the task of repairing oneself is tedious, and only those of us truly concerned with their beauty manage to look pretty for days. But be careful, for the wound builds upon a wound, and a scar upon a scar, and too much of either can make you quite dead.
But I am going too fast, am I not? How are those wounds I am scaring you with going to get on your body? You have your empath touch now, and as you touch the wounded you can feel their hurts, external and internal, wounds and scars. As the guildleader has taught you, you will take, or transfer, the wounds from others, to relieve their suffering. It hurts, and the Empath guild is not for the weak of heart (and stomach),
Reading: for many a time you will fall to your knees in pain. Still, you must persevere, and touch the patient again if a link breaks, for you can ease your injuries with spells, while he or she relies on you for help.
Beware, for you can only heal one kind of wounds on yourself at first, only external wounds that are visible on your skin. As you take one of those off a patient's body part, a scar will take its place. You can transfer that as well, but until you learn another spell another empath will have to relieve you of your scars. Never be afraid to ask another empath for help and guidance, for they can tell you many things that Annael will not.
It is not that I want to scare you, my reader, it is just that I have seen too many of my guild brothers and sisters drop at my feet while healing others. I have overhealed myself, though that is not what made me face the void most often. Sometimes, in our desire to help others, and in a rush to help as many as we can, we neglect our own health. A wise soul told me long ago that a dead empath is a worthless empath, and I couldn't agree more. Though death in Elanthia need not be permanent, thank the Gods, it is still dreadful to all involved. Most patients blame themselves when an empath dies while healing them, and most dead empaths feel bad as they've created a problem for clerics and other empaths to solve now. Be wary when working on heavy wounds, take your time, check your health, and don't let yourself die.
Maybe I should give you an example. I do think that the most common cause of empathic death is taking a chest injury (the abdomen comes close) where the chest of a patient looks like it's been danced upon by a bunch of trolls. You can see blood gushing out, bones protruding, gore... Did I warn you that you can't be weak of a stomach? When an empath begins to work on such a deadly injury (and indeed, most likely the work is done for resurrecting a corpse who died from it), she needs to insure that her own chest is healthy inside and out. That includes scars, for after you've healed the wound on yourself it will add to the scar tissue you already have, and that can kill you just as surely.
It is very important to begin preparing a healing spell before you start on the wound, cast it as soon as you see yourself bleed, and prepare another portion of a spell. Do not try to save your mana and heal it all at once, you may not have the time, for the dead can't cast spells. Obviously you should only work in a place where there is enough life energy from which to draw, or you are as good as dead. Never hesitate to break the link with your patient if you are afraid that the transfer is becoming dangerous or if your spell does not work. It might be embarrassing to some to fall down and stop transferring, but it is less embarrassing then failure to survive.
In short, some deaths from overhealing are unavoidable, but with care you can survive many a deadly wound. It might seem noble to die while saving others, but how many more others could you save if you had lived?
When we join the guild, we pledge never to harm a living creature, be it a troll or a thief. Sometimes some of us do, in error or in rage, and face dire consequences. No matter how old you grow, no matter how advanced you become within the guild, you will never be allowed to even attempt to use any kind of weapons on anything alive. If you do, the light will go out of your eyes briefly, and so will your healing gift, only for a much longer time.
The shock eventually wears off, but it leaves a lingering scar on your soul, to taunt you forever. Any empath who touches you will feel the trace of the empath shock you've suffered. Not only that, but also everyone in the vicinity will see that empath recoil from you in horror. Your guild brothers and sisters can help ease the shock, but few do, especially if you meant to cause harm. I have never heard of any empath who actually killed a living being, but we are taught that any who do will lose their healing power for life.
Our Crossing and Shard guildhouses have infirmaries, rooms where patients come to be helped. In Haven the empaths gather in front of their guild - don't ask me why, they just do. In any case, the infirmaries and the infirmary-like places are where most of us begin as empaths. Young and old, adventurers crowd these rooms, some just slightly scuffed and some near death, some quietly awaiting their turn and some screaming for attention. This may be highly disorienting, and many an empath gets disheartened by the infirmary scene to the point of running out in tears and never coming back.
Among all the chaos, what do you do, how do you find a way to help the hurt to the best of your skill? The one who yells, "I am dying!" might only have some abrasions and low vitality that will repair itself, yet someone who just quietly states "I am poisoned," might be a corpse within seconds. Elders of the Guild tried long and hard to resolve the issue of whom to heal first, but they've given up on it. When you are new, it does not really matter, as you should seek cooperation with an older empath and help them with the wounds you can take. But later on, the attention should be first given to those in dire need, and then it is up to you to decide how to proceed. If you want to aid the most polite ones first, go ahead. If you want to follow the order they came in, go ahead. Always ask if they need help, always ask if someone else is already helping them, and you will do fine. Sometimes people might get upset at you, but that is life...
In the infirmary people come and go, some never come back, while some will see you again. Friends are made, and romances are kindled. You might feel overworked, but taking a moment for a word or two will do good both to you and to your patients. Most of the time you will be thanked for healing with words, hugs, and gifts. I will talk of the gifts later, but if you really dislike being hugged by strangers, consider that you've seen them inside and out...
The infirmary is a fine place to start, but a bad place to die, so always, always check your health. If you can't handle a patient, ask for help from your guild brothers and sisters, since there is no shame in this but goodness. You might come to love the life of the infirmary empath, but if you become restless...
I am afraid that is one kind of an empath that is dying out. In the times before the Gorbesh War the realms were blessed with wonderful inventions, kyanite and jadeite gwethdesuans. These devices allowed people to converse at a distance by thought, and were a great aid to empath, clerics, and people in need. There are pale copies nowadays that are not so widely used, but you might want to acquire a listening gwethdesuan to be of help outside of the infirmary (just ask, many warriors will share with you).
To lead a life of a wandering empath one must not get too attached to one place. From Shard to Theren, always on the road, always looking for ailing Elanthians, these empaths enjoy seeing new sites and places while serving their guild. They are always on call, listening to the gwethdesuans or checking places where wounded are brought. Some, though, just dislike the infirmary and look for another spot with high life energy to set up their own hospital. This is all up to you, as long as you remember the thing I nagged about quite a lot already. That's right, don't overheal.
Those of us who can't sit still choose a dangerous path of field empaths. We cover ourselves with armor, wield our shields, and sometimes brandish a sword to parry with. To parry, and never, ever, not under the threat of dying, to hit anything alive with that weapon. If you practice dodging the creatures, beginning with mere rats (I know, disgusting) in the Crossing shipyards or goblins in the western fields, and working your way up, you may learn to defend yourself quite well. A lot of us pride ourselves in being able to survive in a battlefield without a guard, and attempt to acquire the title of Battle Empath (which does not mean you can attack anything).
An excellent way to see if this way is for you would be to join a hunting group. Most adventurers welcome an empath in their ranks, and will offer you protection while in battle and a share of the profit afterwards. Many empaths provide extra help for their hunting companions by carrying the coin and treasure, and skinning the kills. Many refuse to skin the creatures, for it is against their beliefs. I refuse to skin them just because it is disgusting -- in short, it is up to you.
No, it isn't on your map. No one built morgues in major towns because they were not needed, but there are make-shift morgues where Elanthians bring their dead, seeking the attentiongs of clerics and empaths. Ask around in any city, and you will learn of such places. Before our kind clerics can restore life to the body, the body itself has to be restored enough to support the spirit. That means that the corpse should not bleed anywhere or have any dangerous scars, though abrasions are not important. You can't make dead into living, but in most cases the clerics can't do that without you either.
While working at resurrection sites, it is important to cooperate with the clerics involved. There may not be enough life energy on the spot for you, but don't drag the body away without talking to the cleric first. Don't act heroic either, and try to fix everything right there and fast, for the last thing the cleric wants is your corpse. Always, always check your health and be careful not to overheal.
Years ago, joining the guild, I assumed that I will always be poor since I would not be able to hunt for treasure. I was wrong in that being an empath does not make you a pauper, for the adventurers treasure their health and pay for it. Yet I was right, because I never felt comfortable accepting payment for healing.
Every empath in the realms has their own policy about tips - to take or not to take, from whom, when, how much... There is no definite answer, and you will have to decide for yourself. It is considered rude to demand money in advance, and you won't get many patients that way. Many hunters, however, consider it rude on your part if you refuse their gift of thanks, and will chase you down to bestow it on you. Good hiding skill helps, as does a good explanation of why you've chosen not to accept payment.
If you do take tips, it is good to remember that not everyone can spare the same. In Crossing you will find plenty of novices who consider a bronze kronar to be a fortune. If you heal south of Shard, the warriors will be willing to shower you with rich treasure chests. That would be a place to go if you are looking for wealth, but empaths rarely are guided by such motives. Whatever you choose, be gracious about it, and -- you guessed it, do not overheal.
Would it not be nice, if all empaths had the same ideas of what is right and wrong, and good for the patients, and good for the guild? But we don't, though in any sitting room of any guild, and whenever empaths gather, you can stumble upon a discussion of such matters. Among these is one of behavior towards your fellow empaths, and that is pretty much clear nowadays.
When we join the guild, we bring into it different expectations and goals. Some want to become the best, fastest healer in the realms, some want to become popular, some can't watch others suffer, some were driven by their parents... Whatever is your goal, to reach it you do what empaths do - heal. Amazing as it may sound, you can't just heal everyone.
Be it the infirmary or the morgue, if there is more then one empath it is best to cooperate with your guild brothers and sisters. If someone is working on a patient, they would not appreciate you jumping in unasked. There are many reasons to abide with this, such as their professional pride, the patient's confusion, and, to be honest, their experience in healing. On the other hand, some severe cases require more then one empath, and it is better to ask for help then die trying on your own. Just use your common sense, but remember that conflicts may occur anyway, especially if the place is very busy.
Some rare Elanthians dislike being touched by a strange empath. Once, after healing my friend, I empathically touched her companion, only to have that last burst up in anger. I never learned if she has grown attached to particular wounds, or just was wary of strangers. Whatever the case, I learned that it is best to look at people first, then ask if they desire healing, and only then touch. Of course, if you see someone get hit in battle, forget the asking.
Not only you can't heal everyone, but you also can't heal everything. I've met a barbarian who refused to have his eye replaced since it reminded him of something. Some adventurers endure bleeding wounds, either to prove or to test themselves. When in doubt, ask. As many others, I take a great pride in leaving my patients as healthy as when they were born, but I also respect their wishes.
Just as the hunters have the right not to let you heal them, you have the right to refuse healing someone. This may sound shocking, but you don't have to heal your son's murderer or a thief who steals at resurrection sites. Though many of us do not refuse our healing touch to anyone, you are certainly free to choose. It is unacceptable to many empaths when others of our guild refuse healing on a whim, but that also happens. As an example only, I heal anyone living, but I do not touch certain people (very few) if they are dead. I also do not help those who maim each other for fun; they can go to a hospital. However, empaths whom I respect greatly heal such people, and that is their choice. There are still those innocent souls who give aid to anyone, good or evil, dead or alive. My prayers are with them, so they, unlike myself, may persevere in this noble pursuit.
There are no clear cut rules of empathic etiquette. As always, the choice is your own. You will probably act differently with friends and strangers, elders and novices of our guild and others, in a critical situation and in a peaceful one. No matter what path you choose, it is still going to be a part of a larger road, and to that road I, Battle Empath Alyenah Teplo of the Clan of Gryphon, welcome you. Safe travels, my friend, and may Hodierna guide you.
My sincere thanks to Acynarian Doomseer and Amethystle Opalstorme for their help in preparing this manuscript.