~ Dvoday, 14th of Aprilis, 11831 ~
The next morning Pierre checked upon Alise before breakfast. She was doing well, though in some pain, but that was to be expected. She would not eat anything until late that afternoon, only being allowed some water and tea in the meantime. The full moon had sped up much of her healing and it was great luck, or fate, that he had found her on the day he did.
Her parents were staying with her in a set of spare rooms right across from his makeshift surgery. Her father insisted he pay Pierre, gathering up four sols and a half-denier and refusing to take back the money, though it was all they had on their person for their return trip. Pierre would arrange that they received whatever they needed on the way back and that it would cost at least that same amount if not more.
He needed to return to the hospital see what exactly was going on in his city.
Finding himself still not hungry, though he had denied himself dinner the night before as well, he nevertheless sat with Lizzy, Síofra, and Wolfram at breakfast for the company. He did not allow any of his advisors to join him. Last night everyone had taken a separate dinner as well, the camaraderie from their fun evening several days ago perhaps broken. He knew that it they were not all to blame, and even Vivien likely abhorred this and in no way allowed it, but they had had the power to change it.
Shamefully he also knew that if he had not taken off for schooling he would have too had that power already.
Síofra had eaten dinner last night with Renaud, and they had spoken of what had happened some. She had been with him when Lizzy went in for the surgery after all and his demeanor had changed ever so slightly when he found out the patient was fay. He had continued to agree that it was terrible, it was after all a child, but also felt the need to add that said child was one raised in this plane. The way he had spoken that was enough that she did not wish to see him yet this morning and made an excuse to be with Elizabeth instead. Perhaps he merely meant that the child was a citizen, though.
Lizzy noticed that Pierre had not touched his food and poured him tea, nudging him and looking pointedly at the cup.
“You will feel better for it,” she said.
He nodded and obediently drank.
“Síofra,” he said, finishing everything in two gulps. Only having added milk saved him from burning his tongue. “I feel I will likely need to speak with your parents after I go to the hospital. Will you please contact them?”
“Oui, of course. Given the matter I am sure they shall be able to come quickly, though it may be several hours or a day or two.”
After they all ate he asked Wolfram to come with him. He needed to be dressed the part when he returned to the hospital today, in his finest clothes to show his station. He had to embrace it.
While there had been a grand greeting yesterday there was nothing today indicating they expected him at all. He had sent a missive early that he would be there and required the attendance of the chief doctor and head of several departments, along with the surgeon that had been mentioned gone the day before. He doubted said surgeon was actually out of town, but would excuse him if it was true. That that had been the only surgeon capable of diagnosing and treating the girl had obviously been false, one did not need the chief of surgery to remove or diagnose an inflamed gallbladder. He, barely out of school, had managed that. That said, he was early, unable to wait at home any longer.
Pierre thanked the driver and stepped out of the carriage every inch the duc, the principicule, he was. His clothes were solid black, well pressed, and his cane had even been shined along with his shoes and silver buttons. He had combed his hair along with trimming his beard and moustache again that morning even though he had done that the day before. There was not a hair out of place. While he could be informal and enjoy himself he also knew very well the importance of everything being in their right place for the occasion.
Most important of all he wore a tophat that had a silver coronet encircling the base rather than a ribbon, the design incorporating hearts, spades, leaves, and a larkspur flower. It was a gift from his foster parents and Ophion that he had received when going to attend University, so he would remember and hold dear that he was a prince, a duc, nephew, and son. A child of both Hearts, Spades, and he assumed with the leaves, even Faery. He wore it very rarely and only for the most special of a occasions. In this case he deemed it necessary.
He walked in and did not bother to nod in greeting to anyone. The work though stopped, patients and nurses, doctors, and all the other staff slowing down and turning to him.
“Continue on,” he called, walking to the secretary at the front. “Do not dare neglect any of your patients any further.” It took a moment but they returned to what they were doing, though now stiffer or in even more of a rush to get out of the main entrance and Pierre’s way.
The secretary, to her credit, bowed her head quickly and then did her job, telling him that those he requested would be there as soon as their patients would allow, though the chief doctor was already waiting.
“Of course, thank you, madame. Let them know that I am to be seen only when they have their patients stable and in the best of care during their absence.”
A younger boy ran off to give those messages to their intended while the secretary walked Pierre to a meeting room. Right before he opened the door she shifted on her feet and Pierre paused, looking over to her. She took a deep breath and straightened herself up.
“I agree with what you are doing, Your Grace. I have spoken with those parents for the last several days, along with the little girl. She was sweet and kind and in pain. The chief doctor told me to mind my station and leave it be when I asked why nothing was being done. After the initial look-over she was ignored completely until you came! I was told they could not pay for it, but to let her stay and die here out of kindness.” She spat the last word and took a deep breath to compose herself before continuing, “I offered to give part of my salary, along with a few other nurses and the errand boys. We would have only had to give up a day or so of wages when we had all come together. Only then I was told the chief surgeon was out of town and even if we paid it would be impossible. He was not out of town the day she was admitted, though, yet the night of there was an urgent request to visit family of the chief doctor of the hospital in a town two days ride away.” The implication was clear. The surgeon would have gladly helped the girl even without pay, but the chief doctor had sent him away.
“Make a list,” he ordered. “Of those you know of and any more you can find out who feel so strongly about the fée, one way or the other. I understand that those who are fée or fay may be untrusted, even in some cases in a justifiable manner. But they are people of Triumphe, as much as any human, and unless they do something to break the laws that we have set for all beings they must be treated with respect and care. If someone dislikes them, fine. If they refuse to give them aid even against death, I wish to know.”
“Oui, Your Grace. Merci.”
He sighed and closed his eyes a moment as she left. At least he had a few allies here. He might not have to fire every single member of this hospital. The chief, though, would certainly go. Who would replace him would depend on whether any of the other head doctors had his views. If they all did, perhaps he would ask Ophion to take over for a time. It would be nice to have his uncle nearby. But more realistically it would have to be someone else. He wondered if Doctor Hervé would be open to the position. That town they had stopped in certainly did have at least a respectful relationship with the fée given how a funeral had taken place in it.
The chief doctor waited for him at the head of a long table. He wore his uniform and his bag of tools was on the table to his left. He looked as if he had already worked that day.
“I do believe I already fired you,” Pierre said without preamble, walking around and sitting in the middle of the seats, on the far side so that he could see the door and anyone that entered saw him first. The duc placed his cane so that it leaned on the chair and was easy to grab. The crowned tophat he also kept upon his head.
“As I said before, Your Grace, you do not have that authority.”
“I have already begun a letter to Father. I had hoped I needed not send it tonight, but you force my hand.”
There was no reply. Pierre remained silent as well. After a moment the duc stood and walked to the door, opening it and glancing into the hall. He called over an errand boy and whispered something into his ear. The boy nodded and ran off.
“What did you say?” the chief asked.
“I merely asked for him to check when the other heads may get here,” Pierre lied. He returned slowly to his seat.
“May you tell me why?” the duc asked.
“I did not want to waste my surgeons on such a case.”
“Not only,” Pierre snapped, “did you waste and send away the chief surgeon—” The man’s paling face confirmed that. “—that also does not answer why you feel it would be a waste in the first place. A farmer’s daughter is an important part of her household, and of the economy, even after you take out all emotions and common sense. Not to mention it breaks the vow of Clandestine doctors to take care of all who come across their path or find means of doing so if you cannot.”
“She is not of—”
“She is both of Clandestina and Triumphe. She crossed your path, no matter who comes from where the vow applies. She is a child!” He knew he had broken the vow himself many a time, even in the short time he had officially been a doctor, but some morals he still held. Ophion had made sure that even if Pierre wanted to master death he would understand the power and not wield it heartlessly. He had brought Wolfram back after he killed him, and Salome had wanted to die. She would also be returned soon. He had had reason then, or fixed his error.
Oh, how quickly he could have become as this man, deciding who lived or died for reasons that were so petty and cruel.
Again there was no answer from the doctor.
The door was then violently flung open and a man that Pierre had not met the day before rushed in. He wore riding clothes with dirt still on his trousers, so not who he had sent for with the errand boy.
The man seemed to not even see the duc, focusing on the chief doctor and striding right up to him. The chief stood and held his head high as if he were in the right.
“You bastard!” the man yelled. He raised a fist, the chief doctor stepping back, but the other got control of himself and lowered his arm, though still seemed to shake in rage. “There was no one ill at your distant family’s! They even seemed confused as to why I was there! Renette told me that you had been refusing to let a girl get care, not allowing my surgeons or any other doctor to see her because she is fay!”
Pierre finally stood and finally the man who could only be the chief surgeon noticed him. He looked over Pierre’s clothes and bowed.
“My lord, forgive me, I—”
“I know,” Pierre replied. “And it is ‘Your Grace.’ The girl is well, by the way. I took her to my home and performed the surgery. Her gallbladder was inflamed because of stones, but she is recovering.”
“She is recovering,” the surgeon repeated. Relief washed over him and he sank into a chair. “Oh, thank God. Thank you, Your Grace, merci.” He his his face in his hands and took a few deep breaths before wiping at his eyes harshly. He then coughed and stood again to perform a more proper bow.
“I am Adam Roland, Your Grace, the chief surgeon of this hospital. I heard of your coming but could not be here yesterday as I had been called away.”
“I have heard. Thank you, monsieur. Please, sit, it seems you have just now returned. I will ask for water to be brought.” And at that the duc of Piques went to request water for the man that he was now going to promote to the new chief of the hospital and hopefully get to know very well.
Pierre and Adam, a man only a few years older than the duc, sat down far away from the chief doctor, essentially ignoring him while discussing Alise and her family. At one point the chief stood to leave and Pierre ordered he stay.
“You care a great deal for this patient for having never met her,” Pierre continued. Adam nodded, glanced to the chief, and turned to speak with Pierre in a whisper. “My wife is fay,” he said, almost so quietly that the duc could not hear, much less the chief so far down. “Renette, she is the secretary in the main floor. She was lost there for just a couple of days as a child, but she said it felt like months to her. She was taken care of, and somehow returned as a blancwitch. She tells few people this and most assume she was born as one. I think that bastard suspects though because he has never allowed her to become a nurse even if a blancwitch would be a fantastic addition to the staff.
“When I heard of this girl all I could think of was our own children. I have a daughter that looks the image of Alise, golden eyes and all, and is her age as well. She cannot hide who she is. And that bastard would have let her die. Those parents knew nothing of such people and were proud she was a foundling. They should be.”
“You have my word, Adam Roland, that this ends now. I will change this. You will also be able to be proud of her openly.”
As if on cue the door burst open again, this time several city guards coming into the room, looking around as if expecting to witness something terrible. The duc himself had told them to come to the hospital after all.
Pierre stood and one of the men, whose uniform was a little more elaborate than the others, spoke, “Your Grace, our presence was requested as quickly as possible. What is wrong?”
“That man,” Pierre said, pointing to the chief doctor who was also out of his chair and unable to get to the door, but frantically looking around as if there was another means of escape. “Arrest him on my authority and pleasure.”
They nodded and caught the chief as he tried to get past them, tying his hands behind his back and taking him out of the room without much struggle. He would be investigated, of course, to make sure that His Grace’s pleasure was not unfounded, but an order was all they needed to arrest him.
“Now,” Pierre sat and smiled to Adam, who was looking wide-eyes and with a huge grin at the retreating backs of the guards. “How do you feel about being promoted to chief of the hospital?”
Pierre walked home, dismissing the carriage that was still waiting for him from a couple of hours ago, needing the time to think. The other head doctors had started to come in after the chief’s arrest, most of them having been busy with patients or even on their days off and not realizing the duc had come in early. At being told the situation most were horrified, many not knowing the specifics, while others seemed to vouch for their chief anyway. Unsure if it was loyalty to their chief rather than approval of what he had done, Pierre kept their faces in mind but would allow Renette and Adam to confirm or deny his suspicions later. He had found a great ally in that couple.
He could not blame the people of Piques worrying about the fée, though. They had taken his own father, deprived parents of their child, a duchy from their duc, and warped his morals and very nature into being more like them. They were harmful in ways that the humans were not, to think otherwise was foolish and might well lead to one’s own death. So the fear of the fée was not without warrant. Even Elizabeth, who he knew to be kind, was wary. A wolf was after all a wolf, no matter how much you wished it was a dog. And from what he knew of the fée they would relish being called wolves.
But this was also a fay girl under his protection. Any fée or fay that lived in this plane had to follow the rules of the crown, and in return they were protected by it. It was the very reason the titles were in the Clandestine tongue, to show authority not only over the human people, but those of other bestia. Fée caught taking children or people into Faery were punished, this agreed and enforced by both the Margraves and the Faery Queens. That might not always mean the person returned, at times they were already so lost it was impossible to find them. Now that he knew Faery itself had choice and power, it made more sense.
In his father’s case… perhaps Rhianu should have returned Félicien when she found him. He had never asked if she had tried. Perhaps it had been impossible, or maybe she was selfish. But she had not taken him in the first place, and whatever her punishment should have been, Félicien as duc pardoned her.
He needed to speak with Rhianu and his comtes. Both parties needed to come to a better understanding about the two bestia, the laws, and how they would all live together.