(A primer: Idriya was speaking to Anfini about testing the theory that curiosity really does kill the cat.)
Temple beach on the harbor. Rocky and barren, this beach is a short distance downward from the Temple gardens northwest, and slightly further on towers the immense height of the Temple proper, the Spark at its top shining down upon the sand and the ocean waters. A single, tall post stands a short distance from the coastline, driven deep into the ground and set with rings - a mooring post, paltry by comparison to the docks that lie not far southward. The harbor and the Beryl Sea stretch out to the southwest and south, an unbroken expanse of water that terminates only upon reaching the horizon. Anfini is sifting animatedly through the sand, engrossed in his activities. He wields a whirring staff of segmented machinery in his left hand. You see a single exit leading northwest.
Shin-deep in the waves, Anfini is staring at the horizon, a cigarette perched - as always - from his lips. The air is getting cold, but he shows no signs of chill.
You have emoted: Idriya arrives from who knows where, hefting a small cage under one arm. In it is a tiny black cat that could probably fit well in a robe pocket. She sets it down on the beach sands, well enough away from the water, and waves grandly in Anfini's direction from the shoreline. "Doctor! I have some good news!"
Your pose is now set as: Idriya stands here next to a cat in a cage.
Anfini jerks with a start, gritting his teeth as he is shocked out of his reverie. He lets loose a loud "BLAST!" as a spurt of adrenaline courses through him. When he turns, he wears a furious expression, but the sight of you tempers it somewhat, and before long it smolders into a sort of forcibly pleasant, if not impatient grin.
"Oh, it's... -you-," Anfini says with careful calm. "I was, ah. Concentrating.
You have emoted: Idriya can't help but cringe a bit when Anfini shouts and abashedly stuffs her hand into the pocket of her coat. "I do thoroughly apologize for interrupting your, um, concentrating, but," she gestures to the cage and the cat within, "I found a cat! A little one, but a cat nonetheless!" A pause. "The, uh, the bad news is, that's the only part of my experiment I've been able to complete.." Trailing off, she glances askance, out towards the length of the harbor.
Anfini's tempestuous mood is thrown entirely by the wayside, now that an interesting thing has made itself manifest. His trousers and shoes sluice cold saltwater as he wades further up the shoreline, easing himself down into a squat to have a look into the cage. "It's very young," he observes, though does not divulge whether or not this is a good thing. "So, then, you're serious about this. And how, pray tell, do you intend to lethally goad its curiosity?"
You have emoted: The cat looks up with wide eyes and paws at the door of the cage with a mew when Anfini crouches down to investigate it. Idriya stands there, hands still in her pockets, watching the two with a casual glance. "It is," she agrees, nearly cooing, before taking on a more neutral, down-to-business tone. "I haven't thought much about it yet. Off the top of my head, maybe an obstacle course of sorts, or a series of them. Put something at the end that catches the cat's eye, and block access to it with, I don't know, pits full of, say, spikes or acid." She sets a knee in the sand and pokes a couple fingers through the cage to scritch its ears, which elicits a nuzzle and another mew in response. "Of course, the final pit will be too far to jump across, so this would be the deciding factor of whether or not a cat's curiosity is too much for its own good."
Anfini cups a loose fist over his mouth and nose, his shoulders jerking as he laughs near-silently into his hand. The sound is that of a schoolboy's naughty snickering. "I-- I'm sorry, I--" he pauses to take in a sharp breath, "I am just imagining the Conduit's face when she reads the report of how young Idriya prodded a kitten through an obstacle course." In a show of mean-spirited fun, he slaps the top of the cage roughly.
You have emoted: The cage rattles when it's slapped, and the noise is enough to cause the little cat to shrink back, ears flattening. A grin forms across Idriya's face and she just ducks her head, digging the toe of her boot into the sand. "If everything goes right, I certainly won't have to prod it!" she says, half-laughing, "The cat should seek the reward at the end on its own."
Anfini watches the cat impassively, countering its fearful display with a grim scowl, likely one practiced on subordinates and children. This seems to lift his spirits immeasurably. He rises to his feet and dusts wet sand off his trousers. Hands thrust into the pockets of his coat, he cocks his head aside at a slight angle and stares at you for a moment. The feeling that one is being sized up is inescapable.
You have emoted: Idriya's grin eventually fades after she huffs a breath to clear her mind, looking back down at the cat in the cage (which has by now scrunched up in the corner from Anfini's evil-eye.) Once she looks back up, though, she catches Anfini's look and pauses as if seizing up. "I, uhm, what is it, Doctor?" she asks meekly.
Anfini strides forward all of the sudden and begins to circle you like some territorial wolf, repeatedly scanning you from head to toe. From time to time he will flick out a wrist, flourish his fingers, or toss back his head melodramatically. "You know this is a waste of time," he states. "Look at you. Look at--" He gestures near-violently to himself. "Look at -me-. We're analyzing sand and torturing animals, when we should be working toward the next big step."
Anfini looms in close and lowers his voice. "The Immortal Prime," he says.
You have emoted: Idriya turns slightly to watch Anfini as she's circled, keeping his eyes on him the whole time but never quite making eye contact. She can only nod in realization when Anfini speaks up, biting down on her lip as he close in. It's evident from her body language that she's not used to having people close to her. "The -- Immortal Prime?" she repeats. "I mean, I've heard of it, but --".
"The missing puzzle piece," Anfini continues. He clutches your shoulder in a moment's emphatic grip, half-squeeze and half-shake, and it's then that you can see the red tinge in his eyes. Backing off, throwing his hands over the sea in a covetous gesture, he shouts, "The universal truth! The component to make a man into a god!" He utters a laugh. Then, a pause. Then another couple of laughs, his voice hitting a high note. "We should experiment on ourselves! Or on others! We should cut open our vessels and tease out their secrets!"
You have emoted: Idriya is more or less stunned by Anfini's sudden outburst. After he back away, she rubs her shoulder and simply watches him break out into a fit of -- whatever it is that Anfini's doing. It takes her a moment, but she covers her mouth and blurts out a giggle of her own. She frankly doesn't know whether she's terrified, amused, or just as mad as Anfini.
Exayne swiftly gallops in from the northwest.
"It's there, it's-- it's there and waiting, we just have to find the right sequence, the right combination of factors... " Anfini's left sleeve bulges, abruptly. It pulses, the fabric swelling and then collapsing into normal shape. Breathing through flaring nostrils, he turns again, and affixes you with an iron-hard stare, his grin just a touch unhinged. "Look at me. I've lost myself again. You have to start small, you have to work your way-- Exayne!"
Anfini is so utterly sidelined by Exayne's arrival that when he takes his customary bow, he almost pitches over into the sand. He begins to fish for a cigarette.
Exayne pauses a moment to take in the surrounding and his colleagues before inclining his head towards first Anfini then you.
Exayne smiles wryly.
Exayne Furor, the Black Hand asks, "The curious cat experiment eh?"
Exayne Furor, the Black Hand asks Dr. J. R. Anfini, Seven-Hand, "What're you doing down there Doc?"
You have emoted: Idriya freezes up at that sharp stare like she's been run through with it, but upon hearing Exayne's arrivel, her spell is broken. She turns around abruptly and puffs out a breath of perhaps relief, the chilly air barely fogging up. "Actually, we were just discussing -- I mean, I'm not going to -- well -- I --" She gestures haphazardly as she stumbles along in her speech before giving up entirely with another sigh. "No, not the curious cat experiment."
The sun, symbol of the triumphant light, rises upon the eastern horizon, casting its first timorous rays.
The Gods' bells sing out from the Temple, with the bell of Ethne, the Rekindled at the forefront, heralding the coming dawn.
The bell of the Unbound Lord rings out low and sonorous, beckoning the citizens to morning prayer.
The tones of the Gods' bells fade away, leaving the dawn sky silent.
Exayne holds up a hand for a moment as the bells ring out. Pausing for a moment after they stop he mutters, "Bloody racket." before enquiring of you "What's the cat for then?"
Anfini speaks over you around the moment "curious" has left your lips. "I was being incorrigibly rude, and distracting the young intern from her studies with my mad ramblings," he explains. He has lit his cigarette with such practiced swiftness, that he seems to draw smoke from it before it's even aglow. Several more spent smokes litter the sand around him.
Exayne shrugs helplessly.
Exayne Furor, the Black Hand says, "Well...whatever you two were doing here alone...with a cat...don't let me stop you... "
"Absurdity," Anfini accuses.
You have emoted: Idriya looks down at the little cat in its cage, which seems to be shivering slightly in the cold morning air. With a glance back up, she opens her mouth as if to say something, but pauses as she reconsiders. "I -- found it on the streets and was going to give it up to a good home," she half-murmurs.
Exayne's expression remains serious apart from the slight pull of his lips which betray his mockery.
Exayne Furor, the Black Hand says, "I see."
Exayne pulls his cloak tighter around himself against the chill morning wind.
"Nonsense. Carry on with your experiments - it's not the results you get that are the point, it's the format, the method, the technique." Anfini explains all this to you in an urgent tone, breathing around his plumes of cigarette smoke. "Don't let me discourage you. I'm impatient, I'm a perfectionist, and I'm a hopeless idealist, something these - unspeakable barbarians-" A glance given to Exayne, "Could not hope to understand!"
Exayne's eyesbrows raises a little at the sleight before he shrugs and kneels to examine the cat. "Cute little bugger" he murmurs before wagging his fingers at it while making some really odd noises.
You have emoted: "Well, if you insist, Doctor," Idriya starts, reaching down to take ahold of the cage, "I'll get on with the experiment. For the sake of the --" She's interrupted by a loud 'mew' and looks down at the shivering cat. "Awwh... you're cold. Here, this should help..." Any sense of scientific formality or emotional distancing goes out the window as she peels off her flowing black formal robes, wrapping it about the cage to stifle the breeze.
Exayne pushes himself to his feet with the aide of his staff and looks approvingly at you.
Anfini looked just about ready to get on his merry way, but the sight of a young woman disrobing, even partially, arrests him. He pauses just long enough to establish that he's noticed, uttering an approving "ah-heh", a grin cracking across his features. "Mr. Furor, intern, it's been a pleasure. I think I've studied enough sand to span Epochs. If you'll excuse me."
Exayne grins towards Anfini before offering, "Enjoy the rest of your morning Doc."
You have emoted: "Don't worry! I'll think of something else!" Idriya offers in parting to Anfini, lifting up the robe-covered cage in her hands. "I'm sure there's a million more experiments out there that don't involve dipping adorable little baby kitties in acid, lookitchu!" Her speech turns into baby-talk as she mentions the cat -- and the acid.
Anfini's shoulders bunch up in a jerk, and he utters a surprised snorting noise deep from within his throat. His pace slowed only for a moment, he excuses himself.
Anfini leaves to the northwest.
Exayne glances quizzically at you, "What was that you just said?"
You have emoted: Idriya looks up, a flush across her face, "Uhm, that it's an adorable baby kitty?"