Solo House Call

Aster accompanies Jala for a house call, then makes one of her own to Doctor Petricious.

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

House Call

Postby Asterope on November 12th, 2021, 5:58 pm

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15th of autumn, 521 AV

Asterope wasn't unfamiliar with children; however, she was unfamiliar with childbirth. When Jala had gotten the call from a breathless street child, she had been showing Aster some of the bones in her collection. She still seemed hesitant to actually teach Aster anything concrete when it came to the bone magic, but she had explained some more of malediction, enough that Aster had a basic grasp of what it was supposed to do, anyway.

"Different bones from different creatures can have different effects," Jala was saying, as Aster turned over a small bird skull gingerly in her hands. "It can be rather unpredictable, to be honest." The child bursting into Jala's tent startled them both, Aster barely managing to not drop the delicate skull.

"Miss Jala, Brega sent me to get you, one of her girls is giving birth!" The young girl was panting for breath, and Aster wondered how much the girl had been paid to run quite so fast. Jala was immediately all business, grabbing a bag and a few items before beckoning for Aster to follow as she followed the child in a hurry. Aster followed as well, close on their heels; she was there, she might as well do what she could to help. It wasn't the first time she'd accompanied Jala to a whorehouse, and the two worked well together. She didn't think of the potential danger of running into Alard; there was a medical emergency, someone needed help, and she was going to do what she could.

However, standing in the room behind Jala, Aster suddenly felt very nervous as she realized her lack of experience with the specific situation of childbirth. The woman lying on the bed at the far end of the room was very pregnant and very clearly in pain, crying out; another girl sat beside her, holding her hand tightly. Brega, the woman who ran the brothel, had showed them in. "Let me know if there's anything else you need. Try to treat her well, she's a customer favourite." Despite the aloof words, Aster could see concern in the woman's eyes as she ushered everyone except for Aster, Jala, and the woman whose hand was being gripped out of the room; nodding at them, Brega followed, shutting the door behind her.

Jala was already crossing the room, talking to Aster as she moved. "Get some water boiling over the fire," she said, and Aster jumped into action, doing so as Jala helped the woman position her legs, sliding her dress up and glancing between her legs, her expression carefully neutral and clinical. "You're doing wonderful," Jala said to the woman, who let out a grunt, her face pale and clammy.

"Did you bring poppy tincture to help with the pain?" Aster asked, as she opened the bag Jala had set by the door, beginning to rifle through it anxiously. Glancing over her shoulder, she felt vaguely nauseous as she caught sight of the woman behind Jala. She had never been squeamish, blood had never bothered her; she'd seen people die. But birthing was, apparently, an entirely different thing.

"No, she needs to be as awake and alert as possible. There's rosemary ointment in there to help with the contraction cramps, bring that. And thankfully we found that delaviv not too long ago. It's a purple-ish liquid in a corked bottle, go ahead and pour a glass of it for her." Jala didn't even glance up as she spoke, and Aster quickly found the requested jar and bottle; the liquid was a darker purple than the flowers had been, and the consistency was relatively thick. Uncorking the delaviv decoction, Aster poured some out into a nearby glass, and made her way over to the bed.

Word Count: 624
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House Call

Postby Asterope on November 12th, 2021, 5:59 pm

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"I'm going to need you to drink this," Jala said, soothingly to the woman, as Aster helped her sit up slightly, holding the glass to the woman's lips.

"It will make things easier," Aster encouraged, and the woman sipped at the liquid hesitantly. "Can you help her finish it?" She asked the woman sitting nearby, who nodded sharply and took over from Asterope. Turning, Aster uncapped the jar of rosemary ointment, scooping some out.

"All across her stomach and lower abdomen down to her pubic bone," Jala instructed, striding across the room to take the boiling water off the fire, dunking some clean cloths into the heated water. Aster carefully smeared the ointment across the woman's stomach, wincing when she cried out, mindful not to apply too much pressure.

"I'm going to need you to start pushing when I tell you," Jala said, returning to her place at the foot of the bed. "It helps the contractions push the baby out," she explained, half to Aster and half to the pregnant woman herself. "On time with the contractions. Come on, and...push," Jala instructed, and the woman cried out. It felt like bells had passed, Aster unable to do anything except watch, until Jala finally looked up. "You're crowning," she said, and Aster could hear the excitement and pride in her voice. "The baby's head is showing, keep pushing. Aster, come here, I'm going to need your help in a moment. Grab the scissors from my bag."

Aster had no idea why scissors would be needed, but she fetched them and joined Jala at the foot of the bed. The sight that greeted Asterope made her feel vaguely faint, and the Ethaefal decided then and there she wanted nothing to do with midwife duties again, as much as she could possibly help it. It wasn't much longer before Jala was holding a squirming, wailing newborn covered in blood. She took the scissors from Aster, deftly snipping a cord attached to the child's belly button. "It's a girl," Jala announced, sounding tired but thrilled.

"Umbilical cord," Jala explained at Aster's confusion as to what had just happened, motioning for Aster to take one of the warm, damp towels. "It's how the baby feeds during pregnancy, in simple terms." Hesitantly, Aster began to wipe the child clean, mindful of her tiny, scrunched up face as she wailed. She was adorable, and Aster suddenly felt honoured to have been there to not just witness the birth, gruesome as she had found it, but to help, even if only minimally.

With the baby clean, Jala swaddled her deftly in a small, clean blanket, and handed her to the exhausted mother. "There's still some more to go, but that's the worst of it," Jala assured her. "You did fantastic." Despite Aster's nausea at the birthing process, she couldn't help but smile as the woman nuzzled her face against her newborn's head, the woman beside her leaning in to coo over the baby as well. She'd heard childbirth described as a miracle, a blessing from the gods; and while it was horrifying and bloody, she was inclined to still agree with that.

Things were calmer after that, Aster simply cleaning up and putting things away as Jala dealt with the aftermath of the birth, and it wasn't much longer before the two were leaving Brega's. It had been early evening when they arrived, Aster still in her divine form, but Aster had shifted at some point throughout the delivery process, taking on her slender, pink-haired Kelvic form.

The women walked in silence, but movement down an alley caught Aster's attention. She glanced over, her crimson eyes shining in the moonlight, catching the shadowy figure of a man in some sort of smock or apron dragging an unconscious figure down the alley. Aster felt a chill as her blood ran cold; she had only seen him from a distance before, through a dingy window in his shack, but she recognized the figure immediately as Doctor Petricious.

Word Count: 668
Total: 1,292
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Asterope
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Posts: 632
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Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
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House Call

Postby Asterope on November 12th, 2021, 6:01 pm

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"Jala," she hissed, grabbing Jala's arm. "Did you see that?"

"See what?" Jala asked, glancing at her. The woman looked exhausted, though happy; good things were a rarity in Sunberth, and a relatively easy, successful birth with a healthy baby was something to celebrate. Aster hesitated; she didn't want to dampen Jala's good mood, and she didn't want to drag her into anything further, seeing as she was already exhausted from her work.

"It's nothing," Aster finally said after a moment, releasing Jala's arm. The woman didn't look convinced. "I just...I realized I haven't checked in with Imogen in awhile. I might go drop by the orphanage, actually. See if she's there. Hopefully it isn't too late."

Jala squinted at Aster suspiciously, huffing out a sigh. "Are you sure?" She asked, and Aster nodded. It was dangerous to be in Sunberth alone at night; she needed to be quick, and get back to the Outpost as soon as she could, but she couldn't let this slide without at least looking into it. She needed as much information on the Doctor as possible before she could hope to do anything about the situation. "Well, alright." Jala still sounded doubtful. "Be careful, be safe. Thank you again for your help tonight."

Aster watched Jala go before turning and slipping down the alleyway, pulling her hood up, walking as quietly as she could in the direction of the clinic. It didn't take long for her to reach it; pressing herself against the side of a nearby building, Aster peered out from the shadows around the corner. The light was in the shack, but she didn't see any movement. A grunting sound caught her attention from behind the shack, however. Crouching low, Aster crept forward slightly until the shed behind the rickety house came into view.

The doctor had the door propped open, the padlock hanging undone, and was dragging the body he was holding inside. All Aster could see was yawning darkness. The body groaned, confirming her suspicions that whoever the poor person was, they were still alive. Was that sobbing echoing from inside the shed? Aster's stomach twisted, and she watched as the doctor descended into the shed, slamming the unlocked door behind him.

He would be in there for at least awhile; he would have to get the person...situated, however he did so. Aster glanced from the shed to the house then back, her eyes darting quickly as her pulse hammered in her chest. Clenching her hands, she came to a decision, and sprinted across the alley to the door of the house. She peered in through the window, but nobody seemed to be in the room. Was she really going to do this?

If she wanted any hope of putting a stop to the doctor's madness, she had to know what she was dealing with. If anything within the house could give her more information, it would be worth it. Assuming she didn't get caught. She had to be quick. "Rak'keli, please guide me," Aster whispered, swallowing. This was a task from the goddess, after all. She had to wonder if she would have dared to involve herself if she had found out about the doctor on her own; she would have hated him regardless, been just as disgusted, but would she have dared even thought of trying to put a stop to his activities without the task being put upon her by not just any goddess, but one she revered?

Questions for another time. Aster stepped into the house, grimacing as she closed the door behind her. It reeked of the sickly sweet, rotting stench of death, overlaid heavily with the sterile smell of alcohol and something metallic. A few metal tables were spread out across the room, one with a sheet hanging over it, cabinets and shelves lining the walls. The floor was stained with blood, and Aster noticed some of it still seemed sticky; relatively fresh.

Stepping further inside, she began to scour the shelves and cabinets, mindful not to touch anything or move anything out of place. The contents of the various cabinets were...surprisingly normal, about what one would expect to find in a medical facility of any sort. Tinctures, herbs, medicines, salves; none of which seemed poisonous or nefarious, as far as Aster could tell. There were bandages and instruments such as scalpels and clamps, but those were surgical tools used by doctors all the time.

Word Count: 741
Total: 2,033
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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: 632
Words: 639035
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: The Outpost (Sunberth)
Race: Ethaefal
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Medals: 5
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House Call

Postby Asterope on November 12th, 2021, 6:03 pm

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Crouching down, Aster opened one of the lower cabinets, and was greeted with a shelf full of books; journals more specifically, by the looks of it. Aster grabbed one at random, opening it and beginning to flip through the pages, scanning as quickly as she could. The doctor talked a lot about his urge, his desire, his need to torture and kill in his scrawled handwriting; how he could do interesting, painful things to the body. He went into explicit, gorey detail as well, but Aster skimmed those sections, feeling nauseous.

There were pages worth of details explaining his latest experiments or torture sessions, sometimes accompanied by crude drawings that Aster skipped past, grimacing. She didn't glean much information, except for a few things; Petricious did sometimes act as an actual doctor, apparently, which was a surprise in and of itself to Aster. She wondered who could possibly be brave or stupid enough to willingly walk into his clinic and ask for treatment; or perhaps they were just desperate.

The other thing she learned was that apparently, the doctor frequently obtained test subjects by snatching those living on the streets or using patients from the Blood Pits. The Blood Pits...the place didn't sound familiar. Something to look into, perhaps? Aster snapped the journal shut, replacing it.

As she did so, she knocked over a jar she hadn't seen tucked into the corner of the shelf; it clattered to the floor, making her wince, and while it didn't shatter, the lid did pop off, not properly sealed. Inside, what had been gleaming, metallic looking red beetles suddenly came to life, and Aster had to clamp a hand over her mouth to keep from screaming as they suddenly swarmed out of the jar and onto her. She tried desperately brushing them off, but they were focused on her sleeves; Aster realized she had dried blood smeared on them from helping with the birthing earlier, not much, just a smudge really.

But the beetles were...eating it? Cleaning it away, somehow. In mere moments they had cleaned her sleeves of the dried spots, and some were scurrying around on the floor, though Aster could see no difference. She imagined the strange metallic creatures would be busy for years trying to get the floor clean. Her panic and revulsion dying down, Aster carefully swept the beetles from her sleeves back into the jar, plucking them from the floor and dropping them back in as well. They still felt metallic, and she wondered if they were organic, or if they were little mechanical creatures. Screwing the lid back on the jar, the beetles went still again.

How bizarre. She supposed it was one way to keep a medical clinic free from blood. Well...mostly, anyway. Aster glanced at the stained floor beneath her with a grimace. Suddenly outside, she heard footsteps, and panic seized her. She closed the doors to the cabinets, ducking underneath the one with the sheet and curling up into a ball, holding her breath. She realized belatedly that she was still clutching the jar of metallic beetles. She could only hope that the doctor didn't need those at the moment, or that he wouldn't go looking for one of his journals.

The door creaked open, and Aster thought her heart might hammer out of her chest as she heard footsteps enter the house; she could just barely make out a pair of boots, splattered with dark stains. Were they stained with mud, or was it blood? Perhaps both. Aster stayed as still as she could, not daring to even breathe as the doctor walked further into the house, the door swinging shut behind him. The footsteps paused suddenly, and Aster squeezed her eyes shut.

Word Count: 621
Total: 2,654
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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: 632
Words: 639035
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: The Outpost (Sunberth)
Race: Ethaefal
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House Call

Postby Asterope on November 12th, 2021, 6:05 pm

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"What's this?" Came the doctor's voice, with a dry chuckle that contained no humour, and Aster opened her eyes, her gaze darting around desperately for an escape route. He hadn't locked the door when he came in, and Aster was under the table second closest to the door.

If he walked into the room just a little bit more, she might be able to make a dash for it; for all his obsession with torture and his need to kidnap victims, the doctor didn't exactly seem nimble or overly physically fit, and she was relatively confident in her ability to run when needed. "Do I have a little rat in my clinic?"

The footsteps started again, slower this time, stopping just past the table she was hiding under. If he knew she was there, which Aster didn't know how he knew, surely he knew where she was hiding; there weren't very many options. The sudden bang that echoed through the room as the doctor slammed his hand onto the table beside hers made Aster jump, smacking her head loudly onto the underside of the table she was hiding under and shifting it slightly. Oh petch, Aster thought.

She was already scrambling out from under the table as Doctor Petricious spoke, his tone vicious. "There you are," he snarled, as Aster scrambled to her feet, noticing he was holding a bone saw in one hand; the metal table she lunged out from beneath was knocked over with a crash in her haste, providing a brief but perhaps life-saving barricade between her and the doctor as he lunged for her with his free hand.

Aster felt his fingers just barely catch in the ends of her hair, tugging back and making her skid to a brief halt. Panicked, Aster didn't hesitate to wrench her head forward, hardly noticing the pain as a small handful of hair was ripped from her scalp as she sprinted for the door.

She flung the door open and was sprinting down the alley before Petricious could even make it fully out the door, her lungs burning already and heart hammering as she pumped her legs, putting all of her endurance and strength into her movement, her adrenaline urging her along. Was he chasing her? It didn't sound like it, but she didn't dare look back.

"I'll find you, you nosy little rat," Aster heard the doctor call as she rounded a corner, not stopping. "And when I do, you'll regret sticking your nose in where it doesn't belong." The doctor let out a laugh, but his voice was fading as Asterope sprinted, until all she could hear was her harsh breathing and her pulse pounding in her ears in time with her footsteps on the ground.

Asterope must have run almost halfway back to the dovecote before she was forced to stop, bending over, barely holding herself from collapsing as she panted for breath. She thought her heart might beat out of her chest. Absently, she realized she was still clutching the jar of red metal beetles, and a hysterical giggle bubbled out of her chest, breathless as she gasped for air.

That had been far too close for comfort. She had been reckless, foolish; at very least she had gained some information, which was better than nothing. But now the doctor knew there was somebody snooping around in his business. She had the advantage in that he never had to see the rosy-haired woman again, as Aster could avoid using that form in Sunberth in the future, which meant he wouldn't recognize her; but it was one less form she could use to avoid Alard. And even with different forms to rely on, the thought that the doctor would be looking for her sent a shiver down her spine.

She was going to have to be more careful from now on. She still wasn't even sure what her plan was to stop Doctor Petricious; but she at least knew a little bit more about his methods, if not his reasons. Not that those really mattered, with what he was doing.

Straightening up, Aster winced at the cramp in her side, but began walking again at a brisk pace. Sunberth was even more dangerous for her now; she was beginning to make enemies. She needed to get back to the Outpost. She should probably stay away for at least a few days as well, do some thinking and let things settle a little bit. Perhaps practice her self-defense.

Whatever plan she ended up coming up with to stop the doctor, Aster had a feeling that it wouldn't be easy, nor would it be pretty. But she was more determined than ever to stop him.

Word Count: 788
Total: 3,442
Image

The sun will rise, and we will try again
User avatar
Asterope
A light that never goes out
 
Posts: 632
Words: 639035
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: The Outpost (Sunberth)
Race: Ethaefal
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 5
Featured Thread (1) Mizahar Grader (1)
Overlored (1) Alvadas Seasonal Challenge (1)
Power Fork (1)


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