Too many dead

Anaxas' oldest and most prestigious University of Sorcery, the de facto cultural capital of the kingdom and a city in its own right.
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Orianna Aubellard
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Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:20 am

The Stacks: Aubellard Apothecary40 Ophus 2718: Nighttime
It was Clock's Eve and Orianna was working, but not at the hospital. The hospital was running a skeleton crew and Anna had the night off. Anna longed to join the celebrations around town, the revelry and joy that came with surviving one more year around the sun. It was the one night a year she let herself relax. But, this year, there were more important things to do.

Whooping cough had spread far and wide in the Stacks, the brutally cold winter taking entirely too many lives. Entire families had come down with the illness and Anna had given out many medicines at cost, knowing her brother would understand the lack of profit. She had opened her apothecary at dawn and kept it open until dusk and instructed her apprentice Desdemona to do the same. Because of the rush on medication, Anna chose to spend her Clock's Eve in her apothecary's lab, making more expectorants, immune boosters, and inhalants that would let the afflicted breathe easier.

Anna knew that she wouldn't have slept well anyways. She was having nightmares about the children that she had seen this winter, the ones whose parents came back a few weeks later and tell her that they didn't survive. For the first time ever, she felt like she was losing an important battle. She had lost patients before; every doctor, apothecary, and surgeon did. Those deaths hadn't been as hard to accept. She mourned them, but she knew she had done her best. Sometimes the body just gave out regardless of what you tried.

But the loss of so many infants and children was wearing on her. So much potential stolen away by a disease that should have been preventable. Yes, they were humans and wicks and many galdori would just have let them die without a care. But Anna took her duty to protect and heal people very seriously and, for the most part, she tried not to discriminate. Yes, it was still difficult for her to treat wicks; her father's death at Tashwa hands still hurt as much as the day she found out the news. But she knew that she would anger Hulali if she turned anyone away just because they were a wick. A child's death was a child's death and it was still a great loss, regardless of what race that child was.

Anna had spent the day working on keeping her stock up, while Desdemona had dealt with the patients. Once night fell, though, Anna told Desdemona to go enjoy her night. The girl had been reluctant, knowing that Anna would probably be up entirely too late making more medicine. Anna had promised that she would go to bed before midnight, but she secretly hoped that Desi didn't stop by to check on her. Anna wasn't sure that she could keep the promise. She was exhausted, having pulled a number of 30-hour days in the past week, but she wanted to do another batch of inhalants before she went to bed and it was closing on midnight.

Rubbing bleariness out of her eyes, Anna ground up another batch of elderberries and rose hips, then mixed them into a sweet honey-based syrup that most children would take easily. The syrup already had extract of a spicy pepper from her homeland that was known for clearing the head and chest. The syrup made the extract easier to swallow and the herbs and berries she had mixed in would disguise the taste, softening out the burning of the spice extract.

Anna finished the batch of syrup she was working on and then stood up, heading upstairs for another mug of kofi har while she waited for the herbs and berries in the syrup to spread their flavor in the pot she left on the pot-bellied work stove. She thanked Hulali for his help as she poured her kofi, stirring some honey in to settle the tickle in her throat. She sat on her legs at the low table that she used for her personal prayers, raising the glass and whispering a prayer for strength to finish one last batch of medication. She took her time drinking her kofi, letting each sip purify her intentions and settle her weary soul.

Once she was finished with her mug of kofi har, she stood up, pouring herself another mug to take down with her. She felt more at peace than she had before the break and, when she took the pot of cooled syrup in her hands to start enhancing it with magic, her mind was as clear as it could be under the circumstances. The enhancement wouldn't stay for more than half a day but, even after the enhancement faded, the syrup would be useful.

She closed her eyes and started reciting monite, asking the mona to enhance the syrup she had made. She imagined the molecules of the herbs she had introduced into the syrup soothing children's throats, making their coughing more productive, loosening and clearing up their air passages so that they could breathe easily again. She clearly pictured the children growing healthier, recovering and returning to a life that had almost been stolen from them.

She let out a small sigh as she felt the mona respond.
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Mon Feb 18, 2019 4:01 pm

The mona was, as far as anyone was concerned, timeless, ageless. If mona was born or mona died, no one had yet discovered such evidence, though it was well-known that the mona had a long memory. Anna had been moving about her days and her nights without resting, without pausing, pushing herself to go from one task to the next as illness and duty led her. While it wasn't at all for personal gain, her willing sacrifices had begun to take their toll on her body, on her will, and perhaps even on her ability to think clearly for herself while so busy thinking about others.

As she began to cast yet another spell, her intentions clear and her phrasing well-practiced, there was only the hint of resistance from the mona in her field. It was subtle, sluggish, and it felt almost tired like she knew her body really was. There was an ache in her joints as she spoke the last of her spell, and a heat crawled up her spine that felt reminiscent of a fever—sudden and high in temperature.

Her spell obviously worked, the mona acquiescing to her will, but she would find that her enhancements wouldn't last as long as she was used to. This batch was weaker, inferior. Unlike typical runoff, the ache in her joints wouldn't fade in mere minutes, either. Nor hours. In fact, the soreness would linger as if she, herself, was growing ill.

Was it a warning or just an illumination of the truth?
word count: 274
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Orianna Aubellard
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Fri Mar 22, 2019 12:16 pm

Aubelland Apothecary1 Intas 2719
Anna frowned at the sluggishness of the mona, but wrote it off as a result of her exhaustion. But that and the fact that she spilled some of the potion as she poured it into smaller mugs, it was enough to get her to go to sleep.

She slept horribly, though, tossing and turning as the whooping cough she had been fighting off settled into her lungs and dreams of dead children haunted her. She woke up shortly before dawn, her eyes feeling like they were on fire as the fever hit its peak. She stumbled downstairs, waving at Desdemona as her apprentice opened the shop.

“Sweet lady. Are you sure you should be up?” Desi asked, worriedly noticing the sweat covering Anna’s face.

“Who’s going to make potions?” Anna asked as she took some aspirin. “I’ll be…” Her words were interrupted by a coughing fit that left her bent over for a few seconds, desperately trying to keep the aspirin down. She knew she couldn’t deny that she was sick, and that thought scared her. She didn’t have the time to be sick.

“Go to bed,” Desi said as she walked over and pushed Anna towards the stairs that lead to the galdor’s apartment.

“I have a batch almost ready. I just need to mix it and throw it on the stove,” Anna said, her voice desperate. She needed to do something to help the children who were sick, to save lives.

“Oh, clocking hell. Fine. I know I can’t stop you when you’re like this, but I swear to the Lady, I will beat you unconscious if you try to do more than one batch,” Desi said, her voice full of frustration as she turned to finish opening the store.

Anna muttered a thank you and went to the lab, pouring and measuring out another batch of syrup. She decided to use magic one more time, to start the process of enhancing the potion. She took the cold pot of syrup in her hands and started speaking in monite. She beseeched the mona to help her, to make this batch ease pain and suffering.

Please, she begged.
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Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:17 pm

A new day and a new year meant very little to sentient particles who shared sentience and ignored the passage of time as if it were simply a humorous ploy on mortals. The runoff from casting the evening before had been a warning, Anna's immune system weakened and her body made more tired from her efforts than normal, but it had not been a caution heeded.

The galdor had not considered that her selflessness had limitations. As she attempted to gather her field, the sensation that should have been familiar felt strange instead. As if wading through a thick molasses, the mona that came to her subconscious call moved slowly, reluctantly. More sluggish than the previous days' work, for a brief moment it felt like speaking into a bucket, the way her Monite felt hollow, felt unheard.

Anna's teeth began to ache before her phrasing was even finished, a deep tingling pain that seared through the roots and into her jaw, crawled up her sinuses to ring loudly in her ears.

Her body did not need to be channeling magic. Her body needed to be resting.

The pain was sharp and felt hot, clawing past the base of her skull and gnawing at her joints which already ached but now stung. She would be hard-pressed to hold onto the pot in her hands, every finger suddenly in a fiery agony. Her knees weakened and for a moment it felt as though some imaginary rug had been yanked from beneath her feet, for her knees wobbled and she would feel faint.

The mona refused to acquiesce to her request, and the galdor would feel them trickling away, slowly fleeing the room, leaving a strong enough pain of louder warning in their wake that would make it difficult to stay conscious through.
word count: 317
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Orianna Aubellard
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Tue May 14, 2019 3:25 pm

Aubellard Apothecary1 Intas 2719
Anna frowned at the feeling that she spoke monite through a wall, her words echoing back at her instead of being heard by the mona.

Eventually, the mona responded, but the sensation was slow and reluctant, as if it didn't want to help her. What's going on? the exhausted apothecary wondered for a split moment, before refocusing on her spell. One could not question themselves while working with the mona.

Anna had forgotten an important feature of the mona. She assumed that the mona wanted to save people as much as she did, that it cared about the people on Vita. Of course, it didn't. The mona was completely amoral and neutral, only caring whether the person interacting with it did so with respect and honor. That respect and honor included the caster not pushing themselves far past their limits before reaching out to the mona. The mona knew that you couldn't truly respect it, one of the Great Forces of the universe, if you didn't respect something that was as small in the grand scheme of the universe as your body.

Anna bit back a whimper as her face became a bonfire, the nerves in her teeth feeling like hot glass was being poured on them. The flames moved up, filling her sinuses with lava.

That's when Anna knew she was fucked. She couldn't brail the spell. She suspected that whatever was coming would be so much worse if she did. All she could do was continue the spell and hope the backlash wasn't too severe.

The pain moved down her body in a heartbeat, the aching in each joint becoming the sting of a thousand bees. The pot fell as her hands seized in pain, and Anna followed the now-broken pot to the floor a second later.

Then all was black.

When Anna woke up, Desdemona was crouched down beside her, taking her pulse. "What in the hell happened?" her apprentice asked, her eyes wide and scared. "I can't feel the mona. What did you do?" Her voice was near hysterical. The girl had never experienced the aftereffects of a backlash before and the sudden aching in her body and disappearance of the mona had deeply frightened her.

Anna tried to speak, but her throat felt as if it was being scraped with broken glass when she tried and she couldn't get enough air in to speak. She started coughing, the cough a high-pitched whoop as she gasped for air. Once the coughing fit passed, she mimed writing. After a minute, Des figured out what she meant and hurried off to get a pencil and notepad.

When she came back, Anna had managed to prop herself up against the wall, but just barely. Anna took the pencil and notepad from Desdemona gratefully and started writing, her usually graceful handwriting a harsh scribble as her hands protested holding the pencil. "Backlash. Damage?"

"Oh clocking hell, Anna," Des moaned, reaching up to rub the bridge of her nose. "We lost a couple shelves of potions. And I feel like someone beat me with a sledgehammer." She gave Anna a heated glare.

Anna looked sheepish for a moment before another coughing fit overtook her.

"Fuck, Anna," Des swore as she realized that the backlash had resulted in Anna's immune system finally losing to the disease that had been ravaging the Stacks. "You are going upstairs and resting," the woman said as she bent down and helped Anna up.

Another coughing fit struck Anna, and she nearly fainted from the lack of air.

"Shit. Should I get an ambulance?" Desdemona asked as she held Anna up and thumped her back.

Anna shook her head frantically. She knew that the hospital would look down on her if they found out she had experienced a backlash. And only a backlash could explain how Anna had gone from "exhausted, but well" to "severely ill with whooping cough" overnight.

Desdemona sighed in frustration. "Well, I am calling my family doctor. She'll keep this quiet," Desdemona said, her tone of voice clearly one of someone who would listen to no argument against what she had decided. Lucky for her, Anna didn't have the ability to argue right at that moment.

The two of them made their painstaking way upstairs, each step taking what felt like an eternity. Anna was covered in sweat by the time they entered her bedroom and so weak that Des barely had to push her to sit down on the bed.

Desdemona felt Anna's forehead and sighed. "You're burning up. Dammit, Anna, you are so reckless," the younger woman said as Anna moved to lay down on the bed.

Anna closed her eyes as Desdemona left the bedroom and heard the girl banging around in the kitchen. She drifted off after a few moments, though her body shivered as if she had been dunked in polar waters.

The rest of the day was spent in a daze. Anna heard Des talking to another woman at one point. Des woke her up and gave her a dose of expectorant and some aspirin before letting Anna sleep.

When Desdemona woke her up again, the light had changed, indicating that it was early afternoon. "I'm going to stay here. Dr. Long said that you might still need to go to the hospital and, if I rest, I should be okay. Lucky for me, you have a nice couch," she said as she fed Anna some broth. "Shop's staying closed until you're out of the woods."

Anna let out a rickety sigh, knowing that it was best that the store stay closed, but upset that she had caused this situation. After Desdemona had fed her a bowl of broth, Anna fell into a light, restless sleep.

The next few days passed in a fog. Desdemona stayed good to her word, taking care of Anna when she wasn't making up new stock for the shop or resting. Desdemona enlisted one of her servants to take care of Anna during the night, saying that Anna needed a nanny to make sure she didn't go down and start making potions. Anna couldn't blame the woman for her sass. Anna was grateful for the apprentice's care and made a mental note to give her a huge bonus for what she was doing while Anna convalesced.

It was half a week before Anna even had the strength to sit up in bed for more than the time it took to drink a cup of broth. By the end of the week, Anna was able to stand up long enough to make it to the bathroom on her own and Des reopened the shop. It was another 5 days before she was able to make it downstairs, though Desdemona had chased her right back upstairs when she saw Anna poking at the ingredients in the stock room, the younger woman threatening to tie her down if she didn't rest.

Two weeks after the backlash, Desdemona came up to Anna's apartment. Anna was looking through one of her surgical textbooks, working on the lesson plan for her next class, even if she didn't know when that was. She had sent messages to the hospital, letting them know that she was ill and would have to take a leave for a few weeks. The letter of acknowledgement from the hospital was couched in such a way that she knew the administration was not amused with the fact that Anna couldn't come in to work.

"I took the liberty of contacting your brother and arranging for you to take a month off and go visit him. The Mugroba winter will be much better than this ridiculous winter." Desdemona announced as she stood in the doorway, her arms crossed and her face determined.

"But what about the shop?" Anna asked, her gravelly voice full of alarm. "And my hospital work?"

"Oh, for clock's sake. Didn't you say I was ready to run a shop by myself? I can do that for a month. I know you're antsy. If you don't get out of this clocking city for a while, you'll be pushing yourself full throttle again and I will not let that happen. I may just be your apprentice, but someone must take care of you if you won't. And the hospital will understand. It's not like you've ever taken leave since you started working there."

Anna sighed and leaned back in her chair. "Fine. I won't argue," she said, her voice sulky and displeased. "Did you tell Demkaih the reason why I'm visiting?

"Good. I didn't want to just tie you up and drop you off at the airship dock," Desdemona said with a thin smile. "I just told him you had a severe case of whooping cough. He doesn't need to know about the backlash unless you tell him."

"You know you need this," Des continued, her tone of voice softening some. "You're lucky it wasn't worse. I know you have this burning need to save everyone, but you can't save anyone if you destroy yourself."

Anna sighed again, closing her eyes. "I know, I know," she said, her voice soft and scratchy. "When does the airship leave?"

"Later tonight. You can pack, take a bath, and have a good dinner before you go," Desdemona said, relieved that Anna had seen reason. Anna had a good heart, but Desdemona knew that the apothecary/surgeon/professor was burning the candle at both ends. The problem with doing that was that you became nothing but ashes entirely too quickly.

Des turned and headed downstairs and Anna started getting ready for her trip. By the time 24 o'clock came around and Des came up to say that Anna had to leave to go to the airship dock, the Mugrobi woman was ready to go. Des had called a carriage for Anna and gave Anna a big hug before she left the store. "Trust me. You need this. The shop will be here when you get back," Des said, trying to soothe Anna's obvious nervousness about leaving Brunnhold. "And if the hospital raises a fit, they're bloody idiots. You've worked yourself to the bone for them."

Anna rolled her eyes and gave Des a tired smile. "I said I'm going," she laughed, before leaving the shop and getting into the carriage. She closed her eyes, trying to focus on the fact that she was going home for a bit, rather than the circumstances that lead to that visit.

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