|Scene Title||Swords and Prophecy|
|Synopsis||Scrivner meets with Kamala and Jacob for a swordsmanship lesson, and he fills them in on the latest trouble.|
While Jacob will never openly acknowledge as much, it takes a considerable bit of trust for him to provide the meeting place for this afternoon's lesson. It's most assuredly not the address listed on his business card. It's also not, by default, ideal for lessons in weapons training, but with furnishings moved up against the walls or removed to other rooms entirely, the main room of his penthouse suite can suffice for the time being. It's clear that prior to the rearranging, which has left things looking just a bit sloppy, his lodging enjoyed a magazine quality impression of perfection that was probably designed by people whom Jacob has never met. There's very little in the way of a 'personal' touch, as nothing about the decor seems to embody any particular facet of his personality.
He paces the center of the room, having left the door unlocked-which is not so much a gesture of trust as of convenience. His security measures, owing to a paranoia that has nothing to do with his life as a Scion, are in place elsewhere. Kamala will recognize familiar faces downstairs in the building's lobby. Visitors are expected, and may enter without confrontation.
In contrast to such (almost) unrelenting perfection, Kamala's a breath of chaotic fresh hair in the place. She grins at the guys in the lobby, sparing a moment to wave to them, before she takes the elevator up. With her, slung over her shoulder, is a large bag that seems filled with a miscellany of things that clink, and her clothing can best be described as 'workout chic'. She breezes into the penthouse's open door, knocking just once on the lintel as she passes it, and her eyes flick around the place as she places the bag down. "Wow," she finally mutters. "I didn't think that I'd be seeing your place, let alone like this… is that a Herman Wildman?" She brushes past him with an excess of energy, pausing for just a moment to press one shoulder against his in an impromptu hug, before she makes straight for the chaise longue she had been admiring, stretching out on it.
It's only when she's comfortable on it - it's too pretty not to try out - that she focuses solely on Jacob. "Am I early then? I brought a few things with, but I've got the feeling Mr. Scrivner is going to be slightly disappointed with my lack of prowess. Speaking of, though, should we start warming up in the meantime?"
He won't be late. He'll be right on time. His leisurely stroll through the lobby is met with a few curious glances, but since they'd been forewarned, no one steps forward to stop him. He takes the lift up to the penthouse suite just minutes after missing Kamala, else he'd have ridden up with her. And for once, wonder of wonders, the Engishman is not wearing a three-piece suit. Working on sword forms and teaching students while wearing bespoke tailoring is more than a trifle ridiculous. Instead, he's wearing black athletic pants, a comfortable tee shirt and a jacket. It's a strange feeling, not having a necktie or a waistcoat. With him, the man carries his black nylon swordcase, but he's also carrying a heavy, large duffel bag with several wooden practice swords inside as well as some other gear, in case it's needed.
When the bell rings and the door opens, Rufus steps off of the lift and glances around, then approaches Jacob's door and knocks three times. He doesn't even test it to see if it's unlocked.
Similarly out of 'character' in terms of his wardrobe, Jacob is sans glasses-as they are merely an affectation-and in a tank top and sweatpants. If not for the familiar way he carries himself even now, he might be mistaken for someone else. The smile he's wearing once Kamala arrives further distances him from his usual image.
"I have no idea," he admits shamelessly, snaking an arm around her waist during the brisk interval when she's hugging him and then turning to follow her attention toward the furniture. "It looked good in the catalog."
He skews his jaw for a thoughtful interval, as unnecessary as his absent spectacles, and then nods. "We really should, yes." There's a faint hint of mirth in his voice and a slight glint in his eye. Yes, she should definitely warm up. He's already limbered up from his own regular routine, but no one needs to know that.
As Scrivner knocks, Jacob tenses at first out of habit and approaches the door with just a hint of caution. A moment later he opens it to step aside and motion their instructor through the door. "Thanks for coming. I've cleared out some space, should be enough."
For a second there, as Jacob stalked the door, Kamala half-imagined that he was going to magic a gun out of the air and shoot their instructor for the egregious crime of knocking. It's what has her smiling merrily as Scrivner enters the room, and she moves easily to stand. "Mr. Scrivner. Good day, and thank you once again for agreeing to tutor us." She glances down to the things he's carrying, then to the bag that she brought. "I haven't warmed up yet, other than pressing a button in the elevator, so do excuse me for a few moments." She moves over to an open corner and sets to.
The workout that emerges, whilst fluid and efficacious, also seems as if it requires more dexterity than a Chinese circus actor's double-limbed nature. There are stretches and spins and a little jog on the spot, since she can't trot around the room. Contrasted to that, the series of situps and press-ups that she goes through seem rather mundane, giving a good idea of her strengths: flexibility and speed, but not much stamina and even less strength. It still renders her pink-cheeked and ever so slightly huffy, and ready to rejoin the gentlemen should they be ready.
Getting shot would have been most inconvenient and more than a little annoying. Remaining on the other side of the threshold, the man slides his fingers along the strap of his duffelbag, idly toying with it. His smile is perfectly polite and distant, as it should be, and his eyes dart past Jacob to the cleared floor. "Good day, Mr. Chen and Miss Jadeja. Think nothing of it." When invited, he steps inside and has a second glance around, nodding to Kamala as she darts off to warm up. He doesn't watch her; instead he turns his pale eyes to Jacob and inclines his head again. "Quite a nice flat," he says. "I hope you both have been well?"
Rufus eases the weight of his duffel bag down beside the front door, and he sinks to one knee as he jerks open the zipper. Out come the wooden practice swords, and he offers up one to Jason. It's lightweight, but solid enough that hits landed will sting.
Politeness-which Jacob has dusted off and changed the batteries in for just this occasion-dictates that the host pay equal attention to both guests, so Kamala's workout isn't quite the treat for him that he'd hoped. All the same, the man who can butcher giant serpents in a three piece suit demands respect-which is not to say that he's demanded anything actually, simply that Jacob will be loath to be the one not to give him his due. There are rules.
"Thanks. It's not much, but it's home." There's an underlying jest in the clearly false humilty Jacob responds with. Part of the running joke he makes of most of life. "Been keeping it together. How about yourself?" He does get in some time watching the Deva do her workout, but manages to not seem too distracted, especially not when he's handed a sword. He tests the balance as if not completely unfamiliar with the weapon, and nods approvingly. He gives away a lack of any real proficiency in the way he holds it, something that suggests he's seeing it as a big knife.
Kamala finishes her workout and makes for the men's company, fetching up at the bag just as Rufus hauls the first wooden sword out of his bag of tricks. She considers it idly, head tilting to and fro in curiosity. Then, with one shoulder lifting and a friendly smile, "I hope you have something a little bit shorter for me, Mr. Scrivner? The last time I saw a sword at all I shrieked like a little girl and made my instructor most unhappy - I think the kalari is still laughing at that." She easily sinks down on her haunches, balancing her arms over her knees as she waits for something for herself to emerge.
"I've often wondered," she muses quietly as she waits, "what it will take to get good at such a thing. The times seem to be worsening steadily - the anaconda was a sign of that - but really, things seem to be popping up like daisies out of the snow. Are we going through a bad turn of the Dharmic wheel, do you think?"
Rufus takes up his own sword and stands smoothly, hinting that he probably had a jog or some other sort of warm up before riding that lift up to the penthouse suite. "Like this," he says quietly, reaching down to press at Jacob's fingers, adjusting his grip on the hilt. "Your sword is an extension of your arm," he goes on to explain, glancing into the younger man's eyes. "Think of it as such, rather than some unwieldly tool you're going to be jabbing merrily into squidgy, unpleasant things."
His fingers slip around the hilt of his own wooden blade as he glances over at Kamala, considering her request. "I'll give you the shortest one I have, certainly, but there's no reason to be afraid of your sword. A weapon should be given due respect, as it has the power to defend and bring harm. But there's little reason to fear it." And so he bends again, fishing through the swords to pull out something shorter than the ones he and Jacob are holding.
"And, actually… There /is/ something going on that I wanted to discuss with you both at the Java House. Unfortunately I didn't get my chance before you were both called away."
What suggests prior training with some kind of handheld deathtool, probably of the 'jabbing merrily' persuasion as Rufus surmises, is the way Jacob yields his hand and obeys the Aesir's placement of his fingers without a protest. He chuckles at the correction, nodding as he meets their instructor's gaze. "Usually I'm working with something smaller," he says. He steps back as Rufus moves over to attend Kamala, testing the feel of the weapon's weight after those alterations to his grip. He wisely refrains from test-swings just yet.
"I was hoping that would come up," Jacob admits as the subject turns to things they didn't get around to discussing elsewhere. "I made allowances for the likelihood that business would take a turn for the weird once I got my invite to Club Scion, but even that's starting to escalate into balls-out wackiness."
"I'm thinking about building up my arm strength as well, so something lighter than your own might be good at first," Kamala says quietly as she takes the shorter sword, covertly watching Jacob's fingers on the grip of his. It takes her a few of those surreptitious glances before she has her grip more or less right; even so it can be fine-tuned a little more, since she's rather swinging it about like a short kalari stick as she tries a discreet little swish off to one side. She stops, though the glint in her eyes speak fulsomely of the kind of power that she's imagining trickling into her veins at the moment. Despite taking after Lakshmi more, she has a healthy bit of Vishnu in her as well.
"The snake was strange," she admits as she waits her turn to be corrected - some is due, no doubt. "The zombies the other evening were as well, and the accounts I've heard of people facing other monsters." Her brows knit delicately. "Perhaps it is all so strange because I'm still very new at this. But no matter. What is it that you wanted to discuss with us, Mr. Scrivner?" She hasn't yet forgotten the price she agreed to pay for these lessons.
With one student getting his grip right, Rufus steps to one side to check on the lady's. Very gently he rearranges her fingers till they're /just right,/ and then he backs away from her. The Englishman draws in a deep breath, fortifying himself, and then he exhales it in a rush with a wry smile. "My father is Tyr, the Norse god of justice," he explains. "One evening he came to speak with me because he had some troubling news. He believes Fimbulwinter is coming very, very soon. This is the three-year long winter that will precede the last, apocalyptic battle, Ragnarok.
"During a battle in the Overworlds, a powerful Scion was attempting to destroy a god who has been wreaking havoc, and some of the branches of Yggdrasil were cracked. Jormangundr, the Midgard Serpent, has been disturbed from his sleep. He's rousing, though he still bites his own tail, but evidence of his stirring can be found in the increased earthquakes in the Philippines and in the volcanic activity around the Ring of Fire. Lastly, my uncle, the Norse god Thor, has been stripped of his power. He is fated to kill Jormangundr during Ragnarok, although with his current incapacitated state… he is about as weak as I am."
Rufus lets that news hang in the air a second, studying the gent and the lady, then he asks, "Have either of you heard the prophecy that's being circulated?"
The wooden blade in Jacob's hands dips a little as his grasp goes a little slack, much like his jaw as Rufus gives them the rundown on what's going on. He's had the broad strokes spelled out for him well enough to not need to ask questions and the particulars are explained by the context, leaving him defenseless against a sobering understanding of what has apparently happened.
"O~kay, then," he sighs, looking bemused, "It sounds like we've gotta step up our game a bit then." He shakes his head quickly. "I haven't heard anything that turned out to be genuinely prophetic, no. Mostly I have to deal with the National Enquirer type stuff. Sounds like you've got the real deal."
Kamala lets the man rearrange her fingers on the wooden hilt, frowning gently as she feels the wood bite into her hand in an unaccustomed place. She has strong palms for a woman, but this is a new experience. "Just so," she mutters to herself, eyes half-lidding as she attempts to memorize the feel of how it should be, fingers and hilt and even the weight sitting lightly in her hands. "Just so."
She's startled out of that mindset as Rufus speaks, and as she gives a step back to open a bit of space between herself and Jacob, she considers his words carefully. "I've no idea what you're speaking of, in the specific," she finally says. "We do not have these tales - we are used to the universe going through cycles, and each cycle has its ups and downs. Is this not a natural part of how things must be that you are talking about?" The Devas are strange, with a peculiar outlook on life and all its happenings. "You, sir, are not weak," she says before she bites her lip and shakes her head. "No. I've heard of no such thing." She looks sideways at Jacob for encouragement before she asks, "Can this serpent of yours not be soothed?"
Rufus turns his head to blink at Kamala's compliment, acknowledging it with only a fleeting smile. Soon, however, his attention turns back to the pair, and he goes on to further say, "I wish, and I hope that it can be soothed. I don't want to face Ragnarok just yet. I'm not nearly ready for it, but Father has told me there's little we can do on that angle. Whatever happens, he's charged me with spreading the word so that we are prepared to face the threats that are coming. We /will/ be facing the backlash of the Serpent's stirring and the great Tree's cracking. I … wish I could tell you more of how the world works, but I'm afraid that's not my area of expertise. From the Aesir point of view, all worlds rest in the branches of the Tree of Life, Yggdrasil. The cracking of its branches means that one plane of existence threatens to crash into another."
He then nods his head and he steps forward, gesturing to the centre of the floor. "Come along. I should at least begin working with the pair of you on sword forms and stances. The basics will be easy for you to pick up, I'm certain of it. As for the prophecy, before I leave I will write down copies for you both to keep."
"Better yet," Jacob asks hopefully, "Can we just kill the damn thing?" His knowledge of the 'mythology' behind the onset of Ragnarok is not comprehensive enough to adequately do justice to the inevitability Jormungandr represents. "I mean, if it comes to that." He clams up after that, so as to not miss the rest.
"You know more than I do," he assures Rufus, "and I appreciate what you're doing, letting us all know. It'll take some of the piss out of it when things go absolutely crazy. We know to expect the worst. In the meantime, now's as good a time as any to pick up some pointers in stabbing squidgy things. Normally I just shoot them, but I haven't found an endless supply of bullets yet-" he makes allowances for the possible existence of such things, although only with his fingers crossed for luck "-whereas one of these doesn't run out of ammo." He moves to join Rufus and Kamala in taking the floor to learn some basics. It turns out to be vastly different from knife fighting, at least to his perspective.
It turns out during the lesson that Kamala has a smidgen of proficiency, and with the short sword she's quick enough to at least get the wooden sword into the right positions in the sword forms. Here her dance training helps; memorisation of long sequences is nothing new to her, though her body doesn't know the precise angles of body and arm yet. She's not hopeless, though she's somewhat worse than Jacob at the whole thing.
"Each thing will die in its own time and place," she says with the serenity of her faith behind her. "Whether it is this serpent, or the world, or even ourselves - we will none of us be able to delay the moment of said death. In that moment, we are released to such knowledge, such infinite wisdom that we should not fear its gateway. It would be a perversion on our parts to try and dodge it." She sighs briefly. "That does not mean, of course, that I'll sit still if some total nutjob with a strange grudge against divinity tries to speed on the natural process. That, too, is as much of a perversion as seeking to avoid it in the first place."
Rufus works the pair through the very basics, trusting that his pupils are apt enough to pick up on it, so he had also prepared for one or two more intermediate level exercises. Sparring, though, will come later. Foundation, then building up and up. And, of course, during the course of the lesson, he mentions that they /should/ spar with each other. The more the better. So it goes for about an hour until…
Rufus steps back and lowers his sword arm, resting the very tip of it against the cleared floor, palm rubbing over the wooden pommel. "I've rather taken the opinion that whatever will be will be. I don't trust prophecies as much as my forefathers do, but they are convinced that Thor is fated to kill the monster, and that is that. He will die in doing so. Granted, with my forefathers, there is a lot of preoccupation in trying to circumvent that fate." He shrugs his shoulders, then he wryly smiles. "I try not to worry too much with it. I've got enough to deal with here in Midgard, preparing for the possibility of Fimbulwinter. Have either of you any questions?"
When he doesn't think she's looking, Jacob finds himself smiling as Kamala gives voice to her serene acceptance of what is and will be. All the same, he scoffs and shakes his head. "I don't blame them. I'd fight tooth and nail to keep something from killing me if it was foreordained. The way I see it, up until that last second when the shark's got his teeth on you, /nothing/ is inevitable. You can wriggle out of anything if you want it badly enough. I've got half a mind to make it my goal in life to find as many of these prophecies as I can and subvert the lot of them so nobody sees what's coming when it finally happens."
Humility bears down upon him a moment later and he gives the practice weapon a sloppy flourish. "Although, I'll have better chances if I can manage to handle one of these without looking stupid." He snickers and shrugs. "I have too many to pick just one," he admits to Rufus. "Questions, I mean. I'll get back with you on that. In the meantime, if you wouldn't mind going over that bit with the parry you were showing us again, I'd be grateful. If I try that the way I'm doing it now, I'm gonna jack up my wrist…"
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