~ Iunday, 24th of Maius, 11831 ~
The new moon. A month and a half since Pierre’s first journey to see the hospital, its advances, and its corruption. Today he was leaving his blossoming clinic in Vivien and Lizzy’s hands, going to see what changes had been made after his purge of the staff. Tibault and Charlot would be coming with him, the former not well known yet among the people and could go unnoticed, and the latter providing silent support and authority as the brother-in-law to the prince. Aimé, of course, offered to come as well, but Pierre insisted he stay behind. It was enough that Charlot was at his side, the prince himself would detract attention. Lady Rhianu, having bought a home in the city with her husband to spend more time in this plane, would meet them at the hospital.
It was the first show of full support from his advisors. They had helped and done much with setting up the clinic, but this was more public. They had chosen him and he would not let them, or their people, down.
Pierre had not written or announced that he would be going today, even though he was in contact with the head doctor, Adam Roland. While he believed that changes had been made, he wanted to see how things seemed naturally without giving people time to prepare deceit.
He did not wear his most formal attire, instead wearing the usual style of tophat and even forgoing a jacket in the warm weather. He brought Pluta with him as well, who lay purring around his shoulders.
“Is it something about being fay?” Tibault asked from right next to him, stroking Pluta’s head as they made their carriage ride down. “Elwin and his wolf, and you with Pluta.”
“I think we both just love our pets,” Pierre said. “Elwin used to train hounds when he lived in this plane. A wolf would be a greater challenge. And Piers, the future comte d’Eichel, has a similar fondness for horses and is not fay.”
“He has a winged Scorpiurian steed named Shetan, no?” Charlot said. “Sister said the horse is massive and it frightened her.”
“Yes, it was a present from his grandfather. It had been disgraced after a race and had its wings sheared off, but it still runs like death is following. Piers rode it from University to his home to visit his wife on breaks,” Pierre said. “The trip takes a week or so if you ride very well. He managed it in three days.”
Charlot shook his head and disbelief. “How he managed that…”
“Have you ever ridden Shetan?” Tibault asked Pierre.
“No!” He blushed slightly at how quickly he yelled it, and at the snickers from his advisors. His friends. “I do not have such a fondness for horse, or riding.”
“Lady Eglė is fay, though, so that does not rule out the hypothesis that those close to that plane are close to animals.”
“What of Wolfram and that swan I saw near him!”
“That’s his love, Salome. She is a swan-maiden.”
“Cygnati,” Pierre corrected.
“Then she herself is close to swans if she can take their shape, and she was taken to Faery.”
“She could take the form before she was spirited away, though.”
“Perhaps that is why? Because they are similar, kin?”
“And what of Lady Sabine and her giant spider?”
“She is friends with Elwin.”
Their discussion was cut short as the carriage stopped in front of the hospital. Pierre breathed a quiet sigh of relief. It was good luck that those who practiced necrocræft were often aligned with Faery, and their familiars could be seen as fée-kith. But then again, Faery had not the same strict laws against necrocræft, so perhaps it was not luck at all.
The cabbie was told to be of use to the hospital, bringing up anyone to the clinic those that were ill or did not wish to wait.
“Your Graces, lord Tibault.”
“Lady Rhianu, welcome. You are looking well, how is city life treating you?”
If one did not know her one would not notice the slight grimace of her features at this question.
“It is fine,” she said neutrally. “My husband is more glad than I. Yet I am happy we can be nearer to you, My Grace, and this land. I will give it a chance before returning to the forests.”
A few more pleasantries and greetings, and the group walked to the entrance of the hospital, the advisors in front, and the duc and his grandmother behind them.
“Elwin is looking into the hospital discreetly,” his grandmère said softly. “He is trying to find if the troubles from before were isolated incidents of discrimination or something on a large scale. I have spoken to those of Faery as well. The hospitals have been given the status of the Churches in Piques—neutral ground. The laws that are to be followed are those of Triumphe, not Faery, and anyone caught tricking the staff, or patients, will be dealt with severely.”
“Has this not always been the case?”
“In theory. But the fée are crafty and find ways, or reasons, that allow them to bend the laws to that what they are used to. This leaves no possibility of that.”
He nodded and moved to catch the opening door so that Rhianu could enter in front of him.
“Ah, Your Grace! Please, do not come in further without protection.”
Yvette stood with a mask on at the front desk. There lay several behind her, both in the fashion of cloth around the face, and the doctor’s plague masks with a large beak to stuff herbs in and keep illness out. Doctors rushed back and forth around them, grabbing masks, and carrying large buckets that, by the smell, were filled with blood. Even Rhianu seemed taken aback by such a display so out in the open.
“What is happening?” Pierre asked. “I just spoke with Adam a few days ago!”
“An outbreak of sanguiosi, Your Grace. A patient came in late last night with symptoms. By this morning everyone in that wing was ill. It has been quartered off and we are sending everyone who comes in to your clinic now. For the moment we seem to have stalled the spread, and we are trying to keep the patients alive until the illness passes.”
“Is the first patient still alive?”
Pierre passed the cloth masks to Tibaul and Charlot, but grabbed a doctor’s plague mask for himself. The sweet scent of herbs filled his head and blocked out the copper blood. Rhianu accepted a mask from Yvette.
“Which wing, madame?”
He was given directions, told to follow one doctor that was already rushing off to that hall. He told his advisors to go look about with Rhianu, keeping far away from the outbreak, and to return home soon and help in the Clinic as they would have even more patients than usual today.
“And Yvette, if you can find someone else to cover for you. I have heard you can heal, and blancræft helps to slow and be rid of the illness. I want you in that wing with me.”
The patient was a middle-aged man, currently asleep, though in the thralls of a nightmare. He was sweating and coughing, blood on his sheets and lips. His room was on the far end of the hall, but that had not stopped the spirits from infecting the other five patients in this part of the hospital. Two doctors had elected to stay with the patients and not leave the area and risk spreading the illness, while the others only came in the doorway to switch out medical supplies and bring in treatments. Pierre would have to scrub and leave these clothes behind if he wanted to go home this afternoon.
Pluta began to purr when they entered the room. She kneaded her paws on Pierre’s shoulder and dug her claws into his back. This was a dead man’s room.
“Oh, oh my.” Yvette grabbed a hold of Pierre’s arm as she walked in behind him, the spirits in the room pressing upon her and making her weak. If Pierre did not with his own eyes see the man’s movements he would have thought him already passed days ago.
“Yvette, center yourself,” he told her. “Take a deep breath. You are wearing a mask. It will be fine.” He also suspected that those who were fay would be less likely to be ill, he had yet to encounter someone of Faery that had been taken by the disease. It would allow him, and Yvette, a bit more freedom in helping patients.
Pierre let Pluta jump from his shoulders and go over to the corner of the room. She began to sniff a pile of bloody rags.
“Go check the other patients,” Pierre said. “I will be fine. Come back when you are feeling better.”
With Yvette leaving the spirits grew even more bold and pressed up to Pierre, trying to find the pinpricks of Pluta’s claws and an entrance into his system. He ignored them; he was their lord.
Kneeling by the man’s bed he took off a glove and grabbed a scalpel. He placed a shallow cut along his palm, along a lifeline for healing, and rebirth, and let the blood pool before tipping it into the man’s mouth. He sputtered, coughed, but swallowed.
The familiar spirits, relative to Mora’s and yet not among them, greeted him. They showed him with glee how they had infected and spread throughout this now-dying body. They were in the patient's throat, and lungs, and had all throughout his blood to every extremity.
A scarificator lay near the patient, having already been used several times by the looks of it. But Pierre used it again, letting the man bleed out into a bowl. The spirits protested, angry, at being forced out through the blood they were settled in.
Out of curiosity he let a few drops of his own blood in with the patient's before Pluta licked his hand and healed the cut. The spirits crowded to his blood, surrounded it, but could not consume it and multiply within it.
“Yvette, come here,” he shouted over his shoulder. This was a possible solution and a means with which to stall or even cure this! The woman returned a moment later and took in the scene. With another deep breath she knelt beside him, steel in her gaze.
“I need you to cut your hand and drip a bit of blood into the bowl, please,” he said, handing her the scalpel that he had already wiped down. She did so without question, and he felt the spirits again try and take her blood, but they could not.
“Bring one more sample,” he said. “You and I—”
“Are both fay,” she finished, and got up to get a third kind of blood and to bandage her hand. They needed to make sure this bringing in of new blood was helpful if the donor was not fay. Or a necrocræft practitioner.
A vial of human blood was brought quickly enough at his request, and Pierre tipped it into the bowl. It mixed with his, and Yvette’s blood, but did not mingle with the spirits.
“It works,” he whispered, and one could see with the naked eye that the blood was somewhat separate, magic confirming it. “If the patient is bled out, any new blood made still has the sickness,” he said to Yvette. “We are in need of blood from donors. That blood will remain true and help the body to deal with and be rid of the illness. But how to test each patient for his blood group…” There were several types of blood in the world, different magics and humors affecting it, and at times the differences were too severe. If you injected a patient with blood that was too opposed to his own, it might kill him.
Necrocræft could force the blood to align. And so could—
“Fay blood,” Yvette said. “Fay and fée blood can form a common bond and allow the blood groups to mingle.”
Pierre nodded. “Good. We will have to act quickly. Create a station to donate blood both at the château clinic, and the church, perhaps the town square. I will have to ask you to donate as well, we may only need a little fay blood, but to mix it with every other donation will still take a good amount. I am sure the Margrave and Margravine will lend their aid as well.”
He would also ask the practitioners of necrocræft to help, using their blood to stabilize the mixed bloods further, allow larger quantities to be combined with only a slight amount of fay blood, in case there was not enough from Faery donating. They could also check if there were other illness in the blood that would have to be tamed or cast out before transfusion.
“Stay here,” he said, getting up and motioning for Pluta to come with him. “I will go set this up, a blancwitch should stay in this hall. Help the doctors, and you have my authority to do as you deem necessary.”
They had a treatment and potential cure. If they worked quickly and spread this about Clandestina they could stop it before it took too many lives.
They could control it. Plague, death, illness. As much as the ker revered it, their duties were to contain it as much as spread it.
He felt Mora kiss his cheek.
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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.
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