Or: You Can't Save Them All
One almost finds the idea of a powerful troll wizard laughable, but the proof was slowly regenerating from its wounds in front of us, lying prostrate on the ground. Es coolly stabbed it again with her rapier, opening yet another hole in its useless, yet still healing lungs while Hatch investigated the room through a stone that had a natural hole in it. Questions as to whether or not the stone helped in her spell-work had not been asked. We'd all learned a long time ago that we would regret the answers, if only for the sheer indignity of it all.
Hatch muttered something and waved one gloved hand dismissively, causing an entire wall to vanish, revealing lines of cages where it once stood. Most of the cages contained corpses, but one of them contained a weak, sickly dog-sized thing with a brain instead of a head. An intellect devourer. Hatch got a look of pain on her face and both Es and Pendulum started forward.
"Quit it! All of you!"
Endeca's shout halted both of our compatriots in their tracks as she made soothing noises at the aberration. The pain lanced across her face again, and she gave it a harsh shushing sound before reaching her hand through the cage bars.
"Hatch, that thing is going to kill you and eat your brain! Get away from it!"
"No he won't. Look at him, Hathar. He's starving and miserable and lonely. Es, open the lock. Please?"
Es looked at me, but all I could do was nod. Endeca had gotten a notion in her head, and only the thing knocking her unconscious would let us do the smart thing safely. Es broke the lock with one blow from her sword-hilt and Hatch immediately opened the cage, reaching inwards. The intellect devourer raked a set of claws on her arm, but she didn't even notice as she grabbed its feeble body in her hands and drew it out. Hatch cuddled the abomination close and looked up at me, green eyes bright and welling with tears.
"He's hurt. We should help him."
He is an evil abomination. The best aid we could give him is a mercy stroke and last rites.
The brain-headed thing hissed at Pendulum and Hatch glared at the construct disapprovingly.
"Endeca, those things eat only brains. Sapient brains. How are you going to feed it?"
Hatch kicked the unconscious troll in the head, "He's gotta die anyway, right? Why not let Snuggles eat his brain? It's not like he's gonna use it."
Snuggles? You've named that atrocity?
"Yes! His name is Snuggles and he's my friend now, and I'll teach him how to behave, and love him, and feed him, and everything, and you can't stop me, so there!"
She let go of the aberration, which began burrowing its way into the troll's skull, seeking the meaty brains within.
"Hatch," I said quietly to her, "you know you can't save them all, right? You can't help everyone."
"I can't?" Her eyes were all wide and teary. She looked confused. Hurt. I shook my head and she turned to look at her new friend, 'Snuggles'.
"Then I'll help this one. And the next one. And as many as I can until there's no more left to help. I can do that, 'cause I've got magic and money and you guys. If I can't help everyone than I'll just help anyone I can. Isn't that what Pendulum is always talking about?"
Pendulum looked at her thoughtfully before turning back to watching our newest addition. His words were nearly inaudible.
Yes, I suppose it is.