2019-05-27: Life Lessons from Professor Ragnell

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  • Log: 2019-05-27: Life Lessons from Professor Ragnell
  • Cast: Ivan, Seraph Ragnell
  • Where: Mi'ihen Highroad
  • Date: May 28, 2019
  • Summary: Ragnell comes across Ivan angrily exterminating fiends and decides to tease him a little.

=============================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>=============================

Many years ago, a man named Lord Mi'ihen, commander of a mercenary group known as the Crimson Blades, was summoned by the Grand Measter to Bevelle to answer the challenge that his group was a threat to Yevon. Though his followers suspected he would be executed and begged to follow, Mi'ihen ordered them to stay behind and walked along an old path to Bevelle, without stopping to rest. 

Moved by the display of piety, the Grand Maester formally adopted Mi'ihen and his soldiers into Yevon as a defensive force, known now as the Crusaders. In recognition of the momentous moment, the path Mi'ihen walked now bears his name.

...except not really, because the original one was wrecked by Sin a few hundred years ago. You can still see bits of it as you pass along the Highroad, on which the Djose Temple can also be found.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8tfe_H7bzw
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan is headed back to rejoin the Guard after a certain incident on the Thunder Plains involving cake and attempted murder. It has given him a lot to think about, in theory, but he doesn't really want to think about anything daunting like his role in life or his relationships to other people, so he is being very noisy in order to attract as many fiends as possible during his journey.

After scattering some sort of monstrous fungus into pyreflies with a final swing of a longsword, he lets the blade rest with a weighty thunk on the ground and looks around himself for another potential 'challenge'.

"Well? Who's next! Don't be shy! I've got enough for all of you!"

Well, it's a good thing these are almost certainly paranormal entities of great evil, and not just regular wildlife, otherwise this would be a really troubling thing to be doing. Possibly it still is! But at least the road will be safer.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

    Cake and attempted murder! Verra nize. That sounds like a party Ragnell will be sorry she missed. For the time being, though, she'll have to deal with Ivan being noisy and attracting all sorts of attention, including her own. The thing about picking fights with anyone who comes near is that, well... you never know who or what might come near.
    
    She watches for a while as he slices through fiend after fiend from the shadows of a nearby ruin, shoulder leaning on stone. When the road is finally clear, she claps loudly to get his attention in turn and strolls on over to join him.
    
    "Hey! Nice slayin'," she drawls. "You're better at murderin'n' most. But I guess that follows." She comes to a stop a respectful distance away, but there's nothing respectful about her knowing grin. "So what's the occasion? You seem a li'l riled up there, buddy."

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan doesn't startle, exactly, because he was already in battle mode and ready and hoping to be snuck up on, but when he turns to face Ragnell, she can see he looks a little crestfallen at having to interact with a person instead of just doing more slicing and dicing.

"What? I'm a normal amount of good at murdering," he protests, reflexively. His brain does a quick spin trying to place where he knows Ragnell from and which version of himself he's supposed to be. Right, one of the women he accidentally threw fruit at in a temple. Knows him as a Guardsman. Seemed to get some amusement out of teasing him for some reason. Cautious glower, it is. (Were there really that many other options in his repertoire?)

"There's no occasion, I'm just really into safety." He pauses, trying to remember something he knows about her to get the focus off of himself. "Spira is a smaller place than I thought, to run into you again. How has all of your...um, flirting been going?"

Roaming this mythical land picking up ladies... this is all he knows of your life, sorry Ragnell.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

    'What? I'm a normal amount of good at murdering.'
    
    "Uh huh," Ragnell replies, half-smirking, amusement slathered thick on her tone and body language. "An' what exactly is 'a normal amount of good at murderin?" She twirls a finger towards the last of the pyreflies as they wisp away. "Considerin' how the normal folk in the cities talk about fiends, I'm pretty sure soloin' a bunch in a row ain't normal." Her smirk widens into a grin, and she winks. "Sure you're not tryin'a' be the next White Knight Leo~?"
    
    Really into safety. Ragnell snort-laughs at that, too. While she hardly knows Ivan--has only met him the once--she recognized him as Talia's brother (the family resemblance is striking) and if *she* was an assassin, well... He brings up her flirting, though, and she blinks twice before roaring with laughter and slapping a thigh.
    
    "It's goin' pretty damn great!" she crows. "Not hard when you're a hot stud like me!" She grins wolfishly and winks at Ivan. "Why? Were you lookin' for some pointers on how t' get with the ladies~? With a face like that, you really jus' need t' learn how t' smile! So, what, that's only *one* mountain t' climb. You're practically already there!"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan senses that the murder retort was not very convincing. He vanishes his sword into his ring with a small flash of light, and folds his arms, nodding too-enthusiastically at the suggestion she offers.

"Yes, you caught me, I want to be just like White Knight Leo." What -- wait, that wasn't even that far from the truth, why did it sound like an even bigger lie?! Why did Lubov ever think it would be a good idea to send him on a long-term assignment...

She accepts the comment about flirting with hearty laughter, and expertly turns it right back around on him.

That was... pretty complimentary, as teasing goes. Normally he would immediately discard the possibility, but Talia has had pretty good success turning heads with nearly the same face, so there's probably some truth in it. He would probably need not just smiles but a whole different history and personality, though. He chews on a couple of different expressions in response to the comment, most of them uncomfortable to one degree or another.

"I've never flirted in my life, I think," he says, dodging the question a bit. "I've probably smiled a few times, but there were no dramatic effects."

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

    Ragnell glances at Ivan's ring as he dismisses the blade into it, before focusing back on the young man himself. His excess of enthusiasm, and his truth-that-sounds-like-a-lie, gets him more loud laughter.
    
    "Oh, I caught you at *somethin'*, I'll bet," she drawls, grinning wickedly. "Maybe it's not that you wanna *be* Leo... maybe you wanna be *with* him instead! Ooooh, I'm burnin' up here! Live with passion, young man, and scorch yourself on love!" And then, with another boisterous laugh, she attempts to slap him on the shoulder. It's totally friendly and not at all at his expense, we promise.
    
    His attempts to go through a few different expressions at her suggestion that he'd be more popular if he smiled more get more snorting snickers. "Yeah, I can tell," she says of his having never flirted. "Well, you could actually make that work for ya. There's a type of lady who goes *wild* for the broody, tortured type, an' you got that written *all* over you." She fakes a swoon, bending backwards with an arm bent over her forehead, and shoots him another smirk and wink.
    
    "Rescue a few cute girls from danger, mutter somethin' 'bout how it was the least you could do t' compensate for your sins, then stalk off, an' you'll have 'em hooked, guaranteed." A beat. "Unless you fuck it up. Then that's all on you."

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan reddens as Ragnell speculates about the nature of his admiration for Leo. He hasn't thought of him--or any other such legendary personage--in that way, but suddenly every possible avenue of response seems like it could do nothing but imply that he has.

"That isn't--I don't know how to deny things like that without making it sound like they're true!" he sputters.

Ragnell makes a suggestion, then, for trying to impress girls by saving them from danger, which honestly sounds embarassingly like a thing he did in real life a couple of times--except that the thing he was 'saving' them from was being assassinated by him, and they had to go into hiding afterward which ultimately wasn't very romantic and probably just sort of ruined their lives.

"Listen, I can't go around saving cute people to try to get them to be interested in me! I'm really busy with work and don't have any intention of becoming more pleasant, so that just isn't a thing for me."

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

    "Well, hey, you *are* smarter than you look!" Ragnell teases, reaching out to boop Ivan on the nose if he lets her. Whether she succeeds or not, she half-twirls away and strides off a few steps. If she knew about his embarrassing history of saving girls from himself, she'd have a few things to say about that, so it's just as well that she could only guess at it.
    
    "Weren't you listenin'? You don't *have* to become more pleasant with this method. You just have to be broody an' handsome an' mysterious, an' they'll chase after you all on their own." Ragnell shrugs broadly, shaking her head. "Right now, you just come off as cranky an' spazzy. You're not gonna charm anyone like that!" She twirls back around on one heel, looks him in the eye, and gives him a Worldly, Knowing Look. "...not even that one you *really do* care for."
    
    She's talking out her ass. But the thing about shots in the dark is that sometimes, they turn out to be a bulls-eye.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan sidesteps the nose boop and scowls, taking offense at the insinuation that he is un-charming even though he wholeheartedly agrees with it.

"Then I don't plan to be more broody and mysterious, either! Being cranky and spazzy and generally repellant is fine. It will save me the trouble of disappointing anyone who gets too interested."

There is a flickering thought of Lydia, who he recently had to dissappoint regardless. But that wasn't the same thing. Probably.

He takes a step backward as Ragnell pierces him with a Knowing Stare. "Person I really care for? Romantically? That's an empty category," he grumps.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

    Ahh, taking offense at the truth. Delivery really does matter, doesn't it?
    
    "Is it? Is it really?" Ragnell says archly, tilting her head down so her eyebrows can climb that much higher. "If it's an empty category, then, why d'you have to worry about disappointin' anyone?" She flashes her teeth in a wide, wide grin. "Could it be you've already got an interested party or two or three or five~? Mm, mm, mm. Livin' too wholly for your work will jus' make you unhappy, you know.
    
    "Especially if it's work you're not proud of."
    
    Another long, piercing look. Then, abruptly, she cuts it with a grin. "Like muck-rakin' or carryin' sticks or cleanin' up after the other Guardsmen's horses! I sure hope you take a bath a day, friend, 'cuz ain't *no one* wanna talk to a boy who stinks." And she waves a hand in front of her nose and rears back for effect. "Whew!"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"You don't have to want to be with someone for it to suck to dissappoint them." ...Even though it wasn't that kind of thing. Probably. Ivan's brows knit and his eyes get a little distant for a moment with the memory of upsetting Lydia.

"And there definitely aren't five."

Ragnell chooses that moment to needle him with a plausibly deniable dig at his real occupation, and can practically see the alarm bells going off in his head, even as she plays it off into an extended joke about manure and bathing. His posture tenses, readying to fight or flee.

"...Just who are you?" he asks. "You don't know anyone else in my family, do you?"

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

    "Oho. So there *is* one," Ragnell guesses, seeing that brief, distant look on Ivan's face, half-smirking as she splays her fingers over her mouth. "One person you don't want to disappoint, that is. Though, then again, that's true o' most folks, isn't it?" She shrugs broadly, this time one-armed. "Humans are social creatures. It's unusual for them to be so utterly alone that they don't have *anyone* they don't wanna get along with." Another wink. "Whether it's one or five or more~."
    
    Ha, looks like that last little joke landed on too solid a nerve to just laugh off. That won't stop Ragnell from trying, though, as she tilts her head and settles her hands on her hips. "I'm Ragnell! Pretty sure I told you that before. An' you were, uh... who were you again? An' what's your family got t' do with anything?" She smiles unpleasantly. "Do they *all* carry out the garbage?"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"Are you not a human?" Either way, she seems like a more social creature than he is, so he takes issue with that being a line to draw between him as a human and herself as a maybe-something-other-than-human.

"My name is Ivan."

While Talia did tell him about Ammy, and about Ammy's sister who died... Ivan either didn't catch or never learned her name. So he doesn't make the connection when she repeats it.

"No, my family doesn't carry garbage," he answers flatly, trying to restrain himself from taking the bait with that one because it's important to get a read on what Ragnell knows about him and what she intends to do with the information. "But I thought if you knew them you might have made assumptions about me."

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

    "Bingo~! *I* am an illustrious an' holy Seraph," Ragnell drawls, dipping into a deep and ostentatious bow, "so you better start scrapin' if you know what's good for ya, Mr. Althena's Guardsman." A beat. Then she grins. "Jus' kidding. I don't care if you worship me or not. An' you wouldn't even if I told you to anyway, right?" She shakes her head. "Anyway, jus' 'cuz I'm a Seraph doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talkin' about when it comes to humans. I *have* been watchin' your kind for over eight hundred years, after all."
    
    *Ivan*, that was it. Of course, whether Ragnell actually forgot his name, or didn't catch it in the first place, or secretly remembered is all beside the point. The point is to annoy him! Because annoying humans, especially annoying humans who are actually related to other humans she knows, is fun. "Hmmm... So what you're sayin' is that your family is full'a' the kind o' people that, if I knew them, I *would* make assumptions about you." She shrugs and shakes her head. "Garbage collectors or no, that kinda implies bad things any way you slice it, huh? Boy, I'm sure glad I can stand proud o' *my* family."

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"A Seraph!"

He looks at her anew, with widened eyes. She's nothing like the other Seraph he met, except for a similar level of surprise of learning such a person could be a Seraph. Seraphim must be, well, as different as humans. "It would be weird to worship you after you've made fun of me. And I'm not really that good at worshipping, either way." Ivan, aren't you supposed to be a Guardsman?

"Do you have an element?"

That may be a rude or personal question? But it's not like she hasn't earned a few rude or overly personal questions after spending at least ten minutes just continuously giving him shit over his hypothetical love life.

"I mostly just have a sister," he says. "And she isn't bad, but she uh... ... really hated her job."

He's got to learn to lie better. Or tell incomplete truths better. He's got to learn to be more convincing in general.

"Seraphim have family? ... is it a huge family?" Lifespans that can number more than eight hundred years seem like time to have a lot of kids if having kids is how Seraphim come into the world. She could have over a hundred siblings, possibly!

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

    They are indeed, and Ragnell would tell Ivan so if he'd said that aloud. Alas, he didn't. "You'd be surprised," she says, shrugging. "I guess you're not a devout adherent to the Church of Althena." She smiles again, just as unpleasantly as before. "Don't worry, Ivo. Your secret's safe with me."
    
    Ivan may or may not feel safe.
    
    "Lightning," she replies, mildly amused. "An' I'm a bit tickled that you take me at my word. Granted that jus' 'bout everyone can see us Seraphim here on Spira, but... You personally probably haven't met too many Seraphim before, if any, huh?" Though if nothing else, that other Seraph that Ivan met probably at least had the two-toned hair, though their secondary color would've been different. Either way, it doesn't seem to be all that rude *or* personal. Or maybe Ragnell just doesn't mind.
    
    A low chuckle. "Isn't bad, but hated her job, huh? I take it by your mixed use o' past an' present tense that she's not workin' that job no more. Well, good for her. I wonder if you think different, though?"
    
    Is it a huge family? Ragnell laughs at that too, shaking her head. "Naw. Seraphim don't really have 'family' per se. But sometimes we take a shine to certain other Seraphim, glom onto each other, an' form a bond that we decide t' call 'family.' Doesn't even matter if we're the same element type or not. I know two Earth Seraphim who call themselves brother an' sister, while *my* sister's a Dark Seraph." Hmm, how about that. "But no. It's jus' me, my sis, an' our two moms."

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan grimaces at the accusation about not being devout. "I'm just a mercenary," he says. "They probably know I'm not super into it." Pr...obably. Sometimes they say very unnerving things about their thoughts on the non-believers of Spira. Ivan isn't a nonbeliever -- the Goddess is very real, and he has the blessing of her magic to prove it. But he isn't very keen on devotion or obedience to whatever greater vision Althena wishes to work through humans. The Goddess has left enough things wrong locally that he's not very interested in her overall plan for the world.

"If you were just lying about being a Seraph, I guess it would be stupid to believe it so easily, but it would make more sense if you had a big scam going for it and were trying to get money or worship or something. And I've already met another Seraph who wasn't very impressive either."

There's a beat where he can be seen realizing how that sounded and considering whether to take it back, and then just letting it stand, either because it's too late and too awkward or because he still wants a little bit of payback for being teased.

"I think my sister is dating a Seraph? Which I thought was really weird at first but makes more sense now that I know you can mistake Seraphim for regular people."

"You, a sister, and two moms..." he echoes, thoughtfully. "Choosing your own family seems... complicated."

There's a small spark of jealousy at the concept that he chooses to ignore.

"Are your mothers together with one another, or is that not part of it and you could get as many mothers as you wanted?" Are these attempted family arrangements ever non-mutual? Can Seraphim have unreciprocated familial yearnings?

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

    "They 'probably' know, huh?" Ragnell echoes, dark amusement so thick you could use it as armor. "I'm pretty sure you know that's a load o' shit, Ivo. If they did know you didn't believe, you'd'a been strung up by your ears by now. You know Corwynt, right? Leo's two-eye-see? He's *scary* devoted. Althena Herself would go 'woah, you can dial it down a notch.'" She reaches out and, if Ivan lets her, pats him on the head. "Well, not like I care. The Church of Althena's a human construct, anyway."
    
    Ivan explains why he's willing to believe she's a Seraph. Lucky for him, she doesn't take offense at his implication--even laughs at it. "Lemme guess--middle-aged-lookin', portly Water Seraph, right? Lanval's a pro at gettin' people to underestimate him, so yeah, that makes sense."
    
    The part about his sister dating a Seraph mysteriously goes unremarked upon. Instead, she folds her arms behind her neck when he remarks on family-choosing seeming complicated. "My moms're together, yeah. I guess there could be more if they wanted t' make a polycule?" Ragnell muses. "But it's not exactly that easy. You can't just go up to someone an' say, hey, you, we're siblings now. It's a bond of the spirit, y'know? A soul connection. I understand blood bonds don't necessarily need t' mean anything. I mean, I've seen fathers sell their daughters, mothers send their sons off to war, an' children beat their parents to death. Maybe those folks had good reason for it, but isn't havin' good reason to do somethin' like that to your so-called flesh an' blood mean that birth family isn't as strong as everybody likes to pretend it is?"
    
    Silence for a moment, to let that sink in; then Ragnell shrugs. "Then again, we Seraphim don't *have* 'blood' connections, so take that with a grain o' salt. I know well you humans have a different perspective on these kinds o' things." Another pause, and she tilts her head. "You sure are curious about this, though. If your sis really is datin' a Seraph, why didn't you ask her about it?"
    
    A couple little hints. Ragnell waits to see if he picks up on them.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"I'm not not a believer," Ivan says, though the expression on his face suggests that Ragnell's point is well taken, anyway. There is something unnerving about the more dedicated members of the Guard, where it seems like if you ended up stepping beyond the bounds of their specific idea of of goodness, there's no telling what they might do in the name of righteousness. This would probably be more terrifying if Ivan weren't secretly a criminal. As it is, the quiet danger feels kind of right. It would be pretty irritating to get away with several dozen murders and be put to death for gambling or something, though.

She asks if he met Lanval, and Ivan affirms. She gives an explanation of spirit bonds, and Ivan nods along, though he still isn't sure if it's a decision or some kind of cosmic destiny thing.

"Yeah. Blood bonds are hit or miss," he says. He tries to keep any feeling out of it, even though it's a hell of an understatement. Ragnell has been trying to get a read on his family secrets, it seems -- or maybe already knows something about them and is trying to get him to admit them.

"But do Seraphim really never mistreat anyone they're soul bonded with?"

It seems like it would be quite a miracle if there was any kind of bond that somehow inoculated a person from any cruelty or betrayal.

The dig about his misplaced curiosity gets an awkward shrug.

"I haven't met her yet. My sister and I haven't been hanging out as much as we used to. And I didn't have the questions until we were talking and I thought of things I had questions about, anyway..."

Yeah, picking up subtle hints in conversation is not Ivan's strong suit.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

    "Uh huh," Ragnell replies, her smile knowing. She doesn't rag on him on the topic of his piety any further, though, so at least there's that. Ironically, her talk of blood bonds is just personal opinion--though all considered, of course it would hit close to home, considering his situation. The counter-question gives her pause, though. It sounds like he took her explanation a little too literally... though that's fine, too, honestly. But... Never?
    
    "At the very least, I've never met anyone who has," she replies, "though I'll grant ya that just 'cuz I've never encountered it doesn't mean it never happens." She shrugs. "If it happens, it must be rare. The whole point o' 'family' as far as Seraphim are concerned is that you *like* the people you consider family. That's why you end up with a bond strong enough to call family. An' sure, sometimes you might get on each other's nerves, but I figure, if you like someone, you're not too likely to mistreat 'em."
    
    Or at least that's Ragnell's perspective. But as she says, not knowing about something isn't the same as it not happening at all. Boudicca would probably give them both very interesting stories, if she were inclined to share. ...but that's another story, and someone else's story besides.
    
    Ragnell tilts her head at his response. So he hasn't been spending much time with Talia, huh. No, yeah, that makes sense. Talia left the flock, as it were. That'd be awkward at best. "Fair 'nough," she replies. "So, you feelin' any better now, champ?" A beat for him to express whatever confusion he might, and she adds, "You seemed pretty tight-wound when you were offin' those Fiends. You feelin' a little more relaxed now?"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"I have no idea if that's true," Ivan says, to Ragnell's speculation on whether people with chosen families are less likely to betray them. He simply hasn't met enough... people...to say. Or at least not enough people whose lives he knows well enough to hear stories of their intimate betrayals. He has a faint notion that spouses probably betray one another often enough to prove the theory wrong, but no numbers or examples to put behind it. There's his mother's absence, but... Lubov never saw fit to tell the twins the story behind that. And fleeing someone like Lubov could hardly be considered a betrayal, could it?

Ragnell asks if he's calmed down. He looks at her with confusion at first, as she expects, worried she's calling back to whatever secret she seemed to be teasing about earlier, but then flusters as she explains.

"I wasn't wound up! Didn't I say so?"

Yes, she just didn't believe you.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

    "It'd be an interestin' field study, at least," Ragnell muses. "Someone oughtta look into that someday." The implication that it's not going to be her. She's got plenty of other things going on, anyway; she can't indulge *every* whim that enters her head, or else she'd never get anything done. Gotta prioritize.
    
    He protests. She smiles and chuckles. "Ah, right. You did say that. Well, 'n, good on you for not gettin' wound up in the first place." She moves to pat his head again if he'll let her; then she starts to saunter off. Apparently, she's decided all on her own that the conversation is over. Ivan could pursue her if he wanted to, but that's up to him.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

In the process of kind of over-dodging the headpat and getting kind of riled up and indignant about it in his head, Ivan's attention is divided as Ragnell turns to leave, and he is a few beats late to process it.

"Well, all right, bye then, whatever?" he calls to her retreating form.

...That did distract him for a while, though, he supposes.