|The Circle of Life|
|Summary:||The results of the kill or cure tactic become apparent.|
|Related Logs:||The morning after Do We Take The Chance?|
|Large clearing with lots of tents. A big pvaillion and multiple smaller ones, also a cook fire and the foundations of a small manor.|
|Thu Jan 17, 290|
The entire night was spent inside the tent with Einar Flint, Bella had spent most of her time alternating between trying to keep the shivers wracking his body at bay by keeping him warm and by offering him barley water in tiny intervals, trying to get him to keep it down in smaller doses. Dania and the Fenster had spoken of the day in detail, childhood stories and the future. And of the man Bella had held cradled in her arms between the vomiting and sickness. Now the morning has come and there is more work to do.
With Bella caring for the Flint Lord, Dania was able to continue her rounds during the night. She would move between the different tents and she would always stop in to check on the Flint Lord and to help. Every hour on the hour. She is just stepping into the tent again. She is dressed in a clean apron, sleeve guards and a cloth mask. She is dressed as she was before and hair is not as neat as it was. She offers Bella small tired curtsy. "How is he doing? Are you ready and have you gotten in a nap?" Her eyes are tired.
With Einar's inability to keep down the barley water also comes the inability to keep down the other drinks, the ones to numb the pain. Most of the night had been spent awake but insensible quite possibly keeping others nearby up as well, although there had been some brief periods of peace and even the odd moment of lucidity. And now? Now it's the turn of the pain, although this bout is perhaps not quite so bad as some have been as while his body is tense and unmoving, he is at least quiet.
Apparently never seeming to be as tired as the others today seem to start that way as well. Ciaran makes his way around camp as well, soon enough sneaking into the tent to join Dania, seeing as he is her apprentice after all. Keeping silent and wearing much the same as Dania does.
Bella must have slept during some time in the night, for she does not feel as dead tired as she should. Unless she is running on pure will alone now. Kneeling by the bedside of the sick noble, she runs her fingers over his forehead, testing his temperature. It was indescribable, being a healer and unable to help the sick. Looking towards the entrance of the tent as Dania steps in, she nods, acknowledging the curtsy with a surprisingly coherent and alert expression. "He is resting now.. he had a terrible night. He is not getting better.. yet." When the apprentice joins, the Fenster's eyes briefly glance over the man, a quick flash of friendliness in her gaze before her concern turns once more to the Flint.
The loss of Ragny, who has been here all along, is likely a sore one for those who linger here. While the common healer yet lives, she has succumbed, without doubt, to the Flux and languishes now in a cot she will likely never rise from again. The pyre, still maintained in a clearing a short distance from the main camp, has been kept burning throughout the night, as more bodies are quietly hauled from the pavillion. The acrid smell of smoke seems to taint everything, diminishing the beauty of the surrounding forest and forcing the memory of Young Lord Anders dream to ash, just like the abandoned project. Of those who were left behind, in the wake of the Flint departure from the Riverlands, only a handful now remain.. and hope is fading fast.
"It is the pain; he needs the fluids and the milk of the poppy. We need to balance his humors." Dania looks over her shoulder at Ciaran. "Master Ciaran, how are the stores?" She pauses. "Lady, I will be taking some of that poppy and feeding it to Rangy, I will have need of it." She tells her. She says to her. "I will not take away from the Young Lord, but it is the least that can be done for the healer." She moves to open the ornate box that she left on the bedside table. She leans over it and creates a mixture of herbs that she mixes with wine. "In an hour give him this; it will help with the fever and his stomach. Small sips see if he can keep it down." She pauses. "Keep hope, because what I will be saying is not good. The numbers have declined, but one woman is very pregnant. Remember as long as there is life there is hope." She is said in quiet manner. "Do not lose heart, tell him that too Lady. Master Ciaran, we may need more ideas and you are an herbalist in your own right." She adds.
It's fair to say that the new arrivals aren't noticed by the Flint, it's also entirely possible that right now he doesn't even register Arabella's presence, although he did at times throughout the night. Sadly, the current bout of cramps does not seem to be getting better, quiet the opposite infact as he muscles tighten more and a low moan escapes from his lips.
"As far as I can tell, there is enough. If not a lot." Ciaran admits in reply to Dania. Nodding towards the lady as well, but not saying much since she said nothing to him. Listening as the mistress continues and he does nod a bit at her words. "I will see what I can think of. If it was just fever or flu that we could get rid off through normal means then it would be to sweat. So any spices would help." Not sure how it would work on this. "I do think that it will upset the stomach though. Unless it kills whatever it is. I don't think it would weaken the patient though, so perhaps it is worth a shot?" He suggests. Continuing to ponder other ideas. "I am sure that there are several different kinds of leaf that we could try."
The healer.. Bella lifts her eyes, the responsibilities are weighing on her young shoulders and she nods though, "Please see that she is comfortable, she.. deserves better. If I could, I would move her to my tent, but then she would.. be alone. I would not wish to take her from the people she has cared so deeply for." When the instructions are given to her, the Fenster nods solemnly. Comfort was all she could give now. The low moan has her attention dragging back to Einar and she whispers words of encouragement while trying to soothe him. "Your fever is so much, too much. You have to fight it, Lord Einar, too many people love you and need you."
"That it would as it pepper is used in the wasting potion, we could do it in smaller dosages and mix it with milk if they have goat." She looks thoughtful. "He had the wasting potion." She nods her head towards the Lord. "The peppers did little to break the fever. Willowbark, Feverfew, Tansy, Dill, Mint…" Dania frowns. "We could try a milk of the poppy mixed with some of the peppers for him. Like garlic broth, the issue is we cannot keep anything down some of them. Poultices of mustard and onion applied hot to the chest. Turn the heat up then and see if we can sweat it out of them but they will need the fluids and that willow bark. Leaching does little. Alright Master Ciaran, Let us try it."
Ciaran nods. "Most likely getting it mixed into the milk might help. Perhaps it is too strong, so the milk will help. We will have to see about the goat though." He agrees, nodding a bit about the milk of the poppy as well. Continuing to nod to her words. "If, as you said, the cramping is in their stomachs then most likely we do need to try and get them to eat something to get rid of it. Right? I mean, if the cramping is causing the pain then that should be the first to try and tend to, isn't it? Though indeed, if there is nothing else we can do then exterior things can be done as well." He sighs a bit as so far nothing has worked.
If the moan had been bad, the acute cry that follows is worse and Einar curls tightly up on his side, chin trying to bury itself into his chest. It's all rather pitiful really and it's clear enough that he has no notion of anything thats going on around him any more.
A sudden rushing of footsteps and the tentflap is pushed aside, revealing a youth with straw-blonde hair hanging about his face, the swarthy complexion that's testament to time spent out of doors. One of the only ones still here who doesn't seem affected. But still, he wears a rag across his mouth and nose. "Mistress. M'lady." A glance to poor Einar is enough to tell the lad not to bother with proper title for him, given his rush. "We've need of a healer in the tent. It's.." Pausing to gasp a breath, he looks, a little wide-eyed, between the two women again. "..I mean.. I think that woman's havin'.. and.." Ugh, men are always reduced to wibbling idiots, when it comes to childbearing, aren't they?
The talk of the others is forgotten as Bella attempts to offer the Lord comfort, silently praying once again to the gods, both old and new, just to make sure his were all covered too. Though he is incoherent, the Fenster continues talking to him, her voice soft murmuring, "I am trying, Lord Einar, truly I am.." tears spring to her eyes unbidden and quietly roll down her cheeks. "Please fight this.."
The suddenness has her eyes rising and she looks towards the open flap. "Dania, go. You go, you have to, I remember what you said. I will get him taken care of, you go.. help." She is the midwife after all.
Dania is frowning though her face cannot be seen it is in her tired eyes. "What are we missing." She mutters to herself. "What are we missing?" She lets out a sigh of exasperation and frustration it is not directed at anyone just the situation at hand. "Try and put the milk of the poppy underneath his tongue." She tells Bella.
Her gaze then goes to the tent flap. "How long has she been in labor?" She asks the boy. Her tone is calm. She pulls herself to her full height and squares her shoulders. She then looks to Ciaran. "You have more skill than you know, you are doing well." She takes a few steps to towards the tent flap to follow the boy. She looks over her shoulder at Bella and then Ciaran. "Bella and Ciaran you both can join me." She tells them.
"I.. I dunno, mistress." stammers the befuddled common boy, stepping back to clear the way for Dania's exit. "I was helpin' at the pyre, then I heard missus Ragny hollerin'. She told me to come fetch folks, seein' as she's too ill herself." Wiping off his hands nervously on his breeches, he steals another glance at the prone Flint inside, then averts his eyes again, reddening.
Well, being a man, Ciaran is none the wiser. "What?" He asks the boy while being a bit confused, trying to get him to explain better. Eyes going to the other two. The lord's cry makes him scratch his head a bit. Sounds painful after all. "I think we do need to hurry with the lord." He offers in a rather factly tone. The noblewoman's reaction makes him just watch them all. Trying to get a grip on things. Worry showing then, upon what is shown of his face. Still trying to figure out what the boy meant and it isn't until Dania speak to the boy that he understands. Nodding a bit as she speaks to him. Moving to follow. "I have no idea about such things, mistress."
There is little else Bella can do but what she has been told and she collects the herbs, blinking back the devastating sadness in her eyes as she attempts the milk of poppy beneath his tongue, her tough gentle, chaste. "You told me when I came to have hope, you were so strong even when I had my doubts and now I will be strong for you. You have to fight this, my lord. You have to have.." hope. "Faith."
"It is alright my dear. You are doing well." She says in a tired calm voice to the boy. She then goes to follow him out. She is moving quickly. She nods to Ciaran. She then looks at the boy. "We need someone to tend him and give him the wine and herbs I made up in an hour." She then is out of the tent. She does cast one more glance over her shoulders to see who is following.
Since he will be no help with the birthgiving Ciaran nods about Einar. "I can look to the lord, you two can be with mother giving birth." He tells Bella as well and goes over to the lord. To take her place if she does leave. He does nod and try to get her to leave though.
Previously, the cramps and associated pains had at least had teh good grace to die down a bit before a new wave hit, sometimes even occasionally for a prolonged period of time. This time though it seems the Flint is not so lucky as he's still very much locked in the fetal position as a result of one when the next hits. Not that there's really much indication externally as his muscles are already taut. What it does do though is make him cry out again, a purely instincive, agonised call rather than anything that might contain words or thought but one that should give Bella time to administer the poppy milk before his jaw locks shut again.
Bella has no intention of leaving the lord. Of course she cared for the people but there were limits, why would she leave the nobleman to his own devices? The Fenster stays at his side, cradling his head when he allows, tears silently falling from her eyes dampening the plague cloth over the lower half of her face. "Have faith and hope Einar." She does administer the poppy milk at the earliest opportunity… but when he locks up again, she shakes her head, refusing to give up hope.
Across in the pavillion, one of the other hearty men who has remained behind is doing his best to follow weakly croaked instructions from Ragny, in her cot on one side, while he gently maneuvers the pregnant woman upward onto a prop of the cleanest pillows he has found. The poor creature is barely conscious, but the discarded sheet tosses against the wall and the fresh one that's hastily bunched beneath her hips and legs suggests her waters have most certainly broken. The question is.. how does one go about helping a woman near death to endure the strain of labor? Ragny herself is barely keeping her eyes open, her brow slick with feverish sweat.
"Good Master, I need you to support her back." Dania says as she goes to wash her hands. There is a calming ritual to it. She does it three times and then she approaches. She studies the woman with her quiet tired blue eyes. There is a glimmer of hope in them and it is a small glimmer but it can be seen. She the moves then to check to see how dilated the woman is. "Mistress, we will do everything we can. But we need you to try and stay with us. We need your help." She tells her. Her voice is gentle.
She looks at the man. "I need you to support her back and shoulders. Healer Ragny, do you have a birthing stool?" She asks the healer who is barely keeping her eyes open.
Not sure what to do Ciaran does try to find several different things to offer to help the lord. Not that there seems to be much he can do. He does try though. If at all possible.
The glazed eyes that stare dully back, uncomprehending as Dania speaks reassurances, betray how little time the woman has left. That's likely how she got to this stage without anyone noticing. Ragny, sagging back onto her sweat-soaked sheets now that someone has arrived to take control, simply shakes her head in regard to the stool, unable to even muster words as her eyes drift closed.
The young lad is still lingering by Dania's shoulder, not seeming to know what to do to help. The other man does as he is bid, heaving the woman up and bracing her at the shoulders and back with his brawny arms. The poor mother herself is perhaps blissful in her ignorance. It's plain that the child won't be delivered without help… and quickly.
It takes a few moments to kick in, but when it does the milk of the poppy does have a noticeable effect. Muscles relax and Einar uncurls just a fraction, jaw unclenching as he does so. It's not a big enough dose to knock him unconscious so he can sleep through the pain. It does seem to work in dulling it somewhat though, along with all his other senses and despite looking for a moment like it might not stay down, this once it seems to with him making no move to retch.
Checking to see how dilated she is Dania then goes to check the position of the child. This is done by pressing down on the woman's stomach. As she does this she feels the contraction are stalling. Her frown deepens and there is now a quiet sadness in her eyes. She looks at the boy. "Leave." She then looks to the man. "Fashion a curtain around us, I take care of her, but I need you to leave. Who is the father?" She goes to get another box that she had left in pavilion. She asks this as moves towards where she placed it on a makeshift table. "Young master, tell the lady I may need her help or the Master Herbalist who is in the lords tent." She calls to the boy. With her kit in hand. She moves to the woman's side.
The noticeable difference in Einar is greeted with a pleased sigh, a brief respite in the storm. While he has relaxed, Arabella offers more poppy, wanting to remove the pain, she looks to Ciaran, "How much more can I give him to ease him? I need to help him, he is in too much pain."
"But.. I can help..?" Stutters the youngster, only to look up at his older comrade, then turn to go as commanded, in search of more help.
"Don't know, mistress. Believe he already passed." is the gruff response from the larger man, gently letting go of the fading woman and numbly looking about himself for the components needed to fashion a curtain. "I.. would a sheet..?" He doesn't want to get it wrong.. this particular healer is rather.. feisty.
At Einar's tent, the young lad approaches and clears his throat to more politely make those within aware of it. "Pardon me.. Missus Dania says she needs another pair of hands in t'pavillion."
"A bit more. Just do it slowly. Not all at once. It seems to have had better effect like that." Ciaran offers. She is better with the healing though so he is sure that she knows better than him. He knows the plant well enough though, so that advice should be a bit of help at least. Then the boy arrives and he nods. Looking to Bella, though guessing that the lady won't leave the lord. If she makes no move to leave, then he will.
The second dose of milk of the poppy that hit's Einar's system seems at first to be having the desired effect. His muscles relax yet more, going limp in fact in that telltale way that heralds unconsciousness. His breathing seems to be holding steady enough and it looks like peace might have been found for awhile at least, but then in a taunting delayed reaction he starts first to cough and then to vomit. Good think he's on his side really because as his stomach empties once more he doesn't stir.
Quickly Dania makes a paste of wolfsbane and mint, she then dilutes the mixture. She washes the woman's belly. She looks over at the man as she works. "Anything will do, it matters not, you are doing good." She then is focused on the woman. She slathers the mixture on her stomach once the skin is cleaned. Next she washes her hands again and opens the box. It folds out and inside nestled are gleaming instruments with sharp edges. Each one is spotless and there is the faint scent of vinegar that clings to them and the case. She washes her hands again. Then from the case she takes out a the correct instrument of choice.
Bella does not even look up as the kid comes back to the tent asking for more assistance and in a voice that would make any other cringe she commands the kid, "You seem healthy enough running back and forth," she snaps, "You go help." With the bucket, Bella catches the bile, closing her eyes, tears building all over. Every time there is hope, it gets dashed. "Go master Fullbringer.." her voice is much gentler now. "Our Dania needs you."
Ciaran nods to the lady's words. Looking to Einar. Feeling bad that he couldn't help him, either in getting better or ending it quicker. Leaving with the boy to go to Dania. "Lead the way." He says, having ignored the command Bella gave to the boy earlier. Just moving to find Dania for now.
The youngster does indeed flinch - he offered to help, after all. And he's had no experience in dealing with nobles, especially angry female ones. Swallowing hard, he takes a hurried step or two back, then lingers uncertainly to see if anyone will come with him.
Back in the pavillion, the larger man has done his best to form some sort of curtain by tying corners of sheets to the seams along the top of the main roof. It's far from good, but it'll have to do. Having seen to his task, he pauses, glancing to Dania's work with the herbs, then with wide eyes to the array of sharp instrument laid out. After a moment, though, with his eyes settled upon the bedridden mother, he addresses the healer, very gently. "Mistress..?" The direction of his gaze is upon the sick woman's chest beneath her sheets. It rises and falls no longer.
Joined by Ciaran - thanks all the Gods - the youngster hastens back toward the tent without hesitating. No need to stick around that other lady. She's scary.
With a large part of the poppy dose removed from his system prematurely, the next round of cramps has Einar groaning again. If he's still just barely unconscious, or awake but doped up is hard to distinguish, but he's certainly feeling some of the pain once more.
Bowing her head the tears come freely now, Bella keeps doubting herself. Had she not given the second dose, surely he would not have lost it all. Her gaze goes back to the flap momentarily and there was a sudden need to apologize to the innocent lad. Later.. She would not leave Einar. She should never have left. “Can you ever forgive me?" The rhetorical question will never get an answer. Could she forgive herself?
"Leave unless you want this to haunt your dreams." Dania tells him. She moves toward the mother now. "May you find what you seek and may you rest a while and the gods and spirits watch over you." She notices her chest has stopped moving. "She is dead, the child is not or I hope the child is not." She says simply and she goes to make the cut. Her hands are steady and her mind detached. "Please see that the boy does not see this." Line of ruby red blood rises from the cut and she begins to do a caesarean section.
Even the large man is not made of stone. Bringing a hand to his face, he rubs at his eyes with thumb and fingers, before drawing his palm down across his stubbled cheeks and nodding. "Yes, mistress." Before he goes, he lightly brushes the dead woman's eyelids closed with a reverent touch, then lumbers toward the main entrance of the pavillion. It's so quiet it's almost unbearable. But he keeps his back straight and his steps unwavering, ready to halt his young friend by the shoulder and keep him from venturing inside the tent. Ciaran, of course, will pass without any such interruption.
Bella has realized something. She is nowhere near as strong as she had imagined herself to be. With determination, she staunchly refuses to cry now, giving him only a small dose more of poppy. Any way to relieve the pain, to settle and calm him. She places it beneath his tongue, closing her eyes tight, "Please, please, please.." Never naming what she is begging for, but anything other than what -is- works.
It might be just luck, it might be skill or it might even be the intervention of the Gods that has been so vehemently asked for, but that third dose does seem to allow Einar to slip once more into blissful unconsciousness and this time there is no indication of it returning. He just breathes, slowly and steadily.
That his pain has faded even some, Bella sees as a small triumph. He sleeps and she clings to his hand as if losing that one contact with him would allow him to slip away and she is not prepared to lose him. "Sleep.. just sleep." The healing blanket of unconsciousness.. hopefully it would do the job.
Sleep. Rest. It's been awhile since Einar has had any of that and his body seems to welcome the change well enough. Muscles that were like tight cords now contain no tension and his eyes are simply closed, rather than screwed up tight. The only sign of any life in him at all infact is the rise and fall of his chest, up and down, up and now, up and down. It's almost mesmerising really, were someone to simply stare at it. That is of course until they noticed it was slowly, almost imperceptibly, shallowing.
Ciaran moves towards Dania as it seems the kid will not give him an answer. Hurrying to Dania's side and hearing her words he focuses on trying to help her as the other man stops the kid. Going to help Dania, "Just tell me what to do."
"Please spirits and gods of old and new." Dania mutters to herself as she pulls back the flesh once the incision has been created. She dips her hand into the woman's uterus and from it she then presses down as she starts ease the child out incision she has created. She is so focused now. The quiet envelopes her wrapping her in a quiet blanket, she is only aware of the child she is pulling from the womb.
Ciaran's words cut the silence like a knife. "Get a soft blanket and warm water. Make sure the water was boiled beforehand. I need to hand the child off to you, so I can tie off the cord." As she says this she pulls the child from woman and from the amniotic sack.
There is nothing Bella can do but cling to his hand as he clings to life, gently smoothing his hair from his face while counting each breath, her eyes filling with tears again, making his features waver in her vision. There are no words she can say, nothing more she can do, she has given her all. Quietly, she lays her cheek on the gentle rise and fall of his chest, willing it to deepen, to strengthen. Her hand tightens, her eyes close, she waits. Were he to die, she is determined he will not die alone.
Ciaran nods and does as he is told, moving along and dealing with what he has to do for now. Getting the warm water and blanket. Being gone for a while before returning as soon as he can, having followed her instructions as he should.
There's no rush to it, no great show or announcement, but the slow, inexorable weakening of Einar's breathing continues. It remains true though, not ragged or gaspy with pain, just a gentle rise and fall that gets weaker and weaker as the minutes progress.
Dania has the baby out now and she clears the newborn's airway and flicks the child on its foot. The child is then placed on the cloth and into Ciaran's care. She gets thread and ties off the cord quickly as she can. She is all but holding her own breath. She is so focused on that child. "Breathe, little one. Let the spirits let you breathe." She whispers.
Bella feels the weakening and she lifts her head, keeping her eyes closed. "You are not alone, you will never be alone again." Silent tears fall down her cheeks unheeded, unnoticed. "May the Gods watch over you." Reaching for his other hand, she completes the circle, holding tight.
Ciaran receives the child. Looking at the newborn boy. Hoping the same as Dania perhaps, despite staying silent. Holding the child and trying his best to take care of it. The experience with his own child perhaps coming into play, though there is an age difference. Mostly trying to be careful.
A cough. A splutter. A sudden gasp of chill morning air… and the pealing of the baby's cry rings out across the deserted campsite. Wrinkling his face up and waving his arms in flailing indignation, the infant makes his displeasure very well-known to Ciaran and Dania, his gummy little mouth open wide to ensure they hear every bit of it.
Exact timings can be so hard to judge, especially so when distance is involved, but sometimes things happen close enough together that even if they are not exactly simultaneous they can appear to be, and are often take to be. As such, possibly only the gods know if the first breath of the baby truly was a mere heartbeat after the last of the lord's, but by the time the infant's wailing can reach the other tents Einar is gone
That wail has Dania looking up at the ceiling of the pavilion and closing her eyes. She stands there very still and just listens to the wail to her it is the most glorious music she has heard. She takes deep breaths of air as she tries to compose herself. The blood on her hands is starting to dry and turn sticky. She can feel it but she takes another deep breath. She cannot say anything for the moment. She just listens.
Following the lead of the midwife Ciaran just holds the child and is able to smile a bit. Though he isn't silent as long as he soon enough speaks. "Ain't you a sight for sore eyes." He whispers to the baby. Eyes going to Dania and then the dead mother. "What now?" Perhaps restless, or just not wanting to take a break when people are still passing and the child might not live if not safe. "Get the child safe first?"
Just as the innocent cry of the baby breaks the silence of the camp, Bella notices Einar takes his last breath, and for a long moment she does not move other than to look up to the heavens her chin quivering, breath coming is shuddering bursts, silent.. except that cry from the pavilion. There is no hurry to move no rush as she whispers a few soft words to the Gods, wishing him a safe journey. "I am sorry.." she finally whispers after. "I was not enough to save you." Quietly she releases his hands, knowing he was no longer hurting. The peace on his face she will always remember. With another shuddering breath she rises, walking out of the tent. Another look to the heavens and she sinks to her knees, bowing her head, sobs coming now with deep, gasping despair.
The infant's piercing wails gradually sober to shuddering cries, then mere grumbling and gurning; likely the warmth and comfort of being held to Ciaran's chest going some considerable way to quieting him. But he's bound to be hungry. And this place is so bright, and loud. If he wasn't so sleepy he'd have a lot more to say about that, thank you very much.
"You are right, he needs a wet nurse. We need get him to Highfield or get a wet nurse to come here. Let us get him cleaned up." His words shake her out of her listening and push her into action. "We should have cloths enough for a nappy. I would not swaddle him with what we have here." She goes to wash her hands. She wash three times and then three more. They are raw by the time she is done. She looks at him then she goes to hunt down parchment.