Welcome back to another Worldbuilding Wednesday! I’m doing something different with these posts. I decided to write a story and blog how I do the worldbuilding as I go. Once I’ve finished the first draft, I’ll edit and proofread it and then publish it as normal for people to read. Onwards to the story!
So where did we leave off last week?
“One of the servants was rather badly burned, scalded,” Nabeela explained. “Piyari actually knows a great deal about treating burns and keeping them from getting worse so she volunteered to help.”
“Piyari?” Waseem asked, chuckling with delight. “And which of you gave the young lady that nickname?”
“That was all Nabeela,” Ammad laughed. He caught the napkin Nabeela tossed at his head, setting it back on the table. “Who was it? Will they be all right?”
“It looks like it,” Nabeela said. “I was very worried but Piyari said that the burns aren’t too bad. Blisters but nothing worse. Little Peni, you know the new scullery maid? She accidentally tipped over a boiling pot of udon and scalded one hand and forearm.”
“The young lady will be a doctor?” Waseem asked.
Ah yes, I was considering what sort of medical knowledge Piyari / Shizuka would learn if she did train as a doctor. It’s a valid question but not one that really heavily applies to this story. It’s more a matter of worldbuilding for further stories in this ‘verse which I know that I’ll be writing eventually.
A more important question to consider is how Shizuka would react to the suggestion and what Lord Bilal would think of it. For that matter, what would the rest of the household think? How about the community? Would they be happy or disapprove of another doctor in the area?
For that matter, how are doctors trained in Ambermarle?
Before modern medicine was developed doctors could be trained in various ways depending on where they were from, and what era they came from. From the (quick) research I did, schools for medical education have existed for a long time, back to Egypt and Rome.
Thus it makes sense that Ambermarle would have schools or colleges for doctors, as well. The question for this story is whether or not that would be a practical choice of training for Piyari / Shizuka. She is supposed to be training with Lord Bilal, not going off to school for hours each day.
On the other hand, Bilal is a lord. He’s relatively powerful. He also controls and important port. It makes sense that there would be a larger than normal medical force in the town. It probably wouldn’t be that much trouble for him to request one or more of the local doctors to give Piyari / Shizuka basic medical training. In fact, it would be a good way for Piyari / Shizuka to begin to earn a living. Medical assistants or nurses are just as much in need as doctors. Or she could train as a midwife. That would work too.
All right, that’s what I’m going to go with. Doctors are trained at special colleges that the royals support and encourage. They get the latest medical information from other countries and work on investigating better methods of treating people. I don’t know whether or not Ambermarle is at the forefront of medical development (I think that’s the Middle East and China in this ‘verse), but they’re not completely benighted.
The path for becoming a doctor generally goes like so:
1. Train to be an assistant, nurse or midwife.
2. Show an aptitude and apply to the college.
3. Train at the college.
4. Spend some residency time actually using your skills under supervision.
5. Set up shop as a doctor.
I don’t think that there’s any prejudice against women or men as doctors in this ‘verse. I do think that women are midwives almost exclusively. Speaking as a woman, I find it uncomfortable to trust my reproductive care to a man. That’s fairly universal, I think.
At any rate, that lets me answer Waseem’s question so back to the story!
“I don’t know,” Nabeela said before Ammad could. “Father hasn’t made the decision yet. She did arrive only yesterday.”
“If she has an aptitude for it…” Ammad said, looking at Nabeela.
She nodded firmly enough that Ammad resisted the urge to grin at how smitten she was. He’d thought her attraction was bad enough yesterday. Today it was far more obvious. Waseem chuckled openly, wagging his eyebrows at Ammad. Nabeela snorted at the both of them as she waved one hand.
“She actually was incredibly good with Peni,” Nabeela said so sternly that Waseem’s eyes danced with laughter. “Stop that. Everyone else panicked, me included. Piyari rushed right over, and got Peni’s arm under the tap immediately. She soothed the girl, snapped orders at everyone, and generally made sure that the burn wouldn’t be any worse than it had to be.”
“Hmm,” Waseem said. “Perhaps she already has some medical training.”
“I believe she mentioned that her father was a glass blower,” Ammad said. “It would make sense that she knew how to handle burns.”
They all looked up as Piyari came back in. She had a frown on her face as if something bothered her but it disappeared as she saw them looking. Piyari bowed to them and then came over to sit on the floor cushion next to Nabeela. Waseem studied her for a moment before grunting.
“The child will be all right?” Waseem asked.
“The doctor who arrived says that she should be, sir,” Piyari replied in her soft, deferential way. “The burn could have been much worse. Fortunately for Peni there was little oil in the soup and the udon completely missed her. The doctor thinks that she will heal without any significant scarring though she will not be able to work her regular job until the burn heals.”
“Father was notified?” Nabeela asked.
“Yes, Mistress,” Piyari said. “One of the servants said that he had been informed immediately after the accident. He elected to remain in bed, however, as yesterday’s exertions appear to have exhausted him.”
When she smiled up at Nabeela there was much more warmth than there had been for Waseem. It looked to Ammad as if Piyari’s breath caught just meeting Nabeela’s eyes. Ammad leaned back into the cushions while sipping his spice-rich morning tea. Drinking probably did nothing at all to hide his amusement for their growing attraction to each other but Ammad was lucky. Neither Piyari nor Nabeela noticed his amusement.
They didn’t notice the way Waseem chuckled either. Waseem nodded, sipping his tea, while laughing quietly. Nabeela blushed at Piyari’s look, patting Piyari’s hand fondly. Her fingers shook as she tried to drink her tea. Piyari watched the cup rattle on the saucer. Her cheeks slowly went red as she seemed to realize that she was the cause for Nabeela’s nervousness.
“Well, at least Father had the sense to rest today,” Nabeela said. “He refused to rest all day yesterday, despite his injuries and the pneumonia.”
“It has turned into pneumonia?” Waseem asked.
“I’m afraid so,” Ammad sighed. “He’s got the latest medicine for it but between the broken ribs and the pneumonia he’s had a hard time recovering.”
“I pray that he heals quickly and well,” Waseem sighed. “To have so many tragedies strike at once. I can only hope that your home is blessed with some sunshine amidst the rain.”
He looked squarely at Piyari as he said it. She squeaked and bowed so deeply that her forehead brushed the carpet under their feet. Ammad couldn’t keep himself from grinning this time, especially not when Nabeela blushed while looking at Piyari’s rear end. She blushed even harder when Waseem burst out laughing and slapped one thigh.
“I believe I am right,” Waseem said to Ammad.
“Oh, I don’t disagree with you at all,” Ammad replied. He shrugged innocently as both Nabeela and Piyari stared at him. “Just a comment he made as you two came in earlier.”
“What?” Nabeela asked so warily that Piyari hid a smile behind one upraised hand.
“Nothing important now,” Waseem said in a tone that was probably intended to be serene, judging by his expression. It missed the mark dramatically because his eyes wrinkled deeply as he suppressed a smile. “But I expect announcements sometime in the not too distant future.”
“Three months or so, I think,” Ammad agreed.
They both laughed as Nabeela huffed at them. The conversation finally shifted to the upcoming audit of the Shipping Guild’s books. Ammad most certainly wasn’t looking forward to that. Granted, they hired accountants to take care of the process but it had been his duty to supervise the process for the last several years.
“Will you still be covering the audit?” Waseem asked once they’d arranged the timing and discussed which auditors would be hired in.
“I… don’t know,” Ammad said. He looked at Nabeela whose mouth was open as if she couldn’t find an answer either. “With Father’s health so poor, I should take over his duties. Nabeela has to take over Mother’s. You might end up with Shahzad instead.”
“Hmm,” Waseem grunted. He frowned ferociously for a moment. “The boy is young but I suppose he’s old enough to begin to learn these things.”
“He is very good with math and the books,” Nabeela reassured Waseem. “Shahzad’s always been more comfortable with paperwork than with people. He’ll probably do very well at it if Father decides that he should take over.”
I think it says something about me as a person that I can’t imagine a government without paperwork of some sort. My day job is almost entirely wrapped up with filing, auditing, documents, and paperwork of various sorts. Yes, I’m quite aware that it’s not mandatory for a government to have extensive paperwork. They don’t even need to have paper, frankly. Babylon did just fine with clay tablets.
But I do think that there would have to be records of what’s been done, why and how. I also firmly believe that a logical, compassionate governmental structure such as what I’ve built in Ambermarle would require audits on a regular basis to make sure that people are doing what they should. It’s all well and good to give people authority. It’s another thing entirely to simply trust that they’re not abusing that authority.
My mental image of the government in Ambermarle is that it’s fairly bureaucratic but not in the oppressive way that the US government operates. There’s a lot of human contact, human supervision. Plus the population is smaller and they all know each other.
So yes. Audits. Audits and paperwork. Let’s have another bit of story, hopefully finishing off this chapter, before we end for today.
Waseem nodded but his expression was dubious enough that Ammad stood. He got surprised looks from Nabeela and Piyari and a frown from Waseem. After a moment Waseem stood as well, prompting the girls to stand as well.
“Why don’t we go talk to Shahzad about it?” Ammad suggested. “Best to get this worked out promptly than have it lingering over our heads.”
“An appropriate thought,” Waseem said. His eyes rested on Piyari’s beautiful face and he smiled. “We will leave you ladies to your duties. Thank you for the hospitality. I pray that the child heals quickly and well.”
He bowed directly to Piyari rather than Nabeela as he said his thanks. Piyari went blazingly red but she bowed back properly enough that Ammad couldn’t help but smile at her. Either her family was very cultured or she’d learned her lessons well during training. Nabeela didn’t look at all upset by the lack of deference paid to her. If anything, she smiled more brightly at Piyari getting the praise and thanks.
Ammad managed not to laugh until after they were out of the room and the door was securely shut behind them. As attractive as Piyari was his stomach shook a bit with relief that his attraction to her could remain nothing more than that. Nabeela’s very obvious infatuation took so much pressure off Ammad that his knees wobbled as he walked.
“A wedding,” Waseem said. He smirked at Ammad. “I expect a wedding in at most a year.”
“Honestly, I expect it sooner than that,” Ammad replied with a smirk of his own. “Nabeela has never been the sort to hesitate when she makes up her mind about something.”
“Mm-hmm,” Waseem agreed. “Very direct, that girl. Her ‘Piyari’ makes a very nice compliment to Nabeela’s forthrightness. So, do you actually believe that your brother can handle the audits?”
“Oh yes,” Ammad said, mentally setting aside the issue of Nabeela and Piyari for the moment. “He probably could have handled it years ago, frankly. Shahzad’s very good with administrative details. He should be in the library at this time of the morning. We can go discuss the situation with him and get his input.”
“Let us do that,” Waseem declared. He grinned suddenly. “And then perhaps afterwards we can see if your sister and Piyari have managed to get back to work.”
Ammad spluttered a laugh. It was true enough that he didn’t bother contradicting Waseem. Normally Nabeela was nothing but business. Today, though, she clearly wasn’t herself and Piyari was the root cause of it all. Hopefully Piyari wouldn’t break Nabeela’s heart while she was there.
Excellent place to stop for the week! That finishes out Ammad’s chapter and it sets Nabeela and Piyari up with a bit of private time where Piyari / Shizuka can get a straight answer out of Nabeela. And where she can actually work through her own feelings about it.
If I’m right about this, and I may not be, the next chapter will be the final chapter of the story. I don’t think that I want to expand this story out into a full novel where I take them to the marriage and beyond. Covering up until the point where Nabeela and Piyari / Shizuka decide that yes, they want to try for a relationship works well enough.
*grin* We’ll see over the next couple of weeks as I finish this out. Thank you for reading!
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