Page name: Zinnia Emere Schanfoor [Logged in view]
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Zinnia Emere Schanfoor
Historical and/or quasi-mystical, but she does not necessarily exist on Earth or in a strictly fantasy/magical world.
Race: Pacific Islander would best describe her appearance.
Appearance: Zinnia (which she pronounces ZEEN-yah) has a robust golden-brown complexion and deepset eyes of a somewhat peculiar tawny color. This, paired with her dark, coursely thick, curly mid-back length hair, she possesses something of an exotic quality. Her face is a little too broad, however, and her eyes a little too far apart to meet the traditional standard of beauty. The sizable gap between her two front upper incisors is frequently visible when she spreads her shapely lips into a broad grin. She is rubenesque lady and on the short side--only an inch or so over the five foot mark, who appears to have experienced her fair share of labor, as evidenced in the strong, ropey muscles of her calloused hands.
History: In her colorful ox-drawn caravan, Zinnia travels from town to village, choosing to stay for however long she desires, or at least until she gets bored. Whenever Zinnia arrives in a new destination, she might claim that she had relatives who, at some point in time, harkened from said community, and that is why she chose to settle there. By the looks of her conveyance, however, and the stories she would tell if anyone cared enough to ask about her past, it would seem that the woman settled in many places prior to coming to whatever location in which she arrives.
Rumors certainly abound: For the love of a man, she wrestled a bear [and won!] in distant mountains; she's the daughter of a terrible pirate and an island princess, and she floated to the mainland on the oversized leaf of some tropical lily; there is a birthmark on her left buttock showing the location of the fountain of youth; the gypsies she came to know life with in this world didn't even want her because of her supposed webbed toes, so she was discarded by a stream only to be adopted by a she-wolf...
Unless someone cares to ask, Zinnia does not care to clarify, and thus the stories continue to generate the mystique and allure she so relishes in.
Personality: Zinnia is at her core a warm, friendly and level-headed individual, though she might seem, to those not acquainted with her, at times aloof and perhaps deceptive. A definite air of mystery surrounds this woman, a quality she rather enjoys perpetuating, even to those with whom she becomes familiar.
In order to keep the upper hand, she will sometimes talk in circles; having a conversation with her can be pleasant experience or a convoluted mess. Zinnia does love to tell stories, and the line between truth and fiction is fuzzy at best. Yet, she insists that they are only stories, and it is up to the listener to decide what to believe and what not to believe. She is frank without being caustic, and prefers to speak her mind--when it pleases her to do so. She chooses to enjoy life, even when it might seem unbearable to others.
Occupation: Medicinal herbalist is Zinnia’s preferred occupation, though she may also read tarot or act as a seamstress for money. It depends on what mood you find her in, and what her current provisions are.
Abilities: As previously mentioned, Zinnia likes to tell stories. She seems to possess an almost preternatural ability to hold people’s attentions whether she’s spinning a fantastical yarn, or just talking about the chores she completed that day. Her rich, velvety voice has an accent that people may recognize but can’t quite place, and the animated method in which she expresses herself may have to do with why people generally like to listen to her speak. In additon, Zinnia has adopted folk traditions from many of the places she’s traveled, so, if she’s feeling generous, she might even treat you to a song or dance from some far-off locale.
A young, nervous looking woman poked her head around the door. Spying Zinnia she glanced down at a clipboard in her arms, checking that the woman in the room matched the one she'd been given a photo of. Apparently satisfied that this was the place she was supposed to be, she stepped round the door and into the room, smiling shyly at Zinnia. "Hi," she called, waving her hand timidly. "I'm here to ask you a few questions - if that's okay with you, of course?" She cleared her throat a little, and a faint blush crept across her cheeks as she thought of how silly she must look and sound to this other woman.
Previous to her interviewer’s entrance, Zinnia had seated herself, spreading her voluminous circle skirt, a patchwork piece of innumerable colors and designs, out about her laps and legs. She was already smiling vaguely, though her mouth broke fully into a curved expression of amusement, or perhaps enjoyment, at her timorous but polite company; it was not at all unkind or mocking, however. ‘Well, I shall see what I can do about getting you some answers, my dear,’ Zinnia simply replied before folding her work-worn hands in her lap, the gold and wood bracelets adorning both arms clattering and clinking appropriately with the movement.
The inspector gave Zinnia a quick, cheeky grin like that of a naughty child as she seated herself. Clearly, despite her nerves she was quite excited about this interview. "Well," she started, with another grin, "we've heard quite a lot about you from other people..." she paused, trying to figure out how to say what she wanted whilst worrying about whether she'd sound offensive, and cast her eyes to the ceiling, as is the habit of many people trying to think. She smiled at the recollection of some of the things she'd been told about the woman in front of her, and then continued, "...let's start with some of the more believable things we've heard - do you really have webbed toes?
With raised eyebrows, Zinnia quietly regarded the other woman as she commented on the familiarities of her life and being taken by others. Her face settled back into that same pleasant, but ambiguous, smile. A chuckle abruptly emanated from her throat, however, when the interviewer finally divulged her question. ‘These boots are time-consuming to properly fasten, you see, and I have neglected to bring my buttonhook,’ she began, unclasping her hands to raise the hem of her skirt with her right hand, and to direct the interviewer’s attention with her left. ‘If you would take my word for it…my feet are quite run-of-the-mill,’ she added, a small grin gracing her lips. 'Perhaps I would be a better swimmer, were they webbed.'
The woman grinned as she jotted a few notes on her pad and thought again about how to word her question, "So... so you can swim then? Who taught you?"
As the other woman posed her next question, Zinnia dropped the hem of her skirt, letting it fall back over the multitude of buttons adorning the leather boots, while affixing her dusky yellow eyes upon the interviewer’s own. A sign of interest in the question, or at least that she was listening. ‘It would be unfortunate for anyone to not know how to swim, don’t you think?’ she said, straying from the question. ‘There are so many fine points about swimming: It is a leisure activity, it is healthful for you, and it can save your life. A terrible pity to not know how to swim,’ Zinnia concluded before pausing. Then, as if she suddenly remembered the question, she added, ‘A whale taught me how to swim.’ The tanned woman smiled slightly, perhaps testing the interviewer.
The young woman gave a happy laugh, "but whales don't swim the same way people do," she said in that almost confidential tone a child might use to explain to an adult that the invisible dragon was in the other corner of the room. "How did he teach you how to use your arms properly?"
'Paikea,' Zinnia started, practically clipping the end of the interviewer's question, 'lived with his parents, down by the water.' This much would be obvious, if he were a whale. The rush that she seemed to be in to start speaking appeared to dissipate. Perhaps she was giving the woman opposite time to digest those words. 'His father,' she spoke again, 'made very fine boats. Paikea knew how to swim before he knew how to walk.' It was obvious by now that a whale, at least not in the literal sense, taught Zinnia how to swim.
Now the interviewer looked a little confused, and wasn't quite sure how to proceed. "P-Paikea means... 'whale'?" she asked hesitantly, her voice unsure and suddenly lacking in confidence.
'Yes, very astute; an honorable name to be given, really.' It seemed as if Zinnia took pity on the young woman, though, previous to her reply, there was something wicked in her expression that indicated she might take advantage of the girl's vulnerability.
The young woman nodded and, pulling a pen out of a pocket in her jeans, she made a small mark on the clipboard she had in front of her. Then she looked back up at Zinnia, smiling, but slightly wary - she was a little scared that this woman was going to make her look very stupid. She was sure she could, if she wanted to. "Have you ever heard of Moby Dick?" she asked.
When the interviewer made her notations, Zinnia zeroed-in on her clipboard, but then shifted her attention upward, to meet the young woman's face. 'Moby... Dick?' she inquired, both of her thick, dark eyebrows raised either in curiosity as to what that phrase meant, or incredulousness at the though that the girl was now making-up words. Zinnia shook her head; somewhere beneath her curly mass of hair something metallic gently jingled. More jewelry, no doubt, perhaps a spangled pair of earrings. Briefly she pursed her lips, then proceeded: 'Please enlighten me, dear one. What is a Moby Dick?'
"It's..." She paused to think about how to explain it, and then paused from the thoughts about how to explain it to reflect that maybe she should have done this part before she started talking, "a story about a whale," she continued. "And the whale is called Moby-Dick. There's a seaman called Ahab who spends is whole life trying to catch Moby-Dick because the whale attacked his ship and bit his leg off."
'Sometimes one gets what one deserves when one jumps into the ocean! Some whales are much kinder than others,' Zinnia said frankly before continuing, 'AH! But if you had asked me if I knew a man named Ahab, I could have said yes!' She spoke as if it had been obvious that that's what the interviewer should have done. 'Of course,' she then proceeded to ruminate, '...the Ahab I know is not a seaman. And he has both legs, though who knows what he's got hiding beneath those trousers!' She finished with a suggestive little chuckle and a small shrug.
The interviewer gave a surprised but genuine little laugh at Zinnia's remark. "Where did you meet the Ahab you know?" she asked.
'A vast sea,' Zinnia started, seemingly contradicting herself, '...of sand! Ahab was a nomad, much like myself; he and his people were currently living by the foothills of a desert mountain range. A hard life, that.'
'And did anyone own that desert?" asked the interviewer, her questioning taking a rather curious turn into the political or philosophical. She seemed to have forgotten her notepad for the moment, or, at least had no cause to make a mark on it, for she had not touched it since the initial question about swimming.
'Own the desert? I can't understand why people would want to live there... nonetheless own such a place,' was Zinnia's response. It sounded as if that was the most preposterous idea she'd heard in a while; most likely, the thought of political gain from land ownership was lost on a woman with relatively few belongings and no one area to call home. 'Could you imagine? Almost no trees, no guarantee of water... hot during the day and cold at night,' the dark-haired woman continued, though as if she were talking to herself. Suddenly, her golden eyes were again fixed upon the lady running the interview. 'Of course, cold nights are good for some things,' she said with an inkling of a smile.
The young woman grinned at Zinnia's comment and then shrugged, "Well, you know what men are like. They like to own things, and lots of it. Just so they can feel good about the fact that they own more of whatever it is than anyone else." She paused for a moment, still smiling. "Can I assu-" she paused, deciding that such a phrase as she had been about to use probably woudn't get her a useful answer from someone like Zinnia. "Are you single?" she asked, "If you don't mind my asking." She added, a small amount of her earlier bashfulness creeping back into her voice.
While the interviewer spoke, Zinnia inclined her head and narrowed her eyes slightly, as if trying to gently ascertain something about the inquisitive, yet bashful, girl. When the woman opposite started to ask her question, but smartly changed her choice of words, Zinnia raised her eyebrows, as if eager to pounce on her unrealized gaffe. Instead, she answered the question in her own way. 'Single? Only one,' she spoke slowly, deliberately, '...unique, sole, or...' she paused to chuckle and grin slyly, '... unattached.' At the moment she spoke the last word, she lounged back into her chair, propped her right elbow on the chair's arm and rested her chin upon the palm of her hand, the fingers of which were adorned in rings. She made a flourish with her free left hand, which was similarly bejeweled; she was wearing many a token and bauble, any of them could have been from a betrothal or a significant other. 'Unique? I would even concede that. But never unattached.'
"But attached to what?" Asked the interviewer, with a shy but perhaps slightly cheeky smile. She was starting to feel as if she was getting the hang of this conversation and how it might twist and turn.
‘Weh-ell, what is it that anyone is attached to? What is it YOU are attached to, my dear?’ Zinnia asked as if the answer was obvious. She did not wait for an answer. ‘Of course, the obvious: I have my caravan, the belongings therein, and I have Balfour.’ The final item on the list was her ox, though she obviously didn’t care to expound upon that detail. ‘Then there are the intangible attachments: relationships, and so forth. The distance I travel makes no difference in their accumulation. Love, friendship, my existence is rife with these bonds, and they never simply disappear into thin air!’ At the end of the sentence, Zinnia’s voice had reached a minor crescendo, and she sat up and fluttered her spangled hands, as if to illustrate the aforementioned act of disappearing.
The young woman found that there were several different questions she wanted to ask now, and thought through carefully before speaking again. "Who is Balfour?" she asked eventually, deciding to start at the top of her list of questions and work down if she could. She fiddled with the notepad she held, looking at it with a slight frown.
‘Balfour is my traveling companion and the power behind my means of conveyance. Brown, horned and shaggy, fourteen hands from crops to the ground. And a mighty good listener to boot,’ Zinnia responded in what she considered a straightforward manner, at least giving the other woman enough information to understand that he was an animal of some sort. With a slightly cocked head, Zinnia paused to regard the interviewer, then queried upon note of her frown, ‘There is something wrong?’
"So many questions, so little time!" the interviewer replied with her timid smile, by way of explanation. "You travel a lot, so you must know a lot of people - have a lot of attachments - bonds." she continued, 'which are the strongest?"
'Well! that is quite a question,' Zinnia said as if she was a mother who was asked to choose her favorite child. 'Anything regarding love is, of course, strong, always strong.' There was silence as the dark-haired woman set her unwavering attention upon the interviewer, her full mouth parted slightly as she poked the tip of her tongue out and ran it along her bottom lip. Zinnia might have been honestly processing the question in her mind-- or she could have been sizing-up the woman opposite. 'Ah-gap-ey... Philia... Eros.' She paused to smile, her next words prefaced by a throaty little chuckle, 'I could regale you with the most trite of love stories, starting with the eight-year-old boy who treated me like a princess, and almost died after breaking into a neighbor's yard to steal me beautiful flowers. Angel's trumpet is so toxic, how was he to know? Or the woman with birds I knew two decades or so ago. Birds in all shapes, colors and sizes. She prefered their company more than anything. Yris-- I learned some keen mimicry from her. Mating calls are quite handy, especially when one is hungry.' Zinnia stopped speaking and sniffed, and looked as if she was mentally appraising something.
The interviewer glanced rather desperately at the watch on her wrist, aware that she was running out of time. Or, rather, that she had precisely run out of time and that anything further would make her late. She fidgeted. As she listened to Zinnia she realised reluctantly that she wasn't going to be able to get the other woman to answer the question the way she herself wanted it answered but nevertheless, she was determined to have one more go. "Any agapeic loves?" she ventured.
The fleeting gander the interviewer gave her timepiece did not go unnoticed by Zinnia. So, naturally, when the transient woman started to reply, she took her time. 'Come to think of it... I did prefer the birds to Yris herself,' she gradually said, as if reaching back into the recesses of her memory to draw that snippet of information out. Once again, there was silence from Zinnia as a musing expression drifted over her tanned face, lips pursed, kohl-rimmed eyes slightly squinted. 'During a stay at a harbor town, one of many that has seen my face , I worked in an orphanage. What little pay there was to be had, I did my best to cycle back into the fortuneless establishment. The children... orphans-- and there were many, thanks to an ongoing conflict with another village, further inland-- they were strangely inspiring, even in their pitiless and seemingly hopeless state. For them I felt a great love, beyond any desire to be a mother, for I never had and do not desire to have children of my own. Even some of those who have not gone off to wars of their own, or perished elsewise, I have had the joy of staying in touch with. Periodic, you understand, but nonetheless... ' Zinnia trailed-off on that thought, her attention drifting toward the ceiling momentarily before settling once again on the woman giving the interview.
The young woman looked surprised, then pleased and gave a satisfied smile. She was a little grieved that she didn't have time to ask more questions, but this seemed a good place to conclude the interview. "Unfortunately we're out of time, I need to be leaving. But, uhm.. thanks for your time, and answering the questions and, uh... Yeah, thanks." she said, smiling again as she stood to leave.
With her sphinxlike smile and general bearing, it would appear that Zinnia was also satisfied; otherwise, she just might have been blankly content with the fact that they'd run out of time and the other woman was getting ready to depart. 'Take care of yourself, sweetling,' was all the older woman had to offer, aside from a much more expansive, gap-toothed smile. Though the words were few, they were nonetheless meaningful.
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