((Ah! I’m sorry, Master! Just getting my thoughts together…))
Her hand moved to play with her hair, a bad habit she had, but remembering she cut her hair off, she lowered it back to her side. Mae bit her lip, waiting for his storm to unleash its wrath on her persistence. How meaningless was her verbiage, and she wondered how severe his decry would be. But his voice instead turned…soft. It was pleasant surprise of course but, how unwonted! She was expecting to get a hearty smack. But his demeanor was rather gentle as he politely (imagine that) declined her.
Her mind was already preparing what to say. “Yes, I understand, thank you Master” or “Whatever, didn’t want to hang around such a grump anyway” or a simple bow and leaving it all be.
Her brown eyes suddenly lit up, turning from murky to hopeful. What did he just say?! HE WAS ACCEPTING HER!? Either he had to be a complete idiot or the bravest man in the world. Heck she didn’t even know what “imprudence” meant, but that seemed to do the trick! Maybe he wasn’t as nefarious as THEY thought he was…
Ling Mae would probably have cavorted around, but she decided instead to try to seem more grown up by bowing the way her mother taught her. She said, “Your time will surly not be wasted with me! And one chance is all I need.” Though Ling was ill experienced, she never had low confidence. Though by appearance Mae seemed feckless, her spirit was strong.
She was ready for whatever Hua would dish out.
Was she really? Hua Tuo was already starting to regret this at her excitement, rubbing the back of his neck in discomfort. “…Well, at least you’re enthusiastic.” Still, though, he wondered if he was making the right choice, giving a chance to a girl who clearly was unqualified. He began to walk, finding the marketplace far too crowded for this, and headed for an open space outside the city… Which, almost ironically, ended up being where it all began.
“…” He leaned against the same tree he had once sat under, and almost immediately the man seemed to blend in with nature itself, serenity rolling off of him as he stared enigmatically at Ling Mae. “…Your task is a relatively simple one…” He pulled out a jade figure if a man, letting it rest on his palm as he held it up to show her before handing it over. “You must keep this figurine from my capture for twenty minutes.” It sounded simple. Far too simple. There were representations and parallels to this task, obviously, but what they were was a mystery.
He waited for her to take the figurine and then brushed back a silvery strand from his face before he sat comfortably beneath the tree. Tucking his hands back into the sleeves of his robes, his eyes slid shut as serenity and peace with nature once again filled his presence. “…You have a five minute head start. Go.” And he waited, slowly ticking off the seconds.
((No problem! Really, it isn’t! And sorry Ling Mae is annoying and this post so long c:))
When Hua turned his back to her yet again, Ling’s brown eyes became muddy and brackish. No one had spoke to her that way before…no one. Even when she was a much younger child she was disciplined with stern yet soft voices. There was no harsh language, or insults. The village she lived in was so full of love and respect. It was because of that…day that made Mae the way she was. She stood alone again, with no where to go, with no one to turn to. The late afternoon sun set itself heavily on her exposed shoulders. She patted her eye with the sleeve of her torn dress. She wouldn’t cry…even though she knew she was useless, she refused to shed tears. She was strong.
Now her mind pulling itself back together, she realized that the man mentioned his name. Her expression lit up. “H-hua…Hua Tuo?!” She said in a whisper. The most brilliant mind (well, next to the strategist Kongming she so admired) in China!! Looking left and right, she caught no glimpse of him. Her breathing became heavy, and she struggled through a crowd of people to find him again. She had to apologize. She was so focused in looking for him, that she almost walked right by the small shop he was standing.
“Master Hua Tuo! Forgive my imprudence, I know you are sick of me, but I had to apologize for…” Her voice trailed off. Wait a second. “…Master Hua Tuo, even if you are called a doctor, I do not understand why that would insult you so. You save lives, Master. That’s more good than I have ever done.” All she had done was kill…all she had ever done was destroy innocent lives. She could have save them…she could have saved them all. But she didn’t.
Reflecting on that nightmarish day brought sharpness to her voice. “Please, if you would allow me to be your student. I’m a fast learner, I’ve always been. Not just medicine but political affairs, language, geography, anything! I’m much more than a mere woman. I have potential and strength, Master Wei Yan told me that once.”
Realizing she was talking to much…again, she shut her mouth.
Finally, peace of mind… Well, as much peace of mind as one could get in a bustling market. He patiently waited for the bandages as he brought the pipe to his lips once again, clear eyes half lidded and lost in thought about the nature of the world around him, as scholars tend to do. He was eventually torn from these thoughts at the appearance of his order, and just as he paid… His peace of mind shattered into pieces. She appeared again. How even…
That woman was the most stubborn woman he had met- Wait, no… He had met worse women, but this one ranked among the top ten. An eyebrow twitched, the once calm gray eyes now darkening like a storm as they settled onto her, frown on his face as he tucked away his order. He was about to speak when she ever so rudely cut him off, rambling about how he saved lives and she took them and how she was a fast learner and…
…Oh, great. Another child trying to become his apprentice. She seemed sincere, yes, but really, what made her different from all the others? …Besides the fact that she was a woman and had the hardheadedness of a mule. “You do realize many have requested the very same thing, don’t you?” His tone of voice changed in the slightest, almost a bit more… Gentle, as he began to turn her down, repeating the same speech he usually had. Despite his disdain for most people, he could not help but be the slightest careful when rejecting those who sought to be his apprentice. “I have never heard of this Wei Yan, nor does his recognition of your skills matter even if I had. Many greater and more talented have come with recognition and recommendations from famed colleagues of mine, and all have been rejected. Your answer will be no different from theirs.” As to why… Well, he just never saw the proper potential shine through. And this one did not have a lick of potential he saw useful.
…Jiao, on the other hand, seemed to differ. A whine in the back of his mind told him that the pipe did not want to part with the woman, though he could not fathom why. The pipe was insistent, though, the smoke circling about his head pleadingly. He frowned, then gave a sigh that clearly said he gave up. “…It seems your answer will be different, in the slightest. One test, with only one chance. If you succeed, I will… Hm. Take you as a temporary student, you could say. At least you would have a serious chance.” Which was far more than he gave the other prospects, to be sure. To be honest, he didn’t even want a student, perfectly content to seek knowledge on his own, but it seems Jiao saw something he could not in her. Curiously, he asked it why in his mind, and received what could only be described as a mental shrug in response. Wonderful. His pipe was acting on gut feelings when it didn’t even have a gut, and he was following along with it.
It was truly turning out to be an irritating day…
Mae had an ambrosial expression on her face. Her mouth curled into a smile, exposing her small teeth. Her rather round cheeks lifted, and she cheered, “Victory!” She felt as if she had just convinced an enemy officer to join her faction. Though her expression lightened, Mae’s voice did not catch on and did not become beatific.
Getting over the fact that he had said something, Ling Mae pondered his question. She rested her pointer finger against her nose, and her thumb against her lip, so her hand formed an L shape.
She arrived to no real conclusion. She patted her pointer finger against her cupids bow. “I took you as a challenge, I suppose. And to be honest, you’re a fairly interesting person to look at.” She used the word “interesting” to refer to hair color, and his birthmark was it? “And I also use to train under my Baba when I was a kid. He was a healing man himself.” Ling Mae let herself slip away momentarily into the kind face that was her father’s. Waking up she said with some sort of edge, “You’re nothing like him though, so it’s not like you remind me of him.”
Interesting. That was an… Well, interesting way to put it. His brow raised in the slightest at almost thought she wouldn’t be that bad… When she called him a healer. Immediately a scowl appeared on his youthful face. “I am NOT a doctor, dammit. I am a scholar! Hua Tuo the Scholar, not the Doctor.” And yet his name was renown in the world simply as a man of medicine. Simply because he was talented at healing did not make him a doctor of any sort! Such an ignorant world!
He brought the pipe to his mouth for a moment before removing it and allowing a billow of smoke to stream from his lips, and one could almost see a vein pulse on his forehead in anger. He began twirling the pipe in his fingers, eyes narrowed as he inwardly raged at the world’s ignorance, all but forgetting the young lady was there. The pipe smoke left Ling Mae to return to Hua Tuo’s side, brushing against him as if to cheer him up, though he waved it away and muttered a “Leave me be, Jiao.”
It was a moment later he remembered the girl behind him and turned on his heel towards her abruptly, unmoved even if she ran into him. “I tire of you, leave. I don’t care for any companions, much less useless ones. I’m sure the idea of travelling with me excites you, for one renown as myself, but I refuse to have a woman ride at the hem of my robes, much less a child.” He turned again, stalking off towards a shop selling bandages. He curtly ordered some, watching as they scrambled to do as he said, then looking towards some herbs nearby, considering their price and worth as he stubbornly nudged the girl into a different part of his mind, the part where things were forever abandoned and ignored.
[OOC: asdasI’M SORRY I TOOK SO LONG and I’m sorry Hua Tuo is such a dick.]
Her voice was annoying, but not that annoying. In fact, it was different from most women, who were either irritatingly soft spoken or had mind rending squeaks. He could tolerate listening to her for a while. Hua Tuo popped the last slice of orange into his mouth, discarding the peel to the side as he pulled out a cloth from his bag, wiping any juice on his hand away. He made a humming sound to her question, which could have meant anything.
Then she mentioned how wise he was. His ego blew up some, a hint of a prideful smirk on his face. Of course he was wise! He was a scholar, after all, one of the best! But he still didn’t answer as he returned the pipe to his lips, the smoke swirling about him a little more energetically. Even with his silence, he seemed a little more… Upbeat at this. Or perhaps mildly arrogant. The smoke itself ventured back to the woman, brushing against her clothes as if to get an idea of her, like a dog getting the scent.
After a moment he finally deemed to speak. “…Just why are you following me?” Because really, what woman randomly followed a man she met?
He was eating a slice of orange when she started again. Damn, he had forgotten she was there for a moment. But this time, her words were not full of anger. Oh, has she seen that little moment with the boy and his mother and she was feeling bad? Hmph, served her right.
…And she apologized, and it seemed a bit hard for her to do. If Hua Tuo was honest with himself (and he never was), he was mildly impressed. Humans rarely managed to overcome their pride to admit their mistakes. Of course, he did not show this outwardly, but glanced at her, popping another slice of the sweet fruit in his mouth before continuing. Alright, he’d listen. For now. But he was going to be shopping while doing so.
[Oh god I’m sorry this is so short. @___@]
She wasn’t leaving him be. Damn it all. And apparently she took his pipe’s odd fondness for her rather well, from what he could hear. But he was going to steadfastly ignore her. They were an odd sight, to be sure, a woman who was far too bold and a man who looked like a spirit gliding through the crowd. The pipe’s smoke seemed to silently… Purr, at her, as if amused by her attempts to wave it away. Hua Tuo himself was almost ready to slap the woman for her audacity and persistence, but kept to himself. He stopped by a stall to buy an orange, still ignoring the woman when he heard a voice. “Hey, Mr. Ghost!” He blinked, looking down as something tugged at his robes. It was the boy again. He noted a woman behind the boy, who he assumed was his mother. She smiled thankfully at him. “I’m so sorry you troubled yourself with my son. Thank you for healing him, he’s such an adventurous boy…” “Thanks Mr. Ghost!” “I’m not a ghost, dammit.” He said off handedly, looking down at the brat who seemed nonplussed. “And its no problem, I’m used to children being children. It was nothing.” He seemed mildly uncomfortable with the thanks. He was more used to, and even preferred, more animosity from his patients due to his less than pleasant nature. The woman seemed to notice and gave a brief bow, thanking him again and dragging her son off, who waved until they were lost in the crowd. He sighed lightly, peeling the orange and taking a slice, chewing and completely forgetting about the woman behind him as he continued to walk.
She wasn’t leaving him be. Damn it all. And apparently she took his pipe’s odd fondness for her rather well, from what he could hear. But he was going to steadfastly ignore her. They were an odd sight, to be sure, a woman who was far too bold and a man who looked like a spirit gliding through the crowd. The pipe’s smoke seemed to silently… Purr, at her, as if amused by her attempts to wave it away.
Hua Tuo himself was almost ready to slap the woman for her audacity and persistence, but kept to himself. He stopped by a stall to buy an orange, still ignoring the woman when he heard a voice.
“Hey, Mr. Ghost!” He blinked, looking down as something tugged at his robes. It was the boy again. He noted a woman behind the boy, who he assumed was his mother. She smiled thankfully at him. “I’m so sorry you troubled yourself with my son. Thank you for healing him, he’s such an adventurous boy…”
“Thanks Mr. Ghost!”
“I’m not a ghost, dammit.” He said off handedly, looking down at the brat who seemed nonplussed. “And its no problem, I’m used to children being children. It was nothing.” He seemed mildly uncomfortable with the thanks. He was more used to, and even preferred, more animosity from his patients due to his less than pleasant nature. The woman seemed to notice and gave a brief bow, thanking him again and dragging her son off, who waved until they were lost in the crowd.
He sighed lightly, peeling the orange and taking a slice, chewing and completely forgetting about the woman behind him as he continued to walk.