Neamh Mairbh

Title: Neamh Mairbh
Time Period: April 13, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Algernon and Jorn are called to the aid of an ailing prostitute.

Slivers of light in the room are made smaller to its owner by mostly closed lids. In bed, Luna is mostly covered to the neck by thick blankets, her face is nearly as pale as the pillow cases she's resting on. Her blue eyes stealthily follow her guest around the room, a little suspicious of more breakage. She doesn't blame the mirror on Aislinn, not exactly. There was a shadow before it broke and of course the bowl broke.

It's likely that the Rowntree woman isn't fooled by the act of sleep but the prostitute just doesn't have the energy to endure more healing. She loved that mirror. It always showed off her best assets. Frontsets too.

In the time Constance has been gone, Aislinn burned enough white sage to fill the attic with smoke she sweeps up into the corners of the room with a primitive fan made of owl feathers. It's just as well that Luna pretends to sleep; Aislinn is too preoccupied with cleansing her living quarters of negative energy to offer any explanation or reassurance beyond the prayers she's been chanting under her breath in Irish.

At the ass end of his shift, Algernon was not difficult to find. His patterns and the paths he takes are predictable; from patrol to stable, from stable to Inn. He lets one of the attendants tend to the brushing and picking of hooves once he's stripped the saddle and reins, one jittery bustle of sweaty horse hide against the side of the stall more than enough to see him on his way, worse for wear. He's already been pinned once.

Then Constance happened. Not entirely sure how to (politely) pare her down into anything he can easily comprehend, he's the first up the stairs, hand to truncheon beneath the sluggish drift of his duster. Unhurried, brow knit. Very wots all this then.

If Jorn had ever possessed the notion to come up these stairs, it was certainly not in this way. He was not hard to find either, considering, and the girl whose mission it was to fetch them seems to give him more unease than the idea of something to do with Luna, Aislinn, and blood. The northman is right behind Fogg, likely to whatever disdain that Luna Owens could possibly muster in this state. Perhaps that is also why his ascent is met with trepidation, even before the smell- the smell of the sage gets to Jorn before he even reaches the landing, trickling into his breath.

"Aislinn."

Bringing up the rear, Constance Rowntree is reluctant to re-enter the room. She's barely spoken a peep about what's going on, mostly because of Aislinn's warning, and even if she had tried to explain to the two, she'd be unsure of how to word the whole blood-drinking healing ritual and broken mirror. That's not exactly casual conversation. Peeking into the room after them, she lingers near the doorway, not wanting to intrude now.

Even though she expected them, the sight of Algernon in her doorway has Luna slowly running her fingers through her hair, trying to straighten it and be a bit more presentable. Jorn, well, there's no real welcome to the room at the top of the stairs but she does adjust her nightshirt on her shoulders a little better. To cover up.

After an initial gaze after the first militia member, her eyes find Constance and she lifts her chin to the foot of her bed. The girl might as well be comfortable, after all, instead of lagging about the hallway with the rest of the gossips.

"There's a darkness means her harm," says Aislinn, her bundle of still burning sage clutched in the white-knuckled weave of her fingers. The blood that Constance refers to has dried and caked up brown-black under her glassy nails while what there is on the floor takes on a tacky glue-like texture the colour of old molasses.

Pieces of the broken stonewear bowl crumble under her feet as she moves clockwise through the room, continuing to suffuse the air with smoke. "This is no natural sickness — 'tis the work of the neamh-mairbh. God protect her."

"There's a darkness means her harm," Algernon echoes (English affectation his own) left boot crossed carefully over right to avoid a stone splinter all sticky with blood. Smoke turns lazily around his hocks with the movement; progress precisely countered clockwise ahead of Aislinn's advance in the same direction.

A slanty look at Luna is all that's required to mark the state she's in, straightened hair or no. Aislinn doesn't look much better, eyes glassed pale blue in limited light dismissing her as dubiously coherent. "In English, please," could stand to be more polite, as far as prompts go. "In the event that God is preoccupied."

Whatever lingering emotions had been left from the day, find themselves sobered and replaced by a grim look on Jorn's face. He hovers there in the room a moment, looking down upon the bed, and the spilled blood spotting the floor. Quiet, as Aislinn offers an explanation, and as Algernon digs for a better one. His eyes are deliberate in avoiding looking at Luna for too long, instead scanning the walls, the corners, the various surfaces that happen to shimmer in even the slightest.

"Do you need me to fetch anything?" Jorn would not usually impose a question while Algernon attempts to question someone. With his voice posing in a similarly grim manner to his expression, Jorn excuses himself of any perceived rudeness for now.

Constance isn't sure what a neamh-mairbh is, but she's got at least a vague idea and the fact that it isn't good. "It's not… a disease then? Not a normal one? Someone's caused her to be like this?" Now that makes her angry, in the midst of being afraid. Two emotions the young blonde isn't used to having put together.

She steps fully into the room now, carefully moving back towards Luna's bed in case the courtesan decides to 'wake up'. "We can stop this person-thing, right?"

"Why would a darkness mean me harm?" Luna interrupts, already 'awake' and very much paying attention when Aislinn begins to divulge the reason behind her weakness. Her voice is a far cry from the dulcet tones she normally enjoys hearing out of her own mouth, days of deprivation from water and food coupled with the sage smoke makes it a husky whisper. "I do my best work in the darkness."

She sends a swift glance Constance's way and a small, apologetic smile before turning her attention back to Aislinn. "What is a nee-neem— thing?"

"The dead that walk," is the closest approximation that Aislinn can think of, and she delivers it hastily, her thin voice cut with fear. "I smelled him here, in her bed, and I've seen his shadow— the one he lost." She grabs a fistful of Luna's blankets and pulls them back while a hand planted firm on her shoulder rolls her over and exposes the hard curve of her spine, emaciated ribcage and the pair of bite marks several inches above her pale buttocks.

"No one is to come in," she says, both to Jorn and to Algernon, "or out. She cannot be left alone, do you understand?"

Left hand lifted in automatic no really I believe you protest does not go nearly fast or far enough to stay Aislinn from tearing the sheets back and rolling Luna over bare bottemed and thin for all to see. Resigned, then, to the sight of a pale moon that he as seen before if — usually under better conditions — Algernon takes in the bite marks with a kind of speechlessness that is rare to see in him, writ all through a slackness at his shoulders. He lowers his hand.

Starts to say something. Thinks better of it.

"I'm not sure — " he recalculates, hesitantly, feeling silly, "that I quite … understand — "

The biggest body in the room has careful and near-silent movements, especially here. Soon after Aislinn turns Luna and bids them to remain, Jorn steps across the floor, planting himself firmly inside the room and taking up a post near to the window, one hand perched at his belt. His gaze is between Algernon and the bedding, brows knitting low as the usually unbothered militiaman seems to find something like queasiness. The shift in manner is troublesome in itself, but Jorn can understand the state of mind.

While he could say something to calm Algernon's nerves, Jorn knows it may not be at all true if he did; so, out of respect for dignity, Wartooth says nothing, mouth flat and eyes still.

"That's not something that—" Constance's brow furrows. "That's… creatures aren't like that, they can't come back from the dead." She shudders at the thought. She's read stories late at night and scared herself with tales of things coming back from the dead and haunting people. "Why would they bother Luna?"

She offers Luna a faint smile. "I guess they just like the pretty ones."

There's a squeak as Aislinn turns Luna and when she's exposed it's the cheeks up above that flush a pale pink. When the healer lets go, it's with as much dignity as the prostitute can muster that she pulls her nightshirt down and covers herself up primly. Constance's attempts to make her feel better through her embarrassment notwithstanding, she returns a faint smile.

Then it drops.

"I've hardly room in my bed for all of you," she protests, though her eyes are wide enough already, the dark circles underneath make them look that much bigger as she stares between all the assembled guests. "And what's it been doing? How'd it get back there? When does it come? How come I've never seen it?"

Aislinn seizes Algernon's lowering hand by the wrist, hefts it back up, and passes him the bundle of sage. She curls his fingers around it, finishing with both her hands cupped around his. If he was feeling silly before—

"Guard her," she instructs in an attempt to clarify the situation by summarizing Luna's needs in the fewest number of words possible. This done, she pecks a kiss against his knuckles for good luck with the swiftness of a biting goose.

And this is all normal behaviour for Aislinn as far as Jorn and Constance are concerned. She touches maybe too much. "Come with me," she tells the teen, hooking their arms at the elbow. "I need you and Cordelia both."

Luna can probably stop asking questions. Aislinn doesn't have any more answers, though she hopes to return with some.

Touchier than he looks like he would be, Algernon is nonetheless swift to look flatly down upon sudden and unauthorized contact, particularly as it constitutes manhandling. Which isn't to say that he resists — she is a Rowntree, after all, and a woman — but the look on his face is stonily underwhelmed as sage is pushed into his palm and her hands close around his. Insisting that he keep hold.

He does. Warily. As a man might hold onto a purse thrust upon him unexpectedly, slightly out and aside.

Not much more than a beat later, after sizing up Luna once more, in the absence of answers of his own, he holds the bundle sideways out to Jorn. Who seems somehow better equipped to manage it.

Jorn watches in stony silence until Algernon offers him the purse bundle of pale sage. A glance outwards to Aislinn gives him assent enough, and the warrior reaches out to take it carefully from Algernon's grip, the smoke seeping up slowly past his face. Wordlessly, he reaches up past his neck for the mouth of the pelt, pulling it up over his hair and the crown of his head. Perhaps Algernon was right to pass it over, and Aislinn was certainly right in her trust. He offers a simple nod to the physician across the room, for her to go and do what needs done.

"Eir, Kvinne av Lyfja, Mengloth venn, Lege med en hjertelig hand." Jorn begins a prayer, as simple as that, moving the smoldering bundle in his hand along a sigil in the air.

Constance glances back towards Luna, offering her a concerned smile before she looks back to Aislinn, brow furrowed. She's not entirely sure what help she can be now, but she's already seen enough and it would be hard to sit by idly. Her eyes go to Algernon and Jorn, looking at them imploringly.

"Take care of her," she begs.

Then the girl and her aunt exit the room in silence.

Left alone with two men isn't something Luna is used to. Still, she's the princess and they are… well… instructed to take care of her. Guard her. Raising her chin in a rather regal manner, she glances first at Jorn, carrying the bundle of sage, then at Algernon, who seems to be doing nothing.

"Could you wave that away from me? It smells horrid and isn't the sort of herb I'm used to." Fingers flitter through the air trying to motion the bearman toward the open window, where the smoke can escape rather than hang around in her air. "Over there, where the cold is coming in. I'm sure you'll get the thing there."

Then she turns to Algernon with a somewhat expectant look on her face. "I'd rather you be visiting my room under happier circumstances, Mister Fogg, but I'd like to make due while you're here." Patting the area of the bed beside her, she shuffles over and then points to a book. "You can read me to sleep, aye? Then I'll be nice and quiet while you guard me. Otherwise you might be forced to endure my company the entire time you're here."