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Those Blessed with Talent

Discussion in 'Questing' started by Darkened, Feb 26, 2015.

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  1. Pandemonious Ivy

    Pandemonious Ivy Making the rounds.

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    Shhhhhh, I'm on me phone.
     
  2. redaeth

    redaeth Stubborn pedantrist

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    [X] You've never been in the inner city before, how could you pass up the urge.
    -[X] Just walk around for a little bit before going to the slave market to indenture yourself.
     
  3. Xicree

    Xicree Destroy and Rejoice!

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    [X] No, you've decided Straight to the markets
     
  4. Alexander

    Alexander How do you want me to discipline you today?

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    [X] You've never been in the inner city before, how could you pass up the urge.
    -[X] Just walk around for a little bit before going to the slave market to indenture yourself.
     
  5. redaeth

    redaeth Stubborn pedantrist

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    Darkened a question for Variant Bloodline, does that mean we can bond two monsters right away?
     
  6. Darkened

    Darkened Experienced.

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    Variant Bloodline just changes the levels at which monstrous bloodline appears and upgrades.
     
  7. BFldyq

    BFldyq It's pronounced Be-Fled-Ick

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    Omake Time! Thanks for Darkened

    An Unexpected Encounter

    Another day, another court held, where your advisors feed you lines, followed by retreating to the work room, where you signed everything passed in front of you.

    But, before all that, you were free to attend to your own desires. Heeding out into the gardens, trailing servants and guards behind you, you walked briskly towards your favourite place in the palace: the menagerie.

    Quickly entering the private bathroom reserved for your usage, Kindly Owl helping you change into more practical clothing, exiting just as fast as you went in. You are promptly being bowled over by a giant dog, as Zhongchen enthusiastically licking at your face while you laugh and scratch at his neck. After he finally has had enough, you manage to get back on your feet, wiping away the drool with your sleeve as you look out onto your partners.

    You stand there for a moment, just looking at them, before get to work, setting off to care for your partners. From Xiongmeng the Water Monkey, to Heping the Fire Turtle, you feed, groomed and played with your dearest friends. And sadly, you were done all too soon, the jobs done and the time alloted finished. And so, you trekked back towards the private bathroom, to have a bath and get changed.

    Unrobing, you sink into the warm bath with sigh. Closing your eyes, you address the attendants hovering around you.

    "Is everything prepared?"

    "Yes, your Holiness. Ripe Plum is ready to take your place at your command." Cracking open an eye, you see Kindly Owl and said Ripe Plum bowing in front of you.

    Letting out a breath, you close your eyes again.

    "Then proceed".

    You didn't need to see to know what was happening. Ripe Plums handsome features would be shifting, taking on the appearance of yourself. You began to change as well, your body growing to match the adult figure of Ripe Plum. Within seconds, it was if you had switched places.

    Your other attendants wasted no time in bustling forward, dressing the transfigured Plum into your regalia, before bustling him out, taking your place as the Emperor for the day.

    Exiting the bath, you towelled yourself off, before donning the Plums discarded uniform, marking you as an Indentured Servant of the Emperor. Exiting the bathroom, you began the trek towards the servant exit of the Palace, following the path Plum took every day to pick up supplies for your partners.

    Nodding to the guards on duty, you stepped out into the city, going along the path Plum had instructed you on over many weeks. Finally out of sight of the guards you ducked into a private corner, transforming back to your normal appearance, your clothing shrinking to fit you.

    Finally, it hits you. After months and months of planning, secret practice and preparation, you'd done it. You were out. For the first time in your life, you didn't have to deal with the venomous vipers that called themselves your advisors. You didn't have to spend every moment being watched by someone. You were freer then you'd ever been in all 14 years of your life, and all it took was replacing a slave for a day. The urge to laugh was overpowering, but you managed to keep it suppressed.

    You didn't, however, bother to keep the smile off your face as you wandered through the city, seeing it properly for the first time, not being bustled about in an armoured carriage from place to place. The restrictions on your life had always rankled you. You preferred to work with your hands, yearned to explore and be free.

    It was, you mused, a bitter irony. The first Imperial Prince to be born with a Martial Class in a hundred years, and you were born when the Imperial family was at its weakest since the founding of the Empire, with no direct heirs in any of the Imperial Clans. You were fairly sure that the only reason you still lived was because of that fact, as none of them would risk losing the resulting succession crisis. And so they placed "advisors" next to you, telling you what to do, and guards to ensure their interests and puppet were protected.

    Frankly, you were just happy that so many of the servants were loyal, something you worked to repay as much as possible. Their only flaw was that they were all significantly older then you, with the only people within a decade of your own age being the vipers sent by the Imperial Clans in an obvious attempt to influence you, and your sister before she had gotten married. It was utterly frustrating.

    Of course, the situation was unlikely to change any time soon. With the Clans utterly dominating the political and economic fields, the only thing that had a reasonable chance of tipping the balance of power towards to the Imperial family again would be military power. And with you being the "irreplaceable" Emperor, you ever managing to accomplish any note-worthy martial feats were slim, while none of the family retainers had the potential for such things. Great warriors did not grow on trees, and the Clans had sunk their claws deep into the few that were not already part of them. It seemed at times as if the Heavens had forsaken their blessings upon your family.

    Lost within your own thoughts, you rounded a corner a little too fast and rammed into something. Rocking back slightly, you looked down at your feet, to the sight of a tiny child wearing clothes more suited a monk sprawled out on the ground, and cursing up a storm. Nonplussed by the unexpected appearance, you offer out your hand.

    "Are you alright?"

    Paying attention to you properly, you little monk-child recoils at the sight of the insignia on your uniform. You, however, can only stare at the tattoo that the movement had revealed on her left hand.

    Heaven, it seems, had a sense of humour.
     
    Winged One, brekouh, Vlagh999 and 6 others like this.
  8. Darkened

    Darkened Experienced.

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    BFldyq may choose one of the following
    [X] ?????? is added to the encounter table for the upper city.
    [ ] Luck +5
    [ ] Complete studying for Face Sculpting Technique
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
  9. BFldyq

    BFldyq It's pronounced Be-Fled-Ick

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    [X] ?????? is added to the encounter table for the upper city.

    Mystery option!
     
  10. Darkened

    Darkened Experienced.

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    Locking it.


    [X] 2 No, you've decided Straight to the markets: (Xicree, Adyen)
    [X] 5 You've never been in the inner city before, how could you pass up the urge.: (Alexander, redaeth, hunter09, Pandemonious Ivy, BFldyq)
    -[X] 5 Just walk around for a little bit before going to the slave market to indenture yourself.: (Alexander, redaeth, hunter09, Pandemonious Ivy, BFldyq)
     
    Pandemonious Ivy likes this.
  11. Adyen

    Adyen Experienced.

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    We're such country hicks... :p
     
  12. Threadmarks: The First Hint of Thunder
    Darkened

    Darkened Experienced.

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    [X] 2 No, you've decided Straight to the markets: (Xicree, Adyen)
    [X] 5 You've never been in the inner city before, how could you pass up the urge.: (Alexander, redaeth, hunter09, Pandemonious Ivy, BFldyq)
    -[X] 5 Just walk around for a little bit before going to the slave market to indenture yourself.:
    (Alexander, redaeth, hunter09, Pandemonious Ivy, Bfldyq)

    You could try to lift a few wallets, but without learning at least pickpocket 1, you don't think you'd have much luck at all. Especially since you see a lot of lines tattooing the hands of passer-byes, and even the odd triangle. No one up here is showing a dot that'd tell everyone else they're trash. Really though, if you're honest, the reason you don't make a grab has more to do with how strange and wonderful upper city seems than anything else.

    The people are so clean and carefree. People walk around alone without looking suspiciously at everyone else. The children you see all have adults around, whether a noble's brat walking with obvious guards, or a merchant whispering quietly to his daughter. The buildings are all so new. High quality, painted wood with elegant slanted roofs. The colors match! You pass a shrine and whistle as people actually throw money into the donation box. In Lower City, not that you have many shrines, no one would bother. As bad luck as it is to rob a shrine, empty stomachs matter a lot more to most people than distant gods.

    Following the foot-traffic leads you to a wide paved street decorated with strange shops. In Lower city, the few merchants there are are devilishly sharp, ready to club or cut any grabby hands. Sure someone selling food might leave stuff out on a table or in barrels, but no one selling jewelry, not that anyone ever sells real jewelry, would put that stuff out where any hand could take it. It's so... easy. You're sure a few people will have enough perception to spot you, but a few decent thieves could make a fortune here in the upper city.

    You walk down the merchant's alley, marveling at everything from shiny stones like nothing you've ever imagined, to exotic furs, to real silks so fine they feel like air. The merchants watch you, but no one slaps your hand or shouts for the guards when you get near. A merchant selling roasted meat actually gives you some for free, and not the half-rotten or old stuff either. He does it just because your stomach's rumbling. Hah! The the sap would go broke in a day in Lower City. So what if he turns a little white when you grab the offered meat with your tattooed left hand; he's the freak who gives out fresh food for free, that has to be at least as rare as someone with your talent.

    So you laugh and marvel and maybe get a bit lost in this beautiful, alien, perfectly strange land you'd never believe was right next to lower city. And you almost miss the one thing that isn't so different. At first you think it's a coincidence, spotting the same person behind you 3 then 4 times. But as the minutes wear on, you're sure you've found a tail. He's dressed as oddly as everyone else up here, but calloused hands, narrowed eyes that keep glancing away whenever you try to meet them and a thick frame practically bursting with nervous energy give him away.

    Okay, you don't want to assume Han Wei sent him, because if Lord Han Wei really did send him then you're going to be in a ton of trouble. Besides, even upper city has to have a slaver or two, someone out to grab an unattached kid to make a few quick bucks. Well, you can deal with this. You slide into a shop, spend a few moments examining some spices and dash past the shopkeeper and out the back as soon as your tail looks away. The startled shopkeeper tries to say something to you, but you flash the tattoo on your hand, then hold a finger to your lips and he shuts right up.

    Before your tail can catch on, you're running. You don't have a clue where you'll go, but finding out can happen when you're sure no one's going to grab you off the streets and sell you; or worse, report you going to the slave markets back to Han Wei. Only when you're exhausted, even more lost and completely alone, do you start making your way out toward what you think is the city wall. The Imperial palace is really huge, and a bit higher than anywhere else in the city, so you just go down and away from that. Still, the sun's practically setting by the time you manage to work your way around the outer wall enough to find the slave market.

    +5XP

    It's near the gates, with Lower City's filth and dirt and everything out on the other side. What few buyers remain are way too well dressed and too well guarded for anywhere this close to Lower City, but no one would let the stink of the market any nearer to the emperor's palace. It's a normal, strangely reassuring place. You walk inside, smiling sadly at the beaten faces staring at you with sullen dead eyes. You feel pretty bad for the people penned up, or in covered cages for those too valuable to risk to the sun. But this is the first day of you're life you've been sure that that won't be you! Even if you're indentured for 10 or so years, you won't be property, just a servant on a long contract. You drag down a sleeve till it covers the back of your hand and try to find a merchant.

    Here you need to be careful. Indenture's different from slavery, even though they happen at the same place. For one, you'll be selling yourself at the market. You'll be getting most of the money, while whatever merchant that brokers the deal gets a small cut. But, once you're up for auction, what are you going to do if an unscrupulous salesman misfiles a little paperwork and sells you as a slave instead?

    No, the good news is that you're too valuable. At A rank, who'd be able to afford you but the wealthy, the kind of rich person that might hit the market back for hurting a favored servant? Besides, people will know and they'll want to know where you came from. The market might get away with stealing any ordinary kid, but they probably won't try that with you as long as you're careful.

    So you flag down a beady eyed man. You can tell he works here both because of his dress, as well as the way he spends all his time focused on what few buyers remain at this hour instead of the products. He walks toward you, faintly displeased that you'll probably eat up his chance at a real sale this late in the day, but not unwilling to talk.

    “I need to put myself up for auction, indenture not the other kind,” best to be straight up front, before he can get any ideas.

    You see his eyes shift away, looking for a real customer instead of a brat that won't fetch much at market. Then he mutters under his breath and analyzes you, couldn't even say 'hi' first? Then he sputters in shock, makes sure no other merchant is paying attention to him and does it again. You're getting tired of all the repeats, but you bear with it. Ah, now he's all smiles and introductions, pulling you into a covered tent, the kind of shaded place where they negotiate sales, as well as where they keep the valuable products: those trained as entertainers or craftsmen or even rarely warriors rather than simple E ranks, the kind of people too valuable to leave to die in the sun.

    “It will,” the merchant, whose name is Shouting at Storms squeaks out, “take a few days to get everything sorted with the auction. There are always a few interested buyers, looking to purchase high profile servants. Our most discerning customers never come in person unless there's a specific product for sale that interests them, and one of your caliber will naturally require a chance to choose between competing offers rather than any standard contract.”

    You frown. You want to get the best deal there is, the most protections, the highest profile owner and the most pay you can. But, the longer you wait the longer the market, or anyone noble looking to get a better grip on you, has to play around. And you're pretty sure word's going to reach the Han clan, Han Wei in particular. You've ignored his offer of adoption now and dodges his minion, and the bastard might hold the insult against you.

    Shouting at Storms doesn't pay any attention to your indecision. You imagine someone like that gets even more used to shutting off whatever parts of his heart want to help others or show decency than anyone trying to survive in Lower City.

    “Of course, we-I'll be willing to provide you with accommodations, my own in fact,” hah, the greedy merchant just wants to keep you, and the price he'll get from your auction, all to himself. Still, a bed sounds nice and, having seen what the real city has to offer, you have no desire to walk back to Lower City outside the walls. Besides, there's something nice about having people bending over backwards to put you up nicely rather than chasing you away with brooms or kitchen knives.

    [ ] Insist on an auction tomorrow. He'll have the morning to spread the word, and the most interested buyers might send someone to bid, but it won't really give anyone time to plot or arrange anything special
    [ ] Have the merchant sell you the day after tomorrow. News will have time to circulate, and you'll have to wait through tomorrow night, but you shouldn't run in to much any trouble on the day of the auction.
    [ ] Have the merchant wait till the end of the third day. You'll run in to some risk, but three days should really let the news spread enough for anyone interested to come. You'll have a lot of choice on employers.


    And:
    [ ] Take the merchant's accommodations. He'll have somewhere decent enough and it will keep you close to the market. The guards inside the walls are also probably a bit harder to bribe if anything does happen.
    [ ] Anonymity is your best security. You should stay in the lower city where you know the streets and won't be so traceable.
    [ ] Write-in
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017
  13. Xicree

    Xicree Destroy and Rejoice!

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    [X] Have the merchant wait till the end of the third day. You'll run in to some risk, but three days should really let the news spread enough for anyone interested to come. You'll have a lot of choice on employers.
    -[X] Make it clear that you're going to have a small, but reasonable list of demands for whom ever your eventual patron will be. You won't be selling yourself blindly.
    [X] Take the merchant's accomodations. He'll have somewhere decent enough and it will keep you close to the market. The guards inside the walls are also probably a bit harder to bribe if anything does happen.
     
  14. Dark Ness

    Dark Ness I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    [X] Have the merchant wait till the end of the third day. You'll run in to some risk, but three days should really let the news spread enough for anyone interested to come. You'll have a lot of choice on employers.
    -[X] Make it clear that you're going to have a small, but reasonable list of demands for whom ever your eventual patron will be. You won't be selling yourself blindly.
    [X] Take the merchant's accomodations. He'll have somewhere decent enough and it will keep you close to the market. The guards inside the walls are also probably a bit harder to bribe if anything does happen.
     
  15. redaeth

    redaeth Stubborn pedantrist

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    [X] Have the merchant wait till the end of the third day. You'll run in to some risk, but three days should really let the news spread enough for anyone interested to come. You'll have a lot of choice on employers.
    -[X] Make it clear that you're going to have a small, but reasonable list of demands for whom ever your eventual patron will be. You won't be selling yourself blindly.
    [X] Take the merchant's accomodations. He'll have somewhere decent enough and it will keep you close to the market. The guards inside the walls are also probably a bit harder to bribe if anything does happen.
     
  16. Wawv

    Wawv Getting sticky.

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    [X] Have the merchant wait till the end of the third day. You'll run in to some risk, but three days should really let the news spread enough for anyone interested to come. You'll have a lot of choice on employers.
    -[X] Make it clear that you're going to have a small, but reasonable list of demands for whom ever your eventual patron will be. You won't be selling yourself blindly.
    [X] Take the merchant's accomodations. He'll have somewhere decent enough and it will keep you close to the market. The guards inside the walls are also probably a bit harder to bribe if anything does happen.
     
  17. Pandemonious Ivy

    Pandemonious Ivy Making the rounds.

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    Query:

    How easy are skill books to find in the Upper City? (Obviously, this would be what we know IC, if we've passed by anything that looks like it)

    If we can find some skill book seller, maybe we could flash our rank tat, pretend to be doing important business, then lay low for a day while the word gets out about our sale. Can promise to dedicate whatever money we get to pay for the book(s) we obtain.
     
  18. Darkened

    Darkened Experienced.

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    You don't know. You can try to look if you wish.
     
    Pandemonious Ivy and Xicree like this.
  19. Pandemonious Ivy

    Pandemonious Ivy Making the rounds.

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    Yo, Xicree, what do you think about my idea?

    The point would be to both stay out of trouble until we have some type of actual abilities we can work on, as well as hopefully gain something neat we wouldn't have a chance to later. Fits with our opportunistic street rat persona.
     
    Darkened likes this.
  20. BFldyq

    BFldyq It's pronounced Be-Fled-Ick

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    [X] Have the merchant wait till the end of the third day. You'll run in to some risk, but three days should really let the news spread enough for anyone interested to come. You'll have a lot of choice on employers.
    [X] Take the merchant's accomodations. He'll have somewhere decent enough and it will keep you close to the market. The guards inside the walls are also probably a bit harder to bribe if anything does happen.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015
  21. Pipeman

    Pipeman Well worn.

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    Is waiting three days and staying with the merchant really sensible?
    We're maximising the odds that Han will find out about our plans before it's too late to do anything, while minimising the odds that we can manage to dodge whoever he ends up sending for us and it's not like the merchant would even dream of standing up for us.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2015
  22. john doe

    john doe Not too sore, are you?

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    [X] Have the merchant wait till the end of the third day. You'll run in to some risk, but three days should really let the news spread enough for anyone interested to come. You'll have a lot of choice on employers.
    [X] Anonymity is your best security. You should stay in the lower city where you know the streets and won't be so traceable.
    Also do we get to choose which contract to accept or just going for. the highest offer?

    Don't want to trust the merchants accomidations for three days as we will almost certainly be found out
     
  23. Serous

    Serous Your friendly neighbourhood witch

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    [X] Have the merchant wait till the end of the third day. You'll run in to some risk, but three days should really let the news spread enough for anyone interested to come. You'll have a lot of choice on employers.
    [X] Anonymity is your best security. You should stay in the lower city where you know the streets and won't be so traceable.
     
  24. rcnr

    rcnr Dangerously Chuuni

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    I don't think that being away somewhere else is as big a benefit as you think. If we're not aware of any threats Shouting at Storms receives, we could walk into a trap instead of the auction we'd been hoping for.

    Being right near him for extended periods will also go a ways towards proving to him that we're not going to skip out on the deal (we are a kid, after all) and help greed win out over fear if he does meet some resistance.

    Plus, if Han manages to shut down the deal early and we're not aware of it, he could begin poisoning the well and make it incredibly difficult for us to get another one.

    That's not even getting into the risks we take even being there, as clean and expensive looking as we are. We even have a price tag on our wrist.

    I'd rather make the deal happen earlier as a means of security. Better is the enemy of good, and we'll have enough options after two days.

    [X] Have the merchant sell you the day after tomorrow. News will have time to circulate, and you'll have to wait through tomorrow night, but you shouldn't run in to much any trouble on the day of the auction.
    [X] Take the merchant's accomodations. He'll have somewhere decent enough and it will keep you close to the market. The guards inside the walls are also probably a bit harder to bribe if anything does happen.
     
  25. Darkened

    Darkened Experienced.

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    Small mistake: I forgot to list that you earned 5XP from dodging your tail.

    Corrected.
     
    Pandemonious Ivy and Pipeman like this.
  26. Pipeman

    Pipeman Well worn.

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    [X] Have the merchant sell you the day after tomorrow. News will have time to circulate, and you'll have to wait through tomorrow night, but you shouldn't run in to much any trouble on the day of the auction.
    [X] Take the merchant's accomodations. He'll have somewhere decent enough and it will keep you close to the market. The guards inside the walls are also probably a bit harder to bribe if anything does happen.
     
  27. hunter09

    hunter09 Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Have the merchant sell you the day after tomorrow. News will have time to circulate, and you'll have to wait through tomorrow night, but you shouldn't run in to much any trouble on the day of the auction.
    [X] Take the merchant's accomodations. He'll have somewhere decent enough and it will keep you close to the market. The guards inside the walls are also probably a bit harder to bribe if anything does happen.
     
  28. Garahs

    Garahs Soil Surveyor

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    [X] Have the merchant sell you the day after tomorrow. News will have time to circulate, and you'll have to wait through tomorrow night, but you shouldn't run in to much any trouble on the day of the auction.
    [X] Take the merchant's accomodations. He'll have somewhere decent enough and it will keep you close to the market. The guards inside the walls are also probably a bit harder to bribe if anything does happen.
     
  29. Darkened

    Darkened Experienced.

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    Locking
     
  30. Threadmarks: One Unlucky Girl Caught in the Storm
    Darkened

    Darkened Experienced.

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    [4] 2 days (Garahs, hunter09, Pipeman, rcnr)
    [7] 3 days (Serous, john doe, BFldyq, Wawv, redaeth, Dark Ness, Xicree)

    [9] The merchant's house (Xicree, Dark Ness, Redaeth, Wawv, BFldyq, rcnr, Pipeman, hunter09, Garahs)
    [2] The streets (john doe, Serous

    Three days should be enough. Shouting at Storms wants to wait weeks, but he's a greedy merchant and you figure that the longer you wait, the more chance someone might fix the auction or just snatch you out of your bed. So you hold firm at 3 days and you also tell Shouting at Storms that you're looking for more than just money, and you're not going to sell yourself to some freak just because he's willing to pony up higher coin.

    The merchant's a little confused at that, then catches on. He explains that even though it's called an auction, what'll happen is a bit different from just highest bidder wins. For an indentured servant, the terms of the contract definitely matter, so you'll have complete discretion in who to pick, even if they offer to pay you nothing at all beyond room and board. You and Storms share a shudder at that.

    Shouting at Storms also explains that you won't formally get sold until the big auction at the end; but you'll still be expected to show yourself at the market every day, let buyers examine you so they can make offers, etc. In practice, the real auction's just one last chance to push the price up again through competition. It's also, Shouting at Storms warns, a great way to anger many influential people if you pass up a big offer for a small one just because of who the buyer is.

    Then Shouting at Storms leads you to an inn that looks too nice for anywhere this close to the walls. You guess merchants at the Slave Market or those who aren't planning on staying long need somewhere to stay. He makes you wait outside while he goes in and shoves some brightly painted up woman out. Oh, so there are things the greedy merchant likes besides money. You ignore his girl and step inside. She's too healthy and well dressed to be anyone you'd have met outside the walls.

    Of course she shouts a few insults at Storms, tells him that she's not going with anyone that likes 'little stick figures' instead of real women and shoves off. In the gang you'd probably chase after her for that and give her a good thrashing, but you're not in a gang anymore, so you don't have to stand up for yourself like that now.

    Then you steal Shouting at Storms' bed and kick him out of his own rooms. It feels nice and all nobleish to have that kind of power for once.

    You fall asleep on the softest bed you've known since you were four, dreaming of whatever possibilities the future might hold.

    Shouting at Storms wears his smug like a badge of honor as he leads you through the market. A few merchants try to ask him things and are summarily ignored. He sets you up in a small tent, off to the side of the market proper and explains that people will come to inspect you today, buyers and gawkers alike, and all you have to do is sit still quiet and pretty. Great. At least you're under the tents.

    The morning passes relatively quickly, Shouting at Storms hovers around, vanishing only for short minutes to vuy a half-starved brat away from some woman who looks enough like him to be the brat's mom. The morning passes quietly, a few people walk by or talk to Storms before asking to see your hand or just casting analyze. In the early afternoon, a confidently beautiful merchant comes to complain that Storms' hogging you to himself. You watch her flirt until Storms finally musters up the will to tell her to get out, so he can greet another potential buyer.

    It's strange. You're used to being ignored. Now people come into the tent to stare at you, looking at you but almost never talking with you. They see you now, all these servants of the powerful and the wealthy, but you don't feel any more human than when people used to pretend you didn't exist.

    A few are different. An old weather-beaten man with a friendly smile tells you that he represents Lady Yuwen Xiao. He gives you a strange spicy-sweet candy like nothing you've ever tasted. He smiles indulgently as you eat it and then promises you a lot more if you'd come with him to visit his lady this evening.

    Right, any kid stupid enough to go with a stranger just because they got a bit of candy deserves to end up on the markets. You want to tell him to go screw a goat, but you're trying not to push away buyers and everyone knows nobles are always a little strange in the head, so it might be for real. Instead you tell him that your poor mother left you in Shouting at Storms' care and you wouldn't dare disappoint her by going off on your own.

    The old man looks at you for a bit, goes to talk with Shouting at Storms and then leaves dejected.

    No one bids, but Shouting at Storms doesn't seem worried when he has you wear a heavy cloak to leave the market without being identified. You're lucky enough, you hope, to slip away without attracting any attention.

    The second day is far busier than the first You guess people needed time for news to spread. Shouting at Storms stops letting anyone into your tent if they don't look rich enough to be a real buyer and only the the actual bidders get to come in alone. The old man returns, and tells you that Lady Yuwen has decided, provisionally, to offer you an annual salary of 10 gold coins, education, all your necessities and a single beast from her menagerie if you'll work for the lady for 7 years.

    That's a lot more tempting than any candy, but you're not going to jump for the first offer. As the old man leaves he shares a harsh exchange with another person you recognize. Fuck. The muscular guy who was following you in the market steps into the tent.

    “Hello,” his voice carries just a hint of irritation, “again” wonderful.

    “Hello sir? Have we met before?” You keep your eyes low. In a few years and a dozen levels you'll be able to kick anyone's ass. Now these bastards are scary and powerful and they could ruin whatever hopes you have. He ignores your comment

    “My lord Han Wei,” the man's smirk is rather cruel, “Wishes to inform you that he is rather displeased with this foolishness. However, he understands the fo... follies of youth,” you don't think the thug knows what follies means, not that you do, “and he'll let you change your mind and accept adoption until the end of today.

    Otherwise he said that he'll pay 10 copper coins and basic necessities for 10 years of heavy labor without restrictions.”

    Asshole. Not that you tell the thug that. You've dealt with guards in lower city for years and you know how to tuck your lip and pretend you're beaten. Instead you nod quietly and let the thug stomp out. Still, after that kind of offer there's no way in any hell you'll go back to Han Wei alone and trust him not to hold a grudge.

    After that you start getting enough bids that the less memorable ones start to fade away. Lord Liu Wei is looking for a companion for his son and wants to offer you a 10 year contract. A rich merchant doesn't seem to get the difference between indentured servant and adoption, but he comes himself and he seems nice enough for someone with money. A servant dressed far more ostentatiously than anyone else so far loudly informs Shouting at Storms hat Lady Tang Hu is looking for a personal servant. Tang, that's an imperial clan! She comes right out offers you 50 gold coins every year, to prepare a low level monster ranked at least B+ as well as education, clothing appropriate to your station and all your basic necessities.

    Shouting at Storms seems quite pleased by the time the day ends. Aside from the encounter with Han Wei's representative, you are too. He tells you that the third day will be short, enough time to let any latecommers take a look at you before pushing on to the auction proper.

    Then the third day comes and things change. The stream of new offers dries up and all the old ones seem to melt away like good dreams. Tang Hu's servant comes back first thing in the morning to withdraw his offer. The kind merchant from yesterday does the same soon after. Where the second day left you amazed and hopeful with every new guest, there's not a single new offer in the first several hours of the third. You think you start to cry a little when Liu Wei's servant comes to retract his bid as well. At least he apologizes to you personally and hints at something going on in the background when he tells you that his master lost interest in buying you. Of course a few bids are left standing: Yuwen Xiao's and Han Wei's are the only really notable ones. Even though Yuwen was your first bid, you don't think she'll stick it out either.

    When you're sitting down to chew a piece of bread and sulk, some brat even has the nerve to sneak into the tent from the back! You're worried at first, till you realize that he's your age, with smooth unscrewed skin, fancy—if decently dirty—clothes and a glove on his hand that marks him as a noble. You bow, fighting the urge to glare as he circles around you.

    “Wow!” there's enthusiasm in his voice, “So you're the girl everyone's talking about, aren't you?”

    You resist the urge to say something sarcastic. You've angered one noble and now you're probably going to end up stuck serving him. You'll do nothing to anger this one, instead you nod quietly.

    “Oh come on, don't be like that! You're charisma based so you have to be outgoing, that's the way it works.” The noble boy's tone is teasing, but his eyes don't hold a shred of malice. No, you look at him and all you can see is terrifying innocence.

    “Just go away,” you manage to creak out eventually. You don't think the boy's as insecure as Han Wei, to come after anyone who dares disagree with him.

    “Oh come on, where's the fun in that little sis? Anyway, I've come to bid on behalf of myself, because really who wants to hire someone without meeting them and you seem like you could be fun.”

    “Fine,” despite yourself you let a thread of hope enter your voice.

    “Hmmm, well if you don't want to just join the clan then, yeah, I'm sure I can talk all those grannies in the Mu clan into giving you food and books and stuff for 5 or 7 years, and hmm... Oh! Yeah, I'll help you hunt down whatever monsters you want to capture for pets. Hey don't laugh! I may be small, but I'm a strong man of the Mu clan you know I'm sure we can tame some kind of grown up X+ rank 7 Torments Infernal Dragon God or something if we try at it!” He pats a nonexistent bicep like he has something to be proud of, and smiles like X rank is an actual thing that exists, “And umm... I don't have much money today, but I'm sure I can get at least a few silver together every year, maybe 20 or so?”

    Wonderful, this brat's best offer is almost as bad as the one Han Wei made to insult and humiliate you.

    “Just go away,” you manage, staring at what has to be the Mu clan's idiot stepchild. Is this brat really related to General Mu Zen? Trying not to cry, you shoo him out of the tent.

    “Okay! So that's a yes, right? I'll see you at the auction then?”

    –-----------------

    You do, in fact, see him at the auction. Yuwen Xiao's old servant and Han Wei's thug (along several of Han Wei's thug's cudgel toting friends) are the only others who bother to show up. Shouting at Storms stares awkwardly from the small stage the Slave Market has for such events,

    “This is rather unexpected,” you can see the hope draining from his eyes as a bead of sweat slides down his neck, “But as it's ten minutes past the assigned time, I'll start the bidding. The current highest offer is Yuwen Xiao's” he inclines his head toward the cheerful old man.

    “Would anyone care to make another bid?” Shouting at Storms' voice is filled with a desperate wild hope.

    Lord Mu waves cheerfully but silently at you from the audience. The old man keeps staring at Lord Mu somewhat nervously; Han Wei's thugs move closer to the entrance. No one speaks.

    Shouting at Storms looks to you, misery making its way across his face.

    “Then your decision?”

    [ ] Han Wei. 10 copper coins a year, no education, hard labor. At least you won't have to worry about escaping him.
    [ ] Yuwen Xiao: 10 gold coins a year, your pick of the beasts from Yuwen's menagerie, education and unclear duties.
    [ ] The Mu Clan's idiot brat: 20 silver a year, an idiot will help you find pets, education. You'll have to be this weirdo's friend?
    [ ] Reject everyone and try to make a run for it. You'll have to dodge Han Wei's thugs and Lady Yuwen Xiao might hold it against you.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2015
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