Flashback [Flashback] Shadows and Scraps

Nellie sneaks a snack.

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

[Flashback] Shadows and Scraps

Postby Nellie Hawkins on September 27th, 2014, 3:27 am

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.20 bells.
.87th of fall, 513av.


Syna’s light had faded quickly, throwing long shadows into the streets and down the alleyways. Under other circumstances, the young woman would have avoided braving those shadows. Tonight, she welcomed them, slipping along as quietly as she was able as she picked her way through the city. After half a bell of dodging and dipping, once even retracing her steps to avoid a suspiciously boisterous crowd of roughs, her feet slowed, stopping in front of a small store front. Inspecting the building from the relative security of the shadows, Nellie’s mouth curved in an expression of extreme distaste. The building in front of her, the butchery, was arguably one of the most unpleasant places to stand downwind of, and there was a good, stiff breeze blowing this evening. Still, necessity dictated that she endure the assault on her senses. After all, she could hardly go to the owner and request that he move his trash heap upwind for her scavenging convenience.

And scavenging was on the list for the evening; she’d been making her rounds and begging just a little too frequently as of late, and even old Merv had rather gruffly ‘requested’ she find a new doorstep to darken. Unconsciously she raised a hand to the side of her head, cupping her still-tender ear. His request had come along with a motivating slap that had left it ringing for a full bell afterward. Though it was understood that she would be welcomed back just as soon as his patrons had drunk her out of their recent memory, for the time being she was forced to find other means.

Despite that minor setback, Nellie tried to paint her options in the best possible light - that this was simply a new experience, fraught with exciting opportunity; though the reality of her situation was bleak and frightening. With winter fast approaching, and the dangerous killing winds that it would bring not too far behind, her every step was haunted by the dogged reminder that, if she couldn’t arrange for some form of shelter and regular food, springtime in Sunberth would welcome only her corpse. A shudder rippled through her, fear chasing a literal chill down her spine. With an impatient shake of her head, Nellie clutched her ragged coat more closely about her in defense, though the patchwork cloth and fraying seams let in just as much cold as they kept out; her mouth set in a grim line of determination and she glanced up and down the street before walking, forcing herself to appear casual, as she approached the butchery.

The smell grew stronger the closer she got, and Nellie’s nose wrinkled instinctively. The few small windows were darkened, signaling that the shop was closed, to Nellie’s relief. Still, it would be best not to attract undue attention, and she quickly flattened herself against the side of the building, hiding her slight frame in shadows as she made her way to the rear of the establishment – where she hoped she would find some sort of scrap left over, too old or too small or too undesirable to sell. Though it was a slim hope, the trash heaps of various shops around Sunberth were all she had left to fall back on – at least until she was welcomed back into the taverns with her tales of woe and pity.
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Nellie Hawkins
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[Flashback] Shadows and Scraps

Postby Nellie Hawkins on September 27th, 2014, 4:14 am

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Ramshackle and small, as most buildings in Sunberth tended to be, it took mere ticks for Nellie to skulk her way to the rear. Her first clear look at the spare and filthy space dashed her hopes almost entirely. The back of the building was made of wooden boards, nailed together piecemeal, interrupted by one small and gloomy half-shuttered window. No door. Which meant no trash heap, essentially, beyond the few bits that might be absent-mindedly dropped from the window. But this would surely not provide her with an evening’s meal.

Nellie’s shoulders sagged in confused defeat as she stared morosely at the ground outside the butchery and pondered her next move. There were a few bones on the ground, but she immediately dismissed them as too filthy, over-picked and quite probably disease-ridden to bother with. What she’d been hoping for was rock hard bread, biscuits, fresh bones with a bit of marrow, even – but it was too much to hope that anything worth eating wouldn't have been immediately noticed by any scrounging animal worth its nose. Finding nothing readily available, she was nearly ready to give up altogether, abandoning her plans for dinner.

But while she’d been wasting time thinking, motivation came in the form of a slinking, mangy animal: a gray-brown cat who looked to be half a meal away from starvation. The irony was not lost on Nellie, as she herself was in no better shape. Even as she studied the cat, the animal wasted no time approaching the building directly, as though nothing were amiss and Nellie were not standing only feet from it. Having considerably less pride than the girl, and fewer thoughts to be hung up on, the cat simply walked over to the window, jumped gracefully inside and proceeded to make herself at home within. Nellie could hear footfalls as the cat leaped and landed on unknown surfaces in the building. Surely, if there was food to be had, the fleabag’s more direct approach would find and consume it. A spike of jealousy surged through the girl at the thought of the cat inside, helping itself to countless delicacies – breads and meats alike. The thought made her mouth water uncontrollably and her stomach rumbled in angry protest.

Creeping to the window, Nellie pressed her face against the weather-beaten wood of the shutter and peered inside. Though there was little illumination beyond the night sky, Nellie could see the wretched gray fur of the cat as it sat on a table in the middle of the room, licking delicately at a mysterious chunk of something.

”Petching puss,” Nellie whispered as loudly as she dared. ”Drag it over here, ya fleabag. M’hungry, too!” Softly, Nellie’s fist thumped against the wall, the noise startling both herself and the animal inside, who turned its head to regard the girl with unblinking yellow eyes. Nellie returned the stare as the beginnings of an idea began to form in her mind.

”Here, puss. C’mere, you. Puss-puss. Come on, you mangy little shyke.” Keeping her tone low and friendly, Nellie cajoled and clicked at the furry thief; she may not be able to enter as easily as the cat had, but perhaps, if she could win the beast’s trust, she could use it to her advantage. Waggling her fingers playfully outside the window, she continued to call to the cat who, for its part, simply blinked at the human and went back to its feast.
Last edited by Nellie Hawkins on June 11th, 2018, 12:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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[Flashback] Shadows and Scraps

Postby Nellie Hawkins on September 30th, 2014, 11:38 pm

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After several ticks of futile, nonsensical chattering at the petching cat, Nellie was ready to throttle the animal and eat it. In fact, the thought was gaining appeal the longer she stood outside watching, and listening, to the poxy creature consuming who-knew-what inside the butchery. It was clear that the furry little wretch had no plans to leave the butchery any time soon, and Nellie had no idea what she’d do with the thing even if it did.

No matter how her stomach grumbled, she just couldn’t imagine herself enjoying a tasty cat kabob. Not on purpose, anyway.

With a sigh that carried all the weight of her hunger and frustration, Nellie slid down into the dirt at the base of the building to rethink her evening. It was becoming painfully obvious that food was not in her immediate future. There were precious few places she could hope to pick over for scraps, and most of them were taverns she was currently not supposed to be hovering near. Which left only the now-empty marketplace, and a thin thread of hope that someone had left a vaguely edible something behind.

Though the prospect was less than joyful, Nellie could think of no other options. She hated the idea of going to the orphanage; the people there were already hard-pressed to provide for themselves without adding her mouth to the mix, although she knew that her desperation might well drive her there eventually. She shook her head; no, as long as there were other options, no matter how unpalatable, she would pursue them first.

With the aid of a reluctant, resigned sigh, Nellie hauled herself upright and began the trek to the seaside market. Though the paths from stall to stall would surely be under water by now, it was possible that something small and rotten might have been left behind for folks like her: beggars and scavengers little better than thieves. Rather than let her depressing thoughts overwhelm her, Nellie walked.

Skulked and crept and scurried, actually, using the ever-deepening shadows to conceal herself as best she could from prying eyes. Slipping unnoticed along the streets, Nellie stopped suddenly at the sound of scratching coming from behind her. Desperately, she flattened herself against the wooden planks of the nearest building; her eyes strained into the gloom as she searched for the source of the noise. Muscles tensed to flee and her chest tightened painfully, breathing suspended for the few ticks it took for the scratching, scrabbling unseen threat to crest the wall in front of her.

”Mreow.”

A surprised, relieved laugh escaped at the sight of the mangy, but now-fed cat that had taunted her at the butchery. ”Petching little shyke. Go ‘way, now. You ‘ad yer chance fer a pat. Git,” The words tumbled out in a nearly inaudible mixture of anger and surprise and relief; the cat paid no mind, choosing instead to pick its way daintily over to where Nellie stood lurking in the shadows.

The animal proved to be a surprisingly friendly nuisance, rubbing against her ankles with a rusty, broken purring sound. Charmed in spite of herself, Nellie reached down to pet the poor thing; its head was a rough and patchy affair. Though she couldn’t see them, Nellie could feel the scars crisscrossing over the lightly-furred skin of the cat’s head. She made a sympathetic tsking sound as she stroked the uneven surface.

”Seen a fight or two, hey? You don’t look too much worse for the wear, so I guess you musta won,” she continued the discourse sensibly as she began the short journey toward the market, not bothered in the least by the cat’s lack of response. After just a few ticks of the one-sided conversation, Nellie could smell the distinctive aroma of the seaside market: salt, fish, ale and an underlying smell that was unique to Sunberth's great unwashed greeted her nose.

Nellie shared a look with her feline companion as two noses wrinkled in unconscious protest.

"Nothin' for it but to venture in. Your fault, y'know," she lamented to the splotch of fur that was, inexplicably, still attempting to purr at her feet. "If you'd've shared, we could have both 'ad a nibble and gone our separate ways." It was nervous chatter now, but Nellie couldn't stem the flow of words. The market was a wild place during the daylight hours, but here in the dark she was acutely aware that danger was as close to her as the cat.

Not that the market was closed, of course - commerce knew no curfew here, and there were people aplenty willing to sell a starving girl a bit of food. Provided the girl could pay for it, and that was the rub. Still, opportunity was there if one knew where to look, and Nellie was becoming a keen observer. Perched at the edge of the market, in the shadows of the docks, she squinted at the stalls closest to her. Fishmonger. Herbs. Or flowers? A sketchy all-and-sundry stall. More fish.

Nellie grinned thinly. Fish stalls meant possibilities. Fish heads, chum set aside, maybe an unguarded net or a few dropped clams in the waters below? Her hand found the cat's patchy head and patted it lightly, "Time to shop, puss."
Last edited by Nellie Hawkins on June 11th, 2018, 2:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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[Flashback] Shadows and Scraps

Postby Nellie Hawkins on June 11th, 2018, 2:33 am

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"Okay, Ovek - let's do this together," the words were irreverent; Nellie was sure Ovek had better things to do than lend aid to her clandestine clam heist, but the thought made her chuckle a bit before she turned her thoughts back to her empty stomach and the fishmonger's stall ahead.

Water was beginning to lap against the poles that elevated many of the stalls. The transport boats moored along the pathways had begun to bobble and float and Nellie heard the gentle splashing, counting it as one more point in her favor. With one last look at the cat, because it surely would not follow her into the watery market, she crept closer to the nearest fish stall, as unobtrusively as possible. The flickering lights cast uneven and unpredictable shadows over the ground and Nellie used them to mask her approach; her aim was not to try to steal outright, or to beg for her meal, but to help herself to what wouldn't be missed. Leftovers. Bait. Anything close to hand. Anything to ease the constant pangs of hunger.

Instead, pressed against the side of the stall, Nellie surveyed the waters below her with growing disappointment. It wasn't uncommon for vendors to leave buckets of chum, or fish heads, or the tiniest o fish not worthy of sale hanging down. If she were lucky, there might even have been nets tied up holding live merchandise - fish that could replenish sold stock. Provided the water was high enough to keep the nets full of live fish. But instead of full buckets or nets full of fish, what Nellie saw was murky and muddied water, a hint of foam forming where it met the wood of the supports, and nothing that she would consider edible. To make matters worse, she had counted on the distraction of paying customers to allow her a chance at pilfering a meal - but this stall was empty save for a hard-looking merchant woman.

Tears of frustration threatened to overtake her at this latest misfortune. Hunger had been no stranger to her since her parents' death, but it had been days since she'd had a proper meal, a filling meal, a meal that did more than simply dull the gnawing pain. Nellie was ashamed to acknowledge, even to herself, that her earlier thought of sating her hunger on the meat of that grizzly cat was looking like a very real possibility. Nellie's eyes roamed the gloom, searching for the cat, unsure if she hoped to see it or not, and saw no telltale blob of gray. A sigh of relief left her - the cat had spared her a tough decision.

Mreow!

"Git off, ya pet-ow!" Nellie shrank back at the sudden commotion in the stall behind her. The ramshackle stall shuddered as an ear-splitting shriek rent the air, followed by several loud thumps and a low growling noise that Nellie somehow knew came from that scarred gray cat. The woman in the market stall was loudly condemning the animal, its parentage, her absent husband and, for some inexplicable reason, the market stall itself while the growling continued in what Nellie could only assume was the cat's affronted response to the unflattering aspersions being cast on its character.

Nellie stood in shock, caught between the urge to run and the need to eat when another series of bumps and screeches shook the stall, sending buckets and who-knew-what into the shallow water at Nellie's feet.

"My fish," the woman wailed angrily. A furry, hissing streak shot out of the stall and Nellie caught a glimpse of reddened face and a broken fishing pole as the merchant leaned out over her table in a vain attempt to capture, injure, or impale the offending cat. An opportunist by culture and necessity, Nellie almost instinctively reached for a bucket that had landed near her feet. With one eye on the stall, she hurriedly scooped up some of the conveniently relocated fish and used every bit of speed she could manage to make her escape before the woman came down from the stall to reclaim her wares.

Temporarily energized, now that there was a prospect of food on the horizon, Nellie ran from the market. Water sloshed from the bucket, wetting her shirt and face with each frantic step, but Nellie paid no heed, not stopping until she was well away from the market, the woman merchant, and hidden deep in the shadows of Sunset Quarters. Only then did she spare a look inside her bucket of treasure.

"Oh, hai," the curse came out on a disbelieving snort of laughter. Two smallish fish sat in the bucket, scales glinting dully in the low light. It was food, but barely. Old and small, the fish had clearly not been fresh for 10 bells or more - it was no wonder the stall had been empty of customers. Still, it was more than she'd had earlier, and Nellie sent a heartfelt thanks to the scarred but feisty cat, wherever it had ended up. It had proven to be a more valuable accomplice than a meal, and Nellie was doubly glad she hadn't had to resort to making a grisly meal of the scruffy thing.

Mreow? A muted thump accompanied the noise and Nellie looked up from her ill-gotten gains in surprise. The bucket clanked as a furry body rubbed against it, rusty purring breaking the silence of the night. Against a rough wooden wall, with a bucket holding barely enough food for a meal, Nellie's shoulders began to shake with silent laughter.
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[Flashback] Shadows and Scraps

Postby Kynier on July 21st, 2018, 9:40 pm

Grades!


Nellie
Skill Rewards
  • Larceny +1
  • Observation +4
  • Scavenge +1
  • Stealth +4

Lores Learned
  • Self: Doesn't want to eat a cat
  • Pig’s Foot Tavern: Don’t beg in front of customers
  • Ovek: Makes for a good distraction


A refreshingly simple story full of struggle. I'm enjoying the opportunities to grade your work! If you have an questions or concerns about your grade please feel free to PM me.
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