Wednesday, September 8, 2010

[RP] To Speak With Spirits

Ambika met a troll death knight (yay sentient zombies?) who made a fair impression on her, meaning she didn't want to tear off his head and chuck it off the nearest mountaintop by the end of the evening. She learned he wished to speak with the spirits of the departed, and he learned she might be able to teach him to do so. Somehow she agreed to give him some basic priest instruction once a week. This is their first meeting.

Authors: Ambika & Zanazua

Zanazua’s bare footsteps were quiet on the wide sandstone steps of the Legerdemain. He wore his full battle armor and carried a white rose in each hand. The dark material of his Ebon Blade tabard covered his breastplate, and if not for the flowers, he would look as though he were ready for war.

He knocked on Ambika’s door with three loud, even taps, and waited.

There was dead silence for nearly a minute afterward before the door swung inward on its hinges. A grim-faced priestess looked up at him, then stepped aside and waited primly for him to come inside.

The room was clean and filled with austere furnishings. White hangings embroidered with white thread covered the walls and a lone teapot steamed on the table in the center of the room. Ambika locked the door behind him as he entered.

Zanazua seemed rooted to the doormat. He held out one of the roses to Ambika, which she ignored, while he scanned the stark apartment. Almost everything was white, except for a huge stained-glass window that spilled swathes of colored light over the rugs and upholstery on one side of the room. The table was relatively untouched by the pastel blues and greens, and it was there she sat, stiff and formal in her chair as she waited for him to come in and have a seat.

He smiled wryly. “Nice apartment.”

She said nothing and simply watched him with an impassive expression on her face. A slender white vase sat in the center of the table, empty. Zanazua stepped cautiously towards the chair opposite her. He held out the rose in his right hand once again and grinned at Ambika.

“Put it in the vase, please.”

Zanazua gently placed both the roses inside the vase and flopped down into a chair. She watched him with something like disapproval. “Did you plan on receiving flowers?”

“You are consistent.” She gestured toward the teapot. “I assume you don’t take tea, but there are cups if you wish.”

Zanazua shook his head. “I don’t need any.” The corners of his mouth turned down briefly, then he smiled at his somber hostess. “Does it help you see spirits?”

“It’s calming. A tranquil mind is necessary for this task. “ She smiled almost imperceptibly, though there was no humor in it. “But we are not training yet. You will know when it begins in earnest.”

“It’s easy to be calm when there’s not much going on upstairs.”

“Modesty is useless to me. A teacher should be properly advised of her student’s strengths and weaknesses.” Ambika sipped her tea and eyed the roses with mild approval.They were pretty on their slender stems, and as white as the rest of the room.

Zanazua chuckled. “I’m not being modest.”

She narrowed her eyes at him over the top of her teacup. “If you are stupid, we may as well cancel your training before it begins. You will need a moderate amount of mental capacity for this to be remotely successful.”

“I didn’t say that I’m stupid.”

Ambika set her jaw and muttered something quietly under her breath. “No, I suppose you didn’t.”

He continued to grin at her. “Are you feeling alright?”

She glowered into her cup, looking rather more petulant than a dignified priestess would prefer to admit. “I’m fine,” she said sourly.

“Then we must be ready to start.”

Rising to her feet, the little troll aimed a haughty scowl at her guest and disappeared into the adjoining bedroom. When she emerged a moment later, her arms were full of loosely-draped brown fabric. She held it out to him, standing as far from him as possible without being out of reach. “It should fit well enough.”

He eyed the brown fabric spilling out of her arms. “What is this?”

“It’s your uniform. I wore one like it when I began my studies. Your current armor,” she grimaced at the heavy plates strapped to his body, “is unsuitable for meditation.”

“Why not?”

“It makes sounds when you move, and it is heavy. The latter may bother you, and the former will certainly bother me. Quiet and comfort facilitate learning.” She continued to hold the robes out to him, unwavering.

The death knight shrugged. “If the noise will bother you, then I will take it off.” He took the robe from her hands, draped it over the back of his chair, and began to unbuckle the heavy spiked gauntlets from his shoulders.

“For the love of-- No. At least wait until I leave the room.” Ambika stomped back into her bedroom and shut the door behind her.

Zanazua laughed. It was a loud, jovial belly laugh, and it filled the room after Ambika’s exit. He shed his armor quickly, setting each piece gently on the floor as he took it off. He tossed the robe over his lean frame and shook his shoulders to get the fabric onto him. He stared at his hands, turning them over in front of him to examine the black and blue spots that dotted the skin of his fingertips and arms before calling out to her. “It’s safe, I’m dressed.”

Her glower turned into something a bit more critical as she paced slowly around him in a circle. She sidestepped his pile of armor with a scowl, then turned her yellow eyes back to his sleeves and collar.

“It’s a bit large in the shoulders. You look bigger in your armor than you really are.”

“I believe that is part of its purpose.” He grabbed some of the slack around his chest, pulling it out in front of him.

Ambika snorted quietly. “Intimidation is a powerful tool.” She completed her circle and stood directly in front of him, hands clasped loosely behind her back as she craned her neck to look him in the eye.

He smiled. “But you’re not intimidated.”

“Should I be?”

“I’m glad that you aren’t.”

She responded only with another long moment of resolute eye contact, then turned on her heel and went to the window. “Sit. The floor will suffice, or the couch if it is more comfortable.”

Zanazua lowered himself slowly to sit cross-legged on the floor. Meanwhile, Bika pulled her legs up into a similar sitting position and hovered on three feet of still air.

“Now, tilt your pelvis forward and pull your shoulders back.”

He watched her carefully, attempting to copy her motions as he pulled his shoulders upright.

“I can help correct your posture, if you allow it.” She sat motionless, eyes closed, face relaxed. He wasn’t entirely sure her lips were moving when she spoke.

“Help how?”

“With a minor mental intrusion which will allow me some basic control over your motor skills.”

He shook his head. “It won’t work.”

She sank three inches and lifted one eyelid to look at him, not bothering to turn her head. “...Fine. Please try harder. Your spine should align and it will feel as though your torso requires almost no effort to remain upright.”

He tucked in his lower back, sitting up a little straighter.

“Now relax your muscles, slowly. Begin with your toes, and work your way up to your shoulders, neck and face.” The levitating priestess demonstrated, curling her toes in toward the soles of her bare feet, exaggerating each motion as she contracted, then relaxed each muscle group.

The death knight closed his eyes. His toes twitched, then his body appeared to almost go slack. He frowned, then curled his feet again. His toes and soles of his feet were dotted with the same black and blue spots that wound their way up his arms.

This time her eyes flew open and she turned to look directly at him. It was eerie how effortlessly her body swiveled in the air. “What’s the problem.”

“I am trying to remember how to relax.”

“Carry on, then.” The hovering trolless abruptly turned back to her position at the window, eyes closed and body relaxed, leaving Zanazua to his task.

He grunted and squirmed, shifted in his seat, and frowned. His toes curled and uncurled repetitively, his forehead furrowing in concentration. After ten minutes of this, Ambika’s calm and oddly disembodied voice interrupted him.

“Try lying flat on your back, instead.” Her eyes never opened. “Continue the limbering exercises as normal.”

Zanazua opened one eye to peer at the priestess, then lowered himself slowly to lie down on the floor. His joints cracked audibly. He closed his eyes again, and let out a contented grunt. Flexing his ankles with another resounding crack, his body relaxed.

Almost immediately he felt a pair of warm toes wedge themselves under his side. Bika pulled her foot back then nudged him again, making no attempt to be gentle. “Wake up. Today’s lesson is complete, take your armor and go home.”

He smiled up at her. “Did I do well?”

She snorted. “Well enough. You should be ready to speak with the spirits in about a hundred years.”

He scooted himself upright with his hands. “I might actually have that long until I fall apart.”

“Same.” The priestess waited (and with exceptional patience, she thought) for him to rise without offering her assistance.

He brought himself to a slow stand, his knees creaking. “You might last one hundred years?”

“I intend to try.” She found herself in his shadow once more. Her expression was serene, but her eyes were defiant as she looked up at the worn troll.

“Good luck. I hope it brings you what you’re looking for.”

“I don’t believe in luck.” She opened the door and stood just as she had when he’d first entered her home. “See you next week.”

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