Nov. 17, 2022, 5 p.m.
Arx - Lower Boroughs - Commons Square
Comments and Log
It's a nice day in the Lowers. People are going about their business whether it be shopping in the Commons Square, peddling goods, begging, or even looking for a pocket to pick! Suddenly, there is a scream! Then from a shop people file out, bumping and jarring one another in a mad rush to flee! "Rats! Rats! RATS!" Rats are not uncommon in the Lowers. However, something has spooked the people in the shop.
Ian is just passing through, moving away from the docks area, where he was presumably attending to some kind of business. He comes to a halt as the screaming starts; his expression goes slack as he takes in the scene with fast moving eyes.
Raja was loitering at a corner, leaned up against a wall. "What do you mean.. you serious?" Raja just stares at the man she is talking to her. Then suddenly, she just guffaws! "You deserved it!" She laughs louder.. That laughter comes up short as screams yell out into the Square. Naturally the curious sort, Raja peeks around the corner to see what's up.
Briseis is speaking with a young couple, gathering a report about something or another - Inquisitor business, probably, when the noise suddenly explodes from the shop. Instinctively, she twirls about, putting an arm in front of the couple she was talking with (Haha, tiny Briseis thinks she can protect anyone!), and then turns to usher them somewhere safe, "I'll see what's going on!" That's quite the commotion for rats, so she moves forward to ask those fleeing the shop, "Are you all okay?!" Possibly unsuccessful. She's not EXACTLY a popular figure in the quarters.
Caspian doesnt live all that far away, and is a common sight in the lowers. he had his head down and was going about his business when the shouts jerked his head up. "huh? what?" he looked around, confused and bewildered as he tried to track the source of the noise. he approached the shop, giving a nod to briseis as he worked to make out what was going on. "Gods people.. its rats. not like we dont have them all over.."
A man wearing a blue vest and a floppy hat stopped long enough to look to Briseis. "They're everywhere!! Fucking everywhere! Just started coming out the back room!" Then he too peels away from the Inquisitor and scuffles off. He obviously wants NO part in any of this! As Caspian comes to the door, he can see inside. The shop appears to sell various whimsey and tchotchkes. But, from behind the counter, a chorus of screeching squeaks can be heard! Then, almost like the flowing of the tide, a line of rats comes running out the door! They surround Caspian like a seat of tiny bodies! Then they run out the door, not paying any of the humans any mind! They turn corners and dissapear down alleys around them!
Ian takes the time to take in the panic coming from the humans, and then watches the flow of rats come out of the shop. He swears under his breath, and starts in that direction. His progress slows once he gets into where the rats are running around, though; with heavy boots reinforced with diamondplate braces, it's not like he has to worry about any of them biting him, but he's also not sure enough on his feet that he can really afford to risk stepping on one.
Briseis listens to the floppy hat man with wide eyes, and as he scampers away, watches as Caspian reaches the door and... Is flooded with a sea of rat bodies! She makes a soft squeak, perhaps squeamish of the black friends herself (not accustomed to animals, she's such a city girl), and then she's rushing up to stand behind the Champion (once the rat plague has turned the corner), "That doesn't seem like a NORMAL amount of rats!"
Caspian looks to the man with the hat and quirked an eyebrow, "oh come on.. how many rats could there beeeOH BY THE POWERS!!" he stood stock still as the rats swarmed around, seething and squirming like a living thing. his face was frozen in disgust hands and he shook his head to briseis. "no.. no it is NOT! there must have been a hive of rats nests in there for there to be so many!"
"It had blasted well better turn out that there's a flooded sewer line in there or something," Ian gripes, probably to Caspian, as he joins Caspian and Briseis at the doorway to the rat-infested shop. "If there's a fucking rat god back there or a cult of rats or sme other nonsense, I'm going to be really annoyed." A lifetime aboard ships and in dock areas has left him pretty well immune to the horrors of rats.
Ian checks perception and streetwise at normal. Ian is successful.
Briseis checks perception and streetwise at normal. Critical Success! Briseis is spectacularly successful.
Caspian checks perception and survival at normal. Caspian is successful.
Briseis shudders and says, "Why did it have to be rats?" Clearly, she's NOT familiar with the horror of rats, and she snorts at Ian's comment, "A cult of rats? NO! That's.... Ridiculous." But she squints, and thinks real hard on it, as she surveys the shop and the path the rats took. Then, she's sniffing the air... And blinks, "Oh... What's th- smoke. It smells like a fire." A frown as she glances around, slightly frantic, "There have been a lot of fires started around here recently, where's it coming from?"
Ian checks luck and streetwise at easy. Ian is successful.
Caspian flicks a rat off his foot and makes a blegh sound. "I'd take a cult of giant rats to a hoard of little ones! ugh." he sniffs a few times, frowning then. "Shite.. do you smell smoke? i smell smoke. Thats not good.. fire in the lowers is not a small thing!" he glanced to briseis, "i heard something about an arsonist.." he sighed and grumbled under his breath something about rats and smoke and deserving it, and then made to head into the shop.
Ian sniffs the air as well. "Damn it. That's a fire," he agrees with Briseis. His gaze sweeps the street, where people are scattering in advance of the rats. "There's an alley system that goes back there. I'm going to see if there's an easier way to get to the fire from that direction." He does, indeed, seem to know exactly where he's going. Let's not talk about the noble who's THAT comfortable with the maze of alleyways that make up the less savory parts of the Lowers.
Now's not the time to question Ian's over familiarity with the Lowers, so Briseis doesn't (even if she's curious). Instead, she nods as Ian checks the alley and runs into the shop just to check the back room, to see if there was anywhere the rats might have... Sprung from! To avoid a fire. "This isn't good!"
As Caspian enters the shop, the last dredges of the hoard of frightened rats pours out from the back room. One final tiny squeaker runs behind the others as if crying for them to wait for him! Then it is quiet. This poor shop has seen better days! All the merchandise seems to have been knocked over and there are so many broken things! The door to the back room remains partially open, inside seeming to be rather dark.
As Ian goes around the back, he will note that there are several doors down the alley. Various buildings are connected in a row with various doors leading into each one's backs. Though, there is one door that is slightly ajar about four doors down.
Free of having to worry about tripping over rats (or more than the usual number of rats, anyway), Ian threads his way towards the partially open door. He tugs his heavy gloves from where they're tucked into his belt and puts them on, then tugs a handkerchief out of an inner pocket of his coat to hold to his nose and mouth if necessary before opening it.
Caspian continues to search around the small shop, heading toward the back. he spoke to briseis as he want, "If the rats were so panicked, i'd have thought we'd see a raging inferno at this point..." he glanced to her, "iron guard have any theories on this arsonsit?"
Briseis shakes her head, "None shared so far- hey!" As she enters the back room, Caspian close behind, she spies a small hatch, slightly ajar. Not much smoke is wafting out, but it is certainly there - she rushes closer, and uses the clothing of her backpack to open the hatch all the way, to reveal the passage down. "I bet they connect! Hm... I can probably fit..." But she hesitates, to ensure it is safe. Enough, anyway.
When Ian steps through the door, he immediately smells smoke, but the source of the fire is not yet determined. This particular shop space seems to be vacant. There are drapes over the furniture and dust is thick. The air quality is quite poor here! Smoke seeps out lazily from a side door that leads into a dark storage room. Just like the shop the rats fled through, this one also has a trap door! Though, this one is closed and looks as if some debris has been freshly strewn across it. The smoke seeps through the cracks of the hatch.
Briseis finds a tunnel! The rats had powered their way through here, fleeing for their lives! I mean, who wouldn't? Inside the tunnel it is dark, the ground and walls seem to be packed in dirt. However, down the distance is that tell-tale flickering light...
Ian checks luck at normal. Ian is successful.
Ian steps in, takes one whiff of the gathering smoke inside, and then ducks right back out again to dip his handkerchief in a rain barrel he passed on his way, for use as a crude air filter. It's not his scarf, but it will have to do! Once back inside, he uses his cane to knock aside the worst of the mess over the trapdoor and get nudge it open.
Ian checks luck at hard. Critical Success! Ian is spectacularly successful.
Caspian looks to the tunnel and then to briseis with a brow raising. "part of me wants to say you should of course NOT crawl down there, that you would get stuck. but i also know you are going to do it anyway, and that the only reason i am not is because im not small enough." he offers a small grin, "i'll keep the hatch opened.. i'd tie a rope around you fi i had one to pull you back out!"
Briseis shows her impulsive nature as she turns to Caspian and says, "You're gonna save me if I die, right?" Before she totally slips down into the PIT OF DESPAIR - I mean, the scary tunnel with dirt, and a flickering something that is maybe a fire. "It'll be FINE!" Sure, sure it will! Good thing she's absolutely tiny, or this would be really uncomfortable. Well, it's really uncomfortable anyway, but she's gotta do it.
CrrEEAAAAkkk.. The trap door Ian opens slowly lifts up, revealing a bright light! It flickers and dances, causing Ian's face to glow and shadows be cast behind him! The sudden extra air being let in on the fire causes it to flash! Like a living, breathing thing, it suddenly laps up, then retracts, fanning out and into the tunnel. The tunnel that Briseis is in suddenly lights up brighter as the fire expands outwards! She can feel the heat blast back towards her, but fortunately, she is still far enough away to not be burned. Around the fire itself seems to be added fuel of old crates, cloth, perfumes and oils! But tonight, Ian is on LUCKY guy! The trap door he had lifted up had become weakened by the fire. The hinges snap and the door falls in atop the hottest part of the fire, immediately puffing some of it out. The bright light dims drastically.. but it is still simmering and slowly growing again. Poor Briseis. It was like having a flash of light in the face, then darkness.
Ian probably has no experience with fires flaring the way this one does, so it's anyone's guess how he knew to draw back just when he did, almost like he knew what was about to happen. Between that, the falling trapdoor, and the fact that he used his cane to tip it open in the first place, he comes away from the experience unburned (but smelling pretty smoky). "Shit," he says. He looks out the door for a moment, and then back at the trapdoor. Taking a gamble, he shouts into it: "CASPIAN! FIRE'S HERE!"
Caspian watches the light in the tunnel flare up for a moment before dimming. "Briseis! you all right?" he began contemplating trying to squeeze after her when He heard a muffled cry from Ian. ian was in the tunnel? no.. couldnt be. he must haver found another way in. "briseis! you hear that? we need to get you out of there so we can help ian!"
Briseis ducks down as she moves to move towards the light - only for it to FLARE and then she is back tracking beneath a wave of heat. But, during that (blinding) light, she can't help but gasp as she sees all the crates of fuel to burn. Then, a sudden darkness, and she crawls back to the entrance. "Caspian, this could get WAY WORSE. We have to quell the flames!" She reaches up, ask for help up (basically), "We have to get water, fast!"
After catching a hint of what might be people talking, maybe, Ian gives up and ducks out of the smoky room again; in the alley, he leans against the wall, coughing the worst of it out of his lungs.
The fire smoulders. Where the light has faded, there is now so much smoke! The smoke billows up out of the trap door and around Ian. It's thick, dark, and choking in nature. However, nobody is fooled! That smouldering fire can quickly recatch.. in fact it does. A single flame reignites in the debris, slowly spreading again across a bit of cloth.
Caspian helps briseis out of the tunnel as best he can, grapsing her arm and half pulling her free. "What did you see?!"
Briseis pants as she clambers (gracelessly) out of the tunnel, dirty and smokey and gross. "Someone has set up a LOT of things to fuel the fire... Clothes and I think I even saw oils! Sand... Sand and water! We have to get it out!" Before she's even done, she's scrambling to look around the shop and then out the door to find Ian.
Ian is, in the meantime, regarding the rain barrel he used earlier to make his only slightly useful smoke filter. He puts pressure on it with one hand to test its weight, but there's very little chance that he has the leg strength to move it anywhere.
Caspian bolts after Briseis, face blanching slightly at the description of the veritable powder keg waiting to ignite under the shop. he motions around the back, the last place he saw ian head to and begins to call out. "Ian! Ian where are you!" this was likely drawing some attention from people passing, which was good, as he rounded the corner to find ian.
The fire continues to grow.. slowly.. but it's rate of growth begins to increase.. The dark smoke now begins to billow out the windows. Smoke is filling up even the shop where Caspian and Briseis is. People that had remained outside the shops now begin to panic. Someone begins to yell, "FIRE! FIRE!"
Back in the alley, Ian shouts to Caspian: "Back here! There's a rain barrel, but I can't move it!"
Briseispants as she turns around the corner, following Ian's voice into the alley, but now people are panicking, and that's never good. "Go help him!" she nods to Caspian, before she turns herself to try to calm the people, "We could use help! Water and sand, everyone matters! Don't panic. If you can't help, get somewhere safe away from this block." She TRIES to sound calming and instructive.
Briseis checks charm and manipulation at normal. Briseis is successful.
Caspian gives a nod to the inquisitor before moving to the rain barrel. He eyes the heavy thing with a incredulous look before looking to ian. "Oh im sure we have moved heavier things before!" he tried to look confident, but water had that annoying quality of being absurdly heavy.
Ian gives Caspian a quick, wry smile. "You might have, but I won't be much use. The fire's just under a hatch in here, so at least it's not far."
The people of the Lowers are frightened of fire, but they are no stranger to it either. When Briesis becomes that stand up and take charge type, people stop to listen! They don't want their shit to burn down! Shopkeepers from across the street come out of their shops. A baker yells out, "I have some barrels of water in the back!" A glass maker yells out, "I just got a shipment of sand!" People nod in agreement and turn to assemble things that are needed. It is not long before a brigade of people follow behind the tiny Inquisitor like a marching army into the alleyway!
Briseis might not be much to look at (and by that, I mean literally, cause she's SO DAMN SMALL) but she's got a loud voice and a certain air about her that just demands to be heard (or damn it all, she's serious here!). When everyone comes together, she is beaming, and continues speaking with a calm and direct tone, guiding the brigade down the alley to Ian and Caspian, taking a moment to listen to them before she nods, "Let's all work together! We've got this!" She's motivational and charming.
Caspian gives Ian a snort, "ah you just want to see me fall on my arse" he chuckles, then squats and grabs the barrel, wrapping his arms around it, and doing his best to stand and carry to over to the door and to the growing flames. Seeing the small briseis leading her brigade toward them, he gave a shout. "Over here! and hurry!" if he had managed to get the barrel this far, he would tip the darn thing over and attempt to douse the flames.
Ian is mostly good for getting doors open ahead of Caspian and getting the worst of the debris out of his way by the expedient of knocking said debris out of the way with his cane, but he'll do those things. A few seconds in the smoke-filled room is enough to set him coughing again, after the first dose.
"There is oil down in there, so use the sand too! It'll help smother the flames!" Briseis isn't super helpful with like, carrying things, but she definitely tries!
With the leadership of the Inquisitor, the people quickly begin to set up a chain. A couple of burly butchers rush up to help Caspian, giving a hefty lift to the barrel. When they make it back to the hatch opening, the flames have grown to about three quarters the strength they were previously! Sand is dumped first. Then water to cool off the heat. More sand. More water! The combined effort of everyone involved manages to get the flames out. In the end, there is only smoke and ash and some charred old bottles of oil and perfume. The crowd of folk pat each other on the back for a job well done!
Briseis' words draw Ian up short. "Shit. It's an oil fire?" But unfortunately, he comes to this realization too late to stop the giant barrel of rain that's coming. Fortunately, the water doesn't just spread it everywhere. Whew.
Caspian coughs violently, trying to get the last of the smoke from his lungs and spitting a bit to the side to cleanse the soot from his mouth. "Well.. at least we know it wasn't an accident." he looks to the small host who had followed briseis and grinned, "Where did you find all of these people?" he looks up and down the road "dont suppose you caught sight of anyone running away ian?"
"Well, we know it wasn't the rats!" Briseis laughs and then starts thanks and 'good jobing' everyone. To Caspian, she beams happily and says, "No one wants their homes and shops to burn down, so we all worked together for this one." A nod is given to Ian, "There was a BUNCH of stuff down there, just set to make that fire grow and grow. I bet that tunnel leads even further. I wonder if it was dug out for this, or just capitalized on it..." Then she's coughing herself, small but violently, and she ducks out of the building to clean air.
Ian shakes his head to Caspian, coughing the last of the smoke from his lungs while he does so. Finally, he takes a breath, and says: "I must have just missed them, though. The door wasn't all the way closed when I got here." He shakes his head to Briseis. "Probably they just used what was already there. This whole area's shot through with tunnels. Most of them aren't very safe."
What a mystery! Someone definitely set this fire, no two ways about it. The general consensus is that if it had not been for the rats, then the fire would have likely spread! A sculptor announces, "Come to my shop next week! I shall have rat sculptures for the tiny heroes!" As the excitement fades, people meander off to go back to their lives. Now to figure out who is making these fires!
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