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Urchin Quest

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  • Urchin Quest

    You awaken to the sound of rumbling.

    It is raining. Hard. Little rivers are running black down the narrow alleys and streets of the Nightside ghetto down below you, and cold rain pours off the tiled roofs. The afternoon sky is grey and dark.

    There’s the rumbling again. And a dull pain... It’s not thunder then.

    It’s your stomach.

    You haven’t had anything to eat since you stole that bowl of swamp rice yesterday morning while Rat distracted the street vendor...just thinking about it makes your stomach ache with longing. Sometimes sleeping helps, but not today. You’re too hungry to sleep, and you were dreaming about hot soup anyway.

    You are currently safe and dry, in your nest atop the warm brick roof of the Blackhand Company’s great foundry. You’re under an eave that pours all the water out past the pile of stolen laundry where you sleep, and you’re close enough to one of the foundry’s chimneys that its heat warms your bones and dries your tattered clothes. It’s a little narrow, and you have to be careful not to actually touch the wall north of the corner for very long because it will burn your hands, and you have to be careful not to roll out onto the sloped roof and fall off in your sleep, and when the pouring rain isn’t pounding the Nexus Snow down into the gutters the smoke means you have to hold a rag in your mouth to breathe through…but this spot is yours. None of the other kids know about it, except Rat, who showed you the spot, and he’s too big now to use it himself.

    …the climb down is usually easy, but in the rain the bricks are probably going to be slippery. It might be dangerous. But you really, really need to eat.

    Do You:

    Stay here and try to get back to sleep: You're starving, sure, but you're not stupid. You’re not going to be able to get much food with a broken leg. You’ll wait until the rain stops and climb down when it’s safe. Sure, hunger hurts, but it’s a dull pain. You can wait out the storm.

    Go Find Rat: He’s big enough now that he’s been able to join the Sluice gang. He might have some food, or have some job you can do to get some. Of course, the Canal Sluice is going to be even more dangerous in a big rainstorm like this than climbing down the roof…and Rat's been weird since he started hanging with the Sluice gang. He keeps trying to act all tough. He might be super mean to you just to impress his new friends.

    Visit Aunt Dwi: She’ll sometimes give you real food-a pork bun or a bowl of noodles. But if she’s got a customer you’ll have to wait, because if you interrupt her while she’s with a client she’ll thrash you…and the last couple of times you went to her for food, she looked at you weird and said you were getting taller, weren't you, and insisted on giving you poppy juice…which was fantastic! But you’ve seen what happens to other kids who spent too much time drinking poppy juice with Aunt Dwi. They end up drinking poppy juice all the time, and working for her brothel, and because they're new they always end up getting the rough customers…

    Go to the Nightside Street Market: Traffic will be low because of the rain, which will make it harder to steal anything from any of the stalls…but if nobody’s buying, odds are good some of the food will start to spoil and get thrown away, so there might be some good scavenging.

    Head over to the Imperium: It’s a long way to the Nexus District, and the Imperium is patrolled so you’ll have to keep to alleys and rooftops to avoid getting picked up by their mercenaries...but fancy merchants and occasionally even visiting Dragonblooded trade there, and there are a couple of fancy restaurants that serve them, and the bins behind those restaurants often have good pickings. If you’re gonna be going out in the rain to eat garbage, it might as well be really expensive garbage.

    Go Fishing: You have string and a couple of fishhooks. It’s raining, and the streets are muddy. You should be able to get a few earthworms, and if you bait your hook right you might be able to catch some pigeons or maybe a raiton…and if you don’t catch anything, well, you can always eat the worms.

    Go Begging: It’s raining, and foot traffic is low…but if you beg close to one of the markets, you might be able to get enough coin for a hot meal. The downside is you’ll have to deal with older beggars, some of whom are very territorial. Blind Jin sometimes gives you his spot in exchange for most of your take: he knows you’re younger and cuter than he is. And it’s easier to do puppy dog eyes at people when you still have your eyes.

    Visit the Immaculate Temple: It's a really really long way, almost all the way to the Cinnabar district. On a normal day you can get there by afternoon if you leave in the morning...but it's pouring rain and you'd have to pass along some really slick rooftops or go at street level through a couple of rough neighborhoods. The Immaculate monks give out rice to the poor, but they stop at sundown...you'd have to hurry, and even if you did you're not sure you'd make it in time to get any food...and then you'd have to find your way back in the dark.

    Something Else: Do you have any other ideas?

    Inventory:
    • Tattered Rags
    • Fishhooks (3)
    • Rough twine (1 roll)
    • Your Lucky Pebble
    • Pile of Stolen Clothes (mostly rags)
    Last edited by Wise Old Guru; 08-21-2016, 05:41 PM.


    So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

    The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
    -Roger Zelazny

  • #2
    Worms sound pretty good right about now. Go Fishing.

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    • #3
      Visit the Immaculate Temple. Let's enjoy the hospitality of Sextes Jylis.

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      • #4
        We want to go to the temple and get food and maybe listen to the Monks tell stories.


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        • #5
          Nightside Street Market. Either pockets to pick or good scavenging. Seems like our best best on a day like this one.


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          • #6
            While the other options are tempting, I vote going to the Immaculate Temple to get a handout. They're about the only group that doesn't expect anything in return, as mentioned they have such entertaining stories (the most entertaining diverge slightly from orthodoxy), and if you hurry, you might see them at Evening Meditation (boring as watching drying paint) and Martial Practice (More Kung Fu than you can shake a fishing rod at!)

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            • #7
              Nightside Street Market. It's a really long walk to the Immaculate Temple in the rain - and if we're late, we'll be soaked, cold and even hungrier. That sounds like a bad plan.

              Aunt Dwl isn't such a bad backup plan - maybe we could sneak some of the poppy juice away and trade it to one of the older kids for food. Maybe we could get away with that? It seems more dangerous than the merchants. who won't want to leave their tents to chase us off, which is why it's a backup plan.
              Last edited by BlueWinds; 08-22-2016, 11:53 AM.

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              • #8
                Visit the Immaculate Temple. It's the only sure bet for food. All the others are either dependent on luck or goodwill of others. If we had either of those we wouldn't have been an urchin to start with.

                Besides. Cool stories!

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                • #9
                  Nightside Street Market. Scavenge while staying out of the rain.

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                  • #10
                    >Visit Imperium.

                    I am feeling audacious.


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                    • #11
                      Visit the Temple Sure food, and maybe we can learn a few bits of martial arts from watching. If cats can learn to open doors from just observing, we can do the same with fighting. Which would help us in the long run out on the streets too.
                      Last edited by LazzerusThanatos; 08-22-2016, 02:26 PM.

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                      • #12
                        You’re tempted by the Nightside Market…but in this rain, business is going to be slow and you’ll stand out. There are a couple merchants there who might recognize you, you’ve stolen from stalls before…and it’s a long way, but the Immaculate Monastery’s a chance for a full bowl of rice instead of just a stolen apple or a piece of moldy bread.

                        Carefully, you make your way to the edge of the roof. The tiles are slippery and wet, and the cold rain gets your hair in your eyes and numbs your fingers quickly now that you’re out of your nest. You grab the rain gutter tightly in one hand for support and slowly lower yourself down until you’re hanging over the city. There’s a chipped brick your foot can go in…there. You make sure your footing is steady, and slide your hand down the rain gutter. The lead pipe is cold, and slick, and slightly too wide for your hand, but it’s at the corner of the building and you can use it for leverage to move back and forth as you pick your way down the brick wall. The Blackhand brothers built this foundry a long time ago, and there are plenty of spots where the bricks are chipped or worn away by weather. Some of them have birds’ nests in them, but you’ve already stolen all the eggs you can reach safely in good weather, much less this rain.

                        Slide down…grab this brick…slide down…left foot here, slide down…it’s slow going. You once saw Rat just grab the gutter and slide down it like a boat down a canal, but he came away with his hands bleeding at the bottom from the bolts fastening it to the building every couple of yards and anyway it’s a lot more slippery now...

                        SHIT!

                        Okay, it’s alright, you caught yourself. A brick you usually stand on has apparently gotten looser now the weather is getting colder at night. Your grip on the pipe saved you from slipping. You clutch the drainpipe tightly while you probe with the big toe of your left foot for another foothold…there. It’s a stretch, but you can do it.

                        Finally, after what seems like an hour, you reach the bottom. You jump off the wall from about two yards up, landing on your feet in a crouch. The balls of your feet sting from the impact with the rough wet cobblestone surrounding the foundry, but your fingers were starting to get really numb and your grip was getting clumsy. Better a fall you choose than one you don't.

                        …time to go to the Immaculate Temple. The question is...what route to take?

                        By Rooftoop: You usually just go east by foot until you reach the canal, then follow it into the Nexus district and take to the rooftops from there. There are a bunch of rickety wooden causeways and rope bridges between the taller buildings in that part of town, and there are a lot of folks who use them to avoid street traffic below. After that climb, though…not all the rooftop ways are going to be as well maintained as the Blackhand Foundry. A slip or a piece of loose masonry or rotted wood could injure or kill you. There’s also a rumor that some merchant prince’s pet Raptor Cat got loose and it’s living in the rooftop maze of the Nexus district surviving on pigeons and the occasional kid. You know if you were a Raptor Cat you wouldn’t want to be out in this weather…but hey, maybe it’s hungry too.

                        By Foot: You could stay on ground level and follow the canal through the Nexus District instead of taking to the roofs. If you do, you’ll be passing right through the Guild neighborhood-their headquarters are located there, and the guards they’ve hired aren’t particularly nice people. You’ve heard stories of them grabbing kids and pressing them into service or forcing them to buy “riverboat tours” and then selling them into slavery once they’re out of city limits. After the Guild neighborhood, you’ll have to pass through the territories of several different street gangs, any one of which has about even odds of ignoring you or roughing you up. Then through the Players’ District, which is usually a fun place to visit but which will be kind of dull in the rain…but there’s more traffic there and you know a kid who got run over by a merchant prince’s carriage in a hurry to call upon some actor or another.

                        By Boat: There’s also the canal…if you can actually get a ride on one of the boats, you’d only have to walk a few blocks! Of course, a ride on a canal boat costs money, which you don’t have. So you’d have to either talk one of the stingy boatmen into a free ride (which you might be able to if you're lucky, your father was a boatman before he died and a couple of them knew him) or, more likely, sneak aboard a boat and hope not to get caught. If you do get caught, you’ll get thrown overboard, and with a big storm like this the currents are gonna be fast…and, now you think about it, if you smuggle aboard you’ll still have to jump ship and swim to shore once the canal gets you close to the Immaculate Temple’s neighborhood, which could be real dangerous too…

                        By Tunnel: Or…you could take a shortcut through the Undercity. It’s pretty safe, except for Firewander mutants and the occasional ghost. And swarms of predatory rats.And folks too crazy to tolerate living in cramped quarters above ground. And some drug addicts. Still, it's not that bad- most anybody fast enough or strong enough to catch you is fast enough or strong enough to make a real living in the city above. But…rainstorm. Some of the tunnels might be flooded out, which means either trying to find a new path and maybe getting lost in the underways or getting caught in a flash flood and drowning. Also, and you'd never admit this to Rat, but, well...it's dark down there!

                        By…Hm. Surely there’s SOME safer way to get to the Immaculate Temple in bad weather…


                        So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

                        The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
                        -Roger Zelazny

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                        • #13
                          Lets see how sharp our tongue is and try to talk our way into a boat ride.

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                          • #14
                            We know a hundred ways around the city but none of them are safe for us. Let's go all "Kim" and offer to guide a poor lost pilgrim or itinerant traveller to the temple (for only a cursory fee, of course) and gain ourselves some safety in numbers!

                            Let's look for someone who looks lost and pious, they shouldn't be hard to spot, all the locals are indoors today.

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                            • #15
                              By Foot: Sure there is the chance to be run over by a runaway carriage. or to be nabbed by guards and pressed into slavery.

                              But by roof and we have the chance to fall to our deaths. Or be mauled by a raptor cat. By boat we again need to rely on goodwill or luck. Neither of which we have in ready supply. And by tunnel. Nobody likes drowning in the dark! At least a runaway carriage is easier to avoid then the rest of those options.

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