Duty Session 391: Grunty Drive
A porcelain quest has been offered to the Hunters Guild. A small consortium of Lander ranchers would like adventurers to drive their Grunties to market. The party will have to cover a fair distance, involving camping outdoors, warding off predators, and negotiating the sale of the grunties at the end destination. The request requires the delivery of the majority of the herd to the market town and their successful sale.
Rec. Party: 3+
World Rewards: None
The first thing Fuka did when her refrigeration box was completed, and her obsession ended, was sleep for a day. Well, the first thing she did was actually to scream and yell a lot, causing quite a ruckus among SEA members and refugees from Eas. The next thing she did was sleep. Then she bathed, ate, and signed up for the nearest duty she could find from the Hunter's Guild.
"It's so good to be back in form!" Fuka enthusiastically cheers. And indeed, she's looking ... normal. For her. No bags under her eyes, no filth debuff; she looks hearty and cheerful. It would be a stretch to call her ordinary at the best of times, but at least she seems healthy!
"Welcome back," she says to Fukaziroh. "So, do you know what we will be expected to do with the grunties?"
Plenty of things to be done and plenty of places to go to do them. Haru doesn't overthink it when there is a need to go do something. If anything its a wonderful distraction from the endless drag of the war talks. An opportunity to stock up on some materials, get a bit of inspiration, and drink in the nicer things before things get uglier. What a finer way to do it than with some livestock? "Welcome back," he says, already sitting against a tree and sketching out some of the rustic scenery in a book to remember it by. Personalized screenshots.
The villagers have gathered the grunties they want taken to market in a large open field outside of town. The area is covered by grunting grunties, cropping grass, wandering aimlessly, and making a mess. Young Landers have been given the task of preventing any grunties from wandering off, but once underway, it will be one of the adventurers' tasks to keep the herd together.
There are perhaps 2,000 grunties in this herd, and nearly all of them must make it to market in order for the adventurers to make a profit.
The first thing that must be done is the herd must be roused and convinced to move, and in the correct direction. This is more easily said than done. Grunties are sometimes uncooperative or contrary, and sometimes wander off when no one is looking. One imagines a larger party of Landers would be needed to control and direct a herd of this size over any distance, but as adventurers, you do what must be done.
This is a pretty normal task for an animal handler, and most farmers can do it with a bit of effort. There's always a few grunties that wander away from the herd, though, and they need to be found and brought back to the main group.
Fuka, apparently leading the expedition probably because of enthusiasm or volume rather than any actual merit or appointment, shrugs. "Guard the herd and the Landers?" she asks, rather rhetorically. "Shouldn't be hard for us right? As long as there's no snackers! I mean slackers!"
The white haired artificer stands up from where he sits now that its time to take action. A half-finished landscape sketch, which is abstract at best, is left as it is. "I never slack when it comes to animals," he says with a smile as he approaches one of them. The city-native person heads over to one of the herd and begins to pet along its side. No training, here, but the Enchanter is such a little threat that it works out nicely. A friendly face? Pets? Yes please. In no time the jacket-and-slacks wearing urbanite adventurer is guiding a wayward critter. "I mean look at this face?" he points to one of the dopiest looking ones there as he scritches behind an ear.
Fuka's been good with animals all her life, having grown up with pets and having some game skill with mounted beasts besides. Riding a Peko is almost natural for her, and she has little difficulty ranging around and helping herd up stragglers.
"So then, you only slack with people?" Fuka teases Haru. "Hey that one looks just like you! Good find!" she adds.
A short time later once underway, the party can hear the howls off in the distance. The grunties are nervous, but stupid, and keep moving regardless. A bit later, the alert party can see a fairly substantial pack of wolves lope closer, though still a fair distance out, covering the ground in a furry swarm, hoping to add some grunty to their own diet. The party must protect the grunties, who seem to have no instinct for self-preservation. Of course that's beneficial in that there's no stampede. But for each grunty lost, that's gold the party won't be earning.
"Of course," Haru explains to Fuka with a wink and a fingergun. On the tip of the finger is a bit of a spark. "Ciere. Fulgur. Mitis. Bovis." Small rings of words circle around his hand with each incantation, coming off at variable speeds like a turbine in an engine. The wink becomes more like a cowboy aiming up a pistol shot, but instead he uses it to poke a nearby Gruntie into focusing less on the howls and more in staying in line. Zap! Zap! Magical cattle prod.
"Except one at a time," Haru says. Zap. "The less people expect, the more they can be surprised. Slacking is the best for that. It beats suffocating them with the serious." He looks right at one of the critters. "Why so serious, right?" It emotes at him. Zap. "Exactly, Steve. Exactly."
Steve the Gruntie emotes again, motioning for Haru to pay attention to the howling that has turned to a full wolvish assault. The Artificer takes to his forearm cocking it back like a shockgun with a self-emoted 'Cha Chik'. Fingerguns become the focus of a series of repeated evocation words that blast out low grade electrical charges to each wolf getting too close and every Gruntie that starts to spook or stray. Setting magic to stun, commander.
Fukaziroh seems inordinately pleased by Haru's answer, since giving people what they don't expect and then surprising them with the outcome is kind of her core thing. See: tiny sylph with massive axe, who then uses a bunch of support magic to mess with opponents...
Not that this is really in the works for a bunch of dumb wolves. "C'mon! We probably don't need to kill all of them, just give 'em enough to think about that they decide to go snack somewhere else!" Fuka cries, pulling her axe and tally-hoing off towards the howls. "Pain! Lots of ... pain! For extreme violence!"
Yeah, it's been a while. Fuka's got a lot of repressed frustration right now. Bloody violence ensues.
The party drives off the wolves with little difficulty, but a few of the grunties got spooked and wandered off. While the initial inclination may be to write them off, each grunty brought to market is a bit more cash, and of course grunty burgers at the end of the trail. So, the party is obligated to gather in as many of the strays as they can find before proceeding onward.
Now this is a time to take things serious. Grunties are at stake. Wolves eat them. Haru is, however, whistling. He isn't tone deaf but it lacks the refinement of a consistent beat or tempo. Something he heard at a tavern. Something stuck in his head. "They are just hungry," the man empathizes with the circle of digital life. To prove the point he goes and rustles up some Gruntie feed from one of the Landers. Now, Haru isnt sure if its the RIGHT feed, but luck is on his side. The young man places it on the ground to attract a wayward Gruntie and leads it back like Pacman to the herd. The tactic is surprisingly effective on the wildlife in getting them back to the mass of fluff.
"You know," Haru begins as he hand feeds a Gruntie, "watching you eviscerate things reminds me of a 'Mother, I crave violence' joke. The one where the thing saying it is really tiny, like a murderous kitten." This is leveled at Fuka, mind, as his own hand gets nipped by a critter. "Watch," he moves the mouth of the Gruntie, "Mother. I crave violence," he voice acts, in a comically deeper voice.
"Whereas Yeo is no gruff winning. Graceful, really," Haru continues on, making the Gruntie's mouth move to ventrol-o-quizzle the conversation.
She will head off in that direction, and return several minutes later with a small group that had broken from the herd.
"Yeo's blunt, yeah." Fuka says, waving a fist in the air to demonstrate the pun. "But beware the tiny murderous battle fairy!" Fuka beams happily. She's not actually murderous of course. She gets kind of upset at the idea of battling other people, unless it's training or duels at least. A frown crosses her features, but she doesn't speak the thought aloud of what she suspects to be coming, and how it makes her feel. Live for now, prepare yourself for the future, and then just don't worry about it.
Putting deeds before thoughts, Fuka goes about rounding up some strays. The group can't find all of them; some may well have been taken down by wolves, but of course some might show up instead later, trickling in through the evening or maybe even following the herd. Still, not many missing. The group was quite thorough in dissuading the wolves after all.
The party realizes that is too much distance to cover in one day. Grunties like these are not fast, and need considerable rest. So, the party must set up camp, get some food and rest for themselves, and maybe a song or two to lighten everyone's spirits and keep them positive.
Cooking is of course critical, and construction will allow the building of restful sleeping arrangements. A song or two will help settle everyone's mind, keep the party focused, and allow them a good night's sleep. Missing any one of these things will make the next day rough.
While there's no way Fuka can help with things like constructing a secure encampment or cooking, she can definitely work to help keep mood positive! She scuttles around supervising, as well as passing out inventory food and singing dumb camp songs. They're not great but her mood's pretty infectious, and even dumb songs are still fun!
The next day dawns bright and the grunties got a good night's sleep, even if the party did not. Driving them to the market town is straightforward, and a fenced-in stockyard is available for the grunties to be herded into. The head Lander comes out to haggle with the party over the amount of money he's willing to pay for so many grunties. After all, they're so skinny, and a few were bitten by wolves. There's the mileage and demurrage, of course, and so many other details.
A shrewd negotiator will of course cut to the chase to win the best price, and someone with Mercantile knowledge will understand the vagaries of the trade system. Someone skilled at Appraisal would be able to counter the buyer's appraisal of the grunties.
Morning is a little different for Haru. He helps drive the grunties into the market like the day prior. It is a city locale that suits him better. A market. With the use of his monocle and a shrewd eye typically reserved for accessory crafting, he makes note of the finer points of the stock. It becomes useful ammunition in negotiating a good price while dismissing those that would reduce it.
Fuka wouldn't care so much about the actual money on offer, considering the reason the herds had to be driven so early. The merchant seems right to her; the grunties haven't been fattened up yet, and they've been driven reasonably hard. She frowns though. Mileage? Demurrage? This sounds like a scam in action. Besides, there are other things to worry about, and she has a duty to those Landers that arranged the grunty drive in the first place. A merchant's fat pocketbook is not something she has a duty towards.
Still scowling, Fuka confronts the merchant. "This is the last grunty drive likely to happen. YOU KNOW what's coming to Yamato!" she glares, frustrated and more than a little annoyed. "If you're not willing to buy, get out of the way so we can find someone else who can appreciate what this city needs!"
In the end, the negotiation is successful (perhaps despite Fuka's mood) and the grunties are paid for. Less those which are set up for pit barbeque in the traditional drive-end feast of course!