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Urchin Quest

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  • Wise Old Guru
    started a topic Urchin Quest

    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, 06:41 PM.

  • prototype00
    replied
    In light of the sanity everyone is displaying I would like to change my plan to rope + ration as well.

    May I suggest if it is narratively possible, save some of that meat? Not for ourselves, mind, but by doing what we are doing we might be coming back to an awake, hungry man-eating predator?

    Leave a comment:


  • TheCountAlucard
    replied
    Rope+raiton plan, please.

    Leave a comment:


  • LadyLens
    replied
    I favour the rope-andr-aiton plan. We're a kid, we can't fight a flood and win. But we can toss Eel a rope and anchor it to something so he can use it to swing himself out of the main current. I know this is possible, I've seen similar things done with boats in heavy currents.

    Leave a comment:


  • Measure of Hope
    replied
    Originally posted by Jairain View Post
    Sorry but I say let him go. We aren’t Exalted or even god blooded. We are little more than a child. A clever, lucky, and gifted child but not a hero, at least not yet. Discretion is the better part of valor. We can honor his memory and make generous offerings for him to ease his stay in the underworld.

    And with an attitude like that, we never will be! I'm not saying you have to do something incredibly stupid and valorous to exalt, but it helps! However, there's no need to be totally boneheaded. I also vote for the grab rope and use Chupong to scout option. This might result in an escaped raptor cat, but it's drowsy and has a broken leg so I doubt it'll go far.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jairain
    replied
    Sorry but I say let him go. We aren’t Exalted or even god blooded. We are little more than a child. A clever, lucky, and gifted child but not a hero, at least not yet. Discretion is the better part of valor. We can honor his memory and make generous offerings for him to ease his stay in the underworld.

    Leave a comment:


  • FallenEco
    replied
    Originally posted by BadassOverlord View Post
    "Tell Chupong to follow Eel in the flood and keep making noise so you can track him. You don’t like the idea of heading down into those floodwaters, but you can cannibalize some rope from the Raptor Cat’s cage, hope the thing stays asleep for a while yet, and try and follow him along the roofways above and throw down a rope for Eel to catch, and hopefully pull the old man to safety."

    Seems like the most sensible option.
    Also THE GURU LIVES *STOMP STOMP*
    I SECOND BOTH THE SANITY AND THE CELEBRATION.

    Leave a comment:


  • semicasual
    replied
    Start by cannibalizing rope from the cage. If Eel has washed away by the time you've got enough to throw down, proceed to follow him over the roofs with Chupong guiding the way.

    If he hasn't, secure the rope to a chimney or something up here, throw it down to him so he has something to hold onto, and *then* take the stairs down to the door.

    And if we survive this, we should look into finding another apartment in a part of town that's above the water line.

    Leave a comment:


  • BadassOverlord
    replied
    "Tell Chupong to follow Eel in the flood and keep making noise so you can track him. You don’t like the idea of heading down into those floodwaters, but you can cannibalize some rope from the Raptor Cat’s cage, hope the thing stays asleep for a while yet, and try and follow him along the roofways above and throw down a rope for Eel to catch, and hopefully pull the old man to safety."

    Seems like the most sensible option.
    Also THE GURU LIVES *STOMP STOMP*

    Leave a comment:


  • prototype00
    replied
    I feel somewhat guilty in that it was my own greedy suggestion that precipitated this turn of events.

    Knowing which, I suggest doubling down on the stupid awesome, grabbing that blanket and jumping off the roof, hoping that some pattern spiders are paying a lot of attention!

    (Oh and heaps of thumbs up for continuing to do this! Made my day! *I’m not trying to get our protagonist killed, honest!*)
    Last edited by prototype00; 01-29-2019, 02:57 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Wise Old Guru
    replied
    “Now what?” You look up at Eel and put your hands on your hips…and break into a huge grin. “Now we celebrate, you old bastard! Eel, if I give you some cash to go buy us a nice dinner and something to drink, can I trust you to actually come back with a nice dinner and something to drink?”

    “Kid…I know you. I get that you’re just trying to be sorta friendly and snarky,” Eel frowns. “But, well, it’s raining, and your hair is covering your eyes, and I dunno if you’ve noticed but there’s a bunch of ravens circlin’ over your head. You’re comin’ across real threatening-like.”

    “…really?” You turn to Moth.

    She nods. “I mean…the Master is much more imposing, but…yes. I think it’s as much the storm as anything, but you’re definitely coming across like some sort of evil mastermind from a play.”

    You grin wider. “Great! But seriously, Eel. We just pulled off our second stupid dangerous thing this season! And this one’s also going to make us some coin! We ought to celebrate!”

    “…Fine. I’ll go grab a bite. But only because I don’t much like the look of the canal in this weather. I’m spending the night at your place.”

    You look at Moth again.

    She looks Eel up and down, makes a slightly sour face…but shrugs. “…I guess it’s okay by me. If you’re bringing something to drink.”

    “Great! Moth, I don’t think you’re going to get the smell off that blanket, and I don’t wanna just leave the cat in the rain. Is it okay if I get you a new blanket and use yours as a tarp to give it a bit of shelter?”

    “I guess. You don’t want it catching a cold after all that work catching it, right?”

    “Right. If you want to head downstairs and keep the stove going, I’ll stay up here and set up the tarp and, uh…reinforce the cage. A bit. Just in case.”

    Moth and Eel both look at the cat sleeping in the wooden bars and nod silently before departing. It seemed real sturdy when you first put it together. Those hefty wooden bars and expertly woven wire connection points seem…a bit more ephemeral now, with a huge slumbering cat inside them. You heft the sturdy ropes you and Eel used in your stretcher and do a little bit of weaving and knotwork to reinforce the places that look weak.

    Then you sit in the rain for a while and watch the cat sleep. It yawns and stretches, and you observe the splint you made for its leg. Your work looks to be holding. That’s good…or not? It briefly occurs to you that a raptor cat without legs is probably easier to collect musk from, but...the thought saddens you a little. Even if it’s a man-eating monster, as you sit here in the rain watching it sleep, the Raptor Cat seems…beautiful.
    *****

    You lose track of time for a little while, and the raitons land on your head and shoulders, making little squawks and jostling each other for the best seating atop you, but mostly staying still and silent and respecting the mood. You feel better than you have felt in quite a while. Your plan came together. All that scheming and bartering and training the raitons…it paid off. There’s a deep and calm sense of satisfaction in that. The River Dragon felt like a stroke of luck, a gift from the Dragons, but this…this is a victory you made happen. Feeling like you have control of your life is…new. You decide you really like it.

    It’s been at least half an hour before your reverie is interrupted by shouting from the street below. You walk over to the edge of the roof and look down at the street, its uneven surface sparkling black with several inches of rain. Eel is down there, carrying a big sack over his shoulder and two bottles of something in one hand. The other hand has a single bottle, which you surmise is open, because Eel is walking a little less stiffly and singing a bit more loudly than usual. You gently put your palm to your forehead-the old man is just asking for a mugging-but can’t help smiling at the boatman’s good mood.

    “You still up there, you little brat?” He calls up to you.

    “Yeah. Come in and get something to eat before you catch your death out there, old man!” You call back down. A warm dry evening with…friends…and hot food on a rainy night, celebrating a victory…that sounds just lovely, and you chuckle as you call down to Eel.

    So you’re watching as a six-foot high wall of black water sweeps down the street toward the canal, baskets and street stalls and a throng of desperately paddling rats bouncing in its wake. You have time to yell Eel’s name, and he has time to turn and see it coming and throw down the groceries and start towards the door of your apartment building…and then the flood bowls him over like a child trying to move against the foot traffic in the Guild District at lunch hour.

    You only have moments, and time seems to slow to a crawl as you decide what you are going to do with them. What’s your play?

    Jump off the second story roof-no wait, that’s stupid, slide down the drainpipe-to the street so you can rescue Eel-he’s a clever old bastard, but he’s old. He doesn’t have the strength to swim against a flood. You’re young and lucky, so you do…probably. If you hurry and the fall doesn’t kill you, it’s the fastest way down there. Time is of the essence here. If you don’t reach him right away, the current will drag him right down the street.

    Grab the blanket off the top of the Raptor Cat’s cage and use it as a makeshift parachute. If you’re lucky and the Raitons grab on and help provide a little lift, you think you can make it half a block out to the canal to where Eel’s boat is still tied, if wildly rocking in the flood. It’ll be rougher sailing than you’ve practiced, but you feel a lot better about saving your friend in a boat than you do swimming in the floodwaters…though if you’re wrong, you’ll land in the floodwaters with a heavy blanket wrapping around you, which would certainly make drowning a lot easier.

    Run down the three flights of stairs to the ground floor. It’s probably already starting to flood down there, so you’ll be fighting the flow of people moving upstairs from the floor-level apartments…but if you can get past them and brute-force the door open against the weight of the water, and if Eel’s been able to fight the current and grab hold of your front steps you might be able to help him inside.

    Tell Chupong to follow Eel in the flood and keep making noise so you can track him. You don’t like the idea of heading down into those floodwaters, but you can cannibalize some rope from the Raptor Cat’s cage, hope the thing stays asleep for a while yet, and try and follow him along the roofways above and throw down a rope for Eel to catch, and hopefully pull the old man to safety.

    Stand on the rooftop and watch as the flood drags the old man down the street. It’s a shame to lose him, and you feel terrible for not doing something…but...fifteen percent…no. You shake your head. You’re going to feel shitty for years that you thought about the money for a minute. But… if you try to save him you’re only going to get dragged under and drown yourself. You need to save your strength for things you can actually accomplish.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jairain
    replied
    Originally posted by prototype00 View Post
    How about a combination of things:

    1. Send Eel out to get fixings for a celebratory meal, with enough meat for like 6 people (the good stuff of course) all on your dime. Wine and the lot of it..

    2. While he’s gone, if it’s still raining, pay Moth back for her blanket that she is never going to use again and set it up as a water proof-ish awning (you have poles and whatnot there). Also see if you can convince her to get the stock boiling for your celebratory punch up.

    3. While your erstwhile allies are busy, think very hard about your plans for the immediate future so you have something to tell Eel when he gets back.

    4. Party on the roof!

    5. See Eel off and keep an eye on the cat until it wakes, feed it (with the extra meat) take care of it. Y’know get that imprinting started. You’re going to have it get very, used to you before you can collect anything.
    I jump on the band wagon. I’m so happy to read more of this!

    Leave a comment:


  • prototype00
    replied
    Originally posted by semicasual View Post
    I don't think this is feasible for the forseeable future. We'd have to outcompete all of the independent boat-taxis, and we have no means of doing that.

    More importantly, becoming a taxi magnate sounds really boring. This is Exalted! We live in a world of magic and wonder, and your highest ambition is to become a successful small business owner? What legends will they tell of our deeds then? (Answer: None, probably.)
    Fair enough, I think you are right here.

    Well, it's not like it's a *lot* of money. Eel hasn't demonstrated much financial restraint in the past, but I doubt he'd run out on Tavi over the equivalent of a week's groceries.
    I’m rather hoping his cupidity for future profits outweigh his current greed.

    Leave a comment:


  • semicasual
    replied
    Originally posted by prototype00 View Post
    Because my advice doesn’t seem, by popular consensus, to be terrible, could I maybe make a long term suggestion (maybe something she discusses with Eel over dinner?)

    Poling a boat through Nexus seems more and more like a poor use of our protagonist’s valuable time. How about you try to corner the market on boat rental? Do it like a Creation Style Ride Share, make deals with the workshops that repair them and then rent them out for a share of the profits. Our heroine already knows how the business is run and the risks involved, just take it one level up. (It also appears that boats are a significant investment for the subset of people that pole them, maybe this makes it more attractive?)

    And passenger boat polers hear a lot of interesting things and transport a lot of interesting cargo. Maybe put a bounty on valuable info while you are at it?
    I don't think this is feasible for the forseeable future. We'd have to outcompete all of the independent boat-taxis, and we have no means of doing that.

    More importantly, becoming a taxi magnate sounds really boring. This is Exalted! We live in a world of magic and wonder, and your highest ambition is to become a successful small business owner? What legends will they tell of our deeds then? (Answer: None, probably.)

    Originally posted by FallenEco View Post
    Got tto be honest, not sure if Eel can be trusted to return if we give him money...
    Well, it's not like it's a *lot* of money. Eel hasn't demonstrated much financial restraint in the past, but I doubt he'd run out on Tavi over the equivalent of a week's groceries.

    Leave a comment:


  • FallenEco
    replied
    Got tto be honest, not sure if Eel can be trusted to return if we give him money...

    Leave a comment:

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