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1081135 No. 1081135 ID: ab6c3e

Your talents were recognized at a very young age. A grand destiny stretched ahead of you, and your adolescence was dedicated to the training that would be required to claim it - a task that only you could do. Your family, your teachers, and countless other people were all behind you - standing on their shoulders as you moved forward to grasp your fate, to change the world.

But you threw it away. Fled into the night, and continued to run until all of the hopes, and all of the expectations bled out of you. You wandered, directionless and empty, until you came upon the river. With nothing else in your life, you followed the smallest of compulsions, the only impulse you could find beyond basic survival. You began to follow the river.

Walking along the banks, wading through the shallows, and even laying in the water to drift downstream brought you a calm and even an inkling of satisfaction. A sense that maybe you could find a purpose and a new future, to erase the absence that was all you had left.

You opted to take the name of the River for your new start, but having wandered so far and so blindly you had no idea what its name even was. And so, you simply settled on "River."
Expand all images
No. 1081136 ID: ab6c3e
File 170538147033.jpg - (92.57KB , 1423x1315 , 1-002.jpg )

Walking along the river one day, you come across a rabbit with a tattered ear sitting by the shore. A pole is set between stones next to him, with strings tied along its length stretching out past his shoulder and sinking into the water downstream.

He sits beside the pole, resting his fingers gently against the strings. Aside from nearly imperceptible shifting of his fingertips along them, he is perfectly still and relaxed. You see what seems to be a tension beneath the surface of his stance, but quickly recognize it instead as readiness. If he notices your presence, he doesn't react to it.

As you step forward, you become aware that he is softly humming a song, one that you have dim memories of hearing in your childhood. The gentle tugs and shifting of his fingertips along the strings seem almost like it should be playing some sort of accompaniment, though they produce no sound. You are entranced by the calmness of the scene before you, and the confidence and precision infusing his small motions, and before you even notice you catch yourself humming along with part of the song yourself.

He speaks quietly as he tilts his head, glancing back towards you while keeping his ear by the strings and his fingers tracing along them. "Not many strangers walk down the shoreline. What are you here for?"

What lie do you tell him?
No. 1081138 ID: 75b262

I’m prospecting for gold! Wandering the land, tracing the river’s route and seeking those nugetty nougats of gold goodness.

I like gold.
No. 1081139 ID: 8280e8

Just visiting some family here I've never had the chance to meet before.
No. 1081140 ID: a7a180

To join the band. I'm told I make a good soprano.
No. 1081141 ID: 5ebd37

Just a passing scrimshaw carver, looking to ply my trade. Do you happen to have any nice bones on you? I'd be willing to trade for good material.
No. 1081143 ID: fa3034

Following the river, of course. What about themselves?
No. 1081144 ID: dc4bad

why even lie?

say you're lost and looking for something new, and figured you might as well follow the water for that
No. 1081145 ID: e51896

you're traveling, seeing the world. it's partially the truth.
No. 1081149 ID: 8f9bc4

I am the Gypsy King!
No. 1081150 ID: 184595

You went out looking for food, and got lost. Would it be possible to learn the name of this river? That might tell you something about where you've ended up.
No. 1081164 ID: 34713f

"Just seeing where the river takes me. I don't think a vagabond like myself should need a greater purpose, so long as this one is mine to choose - I suppose that's the point underpinnin' all those who choose such a life, when you get down to it. Speaking of a River; that's my name. May I know yours?"
No. 1081171 ID: 67181a
File 170542815027.jpg - (228.39KB , 1175x1170 , 0116241040.jpg )

"I have family I never met, whom i wanted to visit," you begin, "but i am unfamiliar with the region. I became lost in the wilderness and thought that following the river would eventually lead me to civilization so i could get directions."

He sits quietly and contemplatively, running his fingers along the strings. You speak up again, to stop him from taking time to think about your story, "What is its name?"

"Name?" He asks, as both of his hands settle against a single string, lightly tugging and plucking at it.

"The river. What is it called?"

"You have family in the region but don't know th- hold on"
No. 1081172 ID: 67181a
File 170542899301.jpg - (239.56KB , 1444x1423 , 0116241206.jpg )

In a sudden flash, he speings to his feet, throwing his arms apart to pull the string. The sharp motion causes the string to cut up from the water's surface, and at its end a monstrous fish snaps back above the surface. The motion is severe, but controlled - not a single wasted movement. Even as the beast thrashes and gights at the end of the line, you kmow its fate is already sealed. This was a master's stroke.

He pulls the fish to shore, hauling in the string by hand an arm's length at a time. By thr time the fish is in the shallows, it is nearly immobile from the exhaustion of its doomed fight. Its fanged maw hangs open as it gulps air. The rabbit kneels by his pack and pulls out a thin, pointed knife. Wading into the shallows beside the beast, he whispers something inaudibly to it as he places the tip of the knife carefully into the gill slit and drives it into its body. Soon after, it lies still.

"Xibu qingren," he says calmly after the flurry of activity. "It's called xibu qingren."
No. 1081176 ID: 67181a
File 170542998674.jpg - (279.53KB , 1392x1370 , 0116241248.jpg )

"Xibu qingren, then," you say. "What a nostalgic name."

"That's an odd way to put it," he pipes up, tieing cords around the massive body of the fish.

"Oh, uh... I suppose so." You aren't entirely sure where the sentiment came from, but in your heart it still feels somehow 'correct.' "Anyway. I should be on my way."

"Are you sure?" He asks, hefting his haul over his shoulders, "You don't even know where you're headed. What family are you looking for?"

Your mind races quickly for am answer, "my mother didn't know their names, he said I'd know them by the family seal. I will need to find them on my own."

He looks confused for a sec0nd, them shrugs as best he can with the massive animal on his shoulders, "Then you may as well come with me. I'm heading into town anyway, it'd be better for you than staying lost," he trails off with an intentional pause, as if prompting you to introduce yourself.

"River," you say, placing your hand over your chest and bowing slightly.

"Serendipitous. I'm Yu," he nods. "I need to head out if I'm going to get back to town in time for dinner, are you coming along?"

What will you do?

A: Go with Yu (if so, do you make conversation? What do you talk about?)
B: decline Yu's offer, but sneak behind him to follow him to town
C: make your own way
No. 1081181 ID: 34713f

A - It is not as though you have any better alternative, aside from skipping Yu's village altogether after that blunder of a lie.
No. 1081191 ID: 5ebd37

A) try to recover your fumbled lie. Ask if he knows the way to Mandalay, and when he says he hasn't, act worried that you're more lost than you thought.
Or ask about that cool huge fish.
No. 1081199 ID: 184595


It's better to come into a new town with an introduction you than to come silently and unknown, like a bandit.

Keep the conversation on the town, and the future; you have a past to abandon, and it's best not to dwell on where you're from. You're lost, and in a strange place, so you have license to ask anything you're not familiar with: your namesake river, the town you're going to, the fish on his back, his clipped ear, his fishing apparatus, the prayer he said before slaughtering his catch.
No. 1081210 ID: 13bbb3

No. 1081216 ID: 64faaa


Talk about stories of cultivators, defying the heavens.
No. 1081218 ID: dc4bad


and compliment his catch, you said it looked masterful
(incidentally, what was the training you yourself underwent?)
No. 1081239 ID: e83474

C. You don't need witnesses.
No. 1081297 ID: 8738fb
File 170559284060.jpg - (249.92KB , 1397x1417 , 0118240847.jpg )

>what was the training you yourself underwent?

An immense effort from many people who invested all of their dreams into you. You wish to move forward to a new life, and prefer not to think about this.

After walking in silence for several minutes, you open up "Your technique was incredible. You must be a master fisherman."

He smirks, "Perfect action is the exoression of perfect practice." Thebwords roll off his tongue as if a rote recitation from a lifetime of training. He pauses, before continuing, "The basic technique was taught to me by a man I loved, but in the years since we parted i adjusted it and made it my own."

"As well as the prayer you made at the end?"

"That's a private matter," he snips, leading into an awkward silence.

"Well, its an impressive catch regardless," you attempt to move past your apparent faux-pas, "I was shocked to see something so large and monstrous frok such a serene river. Are they common?"

He shakes his head, "Not at all, Ive never seen one of these large adults outside of the lake before. Normally only the juveniles range this far upstream, and even then rarely."


"Yeah, the Ling Hai. The Xibu and Nanfang Qingren feed it."

"So normally to take a fish like this, you'd fish in the lake?"

"Nobody fishes in the lake," he shrugs, shifting the massive fish on his shoulders, "It's a local custom. I've never really questioned it."

"A local custom... are you not from this area?"

He shakes his head, "I was wandering the world for a long time. I came here several years ago, and it was comfortable emough to settle. I intended to just stay for a few months, but comfort is quite addictive after all that time on thebroad," he laughs.

"So, during that time on the road," he cocks his ear towards you as you speak, "Did you find the way to Mandalay? Thats the town im supposed to be visiting."

He looks puzzled, "never heard of it." You make a show of looking disappointed, to which he responds, "but somebody in town might know. Coupdnt hurt to ask them."

As his ear turns back towards the road, your curiosity gets the better of you and you ask, "I noticed your ear was cut, is there a story there as well?"

"Is there a story about your clipped tail?" He asks sternly, without turning his eyes from the road. You stand in awkward silence, unwilling to resoond for what feels like an endless moment before he continues, "Then i suppose we can agree that its uncomfortable to talk about our mistakes with someone we just met."
No. 1081299 ID: 8738fb
File 170559380847.jpg - (286.40KB , 1410x1393 , 0118240943.jpg )

you continue on in silence from there, walkimg along the banks. As the afternon moves toward the evening, you see a shimmer at the horizon where the lake spreads out ahead of you, and feel a sense of ... Something welling up from within.

"Eve'nin," a gruff voice blurts out as you pass a large rock. You both stop in your tracks, looking over to see a large bull sitting behind it, with a large, banded club resting om his shoulder. "'Ad a long day?"

Yu says nothing, holding his ground and looking warily towards the bull. His stance looks relaxed, but you get the same sense of 'readiness' from him that you did while he was stroking the fishing lines.

The bull stands up, hefting the club az he steps toward the two of you. "That thing looks awfully heavy for someome your size," he sneers, "Maybe i could do ya a solid and take it off your hands. I'll charge a pretty reasonable fee mire my services, too."

What do you do?
A: appeal to Yu
B: attempt to speak to the bandit (and say what?)
C: pay off the bandit to leave you alone
D: flee
E: freeze
F: fight
No. 1081300 ID: dc4bad

E ...ish; observe the situation and let Yu take the lead, just be ready to follow his chosen course of action. If he fights: back him up, if he flees: be right behind him, ect.
No. 1081301 ID: 41d7e0

Ask him if he really Moost be doing this or if he could perhaps just let the two of you vaMoose. Bandits love puns.
No. 1081302 ID: e51896

No. 1081305 ID: 184595


I think you should prioritize a good outcome for Yu. He's the one that knows the way to town, and even though he's not a local, he's getting comfortable, and a good word from him should help you seem less strange. This means you want to stay with him and help him keep his fish. A fight is an uncertain proposition, and if you have any combat training, it's probably something you'd rather not demonstrate. Money is easier to explain away; step in, and quote the bandit a price for leaving the both of you alone, with the fish. Hopefully, the money you have will be enough.
No. 1081319 ID: 64faaa

B, then D if that doesn't work.

Point out that Yu isn't (I assume) struggling with the weight of the fish, & that indicates bad things about the bandit's ability to win a fight with him.

Also, D rather than F, because winning a fight with a guy that size wouldn't count as keeping a low profile. (I am, admittedly, assuming that you can hand the bandit his own ass.)
No. 1081320 ID: ddf6ee

F, show the bandit who's the boss
No. 1081321 ID: 34713f

F: They're in a sitting position; now's the time to pull your weapon and just go for it, no hesitation, give no time for them to get ready.

Unless that training didn't include anything about fighting? We asked not because we wished to pry into your life, but because it pays to take stock of what you are and aren't capable of.
No. 1081322 ID: 184595


The illustration shows the bull sitting down, but the text describes him as standing up and hefting the club. He's got the drop on a bunny with a fish and a wayward traveler.
No. 1081327 ID: 8f9bc4

C. and if that fails then

No. 1081342 ID: 5ebd37

F, but follow Yu's lead. Don't attack unless he does. In the meantime, start circling around the bandit so that you can flank him when combat begins.
No. 1081486 ID: ab6c3e
File 170579957003.jpg - (84.85KB , 1315x1315 , 1-008.jpg )

Yu stares coldly at the bull, but you break the stillness by stepping forward, holding up a hand. "Now there," you say, "It's clear to see that he isn't having trouble with his catch. He's obviously more than strong enough to handle, it," the bull snorts derisively, "so lets not do anything rash here."

He sneers "Lady, I ain't sure you get what's goin' on here," as he bounces his club on his shoulder.

"Oh, I understand," you rummage through your pack with one hand while speaking and making subtle movements to keep his attention away from it, "I was going to make an offer. To buy safe passage for my friend and I." You produce a large gilded coin from your pack, and the Bull's eyes widen.


You nod. "Do we have a deal?"

He lashes out and grabs your wrist, his eyes greedily fixed on the coin. "If ya've got this to offer, surely ya can spare a bit more?" You feel the crude malice radiating from his hand, and draw in a breath - before you see the face of the fish suddenly imposed between the two of you.
No. 1081488 ID: ab6c3e
File 170579990559.jpg - (62.88KB , 1252x1063 , 1-009.jpg )

The beast's loose maw justs around the bull's forearm as Yu lunges between you, before he braces his left foot squarely on the ground and kicks the fish's hanging lower jaw, snapping it shut and driving the fangs into your assailant's forearm. You feel his shock as he lets go of your wrist, dropping you back - but Yu steps quickly down and pivots, slipping his arm behind your back to catch you. You feel his anger and determination as he pivots, the whole of his being twisting and pushing to direct all his strength towards another kick with all of the mastery that you saw in his fishing.
No. 1081491 ID: ab6c3e
File 170580033003.jpg - (165.81KB , 1614x1649 , 1-010.jpg )

You immediately intuit his intentions, and in a heartbeat you drop the coin and hook your finger around the thumb and wrist of the bull. Matching your timing perfectly to Yu's, and feeling the bull's own movements, you yank his arm forward to stumble him forward exactly as Yu drives his foot up into his chest.

His laminate wooden breastplate cracks and buckles under the impact, as the brigand is lifted bodily from the ground and hurled backwards from the impact. He lays crumpled on the ground, coughing and gasping for air as his arm oozes blood - The wound is unpleasant but you can immediately see that it won't be fatal.

Yu appears slightly startled by the strength of the impact, but steps back to the ground, readjusting his carry of the fish. "You okay?"

You brush yourself off as you step away, "Yes, thanks to you."

He glances at the brigand laying in a heap, and the coin, and back to you. "Seems like an unreasonable guy."

What do you do?
No. 1081493 ID: 64faaa

Tell the bull to reconsider his career. Banditry is not particularly safe, nor is he very good at it.
Also, he should take a good deal when he sees it, instead of recklessly gambling for more.

Leave the coin for the bull to pick up when he recovers. If Yu is interested in it, treat it like it's nothing special.

Then grab the bull's club & toss it in the river, or carry it with you for a while so that you can drop it off somewhere the bull can't find it. Injuries & no weapons will make it hard for him to be a bandit, even if he ignores your very reasonable advice.
No. 1081495 ID: 184595

Take the brigand's club and leave him there. We don't have to choose violence, but we don't want him causing any trouble, either. If you don't want him following you, use the club to knock him on the head and leave him unconscious.
No. 1081497 ID: 273c18

Tell him he got greedy and paid the price. You'll be taking back the coin since he is in no condition to provide safe passage.
No. 1081504 ID: 0190ce

Take the club, he's lost his club privileges. you can take the coin back if you want to, guy was being a huge dick. if not, it's whatever.
No. 1081507 ID: fa3034

Aggree with Yu. Grab your coin and make yourself scarce. Head in to the bush, make it hard for the bull to follow.
No. 1081546 ID: dc4bad

very smooth moves, from both of you

but yeah it's probably best to just hurry along, who knows if this guy has friends nearby
No. 1081590 ID: 2916f1

Recruit bull into group of misfits. Tell him that if he's good, you might teach him teamwork and fish combat.
No. 1081592 ID: 1a510f

Punch him in the face a bunch so he doesn't follow.

Take your coin and his weapon before you leave.
No. 1081601 ID: c0817d
File 170593456043.jpg - (249.38KB , 1176x1162 , 0122240833.jpg )

You approach the bull, kneeling down next to him and whispering, "That wasn't a very wise business choice," as you pick up your coin and tuck it into your scarf. You then grab the handle of his club and lift it up, causing a wave of sputteribg and coughing from the bull as his expression goes blank - as well as hearing Yu adjust his stance out of your view.

The club is extremely heavy, so you leave thebtip on the ground as you turn and drag it towards the shoreline. There, you twist and use your weight and its momentum to hurl the weapon into the river. If the bull has any protests, he does not voice them - laying still on the grass. As you turn back to pick up your things. You see Yu smiling calmly, no tension remaining in his stance.

"If you're feeling well enough for that, we should probably be on our way. Men like this rarely work alone, and the sun isnt going to wait for us either."

"Let's go then," you respond, and set off again down the banks of the xibu qingren. It is a quiet, pleasant walk, and just as the sky turns red as the sun begins to set behind you you cret a hill to see the town sprawled out in front of you.
No. 1081602 ID: c0817d
File 170593577968.jpg - (264.04KB , 1184x1180 , 0122240911.jpg )

The town is mostly a group of small clusters of buildings around a central plaza, with a few people milling around going sbout theur business scattered throughout. Surveying the land around it you see small farmhouses and fields scattered around, assuming that the 'town' is a gathering place for local families and likely has a small population that actually reside there. Towards the side of the town that brushes against the river there is some manner of large building that looks to be under construction. And theough the town and out towards the horizon, you can see the shores of the ling hai.

"Here we are," announces Yu, "I'm heading over to the bronze turtle to sell my friend here, then I'll be on my way. You're welcome to come along, or look around town on your own.

As you approach the town, Yu gives you a brief rundown of the different locations.

The bronze turtle is a tavern near the edge of town, backed up against a wooded area.
The craftsman's rows are a cluster of combined homes/workshops where most of the residential townsfolk live. The blacksmith, the tanner, and the like. People whose trades are valuable enough and in sufficient supply that operating out of a central location in the area is worthwhile.
The stables are a large inn consisting of a numner of small rooms with modest accomodations. It gets its name as it was converted from an old ranch before traders started coming down the rivers.
The trading house is by the docks, as there is very little land-bound traffic through the region - most travelers who pass through are on riverboats and stop off to trade, resupply, or rest.
The monestary is the home of a small religious sect who mostly keep to themselves, though they do come into town regularly enough. It is a little bit beyind the town itself, closer to the lakeshore - but close enough to still be considered a part of it.

All the time walking down the river has begun to catch up to you, so you wont have time to visit all of the locations; and will need to find a place to stay ifbyoubwajt to avoid exhaustion. Where do you go?
No. 1081604 ID: e51896

Bronze turtle sounds like a good place to relax a bit and get to know some of the townsfolk before you head to the inn to rent a room to stay.
No. 1081607 ID: 8280e8

This, also a good place to hear about best work/odd job options.

What exactly do I have with me anyway?
No. 1081611 ID: 184595

Go to the stables. Securing lodging for the evening is our top priority. Maybe we can ask Yu where he's staying before he leaves?

Food at the bronze turtle should probably come next. Even if you have your own provisions, it's best to stretch them as long as we can, and it will be good to rub shoulders with the locals.

The docks might be a good place to visit, but not until tomorrow; if you wish to keep going, a boat might be the best way to cover a long distance.

It's the religious types that tend to care the most about prophecy and chosen ones. It's probably best to stay away from the monastery, on the chance that this religion intersects with your past.
No. 1081622 ID: 43b9bc

Yeah, we need to know our status, to know what we want to do.

We presumably have a fair amount of money, based on how the bull reacted. The coin must be worth a good amount, & we've probably got more.

But besides that, who knows what we’ve got in our bag. Could be entirely technique scrolls/precious treasures/weird cultivator weapons/rare medicines/etc: things that aren’t edible. Or maybe you do have food in there.

… I vote that River’s supplies are:
1: Several cultivation scrolls, hand copied in secret from the ones she was trained on. (She may have run away, but she wasn’t willing to steal resources from the sect that they might need.)
Some of them are in code/foreign languages/etc that she does not understand, but she has copied them anyway. (for fun cultivator shenanigans, one of them has an obfuscating effect, but it only works if you understand the language. By copying it without understanding, this protection has been bypassed). These are well beyond her level, but will be valuable in the future.
2: The cultivator equivalent of hardtack. It will keep you alive if food runs out… but [i]nobody[\b] eats it if they have a choice. Grain Liberation type stuff, except nasty.
3: 2 or 3 coins, like the one already shown. The dregs of what used to be an incredible allowance (by a normal person’s standards). … She may have taken a while to learn how long that amount of money is actually supposed to last.

…maybe this is jumping ahead, but it could be fun if River sees herself as “entirely practical & coldly logical”, while actually being naturally nice with strong morals. So she presents choices like copying scrolls instead of stealing then as: “If I stole the scrolls, the sect would know & come after me to recover them”. Meanwhile, a big part of her motivation was actually “these good people, so I can’t deprive them of the resources necessary to train someone who can actually do what I was supposed to do”.

Anyway, assuming all of the above:
Make sure things go smoothly for Yu. Justify it to yourself as “I helped him keep his catch, I deserve a cut”.
Then go to the Craftsman’s Rows, & try to find some quick employment to pay for room & board for a few days. Coins like yours aren’t too common around here: they are both attention grabbing & more valuable than needed to stay a few days.
Finally, stay at the Stables if that goes well.
No. 1081699 ID: 7112f1
File 170603716651.jpg - (187.65KB , 1011x949 , 0123240912.jpg )

You don't yet have any long-term plans or goals. Until a week ago your life was wholly devoted to a single purpose, and since then the only impulses youve felt are basic survival and following the river. At some point you will need to figure out what you want to do with your new life.

As you wished to leave every piece of your prior life behind; you brought almost nothing with you. All you have is [b[the clothes on your back[/b], some edible plants you scavenenged while wandering and have yet to eat, and what you have now come to understand as a substantial amount of money, at least with regard to the region in which you have found yourself.

Lacking in direction as you are, you follow Yu into the nearby building, a rounded, rough stone structure ringed with Windows, with a small bronze turtle statue set atop an awning at its entrance. Inside the walls are smooth, with a dozen polished wooden tables arranged around the room each flanked by benches for seating. There are several people seated at tables having their own conversations, but Yu walks directly to a counter next to a mostly-open kitchen and flips the fish over his head to thump down in front of an elderly turtle smoking from a pipe.

“My my, this is quite the find,” she speaks slowly and deliberately, setting her pipe aside, “I may even forgive your tardiness.”

“What can i say, I ran into some distractions,” he shrugs.

The turtle cranes her neck to look over to you, and then back to him. “And are you going to introduce me to your little distraction?”

Hebsighs and turns to gesture toward you, “This is river. A traveler I met on the road. River, rhis is Mistress Bowu. She is the proprietor of this restaurant, and a friend of mine.”

“Hmph,” she snorts, a ring if snoke puffing out from her nose, “you could do better than that, but I'm in a good mood so I'll let it slide today.” She turns back towards you as Th groans, “and what brings you out to my little hovel, River?”

You meet her gaze, which is calming and peaceful, but barely conceals an unflinching confidence. You start to step forward, but feel slightly lightheaded and tired as you smell the smokiness around the counter.

You shake your head and settle back on your feet, “I am traveling to visit some extended family that live in Mandalay, but have gotten lost. If it is no trouble Mistress, would you happen to know the way?”

She glances briefly over towards Yu before tlreturning her eye to you, “Bowu.”


“If you are Yu's friend, you can call me Bowu.”

“Oh, of course Mistress Bowu, if you prefer.”

She chuckles, tilting her head toward Th, “You certainly found an odd one,” before coughing and looking back to you. “I am afraid that I do not know this place. You must be more lost than even you have realized yet.”

“I was afraid of that,” youbhang your head, miming dejection.

Shebcloses her eye and nods her head in response, “it must be difficult, trying to find your bearings when your surroundings change each morning.”

You stand quietly, unsure of a way to respond. She lifts up the fish, whixh you realize she has been inspecting with her broad hands throughout the enture conversation. It seems to take considerably more effort for her tham it did for Yu, despite her size, but she still seems able to handle it herself. “I need to prepare thus before dinner service, will you be in attendance this evening?”

Hi shakes his head, “I set a roast in the coals before i left home today, so I need to get back home before it burns too badly.”

“Alas, what a tragedy,” she croons, “And you River? As a friend of Yu's and a guest in town you are welcome to eat. Do not worry about payment, the meal will be on the house.”

How will you respond? Additionally, decide what you will do from here. If you visit another location and engage in a conversation there, you will not have time to visit another location before Bowu has finished preparing dinner.
No. 1081702 ID: 5ebd37

Eating at the tavern would be a good way to get to know some locals. You should inquire at the inn weather they have a free room before dinner.
No. 1081704 ID: 184595

Thank her and accept the invitation. A free meal is something you can't afford to turn away in these circumstances. But surely it would be a well-received gesture of good will to offer service in return; acting as waitstaff during the meal, cleaning afterwards, any chore she might need done.

After food, lodging is the next thing to secure. Ask Bowu if she could recommend a place to stay. Chances are she directs you to the stables, but if she knows of someplace else, having the recommendation could prove advantageous.
No. 1081716 ID: 64faaa

No. 1081778 ID: ab6c3e
File 170614425124.jpg - (126.81KB , 1443x1437 , 1-014.jpg )

"Thank you, mist- Bowu," you reply as she seems to smirk, "I would happily return for dinner, but are you sure you wouldn't want some manner of repayment? I could perform some service in recompense."

She waves her hand, "It is not necessary. However, should you wish to do so I would be a fool to turn down your offer."

You nod, "Then I will remain after closing to help," turning to leave. Yu follows you out, then turns and walks off toward the south edge of town as you head across the plaza toward the stables.

"Nice meeting you, River. It'd be nice to see you again, but in case you plan to skip town before I get the chance, farewell!"

"Likewise, Yu," you bow your head slightly. He returns the gesture, before turning and jogging away.

You can clearly see the form of the ranch that Yu told you the inn was converted from in it, with the long, low structures that were certainly former stables; but it looks like significant time and effort has been spent on building them up into livable structures as you approach.

as you walk toward what looks to be the old farmhouse, you see a through the opened front door a pig daintily sweeping inside, humming away.

You walk inside, knocking on the frame as you enter. She jumps meekly and spins around clutching her broom, "A-AAaa! Oh, oh I didn't see you there. Um... I don't know you, are you... um..."

You raise your hands calmly and bow deferentially, "I'm a traveler, seeking lodgings."

"Oh, yes, a trav-" she starts, her eyes widening as she steps forward excitedly, "A traveler?! So the boats have returned?!"

You shake your head, "No, I walked in from the west. Yu told me that this was where I would see about getting a room."

She sinks heavily at your response, but perks back up slightly after a moment. "Oh yes, a room. Sorry, I was just ... almost nobody ever walks here, so I thought the boats might be back."

"I'm sorry to disappoint you," you begin, "but I do need a place to stay while I am here."

"Oh! Yes, one second!" she cries, hurrying across the room towards the corner and pulling a scroll out of a rack, laying it out on a desk as she grabs a pen. "It's just, we haven't had any customers since the workers went upriver, so I wasn't expecting any travelers until the boats..."

"Oh, um... I almost forgot. How are you going to be paying? Barter or coin?"

You reach into your bundle, "I don't have any goods to barter, would you be able to accept these coins?" You produce the same coin from your pack that you offered to the bull.

Her eyes widen and she drops her pen as she sees you hold the coin forward, "Ah...! I-I'm sorry!" She bends at the waist and bows all the way forward, "I didn't realize!"

You step back, waving your hands, "Hold on, what are you doing?"

She looks up, then slowly and awkwardly straightens, saying "Wha-I ... An imperial sycee is not something seen this far abroad, so I figured you must be of noble birth. I apologize for my presumptuousness, I mean no offense." She squeezes her eyes shut and bows again.

You quietly close the door behind you to make sure nobody sees this display, "There is no concern, I am a simple traveler. You need only treat me as such, I am only in need of a room."

"w-well," she says, "our rooms out here are not so expensive, I am uncertain that they would be to your taste." She begins to shake and begins rapidly tapping her pen on the canvas. "S-such a payment would be sufficient to have a room for easily a full month, with meals included. A-and since there has been no business since the workmen went upriver, I-I have no means to offer repayment for the excess... Oh!"

she drops the pen and runs back up to you from the desk, "The boats! The river! You say you traveled here from the west, and carry the currency - is there something amiss in the imperial province? There have been no traders, and the boats that went upstream have not returned, meaning there has been no word. On your travels, have you heard of anything that might delay them?!" She steps back and bows again, "I-if you don't mind my impertinence in asking."

What lie do you tell her? Additionally, what do you plan to do concerning payment for a room?
No. 1081793 ID: 184595

Stick to your story: no, unfortunately, you don't have any news to share. You were just trying to get to Mandalay, and got lost. You weren't aware that there were any signs of trouble in the imperial province, and you hope that there's nothing to worry about.

At the earliest opportunity, turn the conversation back to the matter at hand. You're no noble, and your tastes are humble. You're sure that her rooms will be more than adequate. As for payment, if she's hesitant to take the money, you're no stranger to hard work. As with Bowu, you'd be willing to barter labor in exchange for room and board--though if there aren't any customers around and the workload is light, this might be a weak offer. If you have any particular skills whose exercise wouldn't risk exposing your past, you can negotiate by volunteering those. If nothing comes to mind, and she's still afraid to take the money and doesn't need help, then you might offer to pay by doing work for someone she knows, or family of hers.
No. 1081796 ID: 64faaa

Keep in mind that some of your secret skills may make you more capable at mundane tasks as well. So you may be surprisingly skilled even at types of labor you haven't practiced before.
No. 1081807 ID: ab6c3e
File 170615556945.jpg - (88.86KB , 777x712 , 0124242240.jpg )

"I am sorry," you respond swiftly, "but I was on my way to Mandalay and got lost. I havent heard any news of trouble, but I have been following the river and saw no signs of shipwrecks or danger - like as not the boats have been delayed in port, your custoners and business should resume before long.

She slumps over the counter, "It isn't about my business... You see, my husband is the pilot of the vessel that carried the workers west. I can't help but worry for him without any word."

You stand in silence for several minutes as she sniffles and collects herself. You don't know of any reason that a ship pilot should be in danger, but you expect he will be unable to return for several weeks depending pn exactly when he left. However, you decide to change the subject in order to draw your own thoughts back to the present.

"Is there perhaps some work I could do as payment? I have no goods to barter, having been lost in the woods for as long as I was. You don't need to worry about the extravegance of your rooms, I assure you my taste is very simple."

She shakes her head, "With no customers, I dont even have enough work to busy myself. Even if I were to come up with a task, I would be unclined to take care of it myself if only for the distraction."

"Unfortunately, these coins are the only money I have, so if you are unable to accept them we may be at an impasse."

"It isnt that I can't accept your money," she interjects, "but it's just ... So much. How long were you even intending to stay here?"

It sounds like the innkeeper has no need for an exchange of labor, nor any family in town to offload it onto. Do you:

A: Overpay for a room
B: Attempt to negotiate some other method of payment
C: Seek lodgings elsewhwere.

Additonally: Is there anything else you wish to speak to the innkeeper about before Dinner?
No. 1081808 ID: 5ebd37

A) How about this? You overpay for the room, and she can help you out around town while you're here. She could buy you some supplies in lieu of change, if you need anything.

Ask her if there is any interesting history behind this stable now inn.
No. 1081809 ID: 184595


If the money is as precious as the innkeeper suggests, then it would be wise to spend it judiciously. We've been roughing it in the woods along the riverbank; if worse comes to worst, we can camp again (though the encounter with the brigand may have made that prospect a bit less desirable than usual, if he has your track). You're unlikely to see Yu again today--we know he's not coming to dinner--so we won't be able to rely on any advice from him. We might try schmoozing with the townsfolk during dinner, and asking Bowu for a lead once all's said and done.

On that note, you should probably be getting back to the Bronze Turtle. While it would be nice to stay and chat a bit longer (this might be a good chance to learn more about the monks and their practice), you don't want to be late for dinner.
No. 1081813 ID: 273c18

Yeah. If she doesn't have any business then she can just work for you.
No. 1081825 ID: 0d1c28

A) these sort of village folk always repay such kindness

admire her clothes and as where she got such nice embroidered dress

also ask her name if you're going to be staying for a while
No. 1081846 ID: 64faaa

I can see the writing on the wall.
We need to bring her news of her husband, & then we will be able to stay for free.
No. 1081847 ID: 5fa82d

A but on the stipulation that she be your guide and help you learn about the area. Room, food and service would make the money more efficient, yeah?
No. 1081927 ID: ab6c3e
File 170632605436.jpg - (72.72KB , 956x948 , 0126241022.jpg )

"I'm not sure how long I intend to stay," you begin as you place the coin on the edge of her desk as her eyes widen, "but I'm sure you can let me know if this runs out as a line of credit?"

"I-i-i ... Y-yes of course!" She says, dipping her pen into her inkwell and scrawling something on the scroll she has unrolled in front of her, "Anything you say m-mistre-"

"River," you say, holding up your hand. "As I told you, I am a simple traveler. Please call me River."

"Yes, oh, of course" she stammers, storing the scroll in the rack on the wall and rummaging beneath her desk, "I u-understand."

"And you?"


"What should I call you while I am staying here."

"Oh! Oh, I am Fanqie, at your service." She punctuates her statement with a bow.

"If you are at my service," you state as patiently as you can manage, "Would you be able to assist me in other matters as I acclimate to this town? I am not familiar with the area, and will likely be in need of a guide."

"Oh, of course!" She squeaks as she pops back upright, "Especially as there are currently no other patrons, I will be able to devote myself entirely to your needs. B-but I don't yet have a room prepared for someone of your standing, and will need-"

You sigh, "I already told you that I don't need any special room."

"But-" she protests, "I must insist. I take pride in my work, and must provide the best service that I-"

"That is a nice dress," you interject to change the subject.

"W-what? M-my dress?"

"Yes. It has been some time since I saw one with such lovely embroidering."

She stands nervously for a moment, clutching at the vest over her long sleeved blouse, "W-well I d-don't think I could-"

You shake your head vigorously, "Don't misunderstand. I am not requesting it from you. I just wanted to know where you got it."

"Oh," she sighs, seeming relieved, "Well, my husband brought the fabric and some patterns back from a voyage, and Zhen down at the clothier made it. I can show you to his shop tomorrow if you like, he will be closed by now."

You smile, "Maybe so. I will need to see how I feel in the morning, I haven't been able to rest much on the road."

"Of course," she replies, "so please allow me to prepare a room. Until it is ready you can ... um ..."

"Don't worry, I have already been invited to dinner at the Bronze Turtle by Mistress Bowu," you explain. "If you must prepare a room, you will have plenty of time. Please don't rush and overexert yourself on my account."

"Yes River, of course," she bows, "I will make sure to take the time to prepare a room properly. I will have your lodgings ready and a bath drawn when you return from dinner."

"Very well," you bow your head slightly before she can bow again, and turn to leave. "I will be back after dinner."

As you turn to leave you hear Fanqie hurrying back through a door further into the building.

You walk back across the plaza toward the bronze turtle. The sun has set at this point, and the twilight has stretched across the town, lit now by lanterns hung from the edges of roofs or set on posts near buildings. As you approach, you hear a lively murmur within.

Upon entering, you immediately see Bowu at work in her kitchen; a continuous display of slow, fluid, and deliberate motion as she moves from counter to oven to pot and back again. She never seems to rush, arriving at each part of her kitchen exactly when she needs to with no wasted moments, her expression nearly unreadable in its serenity.

There are several places to sit in the Restaurant. Where do you sit for dinner?

A) Next to a quiet and slightly uncomfortable-looking lizard sitting with a rowdy group of similarly dressed people - by all appearances they were likely drinking before setting upon the tavern's own spirits.
B) Near the sullen snake in a somewhat disheveled imperial uniform, a sight that seems completely out of place to you but which seems to draw no confusion from any of the other patrons.
C) By the young antelope aggressively consuming his meal, he has the build of a physical laborer but by all appearances doesn't seem to have been exerting himself lately.
D) A small family of otters chattering happily amongst themselves, they appear to be a local farming family that has come into town for dinner.
E) Sit by yourself and eat quietly in peace.
No. 1081928 ID: 8280e8

C: We don't want to risk running into our past with the uniformed snake or sitting with irritable lizard after a long day. Besides, the antelope might be in a good mood.
No. 1081929 ID: 184595

D is my top choice. C or A also seem like decent choices to me. I agree that we should avoid B, not wanting to link ourselves to the wider world, and I also think we should avoid E. Getting established and meeting people is important if we'll be staying a while.
No. 1081940 ID: 75b262

D sounds charming, C is also fun. But D is my first pick.
No. 1082095 ID: ab3b17

The whimsical otter family.
No. 1082245 ID: ab6c3e
File 170676214007.jpg - (210.76KB , 1259x949 , 0131241034.jpg )

You head over to sit near the family of otters, taking a seat at the far end of the bench. They continue chattering away as if unaware of your presence, but the little one sitting next to what appears to be her father looks over your way and freezes in the middle of taking a bite of her fish.

A few moments later you hear the mother pipe up, “Oh! I didnt see you there, are you new in town?” The father puts his hand protectively on his daughter's head and looks over at you suspiciously.

“I'm a traveler,” you reply, “staying in townbtonrest on my way to Mandalay.”

“Never heard of it,” barks the gruff-looking father otter as his eyes narrow, before being swiftly shushed.

“Oh hush, Li,” the chubby lady cuts in before turning back toward you, “Don't worry about him, he just takes a while to come around on new people.” He scoffs, and she chides him, “oh you know its true. You were the same way when Yu came to town!”

The group of people at the far table erupt in cheers and laughter as ome of them steps up onto the table and begins loudly and incoherently reciting what you adsume is supposed to be some sort of open.

“Anyway, I'm Rutu, and this is my husband Li and my children,” the boy next to her loudly slurps at his soup, oblivious to your presence - the daughter still hasnt moved, her piece of fish still suspended mid-bite. "We have a rive farm over on the bank of the nanfang"

“River,” you say to introduce yourself, turning to see Bowu walling away having apparently delivered you a bowl with a slice of grilled fish and various vegetables resting in a shallow and fragrant broth.

What do you want to talk about with Rutu and Li?
No. 1082246 ID: fa3034

Get a lay of the land. As a traveler you like to know where you are, generally. Is this mostly a growing port town?
No. 1082248 ID: 75b262

"I think this little one might be stuck mid-bite."
No. 1082250 ID: 5ebd37

Since you might be here a while, ostensibly because you are so lost nobody has even heard of your destination, ask about the town and local environs. Is there any work available, if it becomes necessary?
No. 1082259 ID: 184595

Start by complimenting their family, and go from there.

I agree that asking after landmarks and work are good objectives, fitting your cover story and aiding the objective of getting established somewhere that's not home. But in addition to physical landmarks, try to get a sense of their social landmarks, too. If they have any neighbors, try to remember their name. If they mention people in town, try to find out why they're important.
No. 1082272 ID: 0d1c28

Ask about Fanqie, she seems really sad and highstrung. maybe get more details about what's going on with her beyond her husband being away
No. 1082462 ID: c882d3

I like the idea of getting a lay off the land.

An alternative ice breaker might be Yu. She's already mentioned him, so you could just say you've met him already and found him to be very helpful. Maybe throw in the anecdote about the bandit.
No. 1083193 ID: ab6c3e
File 170771401111.jpg - (68.41KB , 821x1015 , 1-017.jpg )

You chat a bit with Rutu about the lay of the land. It sounds like this is mostly a farming town built up around an old monastery near the lake, but that in the last 20 or so years it has become a stop traders would make when traveling up the twin rivers.

A lot of the farmers, including their family, live on the northwest bank of the Nanfang Qingren, which feeds the lake from the south. The Monastery is east of the town, which lise on the south bank of the Xibu Qingren that feeds the lake from the east. There's a main road that heads down toward where most of the farms are, and most of the people in the region are farmers that live within a few miles of it - if you go much farther west of town or across either river you mostly find solitary hunters or people that aren't much interested in living in a community.

"You mentioned Yu?" You ask, "I met him by the river, and he showed me the way to town."

"Oh, yes!" Rutu pipes up, "He's a quiet boy that wandered in a few years back. His shack is in the lee of a hill near our farm, so he's basically our neighbor!"

Li chimes in, "Always seemed a bit shady, but he's good people. Helped us out a few times when we needed it."

You nod, "He helped me out, too. I was accosted by a ruffian in the woods, and he took care of it."

Rutu nods, "That sounds like Yu all right. He's a moody boy, but he can look pretty scary when somebody tries to get rough with people around him." Li nods, and starts to say something, before Rutu suddenly yelps "Wait, ruffians in the woods?! Did you tell the magistrate?"


"Magistrate Kun, he's ... some kind of imperial official, I think? He's supposed to be the head of a town guard, but I don't know if there actually is one beyond him. That's him over there," She points over at the snake in an imperial uniform slumped at another table, "I can go get him for you right now if you want!"

You glance over at him, and would prefer to avoid speaking to any imperial officers at the moment, "He looks a bit preoccupied, and either way I don't think the fellow will be causing any trouble after Yu ran him off."

"He ran off?" Li chuckles, "Sounds like the boy might have gotten a bit soft, might be turning into a proper old man."

The young otter that had been slurping at his saucer tugs on your sleeve, "I like Yu. He takes me fishing."

"Oh, so the way he fishes is a local style?"

Rutu bursts out laughing. "Ohoho! That thing he does with the lines? Nobody else around here can do that. Li spent the better part of a week trying after he saw it and just got wet pants and cut fingers!"

"Rutu!" he barks, blushing, "It's not like I can't, it's..."

"You know, dear, you could ask him to teach you if you were a little less stubborn."

"Listen honey, a man can't just ask a boy to teach him things. That's not how it's done."

"Oh, so you're hoping he'll teach your son so that you can steal some pointers?" She smirks

He leans over the table to peck her on the cheek, "Exactly, I knew you'd understand."

She titters, and you move on to another topic, "So you seem like you know a lot about everyone around here," she nods proudly, "What about Fanqie? The innkeeper girl. She's the only other person here I've spoken to and she seems ... on edge."

"Oh, the poor dear," Rutu begins, "she grew up on a bean farm, and married the heir of a goat herder that used to live up at the edge of town. A few years back he sold his whole herd to start up his trading business, and they converted the old stables into that Inn she runs. Them and the restaurant are the places that bring in the most money around here, since most everyone else still just barters goods and favors and those are places that traders stop by and patronize as they pass through. We don't really get many other travelers."

"Anyway, he went upriver with the workers from the manor the trademaster's trying to build; they were itching to go home and bring out a new crew to work for a few seasons, but without them being around she's cooped up all alone in that old farmhouse, no clients and no husband either. And from what I hear, it's been more than a week since he was supposed to be back - so that's probably weighing on her mind too. She's always been a bit ... flighty, but that kind of loneliness can't be good for the girl."

"It's a damn shame," Li adds, "I've known Mubiao for a long time, and he never seemed to be the sort to skip out on such a nice girl. Hope he's okay."

You sit quietly for a second, before picking up on something she said, "You say most people around here barter goods and favors instead of currency? What sort of work is there to do? I may be staying for some time."

"Well," Li starts, "Most folks here work family businesses and farms - there's usually plenty of work around harvest time and people are happy for the help, I know that's what Yu did when he first got here before he established himself as a fisherman."

"So d..." You start, as Rutu starts to grin, but he holds up his hand to stop you.

"We've actually just finished the brunt of our work for the season, before you ask." He bows his head forward slightly, "We came into town to celebrate it. You could possibly find one of the other farms if you need work, or try your luck with some of the tradesmen in town; if you're able enough you may be able to find an apprenticeship at one of them."

Rutu smiles sadly and shrugs, mouthing 'sorry.'

At least the food is delicious.

Is there anything else you want to speak to the otters about, or anyone else in the restaurant you want to speak with? Bowu has stopped cooking and begun to clean the kitchen area, so you won't have time for more than a short conversation.
No. 1083195 ID: fa3034

Pay a visit to the antelope, he might have an idea of where there might be work.
No. 1083196 ID: 75b262

Now that we've met the otters, time for the antelope!
No. 1083210 ID: 7c1f1c

An antelope with a laborer's build, but wanting exercise bodes ill for finding work. That does offer an opening for conversation, though; you're looking for work, and was wondering if he's had any luck in his search.

The presence of the magistrate could make things thorny in the future. You want to keep the town safe, and informing them of the highwayman's presence, especially if he's only one of a band, could help. But if an Imperial agent could connect you back to your origins, then we want to inform discreetly.
Mention the encounter with the highwayman to the antelope, as well, and try to get the rumor mill going. Surely, someone will bring the matter to the magistrate upon hearing of it. It might be prudent to mention that Yu fought off the highwayman without saying you were there to witness it.
No. 1083234 ID: 69ab37

If you want to start rumors without tying the story to yourself, you should talk with the drunks. Play up the excitement of Yu fighting off a huge bandit, by the morning they won't remember the boring details like who told them the story.
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