“I don’t believe I will ever grow accustomed to your silence, Morrisa,” Duncan murmured, lightly swirling a beaker of a thin, violet, faintly luminescent substance. “So many others… well. They all talked. Incessantly. And though I wished for silence, I never realized how… odd… it could be.” Another moment of methodical twirling of the glass distracted him. “Yes. Hm. Quite odd indeed.” He carefully poured the now-pulsating fluid into a thin glass dish and watched it closely.
“I don’t have much to say,” the girl said simply, cigarette bouncing between her lips with each word. “Talk is cheap, as they say, no?” She returned her attention to the thick volume before her, lovingly caressing the edges of the pages as she read.
He grunted in agreement, eyes transfixed by the throbbing mass in the Petri dish. “But I talk to you,” he said, sniffing. “I have told you much of my travels and… adventures, shall we say? I’ve taught you so much.” He prodded at the purple glob with a thin metal tool and the entire thing deflated, never to stir again. He sighed. “You’re an excellent student and quite the apprentice, Morrisa, but is it so much to ask for a little conversation?”
He rolled his eyes. “When I saw you in that inn, I knew you had so much… potential. So much promise. And you have exceeded every expectation!” He unceremoniously dumped the dish into a small bowl of equally-failed specimens. “You have progressed so quickly, beyond the level of students with years of training, not just your scarce few months. I give you everything and yet you spend your waking hours with your nose buried in every book in my library.”
He slid from his stool and turned to face her. Morrisa was completely enthralled with the book before her. Her cigarette burned, now quite ignored, in the ashtray next to her. Her wine glass, still nearly full, was frozen halfway from the table to her lips. She scarcely blinked. Sighing again, he crossed the room quickly. “What are you even read… oh, fel.”
She looked up at him with two deep pools of unending blackness. “Him,” she said simply, tapping a slender finger on the book.
He snatched the book from the table and closed it with a snap, the ancient spine creaking in protest. “No,” he said matter-of-factly. “No, Morrisa. You are a quick study, truly, but that is a bit… beyond you.” The subtle change in the arrangement of her features instantly told him that he had gone about this completely wrong.
“You took me on as your apprentice, yes?” she asked, snuffing her cigarette and lighting another. “For my talent, for my ambition. Not my lack of ambition, no?” He rolled his eyes, shelving the book as she continued. “If this is not ambition, than what is, Duncan? Shall I tell you I will summon a pit lord upon your laboratory? Of course not.” She inhaled deeply, her body tingling as the heady blend of her smoke rushed through her. “No, this is well within my grasp and you know it.” She sidestepped him and snatched the book from the shelf. Flipping it open, she spun the page around so he could see. “The steed will be mine.”