(1311-08-02) Time Is Purple
Summary: Philomène once suggested Emmanuelle might like to take up embroidery. Little did she know.
RL Date: 01/08/2019 - 14/08/2019
Related: Between the hosts and the guests, Insufficiently Specific, the Incident at the Palace plot in general.
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.

It’s not until Friday that Philomène is really lucid enough to pay attention to what’s going on around her. Allegedly Thursday was a thing that happened, but thankfully the Chalasse vicomtesse was dosed up with dangerous amounts of opiates (which raised a few queries and expressions of concern from the more senior healers when her breathing did actually cease on more than one occasion; but being the stubborn arsehole she is, Philo never quite abandoned it altogether) which did at least spare the acolytes any sort of pithy, if concise, commentary on their businesslike work. Even when Emmanuelle did poke her head in to check on her charge, the Gueret was either asleep, unconscious or both, with the added effect of the poppy causing an undignified amount of drool, sweat and in this heat a distinctly unladylike smell, but it’s not as though the Mandrake chirurgeon intended to speak with her anyway. Pure professionalism, notes made and compared with the acolytes on duty, a quick check to see that she’s not actually dead— and no intention to indulge in small talk.

By Friday, though, when perhaps the acolytes are more circumspect with the milk of the poppy they’re slipping into Philomène’s water, the woman is more awake and more uncomfortable, and even if her lungs aren’t up to argument she’s giving a poisonous glare to anyone who makes too much noise or comes to poke and prod at her without so much as a by-your-leave. She’s not making friends, and it’s not giving her an easier time of it as whenever she needs a drink or to relieve herself the poor acolytes are finding any excuse not to be there.

On the Thursday Emmanuelle’s presence is hardly felt; on the Friday it is hardly heralded, an acolyte coming in — somewhat cautiously — to strip away Philomène’s nightshirt and to begin changing her bandages, as she may vaguely recall occurred yesterday at this hour.

Then the Shahrizai appears, a stern figure in black leather and black silk, shutting the door insouciantly behind her and standing next to it with her back against the wall and her arms folded across her chest. Again her sleeves are up and her tails loose. The same silver pendant is visible at the hollow of her throat: the symbol of Eisheth, appropriate here. When her chilly blue diamond eyes meet Philomène’s gaze, she raises a brow at her in acknowledgment, but she seems to have nothing to say. The acolyte merely continues unwinding.

Not really in any position to contest or even to argue as her soiled bandages are stripped away, only to make small noises of discomfort and to glare at the acolyte when she can bring herself to focus, Philomène is perhaps the most pliable she’s ever been. We shall blame the opiates, but even they aren’t enough to stop a definite stiffening of her body when her wide-pupilled gaze drifts across the room and meets that distinctive Shahrizai visage.

Being manhandled is one thing, but to do it with an audience, an audience that is clearly judging her, is another. An acolyte is just an acolyte, but this is the very recognisable figure of a woman she’s done everything she can to appear strong in front of. Somewhere in the back of her mind there’s a memory of this woman in here, but it might have just been some sort of poppy-infused dream. Those do seem to happen rather a lot.

The acolyte keeps on at her work, revealing Philomène’s chest by degrees; Emmanuelle remains as she is with one booted foot casually raised against the wall behind her. She sees Philomène giving her the evil eye: of course she does. She lifts that eyebrow again. What of it? The bandages are off now, and the acolyte with head bowed and shoulders tensed is daring to begin to wash the wound and the area about it with warm water and a gentle cloth.

Once again, in a moment so incredibly out of character for the Chalasse, Philomène closes her eyes and allows herself to relax where she lies. Something at least in her mind has convinced her of the futility of attempting to fight this warm cloth at least, and it’s fairly clear that she’s in no state to leap up and demand anything. “You,” she grates out, throat dry enough that it takes considerable effort and two attempts to get a noise. “You were here,” she adds, either to Emmanuelle or to the acolyte - it’s unclear with her eyes still closed and her head square on the pillow facing upwards. “What do you want?”

The acolyte glances uneasily to this woman who is no priestess of Eisheth, but a trained chirurgeon whose sister rules Eisande. Emmanuelle, more accustomed to her own enigma, ignores the girl and murmurs: “I was here, yes, Philomène.” A pause, brief, during which the acolyte resumes her cautious operations. Emmanuelle straightens, and steps up to the bed. She meets her patient’s eyes from above. “I came to look in on my needlework,” she explains in an arid drawl, rather than speaking of oaths, or duties, or common decencies.

Philomène frowns a little, less in her usual adversarial way and more in puzzlement as those glittering eyes appear over her. Huh. That’s weird. Eyes are usually attached to faces, and those are usually not sideways. Oh no, wait, look. There’s a face, too.

“Needlework,” the patient echoes, pausing to attempt to moisten her lips with an equally dry tongue. Well, that one causes her to wrack her brains. Did they sit and embroider together? Well, it’s possible, yes. Probably at some point while they were sitting on those big floating marshmallows, and took it in turns to smack each other in the chest with big, blacksmith’s hammers. Right before Emmanuelle turned into a swallow, that was also a horse, and… ah… hang on…. Something here is ringing alarm bells. There’s something, some part of it, that might not be entirely reality. “We rode?” she asks, that being perhaps the most likely part of her dream to be actually true. But even then it seems unlikely, given that right now even breathing is so difficult. Probably the hammers.

Which question Emmanuelle doesn’t dignify by an answer, the patient’s poppy dreams being of less moment to the progress of her case than the state of the sword-wound which has by now been uncovered from beneath its various appalling encrustations.

Her gaze has already moved decisively downward from that wondering expression which has taken up residence upon Philomène’s chiseled features; she grasps the acolyte’s wrist from above and behind her to move that damn cloth out of the way so she can get a better look and then pronounces. “No sign of infection, but it is early yet.” She releases the wrist and steps back, her hands resting upon her hips as she surveys the woman on the bed. “Give her the same dose of opium tonight but cut it by another quarter in the morning.” A cool and scathing note enters her tone. “And bathe her properly, for fuck’s sake. It smells like a Bhodistani privy in here. Difficult as it may be to believe,” she drawls, “Eisheth’s service will over time bring you patients even less charming and less co-operative than the vicomtesse— I recommend you and the other girls resign yourselves, or seek some other vocation.”

It takes a good few moments for any of this to filter through into Philomène’s fogged little mind, which is probably why there’s no witty comeback and, in an even more unusual turn of events, no immediate threat of violence. There’s actually still a wistful sort of half smile on the woman’s face as she’s still reminiscing about flying horses and who even knows what else. She does allow one hand to flop over in Emmanuelle’s general direction, about five or six seconds after it’s already been withdrawn (time is purple, don’t ask), and rather earnestly insist, “I won’t be here in the morning. I think I shall go home. Thank you.”

When Philomène speaks Emmanuelle’s glacial eyes flick up again to her face, as if surprised to find she’s still there and still uttering absurdities. “Mmmhmm,” she murmurs, sounding unimpressed — but one doesn’t argue with anyone quite so far out of her skull on poppies; “we shall see.” Another pause, whilst the cowed acolyte wipes away a last trace of blood from below the wound. It’s neatly sutured with dark silk in a pattern reminiscent of the skeleton of a leaf, the spine of it being the sword-slash itself. Despite the miasma in Philomène’s chamber she draws a deeper breath, and converts it into a mutter of: “Not bad at all.” Then, to the acolyte who is staring up at her with bloodied cloth in hand: “Continue. I’m not here all day.”

Thus the application of a cooling salve, which adds a ghastly odour of its own to the air.

The salve at least gets a more straightforward reaction from the patient. Almost before the scowl even has time to form, there’s a fist swinging, albeit without much force behind it, towards the acolyte. The very action, of course, causes Philomène to twist, to put tension on certain parts that ought really to stay very still at the moment, and causes another fresh bead of blood to begin welling at the site of the wound.

What little force is in the blow dissipates in the sudden grip of Emmanuelle’s hand about this wrist, as she sees it coming in the twist of bare muscles and reaches to protect the girl who’s just had the rough side of her tongue, as instinctively as Philomène herself attacked. The acolyte nearly falls off the edge of the bed — blood-pinkened water sloshes everywhere from her bowl, in Philomène’s lap and over Emmanuelle’s polished boots — the chirurgeon keeps her hold, firm but not unduly painful, the pressure of her her black-lacquered nails probably lost amidst the general noise of so many different pains, exacerbated by movement.

Which naturally angers the woman more as she’s forced to give a groan, a hiss between her teeth, and to lie back again, eyes screwed closed and moisture just about beginning to form. Not tears. No. Philomène doesn’t cry.

Whilst the acolyte vents high-voiced apology and distress — more to Emmanuelle than to Philomène — and scrambles for towels, a search which takes her out of the room when nothing suitable is in evidence within it — the Shahrizai takes a deep breath, allows herself a moment to mourn a pair of exquisitely comfortable boots destined now for scrap, and then, when she’s quite certain the patient has expended her fury for the next minute or two (and when she’s also counted her pulse, and found it elevated but not dangerously so), slowly releases her wrist and sets her hand down next to her on the bed. “Striking someone who is not permitted to strike you, Philomène?” she inquires with a deceptive mildness.

“Shouldn’t have been on my horse,” Philomène insists through gritted teeth, breathing once again rather forced and ragged. “Not invited.” Because clearly that’s where she is right now. Where else, though, given that this woman spends so much of her time on horseback when she’s compos mentis, would she be in poppy infused visions?

Some chirurgeons, faced with such a situation, would be tempted to increase the dosage of opium to keep the patient docile beneath its influence till she’s had longer to heal. To Emmanuelle it seems an act of compassion to continue lowering it, to return Philomène to her senses ere she has acted too often against her deeper nature, to argue with her clear-headed rather than dope her and dupe her and plant too many more such incidents in the soil of her recollections there to horrify her later on with their misshapen blossoms.

“… Look at me, Philomène,” she orders softly, still standing in the puddle. “I do not know how well you understand me, but I would advise you to be civil to the acolytes. They are trying to help you. And if you turn them all away, you’ll have to see me every day.”

One has to assume that she doesn’t understand at all because the belligerent Chalasse follows the directions of her chirurgeon to the letter. And surely there’s no way she’d do as she was told if she knew what she was doing. Her wide pupilled gaze settles directly on the Shahrizai, taking in (or not) this latest information. “You,” she accuses, “want to see me.”

Emmanuelle sighs. “On the contrary,” she drawls, “I have seen enough.”

And then the acolyte returns with towels and reinforcements, and much business is made of replacing Philomène’s bandages and removing her wet and bloodied bedding. She is given another few drops of opium, to soothe her through all these procedures and the sponge bath to come; Emmanuelle supervises until the drug has taken effect and then stalks out, leaving a trail of wet boot-prints all the way to an office in which it is quietly agreed that from now on healers must only enter the vicomtesse de Gueret’s chamber in pairs.

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