May 29, 2020 3:44 PM
serg in fallen london
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"Oh, like the lion," he says, half to himself, and then he can't remember where he heard that or what the rest of the story is. Are there lions who can only be hurt by their own claws? Is that a thing? Well, whatever. "Wait, four thousand? How d'you know how old it is?"

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"The Vake has been around since the days of the First City, if not earlier. The records are fragmentary, but there are clear references to 'a great leathery beast' descending and carrying off a priest-king who had suggested a mass exodus from the city."

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"Well, how d'you know it's the same one?"

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"Analysis of feeding habits, mostly, but also the fact that no one in four thousand years has credibly reported finding one's body or seeing two at once. The feeding habits are more convincing, though; at times when multiple hunters have decided to approach the bounty, they've almost always been eaten one by one with two weeks between feedings. To me, that suggests a gorging predator."

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"Huh. Fair enough," he says thoughtfully.

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"At any rate, once you've got the singing mandrake and the Vaketooth weapon, it would only be a matter of finding the beast - simple enough, when it hunts down anyone who professes a desire to slay it."

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He laughs. "I don't even know that I want to! I guess we'll see if I get bored enough."

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The Naturalist shrugs. "Well, if you get bored enough to hunt up a mandrake, come to me first, and bring some jarred Primordial Shrieks. Without the appropriate protective gear, it'll scramble your brains like an egg."

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"Good to know!"

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The Naturalist finishes his terrible coffee. "Was there anything else you'd like to know?"

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"I think that'll do. Thanks!"

People are so helpful. Also he's kind of hungry. Perhaps if he wanders the streets he will find somewhere to get food, and if he's lucky maybe even somewhere to get some sort of money to buy the food with.

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Well, wandering the streets is a good way to find new and interesting places! It's also a good way to get lost.

The street signs say he's in Spite when a man swaggers up to him. "Pretty nice clothes you're wearing, lad. You get lost on your way to Veilgarden?"

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"I have no idea where that is!" he says cheerfully.

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"Ah, a tourist," says the man, with a look of disgust. "Even better."

The Unfortunate Ruffian pulls out a dagger and points it at his prospective victim. "Hand over your coinpurse, and this won't get bloody."

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"Don't have one."

This person does not seem very helpful.

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"Oh, I doubt that," the Ruffian sneers. "I'll find it on my own."

The knife thrusts forward.

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He sidesteps. Moving feels simultaneously weirdly smooth and weirdly clumsy, like he used to be very good at this and then got badly out of practice. But he's fast enough to make a grab for the knife despite his difficulties.

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The Unfortunate Ruffian typically coasts on being the one with the knife. He's pretty easily disarmed.

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So, let's see. You stab someone and then you take their money, is that how this goes?

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That appears to be how it goes!

The Unfortunate Ruffian was carrying four purses of varying quality. One contains a quantity of jade discs, two contain some strong-smelling red metal minted into rings, and the final one has some glossy purple fragments which don't quite account for its weight.

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...huh, how about that.

He leaves the Unfortunate Ruffian where he found him and finds somewhere a little quieter to sit down and investigate the incongruous purse.

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The incongruous purse continues to be incongruous! It's a flat-bottomed leather construction with a snap on the top, and if he looks in closely enough then he might also notice that it isn't as deep as it looks from the outside. The leather must be rather thick.

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Well how about that. And can he figure out how to get at the rest of the inside if he tries?

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If he tries very hard and believes in himself, he may eventually notice that the "bottom" is actually a strip of leather glued to a small box. With some finagling he can remove the box, which is filled with coins and, nestled among the coins, a rather large diamond.

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Well that's neat!

He puts it all back the way he found it and finds places in his clothes to hide all four purses and also the knife. Then he continues looking for somewhere to eat. At least his money problems are now solved! Maybe that fellow was helpful after all.

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