Introducing the innocent to the world [TW: Births & Miscarriages]

#1
Early June; the day of the Opera

A squalid cry escaped the baby as it entered the world, for the first time out of the womb, warmth replaced by a brisk cold until swaddles and cloth were found to wrap the boy tightly. Mina kindly smiled upon the black shock of hair, as the boy wriggled in her arms and quickly settled, staring with large, blue eyes. His mother lay exhausted in the bed before the midwife, tears of pain, exhaustion and relief flowing down the woman's features.

"In death, and in childbirth all humans are alike. Whether they are nobles or the lowliest scullery maids, these moments after a little one is born, all look the same, feel the same. No matter if they lie on velvets and silks, or mangy fur." Mina thought to herself, as she chuckled tone-lessly. She gently placed the babe on the mother's breast and allowed she said "It is a healthy son, m'lady. You, and your husband should be proud. I shall give your maid instructions and it'd behoove you well to follow them within the next fortnight. I shall be here tomorrow."

This first time mother barely had eyes for the midwife, as already the babe was suckling on her breast and the woman's features riveted by the young life having entered. Mina turned, and left the room, just to bump outside into the husband. She nodded. "A son. And both hail and well. I shall see you tomorrow." There was relief in the man's eyes and he nodded.
Mina knew, he had paid her well. Had the child been a girl, it would have been her task to ensure it was a stillborn. The man did not wish to risk reputation and money for the firstborn to ~not~ be a boy. The mother never knew...

Mina left the household then, and returned home to clean up. This was the third birth she had attended in the past fourteen hours. It was the first birth of these today, that went with a life outcome for each involved.
The first was a premature babe that had been unable to live outside the womb. From that babe, Mina had collected a vial of blood while it was still with a beating heart inside the mother. By the time the child was separated from the womb, it had turned out she had not developed lungs and did not breathe. She died the moment she saw daylight for the first time.

The second birth was one of those tasks Mina undertook rarely - but she did, when they were well paid enough, and had good reason. The woman had paid her well, and she had made her decision well before the birth. For months, Mina and her patient had spoken and throughout it all, the woman had not changed her mind. Woman... Bah Mina thought. The woman was barely out of girlhood.
Mina was to ensure that both, child and woman were to perish during childbirth. A task, she only agreed to against a large sum ahead of time, and only after also ensuring for months to come that this was indeed the woman's choice. The girl was in an arranged, abusive marriage. She had had three miscarriages before this one finally was viable. Her husband was a wealthy, influencial ass of a man. Mina would much rather ensure he would perish, rather than his young wife. But the latter had given up. She had been driven into such deep, black humors and only her faith in god and church and the fear of hell kept her from committing straight-up suicide. This was where Mina came in. She would make sure that the girl would bleed out, fall asleep during the ordeal and die in peace. It was promised, it was paid for, and in the early morning hours, the deed was done.
From both, Mina had collected blood. The beating heart-blood of a first-born child, the ceasing heartblood of a dying mother.

Three valuable vials that would make some powerful agents for some people... And Mina knew exactly where to bring them.
She was running low on supplies, anyways, and once she had returned home, and cleaned up, despite the many hours she had been on her feet, she carefully wrapped her valuable goods, grabbed an empty basket and set out to find Il Noce al Trivio de Apotecaire
She hustled, as the afternoon neared its end, and she had no intention of keeping Thurenza in her shop longer than necessary.

When she entered, she drew in a deep breath. She quite enjoyed the scents of herbs and medicines. In her brown and white, common garb, a cap over her curly hair, a few strands sticking out, framing her wrinkling face, she offered Thurenza a smile when she spied her.
"Good afternoon, Signora - I hope you, and yours are well."

@Crymson
word count: 826

Re: Introducing the innocent to the world [TW: Births & Miscarriages]

#2
In the evenings Thurenza made rounds to her businesses to make an accounting or to at least run her eyes over the daily accounting and to secure the funds. Yes she was trusting her assistant Sophie more and more, but, like anyone who had never had much control and then was freed they relished the command over their own lives. Or they floundered pitifully with the lapse in direction. Thurenza had never been the latter.

Good fortune followed her enterprises, currently, but it was not expected to survive long in mechanisms of the world’s karma. Always there was the balancing of the cosmic scales at some point. And where a person’s imbalance was off setting at the time the debts were called in was what they paid for. So Thurenza always tried to keep her deeds equally balanced. And hoped that she weighed the costs of her actions with a sound judgment. But then who could know other then the spirits what one deed paid and anther one cost?

It were the mortal toil. The ever ongoing plight.

Now the bell rang and she turned to the door seeing a fellow practitioner of many arts. One she were not as personally pleased to see for they disagreed on some ideals. However, Signora Boscolon was one she were not utterly opposed to sharing experience and more so supplies with. She wondered what the old Mid-wife had for bartering this day.

“Singora Bacolon, how good to see you. My house is most well. Thank you. Now come I will have Sophie make fresh tea and you can get off your feet. Yes?”

She led the old bird to her counseling alcove and after the Signora settled she then took her own seat. Thurenza this evening looked nothing like the shop keep she normally portrayed. She wore a stunning gown and had her hair pinned with small jewels tucked in her curls. All rich blues to remind her most special companion how much she had missed him at her side.

Later this evening she were going to enjoy the opera and likely stir a lot of gossip. She were treating her newly arrived companion to the Opera. Something he may have never seen, she knew how much he had enjoyed the dances and song of their adoptive nation and although the actors and types of songs were entirely different the sentiment would not be. Or so she hoped.

But now her dark eyes were attuned unto another Strega even if the woman did not delve as deeply into the nether realms she were still a powerful woman. And all women of such measure were labeled Strega.

“You business keeps you busy Signora? “

@Koalaroo @Elena
word count: 454
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Re: Introducing the innocent to the world [TW: Births & Miscarriages]

#3
Vendramina Boscolon, her years well into her sixties was grateful for the opportunity to get off her feet indeed. The tea was another welcome addition and she settled in, comfortably and leisurely as only the elders could, when they stopped caring of how the world would perceive them. Once seated, she wiggled out of her tight shoes, placing her stocked feet on top of them, wriggling her toes in the thusly found freedom. "Ahhh" she made a content noise as the hot liquid warmed her inside out and she allowed herself to relax before Thurenza.
She respected the younger women, and at times even liked her though the latter she would never admit. Too much did Thurenza remind her of her own daughter, and while she was a stout proponent of choice for women, this did not come to stretch to her daughter whom she so desperately wished to be her apprentice and got betrayed by her own blood, by running from home and marrying some do-good-nobody somewhere in the baboonies of ruralities no person of sanity could survive without submitting to death by boredom and idleness.
No, that choice Vendramina never forgave her daughter and the choice of Thurenza too well ensconed in her own craft and business to even be considered a malleable apprentice, she never forgave the apothecarian, for that younger woman, she too would have quite liked to teach. She cursed at fate for having brought them too together too late to influence these choices... However, Thurenza likely never knew of Vendramina's thoughts about her - or so the old midwife hoped, knowing (or suspecting, rather) of the sometimes uncanny knowing of the younger woman.

By now however, so many years since this all has come to pass, that Thurenza's knowledge in her own craft well outshone Vendramina's, and Vendramina's craft remained apart from Thurenza's, so that now they would form an alliance beneficial to both businesses in many regards. There were other considerations in which both their views differed but this did not change the respect Vendramina held for the strega and it did not stop her from visiting when prudent.

They were seated, tea steaming between them and as usual, conversation circled shallowly at first.
"You business keeps you busy Signora?" Thurenza had asked and Vendramina nodded. "'Tis the season now, and you know it. Late in the years, when certain herbs grow sparcely we now get to harvest those seeds. Three alone today. I have another seventeen women on the roster, due within the next fortnight. Have not seen an influx so high and so perfectly aligned in near thirty years..." Mina replied with a light shrug, half smiling at the apothecarian. "Needless to say, I have a list of supplies I will need. Running low already despite just having been her less than a fortnight ago..." she mused and her eyes glimmed with steel as she recounted the list.

"As usual, I shall need a health supply of each Anise-Oil, Verbene, Fennel Oil, Camomille Oil. Raspberry leaves as always as much as you have, and I'll need another large supply within the fortnight.
I shall also need Comfrey, Mistletoe, and Leopard's Bane. Usual amounts."


The church continued to closely monitor women of their trades to make sure they would not perpetrate knowledge of contraception or abortion and thus, Mina tread carefully. She exclusively received her herbs from Thurenza, and only under a guise of getting many other medications as well. Out, and away from the front of the store, unlikely to be overheard she was more frank on the list of herbs she needed most. Were they at the front, she would not mention the latter three herbs at all and the others casually thrown in in a larger order.
Thankfully, a majority of church officials, as well as (sadly) a large majority of women did not not know the effects of the herbs she was after, but with her station as midwife alone, and Thurenza's as apothecarian it was always important to tread carefully with the Church. More than one woman of their profession had found herself in the hands of the Inquisition or the Doge's torturers. Mina had no intentions of ever seeing those chambers from the inside herself.

Without speaking of the contents of her satchel, she carefully fished out a bundle, wrapped in cloth and pushed it over the table to Thurenza.
Were she to open the bundle, she would spy the three vials, each marked with a different symbol.

@Crymson
word count: 764

Re: Introducing the innocent to the world [TW: Births & Miscarriages]

#4
Her dark gaze watched the women as she settled unceremoniously in the chair and slipped her feet from her shoes. Thurenza very much had her own quirks, however, such as these she rarely ever flaunted in the public eye. Her own estates, yes. Among servants, merchants and privileged guest of course at her home, yes. In the middle of market with a co-worker. Never. But only her eyes would tell Vendramina any displeasure of the woman’s lapse in propriety in the alcove.

She gave it up to age and working too hard. And not that Mina were somewhat uncouth or purposely being rude. Although they had in the past shared such arguments that propriety had quickly been thrown out the windows, shattering them on the way out. When they were new to one another. Now they had the knowledge of each other and of their quirks. Which helped one another to stay from troubles.

Thurenza knew Mina had much knowledge and skill. And she respected her thusly. It were the lapse in more refined trainings. The woman was wise and talented but kept to her practiced skills and rarely diverted. But if it works well for you why deviate? So it were a pass between them.

She sipped her tea and listened to Mina. Nodding about the tides of desire and the consequence. Between those who were in the throes of it and not using more than the body vs. those who needed to set an heir for the family. And the needs of those who needed to quickly dispense with an unexpected consequence to such pleasures. Those doves gave women such as they much business. And Thurenza were not one to let a gift go to waste.

“The former I can send with you when you are ready, the later I will have a runner bring to you. I only keep sparingly those in this shop. For too much brings suspicion as you well know.”

Mina passed a bundle upon the table to Thurenza and her fingers reached to see what the Strega had. Only moving the clothe enough to see the vials and the symbols. She gave a knowing smile to Mina. How lucky it were to know one another and share such treasures. Such rare and devious wealth.

“You have been most fortuitous it appears. And this will get you the increase in stores you need for the coming season easily. I am most grateful that you think on these tributes from your patrons. Many just do not understand the power they let slip away in such instances.”

The cloth let to fall back over the trade and Thurenza drew her nimble fingers away from them. She was ever careful and never exposed herself when she did not have to. She left the gift upon the table and when her assistant brought the platter of fruits to share she then motioned for the girl to take away the vials. Then returned all her dark attention back unto Mina.

“I wish you would use some of your wealth to ease your work. I think you work much too hard and do not tend to you own needs very often Mina. You are only as good as your health. And you look too tired right now. I do not like to see it.”


@Koalaroo la
word count: 558
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