KING GREGORY: "...and to mark the anniversary of that great victory I am now declaring the beginning of a new Age of Peace and Prosperity, invite all the people of these lands, be they human, elf, orc or any other to settle in our beautiful city, to live together in harmony and spirit of cooperation..."
"Hey, can you hear what he's saying?" "Not a thing!"
"Oh little ones, the king's words aren't meant for the likes of us. Now run along to the home and wait while big sis finds some money!"
You are now a SMALL LIZARD LADY. You and your siblings moved to the human city to earn a living after your parents died, but times have been tough for you. You need money soon to pay the RENT of the hovel you live in, but at least dinner won't be an issue for you tonight - a great feast will be held at the town square and everyone is invited.
You think you could start by either looking for odd jobs at the marketplace, or visiting the High Temple for some charity.
Vivian is not your birthname, of course, but you adopted it because you did not want to appear like the uncivilized hick from the boonies you are. It also sounded a bit like ‘long shadow’ in your native tongue so it feels oddly fitting, considering your past. The little twins chose to be called Emma and Sarah, but your other… well, the less said about him the better.
You decide to check out the marketplace first.
The streets are crowded which makes you nervous. You stick close to the walls and alleyways as you flit from one safe spot to the next, dodging important looking humans and their orc servants. More than once a cart or wagon passing by forces you to leap aside or risk being run over, the driver simply not paying any attention to you. Here and there you spot others like you, beastfolk large and small, staying at the sidelines trying not to be noticed. Them too you give a wide berth, just in case they turn out to be savage and dangerous.
> How did your folks die?
Back at the Evermarsh that included wild animals, sinkholes, raiders, and good old fashioned Black Pox. It has not been long since you left, but you have already sworn to never return to that fetid hell-hole. Over there the biggest ambitions are to live long enough to pop out a couple of kids and then to die relatively painlessly. Your entire life you have wanted for something more out of your future, and when your parents passed you saw no reason not to go and find out what.
Nevertheless, this place does not feel like a home yet. Its sounds are confusing to you, the jumble of peddlers and beggars and prophets shouting over the din of industry and the low rumble of heavy machinery burrowing underground pierced by the incessant shrieks of ill-tempered seagulls is a stark contrast to the swamp’s lethargic silence.
And the smells… exotic spices from cooking and incense wafting from the temples mingling with horse dung and salt, salt from the sea and from the mines and from the million bodies sweating under the harsh glare of the sun, iron and anthracite and creosote and tar from the docks, all these and countless more swirling into a dizzying broth in your nostrils.
You much prefer the night, when the cool breeze arriving from the sea drives away the heat scent of the day and dulls the noises, but even then city never truly sleeps. You like it that way, though - this place is scary and in some ways as perilous as the swamp, but also more exciting than anything ever before in your life!
You realize your mistake as you arrive to the deserted marketplace. Of course the Anniversary would be a holy day in the empire and all the human merchants, the ones with a license, have closed shop. Odds of anyone hiring you now are slim to none, but you might just as well take a look around. You would not believe what the humans throw away just because they considered it “spoiled”!
>A pretty lizard girl can always find work...
True, you are pretty good at weaving reed mats, and-
Unlike some of the people you know you have not considered that line of work. Your little sisters look up to you, and you want to give them a reason to be proud of you. You would rather go hungry than see them disappointed in you!
> Why are you even here if humans loathe your guts?
Humans do not hate you, in fact most of the time they do not even notice you. The first couple of days after your arrival you got constantly shoved off and knocked down, until you learned to get out of their feet. Sometimes you get hassled for a laugh - especially when asking for a job - and you are vary of human children - you once got chased by them for several city blocks and you are not keen on repeating that experience anytime soon - but so far no-one has taken the effort to genuinely hate you. In fact some of the people you have met seemed to consider you little more than a clever animal mimicking human speech.
Orcs, however, seem to all hold a deep smoldering grudge against you and you cannot understand why. Unfortunately they tend to be employed as guards and low ranking officials, which makes getting around the city bit of a bother.
On to the business! Where you decide to look first?
> That barrel seems "fishy". ... ...... Maybe it has salmon! > That fella in the shadows looks pretty cranky. Try to not give or get his attention. It could spell trouble. > What's in that building with the cycloptic triangle? Check it out. > Ask that fortune teller looking dude if he has any tips on making money in an honest way. If he insists you pay him, apologise and insist back at him that your "hypothetical welfare" would be mutually beneficial. Actually do the latter first, starting up a conversation with good manners is like one of the unwritten rules of building healthy relationships.
> Have those boxes and barrels been discarded, or just being kept there? Is it possible to tell the difference? > That barrel seems "fishy". ... ...... Maybe it has salmon!
Ohgod you love salmon!
Nope! The barrel and boxes contain just some wilted rutabaga leaves and other refuse from the market, waiting for the dustmen to pick it up. Usually one person’s garbage pail is your bargain bin, but these are good just for a stew not for making cash.
>Inquire 'pon yon Rat merchant. >Call him "Master Splinter" and ask if he will teach you the ways of a ninja
No, no, implying that he is some sort of shadowy character skulking in the shadows would be a certain way to get into his bad graces!
> What's in that building with the cycloptic triangle? Check it out. > Ask that fortune teller looking dude if he has any tips on making money in an honest way. If he insists you pay him, apologise and insist back at him that your "hypothetical welfare" would be mutually beneficial. Actually do the latter first, starting up a conversation with good manners is like one of the unwritten rules of building healthy relationships. > Ask the rat if he has anything you can help out with for a little coin. > See if that rat with the trinkets would like a reed mat to replace his cloth one.
“Hello! Are you perhaps a fortune teller?”
“No, that guy’s over there with what the symbol of all-seeing eye and everything. But who wants a boring old fortune when you could have something much better? Why, what I sell are unforgettable memories! How about taking a memento of your big trip back to the home, this jewelry hand crafted by the finest artisans-”
“No thank you, I’m local not a tourist.”
“Eh, worth a try. You had that look of a country bumpkin eager to lose her cash to you, no offense.”
“None taken, but only if you’re willing to advice me!”
“Oh well, I could use a break from scamming the rubes, the business s’been good today. What you want, little lady? Name’s Timothy by the way.”
“Vivian, pleased to meet you! Say, I can’t but help notice that your mat looks really worn and ratty. Why not replace it with a fresh, clean reed mat? I can get you one real easy!”
“What? No! This mat has patina to it - the smell of real, lived history!”
“...Well, a smell at least. Tell you what, get me some of those reed mats painted with exotic looking tribal stuff on them, I’ll sell them, and we’ll split the profits. Among the human nobility authentic ‘savage’ race artifacts are all the rage right now!”
“I think I could manage that if I wanted to… Would you give me some cash for the supplies first?”
“Do I look like a charity, miss?”
“Why wouldn’t I then just sell them by myself and keep all of the money?”
“For starters, do you know any antique dealers? I don’t think so. Second, you need a permit to do business inside the city walls or you get into trouble, and those are reserved for humans only.”
“Wouldn’t you get into trouble too?”
“Ahah, let’s just say that I…have friends in Low Places.”
“You have made a deal with demons!?”
“What, no! I bribed a police officer downtown!”
The conversation having come to an end Timothy gathers up his stuff and leaves. Before he goes he tells you to think about his offer, and that he can be found here at the marketplace. While he seemed like a bit dodgy character, the deal he is suggesting is not bad at all.
> Keep a sharp eye out, namely for the guy with those teeth on the left. He probably is... erm, neutral?, but you can't be too careful. > That fella in the shadows looks pretty cranky. Try to not give or get his attention. It could spell trouble.
Oh crud. Hyena-folk.
“Well, well, well… Looks like this stakeout wasn’t a total bust after all, our lunch just walked right into our hands!”
♟> The mat deal will do as a stop-gap, but it'd be better to get more legal employment. However, you won't likely find it today. This all is probably obvious. Also seconding the mentioning-the-feast command, for what little it'll help.
☂> ...Please mean "Lunch Ticket", not "Midday Meal"; there more pros than cons for captivity compared to death.
🎵> Future Vivian: Use your glowly green light power stuff to head back in time to save your-past-self, as you remember happening.
>Little do these bozos know that your kind are preternaturally skilled... at running away. >Do you have the power to wall climb like some lizzards and geckos do ? Because it would come mightily handy right now
Most certainly, being fleet of foot and adept at stealth have been survival traits for your people for generations - and you believe yourself to be better than the most.
> Vivian: Be the Long Shadow. > Abscond the fuck outta there > Vivian: Get the hell out of Dodge.
The thought blazes through your mind like a brush fire. You chose ‘Long Shadow’ because of the sadness in your past - but maybe it could also mean other things - quick, clever things hiding and biding their time in the night… You come to and realize that they have you cornered - you need to stall and wait for an opening!
> ...Please mean "Lunch Ticket", not "Midday Meal"; there more pros than cons for captivity compared to death. >Yell at them they could jsut wait for the fraking feast tonight rather than eating scrawny little you in the street. Also seconding the mentioning-the-feast command, for what little it'll help.
“Sorry to disappoint you boys, but I’m poor and have nothing worth of stealing. Better luck next time!”
“We’ll have you instead then.”
“Hey, this isn’t the swamp! You can’t go around just eating people willy-nilly!”
“Lizards ain’t people.” “Yeah consider it going back to the roots, getting in touch with our culture you know?”
“But why not wait for the delicious feast tonight instead of ruining your appetite on some scrawny twig of a lizard off the streets?”
“Because I’m hungry now.” “We missed the breakfast you see, and it’s the most important meal of the day!”
“I really resent being called a meal. Your people made my people flee to the swamp just so we wouldn’t be eaten by you, yet you still had to follow us there!”
“The orc folk drove us from the savannah so we had nowhere else to go.” “Nothing we can do about it see, there’s complex ethnographic and socio-economic issues forcing our hand here-”
“Hey! You ca-” THUMP
“You okay, kid?”
You know this person, they live across the street from you!