Much care had been taken to keep the interior of Broken Oaks as old world and elegant as possible. Little touches of modern technology were kept behind closed doors; newly replaced outlets were covered over in tapestry and even the kitchen still sported antique fixtures and an original plantation stove, though the later had been outfitted with a modern temperature gauge for expediency’s sake. Walking inside was much like stepping through time - all except for a single room tucked away on the third floor.
The room was perfectly cool upon entering. Climate control in this particular area had been wired outside the rest of the house, so that it could be controlled separately and not effect the majority of the estate. Nanette disliked the overly artificial cool that would strip the air of its moisture, though keeping the humidity at a particular level was unfortunately necessary here. The noise was about as unbearable as the unnatural chill to the air. The constant click and whir of a half dozen different machines and the soft beeps and blips of a half dozen more could be nearly maddening. Even the scent was unpleasant, a sterile antiseptic odor with just the slightest tinge of sickness underneath. There were many things Nanette forced herself to abide in the world outside of her home; bringing them inside with her seemed almost sacrilege, and yet, here it was.
She sat primly on an upholstered bench kept beside the hospital style bed for only her use. It was easily over three centuries old, and brought Nanette some small comfort in the room barren of any of the things she so adored: old leather, ancient spice, rich silks, intricate tapestry, cut crystal and the like. She had no particular aversion to change, of course; immortality would bring with it changes beyond what she could imagine, she was quite sure. But to willfully abandon the riches of her youth? Unheard of. Even the dressing gown she wore, softest lilac silk crepe with hand-crocheted white lace touches, was of the excesses of a bygone era.
“Dominique has told me that you’ve been troublesome,” Nanette spoke in a quiet tone. The words came almost absently; in need of constant distraction and requiring something to do with her hands, she was busying herself with fashioning a small doll to be stitched as a marionette when it was finished. She had only the basic pieces in the small sewing basket at her side and was stitching together strips of tanned hide to form the body. An odd habit for one of her station, to be sure, but it kept her busy in her off hours.
After all, her regular hobby had to be paced out, or there’d be rioting with pitchforks and torches at her door. Heaven knew she didn’t want all that again.
“Really now, darling, it’s not like you to be quite so impossible,” she went on with a sigh. “If you continue to refuse eating... and honestly, that is so rude of you to do, what with all the time the cook spends making your gruel thin enough... if you continue to refuse eating, I’ll have no choice but to insert another feeding tube.”
The figure in the hospital bed let out a low raspy groan and struggled to shuffle around among its sheets, blankets and bevy of tubes and wires. It would seem a wonder it was even alive, looking far more the dessicated corpse than a living, breathing human being. Liver-spotted skin stretched taut against a thin frame of spindly bones; it even seemed to creak as it attempted to move. A handful of dull grey hairs dressed the top of a rounded, almost bulbous-seeming skull, with lines of thick ropey veins crisscrossing the temples and painfully bristled patches of evening shadow on its cheeks and chin. The nose was pointed and hawkish, dried cartilage seemingly shrunk back to make the nostrils even larger. The mouth was a gaping maw, perpetually open with dried flecks of spittle on split, blistered lips; a handful of garish yellow teeth were still visible against the pallid pink bloodless gums.
The eyes, however... they were something else entirely: brightest green, with whites bright and gleaming, framed by thick blond lashes. There was clearly no loss of sight and no visible damage at all, as bright as they would have been in true youth. Nannette had made sure of it; he could see quite clearly, and hear perfectly well. The tincture that kept her glowing with youth kept the man in the bed - for it was a man, hardly human as it might seem - keenly aware of all that went on around him, yet completely unable to stop it.
He grunted. Growled, even. Uttered a rasping series of noises that, to Nannette’s ears, so nearby to the source, constituted an attempt at speech. Hearing the struggle, she only laughed.
“Oh, Samuel, don’t be silly,” she replied, one hand pressed daintily to her lips to stem the tide of laughter. “I’ll never let you die, darling. Til death do us part, after all. I don’t quite feel it time for us to be parting, not yet. Perhaps this whole experience would be a bit more enjoyable for you if you hadn’t been such a prat in your day. I did warn you what would happen, if you crossed me.”
The man in the bed shuddered through a choked sob that wracked his broken body with long convulsion.
“Don’t make me get the restraints again, dear,” Nanette responded absently, and focused her attention back to the bits of hide in her hands. Martin had been a fair and loyal servant; he’d make a lovely little poppet for the curio.