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The Perils of Pudding [Open]


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Ul'dah was a city of byways and back roads, of shadows cast along cramped and narrow corridors while the sun shone bright upon its major streets, brilliant marble and white cobblestones contrasting with the dark and common rock. Pearl Lane was one-such place, and certainly a notorious one, but far from the only alley to be in such a state.

It was in one of those nameless roads that Verad had lain his trap. He had surveyed the area with great care, and, having found a likely place to find his quarry - close to the backdoor of an Ala Mihgan cafe, not so close that it would be in competition with more common vermin - he had gone to great care to ensure that everything was in place. There would be no chance of escape once matters were set in motion.


The following was plainly visible for all to see: In the middle of the road, there lay a rat. It did not move, in large part because it had been trussed up in the manner of a damsel in distress about to be thrown onto the Thanalan railways. Verad had been very particular in the tying, to the extent that the string which held the rat in place was finished off with a bow near its back. Lest an observer think this inordinately cruel - and Verad certainly did - the rat had been placated with a piece of old fruit within nibbling distance, upon which it was content to snack.


Surrounding the rat was a circle of rope in the manner of a noose, knotted together and with a rope trailing conspicuously back to Verad's hiding position, around one corner of a wall that jutted out in a fit of Ul'dahn architecture's efforts to put angles on curves. Behind it, Verad waited, rope in hand and ready to pull.


Near this rope were a series of small signs, propped up with sticks. In a simple Eorzean script, they read: "Free Rat!" "Come And Take It!" "Not A Trap." He wasn't certain that his quarry could read, but after the incident with the cactuars he wasn't taking any chances.


With all pieces thusly in place, Verad waited. And waited. The rat grew fat on its offered refuse, and settled down to doze. Only then did he see the glistening, soft image of his quarry - a solitary pudding, small from an urban lifestyle lacking the large prey of its wilder cousins, creeping out from the gutters and tentatively squidging its way towards the ambush.


"Come on," he whispered from his hiding position. "Come on now, take the bait."

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Franz had been taking a leisurely stroll from the markets of Ul'dah when he came across the little scene, having followed the rope to its owner. A small bag of some rolanberries and walnuts dipped in a variety of chocolates in hand, and with absolutely nothing to do for the day, he politely asked the peculiar man in a hushed voice, so as to not distract the pudding.



"Mind if I watch too?"

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So intent had he been upon his quarry, watching it squadge and squnch closer and closer to the point of no return, that the man's query caught him completely off-guard. That meant a yelp and a half-jump off of the ground. Sadly, the man's intuition had proven correct, as, spooked, the pudding did as much of an about-face as a formless thing with no face can about, and slurried back towards the gutter. 


"Goodness," he replied, a little breathless, unoccupied hand to his chest before he smoothed down a newly-ruffled beard. "You startled me, my apologies." Peering towards the gutter, Verad was sure he could see a bit of gelatinous mass peeking out from the opening. The lure of free rat that was definitely not a trap was too strong. With this in mind, he did not hold his own surprise against the man, and settled down to wait.


"It's not at all like fishing, you know. There's much more patience and you require a bit of dexterity to catch this horrible-smelling thing, and - " He spoke in similar hushed tones once he regained his composure, and then paused. "Well, I suppose it is like fishing after all. Except for the gutting."

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"Uh huh" Franz peered over to watch as the pudding reconsidered going after the rat. He'd decided this was entertaining enough to stay and watch, and it would certainly be interesting to see how long he could go before the Elezen man would ask who he was.



"So why are you 'fishing' for a pudding anyways?"



He reached into the bag, "Care for some chocolate-dipped rolanberries and walnuts?"

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Verad almost spoke in his usual voice, simultaneously soft and booming, and looked about to weigh in as such, until he realized that doing so would likely spook the beast even further.

"Valuable flesh," he whispered, dropping his pitch to something lower and giving the rope a slight shake as if to entice the creature further. The rat didn't seem to notice, continuing to snooze.


"A buyer, you see. They were looking for pudding flesh as an ipecac, a purgative. Good for antidotes. And lacking the money to simply buy it without losing money on the sale, well."


He shrugged, as if that explained everything. His attention was drawn as the pudding began to creep out of its hiding place, shuffling towards the its prey with much greater caution.


"Such a noble beast, is it not? See how it glistens? That oily sheen, you know - they say it's different based on their locale. There's a certain grit to it you can't get anywhere but Ul'dah."


He spoke with the reverential tone of a connoisseur, all while idly taking one of the walnuts from the man's hands and popping it into its mouth.

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Pudding? A noble beast? Franz did his best to not make a funny face at the idea of it. Especially not one that roamed the streets of Ul'dah. But, he did know of their uses for alchemy, which was probably the case here.



He'd play along some more. The entire idea of trying to catch one alive was preposterous. "So your client wants this thing alive? You must be quite skilled in puddings if you're able to do so." He reached into the bag and ate a few of the snacks while watching.

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Natalie stumbles through the alley. When did Ul'dah's streets become so narrow? And so... spinny.


She'd gone to the Quicksand to get away from Porkchop's yelling. Ughh... geting so upset over a few cannon blasts. No wonder the Garleans couldn't take over Eorzea, too soft. Though she'd refrain form telling that particular Garlean that to his face.


Natalie stumbles again, perhaps she's stayed there a bit too long. Normally some sort of emergency, or excitement would draw her away from her drinking, however last night nothing did. On the plus side everything was warm, and spinning, and fuzzy. Though the spinning was a downside as well.


Grumbling to herself she walks down the alley, grimacing in the mornining sunlight. As she walks her foot catches on a piece of rope someone had left in the street, and she falls. However, instead of the blinding pain she expected as she headed towards the ground, she instead lands with a soft sploosh. Blinking she gets to her feet, her head feeling pleasantly cool in the morning heat.


She looks around, annoyed, "Who the hell put a rope in the street?!" She see's Verad and Porkchop, "I think I already know the answer..." She walks towards them, the top of her head strangely glistening and undulating.

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"Let us say," he remarked, continuing to speak only when he had finished chewing and swallowing the walnut, "That I have at least some experience with alternative and innovative uses for pudding." He frowned. "Even if Ul'dah's health regulators do not see it that way. Chilled scoops of bavarois in the summer seemed a fine treat for cooling down."


As quick as he'd frowned, he'd brightened. "But it -did- prove, to myself and others, that such flesh makes an excellent purgative for use in antidotes. And what better way to harvest flesh than from a living subj-"


This was the point at which a shadow passed he and Franz by. At the time, Verad did not give it very much thought. He was a second away from gesticulating in grand fashion and replying in greater detail when a sudden bit of movement out of the corner of his eye brought his attention back to the rope, the rat, and the pudding.


At least one of those things was no longer visible under a pile of McBeef, and the rope hadn't disappeared, and the rat hadn't even interrupted its nap. The look of dismay upon his face was exaggerated by his beard.


When Natalie arose, and actually walked towards them, he looked concerned - at least until he saw shifting and shimmering goo atop her forehead. "Well done, madam!" he replied, raising his hands up as if to clap, before stepping around the corner he'd been using as a hiding place to reach out for her forehead. "You must tell me how you effected such an effective capture."

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If it had been anyone else, the entire sequence of events mya have been devastating, embarrassing, or at the very least, unexpected. But over the few moons he'd come to know Natalie, such an occurrence just seemed...normal. 


Franz simply stared a little as Natalie walked over, the pudding coming along for the ride. He turned to Verad, still unknowing of the Elezen's name. "Sir, she mostly likely just has a hangover."



He turned to Natalie. "You can't possibly have thought my screaming was anywhere near as loud as the cannon you fired just outside my bedroom, could you? Natalie, we /do/ have neighbors." He continued to speak in as calm a voice he could, if only to not scare off the pudding and its newfound master.


"Please. No more cannons in the morning. Or I really will melt them down. I'm thinking some new spoons made of Ishgadian Steel would be quite nice. Maybe a tea kettle if there's leftover materials. Now, you should give the man his quarry."

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"Capture? What capture?" Natalie frowns batting his hand away, "I'm fine, somehow the fall wasn't too bad... Wait, I know you." She tilts her head, the pudding wobbling on her head as she does so, though it seems her bushy hair is giving it a secure perch. "You're that merchant... Eorzea's greatest archer? Or it's greatest lover? One of those." She sighs, "Either way you shouldn't string ropes across the street, poor hungover..." She pauses.


"Hey my hangover is gone..." she blinks, "Eyes are better too... It's like that fall knocked it out of me." She closes her eyes, enjoying the delightfully cool sensation she was getting from her head, "How strange..."


Natalie clears her throat, "Anyway, I don't know what you two are up to, but keep the streets clear." She turns to Franz, "It's always the cannons with you isn't it Porkchop. I should be getting a 'Thank you for getting rid of that hornets nest,' but nooo." She rolls her eyes, "It's always the negatives with you.


Natalie turns as if to leave, "Don't let me see you blocking the street anymore."

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The swat of Natalie's hand only made Verad's dismayed look return, and both arms fell to his sides, hands still gripping outward and elbows bent as if he were trying to reach her waist.


Perched on her head, the pudding wobbled and wibbled as she spoke, and Verad's eyes stayed fixed upon the beast rather than the Miqo'te on which it lay. He wasn't at all sure, but he was certain he had seen it smirk. It wasn't of a variety advanced enough to develop a face, but there it was, a single wrinkle in its otherwise gelatinous mass. Taunting him.


As she turned to leave, he took two steps back. Surely, he thought to himself, there was a reasonable means of acquiring the creature with a minimum of fuss.


One would not expect Verad, given his apparent age, to be capable of a leaping tackle, but there it was, the merchant flying through the air in an effort to snatch the pudding off of Natalie's head before she got far.


Meanwhile, the rat awoke, stretched out, and meandered out of the trap, Verad's tying-up of the creature never actually having bound its legs together. It nibbled on one of the signs, which fell over, then approached Franz with an expectant look in its beady vermin eyes. There were nuts to be had, after all.

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Leanne slowly strolls through the walkway. That road wasn't exactly the most place to walk in Ul'dah, yet the intrepid Seeker didn't mind, walking at a rather calm pace, tail with puffy end swaying behind her slowly and lazily.


The miqo'te was intending to use said path as a shortcut, yet her attention from whatever she had in mind for the day suddenly erased itself from her mind, golden hues capturing the sight of something rather...peculiar. With slightly more hurried paces, she walked towards a familiar miqo'te, a big smile and happy demeanor already being formed by her features...only to be switched by befuddlement as she finally looked at the strange pudding, wobbling on top of Natalie's head, and then at Franz and the unknown duskwight. 


Before she had any idea, her feet had already led her to be in front of Natalie. Blinking twice, her golden hues slowly came down to the miqo'te face. "I...uuuhhh...he...llo? I...uuhhm...." she said hesitantly. "Eeerrr...how are you? Are you having a fine day?" she tried to smile, awkwardly so, as her head slowly tilted to the left, hoping Franz would get sight of her and help her with figuring out what was going on. Her eyes widened in surprise though as she did so. Suddenly, the duskwight elezen was leaping towards Natalie, prompting Leanne to squeak. "A-Ah! B-BEHIND YOU!!"

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Franz dropped what was left of the bag of rolanberries and walnuts, dipped in the chocolate, more in disbelief than anything else, as he stared as Verad made his leap. He really shouldn't have though. He knew perfectly well what an Elezen was capable of. Maybe it was just how graceful it had been.


What could only end with the older Duskwight man on top of two, young, Miqo'te females, seemed imminent. Three things occurred to him at this moment:


  1. The pudding is going to get scared. Are they even sentient enough to get scared?
  2. Poor Leanne, her timing was terrible.
  3. Only Natalie could have made such a perfect flow of sequences occur.

In the coming seconds, he waited for the impending thud of people colliding. It was too late to stop any of the sudden movements, anyways.


The rat? Happily munching on the heavenly treasure that had fallen before it. Unless a pudding could jump, it would have been treated to buffet of lovely snacks all for simply standing around.

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One of the chocolate-covered goodies bounced towards the gutter, stopping short on the street.


A gloved hand snakes out of the gutter, reaching for the nutty treat. After a moment of stretching, the chocolate treasure is grabbed and brought back out of sight to those in the road.




Jancis looked at what she found closer. She was crunched over in this small washout gutter she took a break at with a little bit of fresh air. Candy and an exclamation; Thaliak only knew what was going on up there. 


Putting her lantern down, she peers out to see what was going on above.

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Funny things happened when disaster was imminent. Time started to slow down. People started to notice things that were slightly off. In such instances, these kind of observations could be the deciding factor between catastrophe and a near-miss.


Verad was not one of those people. All he managed to notice was that Natalie seemed to have changed appearance and hairstyle, and that the pudding seemed to have teleported onto another head - a serious problem, but one with immense practical applications if harnessed - before colliding into Leanne face-first, skull-to-skull.


There wasn't a resounding crack, because Verad's thickheadedness was merely metaphorical, but there was a definite thud of a sound as he collided with Leanne's temple, beard scraping her face as he slumped down onto the ground, prone and prostrated, stifling a groan.


Even in his injured state, however, he was reaching up, clutching at Leanne's trousers as the mistaken identity continued. "Madam," he gasped, the pain blurring his vision while giving her an imploring look. "The pudding, please . . . I must have it . . . "

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Leanne's perception of time became painstakingly slow, body freezing at the imminent clash. The face of the flying duskwight was the only thing that her mind could perceive before things went black for several seconds.


"...OOOOOWWW!!!" she groaned in pain while holding her head, not exactly being made of the thickest material either. While holding her head though, yet another thing came to distract her, as Verad held to her trousers, still imploring for the (beloved?) pudding. She still winced at the pain inflicted from the monumental head collision, golden hues squinting while waiting for everything to come into clear focus. "I-I don't have the pudding...it's on Natalie's head...!"


She points to Natalie with one hand. "W-Why you want a pudding so badly, anyhow, mister...owie, my head..."

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Natalie falls backwards in confusion. "W-what is...?" Her eyes widen as Verad sails over her and impacts into Leanne.


"What are you doing!" She barks before she pauses to listen to Leanne's words. "P-pudding?" Natalie reaches out a hand and experimentally touches her head, her finger sinking softly into the mass of the pudding. If puddings could blush, it would be doing so.


"Oh..." Natalie says strangely, "There is a pudding on my head isn't there?"

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As soon as Leanne clarified that she was not in fact the carrier of the custard, Verad's face fell.




Promptly letting go of her leg, he turned towards Natalie in a kind of shuffling crawl, never really leaving the ground, and, given the relatively close distance between Leanne and she, scrunched himself together in a way that would make a contortionist cringe, before managing to clutch at her pant leg in much the same manner.


"Please, madam, that . . . pudding! I must have it. I have been hunting it for hours! Days! We - " He paused, unwilling to exaggerate that far. "For quite a long while at any rate! You simply must give it to me, I beg you."

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Coatleque had just happened to be heading down the main thoroughfare of Pearl Lane when she heard the commotion down one of the side avenues. Thinking someone was in trouble she took off in that direction.


Rounding the corner she stopped in her tracks just in time to see Verad clinging to some poor girl's pants while Natalie was molesting a pudding attached to her head.


The Knight slowly backed away with arms raised, making as little noise as possible, and left before anyone would notice her.

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"Natalie, what else could it be? It's been on your head since you'd stumbled over this man's trap for it." He eyed the sign near what was left, "not a trap". Who were those signed intended for?! It couldn't possibly have been a pudding that didn't have eyes, let alone anything to think with. He gave her a stern look, "now, give the man his pudding. ...don't you have patrols to do?"



Franz walked over to Leanne. Now that Verad had moved on to his proper target, things could possibly be resolved. He bent down a little and offerered her a hand. "Miss Leanne, are you alright?"



All the while, the rat had been gorging itself on the rolanberries and walnuts, dipped in chocolate. Either the bag had been fuller than expected, or the rat had gained the notion of savoring the finer things in its life.

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Natalie shakily takes her hand and tries to scoop the mixture off her head, but her hand simply passes through it with a disturbing 'schlorp' noise. The pudding vibrates happily, apparently having enjoying the sensation, if puddings can even feel enjoyment.


"I don't know how to feel about this." Natalie simply states. She pokes another finger to it, and you can almost hear the slime coo. She looks at Franz, "His Pudding? I found it!" turning her gaze downwards to the elezen tugging at her leg, "What do you need it for anyway?"

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Leanne was the one clinging to her pants after the strange ordeal, widen eyes still looking in disbelief at Franz, Verad and Natalie, mind fruitlessly trying to find the answer for what just happened. How did she get into this?? Why that pudding was so special to put such intricate and bizarre plan into motion? Who was so kind to leave a measly rodent a bag of chocolate dipped treats? If she was to reach to any answer, the Seeker would never know, such conjectures being stopped by an approaching Franz. Perhaps he would help her with such conundrum.


"I'm...I'm alrighty...if I disregard the fact a duskwight just performed a flying headbutt and afterwards held to my pants as if I was his savior...and my current pain in the head...I might be alright..." despite the word usage, the phrase didn't hold any sarcasm or ill will. "I...rather wanna know...what is going on right now? What I stepped into. And why..." she looks at Natalie and her pudding lover(?) "...Why Natalie has a pudding on her head?" she raises a brow, as the pudding coo and wobbles at the touch of Natalie's digit. Perhaps it was a concussion messing with her vision, but Leanne could swear she saw the creature blushing. "Are you...molesting the little thing?"

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Feet. A curious pair of feet far off in the distance, shining in their armor, that ended up walking forward then walking backwards out of sight.


A begging elderly elezen man around the other feet as the fiasco continued. Jancis blissfully missed watching one of the Sultana's own manhandle the gelatinous splendor from her viewpoint.


But her eyes did catch her quarry! The lovely damsel rodent in her fluffy glory nibbling on the tasty treats that brought the overhead world to attention in the first place. 


If only she could get that bag, mayhaps the rat would follow suit...


Taking her basic wand, a stick of little description, she reached out, hoping to snag the side of the treat bag. The knotted stick prodded at the bag, crunching it, as it worked its way into catching or poking through.

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