(1311-07-31) Insufficiently Specific
Summary: After she’s stabbed in the chest by a Skaldi warrior woman, Philomène’s day just keeps getting better and better…
RL Date: 31/07/3019
Related: Creditably Matched, Game Change, Between the hosts and the guests.
emmanuelle philomene 

Infirmary — Marsilikos

Situated within the beautiful greenery of the gardens of Eisheth, along the coastline not too far from the harbour and in view of the Citadel that guards the entrance to the port of Marsilikos, is the infirmary, a one storey building of white stone and simple architecture that has been enhanced with classical elements, as if inspired by the buildings of ancient Hellene culture. Traces of columns, half-worked into the walls can be found on all sides of the infirmary. An archway frames the sturdy oak door of the entrance, white stone worked with impressive masonry skill into a bas-relief, depicting a female in robes holding a roll of bandages and a vial of sorts to the left and a male healer to the right with a scroll in one hand, while the other is lifted in lecturing gesture, as if he were giving a medical diagnosis.

The hall beyond is agreeably cool during hot summers and kept warm in cold winters, through a large hearth that governs the center of the long wall to the right. It is here in this hall that the majority of patients will be treated immediately, and so there are a number of curtains that divide the space into areas with cots. In times of need, the space can be stacked up to hold two dozen beds. The vicinity of the gardens allows for the soothing tranquility of nature to become part of the process of recovery, chirping of birds, wisps of casual conversation reaching those inside through the line of arched windows that sit higher up at the walls. It also serves a source of lighting during the day, whereas a number of oil lamps at the walls are lighted during evenings and nights.

Close to the entrance, there is a door to the left that leads to the infirmary's office, where records of patients are being kept, along with other book keeping of supplies and the like. Another archway opens from the hall into a hallway, where secluded rooms are provided for harder cases, long-term treatments and those of higher standing and the wish for more privacy. These chambers are plain yet well kept, immaculately clean, with sheets of the more comfortable beds being changed regularly. In each chamber, an arched window offers light during the day, and a pair of two chairs offer seating to healers or the occasional visitor a patient may receive.


The last, most urgent words uttered by Philomène d’Aiglemort de Chalasse before she passed out on the cobbles in the courtyard of the Dome of the Lady, her weapons fallen from her hands and blood oozing from a deep wound in her chest, were: “Not her.”

Some hours later she wakes tucked into a single bed in a clean and sparsely-furnished little chamber, its plastered walls and small effigy of Eisheth illuminated at this hour by oil lamps and the shutters of its single window open to admit the balmy breeze of an Eisandine summer night. Her head is cloudy with poppies and someone’s stuffed her mouth with feathers and glue — she can draw only shallow breaths, and those with pain — her chest is heavily bandaged and over that she’s wearing a linen nightshirt not her own. There’s a headache to match the chestache. Of course there is. She hasn’t had much water today. The overall effect is that of having trekked through the desert with an empty canteen and then been beaten brutally about the torso and flung down on a quiet cloud somewhere and left to die — amidst a warm fragrance of leather and musk and moss, with just a hint of fresh bergamot teasing at her nose…

There are two chairs in this private chamber in the infirmary attached to the Temple of Eisheth. Emmanuelle Shahrizai occupies one; her booted feet occupy the other. The lamps are arranged to shed light upon the book in her hands as idly she turns another page.

Yes, Philomène. You were insufficiently specific.

The first signal that Philomène might actually be awake is a quiet, low noise somewhere in her throat, more of a rasp than a groan either due to the dryness of her mouth or the pain and effort involved with actually trying to expel air from a seriously damaged chest injury. She doesn’t attempt to move - not when even breathing causes a significant issue - beyond a reflexive clenching of her hand about the bedclothes.

It would appear that for once she might not be about to argue with her chirurgeon.

Many before have been left breathless by the sight of Emmanuelle, it’s true, yes. Even dressed as casually as she is tonight in dark breeches and flat black leather riding boots, and a lavender silk shirt with the sleeves rolled up and the tails of it untucked in the front.

Hearing the ghost of a strangled groan her cold blue eyes lift from the page and she tilts her head to regard the woman in the bed, whose own eyes are open now. Then she uncrosses her ankles and lifts her feet down from the chair opposite, and places her book there instead with a black ribbon marking her place. Half-rising from her own chair she hooks an ankle round a leg of it to turn it towards the bed before she sits again further forward, on the edge of it, with her knees just nudging against the mattress. Her well-kept, meticulously clean white hands, once declared off-limits to Aiglemort attacks, launch now an assault of their own: she takes a cup of chilled spring water from the table next to the bed and holds it to Philomène’s dry lips, as her other hand slips gently between the patient’s pale head and her pillow to lift her so that she might more easily drink, and swallow, and feel refreshed. One might question the wisdom of aiding Philomène to speak — but such are the burdens of a chirurgeon’s oath.

It’s probably the sheer amount of opium still coursing through her system that allows Philomène to almost smile as the cool liquid is brought to her lips. There’s still a considerable amount of pain, but this is some sort of magic, clearly. She was thirsty, and water appeared. Magic. What do you mean she’s not thinking clearly? Drinking, on the other hand, is something that for some reason is causing an issue today, and while she tries to get a few mouthfuls down her throat, gasping with the effort, a considerable amount more ends up soaking the front of her borrowed nightshirt. Still, it’s a warm evening so perhaps that’s not entirely unwelcome.

Having been replaced by a foggy headed pod person, the injured Chalasse doesn’t actually say any words of thanks but she does make her gratitude as clear as she can make it by moving the one hand from the bedclothes to the breeches-clad knee closest to the mattress, applying a little pressure as though that’s some sort of universal signal.

The experiment having been half-successful, Emmanuelle lowers Philomène’s head to her pillow again and exchanges the cup for a cloth with which to soak up some of the spilled water from her neck and her clavicles. The nightshirt will dry on its own, soon enough.

“… Not tonight, Philomène,” she drawls in one of her wryest undertones; “you’re in no condition to be making advances.” But as she speaks her own warm palm comes to rest upon the patient’s prowling paw and rather than rejecting her touch she bestows a reassuring squeeze. “You are in Eisheth’s Infirmary,” she explains, slowly and quietly, “and the pain in your chest is from a stab wound and a collapsed lung. Your life is not in immediate danger.”

It’s a marked change since the last time those two hands met. Certainly this time it’s more about comfort and reassurance than dominance, which in itself is enough to convince Philo that despite the words from her chirurgeon she really might be about to die. But then with her brain not firing on all neurons, this just seems like a perfectly ordinary Wednesday routine. Wake up. Breakfast. Little bit of death in the afternoon. Well, that’ll obviate the need to see to laundry tomorrow at least. What it doesn’t do is answer the burning question that keeps bobbing to the top of Philomène’s consciousness.

“Skald?” she just about manages to get out, brows furrowing and the sweat forming on her brow, either from the evening’s oppressive heat or the effort of forming actual words. If she’s going to die, at least she’ll know if she managed to take the hated enemy out first. Although given that it’s not the clearest question in the world, who even knows. She turns her hand beneath Emmanuelle’s, gripping it in return. This time, though, it’s no attempt to crush it or cause pain, but the grip of a drowning woman, looking for some sort of salvation. Or at least human contact. As human as Emmanuelle might be thought to be anyway.

Emmanuelle’s silk-soft, manicured fingers curl through Philomène’s more serviceable digits, in an implicit promise to keep holding on to her as long as it’s needful. She tilts her head, eyes narrowing as she considers that single syllable in light of the garbled tale spilled earlier in the day by the palace guards who carried the Chalasse into the infirmary on a board.

“The Skaldi woman was taken to the Citadel dungeons, I believe,” she answers slowly. “They weren’t sure yet,” a wry smile for the patient, “whether she was a murderer.”

There’s another noise from the patient’s lips. It could very well be ‘Fuck’. On the other hand it might just be an attempt to breathe, cut off by the sharp pain that makes itself known whenever her lungs are called upon to shift more than an eighth of an inch.

That pressing issue put to bed for now at least, the next burning question that bubbles up causes another, this one more definite, “Fuck.” With an amount of effort, Philomène turns her head to look, somewhat glassy-eyed, at her healer. “You.”

There is at least a gap between the words. It’s possible it’s a general expletive and then a notification that she recognises her former chirurgeon rather than a drawn out ‘Fuck you’, but then this is Philomène so either are really possible. But then there’s still that hand, held on for dear life, so maybe just for once she’s not actively trying to insult the Shahrizai.

“Said you’re not my healer,” she manages to grate out, the words tinged with both poppy and amusement. “Liar.”

Good grip strength, powers of speech, resurgent feistiness… Oh, yes, there’s every promise here of recovery in due course. “Me,” agrees Emmanuelle mildly. “I was here on another matter when they brought you in, and I offered to help. Do you remember what I said to you the first time we met? When you came raging into my house to do battle for your daughter’s sake? You said,” she relates, her painted mouth curving in modest enjoyment, “you’d imagined the next day would find one or the other of us bleeding out with a blade in her guts. And I said,” and her smile fades and her teasing voice grows sober and cool, “that I did not use my knives for such purposes, but that if I found you so I would save your life. I am no liar, Philomène.”

“You said,” Philomène manages, somehow adding a sardonic tone despite the raspiness of her voice, “the fighting would kill me.” A knee lifts in an attempt to shift position, but it’s as far as she gets before the pain freezes her where she lies, and it takes a good few seconds before her eyes can focus again and she can blink at the other woman. “Not dead yet, though?” And that there, with a slight lift of her chin, has her for at least a second or two looking like the old Philomène, proud and defiant, before her head rolls back and she draws another gasping breath.

Emmanuelle raises one sardonic eyebrow at the patient’s outburst of defiance. “Yes,” she drawls, “you’ve proven me quite wrong.” A beat. “I must thank you, however, for the opportunity you lent me in so doing. I had never inflated a collapsed lung before — it was an extraordinary sight, the life ebbing out of you until I breathed it back in.” She smiles crookedly down at Philomène. “A little more water—?” she suggests.

Philomène absently allows her thumb to run along the edge of Emmanuelle’s beautifully manicured finger, giving a very slight nod and doing what she can to raise her head. There’s a wince and a gasp of pain as the immediate automatic attempt to lift herself with the muscles of her abdomen proves to be probably the worst idea she could possibly think of, and her thumbnail presses into that delicate skin unthinkingly. And this after she’d promised not to injure the Shahrizai’s hands. Such ingratitude.

“Not again, Philomène,” her chirurgeon drawls, one corner of her red mouth lifting in amusement. But that nail doesn’t seem to pain her, or even to surprise her.

She releases the other woman and her own hands move again to offer support for her head as well as the cup for her lips. “Slowly,” she cautions, letting the water flow into Philomène’s thirsty mouth only a few careful drops at a time. “… You’ll be in bed here for ten days,” she explains. In all likelihood eight or nine; but believing she’s shaved off one or two by dint of her own sheer willpower will be a pleasant little victory for Philo, and perhaps reduce her inclination to argue too much about the necessary rest. “Tonight someone will sit with you to be certain your breathing doesn’t stop. I’ve another dose of opium to help you sleep.”

Philomène obediently drinks the tiny amounts of water allowed to her, lips parted and tongue doing its best to find any remaining moisture from around them to claim and try to soothe her parched throat. It is very likely the first and only time the words ‘Philomène’ and ‘obedient’ have ever been used together, but then she’s hardly herself, is she? Already this idea of being here for ten whole days is bouncing around her head as a sort of laughable quantity, although when even trying to shift position causes issues… and… oh. Well. There’s another issue.

“Need to go,” she insists, turning her head just as another few drops of water are issued. They spill. There’s a certain urgency in her eyes as she fixes a maddened, irritated gaze on the other woman.

Laying Philomène to rest once more upon her pillow Emmanuelle emits a low chuckle. “I’ll send you an acolyte,” she drawls, rising. “Don’t spit in her eye, you can’t afford to lose the moisture.”

From a pocket of her breeches, somewhere beneath her trailing lavender shirt-tails, she withdraws a small vial: with her back to Philomène she measures an abstemious quantity of its contents into what little water remains in the cup, having been neither drunk nor spilled. “When you’re ready to sleep, have her give you this,” she instructs, positioning it prominently upon the corner of the bedside table. Then she claims her book from the other chair and Philomène’s hand from the bedclothes. “I’ll look in on you tomorrow,” she promises quietly.

Part promise, at least, and the other part threat. Still, mollified for now, Philomène gives the hand a companionable squeeze, again giving the thanks she’s unwilling to verbalise. Not here. Not in front of anyone who might consider her injuries have made her weak. Never mind the fact that she needs help for even the simplest of bodily functions right now.

It’s understood between them, as so much else. “Goodnight, Philomène,” Emmanuelle murmurs, and her fingers press hard into the other woman’s for just an instant before she lets go and turns from her sickbed to saunter out of the room.

Blessedly, the acolyte isn’t too long in coming.

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