A Plague Upon Their Houses

Recorded: April 19, 2014
Characters: Dorna (NPC), Eir, Frigga, Zerinda (NPC)
Location: Asgard Palace - Healing Chambers
Summary: A crisis begins on Asgard as the royal healer determines the population to be cursed with diseased.

Dorna and Zerinda, Matron Healers at their facilities, wait patiently near the entrance to the healing room. They've been whispering amongst themselves in a continuation of their conversation along the road. The servants of the palace haven't paid much attention to them, but anyone familiar with the healers of Asgard would know how rare it is to see the two standing together, since their clinics are on opposite sides of town. The two women appear middle-aged and stand proudly in their uniform pale blue robes. Midday is slowly moving towards the afternoon.

Being the Royal Healer and consort of the Asgardian Prince, Eir dresses a bit finer, but still simple. Light fabrics and colors, though sometimes she sports Loki's dark green ad gold. Today however it is light blue with silver trim, long hair back in a braid, her bell sleeves tied back just above the elbow with ribbons to be functional.

Coming out of the back room and the work she was buried in, she crosses the main healing room, having a quiet word with a few healers as she passes before arriving at the Matrons. "Would you prefer a quieter venue to speak?" Usually healing business is confidential after all.

The Matrons bow politely to Eir when she finally addresses them. "Please," Dorna replies, and the two turn to follow Eir wherever she leads. "We sought Jessna before we came, but she seems to be bed-ridden today." Jessna being another Matron Healer.

"What is her ailment?" Eir questions, leading them back into the back room, closing the door once they are inside. A gesture is given to the modest seating area in the corner that has large bookcases behind it. She takes the single chair, allowing them to settle on the couch.

Both women settle into the couch and glance about the room. Even though there are no patients or servants within earshot, they lean closer to Eir and speak in hushed tones. "Several of the nobles and guards have come to me with complaints of fatigue," Zerinda states.

"I have seen much of the same from the shopkeeps and farmhands that frequent my clinic," Dorna adds. "We believe an ill harvest may be affecting our people."

"Or worse," Zerinda notes. Of the two, she has always been the one to jump to the worst conclusions. "There could be something in the wells."

Listening intently, Eir leans a little closer, trying to offer some comfort that she is giving confidentiality and keeping this quiet. "Is fatigue the only symptom thus far? How long has it been going on?"

"That we've noticed? A few days, at least," Dorna replies. "At first I thought perhaps a few of the farmhands were working themselves too hard. Spring is upon us and many of the young men try to complete their chores with enough daylight to court the damsels. It happens every year."

"But it has been more than that," Zerinda adds. "Paleness. Shortness of breath, to the point of coughing. Some have come with a fevered brow and others with chills. If there is poison in the water, surely we must send someone to test our wells."

"This isn't poison." Eir's delicate features shift into a light frown. "Isolate the affected patients and those that present the symptoms." She rises from her seat. "I need to see one of them." Though if its demanding the immediate attention of the Royal Healer, certainly means it must be serious.

The Matron Healers exchange thoughtful looks with each other. "We should away to Jessna's," Dorna decides. "Though bed-ridden, as a healer she would have the presence of mind to aid us in our diagnosis."

"Agreed." Eir turns to lead the way, assuming they told her exactly where she is… either in her own home or in her clinic. A brief word is passed to her second in command in the palace healing rooms, but she doesn't pause long.

The Matrons walk with the Royal Healer all the way to Jessna's home, which also serves as the clinic closest to the area in Asgard where iron and leatherworkers reside. Along the way, one might notice that several shops appear to be closed or short-staffed despite it being only the early afternoon. Jessna's own clinic has a notice posted on it referring ailing Asgardians to others for aid. Zerinda only knocks briefly before bypassing the notice and calling up the inner stairwell to the living space. "Jessna? Are you awake? Dorna and I have brought Eir to diagnose you."

Walking through the markets, such is noticed, though does little to help Eir's worry. She keeps it to herself, maintaining a professional and even visage. No need to worry anyone else. "Jessna." Eir calls, before heading up the stairs, lifting the front of her skirts so she won't trip on her way up.

The living area is silent, save for the chirping of birds outside an open window. Jessna lives alone and her home reflects that as a single room with a bed, desk, and small cooking area. Though her body is covered, the Matron's head is all that's needed to see how her illness has affected her: Her skin is pale and forehead aged with strain. Her eyelids struggle to part and even as they succeed, her eyes look glossed over with disinterest in her surroundings. She lets off a light breath, but does not bother to greet the women who have come to pay her a visit. Dorna and Zerinda both look on with the motherly concern that Matron Healers are known for, already pondering what herbs or tinctures they should be reaching for.

"Oh Jessna." The Elder murmurs, stepping across the room to settle to sit on the edge of her bed. She reaches out a hand to briefly touch Jessna's forehead with the back of her hand. She doesn't give an clues or orders to the others just yet.

She holds her hands over the woman's chest, closing her eyes. A soft silvered blue light emits from her hands and lowers to soak into the Matron, feeling out and searching for the ailment and any clues to what might be wrong.

Some light returns to Jessna's eyes when she feels the contact of another person. Eir's discerning light finds the source of the Matron's ailment not to be a poison or bad food of any kind, but a disease coursing through her very veins. With every slow breath, Jessna sends more of the disease into the atmosphere. The disease is causing her mind to overheat, though the rest of her body remains chilled and losing temperature at an alarming rate. What may be more disturbing is the sense of dark and dreadful magic infused within the illness, strengthening it as it drains the very life out of the Matron.

The dark magic of the disease repels her own, and Eir gasps in sharp pain as the glowing magic snaps out of existence making her recoil. She goes pale, slumping a little over Jessna as she mentally processes what she at least gleamed before she was forced out.

"There is sorcery in this disease." She manages to whisper.

Dorna takes a step toward Jessna and Eir. "Disease?" Her brow furrows at the foreign concept. "Asgardians… Know no disease. It is not in our nature to suffer such—" Her words are interrupted by rapid pounding on the door downstairs. A woman is crying hysterically for Jessna. The ill Matron closes her eyes and turns her head as if the pounding were disturbing her rest.

"This is made to harm us. I can tell you it is airborne. Any of us could easily be infected now and spread it to anyone we cross. We need to quarantine this quickly before it continues to spiral out of control. I will begin my research immediately." Though the Elder Healer is a bit unsteady as she rises to her feet. "See who it is, Dorna."

Dorna rushes down the stairs and tries to open the door only slightly, but the woman on the other end forces her way in. "Jessna! Help me," she cries out, looking pale and feverish as she wanders the open clinic area with a bundle in her arms. Outside, a murmuring crowd has gathered at the front yard but Dorna quickly closes the door to conceal the sight of the woman's fever. "My son… Jessna…" Zerinda makes her way downstairs to help her fellow healer try to calm the woman. Upstairs, the very Matron who is being called for has become unresponsive. If she is still breathing it is barely noticeable.

Eir rests a hand on Jessna's shoulder, murmuring, "We will figure this out." Gathering her strength, though her skin remains pale, the Lady Healer descends the stairs. "Jessna is in a coma." Which in itself is unheard of in Asgardians. Eir knows enough physiology of other races to know of other illnesses. Though she has to step outside to the yard to deal with the crowd. She stands in the doorway, going no further.

"Citizens." Though Eir's voice is much softer than Odin's and she doesn't have the strength to talk very loudly. "There is an illness within our people. I suggest everyone return to their homes while we find the source and treat it. If you begin to suffer fatigue or other strange symptoms, report to the nearest clinic to be put under quarantine."

The murmurs grow louder at Eir's declaration but the crowd does not disburse. Their actions only grow quiet when a scream emits from the woman who forced her way into the clinic. Dorna has managed to take the bundle from her and Zerinda holds the woman back until she collapses into her arms in a sobbing, coughing heap. The woman is ill, that much is certain, and will have an even greater difficulty in her recovery now that the infant she held is dead. The news is confirmed by a grim look to Eir from Dorna.

Eir turns at the scream, looking between the other two Matrons. Her expression remains neutral as she turns back to the crowd. "Go to your homes." She demands, lifting a hand to summon the Eirharjar to assist in her declaration. Being the Royal Healer she does have the authority to force quarantine. Health and safety of the Asgardian people is her highest priority.

Turning away from the crowd, she moves into the home, shutting the door behind her. Stepping towards Dorna, her pale eyes lower to the infant, and all three of them should be aware any one of them could be infected. She needs the infant to help diagnose this. Not that she particularly wants to do an autopsy on a baby. "I'm sorry for your loss, and I apologize for this, but may I take your child? What I find may save us all."

The woman is in too much of a struggle with her condition and her sorrow to give any kind of answer. She can barely breathe for coughing, barely cough for crying, and if not for Zerinda she certainly wouldn't be able to stand. "The King and Queen must be told," Dorna says as she rests the bundle on a nearby table. "We must return to the palace, for our supplies are limited here."

"Stay here and help manage the chaos. Set up the quarantines. We need to slow this down as much as we can, or we will have more dead quicker than we can find a cure." Eir moves to collect the child, but holding the deceased infant with care and respect. "I am sorry for this." She murmurs to the grieving mother before she turns to return to the Palace.

Though the dreaded dragon cannot see his handiwork in action, he may already know to be proud of its progress. The Asgard Palace is showing its own symptoms by a lower staff count. Frigga herself has sent a number of her maidens home and walks with no guards on her way to the throne room. Despite the lack of help, she still stands tall in an elaborate robe of red and gold silk that reminds one of the fires that forge the very weapons which have helped keep Asgard prosperous. In the throne room, she settles into her husband's seat with only the briefest of heavy sighs. She has started to feel heavy herself lately, but the All-Mother refuses to show it.

With the baby delivered safely and with care to the healing rooms, they were quickly informed of what is going on and began their own quarantine. The baby was put in a small glass coffin in her back room to quarantine it until she can return to do the autopsy.

Heading to the throne room, the Prince's Consort and Royal Healer enters the hall at a swift pace, sinking into a graceful curtsy. "My Queen."

Frigga glances down at Eir with a soft smile. "Yes, Eir? Speak your peace."

Rising, the Healer's expression is grim and serious. No smiles from the gentle woman today. "I have placed the city under quarantine, as well as the healing hall here. There are many that are falling ill with multiple symptoms. I tried to diagnose it magically, but there is dark magic in the works in this disease like none I have ever seen. It repelled me. We have also had our first reported fatality." She pauses a moment, her voice softening a touch. No one ever likes to see children harmed. "A baby."

The smile is instantly removed from Frigga's features. "A child has died?" The All-Mother is especially stricken by this news, for there is no one in the kingdom who cares for infants as much as their queen. With a deep breath, her back straightens and jaw sets into the poise of one prepared to issue necessary commands. "Foul magic denotes foul play, and one of Asgard's enemies has made their intentions known. Justice will be required once the king and princes are made aware." She thinks for a moment. "But if they are at a distance, they should not be allowed to return. We will send word by mystic means that all our warriors abroad are to stay at their posts until further notice." Her echoed words are carried to the servants still manning the messenger stations. Then her tone returns to normal as she focuses on Eir again. "Have you the means to cure this illness in your apothecary?"

"I would suggest closing the BiFrost from any travel for the time being. Any of us could be infected, including myself." Which in the back of her mind does worry her. How much time does she have to cure this before it takes her? "I do not yet know. I must do research." She pauses a moment, adding in a softer tone at the end: "May I ask a favor, my Queen?"

Frigga's own mind trails off to the maidens she has dismissed over the past few days. Many of them looked pale and worn. Some of the soldiers had similar symptoms—All of which were foolishly attributed to mere fatigue and over-working in the spring season. The All-Mother would be consumed by her own internal outrage if not for Eir's question bringing her back to this moment. "Yes, what is it?"

"Do not tell Loki that I may be infected. It would be safer for him." She knows Loki. If he thinks she is in any kind of danger, he will rush to her side regardless of the consequences. "For those that remain, light duty. No strenuous activity. Plenty of fluids and eat well, keep your strength up."

Frigga nods, relaxing her stern brow to offer a look of understanding to Eir. "You have your duties, as I have mine. Share with the Einherjar the moment you know what is needed to cure our people. I will see to it that the quarantine is enforced."

Eir nods, dipping into another curtsey. "Yes, my queen." She turns quickly at that to head to the healing rooms to begin her research. It will likely be a couple of hours before she has the first ingredient, able to at least send the first party to collect it while she works at finding the second.

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