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

All the Thoughts of a Turtle Are Turtle

Postby Nellie Hawkins on June 13th, 2018, 4:30 am

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.3rd of summer.
.4th bell.


Paranoia was a sneaky thing, Nellie reflected as she picked her way over the hard packed dirt on the outskirts of the city. Bucket and typical fishing gear were today joined with a dagger and a vague sense of unease, all headed inland away from her usual fishing haunts. It crept in, and before you realized it you were ducking into strange alleyways, avoiding the usual 'safe spots' and constantly looking over your shoulder - and paranoia in Sunberth, where those things were already second-nature, could be paralyzing. Nellie couldn't afford to be paralyzed. It was the damndest thing, she thought to herself, that you could go about your business in Sunberth relatively uninjured as long as you were careful, until the wrong person noticed you – and then it was all too easy to disappear silently one night, no witnesses, no questions asked, no one to mourn your absence.

“But who the petch would be watchin’ me?” The question floated softly into the air and hung there, unanswered.

And because she didn’t know who to avoid, Nellie was trying to avoid everyone.

Sunberth had been born of a mining town, and a good portion of the shafts were still partially intact, housing who knew what in their dank and mouldering depths. Not that she planned to venture into the mines themselves; the creatures in residence were deadlier than she, and Nellie had no wish to test her defensive skills against them. But there was a lake, its fresh waters used to aid the miners in years past, now given over again to nature and a different sort of fare than could be found in the salty ocean water, and one less bountiful. 4th bell was early for most and the lake not a popular destination – Nellie hoped she’d be able to locate some food and avoid the niggling sense of danger that had been trailing her the past week.

Momentarily free from the now-familiar sense of foreboding, Nellie allowed herself to take in the atmosphere as she approached the lake. A few scuffling noises from the other side made her pause warily, but other than animals still about for a pre-dawn drink, there was only her and the water. It was better that way. Syna would see her way over the horizon soon enough, and Leth would sink below it, but for now it was an interesting shade of in-between that Nellie had rarely enjoyed. She found that she appreciated the sight and wondered what it might be like to live somewhere that visions like this could become commonplace. She shook her head; this could never be commonplace.

But it wasn’t hers to appreciate the mood of the place, rather to extract all she could from it and scurry back to the rickety and dubious security of her home. Lips twisted wryly at the term; ‘home’ implied a sense of belonging, welcome, security – the opposite of the ‘berth. To that end, Nellie set her bucket down silently and began assembling the day’s tools: a large hook, thicker than her usual fishing hooks, and some twine, also thicker than usual. She wrapped the twine around the hook, feeding it through the tiny eye at the top and knotted it securely – it wouldn’t due to have a weak knot and waste the trip out through her own stupidity. After a few tugs, she nodded: it would suffice.

The next step was the baiting, and she had brought a smallish fish head, the freshest she had – the only fish she’d managed to catch the previous day, in fact – and began to slide the hook through it. It was a grisly task, somehow made worse for the silence in the air around her. Nellie grimaced at the wet tearing sound the hook made as it pierced through the gills and out the top of the head; there was something obscene about the slow and deliberate movement, and she suppressed a small shudder of distaste. But it was unavoidable; bait not secured properly to the hook would only be robbed from her, and she hadn’t a back up to replace it.

“Over the lips and through the gums…” the singsongy rhyme slipped out before she realized it and she shook her head in disgusted amusement even as she eyed her work in approval.

Stepping closer to the lake with her now-readied hook and line, Nellie searched the shore for the most likely spot, finally settling on a small inlet nearly invisible in the dark. It was overgrown with long grasses that swished gently with her passing, and featured a drop of no more than a few feet into the lake itself: ideal. At the front of the inlet, in the gentle current of the lake, Nellie laid belly-down on the grass, wrapped the twine around her forearm a few times and slipped her fishy lure into the water. With luck, “…and Ovek knows I’m due for some by now,” she mumbled, it would entice one of the hard shelled turtles who lived in and around the fresh waters of the lake.


Nellie Hawkins
". . . most of us have gears we never use . . ."
Last edited by Nellie Hawkins on July 7th, 2018, 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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All the Thoughts of a Turtle Are Turtle

Postby Nellie Hawkins on June 19th, 2018, 1:33 am

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Patience had not come easily to Nellie as a child, but in the years since her parents' deaths, she had learned the benefit of remaining still, quiet, and unobtrusive. Those traits had come in handy in the past; it was remarkably easy to go unnoticed if you just kept yourself still enough and found the right-sized shadow to hide in. Of course, when fishing was your livelihood, those same qualities usually made for a larger catch - and a larger payday. Mizas were the right motivation for a young woman too used to the hunger and insecurity of Sunberth, and so Nellie had become an expert on patience.

With a grimace, she acknowledged that the turtles of this lake seemed also to have mastered the art. Staring down into the murky waters, she willed something to happen; if sheer focus could materialize results, turtles would be flinging themselves onto the grass beside her. Lacking any such mystical powers, however, Nellie twitched her forearm in frustration, the weight of the hook confirming that there was no victim willfully sacrificing itself to her desires.

On a huff of air she rolled over, arm trailing in the grass beside her as she battled boredom by surveying the plant-life around the lake. Cattail shoots poked up all along the edge of the lake, shivering and waving with the movement of the water below them. She doubted those would be much interest to Kane Baker - the man very definitely preferred meat, though he'd buy her fish happily enough, too. I wonder if Merv has any interest in cattails? The bristly tavernkeeper and Nellie had an interesting relationship; she could clearly remember being thrown out of his establishment more than once in the days after she'd been orphaned. Her begging, he'd said, was chasing away his regular customers.

And it had been, she could acknowledge that; she'd been forced to resort to begging to eat. It wasn't a proud memory, but neither was Nellie ashamed of it - beggars in Sunberth were as common as flies, and it was hard to pass judgement when most of the population had spent their time with nothing more than an outstretched hand and timid hope in their heart.

But as she'd healed, as the numbness of her family's death had given way to pain and then pragmatism, Nellie and Merv had come to an understanding: she would fish, and he would buy what she caught. Eventually she'd moved on, now selling more reliably to Kane Sunberth's resident butcher, but Nellie would always have a soft spot for the tavernkeeper.

A slight jerk distracted her from her thoughts and eager tension replaced the momentary calm reflection she'd been enjoying. Nellie rolled back to her stomach, careful not to jerk her arm too much as she cast an alert eye into the swirling dirt of the water. There - just a shadow below the surface to indicate that her prey had finally approached. Nellie held her breath in anticipation, sending a silent prayer out that her fishy bait was still firmly attached to the hook. Gently, she began to move her line in the water, enough to catch the firm interest of the turtle without frightening it away.

She hoped.

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". . . most of us have gears we never use . . ."
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All the Thoughts of a Turtle Are Turtle

Postby Nellie Hawkins on July 7th, 2018, 10:33 pm

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It was harder to wait, now that she had seen the turtle. It hovered just beneath the surface of the lake, where Nellie could clearly watch its head reaching and retreating from her hook. She’d stopped moving it now, counting on the currents and the turtle’s own hunger to do the enticing for her. Her forearm tensed in anticipation. Once the grasping mouth had bitten – and Nellie was confident that it would – she would need to be ready to lift it out and drop it into the bucket nearby. If everything went according to plan, the turtle would snap its mouth down on the hook without severing the line and this maneuver would be fairly painless.

I might even be able to sink another line and snap up, Nellie allowed herself a small mental giggle at the pun, another turtle or two, if the bait isn’t unusable.

Turtles needed a more gradual slope than the walls of the bucket to get anywhere, so once Nellie had managed to get them loaded, they would be easy to transport safely back to her home in the Quarters, where she would be able to dispatch them and clean them before delivering them to Kane. Her thoughts had run on ahead of her, and Nellie was almost startled when she felt an ungentle tug on the twine around her arm.

Pulling back on instinct, she reached with her other hand to wind it in the twine, as well. If her prey got some speed behind it, the twine could be drawn across her arm fast enough to injure her – and Nellie really preferred not to injure herself. A splashing from below was a clear sign that this turtle did not intend to come up without a struggle, and Nellie braced herself, sitting up and using her own leverage to raise the creature from its watery home.

It was not a large specimen, she noted with a bit of disappointment. Still, the 6 or 7 lbs of writhing, angry turtle could snap her twine if kept hovering in the air, and Nellie quickly dropped it down into the bucket, the skin of her arm relaxing in uninjured relief as the weight was taken from it. The hook she’d used was clearly visible, arching up through the top of the turtle’s mouth, and Nellie winced in sympathy. Though she had every intention of killing this turtle, cleaning it out, and selling it for food, she still had a soft enough heart that seeing it speared through as it was caused her remorse. The hook would need to be removed.

A quick slice of the dagger as close to the turtle as she dared parted the twine and freed her arm, and brown eyes stared down at the turtle in thought. Jaws which were strong enough to snap off a finger or two parted in a perpetual angry hiss; she doubted the turtle was in the mood to cooperate with the minor surgery she needed to perform. That mouth had to be otherwise occupied so she could pull the hook completely through the greenish flesh. Nellie had hunted turtle before, but it had been quite awhile; now that she was face to face with an angry, hissing, snapping beast, she was honest enough to admit to second thoughts about the whole endeavor.

And third thoughts.


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". . . most of us have gears we never use . . ."
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All the Thoughts of a Turtle Are Turtle

Postby Nellie Hawkins on July 8th, 2018, 12:31 am

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The bait was gone, she noted in passing. This was no great loss, as far as Nellie could see; now that she had one turtle to deal with, she found she couldn’t generate much excitement at the prospect of any more. The small one in her bucket was giving her enough of a challenge. The little girl in her hated to see anything in pain, but the adult in her hated actually being in pain – and she just couldn’t figure out a way to remove that hook that didn’t put her digits in harm’s way. With a frown, she resigned herself to leaving the hook in place until she got the turtle back home. Once there, a crack on the head with a good-sized rock would greatly minimize the danger.

“Sorry, turtle,” she offered the creature.

It only hissed in response, so Nellie began packing up her gear. This trip had not been as successful as she’d hoped for, but she’d caught more hassle than she’d wanted and calling it a day seemed like a wonderful idea.

As an afterthought, Nellie went back to the water’s edge: cattails weren’t her favorite food, but they were free and that made them taste much better. Fuzzy brown combs bobbed gently on their stems as Nellie slipped her hand down into the muck at their base, searching for the starchy rhizomes buried below. Working her fingers down underneath the base of the cattails took some doing – the plants had grown from thick, tuberous mat and she pried at them for a few chimes before freeing a section and pulling it away from its home. Grinning when she noticed the many small shoots of new growth – arguably the most palatable part of the plant, Nellie gave the roots a thorough rinse in the lake before returning to her turtle-bucket with them.

Using her dagger, she quickly lopped off the brown tops, dropping them to the ground – if they were edible, she had no clue how to prepare them – and braided the long stems of the cattails together. This would make them easier to carry home without dropping, as she juggled the other supplies she’d brought out.

The excitement of the turtle had done one thing: it had taken her mind off of the uneasy feeling that had been plaguing her. Feeling fairly relaxed for the first time in a few days, Nellie was not as watchful on her return trip as she’d been earlier that morning, and was caught completely unawares when she felt something pinch the toe of her boots.

An embarrassingly girlish outcry was followed by a much more respectable response. “What the petch?” Nellie looked down, shaking her foot in confusion; there was no tell-tale waving of the long grasses indicating a snake or crab or anything else small and bitey was making its way away from her. But the fresh scratch marks at the outer toe of her boot clearly indicated something had recently been attached. Suspiciously, she peered at the ground, expecting something to come slithering, crawling, or jumping out at her.
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". . . most of us have gears we never use . . ."
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All the Thoughts of a Turtle Are Turtle

Postby Nellie Hawkins on July 8th, 2018, 1:51 am

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The ground beneath her offered no clues as to what had mounted the weak stealth attack. Narrowing her eyes, Nellie sat her burdens a few paces away and withdrew her dagger. Though she wished for the length of her fishing pole or gigging spear, the dagger’s modest 5 inches would be better than simply swishing her hand through the growth, looking for clues.

“Good way to lose a finger. Exactly why we aren’t removing that hook, hm, Turtle?” Sporadic hissing was her only answer yet again, and Nellie began to feel slightly less bad about the creature’s impending demise.

Crouched down near the spot she’d felt the tiny pinch, she tentatively poked her dagger into the tufts of greenery sprouting up. Unsure of what to expect, she nevertheless let out a sigh of relief when she found nothing but weedy grass. A few more jabs through the vegetation yielded the same results, and Nellie was nearly ready to give up the search and go home when the blade of her dagger met… Something in the grass, and a light metallic clanging sounded out.

Curiosity and relief sent her pulse racing as she tapped at the mystery object again. It hadn’t moved; that meant it probably wasn’t some metallic-shelled mutated mine-dweller. Still, it was with more than a bit of caution that Nellie reached her hand down, feeling her way along the side of her dagger until her fingers felt the same light pinch that her boot had, mere chime earlier.

“Petch!” This time there was no girlish outcry, just serious annoyance and surprise. What was hiding in the grass?!

Using her dagger once more, Nellie methodically flattened the grass around the “pinching zone.” She’d learned her lesson, and had no intention of sticking bare fingers blindly into the area again. Though the pain had been minor, her nerves were jangling still from the surprise of two separate attacks, and she wasn’t at all in the mood to play games with… Whatever it was on the ground.

With the vegetation flattened, she could see more clearly, but the sight did nothing to clear up her confusion. Protruding from the dirt was something that greatly resembled a small, shiny claw. As she stared, the tips slowly drew together with a small “click”, held for a tick, and then parted again.

“Well, that solves one mystery,” she muttered, absently rubbing her abused fingertip. “But what are you?”

Though she addressed the object on the ground, she didn’t expect a response and wasn’t disappointed when all she heard was more hissing from the turtle and another small “click” as the claw drew itself together once more. Taking up her dagger once more, Nellie began to poke it into the ground near the claw, careful to keep her fingers clear of the moving parts as she worked at loosening the dirt beneath it.

The ground was hard, but Nellie was persistent, and within a few chimes had scraped away a good amount of dirt to reveal a leather-wrapped hilt below the oddly animated claw. Brow furrowed, Nellie gingerly reached out to grasp the hilt, glad that the claw seemed stationary but for the methodical opening and closing. With a light tug, the hilt slid out of the dirt, revealing a wavy blade twice the length of her dagger, dirty but seemingly in otherwise good repair.

Not one to waste time questioning good fortune when it was such an infrequent visitor, Nellie grinned down at her discovery. If the claw was mildly disturbing, so what? Maybe she could sell it, if she couldn’t get used to it. And if she could…

“Well, it’s at least a longer, scarier looking dagger than the old one,” she reasoned. With a dagger like this, she might even consider taking some proper lessons at the Proving Grounds. Nellie hadn’t been able to justify the cost when the only weapon she’d had to use was the plain dagger that doubled as a shovel, a prise, a gardening tool, a spear sharpener, and basically anything else she needed in a pinch. The claw continued to click slowly as she muddled through her thoughts, and the sound eventually drew her attention back to the present. “Home first. Then turtle,” she grimaced at the hissing bucket, then sharp new toy.”

Priorities established, Nellie carefully began picking up her various bundles, getting caught in the pinching claw a few more times before working out how to avoid them as she made her way home.

Ooc :
Flametongue Dagger a reward from this challenge

Nellie Hawkins
". . . most of us have gears we never use . . ."
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All the Thoughts of a Turtle Are Turtle

Postby Kynier on July 26th, 2018, 9:17 pm

Grades!


Skill Rewards
  • Fishing +3
  • Observation +5
  • Scavenging +1

Lores Learned
  • Fishing: Wrapping twine around the arm safely
  • Self: Soft Heart
  • Scavenging: Cattail stems are free and taste better that way
  • Scavenging: Braiding Cattail stems together for easy carrying


Rewards
  • Flametongue Dagger

You have a real talent for keeping even simple activities interesting to read! If you have an questions or concerns about your grade please feel free to PM me.
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