Solo Blood of the Womb

Running through veins and staining hands.

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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Blood of the Womb

Postby Asterope on February 26th, 2020, 3:07 am

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12th of Winter, 519 AV

Aster was on an errand. At least, she was supposed to be. Alard hadn't been pleased with how her last errand had gone, but given how she'd managed to frame it as not really being her fault, her punishment had been minimal; that is, what little freedom she had wasn't stripped from her entirely, only temporarily.

She knew as soon as she stepped outside that it would likely be the case again, because she had no intentions of returning in a timely manner. Her first thought was of Imogen; it had been so long since she'd seen the street girl. Aster wondered how she was doing, if she was holding up okay, if she was going hungry, if she'd been hurt or in a fight...maternal worry sat heavy in her chest as she quickened her pace.

Where would she even find the girl? There was the little garden hideout that she had shown Aster, past the hanging oak; perhaps there? It was worth checking first, since the only other actual location she could think of would be Jala's tent in Tent City. She wondered too about how that woman was doing; the shared feeling of kinship between them had been brief, but for Aster, deeply significant.

So she hurried through the dirt roads of Sunberth, taking the ferry across the river and making her way into the Sunset Quarter, trying to remember the steps she and Imogen had taken. The girl had made her cover her eyes on the way there, but she'd seen the route on the way back...if only she had paid more attention.

Aster breezed through the execution square; there were no fresh corpses that afternoon, prompting for a slightly more crowded day as people enjoyed the scenery with minimal stench of decay to ruin it. Past the square, she ducked down what she thought was the right alleyway; she hoped that it wouldn't take too long to find, or better yet that Imogen would be there. She didn't fancy wandering through these side streets alone for long, clearly lost; it was just screaming target, to the point that she might as well just paint a bulls-eye on her forehead in red paint.

Luckily for her, she didn't have to wander for long, because Aster heard her name being called in a familiar, excited tone. Breathing out a deep sigh of relief, Aster turned to see Imogen running gleefully down the alleyway towards her.

With a quick whispered thanks to whoever it was who had lead her to the girl so quickly and easily, Aster smiled down at her as Imogen skidded to a halt in front of her. "What are you doing here?! I haven't seen you in forever!"

"I know, I'm sorry," Aster dropped into a crouch, resisting the surprisingly strong urge to reach out and hug the somewhat ratty child. "How have you been? Are you eating okay? Not getting into any fights?" Thoughts of Imogen and how she was faring had plagued her perhaps more than she cared to admit, but Aster had been forced to push those thoughts aside with nothing to do about them. Now, they were all rushing back to her.

Imogen rolled her eyes, as pre-teens were wont to do. "I'm fiiine," she sighed, exasperatedly drawing out the 'i' sound. "I can survive out here fine, you know. I've been doing it long enough."

"That doesn't mean I don't worry." Maybe Aster had been talking to Kihala too much. The motherly worry was starting to sound like something the little statuette might say. Unable to help herself, Aster reached up and wiped a particularly dark smudge of dirt off of Imogen's cheek before she stood from her crouch.

The girl, predictably, made a noise of annoyance and scrubbed at her face where Aster had rubbed her finger. "What're you up to, anyway?" Imogen asked, as she rubbed her cheek with the sleeve of her shirt.

"An errand. Supposedly," Aster shrugged. "Picking up more whiskey for him to keep in the apartment."

"Shouldn't you do that? You'll get in trouble again." Genuine concern gleamed in Imogen's honey brown eyes as she frowned up at Asterope. The Eth smiled slightly.

"Don't worry about me, I can take care of myself." Mostly. Not really. The girl in front of her was probably more capable of taking care of herself than Aster was, but she didn't want Imogen to worry about her.

"What about you? What mischief are you up to today?" Aster asked to switch the subjects, and Imogen grinned.

"I was going to see Jala! Wanna come with? I found some weird leaves and bones and stuff I wanna show her," Imogen puffed out her chest, stating her strange finds with the pride only a child could.
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Blood of the Womb

Postby Asterope on February 26th, 2020, 3:08 am

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"I would love to," Asterope said, quite sincerely, and Imogen nodded as if that was the most obvious thing in the world, turning on her heel and skipping on ahead. Aster followed at a slightly more leisurely pace; despite the constant looming threat of punishment and the risk of further delaying her freedom by treating these errand runs as her own personal outing days, Aster felt calmer and more content than she had in some time. Since the last time she'd seen Imogen, in fact.

The walk to Tent City was filled with Imogen's chatter. Aster didn't mind; she listened mostly attentively to the girl's excited retellings of her most recent adventures, only distant when her own thoughts interrupted Imogen's monologue before a particularly excited shout from the girl brought her back to the present.

She'd found a particularly pretty shell, and she was trying to cultivate potatoes and carrots in her garden, and one of her friends got into a scrap and totally stabbed the petching asshole that was threatening them! (Aster winced at that particular anecdote, both at the language and the image of Imogen being threatened with a weapon, though she was sure the girl had experienced much worse in her time on the streets of Sunberth).

Before too long, they found themselves at the entrance to Tent City, and Imogen lead the way into the winding maze of tents and tarps, Aster following close by, keeping a mindful hand near the small pouch of coins she'd been given. While she had no intention of returning in a timely fashion, she did plan on at the very least completing the errand that Alard had given her.

They made it to Jala's tent without much issue, the hanging herbs and bones outside of the tent that was slightly set apart signalling who it belonged to. "Miss Jala," Imogen called out, skipping on ahead and poking her head into the tent.

Aster could hear Jala's voice from inside, sounding amused, though she couldn't make out what the woman was saying. She could, however, hear Imogen perfectly. "I brought you a surprise! A few, actually," Imogen declared.

Aster parted the entrance to the tent in time to see Jala arch a brow and stop what she was doing to put her hands on her hips. "Oh?" She asked, voice dry, and then her gaze flickered up to where Aster stood.

Surprise, then recognition flashed across her face, and Jala smiled and nodded. Aster returned the gesture as she stepped inside, Imogen gesturing to her widely as she did so. "Ta-da!" She explained, sounding smug.

"Why is our sparkly friend a surprise, exactly? I did offer for her to come back if she so felt like it," Jala reminded Imogen, turning back to what she was doing. Aster craned her neck; it looked as if she was simply grinding herbs at the moment.

"Well, because it's been awhile, and you two got along really good," Imogen huffed, clearly put out that her surprise was not received with the ecstatic joy she expected.
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Blood of the Womb

Postby Asterope on February 26th, 2020, 3:10 am

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"Very well. While I still wouldn't call it a surprise, it is a pleasant turn of events," Jala agreed, and that seemed to satisfy Imogen. "What other surprises do you have for me?"

Imogen grinned, hopping over to the table and beginning to empty her pockets. Both Jala and Aster watched in exasperated bemusement as the girl emptied a few handfuls of various leaves and a few small bones onto the table. "I thought this stuff all seemed kinda cool. Can you use any of it?"

Jala walked over, humming thoughtfully as she leaned down to sort with careful fingers through the pile. "A mouse skull," Jala said, placing the tiny mound of bone to the side. "A few tiny ribs. Perhaps a particularly small mouse, or a snake?" She also set those aside. "And a leg bone from a bird of some sort. These will make for lovely decorations, Imogen, thank you."

The girl looked beyond pleased at the compliment as Jala continued to sort the haphazard pile, now examining the leaves. "I do believe these are just from an oak tree," Jala finally said, sliding a majority of the pile aside.

"Aw, really?" Imogen's expression quickly transformed to one of disappointment. "But they looked different, I could have sworn!" Jala hummed and shook her head.

"I'm afraid not. These, however, are batonal if I'm not mistaken," Jala held up one of the round leaves, and Aster inched closer, curious. "A cooking spice, but it can be made into a tea for upset stomachs as well. Very common. Here, smell; you can recognize it by the scent, usually." Jala held the leaf out, and Imogen took it, inhaling deeply. She wrinkled her nose, making a noise of disgust in the back of her throat as she passed it to Aster.

"That's used for cooking?" Imogen demanded, incredulously, and Jala chuckled. Aster inhaled deeply, pressing the leaf against her nose, trying to memorize the smell; it had a simple use, but one that would surely serve her well at some point in time. It was deeply fragrant, smelling earthy and just slightly bitter.

"It doesn't taste quite as it smells, especially when mixed with food," Jala said, collecting up the useful leaves and the bones and turning to go place them on a shelf. "Thank you, Imogen. I imagine I'll make good use of these eventually. And you are getting better; last time you only brought oak leaves, after all."

Jala tossed a wink at Aster over her shoulder as Imogen erupted into protests, and the Eth found herself laughing quietly. The three of them sat at the table together, Imogen working on braiding some thread to make new decorations for outside of Jala's tent while Jala poured herself and Aster tea into clay cups.

"Thank you," Aster murmured, wrapping her fingers around the warm cup, inhaling the steam. It smelled deliciously floral; it had been a long time since she had enjoyed a good cup of tea.

"So what have you been up to, my dear? I do hope you didn't get into too much trouble last I saw you because of this one here," Jala flicked her chin towards Imogen, who frowned down at the thread she was braiding, looking decidedly guilty.

"No," Aster said, hastily, and Jala raised an eyebrow. "No, not very much," Aster said, more carefully, and Jala's eyes gentled as she looked between Imogen and Aster.

"Well. I'm glad, then. What have you been up to in the time since we last saw you?" Jala blew at the steam coming from her cup, taking a slight sip. Aster fiddled with the rim of her own cup, tracing her fingertip around it.

Jala, for her part, waited patiently as Aster struggled to find the words to explain the predicament she had recently found herself in, and in such a way that people like Jala and Imogen who had never really met an Eth could understand.

It had been hard enough to try and explain last time that she didn't need food, and neither had quite believed her. This was even more strange and fantastical, and most importantly (and dangerously), bordered on something that sounded like magic.
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Blood of the Womb

Postby Asterope on February 28th, 2020, 3:58 am

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Aster stared down into her cup of tea for a long moment before she inhaled deeply and simply started to speak, explaining first how Ethaefal switched bodies before telling Jala what had happened to her recently; she found herself rambling about her new body, how she had no idea how it had happened or why, and what to do about it.

Jala listened, her face impassive. Even Imogen was quiet as she leaned forward, listening to Aster's words with a furrowed brow. When she finished speaking, silence reigned over the tent; nervously, Aster sipped at her now cool tea, avoiding eye contact with the other two women.

"That's impossible," Imogen finally scoffed, scowling and folding her arms, but she looked uncertainly between Jala and Aster.

Jala rubbed her cheek, looking thoughtful as she took a drink of her own tea. "You're telling us the truth?" She finally asked Aster, raising an eyebrow at her.

Asterope nodded so fast she heard her neck crack. "I promise, I'm not lying. Please believe me," she pleaded, fingers tightening around the cup she held so much her knuckles turned white. "I don't know what to do, and I...I don't have anybody else to ask for help."

Another long pause as Jala squinted at her, and then finally nodded. "I believe you," she said, after a moment. Relief flooded through Aster, so intense she felt lightheaded for a moment. "There are plenty of strange things out there that we have yet to see or experience," Jala said, when Imogen protested slightly. "And just because something is strange does not mean it is magic."

Even with just them in the tent, Jala's voice dropped on the last word, and her eyes automatically flickered out to entrance of the tent; but they were just as alone as they had been when Aster and Imogen arrived. Finishing her tea, Jala stood, moving to the small side table she'd been working at and collecting several jars.

"Imogen, fetch my bag, would you?" Aster watched as Imogen hopped out of her seat and grabbed a bag in the corner, bringing it to Jala, who began filling it. As she worked, she spoke to Aster without looking up.

"I believe you, but unfortunately, I don't think I can help much," Jala said, and Imogen walked over to Aster, clambering onto her lap to peer into her eyes. Caught off-guard, Aster caught the girl's hips to hold her steady as she teetered on Asterope's lap, frowning and poking at Aster's horns.

"Imogen Heartwood, don't be rude," Jala snapped, but Aster shook her head.

"No, it's fine." She had been surprised by the sudden invasion of space, and she'd likely give anyone else who tried to poke at her horns a piece of her mind, but she somehow didn't mind Imogen doing it. The girl sat back, looking Aster in the eyes again, expression doubtful.

"You're really not lying to us?" She asked, fingernail gently tapping at where Aster's horns met her temple.

"I'm really not," Aster said, as sincerely as she could. Imogen chewed her lip for a moment before nodding, sliding off of Aster's lap.

"Can we see, then?" Imogen asked, and Aster blinked in confusion.

"See what?"

"See you change forms," Imogen said, impatiently, and Aster hesitated. She was supposed to be back well before dark, and she had at least planned on abiding by that rule, but...well, it was a chance to prove that she was telling the truth.

Word Count: 580
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Blood of the Womb

Postby Asterope on February 28th, 2020, 4:00 am

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Before she could answer, Jala interrupted. "No," she said to Imogen. "Not you, not tonight. I have a house call and I'd like for Aster to come with me."

"That's no fair!" Imogen interjected, as Aster looked at Jala, baffled. House call? For what? Why did Jala want her to tag along?

"If you're alright with that?" Jala was looking at her now, and Aster blinked.

"Uhm, sure," she said, before she could think about it, and she stood up, draining the last of her tea.

"Can't I come with?!" Imogen tugged at Jala's shirt, looking up with pleading eyes. "Pleaaaase, Miss Jala, I'll be good!"

Jala shook her head, gently prying Imogen's hands off her shirt. "No, Imogen. You know the rules about house calls." Imogen scowled, mumbling under her breath.

"If you're good, I'll pick you up something for your little collection somewhere," Jala told her. "Now, go on. Wash up those cups for me. There's some jerky and dried fruits in the food chest."

Hefting her bag over her shoulder, Jala nodded to Aster, motioning for her to follow. She hesitated briefly, then reached out to gently touch Imogen's shoulder. "I'll show you another time, I promise," she told the girl. "It was good to see you again. Please keep out of trouble."

Imogen rolled her eyes, still mumbling, but seemed slightly less put out as she gathered up the two empty tea cups. "See you around, Aster."

With one more wave, Aster turned, ducking out of the tent to catch up with Jala. She was curious about this house call; regardless, she hoped she didn't regret going with her.

Jogging slightly to catch up, Aster slowed when she reached Jala's side. She opened her mouth to ask something, but the other woman beat her to it. "So, you shift forms when the sun sets?"

Asterope nodded. "That's right, yes." She glanced up; it was late afternoon, bordering on early evening. Still a bell or two at least before the sun was going to set.

Jala hummed thoughtfully. "Well, it won't do to have you change out on the street in front of everyone. If we hurry, we can make it before nightfall, and we can wait it out before going to see my patient."

Patient? Was this a medical house call? She knew Jala had knowledge about herbs, but she didn't know if the woman was actually any sort of herbalist or doctor. "What sort of house call is this?" Aster asked, as they walked, Jala leading the way through the winding makeshift streets of Tent City. Aster noticed with some curiosity that those who saw Jala seemed to shy away from her with looks of disgust or...was that fear?

"I'll explain when we get there," Jala said, shortly. "I expect you to be of use. I'm not just bringing you along so you can stand around looking pretty."

Aster nodded, eyes wide; she would get to help? It had been so long since she'd done anything proper with herbalism or medicine. Patching up the occasional cut for Alard hardly counted. A new spring in her step, Aster followed closely to Jala as the two left Tent City and approached the outskirts of Sunberth.

As they made their way through Sunberth, anxiety started to curl inside Aster's stomach when she realized that they were taking the path she normally took back to the Barracks. "Where are we going, exactly?" She asked Jala, glancing around.

"Easy," Jala soothed her. "We're going to the Gated Community. It's near the Barracks but we should be fine. We'll just keep an eye out."

Aster nodded, and Jala lead her down a side street between buildings, to a large rectangular building that took up a street all for itself. "What is this place?" Aster whispered in awe as they approached.

She could hear music coming from inside. Two burly men stood outside the front doors; they eyed Jala distastefully as she approached, but nodded to her. "Evening," one grunted.

"Evening," Jala returned. "She's with me," she motioned to Asterope, and the men gestured them inside. Through the doors was a large, elaborate parlor; there were two stages, one central and one to the side, and a bar set off to the other side. Inside was somewhat smoky and dim, smelling of mingling perfumes and alcohols, filled with the sounds of talking and laughter beneath the music.

Word Count: 735
Total: 1,315 words
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A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 505
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Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
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Race: Ethaefal
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Blood of the Womb

Postby Asterope on February 28th, 2020, 4:03 am

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Even though it was relatively early in the evening, the brothel was still crowded. Attractive men and women alike wandered around, both scantily dressed. She and Jala caught a few looks, and a man dressed only in a leather thong smiled at her and winked in a manner that was just more than what could be considered politely. Aster felt heat rising in her cheeks as she coughed and looked down.

Jala grabbed her arm. "Come on," she said, leading Aster through the crowd towards the back of the building. Aster followed, gaze flickering around in curiosity; she'd never actually been inside of a brothel before, and she had to assume this was one of the higher class ones.

The back halls were quiet, filled with the occasional quiet giggling of couples, but mostly the hushed whispering of the workers. "This is the Scarlet Sanctum," Jala explained, her voice quiet as she lead Aster into a side bedroom.

"One of, if not the most, upper class brothels in the city. I don't come here often." Jala motioned for her to sit. "It's nearly nightfall. We'll wait for you to change and then go meet my client."

"Why are we here?" Aster asked, confused; she moved to sit on the edge of the bed, then thought better of it, and instead perched on a chair in the corner.

"I have a certain specialty," Jala finally said, turning to face Aster. "People call me the cut-wife. When women, mostly the whores of the city, find themselves in an unfortunate circumstance, I help them get rid of it."

It took Aster a moment to understand what Jala was implying. "You...oh." She frowned slightly. She didn't know how she felt about that. Life was a strange and interesting thing, brought about by chance, and it was difficult to imagine a rounded belly as being the same thing as a child...but still, how plainly Jala spoke of it made her shiver slightly.

"Would it be better to have more children like Imogen running around the streets, with no mother?" Jala asked, walking over to the window to peer outside. "Or who grow up, taught to be whores as soon as they can walk?"

Aster had nothing to say to that; of course it wasn't. "I'm protecting both these women and saving those would be children, as far as I'm concerned," Jala lifted one shoulder in a shrug. "But it doesn't matter to me what others think either way. I know I'm no monster. If they want to think that I am, then let them believe that."

"You're not," Aster said, right away. "You're just doing what you think is right. Helping the best way you can." And in these situations, Aster realized, what was right and what was wrong was very, very blurred.

Jala turned to look at her, the woman's face unreadable. Finally, she spoke. "Sundown should be any minute now."

Aster nodded, recognizing that the conversation was over. True to Jala's words, a few minutes later, she felt the familiar tingle of warmth beneath her skin. A few moments later, she sat perched in the chair in her new mortal seeming, blinking at Jala as the slight glow faded.

For once, Jala seemed stunned. "Amazing," she finally breathed, slowly approaching Aster. "I did believe you, but to see it...incredible. You were telling the truth. May I?" She held her hand up to Aster's face, and Aster nodded.

Jala gently poked at her cheek, rubbing her finger over the skin as if to prove to herself that Aster was indeed real. "It's still me," Aster said with some amusement. Jala's brow crinkled slightly as she looked Aster's face over more closely, and something like recognition flashed in her eyes.

But before Aster could ask, she was turning away. "Come," she said. "We have a job to do, and we've wasted enough time here."

Aster nodded, scrambling to her feet, and followed Jala out of the room and down the hall to another. Jala knocked twice before opening the door without waiting for a response. Inside, two women sat on the bed, heads bent close together as they talked quietly.

They jumped when the door opened, but relaxed upon seeing Jala. "Oh," one of them breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you for coming so quickly, Jala. I appreciate it."

"Of course. Aster, these are my friends, Sheila and Natasha. Nat, Sheila, this is Aster. She's my assistant for tonight." Jala motioned between them. The woman who had been introduced as Shiela raised an eyebrow.

"Assistant? Since when," she scoffed, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

"Since now," Jala offered back, motioning Aster into the room fully as she shut the door behind them.

Word Count: 786
Total: 2,101 words
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Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 505
Words: 516144
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
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Race: Ethaefal
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Blood of the Womb

Postby Asterope on February 28th, 2020, 8:42 am

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Both of the women were rather scantily clad, their faces done heavy with make-up, though Natasha had a thick cotton robe draped around her shoulders that she was holding half-closed at her chest. "Natasha?" Jala asked, glancing between the two women, and Natasha nodded, looking slightly miserable.

"How long?" Jala asked briskly, as she set her bag down on the table by the door, beginning to pull out various jars.

"Uhm, I'm not really sure. I first noticed last week when I was late, and then the past few days I've been awfully nauseous," Natasha explained quietly, and one of her hands moved down to press against her flat stomach.

Jala hummed in acknowledgement. "Have you told Ruby you'll be off the next few days?" She asked, as she turned to face the two women on the bed. Natasha shook her head.

"Sheila, do me a favour and go do that. And make sure she actually takes the next few days to rest when I'm gone, won't you?" Jala arched a brow, and Sheila nodded. Squeezing Natasha's shoulders, she stood and quickly and quietly exited the room, the door clicking shut behind her.

Pulling out a small metal pot, Jala filled it with water from a jar she had brought. "Aster, why don't you get this boiling. I'm going to make a tea for Nat."

Aster nodded, taking the pot and a flint and steel that Jala offered her and going to set the pot over the fireplace in the hearth. She crouched down, using the flint and steel to light the fire; it took a few tries, but eventually a spark caught, and a low fire began to crackle.

"Good," Jala spoke from the table, "Now come here." Aster returned to where Jala was. She had dumped some already crushed leaves into her mortar and pestle, and was now dropping some dark berries into it.

"Parsley," Jala explained, as she began grinding again, "And juniper berries. I'm going to infuse it with the hot water and have her drink it."

"Parsley?" Aster asked, startled; wasn't that used in cooking?

"As in the cooking herb, yes," Jala confirmed her suspicions. "When used in large quantities it encourages menstruation. Juniper berries can cause miscarriage."

Aster had no idea that such common herbs could potentially be so dangerous; useful, of course, in this situation, but what about for women who were pregnant and didn't know any better?

"Take that," Jala nodded to a jar of oil with a few lilac coloured petals floating in it.

"What is it?" Aster asked, as she picked it up, examining it.

"Pennyroyal. Induces miscarriages, but it's very potent and can be fatal in large doses. A drop or two will go in the tea, but largely she'll want to rub it over her stomach and between her legs. Go help her with that." Jala said, as she continued to grind the berry and herb mixture.

Aster stared at the bottle, flushing slightly. "Uhm," she said, eloquently, and Jala rolled her eyes.

"Do you you or don't you work in medicine? It's a body, nothing more. But if you're going to be squeamish and childish about it, you finish this." Jala plucked the bottle from her hand. Feeling suitably chastised, Aster ducked her head and took Jala's place, grinding the herbs and berries together into a paste.

She peeked over her shoulder, watching curiously as Jala had Natasha lie down and open her robe. She rubbed a generous amount of the oil over the woman's stomach and lower abdomen, and Aster turned her head as Jala had Natasha pull her underclothes down.

It felt even worse to watch if she wasn't the one applying the oil; that was purely medicinal, but watching as a bystander felt downright rude and perverse. Then again, she was in a brothel.

Word Count: 640
Total: 2,741
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Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 505
Words: 516144
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: The Outpost (Sunberth)
Race: Ethaefal
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Blood of the Womb

Postby Asterope on February 28th, 2020, 8:45 am

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Setting the mortar and pestle aside, Aster checked the water; it was bubbling away, so she grabbed an empty jar that Jala had set aside, carefully pouring some of the hot water into it. Setting the steaming jar on the desk, Aster poured some more of the lukewarm water into it to cool it slightly.

"All of it, Jala?" She asked, as she picked up the mixture.

"All of it," came the affirmative, and Aster scooped the mixture into the hot water. With no spoon at hand, she stirred the concoction with the stone pestle she held instead, mindful of the glass. The quiet clinking of the stone tapping glass filled the room until Aster set the pestle aside.

When she turned around, Natasha was naked from the waist-down, but Jala seemed to be done applying the oil. Still, Aster did her best to keep her eyes above waist level as she also perched on the edge of the bed beside Jala.

"Be careful, it's very hot," she cautioned, as she handed the jar to Natasha. Jala tipped in a carefully measured two drops of the oil she held before motioning for Natasha to take a sip. The woman did so before promptly gagging and wrinkling her nose.

"You'll need to drink all of it. It isn't going to taste very pleasant, I'm afraid," Jala told her. "It will induce very heavy bleeding. You'll have a lot of cramps. You should be on bedrest for the next few days until it subsides. Be sure to drink plenty of water."

Natasha nodded, blowing gently at the jar to cool the liquid and taking tentative sips every so often, each time her nose wrinkling in distaste. "I'll leave some of the oil here for you, too," Jala said, as she stood and moved back to the table.

"Apply as I did once a day. Do not ingest any of it," Jala warned. "It could easily kill you. If you think there's a problem, you know where to find me, but don't come yourself. Send Sheila or someone and I'll come back, you shouldn't be walking that much within the next few days."

Suddenly, rapid footsteps sounded outside of the hall, and the door flung open as Sheila skidded to a halt, panting. "Oh gods, Jala, come quick, it's Millie." Her face was pale, eyes wide, and Aster could see something red staining her hands. Was that blood?

Jala snatched her bag and bolted out of the room, and Aster followed, the two of them racing down the hall after Sheila, who was saying something, but she was ahead and speaking so fast it was impossible to make out the words.

Sheila lead them to a door down the hall where a handful of workers were crowded around. "Move," Jala snapped, and the crowd parted, Aster slipping into the room behind Jala and Sheila.

A red-haired woman was laying on the bed, deathly pale, her face wet with tears. She looked...frighteningly young, Aster realized with a start. There were two other women in the room, one sitting by the redhead's side and holding her hand tightly, the other frantically ripping a cloth into rags.

The woman who was lying on the bed was surrounded in a pool of blood that was slowly seeping into the sheets; it wasn't a huge pool, but a pool nonetheless, and Aster realized with a start that the blood was coming from between her legs.

"What's going on?" Jala barked, rounding on the two girls that were there. "What did she take?"

"That's what I was trying to tell you," Sheila said, sounding miserable and frightened all at once. "She took what you gave her when you were last here, but she said it didn't work. So she...she used this." Sheila produced a long, thin piece of wire, one end stained with blood.

Aster stared at it blankly, not understanding. Jala snatched it, turning it over in her hands before cursing and throwing it against the wall. "Millie, you foolish girl," Jala swore, placing a hand over her face and squeezing her eyes shut tight. "Everyone but Sheila and Aster, out. You two, get that crowd away, and someone get me Ruby."

The two girls both stopped what they were doing, the one sitting on the bed giving the redheaded girl a kiss on the forehead before they both left, and Aster could hear them speaking outside.

"I don't understand. What happened?" Aster whispered, as Jala sat on the edge of the bed, looking very tired. "Shouldn't we be doing something?"

"There's not much I can do. I didn't come prepared for this, and even if I was, there's little I can do. The bleeding is internal. She'll either get lucky and it will slow soon, or..." Jala trailed off and Aster stared at her, speechless.

Word Count: 808
Total: 3,549
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Asterope
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Blood of the Womb

Postby Asterope on February 28th, 2020, 8:47 am

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"My herbal remedies don't always work," Jala explained, wearily. "The dosage was a bit off, or they're too far along, or they're just particularly resilient. And the pregnancy takes, and by the time they realize it's too late to come back to me again. And sometimes, in those cases, when they get really desperate, women will take the situation into their own hands."

Aster glanced from her to the thin wire that lay on the floor as she realized what Jala was saying, and her hand flew to her mouth. Jala's expression was grim. "It's incredibly risky. They're just as likely to hurt themselves. They can die from blood loss, and if not that, then an infection weeks later. I've seen it happen before. I'm supposed to keep it from happening."

Jala reached out to take the redhead girl's hand, squeezing tightly. Milli blinked, her eyes glazed over as she whimpered slightly, just aware enough to let out a hoarse whisper. "I'm sorry, Jala," she said, and Jala squeezed her hand again.

"Don't apologize to me, Millie. I should be apologizing to you. This never should have happened." Jala wasn't going to cry, Aster could tell that much, but she could hear the raw pain in the older woman's voice.

She'd felt that pain before. The pain of failure, the pain of letting someone else die because you weren't good enough to help them. And she had no idea how to offer comfort, because she knew that pain, and she knew there was nothing in the world that could dampen it.

Instead, Aster got to work doing what she could. She picked up the rags that the other girl had torn up; there was a newly filled wash basin in the corner, so she dampened them before returning to Millie. All squeamishness gone now, Aster lifted the girl's dress and as gently as she could began to wipe the blood off of her thighs and from between her legs.

"What are you doing?" Jala asked, watching Aster as she set aside bloodstained rag after bloodstained rag, her hands slowly staining crimson as she worked.

"I'm at least cleaning her up, seeing what I can do. Do you have any poppyseed infusion? If not I'm sure there's plenty of alcohol here, that could at least help ease the pain." Aster looked up at Jala, her own face set into a grim line before it softened and she spoke softly. "We can at least try our best, Jala. Do what we can while we hope. And if it doesn't work, at least we tried. At least we helped with what we could."

She refused to sit by and just watch the poor girl bleed to death without doing anything about it. Jala opened her mouth, and then nodded. "You're right," she sighed heavily. Squeezing Millie's hand again, she looked to Sheila, who had been standing quietly in the corner.

"Sheila, go get us a bottle of something strong, won't you?" Jala looked to her with tired eyes, and Sheila nodded, scampering out of the room.

The next bell passed excruciatingly slowly. Aster did what she could to keep Millie clean, and Jala let her sip from a bottle of clear spirits, which seemed to ease her pain some. But the blood just kept coming, albeit more slowly. This was the first time she'd been presented with a wound that was solely internal, and Aster had no idea what to do.

Because she couldn't do anything. How could you heal something you couldn't see, couldn't touch? She wiped fresh blood off of Millie's thighs, her fingers caked in the drying liquid, her brown hands dyed red at this point.

Rak'keli, please, she thought, swallowing hard as she tossed another rag to the side. Please help her. I can't do anything, I don't know how to fix this, I don't think all the medicine in the world could. Please help.

Perhaps her prayer went unheard, or perhaps it was too late, because it wasn't long after that Millie's breathing slowed and then finally stopped. Aster and Jala sat on the bed together; Sheila had since left to keep things under control.

Jala bent her head, dropping her face into her hands, and Aster stared blankly at her own until her vision swam with tears. But it would be embarrassing to cry when even Jala wasn't doing so, and this was her pain to bear. So she grit her teeth and choked her tears down, standing and stumbling to the wash basin in the corner.

Her legs were asleep from sitting for so long, tingling and numb, but she paid it no attention as she mindlessly washed her hands clean in the basin, the water turning pink as red swirls washed off her skin, then red as she scrubbed at her hands and beneath her fingernails.

Word Count: 811
Total: 4,360
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Asterope
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Blood of the Womb

Postby Asterope on February 28th, 2020, 8:48 am

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She was drying her hands off when the door opened and a woman stepped inside. "Oh, dear," the woman murmured. "It seems I'm too late. Jala, I'm so very sorry. Thank you for keeping her company. It's...always such a shame when it comes to this."

The woman was beautiful, dressed finely but not quite as provocatively as the other women Aster had seen. Jala stood, nodding to her. "Ruby. I...I wish I could have done more."

Ruby...ah. So this was the woman who owned the brothel. Ruby glanced at where Millie lay, and shivered slightly, clutching her silk robe closer around her. "Oh dear, such a mess. Well, come, both of you, it doesn't do to stand in a room full of death to have conversation."

Ruby ushered both Jala and Aster our. Asterope hesitated, casting one last look over Millie's body before she followed them out. Ruby shut the door quietly, and produced a small golden key, locking it behind them. "I'll see to it that her body is taken care of and the room cleaned, but it wouldn't do to have any of the workers, or gods forbid, the guests stumbling in there."

Aster frowned at her. She didn't seem overly upset that one of her workers had just bled out. Jala had a slight scowl twisted on her face, but simply nodded.

"I know you always try your best, Jala, and I do appreciate what you do for my girls. But perhaps keep this just between us, yes?" Ruby glanced at Jala, and the woman just nodded again.

"Good. Now, I do wish I could chat with you lovely ladies for longer, but I have to deal with this and make sure my establishment keeps running smoothly. I trust you know your way out whenever you wish to leave?"

At a third nod from Jala, Ruby waved at them both and then was gone in a flurry of her silk robe. Aster frowned after her. "Come, Aster," Jala said, her voice tired. "Let's get my stuff and leave."

The room that Natasha had been in was empty now. Jala gathered up the remainder of her belongings, stuffing them into her bag, and then lead the way out. Aster felt sick as she looked around at all the men and women in gaudy, barely there clothing, and the patrons that paid for their bodies. Did they know? Did they know the suffering that went on behind closed doors so that they could have their entertainment? If they did, would they care?

Aster had a feeling she knew the answer. The realization that this was one of the high-end brothels of the city only made it worse; to realize that it was probably infinitely worse in the real slums of Sunberth. Jala gently grabbed Aster's elbow, as she had stopped in the middle of her stride, and guided her outside, where the Eth gladly gulped in deep breaths of cool night air.

"It's worse in other places, isn't it?" She asked, and Jala nodded. Aster stared at the ground, stricken. She could have ended up in one of these places, she realized; was she being selfish in wanting so desperately to be free from Alard? It seemed every time she was faced with how harsh the realities of Sunberth could be, her life with Alard seemed better and better.

Jala touched her arm gently. "There's nothing that you can do. There's nothing that I can do, or anyone else. It's simply the way life is here. Some have better luck than others. You can't save everyone, my dear."

Jala's eyes were soft but sad as she looked at Aster, and it was unsettling to see the firm woman so defeated. "Maybe not," Aster said, softly. But she could try, couldn't she? But oh, that thought alone was so exhausting. Jala squeezed her arm lightly before letting go.

"I may have some news that might cheer you up," Jala changed the subject abruptly. "Your...form, that you have now," Jala gestured to Aster.

"It's difficult to say for sure, since they can also just look like a lot of other humans. But your eyes are a give-away, I think. I'd bet money that you're a Benshira, or part Benshira, in any case." Jala said, as they began to slowly walk the way they had come.

"Benshira?" Aster echoed, blinking down at herself. Jala nodded.

"Desert people. Human but...well, they have their own looks, their own culture. That's about all I know," Jala said, stopping when they reached the main road.

"How do you know?" Aster asked, baffled. Jala smiled slightly.

"I'm half Benshira. Most of them have gold eyes, or gold-ish, and dark skin. I could be wrong, but..." she shrugged. "I don't know much else unfortunately. I wasn't exactly raised in the culture."

Aster quite nearly threw her arms around Jala. "No! No, that's more than enough, thank you so much. It's a start, even if you are wrong. And that's much more than I had this morning." The exhaustion and sadness of the night began to lift slightly as excitement bubbled in her chest.

Jala nodded with a faint smile. "I'm glad I could be of any help. I think Ruby's also Benshira, but from what I know she's Sunberth born and raised, so I doubt she could help much more than I could."

That was good to know. Aster nodded, thanking Jala again, but the woman cut her off. "No, thank you. I'm glad I brought you tonight. I wasn't expecting something like this, and...well. Your company was appreciated. I want you to have something."

Jala dug around in her bag for a moment before producing...a skull? Aster blinked. Yes, that was definitely a skull. "A cat skull," Jala said, as she handed it to Aster, who took it gingerly.

"Uhm. Thank you," Aster said, somewhat bewildered. Jala chuckled.

"I like your necklace," was all she said in response, before she waved and turned, walking away into the night. Aster blinked, raising her free hand to touch where Navi's tooth rested at the hollow of her throat.

Puzzled and bewildered, she carefully tucked the skull away. Petch it all, she was going to get it for how late it was. Still, at the very least, she should show up with what she was sent out for. Maybe the Gold Lodge would have sell her a bottle or two of something; it was the closest tavern that she knew of, and it was owned by the Sun's Birth...

With a sigh, Aster hurried across the street to finally fulfill her errand so that she could return to Alard's apartment and see how bad her punishment was going to be.

Word Count: 1,120
Total: 5,480
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The sun will rise, and we will try again
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Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 505
Words: 516144
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
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