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A Crash Course in Behaviorism
Thu Sep 7, 2006 20:16 (XFF:

People fascinated Lysander. Not just any person, of course, was enough to ensnare his interest, as he would not dare consign the entirety of his amusement in a dull soul, after all. That would be just stupid, and boring to boot, he decided. Nonetheless, while a wheezy old dust-catcher might not be the most spellbinding subject over which to ponder, the Tairen lord who occupied his office at the present hour was quite another story. In fact, for all the bravado and sheer arrogance that appeared to compound the man’s very self, Lysander would not doubt for the slimmest of seconds that several gleeman tales could be penned about this man, each more comical than the last.

His parade before Lysander’s desk was little more than one long, drawn-out chassé. Even as he padded on the black, red, and gold rug beneath the fellow’s feet–the west’s finest, or one of–he appeared to look upon his surroundings as . . . as vulgar. As second-rate. The Shadow preserve him, but even if Lysander had gilded every last wall, had finished his boots with pure Arafellin silver, had inlaid with rubies every last bloody fork and chamberpot . . . he somehow doubted it would've been enough.

Lord Igleel Gorafes. An absolutely hideous name, deserved for every inch of him.

“. . . and history dictates,” Igleel continued deeply, pacing another genteel circle, “for that is what history does, as any scholar will tell you–and history dictates that the greedy will suffer, and the generous–well, generosity isn’t enough, simply, as it is to whom one is generous that decides one’s worth, for generosity to the wrong people–to Darkfriends, to Illianers!–will grant no one anything, and being such a great wealth of resources, it is expected by the global community that generosity on the Black Tower’s behalf would follow suit, though, as one must remember, the rewards must be earned, and House Gorafes has a long tradition dating back past your earliest forefather–oh, but you mustn’t think I intend to insult anybody’s House, but your bloodline cannot likely rival mine for purity, though I cannot presume to know how many generations Amadician is House T’hoth?”

It was the first sentence he had managed to finish in . . . in his entire tenure here, unless Lysander was greatly mistaken. Lysander peered at him levelly, weighing a tepid gaze upon the dark-haired, oily-bearded man. A tiny smile curved across his face. Oh, he hardly for the life of him could regurgitate the spiel Igleel had delivered, for it had been all one bloody mess of a sentence, syntax and grammar raped, beaten, and raped again. That did not matter. Communication was but ten percent verbal, and Lysander had gleaned more information from Igleel on sight alone than he knew what to do with.

In spite of his explicit self-worth, Igleel was secretly both eager to impress and to please. No Tairen lord owned more than four golden chains, certainly, and wearing all four meant he likely wanted to show off his wealth as well as act cultural; was imitating a Kandori culture, then? For a Tairen, perhaps. That he wanted to please was evident in how he was introjecting the world around him. Such was elemental behaviourism. By assimilating the world of the Black Tower, he would, logically, stand a higher chance of appeasing Lysander. Introjection was a subconscious thing, however, and the subconscious did not understand logic. It was pandering, but comically so. He could assimilate his surroundings by “acting” like the Black Tower, but how exactly does a tower act? Igleel’s interpretation was rather deliberate; his gracefulness was lost to emphatic steps, to a voice much deeper than normal, to sudden, harsh movements without warning. He wanted to sound “dangerous”; his voice was inflected with a gruffness. Almost too comical.


Lysander realized he was being addressed. Yes, of course. “I will not feign to know the history of my ‘House’ as you call it,” he intoned, his smile vanishing, “as my forefathers did not find it very practical to record the living history of a line of working-class paupers.” Igleel stopped abruptly, dark eyes blooming. “I will say, however, Igleel, that beating around the bush is tiresome. You wish to acquire resources from the Black Tower? You wish to require funds or–maybe even “and”, not “or”–militaristic protection? I will tell you then that the Tower is not a charity, and my men are not mercenaries to be hired out to the most transparent of causes. Unless you’d like to declare war against us, I’m sure there is nothing of interest you have to say to me.” It was a bit more of a . . . a prolix approach than he might otherwise have preferred, but men of Igleel’s idiom responded to one language and one alone. Superfluousness. The language of idiots and nobility alike. “You are dismissed.”

Seizing but a thimbleful of saidin–not that the Power could be measured in anything so corporeal–Lysander channeled the door open, gesturing freely. He did not smile still. The man went pallid, which was saying something, considering his coppery complexion, and spluttered as his departure was made. A textbook case of an inferiority complex, and Lysander didn’t consider himself to be anything more than “above average” regarding psychology, either.

Ditrii would know to send his next appointment in. The secretary was an efficient one, if slightly socially awkward–acceptable; Lysander did not wear his heart on his coatsleeve, either. Partway through his meeting with Igleel, Ditrii had mentioned that Asha’man Locke desired to see him. Locke was a fascinating man, though for reasons entirely different than Igleel. Igleel was fascinating in that he was transparent, or perhaps translucent at best. Locke, however, was an enigma. An intellectual, yes, but not haughty. An Asha’man, yes, but not a bastion of seriousness. He was not a stone. He had heart. Morals. Morale, too, on that note.

And yet he attended a lesson intended for Soldiers and Dedicated, Lysander thought. And yet he doesn’t wear Illusion to mask his disfigured irises. Locke was a deviant, certainly. Was he a nonconformist, or was he a madman? His story certainly didn’t purport the notion of channeling during the era of the taint on the male half of the True Source. Did he just like to seek attention? Did he need validation of his worth? One would think that the life of an Officer provided plenty of opportunity for validation, seeing as heroic, lifesaving missions were so commonplace as to almost be mundane. The pins on his collars acted as perpetual commendation, too. Was Locke so insecure, then, that in spite of a cornucopia of validation, he still suffered from an inferiority complex?

Lysander didn’t think so. Part of him just thought that Locke enjoyed being who he was for no reason other than because he could. Some people needed no more motivation than that.

Was Ditrii ever planning on sending the Asha’man in? “Come in,” Lysander supplied. Locke made his entrance, paying proper respect to Lysander with a salute and a bow (which was a nice change) as he closed the door in his wake. Lysander inquired, “What matter of great importance do you for me to consider, if it applies to you, and only you?”

The response was unexpected. “Poettre Valis beat me at stones, once.” And he procured a makeshift stones board, a folded piece of paper with the familiar grid scrawled on it. “I’m very curious to know if you can, too.”

Lysander could almost laugh, finding vindication in his previous thoughts. A deviant, yes. A rare Asha’man indeed would try something of the sort, making an entrance and . . . well, the “what” factor wasn’t important. “Why”, perhaps. A divertissement? Lysander couldn’t deny that he himself could do with a diversion; endless days of Iglees in various forms turning his office into their personal soapbox wore on the mind, suffice to say. Wore on the carpet, too. Carpets were expensive.

Eyeing Locke, he smiled, gesturing to the wooden chair in the corner. “Pull up a seat.” It was an offhand order, yet Locke complied, fetching the chair and seating himself on the opposite side of Lysander’s desk. Memos and reports and the like were skirted off to the side; aesthetically, at least, the business of the Black Tower was playing second fiddle to a game of stones. Lysander’s smile returned. “Would you mind if I were black? I have a special attachment to that particular hue, understandably.” And Locke surrendered a heaping handful of glossy black stones from his pocket, which Lysander accepted. He was still holding the Power, he realized, so he took advantage of the opportunity to channel a small cup-shaped basin of Air to the side of him in which he could place the little stones. He poured them in carefully, tying the weave off while he relinquished his hold on saidin.

Stones. And so he remembered, not in the burnt sienna that might otherwise accompany an artistic retrospective, but rather in a hazy, timeworn recollection. He saw his parents stooped over a makeshift board–not quite like this one, no, but one of wood. Oak, for its cheapness. The ink was faded and rubbed off, as they had not bothered etching in the grid, yet it was sufficient. Lysander pored over them, trying to figure out the game. Neither of them bothered to explain it to him. His father was, sans question, the better player. Indubitably. Still, in their absence, Lysander had practised the game. It was difficult learning by one’s self; while the basics were easily mastered, devising stratagems was another story altogether.

Black played first, and so he placed his first stone. “It’s an intellectual’s game, which is why too few within the Tower’s confines play it, and why even less play it well.”

OOC: I’m very sorry. That was much longer than I’d anticipated. *grins*

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    • A Crash Course in Behaviorism — M'Hael Lysander, Thu Sep 7 20:16
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