Plans and Promises: Episode 16

Eulalia is in the conservatory, huddled over one of the lanterns that provide a little extra heat for the plants. Her suite is spacious, but drafty, as are a lot of the other public rooms in the mansion. She's ~~ homesick ~~ for her dowager cottage, with its smaller rooms that can be warmed to something approaching almost livable.

Katsura has come downstairs to let Nick sleep without her nageric influence. As a Sime, she needs far less sleep than he does.

Katsura zlins Eulalia in the conservatory, and wonders if she should find somewhere else to sit. Unfortunately, the downstairs maids are busy doing a major cleaning of public rooms in preparation for Eulalia's planned more active social life for the Senator.

Katsura zlins a frisson of ~~ alarm ~~ from a maid who is startled to see her downstairs and decides to go into the conservatory after all.

Eulalia holds her hands directly over the lantern and carefully rubs her knobby fingers, trying to stimulate a little circulation. She grimaces at the ~~ discomfort ~~.

Katsura: May I join you, Miz Pollovic?

Katsura braces herself for an unpleasant reaction, on top of the elderly Gen's cold and aching joints.

Eulalia looks up, squinting as she tries to make out who her visitor is.

Eulalia: Oh, it's you. I suppose you might as well. It's warm in here, comparatively speaking.

Eulalia is ~~ less than gracious ~~, but much less dragon-like than usual. She's quite frankly a bit ~~ discouraged ~~ by the way things are going.

Katsura: Yes, now that the sun is starting to shine in.

Katsura wishes she could offer to soothe the pain in the poor woman's hands. She knows she can't do much about her emotional state.

Eulalia: This is a grand old pile, but it lacks a bit of modern comfort.

Katsura: It's a beautiful building -- so much art in the construction and decoration.

Katsura has admired all the carved and polished wood and sculpted plaster trim, but doesn't have the English vocabulary to discuss architecture.

Eulalia: Yes, a great deal of art, and somewhat less practicality.

Eulalia adjusts herself on the stool, wishing that she had thought to have her maid bring her a cushion before she sent the girl to help with the preparations.

Eulalia: It didn't bother me so much when I was younger, but I haven't been young for a long time.

Katsura nods.

Katsura: The high ceilings mean many stairs.

Eulalia: Stairs, drafts... At least it's livable in summer. In winter, I'd rather be home. It hurts less.

Katsura: I, too, wish I could be home.

Eulalia: Here I've got three hundred invitations to sort out, and I can't hold a pen for more than three minutes at a time.

Eulalia is ~~ frustrated ~~ by her weakness.

Katsura: Miz Pollovic... if you like, I could help you with the arthritis in your hands.

Eulalia: Brenn said you were a doctor, but I've been told that there's nothing medical science can do to cure old age.

Eulalia visited over a dozen before she finally had to accept that verdict, and it was a very ~~ grudging ~~ acceptance.

Katsura: We can't cure old age, but perhaps we can alleviate some of the symptoms.

Eulalia: I've already had willow bark tea, or at least as much as my stomach can tolerate. My digestion doesn't work any better than the rest of me.

Katsura: It helps to take the tea with food, or even just a little milk. But I can work directly on your hands with channel's methods, if you like.

Eulalia: Directly? Doing what? Some sort of surgery?

Katsura hides her reaction to the idea of cutting into those inflamed Gen knuckles.

Katsura: No, channels don't do surgery. But I can reduce the inflammation somewhat, which will make the joints more flexible and less painful. I would have to hold your hands and touch them with my tentacles.

Eulalia ~~ considers ~~.

Eulalia: How long does the effect last?

Eulalia is thinking about the invitations, and the necessity of making the social rounds this week.

Katsura: Anything from a few hours to some days, depending on how long I work. The effect is somewhat cumulative, so several sessions over some days will help for a week or perhaps somewhat longer.

Katsura holds up a hand, tentacles retracted.

Katsura: It's not a cure, just a reduction in symptoms. But if treatments are continued, it will slow the progression.

Eulalia: Will it get me active enough to let me get my son settled?

Katsura spreads her hands, tentacles concealed, in the awkward way she's learned to do the gesture out-T.

Katsura: I don't know what getting him settled requires.

Eulalia: He needs a wife who can take him and his career in hand -- he's making a royal muddle of it, on his own. One with connections across the aisle. Everyone knows that a Senator's wife works out the compromises with the opposition wives, when the men can't agree. And you know how seldom men are willing to agree. They're mostly good at making speeches declaring their devotion to principles, and never mind if no actual legislation gets passed.

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: Yes, I see that sometimes.

Eulalia: Brenn is making himself sick trying to do a job that should be done by two. And he doesn't even know that it's his wife who is supposed to be getting the actual results.

Katsura wonders what the senator thinks of this viewpoint.

Eulalia: I did that job for over two decades, so I know what it requires. I've got a half dozen likely girls in mind, and I can train whichever one Brenn picks in the details. But none of that can happen until he decides which one of them he wants. And he can't do that until he's actually met them. And that won't happen if I can't get the infernal invitations addressed.

Katsura: I see.

Katsura isn't going to push on the nageric treatment offer. Let the woman ask for it.

Eulalia starts to clench her hands into fists, and hastily stops. She hisses in pain, then impulsively holds out her hands.

Eulalia: Go ahead and try. Nothing else is working, that's for sure.

Katsura: I can't work very intensively without Nick to help me, but I will examine your hands and see if I can help a little now. Later this afternoon, if you will come to us, I can do better.

Katsura cautiously approaches Eulalia and takes her hands gently.

Eulalia is not particularly afraid, except of how much any manipulation of her hands tends to ~~ hurt ~~.

Katsura: I will touch you with my tentacles now.

Eulalia braces herself for unpleasantness.

Katsura extends her handling tentacles slowly and wraps them around the Gen's hands. She extends her laterals part way, by doesn't let them touch.

Katsura: Please don't move now.

Katsura hopes she isn't going to get into a situation that Nick will have good reason to scold her for.

Eulalia has no intention of moving: it hurts.

Katsura zlins the hands carefully and finds that there's less permanent damage to the joints than she feared. She stimulates blood flow, and encourages the inflamed tissues to reduce their swelling.

Eulalia finds the sight of the tentacles somewhat ~~ disgusting ~~, however, and so she looks aside and tries to think about her roses.

Katsura soothes the nerves and reduces their sensitivity, which will suppress the pain for a little while, at least.

Katsura: I hope that will help a little, for now.

Katsura retracts her tentacles, carefully releases Eulalia's hands and moves away.

Eulalia inspects her hands closely, then carefully tries to close them, stopping when they start to hurt.

Eulalia: Well, that's a little improvement. I think I'll be able to hold a pen this afternoon, after all.

Eulalia looks at Kat.

Eulalia: Thank you, Miz Katsura.

Katsura: You're welcome.

Eulalia's thanks is a bit ~~ grudging ~~, as she would be happier if there wasn't a Sime living in her son's house, but it is also ~ genuine ~, as far as it goes.

Katsura smiles. One can't expect instant conversions, but this is one small step.

Eulalia: If I can get the invitations out, that will be more than enough for today.

Katsura: Please be careful not to overdo it, or you will make them worse.

Eulalia: Tomorrow, though, I've got to make some calls. Right now, I'm relying on Bernice Tsibola's assessment of the candidates, and I've got to meet them myself before I take a hand in Brenn's decision.

Katsura: I see. If you like, I can work on your knees some time, too, so the stairs won't be as difficult.

Katsura really would like to do something more intensive than take donations from healthy experienced college students for a change.

Eulalia: Now, that will be useful. It's hard enough getting up to my rooms, but getting in and out of the town carriage in this weather is daunting.

Katsura: I can work on you for some time every day, in the early evening before Nick and I go to the Sime Center for our shift.

Katsura realizes this is an imposition on Nick's allegedly free time, and feels a little guilty that though she knows he'll have no objections, it's still exploiting him.

Eulalia: That will do well, at least until the evening invitations start coming in. I admit, I hope it takes a few days. Afternoon teas are more useful for my purposes.

Katsura: Let's see how it goes. Perhaps we can arrange another time, as long as Nick can get a good sleep.

Eulalia gives Katsura a sly look.

Eulalia: That young man is wasting his talents following you around, you know. I'll hire him away from you yet, you know. And I'll have the best roses in the county within two years, too.

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: But he has other talents, to work with high rated channels skillfully. This is much more rare than growing roses.

Eulalia dismisses Nick's Donor profession with a wave.

Eulalia: Just look at what he's done here. Anyone can see that he loves this kind of work.

Katsura: Yes, he does.

Eulalia: Once I've convinced him that he'll have a decent living, he'll come around.

Katsura: I would hate to lose him, but it is his own decision to make.

Eulalia: He strikes me as a practical fellow. He'll understand the virtues of being able to replace that disgraceful coat, and having the chance to put some meat on his bones.

Eulalia is ~~ confident ~~ of her eventual success.

Katsura: It's true that he is too thin.

Katsura isn't going to discuss Nick's fashion sense, since she doesn't have much of one either.

Eulalia: He'll be happy to find a place where he can feel at home, with useful work to do that isn't too onerous.

Katsura: I hope so.

Katsura, of course, sees that place as Sat'htine, although Nick does like to work hard, and have his skills challenged.

Eulalia decides with some ~~ satisfaction ~~ that Katsura isn't insurmountable competition for Nick's future employment.

Katsura is amused by Eulalia's conviction that she can attract Nick better than can a young female Farris channel who finds him very attractive personally, nagerically and sexually.

Eulalia is, in fact, feeling ~~ mollified ~~ enough to consider offering Katsura something in exchange for the arthritis help.

Eulalia: You look like you've been living in the same clothes for too long, yourself.

Katsura: Oh, I'm accustomed to wearing a uniform.

Eulalia: No wonder you haven't developed a sense of fashion, then. We'll have to do something about that.

Eulalia looks Katsura up and down, mentally guessing at sizes.

Katsura: I suppose so. But fashions are different in Nivet than here, I think.

Eulalia: When a lady is properly dressed, she's in fashion anywhere.

Katsura figures a Tecton uniform, or a Householding cape, works that way too.

Katsura: Yes, in Nivet too.

Eulalia: Well, that's for the future. Right now, I'd better take advantage of what you did and get the invitations addressed.

Katsura: Good. I am glad that you let me help you.

Eulalia struggles to her feet, grunting at the pain in her left hip and right knee.

Katsura comes over to help her, tentacles in.

Eulalia allows the help, but pulls away as soon as she gets her balance.

Eulalia: I'll do, I'll do. I'm old, but not yet completely helpless.

Katsura steps away, respecting the woman's pride and dignity, and watches her go.

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