Result 12 – Part 1

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You regard him for a while and seriously consider just telling him you’re sorry but you have no money to spare, but you think better of it. You can spare a few cogs, for sure. But, rather than just giving him some loose change (which he may or may not go on to squander on booze) it’d be more useful to actually buy him something instead.

You fold up your paper and, ignoring his question, you ask him what he needs instead. He’s a little surprised and isn’t sure what you mean, stammering for a moment before clarifying that he just wants a coin so that he might buy a bite to eat. You notice that his initial formal speaking style doesn’t seem to be natural for him.

You brush the concept of a coin or two aside and ask him again. Aside from food, what else does he need? You tell him to tell you, and you’ll buy it for him. He becomes a little flustered.

“Say now, this is a rare thing. Ain’t normal for someone to give more than an ‘andfull’a loose change… Ya ain’t pullin’ me leg now, are ya, ma’am?” He scratches his scruffy beard, muttering slightly. “Ya wanna know what I need? A good meal in me belly and a decent pair’a shoes; ones that won’t fall apart in a blink on these grifflin’ streets.”

You consider it for a moment. Shoes, huh? That would be simple enough. Looks like a trip to the market is in order. You stand, confirming his choice. He snaps out of his muttering and looks at you in surprise and confusion.

“’Old on now, I ain’t one to turn down a good offer, no sir. But shoes, ma’am? That’s a bit beyond the usual coin or two, ain’t it..?”

You dismiss his concern; it’s not that big of an expense for you.

“You’re serious, then? You’re really gonna…?”

You nod, determined, and start making your way towards the nearest park gate. The beggar still seems unsure, but follows along behind you, still wringing his hat and occasionally glancing about. By the time you reach Banes way and the market becomes visible at the end of the stretch, his scepticism has faded further. When you enter the market and start looking for shoe sellers, his doubt turns to disbelief and excitement.

“I can’t believe this… someone actually willin’ to ‘elp an ol’ beggar like me.”

His hat is a twisted rag in his hands at this point. You assure him it’s no big deal; he could do with a helping hand and you’re going to give him one. You ask the beggar for his name. This further catches him off guard and he hesitates, as if needing to remember it.

“Finnegan, ma’am…”

You tell Finnegan you’re going to get him some shoes and begin your search around the market. It doesn’t take long to find a shoe seller, who quickly declares “No charity ‘ere!” upon seeing Finnegan. You assure the seller that Finnegan is with you, then ignore the seller as you turn your attention back to the beggar. You gesture to the shoes on display, encouraging him to take his pick. Once again, he hesitates, and you need to assure him he can choose any pair that he likes; the shoes are not very expensive but are of decent quality, not very fancy, but sturdy and comfortable and should last him a good while.
Eventually, after another few moments of fretting, and after you place a shoe in his hand suggesting he try that one, he finally starts actually looking for a pair.

A tattered old pair of shoes
Held together with hopes and dreams…

(Ai-generated image produced using Stable Diffusion)

He seems overwhelmed by the selection and by the opportunity but deflates slightly when he discovers that the shoes that Finnegan could wear don’t fit him properly. Oh well, never mind, you’ll just find another seller. You once again lead the way in your search, with Finnegan in tow like a curious puppy. The next seller welcomes you to their stall, but eyes Finnegan suspiciously.

You invite Finnegan to choose from this selection and take a couple of notes out to casually display in front of the seller. Seeing as you have money and will apparently be paying for Finnegan, she relaxes some and helps him to narrow down the selection, eventually settling on a pair that fit him. You hand her the money and she attempts to get the shoes back so she can wrap them in a bundle, but Finnegan insists on wearing them now. She lets him suit himself but warns him to take his tattered old “shoes” with him when he leaves. You hand her a few extra cogs for her trouble, which seems to brighten her mood a little more.

You then turn back to Finnegan, who is busy pacing back and forth, looking at and tapping his shoes on the cobblestones, all the while grinning like the cat that got the cream.

“Moonswirl, they fit like a charm!”

He gives a hearty chuckle, practically doing a jig at this point.

“I never thought I’d see the day!”

You can’t help but be amused at his display, but you tell him to focus for now; you still need to get him something to eat. This once again causes him to skip a beat.

“’Ey now, you can’t be spendin’ all this coin on ol’ Finnegan! The shoes are more than enough for me.”

You dismiss his words as nonsense and point out that he can’t eat the shoes. You also point out that a meal would cost less than the shoes anyway, and you did ask him what he wanted and he did say shoes and a meal, so you intend to get those things.

Leading the way once more, you go towards the area where they were selling fresh produce and soon have a small basket of bread, fruits, nuts and dried meat. It’s enough for a few light meals for most people, but Finnegan acts like it’s a banquet and spouts nothing but thanks and blessings upon you for every new thing you add to the basket.

At the end of your little shopping trip, your purse is a little lighter, but Finnegan seems richer. He cannot thank you enough and insists on knowing your name. You tell him “Valine”.

“Ah, you’ve got a good ‘eart, ya do. You’ve done a good turn today. It’s been a long, long time since anyone gave ol Finnegan the time o’ day. The world needs more like ya, ma’am”

He gives you a sweeping bow. You decide not to brush off his thanks, just for now, and encourage him to go and eat his food and enjoy his new shoes and you’ll leave him to it.

“Oh, I will ma’am, for sure! But what about you? Are ya gonna go bless some more poor souls with your presence?”

You laugh and tell him no; you’re planning to go to the Grand Jamboree once you figure out where it is. Finnegan lights up.

“Ah, well now! That there jamboree isn’t far from where I’m stayin’. I can’t give ya much in return, but I can show ya the way, no problem!”

With a literal skip in his step, Finnegan leads you out of the marketplace, and onto a main road. After about 10 minutes of walking, you come upon another built-up area with wider alleys and side roads between them. As the two of you continue along the road, a woman hovering at a corner wearing a filthy, ragged, many-layered, patchwork of a coat spots Finnegan and calls out to him.

“Well now! Hey there, Finn! Lookit you, all fancy-footed and chattin’ away with a new face. What’s the story, eh?”

Finnegan pauses and turns to the woman with a grin.

“Been blessed by an angel I ‘ave, ‘aven’t I? This ‘ere’s Valine and she got me these new shoes and a king’s feast!”

He holds up the basket and the woman is somewhat blown away.

“Ooh, Durna’s heart, that’s great, Finn! Thank ya kindly, miss.” She gives you a smile and a wonky curtesy. “Name’s Melora. Most won’t even look at us, never mind givin’ us nothing. Someone willin’ to help is good in my books!”

You tell her it’s nothing; you just wanted to help out. Finnegan speaks up again.

“’Ow’s Leif ‘oldin’ up?”

Melora turns to him.

“Still sleepin’. I’m jus’ waitin’ for Silas to get back.”

Finnegan rubs his beard.

“Mmm. I’ll give ‘im something when I get back; gotta take the lady over to that Jamboree over ways.” He nods down the road.

You point out that you’re in no hurry, you’ve all day and the next couple to check out the event. If Finnegan has something he needs to do first, you don’t mind letting him take care of that.

The two beggars look at each other, and Finnegan hesitates for a moment, but then, realising that you’ll likely insist as you did before, he nods and makes up his mind.

“Alright. We’ll go check on Leif first. We’ll be quick-like! This way.”

Melora turns and leads the way, with Finnegan following behind. The two go around the corner and work their way into a grid of streets lined with what seems to be a mix of terraced houses, and small factories and workshops.

Past a particularly noisy section with a building emitting muffled clangs and hisses, the three of you turn onto another street, where the rows of buildings are blanketed with dozens of makeshift tents, huts and lean-tos, made of fabric, paper, wooden planks, metal poles; whatever can be secured in place.

Ripped cloth, pieces of wood, and scraps of material lie in piles, and there is rubbish strewn absolutely everywhere. The wind blows from behind you as you first enter the street, but, as you follow the two further down, the stink of rubbish and sewage begins to envelop you. All manner of broken, random objects are dotted around; it’s hard to tell if they’ve been dumped or if they’re supposed to belong to someone. And you can’t go more than a few feet without seeing a beggar; all of them haggard and filthy, dressed in rags, mismatched clothes, or threadbare outfits they’re determined to squeeze every last wear out of.

Tent city

(Ai-generated image produced using Stable Diffusion)

Despite the sunshine and good weather, and the relatively nice buildings surrounding them, there is a definite depressive feel in the air, and most have a blank, lifeless look in their eyes, the ones who don’t shuffle around aimlessly, or try to mend or make use of some broken piece of junk or ripped cloth.

It’s quite jarring, and this tent city seems to stretch on and on, going down multiple alleyways in this area. You remain silent, while Finnegan and Melora talk. Soon, they come to a particular tent, crudely made and barely functional, mostly just working as a shelter above their heads. A figure, wrapped in an old curtain, lies on the floor beneath it. Finnegan crouches down and shakes the covered lump.

“Leif? C’mon now; ya better not be dead, ya ‘ear me?”

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