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Quint awaits the arrival of Miss Myrana, needing to speak with her after completing some minor tasks around the Ox. The Lady Serene arrives in search of her charge just before Master Agril, Sunguard, barges in with a very urgent matter...

A parrot perches imperiously on a primarily prone patron, whose gnarled, sun-tanned and calloused fingers still wrap possessively around his half-full (or is it half-empty) stein. The sole occupant of a center table, the intoxicated ne'er-do-well mutters in his drunken stupor with one cheek flat on the table's stained surface. The parrot, for its part, flaps its wings and puffs its chest whenever someone nears the booth -- a gesture made all the more ridiculous by the smoldering stogie clutched in its beak -- and waddle-walks in place to trace any movement across the room. A trio of dwarven mercenaries watch the bird, amused, as they speak in hushed khazdul about some sort of trade business.

Quint's presence at the Ox is announced before one even steps inside; Brannigan is tethered to the post in front, head low and patient as death. The man has a corner booth and is currently re-wrapping bandages treated with soothing ointments around his forearms and hands in a slow, deliberate fashion.

Serene is a rare sight, at the Ox. It's plain to see that she is not typical of its clientele. Whether this occurs to her or not, and whether or not she is uncomfortable or even disgusted with what she sees never crosses her face. Having seen Brannigan, she knew this was where she would find him. She hardly pauses in the entrance after pushing the doors open, just long enough to pick out Quint amongst the regulars. And then she heads towards him.

It's a moment after Serene arrives that Agril bursts through the door, carrying an obviously pregnant woman in his arms. One that is screaming.

"Serene," he says, "Quint! I need your help! Quickly!" His eyes are on Serene, of course. The trained midwife.

Quint was already standing by the time Agril burst inside, rising to his feet at the sight of the senior paladin. He was about to offer greeting, too, but he stops and tenses at the sound of screaming. "There are most certainly cleaner places..." he begins, trailing off as his frown gets all the more severe at the thought of what Agril must have in mind. He takes his waterskin from the tabletop and moves across the room to meet the sunguard.

The combination of Quint rising and Agril's shout and the screaming woman gives Serene pause, and she half turns. Eyes go immediatley from Agril to his burden, then she immediately heads towards him even as she starts.. well, not quite barking, but definitely issuing commands. Boiled water from the tavern keep, what passes for clean blankets or towels. A cleared table. "I will examine her.. there may be time to move to a better location."

"There's no time," says Agril, "and you were the only person I knew of on the way. The child's breach birthing," he says to her, quickly, setting her on the table with her legs up.

Somehow, the Oxleys have cleared out. You know. Because none fo them want anything to do with this.

The cleanest towel is.. not very clean, but boiled water isn't too hard to get for Agril, as he marches into the back to bark orders, leaving the screaming woman with Quint and Serene. Quint, incidentally, gets grabbed and screamed at. And sworn at.

Quint's general stoicism is firmly in place even after his arm is snatched at. He sets the waterskin down on the table within Serene's reach and tells her it's "from the font" in between screams. Hands free, he pries the grip away from his forearm forcefully, interlacing his fingers with the mother-to-be's and wrapping his second hand over the top of her palm. He closes his eyes and bows his head, voice low as he begins to intone a brief blessing of benediction and guidance, then begins praying with equal calm to Althea.

Serene does wrinkle her nose, now, seeing what material she has to work with.. but she does utter a thanks for small blessings with the water Quint offers. "I suggest everyone else find somewhere else to be," she intones without ever taking her eyes off of the woman as she moves into place. "Except you." She points at the tavern keep without looking at him. And then she falls into full midwife mode. Positioning the mother to be, breathing instructions. As she does so, well.. there's a practical side to her as well. She swiftly removes items she doesn't want to get messy.

Finneous Oxley looks at the woman. Then Serene. Then Quint.

Then he promptly vomits into a bucket. Now Serene doesn't have a clean bucket. Not that she likely needed one.

The woman is screaming a lot, but trying to follow instructions. And Quint is likely to get death gripped again.

Quint suffers the crushing grip without complaint -- his fingers may bruise but they will heal. He stands close to the woman's side, ignoring the chair that was knocked over at some point. He listens for his lady's instruction -- should she have any -- but continues to issue a litany of hushed reverence and supplication; "... and so it is we come to you, Telmentar, Mother of all Creation, to witness the birth of a new light into this imperfect world of ours, to bless a new life of innumerable possibilities and hope..." His extra hand -- with the fingers not interlaced with the birthing woman's -- goes to her forehead and gently brushes her hair back as he prays.

"Father Agril, have a word with the tavern keeper if you would," Serene says. The Daeusite may not fall under her authority, but hey, she's the only woman here in a birthing situation. She lets Quint continue as is as she takes position to receive the babe. The towels.. those were immediately discarded, and Serene uses her cloak instead, padding it underneath the woman's legs. As Quint offers benedictions, Serene offers reassurances to her, along with commands that brook no room for disagreement.

Sadly, the baby *is* breach. Which means this is going to be a difficult birth, to say the least. Serene is going to have to, you know, help the baby turn.

Or make Quint do it. You know. Whatever works.

At any rate, Agril yells back to Serene that he will have 'words' yes, with poor Finneous.

Quint continues in his prayers, drawing from a seemingly endless number of holy words -- he spends a great deal of time at study. As the woman continues to strain, sweat, and suffer, he produces a cloth from his pocket hat seems impossibly white and clean for a place like the Ox. He uses it to dab at her face, dry around her eyes, and so on.

"Alright, Quint, I am going to need you to try and lessen her agitation." Yeah, right. Serene may as well suggest that he reverse the flow of the river. But hey, she's nothing if not demanding. Her face is tense, a good sign that this situation is 'not good', but she doesn't shirk from doing what must be done. Which is getting down and dirty. As in very hands on.

"ARRRRGH!" is what she tells Quint while Serene is.. is working.

She reaches out and grabs at his face with her other hand. HAIR PULL.

"... this new life --" Quint actually winces when the woman manages to find the short, dark hair of his beard. He'd almost prefer if she continued digging the fingernails of her free arm into his sleeve. Still, he recovers and cups her jawline, turning her face to his as he leans close. Quint's smile is a rare, beatific thing, and he fines cause to share it with the mother now, in the hopes of soothing her pain and worry. "My lady cradles your babe in her arms with all the love and care in the world. As if it were her own."

His voice is almost a whisper as he continues, the intensity and sincerity of his words a startling thing to witness. "She loves you as Eluna, Althea, and Daeus love you and hold you in their hearts." He brushes the hair back from her face again, soothing and kind as he continues to smile. "Be at peace. Be filled with joy. Weep sweet tears of relief; your are a mother now. You sit at Althea's side."

Serene is actually sweating now, a rare enough thing by itself (though perhaps not so rare as Quint's smile) as she does her best to adjust the babe, carefully ever so carefully, without bringing harm. It is hard to say if she even blinks, so intense is she on bringing the babe into the world.. preferably alive.

So Finneous catches sight of the baby coming and then pukes all over Agril's shoes.

And, indeed, the woman is screaming, but Serene is able to turn the child by hand. It's gross. That's all that needs to be said -- but once the baby is *turned*, she's able to push effectively and... yeah.


But there is soon screaming.

..from the mother. And the babty.

Quint turns at the sight of the new arrival, blinking back tears of exultation and disbelief at the pure, amazing miracle he was allowed to witness. His prayers now are silent, his eyes shut and head bowed as the new mother relaxes like a taut, straining rope suddenly cut loose. His hands beneath the bandages begin to glow a soft, cool blue as he passes healing magics through his hands and into the woman. It will do little against her fatigue but will sooth some of the trauma her body just endurd.

Serene lets out a breath of her own in relief as she proceeds to deal with the attaching cord, and then wiping the baby down of the fluids that came with her. She uses a dagger, then, to cut that corner of her cloak off before bundling the baby up into what remains. She pauses on the way of delivering the baby into her mother's arms only long enough to allow Quint to gaze upon the face of the newborn. "I've a basin of fresh water in the kitchen, Serene. Why don't you bring the baby over here so we can clean her off? "It is, after all, a girl.

Agril gestures towards the kitchen, then. Finneous keeps hiding.

The woman isn't QUITE done yet. There's still, y'know, other stuff to go through first, but at least the cord can finally be cut and what not.

She rubs her eyes woozily.

"Just another moment." Quint reassures her quietly. He reaches closer to where Serene has been standing and retrieves his waterskin. "Congratulations. You did very well." He's stopped smiling -- those muscles aren't used to such prolonged exertion -- but there's that ever-present kindness in his sad, gray eyes. He offers the skin to th woman, should she be thirsty, and will assist as needed until the senior paladin and high cleric return.

"As did you, Quint. You gave the woman focus." Serene allows herself a small smile as she looks at the babe, then to its mother. "I will bring her back shortly," she says, turning so the mother can at least look at the baby. "I will clean her.. and then I will bring you to her." She turns to Quint. "Stay with her for the moment.. I shall be right back. The baby must be washed." ANd so she heads over to the kitchens.

The woman relaxes for a moment, then pauses. Her eyes wide. "Wha.." Then she lets out another yelp. "I..I think."

If Quint should happen to look down, there's another head just beginning ti stick out.

Oh yeah. Twins.

And Quint is now all alone. Poor bastard.

Quint moves with a purpose, taking back the waterskin and putting his other hand to his mouth. Teeth find the bandages wrapping his palm and he pulls it loose, working with an efficiency and alacrity more common in cutpurses than soldiers. The bandages off, he splashes his hands with cool, clean water from the skin before just dropping the empty bladder into the rest of the mess on the ground. He apprentices to a midwife, he understands the theory, but a small, logical piece of him might be wishing he watched the practical birthing more closely now instead of locking eyes with the mother and issuing prayer. Hands still dripping, he maneuvers into position and begins to issue instruction -- nothing the woman hasn't heard before.

Given half a moment, he will raise his voice to be heard in the other room; a simple "My lady."

There is no response. They must be busy!

Serene doesn't hear right away. Though the face she offers people may often, perhaps always, be one of steel, there's something about new life that brings out the best in people. Or at least their most tender. So she is a little focussed. Though, she does slowly become aware that something is not quite right... the sounds issuing from the common room, beyond Finneous's sobs, pluck at her awareness.

"'s coming NOW," she manages to say and then she has to push. "NNNGHARRRRGH." That's heard. Quint better CATCH. (And get covered in horribleness.)

Quint is there with his strong, scarred and calloused hands. Not as soft as Serene's -- and possessed of an odd, reddish pigment -- they are sure and steady and guide the latter twin gently by the base of the skull while his other hand and arm slides beneath and nearer the woman's most private places to recieve the child's weight. "Almost there, once more..." it's uncanny, the familiar cadence and similar tone. He imitates the senior paladin subconsciously, drawing strength from her experience and tutelage. His clothes will wash. After years pent imprisoned among the rot and filth of dungeons the byproducts of the birthing do not concern him in the least.

And that's when there's more yelling and more baby's cries.

In the other room, Agril looks at Serene. With a blink. "Is that..?"

Serene suddenly scowls. She doesn't even answer Agril as she thrusts the swaddled babe into his arms. And then she's charging into the common room once more.

Quint is a mess, babe in arms, silent tears mingling with beads of sweat that are list in his facial hair. "Another for your ministrations, my lady." He tells Serene when he feels her presence at his side. He hands over the child and waits, watching for the afterbirth to know in no uncertain terms that there isn't a third sibling due. Satisfied, he pulls the woman's skirts back into place after wiping his hands off on his pants. He finds his clean cloth and makes another, quick effort to clean his hands before stepping once more to the mother's side. He takes her hand gently. "Thank you for allowing me to be a part of that," he offers simply.

Had anyone been close as barged back into the common room, they may have heard her muttering. Yes, Serene, muttering. About breech babies and twins and failure. She slows when she sees Quint having the situation well in hand, however, at least in a relative sense. It isn't long before she's at his side. Before he hands the second baby off to her, she puts her hand on his shoulder and gives it a brief squeeze along with a "Well done." Despite the offered praise, however, her eyes are tight... for she is much readier to forgive others than she is to forgive herself. She doesn't let this keep her from dealing with the rest of the job, of course.... and so, eventually, after the mother is allowed to hold her twins, makeshift baskets are appropriated from the Ox (with recompensation of course) and plans made to transfer the mother and children are in place.

The mother is doubtlessly seen to the Althean temple or home as per her preference. If she lacks a place to say Quint will -- of course -- offer his modest room at the Dreaming Goddess' temple or assist in paying for something appropriate at one of the local taverns. These are all the sorts of details that get sorted out in the afterglow. Then there's the closing of the Ox, the cleaning -- so much cleaning -- and finally a moment's rest.

Quint changed into a fresh shirt he keeps in Brannigan's saddlebags and sits now opposite his mentor, re-wrapping his raw, overworked palms and battered forearms. "Thank you for letting me help you. I am sure Master Agril would have been much better suited..."

"Perhaps," Serene admits. "But then again, perhaps you were the one better suited. Whatever the case, you were more than adequate. If there is any fault for mistake to be lain, it is mine for not knowing of the twin." At least Serene's voice isn't hard. If she hasn't forgiven herself, at least she is over it. For now.

She continues to wash, taking more time than is likely necessary. Hands, arms, clothing will have to wait. "I am glad that that you were there. Most men would have... " She shrugs, the rest left unsaid.

"'Every trial is a blessing, an opportunity to prove our worth.'" Quint repeats the Crusader's words as if they were holy writ -- and not for the first time. He's quiet for a moment before he offers, carefully, "You saved that woman's life. Your saved her babies' lives. 'We do what we are able, you cannot expect perfection in yourself.'" And this time he turns Serene's words back on her, a phrase she's used against her junior when he's pushed himself too hard in the past.

"Ah." Serene takes the admonishment in stride, even smiling a small smile. "Indeed. Still, it appears I may be out of practice. But this allowed you to discover what you could do as well. And as you say, all is well. And you will likely carry this memory with you forever."

Quint nods slowly, thinking. "I had finished helping Miss Myrana for the day and was preparing to return to the temple for my chores there." It's little wonder Quint looks tired -- and he does -- but he still carries himself well. "Did you have something else for me before I leave, lady?"

"Nothing that cannot wait for the morrow, Quint," Serene responds, looking at her clothes in... well, distaste. Not distaste for the deed.. but hey, messy clothes just aren't her thing. "Go and rest. You should sleep well."

"I will be at the temple should you need me." Quint reiterates as he rises. He picks his gloves up off of the table and pulls them on before heading outside to Brannigan.