Scene: Missoi & Zarina

Scene: Missoi & Zarina

Conversation between Missoi and Zarina as the group sets out in search of Fangberries.

Missoi waves his hand dismissively. "Nonsense. I'm happy for the conversation, and you are not 'prattling.'" Missoi looks Zarina in the eye, that ghost of a smile appears once again. "Trust me, if I did not want to be in your company right now, I would make myself clear." Although there's a bit of lightness to his words, their truth is nevertheless clear.

After a pregnant pause, the half-elf continues. As he speaks, it becomes abundantly clear that, despite his relative silence at times, Missoi's mind is constantly preoccupied with items on both the interior and the exterior; the term "work," for him, seems to be a catch-all phrase for most, if not all, of the alchemist's pursuits. This level of preoccupation seems to result in a certain extremity of self-involvement, however, given his often personal way with language. Beyond this, the alchemist's relatively high comfort with himself is readily apparent.

"Anyways: my work.'s hard to know where to begin, since it constitutes the near-entirety of my preoccupations in this life. Let me see if I can reduce it down to the salient points whilst avoiding getting too wordy (not an easy feat for me, to be sure)..."

I suppose you could say mine is a bipartite discipline, both internal and external. In either manifestation, the concern is with the relationship between the two: matter and its counterpart, the unseeable condition. As a personal discipline, this preoccupation involves gaining a certain level of control over the internal energies of my body: the breath, the blood, and the life-blood. My ability to cross under the river, for instance, is a result of cultivating these abilities, as is my ability to, ahem..."
The alchemist pauses here, seemingly uncertain of how to describe the phenomenon; he finally settles on, "...heighten my physical abilities in times of need."

He glances at Zarina momentarily, making sure she is still listening, before continuing. "Externally, this preoccupation involves studying the internal qualities of other materials, in order to harness these properties for my own ends. This part of things may sound selfish, but it's more about the pursuit of the knowledge than the reaping of its benefit."

The half-elf stops, laughing suddenly. "How's that for keeping it brief?" He shakes his head, apparently at his own inability to avoid such extended explication.

Zarina Ka'thar

Bolstered by Missoi's reassurances, Zarina settles into a companionable silence while she listens. Beneath her, Askari keeps to a slow walk, blowing out a breath as they both take in the half-elf's explanation of his work. Inasmuch as the grey had gotten used to riding alongside Ferber, his audible exhalation indicates his own curiosity about this "new" person they were riding next to. Recognizing this, she reaches down to rub the stallion's neck affectionately.

Absorbed in his recitation, Zarina seizes the opportunity to close her eyes and truly listen to whatever she could garner beyond Missoi's words. It is not only what they say that you need to pay close attention to, my dear heart. Be aware of how it is said and what it might say about the person. Her father's teachings were almost second nature to her by now. She finds herself nodding, responding as much to the cadence of his words as to its content. At his description of the curious event by the river, the oracle opens her eyes in time to interject, "Interesting. I've always wondered how you were able to do that." Her initial assumption that it was due to magic was apparently false.

Missoi's often unexpected laughter brings a delighted smile to Zarina's face. "I don't mind listening," she says sincerely. "I learned a lot about your work and I believe I learned a bit more about yourself as well." Transferring the reins to her left hand, she uses her right to make a graceful gesture, a flick of her wrist akin to a Varisian dance that ends with her holding her hand aloft, middle finger barely touching her thumb. The impish side of Zarina, brought about by the half-elf's laughter, decides to thicken her accent to one strikingly similar to the sibilant hiss of the Varisian harrower they met briefly in Restov. "Shall I tell you that work is a consuming passion for you?" She emphasizes certain words, hardening their consonants and drawing them out for dramatic effect. Raising her hand higher, the oracle closes her eyes and tilts her head as though she were listening intently to something just beyond hearing. "Yes, borders on obsession, often precluding you from having too many other pursuits." She nods sagely, focusing this time on the words he used to describe his work. "Oh but you spent a long time in the company of others wherein the pursuits of the mind were of utmost importance."

Zarina's hand drops to her lap as her laughter begins. Her eyes abound with merriment as she turns her attention back to Missoi. "How did I do?" she asks in between fits of laughter, echoing the same question he had asked her long ago.

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Although Missoi smiles at Zarina's impromptu reading, he grows somewhat solemn it's his turn to speak again. "Work is life," says the half-elf simply with a shrug. "Or at least, it is for me. It's not a matter of obsession, but rather, of sustenance - just as we must eat on a constant basis to support our life, so too must we pursue that which interests us, and that from which we learn, or else we whither and die."

The two are silent for a moment, the only sound of theirs and the others' horses trotting onward, before Missoi says, staring off into the wilderness, "I suppose that is why I'm here, really: to see what my life can be here. I knew what life was back in Brevoy," continues the half-elf, gesturing presumably to his past, "But's mystery. The undefined..." Missoi catches Zarina's eyes once more, a strange passion and certitude in his eyes. He sustains that look for a moment before breaking it off with a slight shake of his head. "To learn about such things is what life is all about. Or at least," he corrects, "that's my life anyway."

"There's another aspect of my alchemy: the pursuit of the unknown, for its own sake."

After another short pause, Missoi makes an effort to shift the subject of the conversation from himself; he seems a bit at pains to avoid an overly self-centered conversation. It's not that he's loathe to discuss himself, exactly; more like he simply wishes to avoid the self-preoccupation which comes all too easily for him.

Zarina Ka'thar

"Surely you would agree there is much more to life than just work?" Zarina looks incredulous, her jaw dropping open. Catching herself, she inhales deeply, still aghast that Missoi holds such a serious view on life. With that breath came traces of the mingled scents she associates with the half-elf - the slightly acrid smell of smoke and powder, the thick, residual odor that potions often leave on him, and the ever-present tang of metal. She shifts in her saddle, searching his face for remnants of that impassioned look he gave, one that hinted at much more than the harsh essences surrounding him would suggest.

The free-spirited part of Zarina, ingrained early on inside her by her people, couldn't quite fathom a life with such a singular pursuit. "If that is what sustains you, then I consider it poor sustenance," she says hesitantly, afraid to offend him and yet compelled to offer up her opinion nonetheless. The oracle spends a few moments staring at the reins in her hand, rearranging them in her grip while deciding whether or not to pursue the issue further. Wetting her lips, she presses on, this time staring out into the cold horizon. "I was once told that some people use work to escape what troubles them." Her gaze flicks momentarily at Missoi. "And you once told me that you were adopted. Were they unkind to you?" she asks softly, her concern evident. "Was that why you left Brevoy?"

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Originally Posted by Yu Jie View Post
"Surely you would agree there is much more to life than just work?"

When he responds, Missoi's voice contains a bit more irritation than he would have intended. It's not that he's upset with Zarina in particular; more like, he's had this debate before, and he doesn't fully understand others' difficulty in empathizing with his perspective. "Of course work is not all that makes up life, but again, I mean a very particular thing by using the term 'work.' We're not talking about slaving in a field; we're talking about an approach to life in which the pursuit of growth provides the fundamental point of orientation for one's actions. In this sense, the whole of life can be integrated into what I refer to when I say "work," rather than neglecting much of life in order to pursue a narrow path single-mindedly."

Missoi gives Zarina that increasingly-familiar look of intensity once again. "Such a framework for life doesn't restrict freedom, Zarina; it provides at." After a moment, he adds, more quietly, "At least it does in my case."

Originally Posted by Yu Jie View Post
"If that is what sustains you, then I consider it poor sustenance."
Missoi LebedaThis comment seems to sting the half-elf, although whether his action is one of upsetment or pain is difficult to discern. He opts to say nothing in way of retaliation, however, even though its clear at this point that he markedly disagrees.

Originally Posted by Yu Jie View Post
"I was once told that some people use work to escape what troubles them." Her gaze flicks momentarily at Missoi. "And you once told me that you were adopted. Were they unkind to you?" she asks softly, her concern evident. "Was that why you left Brevoy?"
Missoi Lebeda
Missoi pauses here, and it's difficult to know whether it's out of hesitancy to discuss the matter, or out of a sense that his background is not as applicable to the path of his life than others seem to consider it to be. When he does speak, his voice has an edge to it. Zarina finds herself once again confronted with the duality of this man who can be gentle and friendly one moment and hard-edged and assertive the next; her mind flashes back to her memories of him battling the thieves at Oleg's fort just a short time ago.

"I seek to escape nothing, Zarina, be it in the realm of the physical or the mental. I've already told you the reason I came here - to learn and to grow. Not to cower from the demons of my past."

The half-elf seems to cut his thoughts short, and for a short while, the pair ride on in silence, to the point whereupon Zarina wonders if this is all Missoi will say to her at the present time. Just as she begins to feel this way, however, Missoi begins speaking again, his tone softer and more relaxed. "My parents - my adopted parents, that is, who were nevertheless my true ones - were wonderful people. A little cerebral, perhaps, which may have something to do with my pursuit to merge the mental and the physical," - the half-elf chuckles slightly to himself - "but they were good people. Kind people. They gave me a home when no one else would..." The half-elf trails off, clearly upset by the topic, and perhaps a little surprised to find himself thus.

Zarina Ka'thar

Zarina's back stiffens even as she holds herself silent during the mercurial half-elf's rather heated retort. In that moment she regretted offering up her opinion on his outlook. And though Missoi did grudgingly share some points about his adopted family that she could easily empathize with, the harshness and irritation she discerned in his replies causes her to withdraw. Carefully keeping her expression blank, she nods her head gracefully in a conciliatory gesture. "It seems my probing ways and my wayward tongue have offended you. It was not my intention to do so," she offers regretfully.

When the oracle lifts her eyes back up to meet his, they are devoid of the enthusiasm that was once there. "Though I have spent many years in Brevoy, I have spent twice as much amongst my people." Her chin lifts with pride even as her voice thickens with emotion, memories of her small clan crowding around her mind. "Varisians embrace life and live it to its fullest." The barest of smiles lifts the corners of her mouth. "There were many days filled with dance, laughter and song. And there was always the lure of an adventure waiting just over the horizon." She shakes her head, hoping to free herself from the bittersweet images of their caravans ringed around a cheerful fire. "That is what I was accustomed to. Now and again, I like sharing that part of my culture with others."

Warming up to the topic at hand, Zarina continues, "You keep yourself far too often in the company of nothing more than your flasks and vials or in solitary pursuits. Not once on the way down to Oleg's did I see you partake in any of the more festive gatherings - like dancing." Zarina shrugs. "I suppose I was worried you were too consumed by your work and were missing out on other experiences." She gives him a sidelong glance while she deftly maneuvers Askari around a rather large rock. "Isn't that part of your quest to learn and grow? To step out of your norm and try something new? I mean, that is partly the reason why I asked you about your work in the first place - I wanted to see what I could learn."
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Missoi sighs slightly, his gaze resting on the undulating plains for a short while. When he speaks, his voice is more controlled than before, and tinged with resignation.

"You are right, of course: I am quite set in my ways." His gaze shifts from the plains to Zarina once more. He shrugs. "I am not a sociable creature, Zarina. An introverted disposition and years of relative isolation have seen to that." After a pause, he adds, "That's not to recant my faith in my lifestyle. But yes - I do acknowledge its limitations. We all have to deal with our limitations."

The pair ride on in silence once again, for a time, and the heightened emotions brought on by the discussion of sensitive topics seem to ebb somewhat; at least, in Missoi. After a time, the half-elf speaks once more, turning the topic to lighter things. "Well, you asked about alchemy - I would be happy to give you a lesson the next time we have the opportunity. But you already have some experience, no?" He flashes a mischievous smile. "I have seen - and smelled - your handiwork. I know you're not purchasing those scents from Oleg," he laughs.

Zarina Ka'thar

Zarina was only to happy to get back to a less onerous topic of conversation. "Desna's stars, you've smelled my work?" She grimaces slightly. "I hope I haven't offended your nose." She ducks her head, slightly embarrassed. "I'm still new and have quite a ways to go when it comes to infusions and decoctions. And then of course there's distillation, that's useful as well. That's exactly why I've been so keen on watching you work your alchemy. I thought that I might learn your methods of extracting useful matter from your materials."

There is a pronounced interest in Missoi's work, judging from the way the oracle comes alive when talking about her fledgling craft. She ticks off the her list of working methods on long, elegant fingers. The smile that returns to her face is hopeful and eager. "I'd be pleased to get a lesson from you."
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