The Steward's End

Fort Weyr - Central Infirmary
This room looks fairly similar to most other infirmaries, with it's faint scent of antiseptic and an eerie quiet that goes along with convalescence. Rows of cots line both walls, each separated by a privacy screen. Breaking the line of cots along the outside wall is a entrance to the dragonhealing section of the infirmary. The far end of the oval room is filled with metal cabinets that hold the tools of the Weyrhealers trade, as well as a desk from which the healer can supervise his domain. Upon one wall rests a thick 'chart' containing the information on all patients within the infirmary.


It's after breakfast time, or at least what most of the Weyr thinks of as breakfast time, and the Weyrhealer has apparently been at her desk for quite a while. There's a patient in one of the bays, with a senior apprentice attending; another, younger apprentice looks half-asleep and is attempting to clean exam areas. Mirinda, though, is wide awake, cup of klah laced with something that smells appealing but isn't entirely identifiable wafting its scent around the area where she sits. In contrast to the sterile rest of the Infirmary, the desk looks almost cluttered but there's a clear method to her mayhem — she's not at all discouraged by rising piles of paper around her as she writes something in a log book and periodically picks up the cup of klah to sip it and place it down again. All without actually looking up from what she's doing. As a bonus, Mirinda's handwriting is actually legible.

All this peace and quiet? Just won’t do. Not at all! So what should interrupt Mirinda’s all too pleasant morning? Fate will decide to send such an upset in the form of a distraught and flustered lower cavern worker. The girl is out of breath, whether it be from her rushing here or the tears she’s trying to choke back along with her gasps for air. So all the Healer will get are some wild, nonsense hand gestures while the girl collects herself and finally seems to find enough air to get some garbled words to pass her lips. “… Headwoman needs… you, miss. Steward… Lycander,” And here the girl’s voice hitches and those tears come back again. Sniff. Swallow. Even a lip quiver! “Is dead. Just outside his office… lower tunnels…”

That is why one should never actually use the word 'quiet' in any environment where emergencies might happen. And to think Mirinda was just starting to enjoy her morning, thinking there might not be any interruptions. Then again, this is Fort, where people drop dead outside their offices. Once she's looked up from her work all the way and processed what the poor girl's said, Mirinda pulls herself to her feet and offers a comforting, "Have some water," with a gesture at the nearby pitcher, "sit down a minute and rest and go back to your duties when you're a little less shaken." She looks tempted to ask something else but holds back at the end, instead collecting her medical bag (not that she'd need it for someone who was actually dead, but old habits die hard and who else is going to confirm that death?) and walks out at a clip to where poor Lycander found his final resting place. "Outside his office. How dismal," she mutters to herself, calling over her shoulder at the last minute to the senior apprentice that they're in charge until another journeyman happens along.

The girl does as she’s told — sort of. She’ll take the water, sipping at it noisily between her calming breaths and sniffles but the moment Mirinda is preparing the leave she’ll vacate the seat she had just taken. That was a minute, right? And she does seem a little more collected. Barely. “I’ll take you!” she says hurriedly and will dart off again, either matching the pace Mirinda sets or keeping just a little ahead. They’ll be met by Guards, of course, who are now standing outside the tunnels leading directly to the scene. No need for gawkers, right? Only Mirinda is let through, while the lower cavern girl is shooed away. Her being a “guide” is no longer required as the Healer doesn’t have that far to go and the Headwoman is there. Talica is far more in control of her emotions, though the signs of shock are there in her eyes. The man she likely worked Turns and Turns with is on the floor, left as he was found and someone (probably Talica) had the sense and decency to at least pull a sheet over him.

Mirinda really had hoped the girl would get a chance to rest, but it was probably her job not to; no use protesting how other departments handle their staff. Instead, she's quick to work, kneeling beside the body and letting the bag settle on the ground beside her — she lifts the sheet just enough to look at his face, so as not to upset anyone nearby, and asks, "Had he been ill?" No more pleasantries, straight to work, everyone who knew him well could grieve later.

Talica collects herself when Mirinda gets right to business, giving herself a good mental shake and clamping down hard on her emotions. She’s been a Headwoman in Fort for Turns now, since Elara’s time as Senior and through all the changed Leaderships since. This isn’t her first brush with tragedy. “No he wasn’t, Healer Mirinda.” No doubt they’re on somewhat known name basis. Hard not to know close to every ranked Healer in the Weyr when you’re often sending for them or involved with them. “Fit as he’d always been — or appeared to be. I didn’t see it happen, but the laundry workers who happened upon him said he just seemed to collapse…” And she spreads her hands out helplessly. That was that.

Since settling in at the Weyr and eventually stepping up to being The Weyrhealer, Mirinda's lost a lot of her past reliance on formality — except in the presence of the Weyrleaders, most especially precisely formal Nyalle — and so first name basis amongst high ranking lower caverns staff is expected and taken with equanimity if not outright grace. She's also started getting used to Fort's propensity for disaster and is taking that with the same equanimity and grace. "Of course. That's not suspicious at all." It's in a soft voice that doesn't seem to be sarcastic, as she checks for a pulse, looks in his eyes, rests her head on a chest that does not rise and fall. "I take it simply declaring death is not all that is desired. Determining a cause could be complex." How she presently aches for the technology of Landing where she once hated living! "But it starts with not staying out here. If you have someone who can run for my apprentices, or a couple of burly men willing to help … er, or a long laundry cart —" Creativity is a requirement in her position, after all.

Talica will overhear enough of that comment and rather than gasp and have her eyes widen in shock and surprise, the Headwoman’s mouth only settles in a grim line. “Does it have to be?” she replies dryly and followed by a heavy sigh. Tinged, perhaps, with the first hint of her grief to the loss of a dear and old ‘friend’. “Of course. I’ll have that arranged immediately.” Wasting little time, she’ll call her firelizards to her and send them away on their tasks and stride briskly down the tunnels to where those Guards were standing. In a span of minutes, the Headwoman returns. “Some of your Apprentices were sent for, as well as a… method of transport.” How formal and cryptic!

Mirinda would certainly not have had any complaints had anything ever not been suspicious. Witnessed deaths, for instance, the ones where the causes and not just the end results were witnessed. "I really need to get one of those," is what comes out this time, her as-she-works patter continuing to be a reaction to her surroundings whether or not anyone is actually listening to her. This time, it's about the firelizards, and not the apprentices with their .. conveyance. Those she has plenty of. And at least there are a few apprentices who aren't too young or small to do the lifting job. "Thank you," is delivered more gratefully and sincerely this time, with eye contact and everything, as Mirinda actually stands up to face Talica again. "I'll hope to have this resolved as rapidly as possible. Is there anything at all I should know?" Nobody who desperately wanted his job or angry ex-lovers or jilted heirs? After all, it's Fort Weyr.

“You don’t have one?” Talica asks curiously though again the Headwoman doesn’t look overly surprised. Not everyone has a firelizard despite the creatures being more popular and numerous in these Turns but she could chalk up Mirinda’s lack to a personal choice. She’ll nod her head curtly to the Healer’s thanks, pointedly not looking at the shrouded form of the former Steward. “That I’ve no doubt. And… no, I don’t believe so? Lycander was a good man. Healthy too, given his advanced age. Never…” She pauses, her brows knitting together before relaxing as she sighs. “Never complained of anything.” Seems Talica harbors no suspicions.

"I've never had the opportunity." The eggs found in the infirmary had been small and squandered off, and Mirinda's plan to actually purchase a firelizard never came to fruition. "I wanted a larger one to train but I never actually got around to it, things keep coming up — anyway, good, that's good, for the most part. Having never complained about anything and then suddenly dropping dead is less good, but …" She'll figure it out. She and her troop of apprentices, who have actually made an appearance at this point to transport the body. A couple of them look sick: it's the familiar face.

Talica nods and that grim look returns to her features. “… how long before it can be sorted out?” she asks, keeping her eyes on Mirinda though once the Apprentices arrive they’ll all be getting a close look by the Headwoman and likely a few are recognized. If they are recognized, then they are trustworthy. She does not step forwards to help or organize, as while they’re in the lower tunnels, this business is strictly Healer related and connected though she is she will not meddle unless asked specifically to do something.

"I'll give it my total focus," Mirinda promises, utterly confident that this is something that is possible and it won't take days away from the rest of her work. Of course it shouldn't, right? Even though she's probably the only one with that training here, she can call in help from the Hall. It's important to know why people just drop dead. "I also know it's in the records, but because I can't recall, parting question," to think about while she walks the body back to an infirmary bay and closes the place off for the next few hours, "how old was he?" The past tense is applied gently, her tone still more cautious of those who have experienced loss than perhaps the pathologists at the Hall might be.

How old was poor Lycander? Talica’s silence is extended by the fact that she’s trying to hastily mask her surprise at being asked and worse yet that she is hesitating out of lack of knowledge. “Don’t know if we ever asked him, but I would say he was in his seventies? Possibly early eighties. We used to joke that he was Turns overdue for his retirement…” She stops there and shakes her head sadly, lips pressed in a tight and thin line. No. That’s not so funny now, is it? “Anything more you need of me, Mirinda? I best… go and organize affairs…”

Well, now he's not. Mirinda manages, barely, to not say that out loud. Instead she simply nods; not her normal curt nod, but one that's calmer and more relaxed. Considerate, if a nod can be such a thing. "I think I've got everything. If there is anything else, I'll let you know — the inquest, should one form, will be in touch." One with her at its head, most likely, along with a Harper, and that's not something she's looking forward to. Maybe some personal investigation can avoid a formal inquest. That is equally always the hope. (This is Mirinda's first suspicious death that's a complete unknown, though, so it's a cautious one.) "Thank you, Headwoman, and I'm — very sorry." With her last condolence given, Mirinda's attention is returned to her burden, and getting it back to the infirmary.


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