(1874-08-01) - My Sister's Keeper
My Sister's Keeper
Summary: Imogen and Lillian arrive at Chevaise to aid Susanna's sister Rachel.
Date: 2018-08-01
Related: Good News and Bad News
NPCs: Rachel Moon, Violet Blue
Imogen  Lillian  Susanna  

Rachel's Room, Chevaise
One of the rooms given to the Summers girls at Chevaise. Presently a sick room in the worst sense of the word.

The three sisters can be found in Rachel's room, a sweet little affair with greens in all hues, some plants, a large window. The evening has made the place seem even forest-like as the candlelight illuminates the girls, huddled together like birds. Violet, her long, thin hair undone, kneels at the bed with her face pressed into the quilt on the bed, muttering and sniffling under her breath. Susanna has one arm wrapped around Violet, the other holding fast to Rachel's hand. Rachel herself is obviously very unwell—her thin, pale face is red with rash and fever, she's drenched in sweat, and her body tosses as she groans unconsciously at the pain. Susanna stares at her ailing sister, trying to hold back a dozen overwhelming emotions and unable to do much more.

Imogen didn't dally long in Hellsmouth. She had the conversation, and thankfully a reconciliation with her husband, and then after trying and failing to meet the archduchess was able to excuse herself and head home. She sent word for Lillian, telling her in a note that there was a medical emergency she could use some extra help with and that she would offer generously for her to drop everything and come to Chevaise at the earliest possible time. Now Imogen's arrived back only to see that she was not wrong to panic, and walking over she settles down on the bed attempting to survey the girl and determine what's wrong.

Having still been in town, and not difficult to spot, as she wore her House colours of crimson and white, Lillian had not been difficult to find. And it was easy enough to get to the stable to retrieve the horse she had already let for her own use. After that, there was the ride to Chevaise. She was no horsewoman, such as Imogen, but she managed well enough, set to arrive perhaps a half of an hour behind Imogen. It took some time, of course to make it through the gates and to verify that she was who she said she was, but she would make her way, lead by a servant towards the room where Susanna, Imogen and the siblings were gathered.

Imogen lingers about the bed, trying to understand without disturbing the poor girl, but she's only newly educated in medicine and so only ends up picking up the obvious. Instead she gently lays a hand on Susanna's shoulder and attempts to lead her away from her sister where she can make introductions between her and Lillian.

Rachel suddenly bucks and makes a horrible, pained noise, flops back down on her pillow, and dark blood is clearly dripping from her nose, to her lips. Violet starts to cry and Susanna is shaking. "When, when is the healer—" She turns around when the door opens to see Lillian there, and she instinctively stands at the sight of those bright colors, pushing the weeping Violet behind her. She has no words right now, just a glance to Imogen and a weary look at the newcomer.

"Imogen, I came as quickly as I could." Lillian spoke, even as she made her way into the room, moving at speed to unsling her bag, the thing obviously much heavier than it looked, as she swung wide, before the woman brought it under her control. She spared a glance to Susanna, with whom she was not equated, and the sight of her pulling her sister behind her did not go unnoticed. But it was the girl on the bed that garnered all of her attention, as she strode across the small room to go to her side, "I am Lillian Bordeaux, you have my word as a knight of the Order Reliant that I bring no harm into this house." She did not wait for Susanna's permission, as she had already been summoned by Imogen, but immediately moved to the girl's side on the bed. She settled at her head, setting her pack at her side, reaching out to examine the girl, turning her head to note the blood, "The girl is not from Aequor?" She asked the question to the room, as she first withdrew a bandage to sop up the blood, and began to examine her, her hands careful, professional, testing for feature, the the feel of her body. "Imogen, I will need your hands. Find the bottle marked valarian, please. We must ease her convulsions before we do anything else."

Imogen smiles gratefully when Lillian got right to work, and though a little careful about rushing from Susanna's side, when asked to get to work, she did so. Striding across the room still dressed down in 'common clothes' she gets the bottle marked valerian but opts to take a second step, getting a small piece of bread and soaking it in the extract to avoid any accidental drownings. "I'm no expert, my knowledge comes from harassing my midwife, but i'll do what i can," she responds in a distracted sort of way as she gently pries the child from sleep and feeds her the valerian soaked bread.

Susanna is still wary of Lillian, afraid of the colors she wears, but she doesn't see any alternative help for her sister, especially as the woman seems to know what she's doing. Rachel is unfortunately sick over her front as Imogen tries to feed her. "She's…she's bin vomitin' quite a lot," Susanna says hoarsely. The poor girl's sheets are a barely-contained mess, her face surrounded by towels. Violet looks up at Lillian with her wide, purple eyes, watchful.

"We're, we're Galenthian," Susanna adds, remembering Lillian's question.

Lillian did not seem at all put out, as the girl vomited, she simply rose, walking to a chest, the sort that was used in most houses to store extra linens. She was already tearing the sheet into strips as she walked, returning to kneel and clean the girl as best she could. She looked over to Susanna, her tone broaching no argument. "Go and prepare hot water, and as many clean linens as you can find, bring them back here. Find someone to tend that girl." She gave Violet barely a nod, before she returned to her work, "Imogen, you will need it give it to her directly, just be careful, as she might still have something left in her stomach. And once you have given the valerian root, administer half a dose of mugwort." It was messy, bloody work, but Lillian did not shrink from the task." She did speak quietly to Imogen, "Imogen, you have heard of the red plague?" Galenthian Susanna and her sisters might be, and Imogen as well, but Imogen, at least, had come from a Galenthian holding not far from Aequor.

Imogen is doing her best to help where she can, nodding determinedly when she's told to feed the extract to the girl directly, gently scooping her head up so she can swallow the mixture before laying her back down. Then she was up and onto her feet measuring out the mugwart, presumably also in Lillian's bag before repeating the motions as she fed it to her. When Lillian whispers to her she nods, but doesn't respond, not wanting to clue in Susanna or her sisters just yet.

Susanna hates leaving Rachel alone, but she doesn't hesitate to go and do what's asked, taking Violet with her. "Violet," she says, "Where would Miss Imelda be a' this time o' day?"

"L-library," Violet stammers, still teary and looking behind them all the while. Susanna orders, "Go up ta the library, then, an' let her help ya study. Or somethin'. Jus' no going back inta tha' room." Violet protests most horridly, screaming and stamping her feet, actually making her sister drag her across the hall to the library in question. Once the girl is passed off to the concerned-looking tutor, Susanna sprints at impressive speed to the kitchens.

Lillian accepted Imogen's nod wordlessly, trusting the other woman to know the extent of the danger the young girl was in. And as they worked cleaning Rachel, and then, as gently as they could, stripping her so that she would not have that soiled dress on her skin, she took advantage of the time that both sisters were out of the room, "I have seen such a thing only twice in my life, at the House of Healing in Rikton," likely pilgrims who brought it with them, "I have never seen it so bad. And I believe she is bleeding into her skull, which is why," she allows a hand to indicate the small trickle of blood which the linen had not staunched. "I can treat the convulsions, the fever, and the infection, but I cannot remove the blood from her skull without opening her. And if we cannot do that, the convulsions will get worse and worse until she will die no matter what we do." One the girl was cleaned, as best the could, of course, Lillian covered her with a sheet to both prevent further mishap if she should vomit again, and to preserve the girl's modesty.

Imogen sighs quietly and nods, glancing back to ensure they're still alone before speaking. "My concern lies in containment, we're less than one hundred miles from the Galenthian border, while Aequorians rarely get the illness the same cannot be said for Galenthia, or any other province. You realise I can't let any of us leave until i'm sure things are safe right?" she offers cautiously, but then, she's quick to slip back into nurse mode, no longer concerned with an epidemic but with a patient.

"I can see that Susanna and her sister are distracted, if you see no other true fix than to open her skull and let loose the blood, then do so. Though I feel compelled to ask if you have plans for closing the wound when the pooled blood is drained?"

Susanna moves as fast as she can down the hall with the hot water, and takes no time to knock or anything as she lets herself into Rachel's bedroom. She stands by the bedside awkwardly, saying nothing, distracted by Rachel's tossing head and fluttering eyelids.

"Closing the wound is not a problem. Preserve the bone fragment, the proper application of boneknit and bear's child. If her head is properly bandaged to prevent movement, she should heal easily enough. She is still young, and growing, children heal more easily than we do, as adults. And the wound would not need to be large." She considers Imogen's question, as she works, moving to examine the girl once again, her head, and her skull, "As best that we can figure, if any of us have caught this from her, we will begin to show signs in two to three days, we can begin taking preventative medicine now, though I will have to have more brought in so that I can mix and allot some to all of us. If your choice is to quarantine the House, it can be done. But if we all make it through, that should be enough." She looked up, as Susanna entered the room. She paused, considering, and Imogen would be able to tell what she was doing. She was calculating whether the risk to the sister now, was worth losing two spare hands. Thankfully, Rachel was already feeling the effects of the valerian root and the mugwort and was blessedly still, "I can begin at your word, Imogen." Yes, Lillian was the healer, but this was Imogen's household, and these were her folken.

Imogen nods quietly, and it's obvious she's trying to play three roles at once. That of guardian, knight protector, and nurse, all with conflicting goals in this matter. She seems contented with Lillian's explanation of the procedure but decides to take a risk and explain to the newly arrived Susanna what will occur. "As your Knight and sovereign ruler of the lands you inhabit, I will have to ask that you stand back and let us do as we must," she begins, rising from the bedside as she takes Susanna's hand carefully.

"Your sister's seizures have caused blood to burst in her brain, this blood has further irritated the brain and caused inflammation and further seizures…..the only solution is to give that blood a release, I assure you Signora Bordeaux has a solid plan for healing the wound once the pooled blood is released, but we have to make a hole first,"

It's a lucky thing Susanna put the bowl of hot water down before Imogen came and gave her that news. Her eyes widen. "Ya gonna…ya gonna make a hole in her head?? In MA SISTER'S HEAD?!" Susanna looks accusingly at Lillian and points. "SHE said all tha' ta ya, din' she? This, this RIKTON woman!" She nearly lunges at Lillian, grabbing her forcefully by the forearms. "Ya ent gonna kill ma Rachel, now, I ent gonna let ya! Get yaself OUTTA HERE!" Susanna struggles to push Lillian to her feet and out of the room.

Imogen was thankfully prepared for this possibility, and makes it clear that she wasn't always a pretty little high born as she grabs susanna about the waist and yanks her back into her chest /just/ managing to keep the woman from assaulting the healer.

Lillian stood her ground, as Susanna came at her, seemingly fully intent on wrestling with the woman if she had to, but thankfully, Imogen gets to her first. "Listen to me and do not allow one word to escape you." Her voice is calm, gentle, bur firm, as if she were just having any old day, and Imogen was not literally fighting to keep Susanna off of her. You know…your typical day, "I do not know what problem you have with me, or with Rikton, but these are the facts, as they stand. Your sister is dying. I can heal everything else, I cannot save her without performing surgery. I took an oath, when I took my spurs, to heal, and never to harm unless it was in defense of those who could not defend themselves. Whatever it is you hate about me, Susanna, do not allow that hatred and that anger to lead you to allow your sister to lose any chance she has of survival. If I meant to harm you, if I wished she or any of you dead or injured, I would not be standing here. I would have told your liege that there was nothing that could have been done. If we do this now she has the best chance to live. If you refuse her treatment, she will certainly not last the night."

Lillian's words are eventually enough to calm Susanna down, leaving her limp and helpless as weary tears escape her eyes. She takes a few breaths, swallows, looks despairingly at Rachel. Eventually she croaks, "Can I stay with her, please?"

Imogen keeps her hold firm, though making every effort not to be painful. "Susanna, i know who we are dealing with. This very woman is the one who has helped my husband recover from losing an eye. Besides, I knew the solution before she ever suggested it, but I dared not speak it without having a competent surgeon to perform the operation," she states sternly, but once the girl calms down she smiles and hugs her from behind. "If you're sure you can handle seeing the operation, and swear to not interfere, I see no harm in you staying," she agrees.

"Of course you can stay with her. She will want to have a face that she loves looking down at her when she wakes up." Lillian did not bother to give the injunction, as Imogen handles that in her stead, as she should, having command of the house and all who live in it. She allowed Susanna to stay with Imogen and gathered the water herself. "We will need more water, Imogen, can you have the servants bring more and leave it by the door? I want her washed and as clean as we can make her, including her hair, before we begin. Clean linens, everything as fresh as we have. We will have to move swiftly, but I do not wish to operate on her as she is."

Susanna nods, muttering a small 'sorry' as she wipes her face and gets to work. She takes a pillow and the large bowl of water she brought under the limp Rachel's head and gathering her long, tangled blonde hair into the water. She combs through tenderly with her fingers, working through the nods and scrubbing out the dirt.

Imogen doesn't waste time getting to work once Susanna is calmed. She heads out for a few moments and suddenly the manor is alive with footsteps and noise as she heads back inside with a bigger tub of water that they can lower the girl into to clean the rest of her body.

Lillian, mindful of Susanna, returned to the linen chest to gather up what would be needed to change the bed. "There is no shame in fighting for those you love, Susanna, and thus no need to apologize to me. I am a stranger to you, though your liege knows me, and this is the worst of situations under which to meet." She brought the linens back, leaving them on a small table, while she began to strip the bed. Not completely, of course, not until Rachel had been lifted from it, but that would be soon enough. "Thank you, Imogen, if you and Susanna will take care of her bath, I will prepare the bed and my supplies." Best to, with Susanna so skittish, allow her to manage as much of her sisters care as she could, was the clear intent.

Susanna takes Rachel's hair out of the bowl and wrings out most of the water, glancing up to Lillian intermittently as she works and helps Imogen lift and lower the fifteen-year-old's thin, rash-ridden body into the bath. "Forgive me, I've…never met a Rikton sworn na ta harm b'fore," she mutters.

Imogen chuckles softly and smiles apologetically. "Had I known you were so against Rikton I could have spoken to my midwife, but i assure you, Lillian helped me save my marriage, she's helped my husband, and she will help you, so if you can't trust her, will you trust me at least?" she offers gently as she helps bathe the small child.

As soon as the bed was clear, Lillian changed the linens on the bed, replacing the soiled pillow with a clean one. She used what she could find to prop the pillows so that they could be held in place as a splint and set to work laying out her tools on a table covered with fresh linen. More valenrian and mugwort for seizures, what looked like echinaecia and licorice for the infection, if one could read the label, and clove oil and lavender for numbing, both of which she also dropped, very sparingly on a small pillow she made of a spare bandage to sweeten the air and calm the nerves. Last of all the tools she would need for the actual surgery, "I am ready when you both are. Susanna, I will need you to hold her in place, Imogen, I will need you to support her head." Last of all, she withdrew a tiny phial of opium, for sedation.

"Course I trust you," Susanna admits to Imogen. Lillian she might have to get used to, but if she saves Rachel's life…

Together she and Imogen lift Rachel out of the water, dry her off, and nestle her into the bed again. Susanna's face tightens when Lillian tells her to hold Rachel fast, but she does so, steeling herself for what's about to happen.

Imogen smiles softly and nods, her calmness is likely a bit forced for Susanna's sake, but she's making the effort all the same. "Then all will be well," she assures as she moves to Rachel's head and supports it on her lap. She keeps her eyes focused on Susanna, watching for sudden movements but also in an attempt to keep her level and calm in spite of what's about to happen.

Despite all of the steps required to make the surgery possible, the time between when Rachel was returned to the bed and when she was prepared was relatively quick. She was settled first, and given a small dose of opium, her age and weight not allowing for more, and Lillian set to work shaving a segment of the girl's hair down with a dagger which seemed to have been purpose made for such work, allowing for the sedative to take effect. As soon as she was finished, she applied the numbing agents to the girl's skin, taking the time, as they waited to make use of some of the other water that was brought at the same time as the tub, to reclean and rewash her hands. She glanced up as she worked, tipping her head slightly to Imogen, to subtly indicate for the woman to try to block as much view of the procedure as she could. of course, Susanna face facing towards her sister and could not see where Lillian would be working, but it was the principle of the thing.

Susanna was taking slow breaths, staring at Rachel's face, eventually starting to very sofly sing a little song. Though the words can't be made out her voice is clear and sweet—a bard's voice.

It's ironic how many similarities there are between being a doctor and being a leader, though she'd never say it, Imogen can see that now, as she keeps her outward calm and works to block the view of and distract Susanna however she can as Lilianna does what's needed to be done for the surgery.

Lillian, true to her word, moved swiftly, and, though the girl was both sedated and numbed, did not take liberties in the operation. She made the necessary incision into the skin, calling Imogen forward to assist her in holding the wound clear, as she worked. Chisel, mallet, all worked with diligent care, the bones prized out, and host of bandages to soak up the blood which pooled out. As she worked, Lillian used bloodmoss to absorb and to keep the opening relatively free so that she could see her work, before she replaced what she had removed, and began to pack the wound, careful, so as not to leave too large of a bulge. The moss would dissolve and be absorbed into the wound. "We will bandage her, and check the wound. Once we are certain that she is no longer bleeding, I will stitch the wound closed." Better to wait, than to seal the skin and have the blood pool beneath. At every stage, Lillian took care to wash her hands, to clean the wound, and finally, to carefully wrap the girl's head in bandages. "We will, of course, also need to continue to apply the numbing agent while her skin heals. And I will give you roadside poppy, which will keep her sedated, but will not be as dangerous for her as the opium. I will show you how to do this, Susanna, so that you may tend her as she recovers."

This wasn't nearly as painful as Susanna thought it would be. Of course, hearing Rachel's head being pried open was something that made her stomach churn, but for some reason the careful, methodical nature of Lillian's practice abated any panic. It somehow felt like the blood that poured out was a good thing, a release, an easing of her poor sister's sick head. She kisses Rachel's cheek once she's all bandaged up and placed down on the pillow, then looks up at the healer with disbelief and gratitude. "Thank you."

In the end, with their patient tended to and settled, Imogen and Lillian turned their energies towards teaching Susanna what would be needed to care for her sister, both women clearly wishing to give her every opportunity to involve herself in her sister's recovery. Even Violet was eventually brought back in, before Imogen and Lillian would withdrawn, to allow the sisters to spend much needed time together. They would all receive preventative care, of course, and were never far if Susanna had need, and even when either of them had to depart, a member of Lillian's troupe, either Miriam or her husband Dilan, would stay close to provide such aid as the girls might require.

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