~ (Continued) Iunday, 13th of Aprilis, 11831 ~
“Vivien!” Pierre yelled out as he entered the home. He stepped aside so the father could come in with his daughter, the mother beside him. Wolfram came in last and moved in front of the parents to help Pierre with his things.
Jourdain was the closest advisor and met up with them, Vivien not far behind. “Have an empty room on the ground floor made into a surgery— quickly! Clean sheets, my instruments, boiled water, ether.” He threw off his outer jacket without waiting for a servant to take it, his hat following, though his cane he placed with some care off to the side.
“I will help,” Elizabeth said. “I know enough blancræft that whatever surgical means you use she will feel more comfortable at the very least.”
“Let me,” Vivien cut in, “I—”
“Of course, my dear,” Pierre told Lizzy, ignoring his steward. He was still angry at the doctors of his hospital, at the people of Spadille, and for the moment that extended to his staff. They had let this happen. He would only allow those he trusted implicitly into the room.
She nodded, tying her hair back and pulling up her sleeves while she followed.
The spare room was quickly set up and Pierre and Lizzy entered as the father placed his ill daughter on a covered table. Wolfram moved over to the instruments to double-check that they were all there, clean, and ready to use.
“None of our cræft,” Pierre said quietly to Wolfram as he got ready at the side of the room. He put an apron over his clothes and Wolfram received one as well. “I have not had much practice, as you can imagine, on fée and I will not experiment on her.” It would have eased his mind if he could check her body with magic, or help induce a painless sleep, but the risk was too great. Lizzy’s blancræft and the normal procedures would have to do. “Go bring the ether.”
Pierre read over her notes again as Wolfram left. The hospital had begun to document her ills. Sharp pains in her side, vomiting, and fever. There was nothing more specific. These could be a number of things. Pierre shook his head— the girl had been in the hospital for three days according to her father—this could have been diagnosed and even treated by now.
The girl’s parents were still in the room and Pierre smiled at them as he walked over to his patient.
“Monsieur, Madame, I have little to go on with what has been written at the hospital. If you could please step aside, I would like to examine her closer before anything invasive is done.” They nodded their consent and Pierre turned to his patient. Lizzy stood at the other side of her bed, waiting and watching. She gave him a quick smile before concentrating on the girl. Alise reached out to grab her mother’s hand.
Pierre gently put pressure on her stomach, first in the front and then at her sides. Nothing on her left side, but when he touched her right side she whimpered.
“There, it hurts on the right,” she said.
“I’m sorry, ma petite, I need to see exactly where this hurts.” When he moved his hands to her lower side she gasped. He pressed the same area again, slowly, and suddenly wrenched back his hands.
The girl looked at him, confused, but made no cry of pain this time.
“Good,” Pierre said. “And forgive me, Alise, for causing you pain. But now we can make it all better.
“It is her gallbladder,” he said to her parents. “It is a rare case, it often does not happen in children. If I had yanked my hand away and it had caused her pain it would be her appendix. Likely there are stones in her gallbladder that have inflamed it. This could have troubled her for months on and off, even years if it was forgotten when the pain stopped, but now it is too much. It is an easy enough procedure though.” He had seen it done, and practiced the surgery on a corpse... which he later restored and resurrected to try with a living body. It had gone fairly well the second time, though needing to kill the man at the end had not given him the time to observe post-surgery.
“She will be alright?” the mother asked.
“Oui, madame, it will be done in the hour and she will start feeling better almost immediately. Now, forgive me, but if you could step out so we may begin. We will keep you informed.”
“Yes, thank you.”
Pierre turned back to the girl, sitting on a stool so he would look less imposing, and grabbed a scarificator from the table beside them and showing it to her.
“Alise,” he spoke to her gently, “do you know what this is?”
“No, monsieur,” she said, looking at it warily. He let her reach out to touch it and look at the small blades on it. Her mother and father now gone she reached out to grab Lizzy’s hand when she realized what it could be.
“It will cut you and you will bleed,” Pierre said slowly. “Now, this will hurt, but only a little, and it will make you feel better. I promise.”
“How will hurting me make me feel better?”
Pierre smiled. “You were sad in that hospital, yes?” She nodded. “And they were rude, those doctors that would not help you. So you have felt sicker than if you were in a happy place, and your humors picked this up. I will cut you here,” he traced a square on her forearm, “and let a little blood out, which holds some of all the humors. It should have all of the sad feelings in it.”
“And all the bad feelings will be gone?” She was answering her own question as she asked it, nodding her head. “Okay then.” She stuck out her arm and did not even look at it as Pierre took it.
“Good. Now, tell me your favorite animal that lives in our forests,” he asked and placed the little mechanism to her arm.
She thought a moment before her eyes lit up. “Bunnies! They’re always very nice to me when I meet them in the garden. I pet them, and their ears are so long and soft! And I have to shoo them away because we aren’t supposed to let the bunnies hop around. Don’t tell papa, but I sometimes let them have some of our vegetables.”
Elizabeth laughed and smoothed out the girl’s curls, glancing over to her beloved, who also had a smile tugging at his lips. It was a good distraction, as the girl had been talking Pierre cut into her and by the time she finished he was bandaging up the wound. Stray blood that spilled to the floor was soaked up with towels that would later be ridden of. Lizzy placed her hand over the bandaged arm to speed healing.
Getting up from the stool Pierre walked back to his equipment. He called over a servant from beside the door. “Have the kitchens make a broth from the gallbladders and blood of rabbits for her,” Pierre told him, quietly (they were her favorite animal after all and it would not do for her to hear). After she drank it and some of her strength had returned they would start the procedure.
He returned to sit next to the girl and Elizabeth. They talked a bit, further distracting Alise and giving the kitchens time to make the request.
The broth looked dark and smelled funny, Alise thought, but she took a drink when Lizzy said it was medicine— then coughed and choked on the bitter salty taste. Her mother came in to coax her to take a few more sips, which she did, but with great reluctance.
“I know it tastes horrible,” Pierre said, finally taking the half-full cup away from her and thanking her mother. “But are you not feeling better?”
“Mmhm,” she murmured. The pain in her side was less and she felt sleepy, but in a good way.
Wolfram brought over the large jug of ether gas, a hose and mask coming from the top. Pierre took into consideration her weight, height and age, and adjusted the dial on the side. Clandestina was one of the few realms where a true surgery was possible by anyone with their more advanced medicines. Many places had magic that could render one asleep or numb, but that meant the presence of a healer, which was at times a rare magical gift to have. Blancræft was not as strong, though certain noircræft was but it was often counted among necrocræft and not practiced. Ether was an invention that worked well in this realm, and not as well in others.
“Alise, I am going to hold this to your mouth and you will breathe for a few moments, alright?” She nodded and did not fight as he placed it over her mouth and nose. He motioned to Wolfram, who let out the air. The girl relaxed and her eyes fluttered as she tried to keep them open. When she could no longer sit up on her own Pierre helped to lay her back down in the bed. She was still conscious, eyes glazed but tracking movement and light.
“We have half an hour at most,” the surgeon said to those assisting him. Tonight’s magic would have her process the ether faster than a human girl of her weight, but he feared giving her more and killing her in the process. They had to do this quickly.
She was wearing a thin dress from the hospital, and Lizzy pulled it up so it was scrunched at her chest. A blanket was placed over her waist and legs. Wolfram opened a bottle of whiskey and poured some over her to disinfect the area.
Pierre began to cut her from side to navel. She shied away from the knife, squirming some, but did not make a sound. She would be feeling what was happening distantly but with the after-effects of the ether she would not remember this pain.
Lizzy sat by the girl. She held the hand that Pierre had cut and stroked the girl’s curls, keeping whatever consciousness was still there occupied.
“Shh, little one. You will be well soon.” Alise relaxed at Elizabeth’s words and no longer pulled away from Pierre.
The surgery was done in just over a quarter of an hour. The girl’s gallbladder was removed and set aside, and the bleeding was controlled with clamps and Elizabeth’s proximity. After making certain the wound was clean and neat Pierre also allowed Wolfram to stitch close his incision after demonstrating.
Pierre stepped back and over to Lizzy and Alise. “When Wolfram finishes,” he said to Elizabeth, “would you mind cleaning and bandaging her wound as well?” The closeness of a blancræft user’s hands would help stave off infection and induce faster healing.
“Of course, Pierre.”
He nodded and moved to where a bucket of hot water had been placed next to a smaller dish. He washed his hands and kept an eye on the two that had helped him. Elizabeth was cleaning her wound now, the blood not phasing her, and explaining to Wolfram her natural ability to use blancræft.
The two sat back when they finished and Pierre motioned for Lizzy to go clean her hands next. He changed the water in the bowl for her and then moved to sit by Wolfram.
“First surgery?” he asked. Wolfram looked a little pale, but his hands (which still held a scalpel) were steady.
“Yes. I have watched Lord Ophion, but he had not yet let me help. Thank you.”
Elizabeth returned and Wolfram went to wash his hands. There was still some blood on their clothes and upper arms, but a full wash would have to wait until the patient was done being looked over and assessed.
They waited, watching as her eyes grew more focused and consciousness returned. Vapored ether was about guessing as much as it was about knowledge. In a few minutes she seemed clear-headed, was smiling and asking if she was well already.
“You will be,” Lizzy told her. “Sh, lay still. We had to cut into you to take out what was hurting you and now that shall have to heal. You need rest for several days while we check the spot…”
“I will go tell her parents she will be fine.”
Outer clothes discarded, the surgeon left the room.
Her parents stood at his entry, the mother clinging to her husband. Pierre smiled to them. “The surgery went well,” he said. “She is awake, responds to us, and is feeling fine. She already wants to go home in fact.”
The mother hugged him again and this time he returned it. When she moved back he shook the father’s hand.
“And do not worry about the spring and summer taxes. Just help your daughter be well. Whatever that hospital wishes for her stay I will pay.
“She should stay a moon cycle so that I can make certain she is well and can take care of herself. You may stay if you so wish, but if you are needed on your farms I will provide transport. We will send letters every three days of her health, and more often if something happens.”
“Thank you, Your Grace. Other family is helping while we are away, it would be an honor to stay while our daughter gets better.”
“Then you are my welcome guests.”
“Ah,” and he added after he started to return to the surgery room, “Do not allow her to speak both of her true names. Keep her second name a secret, give her a third name to speak as a false second.”
“We will, Your Grace. And merci, thank you so much.”
“When you spoke of doing something together, I did not think you meant surgery,” Elizabeth said, putting aside her book as Pierre entered the room. They had some time before dinner and wanted to keep each other company.
“Neither did I, my dear.” He sat beside her and wrapped an arm around her before looking at the book she had been reading. It was about magics and cræfts in the different realms. “Thank you for your aid. Are you alright? This was your first surgery, no?”
“It was your first lone surgery as well,” she replied. “And Wolfram’s. But everything went well, and for that I am glad. Tell me, though, why the surgery here? What happened?”
Pierre explained what had taken place at the hospital, along with the implication that he believed it was because she was fée.
“That is likely,” Elizabeth agreed softly. “Trèfles is not much better—there are fée, but in their own parts of the land and outside of those areas it is rare to see someone you might call fay. They can be treated unwell without much repercussion. In Cœurs I believe they appear less often and are mostly ignored because no one knows how to behave around them. You should be careful as well, Pierre.”
“And how do you feel about the fée?” he asked.
“Grandpapa, and now Father, are progressive men in that matter. The fée are far more accepted in our county than in other lands. I was taught some of their traditions, it helped that you and I were friends, but was also advised to be cautious. Fée have their own morals that govern them and may be allowed to do what we are not by Amôru’s Law. I did not take great heed of this because I thought I knew better, you were fay and so is Eglė, but… I have since learned otherwise.”
“Enlighten me,” Pierre asked. “For all I had a père from Faery, I do not remember there being much difference.” He was learning now, from associating with Elwin and Rhianu, that there was much more.
“I was taught of an instance, perhaps you were never told, about why I need to be careful. It involved your father…” She looked down at her hands in her lap.
“Your mère died having your sister. From what I understand the doctor and nurse had tried their best, but had not managed to save her. Your père disappeared with her after and returned to Faery.
“Over the next year each one of them died.”
“And you believe it was at Père’s hand?”
“Or his command, yes. It would be justified revenge in Faery.” With what Síofra had told her of emotions, she understood more than she used to, but it still unnerved her.
Pierre felt it prudent not to mention that he agreed with his father’s actions. From stories Ophion had told him when he asked as a child his mère could have been saved by someone with more skill. The Félicien had exacted revenge did not bother him. Perhaps it should have.
“I will be careful.”
Support "The Courting of Life and Death"
- Macabre Fantasy Romance
I write dark things that involve magic and romance. I love books and stories, and anime and gaming. I'm trying to Catch 'em All, I collect geeky pins, and listen to a lot of true crime podcasts.
The subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Noctuina/