I thought for sure we’d heard the last from Sir Galgadin, Headmaster of the Warrior-in-Hero-Training School of the Round Table, after he rushed off last time to slay a dragon. But lo and behold, what did I find on my doorstep yesterday evening, but a missive written on ancient parchment, sealed with the WIHT crest, and apparently delivered by carrier pigeon …
It’s been a lamentably long time since my last post here on this good blog, but I do have the best of excuses. Or perhaps the worst, depending on your point of view.
I was forced to rush off last time to deal with a livestock stealing dragon that has been terrorizing the countryside with his terrible breath and BBQ sauce. Apparently he likes the taste of toasted knight almost as much as he likes roast mutton or seared villager.
Needless to say, the villagers of Hardale need fear said dragon no longer.
And I’m pleased to announce my release—at last!—from the Extreme Burns section of the Hospital. Note to self: plate mail is a marvelous conductor of heat.
This serves as a remarkable introduction for my next topic in our Questology 101 series: First Aid Kits.
I know it sounds a rather mundane topic, when we could be talking about three ways to dismantle a troll bridge, or Odysseus’ fool proof method for escaping a cyclops’ cooking pot, but having a good first aid kit just might save your life.
Knight errantry is not the safest vocation in the world. There are certain unavoidable occupational hazards: sword wounds, arrow wounds, dragon fire, dragon claws, and saddle sores to name a few.
A good quester never travels without a well-stocked first aid kit, including the following items:
Please! It’s not like we’re living in the Dark Ages here. A few rolls of clean bandages should more than cover the usual quest. There is absolutely no need for a hero to tear a strip off his filthy, blood stained shirt to bandage a wound. Can you imagine a more perfect breeding ground for infection?
Such things belong only to the movies … and perhaps the most epic of battles where you scarce have time between one fight-for-your-life and the next. Otherwise, pack clean bandages and always restock whenever you are in a (more) civilized part of the world.
Gangrene is a more terrible killer than most monsters I’ve battled. Infection should be avoided at all costs. (Hence the emphasis on clean bandages!) Unfortunately, a good antiseptic is often worth its price in gold, so many healers resort to using wine. When in doubt, at least rinse the wound with good clean water to remove any foreign agents before bandaging … with clean bandages.
There are many herbs considered of medicinal value, however, I am a knight and therefore neither an herbalist nor an apothecary. I insist you visit your local physician for suggestions before heading out into the field with an incomplete or inadequate first aid kid. Some herbs commonly used for the treatment of questing injuries are yarrow (excellent for staunching wounds or stopping a nosebleed) and comfrey (also called knitbone, used as a compress on fractures, bruises, and other injuries). Again, I advise you to consult your local physician.
A curved needle, silk thread (if you’re rich) and sinew (if you’re not), and you’ve got yourself an excellent sutures kit. I know, I know, it’s all about the scars! They make a quester look so terribly heroic and ruggedly, dashingly handsome … but not at the risk of infection. A good first aid kid should include the supplies necessary to perform a simple suturing.
Remember the dragon I was just telling you about? They’re more plentiful than most people care to admit. And dragon burns aren’t the only burns you’re liable to deal with on your quest, rope burns, sun burns, hot soup burns … you name it. A good burn cream is always quite handy to have around. Aloe vera in its raw, natural form can be purchased from most apothecaries, or plucked straight from the wild in more arid locales.
This is another highly useful tool. All it requires is a few strips of cloth—you did pack all those clean bandages, right?—and a stick. You simply tie the strips of cloth above the wound, place the stick inside the knot and turn the stick to tighten the cloth, cutting off the flow of blood.
Warning: this is highly dangerous in that it can cause permanent damage and loss of life in the limb. Heroes should only use a tourniquet to stop bleeding as a last resort.
Of course you should pack a tinderbox anyway whenever you’re heading out on a quest, but the ability to start a fire does round off your first aid kit nicely. Sometimes, cauterization is the only way to handle a wound out in the wild. And without a tinderbox, you’re plain out of luck.
Various magical objects with mysterious healing powers
There are many known (and unknown) objects in the fantasy realms with magical healing powers. Lucy’s cordial. Ambrosia. Rapunzel’s hair. Etc. If you can get your hands on one of these, I highly recommend you keep it on your person at all times. Never let it out of your sight. And use it with care. For with great power comes … oh, never mind. Just don’t waste it.
Consider yourself warned.
~ Sir Galgadin
Headmaster WIHT School of the Round Table
Well, that certainly was informative! I’m pleased Sir Galgadin was able to join us again … I think. What are some things you (or your heroes) might consider packing in your ultimate quester’s first aid kit?