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Candelampa

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  1. However, as a bit of an apology, here is a shorter addition to the story, out of place from where I initially had it placed, but easily and perhaps better incorporated in a short chapter break. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I sit in the darkness of the back rooms, listening to the quiet, muffled noise coming from the front of the building, as patrons gather in the tavern for the evening. My ankle reflexively begins to tense and my heel bounces up and down in excitement. I can't help but let a smirk come to my face as I strike my match against the chair and bring it up to the pipe in my opposite hand.. I lift it to my lips and push my weight back, balancing my chair on it's two hind legs as I pull through the overly long stem. I wait, a beat, then two, and exhale, trying to slow my breathing and bring my expression back to an uninterested and cold one. My ears twitch as somebody breaks a glass in the distance, and Myron begins to tear them a new one over it, his muffled yelling almost bringing a chuckle to my throat. No. Gotta focus... I take another pull, watching the match burn itself and leave me in the darkness once more. God I wish that he'd put some light back here. At least so I can just do a last minute check on my face to make sure I didn't smudge anything without realizing... I breath in the heavy air through the pipe one more time, waiting before letting the smoke gently roll out of me with a sigh. For a moment, I almost let the heat in my throat bring a cough, which could have just ruined the entire performance...but it's physician recommended after all.... I chalk it up to nerves and set the pipe down, sufficiently calm to keep my stage persona intact over my giddy demeanor. After all, I would be doing my favorite performance of the year. Getting to my feet, I can hear Anais warming up her Gittern and the cursing over the broken glass stop. A quiet hush begins to fall over the main hall as the melodic noise settles up under the rowdy conversation. No doubt the regulars are ready for the show, and the newcomers are wondering just what lies behind such a beautiful stage in the middle of some dingy old dive. My heels click against the wooden floor as I make my way backstage, emerging through a doorway and hopping my way up the stairs to see my coworkers doing their respective warmups. Renaldo is merely downing his customary third shot of the evening before settling in onto his stool, drum between his knees, whilst Anais is far more painstakingly tuning and toying with her instrument, taking great care that every sound is exactly perfect. Both of them emotionless...like dolls on stage only present to perform, vessels for their respective sounds. Just the same persona I take on now. Taking care to try and walk quietly across the wooden stage, my eyes locked on the dark red fabric that separates us from the rest of the tavern, my ears begin to twitch to each respective noise, much more clear now that I'm closer. Their tips feel the chill that comes fluttering under the curtain every so often as the tavern door opens and shuts, tingling sensitively and taking even more of my attention away from the task at hand. Nope. Gotta focus... Its only a few more moments now. I take center stage as I do every night, running my hands over the individual pieces of my overly intricate, brightly colored outfit. Overly tight dark colored trousers, disappearing into crimson, high-collared boots sporting a feathery texture around the top, and lifting me tall with their prominent heels. A long red coat with intricate designs of leaves and birds flowing up it's length, bearing black ruffles at the trim and loosely around the cuffs of the slim-fitting sleeves. With the collar worn open and low to display a bit of cleavage for the rowdy workmen and the crowd, and the crimson makeup around my eyes and along my lips sufficiently dressing me up as a bright red bird, I tell myself once more that I am ready. Giving my sharp-pointed painted nails a final once over, I let out a sigh as my ears twitch to the sound of the pulleys rolling. The stage is slowly illuminated from the floor up as the curtain rises, and almost in sync with it, a hush falls over the tavern. Its all eyes on us now as our feet, then legs, bodies and finally stone-featured faces are revealed to the crowd. Up front there are a few familiar faces, regulars that I've seen every day for years. Elsewhere in the room there is a bit of a gasp. No doubt someone wasn't expecting to see an elf on stage. But my eyes immediately lock onto one section of the room. A single table off to the side, tucked away beside the stage and almost hidden entirely from plain view by the grand presence of the structure next to it. Empty. My heart sinks, but I give myself a quick pep talk in my head. He's always late every year. He's probably still off doing that stupid duchess' portrait, or cleaning up the clinic. He'll be here when he gets here... He'd better be. Reserved a bottle for him and everything. I can't afford to think on it any longer, as my ear subtly twitches to the slow and melodic lead-in to my left. Anais has begun to play. I have to focus... I count in Renaldo in my head, though the fool decides to be a bother and come in a measure too early with a rapid lead in of his own, directly clashing with the slow and droning melody of Anais. Thankfully he decides to behave from there on out, beginning the song proper as he's supposed to. The Tavern is silent now, waiting for the song to begin in earnest. I wait. Anais and Renaldo fall silent, leaving me space to fill the silence. I part my lips, and let out a somber, droning note that pierces through the silence, bidding the other two to resume behind me, this time letting my singing take front and center. I have the complete attention of the crowd, as always. Yet I remain as still as I can, only showing signs of life to breath, blink, sing, and every so often shift my weight or move my arms to accentuate the notes of the song. It's a local favorite that I open the night with. A sad ballad recounting a tale of a knight who lost his family to brigands whilst away on war, taking up a revenge quest, only to find his daughter still living as the adopted daughter of the Brigand's leader. With that, I simply begin going through the motions. Singing the songs as I always do. No need to perform any differently when the common people are just as easily fooled into believing that control of my voice means I'm putting my heart and soul into it. I barely pay attention, only snapping out of it every once in a while to drink from the ale Myron continually brings up to keep us hydrated. It's a slow night. It has been ever since the Gashed Gullet opened and split the working class tavern scene in two. I merely have to occupy my attention with reciting the songs as they come to memory, and ignoring the odd cat-call from a tipsy shopkeep or farm hand. People file in, people file out...and we keep playing. A little past midnight though, I begin to allow my eyes to flit towards the door more and more often. Where is he...he's never this late. Maybe this is the night he really doesn't show up? No. Can't think about that. Focus. And the night drones on further. Despite my better judgement, I continue to sneak glances, feeling the anxiety rising in my chest despite everything within me trying to keep myself calm. I tell myself he'll be here, he's just running late. I sip ale between songs and try and let the light fog in my head keep my thoughts purely on the music. I launch into one of my personal favorites, a song about a king who becomes so obsessed with providing his kingdom a better future that it falls to ruin before his very eyes in the present, crumbling into ashen snow around him at the hands of a curse. And its in the middle of this song, and during yet another glance at the door that I feel that accursed twinge. It's only then that I notice that my heart has been racing in my chest every time the little bell above the doorway jingles...and that every time the thought would cross my mind that my invitation would not be received, my hands grow clammy. I try to, as subtly as I possibly can, push my thighs together to ward off the sensation, now keenly aware of how nervous I'd been under my cold facade. Its the very thing I'd been trying to avoid by smoking before the show...on a doctor's order no less! Calm down. Thinking about it isn't going to help. I do my best to push it from my mind...but now every time I have to sip ale to keep my throat from drying out, I know I'm simply adding to another thing that's going to make me nervous, and feed into itself all night. Even as I continue into yet another song, it sits in the back of my mind, a tight sensation just beneath my corset and just between my hips, ever growing worse and worse at a problematic rate. It's all his fault. If he'd just show up, I wouldn't have to be so worried about... ... Calm. Down. It was just a little drop...if you don't stop being so nervous you're going to make it much worse. You almost messed up the note, and in the middle of a solo. You need to get it together... And just as I finish talking to myself, and feel the thudding in my chest begin to subside, my ears twitch. Just as I begin the final act of a sung story about a crimson witch falling in love with a pale-haired man who can see the future, I allow my eyes to take yet another glance at the door in spite of my better judgement. I see a cane...and I feel my stomach flutter a bit in my chest. In strides his lithe frame, wrapped in that hideous long coat that his mistress imposes on him. Dropping down from beneath his wide brimmed hat are those tell-tale pale gold locks of hair. Flattened beneath the same hat are his pointed ears, showing the same nightly blue-grey tone that reflects on my own. Myron greets him, and he pulls off his hat, turning to the stage to look up at me. His soft, pink iris' peer over the crowd, almost shining in the sea of black that his sclera had changed to. and I see him smile. And for just a moment, I allow myself a small smile too. My heart skips a beat...and my body feels like it shudders... I feel a subtle warmth within my smallclothes...
  2. Thank you all for the support. Unfortunately, progress will be slow going as a large amount of work awaiting proofreading for this particular story was lost due to a irreparably damaged external hard drive, and the setback has been somewhat demotivating. I still intend to return to it eventually, but it may still yet be a long while.
  3. My ears are the first of my senses to awaken every morning, it seems. They twitch reflexively to the sounds of the chirping birds just outside the window, prompting the rest of my body to rouse from it's slumber. My eyes open to reveal a bleary view of my bedroom wall, unfocused and difficult to parse in the darkness. Out of habit, a subtle groan of effort rips through my throat as my legs first stretch out from their curled position, reaching the edge of my bed and tightening the covers around my body, as my hunched shoulders and fists clasped to my chest had pinned the cloth to me in my slumber. Slowly I begin to stretch these parts of me as well, until the minute amount of exertion spurs my body to rise. In unison, my legs swing out and hand off the side of the bed, my bare feet finding the floor, whilst the rest of me rises upright. Despite Madame Laece's insistence against the practice, I find myself bringing my fingers to eyes in attempt to rub the focus back into them, though, inevitably, the pressure only prolongs my blurred vision...though it does provide some relief to the light itch coming from the crust that falls from my eyes. As I do every morning, I begin by getting to my feet and making my way to the covered window immediately to the east of my bed, my groggy hand reaching out until it touches the thick, woolen fabric draped in front of it, both to preserve temperature in the building and to block light. Pushing it aside, my covered vision is awash in orange light, even beneath the cover of my palm. I am slow to open my eyes again, as the sun's rising glow shines directly towards my window. Yet, as I adjust to the light that is bathing the city in it's early-morning glow, I'm able to make out the landmarks of the city to the east, easily making out the shape of the massive windmill that sits on the city's south eastern edge, just before the congested buildings give way to the more quaint and humble farmlands off the countryside. The bell tower of the city's church stands in the direct path of the sun's rays, allowing my eyes the chance to adjust to the light without being blinded entirely. The massive tree around which Orthenburg is built sits the closest of all, it's leaves turning deep shades of orange and yellow as the autumnal changes overcome it once again. A bird flits past my window before perching upon the tailor's rooftop across the street, and down below, some of the city's residents are already walking about to begin going about their day. Once I feel the heavy drapery of sleep is pushed aside from my person, I tie the heavy drapery that covers my window to the side by a simple leather strap, allowing myself light by which to prepare myself for the day. Stifling a yawn, I move to the far corner of my bedroom, and give myself a cursory glance in the tall mirror of polished silver. The long tunic-like gown I am wearing covers me shoulders to ankle, shapeless and hiding the lithe body beneath. I decide to begin by attending to my hair. Straight and pale blonde, as well as quite long, like a woman's I am often reminded. I start by running my comb through it, pulling out any tangles or knots with a grimace, and parting it down the center to keep my vision clear whilst I work. Binding my bangs to the sides by dark colored, crossed-over ribbons, and daftly working my fingers through the back to pull it into a crude braid that reaches to my middle back, I decide not to spend longer on it than necessary this morning, as no doubt I will be busy enough to dislodge most work I do. My eyes, soft pink like the petals of a domestic zinnia, give a quick pass over, following the strands and assuring the correct parting in front of and behind my flat, pointed ears, and I decide that I am finished. From there I dress myself quite plainly in the clothes that I've worn daily for the past decade. A full length gown of heavy cloth, a standard and unassuming grey color, and bound at the waist by a leather belt as well as tightened at the wrists by drawstrings. Then the mantle over my shoulders and neck, which is a somewhat heavier garment of flexible leather, which tightens at the neck with similar drawstrings, and similarly leather breeches to wear beneath the gown, and boots to match. Matching gloves will come once I head downstairs into the clinic proper, and the rest of the uniform to follow once I depart for the afternoon surely. I give myself a final glance over in the mirror, taking a moment of vanity to ponder just how much I have changed in ten years to the date. I briefly scan my slim jawline, pondering if my kind simply do not take to facial hair, or if I will ever see myself sprout such a beard as other young men of my age. My hands idly pat down and straighten down the fabric of my outfit, ensuring myself to be presentable, before I finally decide that enough time has been spent before the mirror, and I head for the door, taking a moment to take stock of the decay within the bowl of flower petals at the doorside table. It would be time to change them soon...as nothing more than a preventative measure of course. A short walk down the hall and past the other residence situated in the building's upstairs, then down the stairs and into the back halls of the ground floor, and finally down the right turn at the end of said hall and through an open, curtained doorway takes me into the infirmary room of the clinic, currently empty save for Madame Laece, seated at a nearby table and already hard at work Garbed in a similar garb to myself, though a faded dark black to denote her status as Doctor, and by extension mine as Apprentice, Madame Laece is a woman of striking appearance. Deceptively young in features, the two of us appear to be of nearly the same age, despite her being nearly two and a half decades my senior. Rather than wear her scarlet red curls in a long fashion like most women of this land, she instead chops hers at the shoulder like knights and warriors of the capital. Contributing to her youthful appearance is a patch of freckles that bridge over her nose and pass beneath her eyes. Uncharacteristically of the Human race, her eyes glisten a deep, opulent purple like the color of gemstones, suggesting a mixed heritage at the very least, but which often leads others to assume her a witch or fae creature in disguise. However, having spent the past 10 years with the woman, the only supernatural quality I can attest to would be her sharp intellect. Never before our meeting and never since have I met a woman so quick of wit, nor so devoted to the study of her craft. While her detractors see something to be feared or looked down upon, either as unnatural or simply from the unfavorable position of a woman practicing medicine, I see someone who's theories and methods revolutionize medical practice, and see a far higher rate of success than any quack snake oil salesman can provide... "Ah, Aelith, Good Morning to you..." she calls to me from across the room, where she already busy at work cleaning small glass bottles and taking quill to parchment, in her diligent process of documenting all the goings on in the her clinic. Judging by the manner of bottles laid out on the table before her, I can only surmise that these are to be what I will be taking to the Apothecary later in the day, and that she is either documenting the movements of the bottles, or the procedures by which she cleaned them to prevent contamination between medicines. That, or any other number of possible documents that I would inevitably be tasked with filing later on. I return her greeting with a short bow of difference, answering back in a similarly pleasant tone, but with as much formality as I can continue to muster after these many moons. "As well to you Madame Laece. What can I do to begin to help you this morning?" I ask in the same rehearsed tone I've always delivered, raising my head and staring forward to eagerly await the woman's coming barrage of tasks I'll be taking up throughout the day. Before she speaks, she very nearly inaudibly clicks her tongue, studying the glass bottle pinched between her fingers with squinted eyes. Her lips purse together in frustration as she places her quill down flat and reaches off to the side of the table before her, having to shift her weight in her seat to reach her round-lensed glasses, which she perches upon her slightly wide and arched nose, causing her to have to push them up and quickly look through them to continue to inspect her work. One of her legs comes up to cross over the other as she speaks. "No patients to check on today, so take up position at front counter and go about reviewing the cases of some of our visitors from last week. I'd appreciate a second set of eyes on the record of that man that came in with the bloody cough...and then continue through your normal study until midmorning. I'd like to you to standby to assist me with an appointment I have then. Then I'll likely be sending you off to the apothecary, so have our copy of the prescriptions at the ready to ensure we're receiving the right compounds." I nod along to all of this, slowly building a timetable of work within my own head. She neglects to lay out any further plans to me, so I suppose in the moment that I'm to stand by for further instruction later in the day. With another bow of my head, I give her a verbal confirmation. "Of course Madame." And with that I begin to move through the infirmary. The room itself holds a few beds to place the sick or wounded in, separated by thin fabric curtains, while a crude metal cart on wheels sits in the center of the room remains the home for most of the Madame's tools that should need access to at any immediate time. Towards the back, where I had come from, the room resembles more of an office, being the home of cabinets, work tables, and bookshelves of documents and popular copies of medical texts. And at the other end of the room, a wide set of wooden double doors separates the front entry-room of the clinic from the rest of the building. These doors I pass through, letting me enter a room that, like the rest of the building I had been passing through, greets the senses with a pleasant floral scent. I enter into a small area separated from the rest of the room by a long counter, and a large collection of documents and books surround me in this space as well. By footfalls are muffled by a comfortable rug which runs up to the counter, to allow one to stand in more comfort than a hard floor would provide. I begin my own day by following the same morning routine I have always followed, unspoken by the Madame by it's implied completion. Tend to the plants in the various corners of the room, providing the fresh and flowery scent that is the first line of preventative defense against disease. Sweep and dust the room to keep things clean and prevent the inhalation of any untoward particles, and step out the front door to light the lantern above the door to signal to the public that we are available to see patients. From there, I simply begin my rather unassuming morning. I do as I am told, spending the majority of the morning reviewing documents that Madame Laece had written on patients she has seen in the past month. As permitted, I make notes and put down my own thoughts in the margins, then place them in a neat pile for her to review later in the evening. Once that is through, I retrieve a book I have been parsing through on understanding the medicinal properties of different substances, and the process by which apothecaries are now isolating certain components of specific herbs and minerals in order to create more effective and useful medicines. At one point, the mail comes through, delivered by a young, scrappy looking boy with crooked teeth and disheveled clothes, his grey eyes obviously staring at my pointed ears from behind the mess of dark brown hair on his head. As usual, I am obligated on Madame Laece's behalf to send the boy off with a small copper piece, then to go about cleaning up after his coming through as usual. Going through the letters, there is naught of too much interest. Simply Telegrams and Missives addressed to the Madame...all of which I place upon the pile of documents for her personal review. However, somewhat expectantly, I do find a single letter addressed to me, with the handwriting on the front immediately recognizable. I give a slight sight through my nose, and feel a smile tug at my lips, as a short glance reveals it as my yearly invitation from Itelle to the tavern. A birthday celebration, despite my desire to put off the thoughts of growing older as much as possible. She is well meaning though, and time-affording, I will do my best to make an appearance as I do every year. Without much further interference, the morning continues on until the sun hangs a quarter through the sky, at which point I am bidden to look up from my literature as the door comes open, the small bell above the door giving a sharp jingle at the movement of the oak beneath it. Coming through the door is a young woman. She is roughly my age upon first inspection, between her late teenage years and mid twenties, with an immediate demeanor that I am inclined to label as melancholic. Strange for a woman, whom Madame Laece has theorized tend to lean towards the less dry tendencies based on old Elvish texts. Yet all the same she approached the counter with eyes downcast, her lips curled into a resting frown and her hands folded shyly behind her back. Her lightly-curled black hair is pulled into a knot at the top of her head, tight so as to keep any strand from entering her vision, and her rounded green eyes refuse to come up to meet mine as she speaks with a slight and unsure voice. "I...am s'possed to meet the doctor?" she says, her voice lilting upward as though she were asking me, rather than telling me of her appointment. An accent not common in the area either, so she is either not local to Orthensburg, or adopted the accent of perhaps a guardian or singular role model rather than her peers in the city, further suggesting a tendency to avoid social interaction. Up close, I can see she bears a smattering of pock-marks upon her visage, suggesting an earlier affliction of the skin centered around the face. As I stop my eyes from analyzing her features, I nod, remembering the mention of Madame Laece's midmorning appointment. I gesture for the woman to follow me and step towards the western side of the counter, which gives way to a door frame that I usher her through, taking care to avoid touch, at least until I can reach my gloves hanging just before the doors to the infirmary. After all, who knows what she might be here for. I bring the woman through, to find Madame Laece appearing to be putting together a satchel of bottles and medical supplies for my trip to the apothecary. Bent over at the waist, next to the table I had found her at this morning, she rises when she hears us enter, pushing her glasses up her nose and politely nodding to the young woman at my side. "Good to see you again Miss Coutiere...I'm to assume you had little trouble finding the clinic?" she asks in a soft voice, far from the direct and sharp voice I am so used to hearing from her. It's not unexpected, however. It is very possible that she has made the same assessment I have on the woman's temperament, and so taking a more light-handed approach to care would do wonders to build a rapport. In response to the Madame's question, Miss Coutiere shakes her head, folding her hands before her waist politely and letting her eyes wander a bit to the many new sights she is surely seeing in the infirmary. "Good." Madame Laece continues, stepping away from the table and over towards the nearest bed, gesturing for the woman to follow her. Miss Elizabeth does follow, leaving me to take up a standby position next to the medical cart in the center of the room, only just able to see Madame Laece's shoulders, hair, and back as the pair of women stand just behind one of the thin curtains. As I am expected to do as I wait, I listen, and pay attention. Every so often my ears will twitch as I strain to pick up Miss Coutiere's meager voice. The examination is regarding a bit of troublesome inflammation occurring on the upper-rear thigh of the young woman's right leg. There is a bit of comforting from the Madame as she bids the girl to strip to her underthings, ensuring the girl that the examination was purely observational in nature, and would be necessary to diagnose the issue. In the ensuing silence, I make out the sounds of rustling cloth, as Miss Coutiere no doubt begins undressing herself in order to show Madame Laece the inflamed area. There is a brief bit of murmuring from the Madame, before she asks Miss Coutiere if she would be comfortable if I myself were to observe as well, both as a learning experience for myself and to ensure a second set of medical eyes would be upon her area of concern. Then, after what I can only assume to be a solemn nod, the Madame turns to me and softly calls me over, likely aware that I have been listening in. I make my way over and around the corner to the expected sight of Miss Coutiere stripped to her undergarments. Immediately apparent is a reddened, raised patch of skin just below her right buttocks, appearing inflamed. The woman's figure suggests she does not see much physical activity in her daily life, as her white smallclothes appear just slightly too small for her, threatening to slip between her rear cheeks at any moment. Her thighs appear soft and untoned, suggesting little time on her feet, which would be in-line with her more square shaped rear end. Otherwise though, she does not appear much overweight. From the waist up, the bones of her spine and shoulders are visible as she hugs around her bare chest, and the remainder of her legs slim down considerably. Some light scaring upon the shoulders and back of the neck in a similar manner as her cheeks and forehead, likely from the same malady. And a birthmark to the left of her spine and above her left hip. "What do you make of this Aelith?" The Madame asks me, after giving me a few moments to observe the woman. I nod a shallow nod out of habit. "The area appears inflamed for certain, suggesting that blood may be pooling to the area." I answer, to which the Madame nods and turns her gaze back to Miss Coutiere. "You are a seamstress by practice, yes Miss Coutiere?" The woman nods, and shuffles a bit where she stands, bringing her legs to press closer together in apparent cold. Despite this, a slight flushed color appears over her skin, likely out of embarrassment. Madame Laece turns her gaze upon me again. "Depending on the task at hand, long hours sitting could cause blood to form in a pocket of loose skin on the thigh." The Madame once again nods and turns her gaze upon Miss Coutiere once again. "You may redress yourself Miss Elizabeth..." she begins, prompting the woman to quickly lean to the side to retrieve her folded grey dress from the bed. "To address the immediate issue of a loosened pocket of skin, placing a cold item such as a piece of metal or a stone beneath the affected area. However, do not use anything wet such as a pan of water. Try to use earthen materials, as it seems you may be also experiencing an excess of blood, causing it to pool unnaturally...We will have to take steps to balance your humors." At this, the young seamstress seems to grow distressed, looking back over her shoulder as she stops fiddling with her buttons at her collar. "Do...you mean t'put the leeches on me doctor?" she asks meekly, only to prompt a slight chuckle from the Madame herself. "Heavens no, such practices are highly outdated in this clinic." she begins, allowing a confident smile to overtake her features, pushing her glasses up her nose, "Blood is nearly 50 percent water. And the primary way the body loses water is through the passing of urine. Simply put, too much water is equivalent to too much blood, and in order to solve the problem, we must reduce the water in your body, most easily done through the prescription of a diuretic." The phrasing only seemed to make the young woman grow more confused, though she nods along anyway as she turns back around, now fully dressed save for her cloth shoes that rest beside her feet. "As it so happens, I have another patient that is suffering from an opposing ailment. She has far too little blood in her body, and so the best way to treat it immediately would be to increase the water in the body by a significant margin. However, she was far too hesitant to allow an incision to be made so all I was able to do for her was to recommend an increase in water intake, or to drink the blood of an animal twice a day for the next week. However, a process may be possible to solve her problem with your own...you are free to go for now, though return to the clinic just past noon. And be sure not to urinate until your return." At the prospect, Miss Coutiere's face turns a scarlet red that one might think would indicate a fever, though the way her posture shrivels under the Madame's word makes it obvious that the subject is quite an embarrassing one for her. Nevertheless, she nods along all the same, showing trust in Madame Laece's assessment. "Very good. Aelith will see you out now...and Aelith..." The Madame continues, turning to me "Return to me once you've seen Miss Coutiere out. We'll discuss before you're errand to the apothecary." I nod in confirmation, then turn my eyes upon the meek seamstress before me, giving a small gesture for her to follow and beginning to lead her out of the clinic. A simple enough task, and a silent one given my status as a mere assistant to the woman she came to see, as well as the awkwardness that she surely felt after having just been examined in the near-nude. But, despite such a tense walk back to the front of the building, I see her leave, then return to the infirmary as instructed, meeting the sight of Madame Laece finishing up her earlier task, having returned to bending over at the waist to dig through some low-to-the-ground cabinets. "I admire your professionalism, Aelith..." she muses with her head in the cabinet upon hearing my approaching footfalls. Her voice is back to it's very sharp and measured tone, losing that soft quality to it, though her inflection makes the smirk upon her lips known even without her face being visible to me. It's not often that the woman jokes, so I don't know quite how to react other than to maintain composure... "I appreciate the compliment Madame Laece. It's a practice tempered by your masterful teachings..." I respond, staring at the woman as she shifts from side to side, gathering up a few specific glass vials, her knees straight and her hips and backside high in the air behind her. Notably bad for posture coming from a woman with so much medical knowledge...but it's certainly not my place to lecture her. "Indeed. Any other young man your age would certainly have been struck speechless to see a young woman in such a state of undress..." Her words are a taunting jab...again uncommon for her. Though this has happened once or twice before on my birthday. The Madame seems to take up a bit of a more casual tone with me. Still, I have to suppress the urge to remind her that she has taught me not to view patients in such a way... "But I am impressed by your assessment." she concludes, rising from her bent over position and bringing a few more bottles over to the small satchel on the table, securing them within a few inner loops before buckling it tight, "Those sharp eyes of yours are as quick as ever." At the second compliment, I nod a solemn nod, and step forth to retrieve the satchel, awaiting for her to continue speaking. "Return from the Apothecary as swiftly as you can...ideally Miss Coutiere returns. And on your way back please stop by Miss Toussaint's residence and fetch her for me." I nod along with the instructions, and as Madame Laece turns away from me, I know I am to be off. Without another word, I bring the satchel with me out to the front counter and begin gathering up the prescription copies I've parsed through throughout the day, laying them neatly within a side pouch of the satchel, before closing it back up. From beneath the counter, I also retrieve the dark grey, wide-brimmed hat that I am to wear in the public, placing it gently upon my head, and the my long wooden walking cane, simply adorned with a simple black lacquer finish and a rounded head. Giving my belongings a swift once over, I do a bit of tidying up on the countertop and put my literature away after marking my position on the page, then diligently make my way out into the late morning, leaving behind the floral scented clinic for the cobblestone paved streets of Orthensburg, ears twitching the moment I step out the door as they adjust to the sounds of the city...
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