Through the Looking Glass

Title: Through the Looking Glass
Time Period: April 13, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Aislinn and Constance make a house call to the cat house.

It's fairly early in the morning, early enough to still be a little chilly but warm enough that the fog that blankets the town has already evaporated. The Dovetail is quiet, as it usually is this time of day; the only people stirring are a few of the girls that didn't work the night before and a young man that does odd chores around the house. He is the one that let them in and pointed the way up. He likely would have shown them but Aislinn's a familiar figure around the place. At least once a month.

What is unusual is that there's a curtain covering the window going up the stairs, tacked tightly at each corner to keep the light from coming in. Or the darkness from getting out. At the top of the house, the room to the attic is unlocked, the way Duncan left it when he vacated. Some of the girls have been milling about, trying to glean some good gossip but at the moment, they're congregated at the foot of the third story stairs.

"I heard she's dying, like them poor people she sometimes visits."

"Do you think she's got that plague? Do you think she brought it here?"

All of it is hushed as the two blonde women pass by.

Aislinn, ascending the stairs to the attic, is proof that spending time around the poor doesn't mean a death sentence. She makes frequent visits to the less affluent parts of Dornie, and her eyes are still bright despite the dark circles like bruises beneath them. A small, splayed hand creaks open the door to Luna's room, which she leaves ajar for Constance behind her. The teen has been given explicit instructions not to get too close; while Aislinn sincerely doubts that the plague is to blame for Luna's condition, she doesn't want Duncan's eldest daughter contracting anything contagious lest his wrath fall on all their heads.

"Luna," she says.

There's a weird bubbling and calming of energy and worry within Constance as she follows Aislinn up the stairs. She wants to be excited, to be happy and chipper and tell Luna whatever she managed to overhear on the way over or from the servants, but the words of some of the girls pull her back down into that state of worry. The 'what if' questions that the young woman is afraid to even let pop into her head.

Constance hurries up the stairs, not lingering too long where she can hear the girls peeping like newly-hatched chicks. She creeps up to the crack in the door left for her, then pushes it open with the basket she has tucked over one arm— scones, and a book of poetry. She's returning the favor.

Like the window on the stairs, the one in the room is covered completely to shutter out the light. Air dry with heat from the fire seems stale and enough to cause the sweats on a person wearing too many layers, something that the room's occupant is guilty of more often than not. This morning, she is not.

Luna's white arm almost glows against her coverlet, its shade not pink with life but grey, like one of the corpses carted out to burn. Dark circles under her eyes aren't unusual for what Aislinn knows she's been going through, the withdrawal of the laudanum wreaks a small havoc of its own but it's been long enough. The prostitute should still be sleeping enough to avoid them. She's not.

At the sound of her name, Luna opens her eyes and they slide to the corners to watch the two enter her chamber. "I'm not dead yet," she croaks to Constance, in particular a small smile appearing on her lips. The hollow sink of her cheeks makes her look almost skeletal. "So you can't have all my pretty dresses."

It's the smell that Aislinn notices first when she sets foot in the room. If Constance had been born with the magical aptitude possessed by both her aunt and her twin brother, there's a chance she might be able to sense it too; instead, she is left to wonder why Aislinn holds the sleeve of her coat up to her nose and mouth and makes a muffled gagging sound at the back of her throat.

Regardless, she's swift to cross to Luna's bedside and place her satchel on the nightstand before her free hand reaches for the curtain, peeling it back to admit in a sliver of light while she cracks open the window.

She has a thing about spirits and windows, Constance knows.

There's only a brief moment of worry from Constance when she sees the gaunt appearance of Luna. She swallows hard, composes herself, and takes the basket over to set nearby. No, she won't get too close. Not because she doesn't want to, or that she's afraid, but Aislinn was pretty clear on there being a safe distance.

"That's okay. I wouldn't be able to wear them for a while anyway. I would have to take them all in at the waist because I'm skinnier than you," Constance says in a playful tone. Although in Luna's condition, the statement is likely proven false.

Luna recoils from the sudden rays of light, being in the dark for more than a week and a half has taken its toll on her delicate blue eyes. Aislinn's checked in often enough that she knows right off that it's something different. The prostitute should have been upright by now, she had been upright. A hand comes up to black out her vision. The wrist attached to the hand is adorned with a leather cord, a solitary bloodstone bead that is pressed against her pulse is its only decoration. Her spidery fingers splay out over the top of the sheet to pull it high on the bed, high enough to shield her eyes from the offense.

It'll take some getting used to.

"Another month of scones and cream and they'd have to be let out," the retort is either good natured or snide, it's hard judging with the hoarse whisper of the sickly woman's voice.

Aislinn's fingers snap open the satchel. Inside, Constance catches a glimmer of her usual tools of the trade, including her stethoscope, but what she takes out first is a shallow stonewear bowl that the teen has never seen before, and a utility knife from the pocket of her coat.

When she sits down on the edge of Luna's bed and takes her pale wrist in her hand, her eyes search out Constance's rather than her patient's. "Speak nothing of what you see here," she says, and for the first time Constance hears her aunt's voice take on an almost steely edge.

That isn't a request.

"Well, it's nice to know a diet of scones and cream will keep me as waifishly thin as you," Constance replies, but her playful demeanor is offset at Aislinn's tone and seriousness. She swallows hard, looking away for a moment before she can't keep her gaze off of what's going on. There's something in keeping a secret that means it's hard to not be fully privy to the situation. She watches, blue eyes a little nervous, occasionally flickering to the window.

"The weather's improving, I think…"

Luna seems wary as her wrist is gripped and then her eyebrows climb high on her head, "w-wha— " Words are too late when a swift strike cuts a shallow lash near the woman's hand and dark blood is let to pool into the bottom of the bowl.

The prostitute's chin trembles, there's no more banter with Constance about dresses or the weather, just a look or plea. Something that will make it all go away or alright. "What are you doing?" she asks the healer, her voice near tears if only because she's not sure about what's going on and unable to control things. She hasn't been for a while. This is exactly the time she would have either smoked herbs or swallowed a few drops of laudanum.

The bowl fills with blood until a point where Aislinn decides she's collected enough. A practiced motion has her twisting Luna's wrist in such a way that it staunches the flow — only two solitary drops stain the coverlet as she sets the bowl aside and goes about bandaging the wound with a strip of gauze cut fresh from the cotton roll she keeps in her satchel with the rest of her physician's equipment.

"Helping," she tells Luna, fastening the bandage with a plain silver pin. She lays the other woman's arm across her middle and rises from the bed. Both her hands seek the bowl again; taking it up, she lets her feet carry her across the room to the full length mirror Luna uses for dressing.

Constance looks towards Luna with what she considers a soothing glance. "Don't worry… she's a healer. She knows what to do in these situations. It'll be okay. I promise." Her eyes flicker between Luna and Aislinn, swallowing hard as she tries to keep herself composed.

The healer and bowl are watched carefully with a cant of the head, Luna's eyebrows dip into a tight v in the middle of her forehead and she glances at Constance. "I know she's a healer," is the snapped reply, then her features soften and lips curl down at the edges, "I'm sorry… I'm just… I haven't had any medicine for weeks and I'm touchy." And apparently ill enough for the healer to bleed.

With a long sigh, the woman lays back down in her bed, head heavy against the pillows. Pillows that, according to local gossip, have seen the young actress' father's head recently. "Why are you bringing it all the way over there?"

In front of the mirror, Aislinn brings the bowl to her lips and drinks from it, painting her mouth red and her teeth pink. She drains enough to coat her tongue and throat in it, then lowers the bowl again and passes it off to her left hand. The right dips two fingers into the blood that remains, which she uses to smear a cross on the mirror's surface.

She has no answer for Luna this time; her eyes are focused past her reflection, and her mouth forms words in her native Irish, breathy and thin at first, but gaining some volume and force as she completes the spell — because a spell is what this must be.

Her chant fades to a low, hoarse hum.

There's one thing to be keeping secrets and another to be dumbfounded and shocked into silence. The young blonde edges closer to Luna, finding no words to really either comfort Luna or explain what's going on. Constance looks back to Luna, brow furrowed in confusion. It's clear she'd like to hold the patient's hand, but either fear of Aislinn or fear of the affliction that Luna's taken on keep her from edging in that close.

Luna's eyes widen and her jaw drops in a perfect picture of horror as she witnesses her blood being injested by the healer. Then her wonderful mirror is painted red with the same sanguine potion. Her face twists into a grimace of fear and disgust, uncertain of what to make of the entire display. Magic has always been pretty in her world, until recently.

Taking her eyes off Aislinn is a risk but one Luna is willing to take when she gazes up at Constance. "I'm afraid," she whispers, making an attempt to be too quiet for Aislinn to hear. "I don't want to die, Constance. I've been ill for days…" Patients are too quick to expire with this disease.

Under Aislinn's fingers, a shadow flashes across the mirror's surface, and it must startle her as much as it startles Luna and Constance because the bowl drops to the floor and shatters on impact, splashing blood and smooth shards of broken stone across the floorboards. Her hand snaps away from the glass just as the pane explodes into splintering cracks as if smashed with a fist from behind — it's into these fissures that the shadow appears to melt away, gone as suddenly as it first appeared.

Aislinn takes a halting step away from the ruined mirror, hand bent in a protective crandle against her breast. Breath shudders in and out of her diminutive frame.

"Constance," she chokes. "Fetch Jorn and Mr. Fogg. Go."

"You don't need to be afraid, Luna, you won't die. You aren't allowed," Constance murmurs, her gaze flickering between Luna and Aislinn until the shattering of the mirror and the bowl and the blood. She involuntarily moves back a few steps to avoid splattered blood near her dress, and her eyes go wide as she looks back towards Aislinn. The request is heard and does not need to be repeated. The young woman takes one look back to Luna before she's already out the door and scrambling down the stairs to fetch the aforementioned Wartooth and Fogg.

Each shatter of glass is punctuated by a flinch from the woman in the bed. Sheet drawn up to cover her face up to her eyes. The dark circles only seem to get darker when the whites slowly grow pink and sting. It's the urgency of Aislinn's tone and the hurried manner that Constance vacates the room that alarms the prostitute most. "I didn't do anything wrong," she insists to the healer, her own voice thick and cracked. "I've only one client now… I didn't do anything wrong. I'm trying to be better."

She would cry, but she has no tears left.