Closed [Infinity Manor] And Make It Double

Gemma helps deliver Madeira's babies

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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[Infinity Manor] And Make It Double

Postby Gemma Parker on March 9th, 2019, 12:31 am

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Spring 1st, 519av, 11 Bells

Gemma was just getting off her shift at the Catholicon when she got the call. Her plan had been to go home, get a nice long nap, then maybe go out for a bit and buy some clothes for the change of season. But her plans were not meant to be, because just as she was about to leave for the day, a breathless messenger rushed in, panting against the door post after probably running up the whole spiral stair case around the mountain that led up to the peak of Tenten and The Catholicon.

"Need... medics..." The messenger gasped, drenched from the rain that still pounded outside.

Gemma was immediately on high alert. The messenger started to regain his breath, and Gemma put her hand on his back, checking him for injuries without really thinking about it.

"I work here. What happened? Tell me what you need and I can direct you to the right people." She said, already walking him down the hall.


"Five Shinya dead at Infinity Manor. More en route, but they've requested two medics to accompany them. They're concerned that Madeira Craven might be injured." The mention of the pregnant Dusk Tower teacher called Gemma's attention immediately.

"Madeira? What happened? Did she try to fight the Shinya?" She asked.

"I don't know the details, only what I've been told." He said. Gemma's thoughts went to the unborn babies. She knew she had to go, but she didn't know who else to ask for. The news of Madeira's involvement and possible injury worried her and caused a fog to fall over her mind. Who should she ask for? Allesia was in surgery and couldn't be disturbed. She was pretty sure Senri was with her. Yonatan would be able to check if the babies were ok. Maybe he was their best bet.

When they reached reception, Gemma spoke. "Rasika, this man has a message. I'm already on my way. Find Yonatan and send him, and as soon as Doctor Allesia is available fill her in." She said this as she skipped backward, already half way to the door. And with that, she burst from The Catholicon and into the pouring rain. She might normally have enjoyed it if she wasn't in such a hurry. Now it was a dangerous hazard that could potentially impede her as she ran.

"Yahal, protect me." She shook her head as she ran. It as stupid to run in these conditions, but she had a good pair of boots on her feet and a grim set determination in her eyes. She would make it. She had to make it.

Down the spiral stairs of Tenten she ran, through the plaza where The Ponrose Incident happened. It was where she had first met Madeira. If she hadn't been there that day, would Gemma be running now? Would she have responded with such haste if it had been anyone else? Someone she didn't know? She shook her head and sent another prayer to Yahal for purity of heart.

She stopped only to ask for directions to the manor, and when she got there, panting and out of breath, the scene before her gave her pause and she gasped. The manor was at the center of a good parcel of land, but it looked like a battleground. A huge moat circled the place. It was filled with teeth like an open bear trap, and off to one side, Gemma saw what she had hoped she wouldn't. Impaled on the spikes in a bridge-like line were the unmistakable bodies of the five Shinya, recognizable by their white robes. Gemma gasped as she saw them, noticing the dismembered state of some of them.

"What-" She couldn't bring herself to ask the question. What had happened here? How was she supposed to get in? There was no way she was going to walk over the Shinya bridge, and the five of them were clearly dead and beyond anything she could do. But Madeira...

"Madeira!?" She called, cupping her hands to her mouth as she shouted through the downpour. The sound of rain muffled her voice, but she tried again.

"Madeira!"
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[Infinity Manor] And Make It Double

Postby Madeira Craven on March 9th, 2019, 3:51 am

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Madeira came back to herself in bits an pieces. She could hear the rain drumming on the roof high above her head, and slanting in sideways through the shattered windows. A sour smell, like iron and rot, was in her nose. The hardwood floor was uncomfortable under her knees, her broken ribs were grinding together as she breathed, and her right hand was alight with pain. She held the limb steady in front of her blurry eyes, and studied the ragged flesh where her soft white hand used to be. The skin had melted away, sloughing off with a chemical burn. The flesh beneath was already festering, as a last gift from the poisonous smoke of the Desolate One. And even deeper than that was a black scythe that seemed to be carved into her very soul, a last gift from Dira.

What was left of Uldr's priest was piled in front of her, as a mound of ashy dust. Even so, it was not dead. The monster, inert and powerless but still lucid, was hissing under the sound of the rain, its soul still crying for her blood.

But under her wounds there was something was wrong, deeper in her body. Some steady pressure had her seized in a vice grip that made her gasp and growl. She had to go find help, but she was so tired. Through the haze of her mind the Manor was sinking into exhausted silence. Jomi had burned himself away a while ago, and while she could feel his presence, he could not make himself heard or seen, and could not help his master.

"Madeira!"

...Gemma?

The Spiritist looked up at the sound of a familiar voice. What on earth was the Konti healer doing here? Her knack for being in the wrong place at the right time was uncanny. She had to see her. She needed her help again.

Madeira pushed herself to her feet, but was nearly pulled back down to her knees as something in her body clenched like a stone fist. Water, made pink with blood, stained the front of her green dress.

No. No no no no, it's too soon. Madeira fought to stay conscious as the contraction subsided. She wasn't due, not yet, not for weeks. What was this? A thin trickle of thick black blood weaved its way down her thigh as she staggered to the wall, holding her swollen belly like that was all it would take to hold the lives she carried safe within her.

She shouldered open the front door herself, and was hit with an icy blast of rain. It was past midnight, a new day, a new season. We survived.

Gemma Parker, the Konti healer, was standing on the far side of the moat, soaked and red from running, her blonde hair plastered to her pale face as she shouted into her cupped hands. Madeira was sure she had never seen anything more beautiful.

"Madeira!"

"Gemma!" the Spiritist shouted back through blistered lips, happy tears in her eyes. But there was no way to get to her, except... "Stay there, Gemma. I'm coming."

The house was nothing but a weak flicker in the back of her mind, the Architectrix having exhausted itself just like her ghosts. It couldn't build her a bridge to get across, so she had to use one that was already there. The bodies were cold and slick, and her uneven weight pushed them deeper down onto the spikes. The new gnosis in her gruesome palm seemed to wake with the touch, and before Madeira's blinking eyes she could see their deaths all over again, superimposed over the world like a second sight. New senses opened within her, and In all her long career as a spiritist she had never felt the presence of death so keenly.

She made it across and doubled over as another contraction ripped through her.

"Gemma! I need... I need the Catholicon. Something's wrong. Help me."
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[Infinity Manor] And Make It Double

Postby Gemma Parker on March 9th, 2019, 5:46 am

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Gemma kept shouting through the rain as she tried to circle the mote and look for another way across. She was starting to give up hope. She had expected to see Madeira or at least be able to get to her. This was... How could she even handle this?

The mote was deep, but with all the rain it was starting to fill with water. Could she just drop down into the mote and walk across? No, but then how would she get back out? There was still the option of going across the Shinya bridge, but it was so appalling to think about that she just couldn't bring herself to think about it. There had to be another way. She told herself that she was not betraying Madeira, and that the woman would understand. She even allowed herself to think for a moment that the Spiritist would agree with her respect for the dead.

"Gemma!" A voice croaked through the downpour. It sounded feminine, but not like the voice she remembered belonging to Madeira. But then, as she traced the sound to its source, Gemma saw a very pregnant Madeira hailing her from just outside the strange house. Gemma waved and stepped closer to the mote, as if those few feet would do Madeira any good.

"Stay there, Gemma. I'm coming." The woman called through the night. Her voice sounded.. wrong. And oh goddess, her hand... It looked... melted. What had happened here?

Gemma saw the woman half waddling up toward the mote and for a moment expected her to float over or something using magic. But she actually went over to the line of dead and dismembered Shinya and used them as a bridge to cross. The hours dead Shinya were slick with rain and death, and for a moment Gemma thought Madeira was going to slip off. Gemma ran up to the end of the bridge, still keeping her feet as far away as she could from the unnaturally lopsided head of one of Lhavit's finest. For a moment she thought she might vomit from the gross slurping of a wet corpse shlunking down a spike under a pregnant woman's body weight. She reached out her arms to Madeira to receive her, but just as the woman finished crossing, she seemed to convulse in pain.

"Madeira!" Gemma shouted, only now seeing the dark red stain on the woman's otherwise green dress. She put her hand on Madeira's back, reaching the other to grasp her good arm for support.

"Rak'keli, please hear me. Heal Madeira and her babies." She prayed to her goddess. She knew it wouldn't be enough to heal the hand or whatever had caused all that blood, but at least she could remove infection and help her feel a little better.

Madeira asked for Gemma's help getting to The Catholicon, but Gemma balked. "Are you crazy? You can't walk all the way over there, you're clearly wounded and in pain. Yonatan the Aurist should be right behind me, and I was told the Shinya are sending another team." She explained. "Don't worry, help is coming. We just need to keep you stable until they get here. Then we can talk about getting you carried to The Catholicon." She said.

"I didn't see a limp. Does it hurt to walk? Other than the convulsions?" She asked. "We should get out of the rain. Do you think you can make it to one of the nearby houses?" She paused for a moment and looked around. "Maybe we should just wait under a tree." She was doing her best to take in all the information so she could make a good decision about what to do next, but this was so intense. Gemma had thought the Ponrose incident was crazy, but no one had really been hurt badly then. Now Madeira's hand was literally melting off. Which was gross, by the way. But no matter what happened, Gemma was determined not to let anything else happen to Madeira or her unborn children.
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[Infinity Manor] And Make It Double

Postby Madeira Craven on March 11th, 2019, 7:29 pm

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No sooner did Madeira collapse into the little Konti's arms than the woman was rambling nervously. Where does it hurt? Where should they go? The healer was asking almost rhetorically as she peered around blinking in the heavy rain. The hand on Madeira's back was warm and soothing, Rak'keli's gnosis purging the rot from her hand and soothing the pain twisting her insides.

There was an urgency in Madeira, some instinct in her body roaring that she was not going to last long like this. Even the pain of her injuries were lessening as her entire body tuned inward and began working to expel her pregnancy. Even so, she knew Gemma was right, she was in no shape to hobble two peaks and a tall hill in the pouring rain.

"There's a castle... around the back", she breathed. She hadn't seen Savis since the day before last, so surely her castlette cabin was empty, and dry besides. They could wait for help there.

Madeira could walk fine on her own, though stress and exhaustion made her steps clumsy and her pace slow. But she held onto Gemma all the same, and clutched her arm and hissed through her teeth at every contraction. Eventually, through the sheet of rain, four little turrets materialized from the gloom, each topped with a jaunty little flag that hung sodden from their poles. It was a strange little thing, this stone castle nestled in a grove of willow trees.

"Did you know, in Alvadas, you don't have to go to the hospital?" she informed the Konti matter-of-factly as they neared, like it was another day in her classroom. "No, the hospital goes to you. Wherever you are, if you're hurt, you just had to look up an Ionu's Mercy would be right there." She laughed, and even to her own ears it sounded half mad. "Not much mercy in Zintila though, is there? One hospital, on the farthest peak, accessed by an entire mountain of winding stairs. You should open your own clinic, where it actually matters. Wouldn't that be grand?"

She should be in Ionu's Mercy right now, she thought, as she shouldered open the door to the little castle. She should be abed, attended by midwives, with a human husband at her side. Then, maybe, her family could look on her with pride as they wrote these new names in the meticulous Craven genealogy. She missed Alvadas, she missed the capricious god of her childhood, and regretted her children would never know where they came from.

The inside of the castlette was dark, gloomy and cold, but at least the rain was off their heads. Then from the hearth came a tiny flicker, and the firewood bloomed with a little flame that trickled over the stacked logs as the exhausted Manor did its best to help the two women. The light did not make the place any less gloomy, but now it was at least a little warmer. The inside of the cottage was stone and hardwood, with not a bed or soft furnishing in sight. The space was dominated by a dinning table that could seat ten, covered with black silk, and towards the back was a towering wardrobe and a desk piled high with notes and sketches. There was a distinct un-lived-in air about the place that had much to do with the sterility and the wiff of formaldehyde that floated through the air. Which was to be expected, since a Nuit lived there.

Madeira seized the nearest chair and sat with a groan, trailing rainwater and drops of blood. Her ruined hand she held awkwardly away from her body, and the other she braced on the table behind her for support.

"There will be... bandages in the closet, and sterilizating fluids. Savis will kill me for ruining her precious clothing, but use them if you run out. I'd rather owe that Nuit a favor than lose my hand", she laughed and nearly choked as a small contraction pulled tight on her exhausted muscles.

Outside, beneath the sound of the rain, she could hear other voices. There were shouts of distress and alarm, and she imagined the voices had found what was drowning in the moat. After a moments a few voices began spreading out, calling their names. One was coming nearer to the little cottage, and the Spiritist imagined she had heard that deep tired voice somewhere before...

"Gemma! Miss Craven!" Yonatan was shouting into the dark.
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[Infinity Manor] And Make It Double

Postby Gemma Parker on March 15th, 2019, 3:58 am

Gemma caught the petite woman and exhaled as her weight came down onto her. She was heavier than she looked, though Gemma had just run all the way here and was now supporting a pregnant woman.

She got directions to shelter just around the corner, which was good because Madeira needed to lay down. 'At this rate...' but she didn't let herself finish the thought. They were moving again, and were soon in a small castle that Madeira said belonged to Savis. The castle looked a little out of place, but Gemma didn't really notice. A pit formed in her stomach. Savis. The way she said her name, it sounded like... did she know? How could she know, though? Gemma had only escaped the cave two days prior and hadn't had the guts to tell anyone the grim truth: Savis was dead.

She knew the right thing to do was to tell someone, anyone, but she'd kept it bottled up. As much as she seemed to never stop talking, she'd remained tight lipped on this one. She still needed to process, to understand what had happened. But she couldn't think about that now. It didn't have to be Savis' dwelling, and it wasn't anymore. It was her work station. Suddenly the fireplace came to life on its own, and Gemma was startled for a moment, but she quickly recovered.

Madeira told a story through the pain, and Gemma lapped it up while she worked.

"That sounds amazing." She said softly. "Maybe I could set up a place like that. It seems like people always need help getting to where they can receive care. It would be much more convenient if the care could come to them." She mused, genuinely considering it.

There was no bed in the room, which was odd. Where did she sleep? She thought, but again, it didn't matter. She did her best to use what she had in her bag to make a chair more comfortable before offering it to Madeira, who took it with a groan.

"This should do until help arrives." Gemma wanted to smack herself for not suggesting that someone bring a stretcher. She also hadn't thought to leave any kind of directions for Sleepy and whoever else came to help. She had been told she would be accompanying more Shinya, but she didn't know what to expect from them. Maybe now that the danger had passed they wouldn't bother coming in and leave it to the physicians.

Once Madeira was in a slightly more comfortable position, and now that they were out of the rain, Gemma got to work inspecting her. Gemma had never helped someone give birth, but she felt it was pretty obvious by how Madeira was acting that she was in the process of giving birth. Gemma didn't know how much time they had, but she was hoping that her prayers to Rak'keli would give them time to get Madeira to The Catholicon.

The most obvious wound was the woman's hand. Gemma had never seen anything like that, and she knew her gnosis mark would not help to heal it. Still, there were things she could do.

She went to the cupboard and found the bandages and sterile fluid that must have accounted for the smell. The whole place had an odd smell. Gemma wanted to say it smelled like death, but she thought that would be too fitting given the fate of its former occupant.

"What happened to your hand?" She asked. She brought the materials back and set them on the table, getting to work. She didn't want to wrap the hand directly for fear that the bandages would get stuck to the skin. Instead, she dug through her bag for one of the herbs she always kept with her: vyfox. She took the jar of dried herbs out of her bag along with the small mortar and pestle, setting up to work. All the while, she was praying, doing her best to keep the pain at bay. If Madeira went into shock from the pain or emotions, there would be little Gemma could do to help her until aid arrived.

With her gnosis mark glistening through the gloom, Gemma crushed the herbs and mixed in a little water to make a poultice. It would have two effects, she reasoned. It would work with her gnosis mark to slightly speed her recovery and it would provide an organic barrier between the raw flesh and the bandage.

"Tell me how you're feeling. Try to be specific." Gemma said, trying to inject a soothing tone into her voice while she worked.

From outside, a man's voice called Gemma's name and she risked walking away from her patient just for a moment. "I'll be right back." She said as she stood up, hopping over to the door so her shouting wouldn't startle Madeira.

"We're in here!" She called out the door before returning to Madeira.

"Don't worry. You're gonna be ok."
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[Infinity Manor] And Make It Double

Postby Madeira Craven on March 19th, 2019, 12:34 am

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Gemma was wrapping Madeira's hand, smearing a cool paste over the
ragged flesh, but the Spiritist could barely feel it. Everything was
muted, detached, as her overwound and exhausted muscled forced
themselves to keep moving. Her higher mind was switching off and
something more reactionary was taking its place.

The healer asked what happened to her hand, but Madeira didn't have it
in her to taper her answer into something easily digestible. Every
healer at the Catholicon thought she was crazy, what was one more?

"A priest made of poisonous smoke melted it off when I stuck it in
his chest", she laughed, the sound gasping and distorted around
the pain. "It festered immediately. The smell... But it's
dust now. The creature. Priest. I turned it into dust."

Gemma asked how she was feeling, and Madeira answered her with a guttural scream as a contraction, stronger than the ones before it, blindsided her. Thankfully the healer had managed to answer the caller out in the rain, and help came in hot on her heels.

Doctor Yonatan was soaked to the bone. He stepped into the cottage dripping like his own personal thunderstorm. He took stock of the situation as he shed his cloak, noting the herbs and sterilizing fluid and the sad state of the patient. His face was that cool calm you see on every doctor. She would never have guessed that he had witnessed the slaughter out front from the way he was acting. He spoke to Gemma first.

"Miss Parker, update me."

Once he had all the information he took Madeira by the chin, tilting her head into the light to check her pupils for signs of shock.

"Everything's going to be okay, miss Craven. Take some deep breaths. Gemma has you bandaged up really good. Do you know when you were suppose to be due?"

"I don't... Two weeks? Three? I don't know."

"How close are you contractions?"

"Five chimes? Ten? Less? It's so hard to tell anymore."

"That's okay. Can you stand for me?" He enlisted Gemma's help to haul the broken, pregnant woman to her feet. The movement jostled something, and a gush of blood, so dark it was nearly black, spattered at her feet. "That's normal", he assured the Spiritist, who's face drained of it's blood at the sight of so much of it literally falling out of her. "I'm going to check how dilated you are. I need your legs a little further apart, there we go. Hold your breath if it helps."

Kneeling in front of her, Madeira saw his composure crack for the first time as his hand felt underneath her skirt. It was for less than a tick, but she was sure her tired eyes still saw his cool composure slip into something a touch more panicked. But in a flash the doctors composure slipped back over his face and he stood, rising off his hand with the warm water that simmered in the kettle over the meager fire.

"This is something called stress induced labour", he explained. "In situations of immense anxiety or if a woman's body is under stress the body will try to expel its pregnancy. In early pregnancy this results in a miscarriage, but for you... I'm sorry, we don't have time to move you to the Catholicon. We have to deliver here."

Childbirth was risky at the best of times, but this? Madeira looked around at the dark, cold cottage, with the rain howling outside and not even a bed to labour on. She was beyond tired, and beaten and bruised besides. She couldn't do this, not now.

"Delay it", she demanded, as a spark of her typical authority flared up. "Something. Anything. There are herbs for that, isn't there?" She turned to Gemma, and her voice dropped into something that was almost pleading. "Isn't there?"

Yonatan spoke to Gemma over her. "We need clean clothes, hot water, string or something to tie with, and clean cutting tools." He took Madeira from her and prompted her to sit up on top of the table. "We need something to serve as stirrups..." Underneath his composure the man was clearly growing frantic as he tried to think of everything it took to help a mother give birth.

Madeira sucked in a breath and bent forward on the table as another contraction rocked through her worn muscles. She felt far away and paper thin, but she struggled to be present. This was happening now. Even without Yonatan saying so she could feel it in her bones, a kind of downward pressure that felt like it was going to rip her apart.

She took a deep breath to center herself. "Gemma, what do I do?"
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[Infinity Manor] And Make It Double

Postby Gemma Parker on March 20th, 2019, 3:23 am

Madeira gave Gemma the strangest story in ten ticks she'd ever heard, and for a moment Gemma wondered if the woman was somehow making fun of her in the driest humor Gemma had ever seen. But it took her only a moment to shelf that concern. Now was not the time.

"You'll have to tell me about it sometime. Maybe not now, though. You've got enough going on."

Yonatan came in and ushered in a wave of calm into the tense storm that raged within the castlette. Gemma's stomach released a bit of tension she hadn't even realized she'd been carrying. Madeira screamed and bent at the waist. Another contraction. How many had that been? Three? Four? She hadn't been counting. She probably should have been. Gemma grabbed for Madeira's hand as soon as she was back within arm's reach. Her gnosis marked hand shone in the dark room, casting a pale silver light over the perspiring and fatigued Madeira.

Yonatan asked for a report, and his voice snapped Gemma into medic mode again. Why did this feel so personal? She had only met Madeira once before today. They'd talked for a bit, sure, shared a stressful moment. Was it the babies she carried within? Was it their innocence that drove her?

"Miss Parker?" Yonatan had to repeat himself when there was no time.

"Sorry. Patient is pregnant with twins and suffered likely shock-inducing trauma to the hand. Significant burns, which have been stabilized for the moment. I got here maybe fifteen chimes ago and the patient was seen walking, but with blood staining her dress. When she reached me, she had what I believe to have been a contraction. I think she's had two more since we've been here." She was slower than she normally was. Distracted. What was wrong with her? Why was this bothering her so much?

Yonatan enlisted her aid in lifting Madeira up from where she sat. Gemma braced herself to help the woman up, but as she stood, a splash of dark liquid crashed to the ground, and Gemma looked first at the ground, then at Madeira, then at Yonatan, worry in her expressions. Yonatan's calm helped to soothe her, but she wondered how genuine it was.

Yonatan stuck his hand under Madeira's dress, and for a moment Gemma expected Madeira to protest, but she didn't. Maybe this was normal. She saw an expression of deep focus on Yonatan's face before a flash of concern. No. Panic? Gemma didn't know what to do. She wasn't trained for this. This wasn't a Catholicon room. They were the only ones there. Everything was wrong and out of place, and with every tortured howl from Madeira, Gemma's gut clenched more and more. Why wasn't she praying? That was why she was here.

Gemma still held Madeira's hand, and bowed her head over it, praying audibly, but softly so that Yonatan could give her instructions as needed.

"Goddess of healing, come to my aid.

Show your compassion and power.

Heal this woman and her babies.

Please don't let me lose anyone this night." She said the last line in Konti, not wanting to scare Madeira.

She continued to pray in Konti, sometimes making little mistakes, but not caring. The melodic, slightly higher tune of the sing-song language might help to calm the woman. Gemma just hoped it didn't agitate her. Her gnosis mark continued to shine, and for a moment Gemma felt that it was shining dimmer than usual. Or maybe it was brighter. It was as if the goddess' healing light was at war with the oppressive darkness all around them, pushing against it and keeping it at bay

While she prayed, Gemma heard Yonatan explain the situation to both of them. He called it stress-induced labor. And he said they had to deliver here. Just the two of them. Alone. Without Doctor Alessia.

So it was labor, then. She had expected as much, but Madeira seemed to be processing it fully now. And she didn't like it. She asked them, no, demanded that they forestall the pregnancy. Gemma almost scoffed, but her wounded compassion won over. Gemma looked to Yonatan before she was addressed directly. She opened her mouth, ceasing her prayer for the moment. She didn't want to answer. What could she say? Was she supposed to give this woman more bad news?

She exhaled, trying to push down the lump of guilt that was in her throat.

"There are herbs that help with pregnancy, yes, but I don't have any here. I can't leave you alone to run and try to find some, and even if I had it, I'm not trained in its use." She tried to maintain eye contact as she expressed her regret. She just felt like she was transmitting her ineptitude. Madeira probably regretted having Gemma there at all. Any other doctor at the Cathlicon would have been better than her. Her specialty was herbs and now that herbs were needed, she was useless.

Yonatan spoke, his clear and once more calm voice commanding the room. He gave her a task, a mission. She had to let go of Madeira's hand, but by then she was almost thankful for the diversion. She repeated the list back to him with a nod and rushed back to the cupboards and closets in search of the needed items. She discovered Savis' stash where Madeira had said it would be. She found scissors and thread, then a set of clean clothes. Gemma didn't know if they would fit perfectly since they were Savis', but it was better than running to the house to get something. Finally, after putting everything near Yonatan, she put more water in the kettle. She only had what was in her water bottle, though. There didn't seem to be any water around, only the odd smelling liquid.

"Stirrups? Like on a saddle?" She asked, looking around in bewilderment. Where was she supposed to get something like that? Then another contraction ripped through Madeira's already haggard body, drawing Gemma back to her side in a few strides. Once more she began praying while reaching for her hand, but Madeira looked up at her, with her forehead dripping and her eyes desperate.

"Gemma, what do I do?"

Gemma's stomach clenched. She wanted to vomit. She began to retreat into herself, leaving her mouth on autopilot, mouthing a prayer she'd said a thousand times. She was pulled into a memory of when she was a child, back before her mother had changed. She used to be kind and comfort the young Gemma when she was afraid. Every time it had rained and stormed, even before Gemma could run or cry for her mother, Sera had come in as if sensing her daugher's need. And Gemma remembered the words her mother always told her as she clutched her trembling form in her arms.

"Just focus on your breath, child. In and out. In... and out." The memory brought a seed of peace into Gemma's heart as she began to breathe more deeply. And after a moment, she found herself saying the same words to Madeira.

"Just focus on your breath, Madeira. In and out. In... and out." And while she hoped her mother's advice would help Madeira, she began to sing a Konti healing song. Neither of the others would likely understand what she was saying, but the soft and mellow tune would sound almost like a lullaby.

"Goddess of compassion, goddess of healing;
mend what is broken, repair what's been torn.
Deliver us from trouble, restore what's been taken.
Rak'keli, we trust in you.
You are not like the tricksters, not like the evil.
You never turn your back on those who need you.
Help us now, in our hour of need.
Show us your power, your faithfulness, and your compassion.
Help us this day to rise from our sickbeds.
Help us to sing and to dance once more.
Restore to joy what has fallen into mourning.
Bring us home, safely home."
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[Infinity Manor] And Make It Double

Postby Madeira Craven on March 22nd, 2019, 2:17 am

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Gemma told her to breath, so she did just that. Just having this simple instruction to follow, to focus on, gave Madeira that last thread of sanity to hold on to. Her chest filled with air that tasted of embalming fluid and blood, and emptied again. The rhythm was grounding.

Yonatan was pulling chairs from the side of the table and propping them at Madeira's feet, facing backwards. He told her to lie back on the silk covered table and brace her feet against the chair backs when it came time to push.

"Push? Push what?"

"You'll know. It won't be long now."

He pushed her bloodstained skirts over her hips and instructed her to let her knees fall apart. As he stepped away to roll up his sleeves and wash his hands with cleaning fluid and a rise of the kettle water, Gemma began to sing. It was in Kontinese; that musical, fluid language of healers and seers. The girl's voice was rough and unpracticed, pitching wildly from note to note, but right then it was the most beautiful music the Spiritist had ever heard.

Yonatan came back, clean and scrubbed and face set in hard lines of determination. He pulled his own chair around and sat at the end of the table, between Madeira's braced legs.

"Okay, that's a head", he informed both women as he inspected Madeira with his hands. "Okay. Okay. Facing the right direction, good. Madeira, next contraction will be a big one. I need you to bear down. Gemma, fine her something to bite down on. And pray hard. This will be difficult."

And it was. The contraction came quickly after that, then another, and another. All a chime apart or less, giving her no time to catch her breath or recover. She howled her way through the first ones, but quickly realized that screaming didn't help. As time went on and her strength wavered she wept like a little girl, her fists wrapped in Gemma's dress. The pain was different than what had happened earlier in the evening. This was internal, incessant, and burning as her body forced its own muscles to bend beyond their limits.

In the flicker of the fire she saw dark faces hovering in the window and heard hushed voices under the rain. Madeira shrieked, thinking it was the dead Shinya. Images of the dead bodies being puppeted by the Desolate One rocketed though her head, and her burned hand flexed painfully under the bandages. But with the sound the few at the window startled and stepped away. It looked like the dispatched Shinya had finished fishing their dead comrades out of the moat. These ones were left behind to collect the three them.

Five, she corrected herself, closing her eyes and breathing through her teeth as she pushed again. Five of us. She didn't carry these children for seasons, through the jungle on a sadistic Otani fetch quest, off a skybridge to the valley floor and through the Unforgiving, didn't fight murderous rainbows and bugs the size of horses and Uldr's petching priest just to have all of them die now.

Rallying herself one last time, she propped herself up on her elbows and braced herself. Kicking her feet and fighting through the pain she pushed and pushed and pushed until the air got heavy and she was sure she was going to pass out. Only then did the pressure lift slightly, and she felt something kick her in the thighs.

Dizzy and breathing like a racehorse she collapsed onto her back, fighting to stay conscious as little black dots exploded in her vision. Bloody up to his elbows, Yonatan was holding a boy child in the crook of his arm.

"Gemma!" he called her over with urgency. He flipped the boy over and slapped him until he sputtered and cried. Outside the few Shinya left cheered at the noise. With the string, cloth and scissors Gemma already provided he tied and cut the cord, swaddled the boy hastily and shoved him into the Konti's arms. "Check his mouth and nose and keep him breathing. Rub him to circulate bloodflow. Just... keep him alive okay?" The doctor was sweating in the cold castlette, and clearly at the end of his rope. Blood was soaked into the black silk and dripping steadily onto the stone floor.

"Stay with me, miss Craven, we still need one more." He pinched her thigh and twisted cruelly to get a reaction, and she kicked him away with all the force of a moth bumping against a window. "Good, good. Petching stay awake", he demanded, swearing in his anxious frustration. They didn't have any medical tools, and the Cathlicon was too far away for a cesarean section. If Madeira flagged it would kill the second child and possibly herself.
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[Infinity Manor] And Make It Double

Postby Gemma Parker on March 22nd, 2019, 5:52 pm

There was more to the song, but Gemma had never sung in front of people before, and she was more than a little embarrassed at her boldness. In the moment it had seemed like a great idea. But as soon as she started to sing, she started to notice all the mistakes she was making. She persisted for a while because she wanted to finish the first verse at least, but as soon as it was over she let the song fade, hopefully from memory. She had never thought to wonder if she was actually good at singing or not. Now she knew. She most certainly was not. It was just another common Konti talent that she didn’t share.

Thankfully, it wasn’t the time for people to criticize her. Yonatan told her to get something for Madeira to bite down on, and Gemma complied, doubling the leather strap of her shoulder bag and offering it to Madeira to bite. It was probably not the most sanitary thing, but looking around, she wasn’t sure what else she could offer that didn’t smell like chemicals. She also wanted to inform Yonatan that the effectiveness of her gnosis had nothing to do with how ‘hard’ she prayed, but she realized that there was a level of mystique about gnosis marks.

Maybe by praying harder she would give Madeira confidence and hope. Maybe Rak’keli would even look her way and intervene personally to keep the three patients alive. So she prayed. She kept praying in Kontinese, mostly because she was not feeling self conscious about how she looked and sounded. Did she look spiritual enough? Sometimes when she didn’t know what else to say she just kept talking so it sounded like her prayer was very intense and focused. She felt kind of bad for caring what people thought of her while she prayed, and the thoughts behind her eyes kept distracting her, pulling her away from the task at hand.

Her attention shifted back to her her display of singing, and she hoped it would be forgotten in the haze of pushing and screaming. Why was she thinking about this? Why had she even started singing? She was overwhelmed and grasping for something, anything, that she could do. And then, in an instant, her hands were full. Yonatan shoved a baby boy into her arms and gave her quick instructions to keep him breathing and alive.

…What? That was an odd order. What was wrong with the- Oh goddess, he wasn’t breathing.

“Yes, doctor!” She snapped back way too late. She took the baby over to the table and laid him down gently, doing her best not to scrunch up her nose at how strange he looked. She thought babies were supposed to be cute, but this one had an odd shaped head and was covered in blood. And she had never seen an umbilical cord just hanging there like that. It was odd to think that that would turn into a belly button.

Her prayers turned from Madeira to her now not breathing child. Knowing that if she didn’t so something he would die, Gemma was finally brought (mostly) into the moment. She prayed over the child in whispers, her gnosis mark’s light still not fading. She opened the baby’s mouth but didn’t see any obstructions, so she turned him over and tapped him on the back like she’d seen mothers do with their babies. But she didn’t know if she was hitting him too hard or not hard enough. He was so fragile.

As she turned the baby, her hand smeared some of the blood and she saw the color of his skin. He was clearly bruised on his chest and back.

She changed the focus of her prayers, focusing her gnosis mark on healing the bruising in that area. Thankfully, though it was a serious thing for the baby, it was a relatively simple thing for her to heal now that she knew what she was dealing with. Even as she watched, the skin color returned to the color she had been expecting, and with a sputter and a cough, the baby began to cry. For a moment Gemma was worried she had somehow hurt the child, but then it dawned on her: crying meant breathing. She sighed in relief, and checked back in with Yonatan and Madeira.

Any accomplishment she’d felt for saving the baby faded when she saw the state of the mother. She did not look good.

The light of Gemma’s gnosis had finally flickered out as she had stopped praying to inspect the baby for any other problems, but with an instinctual prayer at the sight of Madeira’s frail form, the mark shone once more.

She didn’t know what to do with the baby, so she just held him, not caring that the blood was staining her clothes, or that the baby was crying. She tried bouncing lightly as she had seen women do, but it didn’t seem to be helping. She felt like her prayers to her goddess were competing with and drowned out by the wails of the babe, but she persisted, knowing that Rak’keli’ did not hear her with mortal ears.
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[Infinity Manor] And Make It Double

Postby Madeira Craven on March 26th, 2019, 1:55 am

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Him. The word seemed to reverberate around the room. It was a boy. Her son.

The stone ceiling moved like water above her head, sliding in and out of focus. She heard the baby crying, then he wasn't, then he was again. She could see Gemma rocking him from the corner of her eye, and felt content. Gemma would take good care of him. She took good care of everyone.

Yonatan was yelling at her, but Madeira just wanted to rest, just for a tick. She felt a contraction but didn't push against it, letting it move uncontested through her body. The black dots in her vision grew, expanding and connecting to spread over her eyes like an ink spill across a piece of paper. With a sigh, her exhausted body gave up, and she went slack against the table.

Suddenly the little cottage shook. Paper scattered and bottles of ink smashed, the doors of the wardrobe banged open, and the smoldering fire in the hearth suddenly roared like a furnace. It might have been an earthquake, if it were not for the hardened Shinya outside, exclaiming in many flavours of shock. The ground wasn't shaking, only the cottage.

The flue in the chimney slammed shut with a metallic bang, and an painfully shrill whistle cut through the air as something forced air through it anyway. Every window in the cottage flew open, dousing everyone inside with frigid rainwater.

Only Madeira could hear the Architectrix, moving way beyond itself, sucking its own grounds dry, screaming in her head to wake up. It moved in circles around her consciousness, mentally slamming against her, wordless in its terror.

The shock to her system, both physically and mentally, rocked to the very nerves of her body. But it was the glowing of Gemma's hand, that incessant power of her god, that dragged Madeira back to consciousness. She sputtered, now soaked and frozen and rattling her teeth on the moving table. At once the cottage shivered to a stop. Windows snapped closed, and the flue reopened.

Her son was still crying with big, powerful lungs. The sound seemed too large to come from his tiny body. Her first child was crying too, but inside her head. I'm not dying, she soothed the Architectrix's rattled bones, reaching for it's consciousness with gentle thoughts. I can't die, who would take care of all of you?

Relying on Gemma's gnosis and the soundless presence of the Architectrix, Madeira gathered herself one last time. Twenty chimes later, a baby girl was delivered into Yonatan's weary hands in a river of fluids and screaming. This time he handled the baby, clearing her airways, stimulating bloodflow, cutting and wrapping and swaddling. Then without warning he placed the baby on Madeira's chest.

"They need to start nursing immediately", he told the barely awake Madeira and the praying Gemma. He opened Madeira's dress himself and threw her skirt back over her legs. Mindful of her burned hand and the pressure on her broken ribs, he laid first the girl across her, and then the boy, taking him carefully from Gemma. He had many folded layers of bandages and cloths pressed into the fork of Madeira's legs, and motioned Gemma over to take over for him.

"Hold this as hard as you can, and massage her belly. It'll prevent hemorrhaging. I need to talk to the Shinya, we need to get to the Cathlicon as fast as possible." Once he was sure Gemma knew what she was doing, and answered any questions she needed answered, he slipped out the door, already shouting for the Shinya.

Then in the cottage there was silence, as the babies nursed and Madeira's head fell back with a thunk against the table.

"I'm a mother", she slurred aloud, possibly to Gemma, or perhaps to herself. It sounded strange on her tongue. And there was such joyful devastation in her tone it was almost comical. She wasn't ready. She wasn't ready when she got pregnant and certainly not now; knee deep in political ambition, newly sworn to serve a goddess, her body nearly in pieces, and in the wreck that used to be her home.

She stroked the heads of the newborns on her chest. They were tacky with drying fluid, and ugly, pink, wormy things besides. But in her heart there was a spark of something for these creatures that felt a lot like love. She wondered what colour their eyes were. Did they look like Allister, or herself? Sadly she couldn't even imagine summoning enough strength to lift her head and look. Instead she tentatively wrapped her good arm around them both, and held as tight as she dared.
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