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same shit, different day.
08-25-2020, 07:44 PM
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#1
Scurrying, flea-bitten rats. Filthy streets. Dirty, poorly cleaned pelts.

The stench of warm, furry bodies all crowded together and angry at one another. Rotting meat some sorry vendor was still trying to sell. Fecal matter of various species. The hot sun that warmed these wretched things and made them twice as aromatic.

Crying children. Begging urchins. Lying con artists. General slum-slickers just trying to get by.

All of these sights, smells, and sounds conglomerated into what Yaurithian citizens I new to be the Marketplace. To anyone that had the privilege of calling themselves a nobleman, it was dirty, shady, dangerous — poverty at its finest. To everyone else, it was all of those things and an important part of daily life... should you be looked to buy or sell.

As a young runaway, born with nothing but disgrace to her name, Jana had nothing to lose here, but rather everything to gain. She was a hunter by trade, and as such aimed to take any extra meat she could afford to live without to then sell to the other citizens of Yaurith. It was a tricky business, scrambling every day to procure a meal, only to wonder if she’d be better of selling it or eating it, not to mention the competition was steep. A sizable portion of the market was entirely made up of those selling meat, since it’s such an easy thing to come by compared to everything else. There were plenty of vendors that had more experience hunting, more hands to help hunt, more years honing their persuasive skills to get someone to buy from them, more loyal customers, just... more everything. All she could bring to the table were a few measly rabbit or vole carcasses — anything bigger would be a death threat to a lone adolescent — and she would do so so knowing fully well that just about everyone else would be selling them to.

The only advantage she ever had was pity — though orphans weren’t an uncommon appearance here by any stretch of the imagination, sometimes she’d be lucky enough to be the first one anyone saw — a scrawny, dirty, awkward teen girl, just trying to make a living by herself, with but a measly two or three carcasses to offer. Yes, surely you could spare a few coins, no...?

She... didn’t particularly like selling the concept of being lost, alone, and helpless just to make a few coins, but... what works, works.

This is what she is on her way to do right now. Dead rabbits hanging from her jaws, and head hanging low, she trudged through the market, searching for a good place to set up shop. Even as an adolescent, she was a good bit bigger than most, so she had no problem shoulder checking people out of her way to get where she was going. Perhaps rude under normal circumstances, but this was the Marketplace — everybody was shoving everybody. It’s the only way to get through the crowd.

Eventually, she came to a vaguely empty spot (as empty as a spot could be in this crowded place) relatively far from other meat vendors. Their cries could still be heard., but at least they weren’t in sight, which was the most ideal spot you could get here. She huffed and dared to stop, dropping her wares to the ground and looking around warily. Thieves were common here... she should know, she used to be one. To not make any sales was alright, it meant you could at least eat your wares and have a full stomach. But to have them stolen meant you’d have an empty wallet and an empty belly... assuming the thieves let you live. One must always stay on their toes in the Marketplace... in life, really.

After arranging the rabbits so they were close enough to keep track of, but spaced apart enough that everyone could see just how many she had, she began her usual calls, adding her voice to the general cacophony: “Rabbit! Rabbit! Fresh rabbit here! Just caught today!”

[Image: CCOLoqU.png]
{ TRACKER } -- { PLOTTER }
08-26-2020, 05:18 AM
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#2
There were the richer sectors of the marketplace, occupied by more established families with a history of making their livings off respectable trades: meat, pelt, and ore merchants, artisans, messengers, booksellers and beast tamers, apothecaries and bards — an endless list of reputable work, but only for those with enough connections and manpower to keep their businesses afloat. It was just too bad that not every wolf was born into such fortunate circumstances, and to crawl out of the cesspool that was abject poverty was hopeless on one’s own. Such was the social disparity of this place called Yourith.

For every tavern out in the open was a brothel kept out of sight, and in the darkest, most forgotten corners of the kingdom were the places housing slaves, blades for hire, illegal meat traders... Rai was not new to them, these degenerate places where morality and honor were merely nice sentiments that those wretches never felt. He had been in their midsts, before he and his brother could make it out by the skin of their teeth, by the strength of those above them — they had been plucked from the sludge by a knight and he loathed the thought of seeing those nightmares again.

But he had to. Around him was the filth of the lower market, complete with feces and rotting things and destitution, but it wasn’t quite the same as what haunted his memories — the methodical depravity of those slave traders, the decadence in the eyes of those customers. This didn’t seem to be their hunting grounds, but he could see phantoms of them on the fringes of the streets, watching him as he stalked past. He stood out with his white coat. In the past he would roll in the mud to dampen its color, until they bathed him again to make him more presentable. Now it was by choice that he carried himself this way: deceptively relaxed, eyes cold, fur clean but for the dust collected on his legs. The peasants were wary; he could tell by how they parted away.

This path wasn’t part of his usual rounds, so these wolves hadn’t seen him before. The man who usually made these trips had been injured in a spat and Rai had been sent in his place. Some part of him wondered if he’d been assigned based on his origins, where someone reasoned that because he came from the slums it would make him useful to be sent back there for intel. If that were the case, it would be too bad, because by the looks of their mistrustful eyes the best he could probably do was observe the going-ons from a distance for anything of particular interest. Honestly he doubted this sideroad would be under regular Templar surveillance if not for the recent upsurge of Harbingers; it was mundane.

He passed by a handful of vendor stalls, not visibly reacting at the stench of rot emanating from the expired meat. He ignored the crowing of desperate merchants, the flagging of beggars, and he glared at the street rats whispering furtively among themselves, causing them to slink away. He did pause though, at a meat stall manned by a tall but scrawny looking girl. All she had were several dead rabbits lined up neatly on the ground, recently killed as advertised, but otherwise lacking anything to catch the eye of passersby. The fact that she was a child garnered no pity from him, and she wasn’t someone he’d seen before — but the fire in her eyes was a look he knew well.

“How much?” he asked in passing, his voice smooth and quiet. Even though that part of him he thought he’d closed off, something as little as this… surely it would do no harm.



@Jana

08-27-2020, 12:45 AM (This post was last modified: 08-27-2020, 12:46 AM by Jana.)
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#3
Ember eyes flickered from passerby to passerby as the girl continued to crone about her wares, surveying for potential buyers and potential thieves alike. At one point, she’d briefly noticed a youngish boy stading a few feet away, camoflauged by the rows of bustling peasants in front of him and staring at her with wide, hungry eyes. Yet, the moment she turned to look at him — a deadpan stare that every beggar knew well (“Either buy it or get lost”) — some woman snatched him up by his rough and whisked him away into the crowd, the pair quickly dissaperaing in the fray of fur. His mother… hopefully. Jana’s unshaken gaze quickly wandered back to her business, back to her surveillance. Such a sight was common here, and instead of wasting time feeling sorry for someone else, she prided herself on doing better.

Turning her head to the left, she noticed the crowd shifting and parting in a way that signified someone of the higher caliber was coming through. Nothing grandiose or too attention grabbing, just enough so that this oncoming nobleman didn’t have to so harshly shove their way through like everyone else. She lifted her head and perked her ears. This could be her chance.

Slipping through the masses of dirty, fleas-bitten pelts was a neat and clean visage of white; practically glowing like a wraith compared to the filth surrounding it. The stranger strode calmly and stoically, their expressionless face seemingly immune to the depravity laid before it. Yep. Definitely a nobleman, or something equally important. Jana peered at them with a mixture of silent admiration and bitter jealousy for but a few moments, then forcibly ripped her eyes away and continued business as usual, not wanting to stare too long for fear of getting her hopes up or turning the potential client away with her obvious signs of need. The pity act worked well for some, but laying on the desperation a little too thick — staring with big, puppy dog eyes and bowing their head meekly as they asked for payment in a shaky voice — would likely evoke disgust in the nobles rather than sympathetic generosity. Just business as usual; your bedraggled appearance should work well enough, and if it doesn’t, just look for the next buyer. Don’t chase after someone like a beggar.

“How much?” A calm, silk-like voice pondered passively. The girl swiftly perked her ears yet again and met eyes with that very noble, whom looked her over just as nonchalantly as he peered at everyone else in the Marketplace. She couldn’t see any pity or disgust, just calmness and civility, potentially even boredom, though that may have been her doubt talking. Either way, his question was short and to the point, so she reasoned her answer ought to be the same, so as not to waste either of their time.

“One silver piece each; two gold for the whole lot.” She met his gaze confidently and spoke straightforwardly, signifying her experience and her determination to not accept a morsel less. Steep prices for a peasant, but for a noble it would be relatively cheap (so she presumed anyway), as such prices were far lesser than what other merchants charged for freshly caught meat. She couldn’t charge much else anyway, seeing as a single rabbit was merely a snack to a wolf.

@Rai

[Image: CCOLoqU.png]
{ TRACKER } -- { PLOTTER }
09-06-2020, 06:42 AM (This post was last modified: 09-06-2020, 07:27 AM by Rai.)
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#4


Rai
“One silver piece each; two gold for the whole lot.”

He held her ember gaze and wondered to himself if this was how the Templar had felt in the face of his and Arashi’s struggle. To this day he still was uncertain of the woman’s intentions, for she never abused them nor asked for anything in return, and that only fueled Arashi’s suspicions against the Order when to Rai it was like a miracle. Perhaps she just saw something in them that she liked, and in the eyes of this girl before him now Rai could see a semblance of Arashi’s confidence and obstinacy that made him so different from the others of their origins.

Rai didn’t have that sort of courage. What he did have was a crippling sympathy that he suffered from like a blight, and would really rather snuff out than be the occasional victim to its whims.

But still he asked her, voice even and neutral, “is this good enough for you?” then would shake his head if she referred to her pricing. “I mean this place.” His tail flicked to gesture the filth-ridden road, hot dusty air, the jam-packed bodies of unwashed pelts that would amount to nothing at the end of the day, no matter how they struggled. He meant the rabbits at her feet that she would painstakingly catch and attempt to sell every day for a few pennies. The slums were a prison from which escape was only possible through sheer serendipity, or the intervention from those of better circumstances; to rise from the bottom by effort alone was nigh unheard of. Was there nothing more that she envisioned for herself? Surely not. Surely she knew the futility of her actions.

And he was no savior — long gone were the days that he would silently cry where nobody could see, in despondency over the suffering he and everyone else were subjected to by fate. But the Templar from his past was — a savior, to him. He wondered about it still, why she had reached out her hand and touched the filth in order to redeem the shattered dignity of two brats, sold to a brothel that then sold them to the nobles who went there every night. Two brats who tried and failed to escape their poverty by being street sweepers and errand boys of beady-eyed merchants, the trash collectors of hired blades and middlemen of pirates.

He supposed he couldn’t ask her now, since she was dead.

All he could do was ask this girl who reminded him of wolves he knew, “if you had the choice to leave this place, would you be afraid?” Rai wasn’t sure what he would follow up with; buy the rabbits, then leave without another word? Bring back the urchin he’d found on his rounds? He was vaguely curious now, if she even wanted to be found. Perhaps she would save him the trouble of making the decision; some part of him prayed she would.



@Jana
— coded by aureate —

09-06-2020, 06:19 PM
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#5

"All I want to do is win, so tell me is that such a sin?”
The process of running a stall in the Marketplace was typically a rather autonomous one, once you fought through the heavy crowds to secure a selling spot, of course. You shout your wares and someone either buys them at their price or haggles it down, or no one approaches you at all and you are left with no choice but to pack up and try again another day. Occasionally, you might get into a scrap with a thief, or if you are a lowly peasant like Jana that can’t afford to get testy with rude customers, you might have to grin and bare the biting remarks of a snobby noble or two. Otherwise, most transactions were the same, to the point where it could’ve become a borish monotony… were it not for the fact that her entire quality of life was hingent on how well she sold each day.

It was the monotony of it all that made interactions like this seem so… unique and unconventional.

It began with him merely… staring at her after she informed him of the rabbits’ price. A… significant stare, if that’s what one wanted to call it. Judgemental, but not in a harsh way; more of an… analytical way. Not entirely vacant, but not entirely in the moment either — he seemed to be thinking about something.

Uncertain of what to do with this hitch in the conversation, she returned his stare, to show she was awaiting his response, whilst also thinking back over their interaction thus far, wondering if she’d said or done anything that might have confused him. Perhaps he was poorer than he looked, and he was debating in his mind whether or not the rabbits were worth it. Perhaps he was scatterbrained, and just couldn’t remember if he had that much money on hand. Hard telling.

At last, he prodded, “Is this enough for you?” An oddly… intrusive question. Who was he to doubt her prices? Didn’t he think she knew how to do her own job? She resisted the urge to sneer at him, instead furrowing her brows a bit and parting her maw to restate the prices, a little firmer this time, but he shook his head and cut her off, clarifying that he meant this place— the Marketplace.

Now it was her turn to stare at him, maw still agape from the response she had prepared to give him, but had died on her lips before it had a chance to be spoken. Her expression slackened as well, showing how much the very personal question had caught her off guard, in this very impersonal transaction.

So… he was not questioning her prices, but rather… her entire livelihood?

...Exactly who did he think he was?

She shut her mouth and tightened her jaw, then quickly looked him up and down, attempting to glean a second impression of his character from his appearance alone. Clean, poised, and void of any desperation — not a peasant, but she knew that already. Not much older than her — possibly born into his wealth? Of course such assumptions were never safe to make after a mere first impression.

Whatever aspect of his character drove him to ask such a question, it seemed to her that his motivation was window shopping — walking amongst the poor to spectate their daily struggles and donating his pity to whomever he felt the most sorry for, but unable to make such a verdict without asking a few questions first. To one such as he, this was a song that he could listen to whenever he so pleased, and he was oblivious to said song being the soundtrack that played on repeat in a peasant’s daily life, whether they wanted to hear it or not. Looking at the scraps one was tossed and subjectively deciding if they were enough was not a choice everyone had at their disposal. Scraps are hardly enough to feed a starving man… but if that was all he could get his fangs on, he’d be a fool to turn them away. Not understanding such a concept was the privilege of being a spectator to the plights of the poor, instead of a contender, she supposed.

Never once did it occur to her that he asked this question to get her to reflect internally, consider whether or not this was all she wanted in life — she presumed he was asking genuinely, out of sheer ignorance.

”Is it enough?”

For now. It has to be.

Of course she wanted more than this… but at the moment, as just another nameless, faceless vendor in the ever shifting and changing sea that was the Marketplace, her dreams of clawing her way out of this depravity were about as tangible as a carrot on a stick. She had neither the material means or the opportunities to make her plans a reality… yet.

“If you had the chance to leave this place… would you be afraid?”

It was this second question that tampered her assumption about his “window shopping” and instead coaxed her in the direction of believing he really was just… shooting the shit. Being philosophical and whatnot. Still, it didn’t stop her from thinking him ignorant.

Afraid of leaving the Marketplace? When he’d gestured to the sights and sounds of poverty that surrounded them, screamed at them, smothered them, she thought that meant he must have at least some inkling of the horrible fates that awaited those that weren’t able to outrun them here... but apparently not, if he thought escaping them could somehow be more terrifying. What was he getting at, a fear of the unknown? Or did he know of worse things happening in the underbelly of the glimmering Capital, out of sight to a wolf like her, who could only dream of what existed there, and as is the nature of dreams, would only imagine positive things? She didn’t know… didn’t want to know, really, if such knowledge might make her rethink everything she longed for...

All she knew was that nothing could be worse than slumming it with her family. Getting beaten until she could hardly stand and verbally abused by her sisters, being sent to do the menial, degrading tasks that no one else in her family wanted to do, being convinced time and time again that it was her place to squirm under the boot of those stronger and more capable than her until she killed over form the pressure…

Nothing would compare to that… or at least be any worse.

Still holding his gaze, a resolute hardness came to her eyes, and she spoke in the same steadfast way she’d stated her prices; with unwavering certainty.

“Fear of change is a luxury I can’t afford.” She glanced down to her meager, unimpressive wares, then back to him again. “I’d sell my own heart on a roasted spit for a few silver pieces if that’s what it takes to get out of here.”

A bit of an intense answer… but hey, he wanted to get personal.

She smiled shrewdly. “But I imagine that’s not what you came here to buy.”

It was worth noting how she defaulted back to trying to make a sale… as if, despite knowing that she wanted more than this for her life, the lifestyle was already securing its grip on her, slowly pulling her back into the routine she always knew and quietly whispering that she shouldn’t hope for anything more.

...Perhaps her resistance to his thought-provoking questions proved she was afraid of change, just a little...
"Fire and fire will collide, I will not let you break my pride.”

Diligent. "Defensive." Analytical.

Art © @sunifinch on Twitter
Coding © me
@Rai

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