“I ask you now - and this is important, so do think before you respond, and answer earnestly: Will you be standing in our way?”
Jagdish Tsukinaka is the current spirit of Thorn - incarnated as the human Jagdish Nakano in 1802, son to Aglaia Nakano and Ji Nakano (a restorator) - and Arbiter. He rarely introduces himself by his 'real' name to strangers, preferring nicknames, owing to that he would rather there was not a single unbroken record of his name going back to when he adopted it. The nicknames change at whim, but the one he most frequently uses is Jagannath, something he reasons is a reasonable one to be attributed to the final gym leader, like a particularly casual title - though he does not go as far as to encourage the association with statements like “As other gym leaders before me…”.
Jagdish does not fully comprehend his Thornspirit identity (other than 'something is clearly different about me') and was accordingly unnerved by the culminating signs of his unusual nature as he grew up. He keeps his hair as meticulously dyed black as he can - it's bright blue if left to its own accounts - and has avoided any questions as to his age since he hit his forties and still looked like he was in his early twenties.
He has the ability to craft matter as long as he doesn't start questioning how, as well as a few potent psychic tricks at his disposal, both of which he puts to use in his role as the Arbiter. Additionally, he has a charisma toward pokémon that he himself finds surreal and disconcerting, as outside of battles, pokémon tend to bestow friendship and trust on him without any cause.
See also: Jagdish's Thornspirit Abilities
Jagdish is not an enthused friend of his role as Arbiter, but it's long since settled into habit for him, since he's resigned himself to that pokémon will probably not accept anyone else for the role as long as he lives, and from the looks of things, his immortality makes that his purpose until the stars burn out or his life is taken, latter which he deems unlikely from outside attempts on it… and isn't inclined towards out of his own volition in the least.
Jagdish is about as humble as a god ask to judge humanity by the pokémon legendaries can be. As such, he's extremely sure of himself and it's difficult, if not outright impossible, to take a bite out of his self-confidence. The worst he can fall to is a begrudging knowledge that he's currently guided by emotions clouding his judgement, something that's a rare occurrence and likely to become even more rare in future, given his immense age and experience.
He's fashioned himself into a very pleasant individual over the decades, except in two capacities: One, his role as Arbiter, which as as painfully neutral and rational as he can muster, with Council decisions utterly unempathetically executed; two, if something has attracted his ire - though despite wearing a far more frightful exterior toward those he's angry at, he's more bearable in this state, owing to that in anger he lacks the icy precision he has when emotionally distant. This discrepancy is in part quite deliberate, since he dislikes acting from emotion rather than fact.
The most striking feature about his personality, however, is probably just the degree of dominance he exhibits. The furthest he comes to being submissive or humble is a calm, polite, persistently cautious manner explaining a situation - something he would adopt if he were somehow disarmed of his Thornspirit powers and at the hands of an angry mob. He's quick to demand obedience but - perhaps surprisingly - rather unfazed by the lack of getting it without working for it.
Outside of his 'official' deeds, he has a slight mischievous or fondly mocking streak, and he enjoys taking things literally that shouldn't be taken literally and flaunting his self-confidence with shameless retorts. To strangers, however polite he may appear, he's usually simply cunning and calculating rather than truly sympathetic (in part simply because he's likely doomed to outlive any friendships he makes and thus shies away from deeper bonds), and if he detects someone might actually like him (to any degree), he's happy to milk it for all it's worth… although, to his partial credit, rarely to anyone's outright detriment - the most he'll take advantage of someone tends to be manipulating them to supporting his cause. Since he doesn't ever drop whatever act he has, he's not even particularly prone to causing anyone heartache.
Another notable aspect of his personality is that he draws few lines between people and pokémon in general, owing to his good understanding of pokémon (able to understand what they're trying to express without fail). He'd apply the same sense of justice to pokémon - if he caught any pokémon being unduly cruel to another or a human being, he'd support a retributive reaction just the same as he does with humans. That's in part why he's Arbiter, actually, and occasionally deserves the title: The Council trial in part exists so legitimate inflicted pain can be distinguished from that which is unjustly inflicted. That being said, Jagdish does know that he has to treat non-Legendary pokémon with the knowledge that they are typically not as mature and lucid as Legendaries and human beings, though there are exceptions.
Excepting truly visceral anger reactions, Jagdish is non-violent and believes in peaceful solutions. He'd rather someone trying to assault him be disarmed as gently as possible than react in turn. He has no sadistic inclinations - something that certainly doesn't make his job as Arbiter any easier, though it does make it easier for him to accept Council rulings, since he finds the notion of taking joy out of another's pain or even just complete disregard for it deeply despicable, and a sad amount of pokémon trainers that make it up to Taqnateh are of such careless ilk. Equally, he's not in the least aversed to the use of pain as a way to get a point across, or as a form of retributive justice - of course, that follows from his acceptance of his role of Arbiter.
Despite Cecile having inherited her gym position, she's unlikely to lose it any time soon - not because she's not a headache for the gym circuit (she certainly is), but because she's so interwoven into the Science Center's daily machinations that it'd be hard to replace her without the effect going entirely ignored by the people of the Center and Njoty at large. Cecile is a celebrity and authority - she's not going to budge any time soon. Jagdish gets along with her better than Terry or Rose, however, simply because her voiced objections tend to be purely rational, however nitpicky and laced with mistrust they may be.
Jagdish finds Terry to be a bit on the immature side of things, albeit not because of his open misanthropism. Instead, what bothers Jagdish about Terry is the fear the man carries around with himself unnecessarily, and the fits of aggression it prompts. He's not in the least a fan of ruling by fear, and Terry is frustrating in that regard, and the next gymleader in line for replacement, as soon as Jagdish can find someone willing to fill in the role Terry has in the gym circuit - something that's a bit difficult, and unlikely to result in people with much better personalities.
Jagdish and Naomi respect each other to almost identical degree. They have very little emotional involvement with each other beyond what their professional interactions mandate. He finds her a pleasant individual - despite knowing, perhaps better than some, what lies beneath her polite surface. It certainly helps that the worst excesses of her hidden personality are directed against pokémon trainers rather than anyone else, which is an outlook he both of course understands and encourages.
Jagdish considers Tove to be just a sliver short of naive and finds himself occasionally concerned by her young age (given the responsibility she shoulders, being a gymleader), but he cherishes her positive outlook on life and rarely questions her ability to master any situation given her boundless energy and enthusiasm. The biggest concern he has are honestly the inhabitants of Pyu Ivvi themselves and he trusts Tove's judgement that they'd not try to burn her on a stake for being a witch (though he's equally sure she has that status irrevocably in their eyes).
He feels he has something of a parental role to fill around her and could indeed be said to have a love for her as he would to a child of his own.
Jagdish is no fan of Rose as a gymleader and would quite like to replace her with someone more malleable - she's as principled and hard-headed as he is, essentially - but knows that he'd have no means to do so, given her deep involvement in the Ehqaj City community. As such, he feels for her what she feels for him: A begrudging respect. He does know she's loyal to the gym circuit even if she doesn't approve of their methods, but he can't help but feel some unease that her personality may be unsuited for her job. It certainly doesn't help that she's simply not good at pokémon battles since she resents them so much - even if that trait endears her to him, personally, it's simply not a good trait for a gym leader to possess.
On a purely personal level, he cherishes her, since the way she views pokémon is so perfectly compatible with his views that it's hard to be anything but enamoured by her worldview, and he's quite a bit sad that she struggles to view him as a human being. If he could break her of her fearful attitude toward him, he would, but all meagre attempts so far have only left the status quo unchanged at best, and very occasionally worsened the issue, if only slightly.
Jagdish's opinion of Keith is that the man is clearly a kook, but he's quite fond of him for his intelligence.
He's been on the receiving end of one of Keith's 'friendly pranks' and has learnt to be cautious around him as well as just how to break him out of one of his 'playful' moods - a simple pounce and even light headlock usually does the trick, making it unmistakable that Jagdish is not to be trifled with. A firm, unafraid “No” can also help in a pinch. Nonetheless, there are days where he'll indulge Keith's morbid sense of entertainment, secure in the knowledge that Keith actually knows better than to piss him off. The delicate balance is quite expertly maintained - and Jagdish appreciates Keith for that, given that it proves without a doubt how perceptive he is beneath that supposed reckless, enthusiastic exterior.
Nonetheless, “or I'll send you to Keith” is occasionally his tongue-in-cheek way of 'threatening' gymleaders into compliance on trivial matters. He has no delusions about that Keith is a safe person to be around for anyone that doesn't happen to have the powers of Thorn or knows him well enough to switch his sadism off.
That being said, since Keith is expressly forbidden from physically harming anyone non-consensually and has adhered to this rule for as long as Jagdish can think, it's only anyone's psyche that he's concerned about… and Keith's position as the Kzye City gym leader makes that trait of his quite perfect from Jagdish's perspective. After all, a bit of psychological suffering never hurt anyone important.
What started as a simple charisma exercise with Yarver has become a deep, genuine friendship. The relationship between Jagdish and Yarver is pretty much just a sliver removed from 'romantic'. They couldn't respect each other more if they tried. Of all gymleaders, Jagdish sees Yarver the most, visiting him at least briefly nearly each time he's down in Vale to buy something. In large part, that's owed to the fact that Jagdish is, quite honestly, entirely poor - he has no income, after all, since his settlement has no economy he could be part of, and so he's entirely dependant on the charity of his fellow gym leaders.
Yarver is possibly the only person Jagdish would consider deferring to - and, in fact, will occasionally ask his advice if he's not feeling sufficiently rational. Yarver certainly knows more about Jagdish than any one else (including Dakarai N'Sehla), being the one person that Jagdish will openly cry around if he's deeply upset.
As such, Yarver is one gym leader that Jagdish is wholly unwilling to swap for another.
Ordered roughly from positive to negative, Jagdish…
Jagdish is not a traditional gym leader in that he has no community to protect or lead, and he certainly prefers it that way, not really wanting to have to balance both a life as Arbiter and as some sort of role model for people. Nonetheless, one can consider him something of a leader of Sehto as a whole, given that the other gym leaders do his bidding - and in that particular role, he's benevolent, seeing as he asks nothing but a modicum to live off of, genuinely attempts to be a neutral observer, and would certainly protect people from unjust harm if he came to witness it.
Jagdish's gym rules are, of course, somewhat legendary, and far removed from being fair. While the rules of battle conduct itself are quite classic, the stakes for losing are in no relation to what could possibly be won - of his opponents, Jagdish demands a surrender of everything should they lose. Obviously, this is a lead-up to that he's going to drag them through the Council - and he doesn't exactly have a record of losing to anyone that's come up to the gym, owing to his use of Kanto Legendaries in battle.
He has no issues with people walking out on him at that point - but it rarely happens (in part because the trek there is ridiculously hazardous, in part because people both assume themselves to be able to win easily, in part because people don't necessarily believe him and think he's probably just trying to run them off, and so forth).
Jagdish has always liked pokémon, though pessimistic parts of his self point out that it's probably an inevitable attribute of… whatever it is he is. He worked in PokéCentres for most of his regular adult life, before it became too obvious to himself and others than he wasn't getting any older. After a bit of an incident involving his home town, Jagdish moved from place to place until he fell the decision to subvert the (budding) Sehto gym circuit as the practise was imported from overseas. He saw his way through it (with gritted teeth) and with effort (and no murders :P) ultimately replaced the eighth gym leader and de-facto leadership of the sparse Taqnateh settlement.
It's from that point onward that the legendaries considered him the Arbiter, and with the added pressure from them, he seeded the other gyms with the ones fortunate enough to get through Taqnateh alive, a practise he still repeats whenever chance arises, as not to let the message get washed out by something as simple as 'it was just passed on to me by my parents'. With how rare gym circuit runs have gotten in Sehto, however, and with the rate of actual survival in them quite low, quite a few current Sehto gym leaders simply inherited the position, which does not make for the smoothest possible sailing for Jagdish, though due to his rather real powers and allegiance with the legendaries (though he has yet to actually actively threaten anyone with them) - and because animosities are simply not that strong - thus far no one would dare to break the rules laid down by him.
Jagdish looks very young for his age - roughly two centuries as that is - and would be misjudged to be in his early twenties by most people, which frequently prompts them them to underestimate him, believing him to have acquired his gym leader position recently (the poor fools). He spent some of his early life being deeply bothered by his outward appearance not changing, especially after it left the territory of people jokingly commenting that he's ageing exceptionally well and entered that of 'dude, you're creeping me out'. This is a large part of why he lives in Taqnateh by himself and changes his default grocery foraging locations roughly once every decade. He consider this less an attempt to hide it - he'll be frank about it if asked, even if said frankness will be accompanied by a sour grimace - than he considers it going out of the way of constant awkward human interactions, seeing as he doesn't need any more reasons to have issues with his (supposedly) fellow human beings.
Another notable anomaly in Jagdish is his hair - they're bright blue and distinctly feathery (without being actual feathers). This still perturbs him, so he tends to dye his hair black instead on a regular basis, a bit obsessively so, since the moment they visibly grow out, he ends up with something of a strange effect. Ironically, he might be able to pass the blue colour off as dye, but he doesn't think he can lie about it with a straight face, so he prefers to simply avoid the topic altogether.
Beyond that, he has a rather scrawny build, certainly having nothing in him as far as physical strength goes, with a paleness owing to irregular hours and a genetic predisposition to not tanning much. With a bit of a shrug, he's embraced his build and complexion as something he's unlikely to change given his lifestyle, and decided to run with the stereotypes and keeps a cloak and a pair of near-elbow-length gloves readily at hand for whenever someone shows up at his doorstep looking for gym battle. He's quite willing to milk the few human interactions he has for as much exaggerated dramatic effect as he can as far as his appearance goes (and in fact might keep the blue hair if he could selectively do so - but he wants to look normal for stray travellers, interactions with his fellow gym leaders and chores outside of Taqnateh), clashing oddly with his underlying 'right, let's get this over with' attitude toward battling in general. In a way, you could say it's owed to the fact that he'd like to get at least a bit of joy out of it.
Jagdish does not consider himself an owner of any of the pokémon that aid him, but the ones most frequently at his side are:
Collected from Arsaga:
The silence passes, and those lanky arms relax, falling to his sides as he steps into the room, without bothering to close the door behind him, approaching Raiko with an expression wrought with pity, resentment and, paradoxially, friendliness. He extends his right hand, palm up. “Give me your hand,” he says, simply. No 'hello', no 'Hi, I'm Nemo', no 'So what do you think you were doing?'.
A brow arches and the exceptionally pretty face warps into a light grimace as the man leans toward him fractionally to seize one of his hands - turning it palm up and idly kneading into the base of the same. “First things first, Mr. Zelenka,” he says, regarding the hand rather absent-mindedly, but pronouncing Raiko's surname meticulously. “You don't remember last night, but I do. Allow me to refresh your memory?” It's a question. He's asking for permission to inform Raiko about the gaps in his memory? Why would he need permission for that? What a bizarre person…
“Nikki Arsaga - this girl from Kethi - both of you came up here looking for… clues?” The gaze snaps up to Raiko's face, solemn, stern, yet unquestionably alive, and the fingers kneading that hand halt their motion for a moment, to grant no distraction. Seeing recognition begin to dawn in Raiko's face, the man nods once, resumes his ritual, and exhales audibly, at which's end he strings the words: “I knocked you out, wiped your memories - and you're my captives now.” His tone is disturbingly neutral. “So much about last night.” His hands let go of the hand he'd kneaded… leaving Raiko with an almost unpleasant tingling sensation in his palm, mildly alien.
A brow arches yet again, though no comment accompanies it to explain its precise source, leaving Raiko in the dark as to what it might have been meant to criticise. The man straightens almost abnormally, before nodding once, meaningfully, slowly, to emphasise his words: “[How long I will keep you for] depends… well, this depends largely on you, to be precise, Mr. Zelenka.” Those strong hands fold at height of his hip and he regards Raiko with that same unbudging stern glance. “I can let you go… or I can incarcerate you for the rest of your life. […]”
The man frowns slightly, watching Raiko, before, obviously convinced that the pain has stopped, clearing his throat slightly. “You're wondering what you did to deserve that, aren't you?” he asks, the subtlest hint of pleading in his voice.
“Frankly…” the man trails off, tip of his tongue tracing across his lips contemplatively, his eyes narrowed to convey the same emotion, before he continues on normally: “You didn't deserve it.” He glances at Raiko for a moment, gaze seeking, darting across his shape with a hint of nervousness. “Think about that for a moment. Just a moment. I'll explain everything after a short pause - and I won't hurt you again.”
The man slides his arms behind his back, standing straight as though at attention, his arms folded behind him. “If you're feeling hurt, betrayed… loathed, perhaps… this pales in comparison to what many, many so-called pokémon trainers put their pokémon through. You, Mr. Zelenka, at least were never given the impression that the pain you've gone through was somehow a requirement for someone's friendship. You were given the courtesy of truth.”
“Do you [understand], really?” the man inclines his head. It's not a mock - instead, it has the tone of a serious, albeit somewhat doubting question. “Your companion, Nikki Arsaga, and her friends have entrapped pokémon with the primary goal of completing the gym circuit. Eight pieces of plastic like a band-aid over their pride.” He eyes Raiko, watching the words sink in, taking in the full extent of Raiko's understanding of the situation.
He glances at Raiko quietly, letting him finish speaking, before clearing his throat thoughtfully for a moment, before remarking: “I'm not sure they fully realise what they're doing, Raiko. As for [whether they die here]… yes. Yes, often. Not…” he trails off, face scrunching up. “Not always… but often. The majority of them leave their humanity at the doorsteps of the first gym.”
He smirks across at Raiko, a hint of sadness in that expression. He doesn't comment on Nikki, but once more lets Raiko finish his speech, before continuing his own. “I ask you now - and this is important, so do think before you respond, and answer earnestly: Will you be standing in our way, Mr. Zelenka?”
The man seems slightly jarred by the question, but blinks and nods softly. “Certainly. What do you wish to know?” he asks back, still astonishingly formal in the manner he carries himself, despite having shed the cold exterior from the initial conversation.
“We have the utterly best cuisine for Earl Grey,” he clucks, amusement tinkering in his voice. “And the cook is renowned for his excellect rendition of bacon and mash.” He gestures excellence with his right hand's index finger and thumb. “Highly recommendable.”
“I should probably check on Miss Arsaga before she ends up clawing at the walls, screaming, 'Oh my god, let me out of here, I have family!', don't you think?” he remarks after a moment's contemplation, inclining his head quizzically.
“I… do have a question before you go to see your… captive. Not only would I like to come up here and visit you often… I'd… like to study Mew… for my own interests. Nothing will get publicised unless it you wish it to do so.” - Jagdish regards Raiko for a moment, silently, before shaking his head. “You will do neither,” he says, simply, but not scornfully.
“So - you've come all the way up here to find nothing… I can't have that, now, can I?” he tsks, before adding, words heavy with sincerity: “Surely you want some breakfast.”
“My dear - if you live on your own for so many years, in such a desolate place, your name quickly becomes your most… prized possession.”
With a sigh, Jagdish moves to crouch before Dakarai, raising his left hand to his face to grip his chin slightly. “All right, I'll bite,” he says, tone conversational, even as his right hand is fishing for the item he'd brought along, without that his gaze drifts away from Dakarai's face. “I don't usually ask this question in this particular context, but you just keep prompting it: Why? Are you just sick of life - or did you actually have a motive?” While he's not keeping his voice artificially low, chances are it's not all too easy for Raiko to make the words out.
“Now that you're legally up here,” he remarks, bringing his hands up infront of him to knead his left hand's fingers into the structure of his right, cricking the knuckles slightly. “You can choose if you want to battle for the last badge.” And, with a slight hiss, he adds: “And try not kneejerk your decision.”
The gymleader stands at a distance on the rows of 'seats', fingers flexing, expression entirely unfazed, perhaps considerably more calculating that they might have estimated. His hair, of all things, is blue, streaking up like a crowd of hot flames. His skin seems white against the black attire, making his appearance seem almost like that of a modern painting rather than a depiction of a real human being, much less a photorealistic one. “You will play by my terms or not at all,” he remarks, proving the image is his own, the recognisable voice coming from him, passing moving, pale lips. His gaze seems latched not on Devi, but on the weapon her right hand's fingers are desperately locked around, knuckles whitening.
His gaze drifts up from Devi's writhing shape, away from the source of aggressive, snarling whimpers, a feisty display of pure fury, unrelenting; up to Marcus' face, though the gaze seems almost unseeing. A moment later, Devi shrieks, and the whip clatters to the ground beside her, her fingers letting go as she seemingly twists forward unnaturally… until it would become obvious that it's her shoulder joint that's bent beyond its natural limits, no doubt dislocated. Pinky and ring finger of her right hand tremble, wrist unmoving in the pokémon's grip. Her eyes have closed, though Marcus can't see it, leaking reflexive tears. “My terms - or not at all,” he repeats, emphasising the words more like a threat, his eyes narrowing a touch.
Jagdish chuckles darkly, even as the rock snake appears - it curling in rumble, not sure how precise it is supposed get at its opponent, and who its opponent is meant to be; in short, unable to understand what Marcus suspects it to interpret into 'get him' - sliding his fingers around the offered pokéballs, both hands curving to hold them. “Mister Arsaga, don't you think the battle has been decided?” he asks, voice clear, echoing slightly in the arena, tone casual, perhaps infused with slight amusement.
Devi stares across at the gymleader incredulously, scrambling to remember the terms he had laid out for the battle - loss by knock-out, hadn't it been? The three pokémon Vendetta had taken weren't knocked out - they were in their pokéballs, otherwise removed from battle.
Jagdish regards Marcus and his pokémon with a light smirk, the expression slowly melting into something less aggressive, becoming a lightly concerned glance toward the other trainer. His words, though, retain that darkness: “Are you going to raise a fuss over your part of the deal?” A brow arches quizzically, even as Vendetta steps forward, closer toward him, yet at the same time to the side. Jagdish's right hand comes to rest loosely against the pokémon's right shoulder in casual but blatant display of friendship.
It is then that Devi's silence shatters. “It is not over,” she says, tone flustered, tremble both of fear and fury in her voice, her eyes widened and yet narrowed at the edges. “Daemon is still conscious - and Marcus has three pokémon to go!”
Jagdish sighs almost theatrically, shaking his head. “Vendetta suffered an accidental SLASHing - but aside from that, is still quite comfortably standing, and could have crushed 'Daemon's consciousness out of it if he'd wished to, in passing. The trainer had a little nap…” - that last phrase is spoken in a mocking half sing-song - “…and now it seems that I have three of his pokémon. If you want, I will summon them one by one and Vendetta will wipe them all out, but is that really necessary?”
Devi, meanwhile, exhales sharply, sagging abruptly against Neike's shape - and bursts into mostly quiet sobs, fingers curled around the restraining arms, prying at them without much conviction. “Let him go… just… let him go - what did he ever do to you?” she groans, throwing the words at Jagdish with individual force as though they had been intended to be spoken with far more malice.
Jagdish responds coolly and immediately with: “That isn't the question, young lady,” which prompts Devi to snort: “Then what is?” Jagdish frowns lightly, peering at the chaotic bundle of clothes and flesh that is Neike and Devi. The silence evidently lingers longer than Devi cares to put up with. “What is?” she grunts, head rolling against Neike's chest, tone laced with a defeated air. “Later,” Jagdish remarks, casting a bitter smile across at Devi, corrupted result of his attempt to give a friendly answer.
Collected from N'Sehla:
A strong urge to react sits in Jagdish's gut, advising nothing in particular. His stare lingers, posture and expression still mostly frozen as is. He struggles with the expressed notion - viscerally, he wants to walk out of the room and attribute that particular flake of madness to Tatenda, but a far more compelling thought asks him: What have you done, Jagdish, to nurture that misplaced emotion? Taking a slow, deliberate breath, he blinks lightly to snap himself out of his stupor, then addresses Tatenda in a steady tone: “I implore you to listen to me now, because this is important. When I am Arbiter, I am not your friend - nor anybody else's. Do you understand that? I don't meant that question as a threat or in condescension; I want to know, genuinely, if you comprehend the distinction.”
“Respect I understand,” Jagdish explains. “Respect I can appreciate,” he adds, inclining his head lightly. “But that purgatory doesn't exist for anyone's enjoyment; not yours, not mine.”
It lasts until the door of the cell, when something in Dakarai's fogged skull clicks. He stands still, gaze suspended between an incredulous stare and a venomous glare, anchoring his shoulder against the frame of the door and spacing his feet in physical objection to any further motion. Jagdish pauses, his stride abruptly broken, and narrows his eyes. “Don't you think you've caused enough trouble already?” he asks, bitterly. “It's not that easy to goad me into forgetting about all this, but you're going to rapidly lose the last pitiful fragments of respect I have for you if you make me drag you along by your hair.”
It's about as much of a confirmation of his woes as he needs to bristle. “You want to put me before that mockery of a trial again?” he asks, voice a touch hoarse, tone by proxy missing its intended mark of 'spiteful' and landing somewhere in the vicinity of 'pathetic whine'. - An inhuman growl escapes Jagdish. “I'm giving you five seconds to correct that nonsensical blathering and stop wasting my time.”
“Or else what?” Dakarai comments back, voice firmer now. - In Jagdish's mouth, his tongue's folded down against itself, edges pressed against his teeth, providing itself as a simulacrum of some sort of chewing gum for his jaw to work against. If he was going to lose his patience, this whole thing was just going to be hopeless. A moment later, he tips his head to the side as if to crick his neck, then with stubborn intent lets go of Dakarai's arm, only to grab a hold of his hair, even as he tries to duck to the side. Fingers sunk into those strands he tugs at him. “I give you my heartfelt assurance that I don't give a toss about whether you're doing yourself a disfavour with your antics - but I do very much care whether you waste the time of the legendary Council,” he glowers. “And if you honestly feel you deserve worse punishment, then you should care, too - just consider it part of the process. It's certainly the least you can do to start undoing some of the damage you've done. Man up and shut up.”
Jagdish, having listened to the whole thing with a near-unflinching exterior, arms crossed behind his back and posture meticulously straight, air of a guard in the truest sense of the word, doesn't miss a beat. “What would you like me to do with him in the meanwhile?” Jagdish asks, tone blandly neutral but speech very precise, granting him a cold distance. His gaze drifts down from the legendary and onto Dakarai N'Sehla as he speaks, tinge of venom in the glare he fixes the captive with. What he'd argue and what he'd like to do are certainly different things right now - but it does have the benefit that he's hard to disappoint with any answer.
Silence reigns for long moments, until Solalon's light is faint enough to suggest him out of earshot. “You have quite a talent, young man,” Jagdish comments. His arm unfolds from his torso and both hands rise to gesture finesse, though any 'praise' of his is certainly heavily sarcastic, as evidenced by a dangerous tone and slightly narrowed eyes. “It's like you're streamlined for getting under legendary skin. Is that an inborn trait or was it hard work to refine it to this purity?”
Jagdish closes his eyes briefly, only to sigh tersely, much as if those closed lids were hiding an eyeroll. “Either way,” he comments, before briefly glancing sideways at Yarver in idle concern, as if expecting his friend to intervene in some fashion - but the Vale gymleader is simply watching with a look of distant displeasure, hardly a friend of Dakarai's, hardly trusting the man as far as he can throw him, but with no personal bone to pick. “Either way,” Jagdish resumes, glancing back at Dakarai. “It would appear I can do whatever I damn well please with you now. Not that this is strictly news between you and I, I suppose, but it would seem there's a certainly formal necessity to it now.” His hands fold infront of him, knitted together in a hover before his chest, one wrist at ninety degree angle, the other held straight. “As it were, I'd like to put this generous decree to use in some fashion that doesn't qualify as arduously bland.” He exhales audibly, brightening a little. “So I'd like some suggestions. Come up with a way to make yourself useful.” A pause, his lips parted as if to continue speaking, is ultimately followed by a grin. “I might even consider some of them.”
“I think he's lacking just a little finesse,” Jagdish comments, casually, for the moment staying in the doorframe he's occupied for who knows how long. “Though you seem to be all in one piece, apart from the flecks of blood you've spattered about like crumbs.”
The violently discarded item finds itself in Jagdish's fingers a moment later, weighed against them as if that alone could tell him whether the forceful throw damaged it. It would be regrettably ironic if Vendetta broke it, after all. Jagdish presses his lips to a thin line, eyeing it with what a part of him decides is far too little visceral investment in the matter - then dismisses the very idea with a shrug. A hint of warmth creeps into his expression, gaze softening. A long moment later, he's standing beside Dakarai, exhaling gently, and one end of the device prods at his spine between his shoulderblades lightly, coming to tap against it softly. “And what have we learnt today?”
That prompts a single syllable of a chuckle to jerk through Dakarai's body, albeit not quite managing to escape. He tips down slightly until he's rested on his elbows rather than his palms and brings his wrists together, leaning his head down to cradle it against them. If he was entirely honest with himself, he still wanted to turn his stomach inside-out, some instinctive part of him convinced that nothing in it right now could possibly be good for his health. “…don't piss off Vendetta?” he offers in half-hearted black humour, tinge of nervousness in the phrase. - That causes a soft laugh to spill from Jagdish, first raising, then setting down the weapon on the table. A bemused but mostly hollow sigh escapes him as he eases himself down into a kneel beside his currently so pitiful possession. His right palm sets down against Dakarai's dully aching shoulder, exerting almost no force at all, simply providing a connection. “True words of wisdom.”
An unfocussed gaze loiters without much motivation on the tiles. “Is he going to be all right?” he asks, a little numbly, grasping at one of the million emotion straws that seem to poking at him now that the overwhelming pain and fear is no longer smothering them. - Jagdish stares down at his unlikely protégé, taking his time to understand what he's saying - and why he would. Then he's tapping one of the device against Dakarai's curved spine again. “Don't slump like that, young man, it'll ruin your posture,” he comments, exaggerating a snobbish tone of voice, then tries to catch his gaze without outright leaning down to elbow his way into his view, subtly angling himself and his line of sight to little effect. “…why wouldn't he be?” he asks, worry creeping into his tone.
A light shrug touches Jagdish's left shoulder. “Maybe you went overboard a little,” he offers as a nonchalant compromise. “But even if you did - I own him, on a voluntary basis.” Admittedly differently than he would usually, given the little battle mishap, but Dakarai had made it entirely unmistakable by now that he'd signed his life over to him, so that detail barely mattered. “Which is more than he could have ever claimed of his pokémon. And that fine delineation lets me say with confidence and honesty: It's fine, because I say so. You didn't cripple or kill him - which is good, since if you had, I would make you find me a replacement.”
~No, he may not be an idiot, but when it comes to judging the right response to a situation, he seems to have all the skill of a brick,~ he replies. ~But fine, even if it does succeed, all that proves is what you said - that he's not quite moronic enough to make that kind of mistake.~ - “What do you think the right response to getting tortured is?” Jagdish asks, without missing a beat, an almost unbearable curiosity in his eyes.
“What I'm offering you; what I'm offering the Council and everyone affected by his approximate eight and a few weeks of gratuitous maladjustment and obscenely bad judgement… is to view him as a servant. He's been stripped of all power he has but one: The memory of him. And we can only extinguish that if we let him be something else.”
Uncharacteristically, Jagdish is silent for a moment after Vendetta's asked his question, leaving him alone with the ramifications of what he's said, the quiet tension seeding the tentative beginnings of the answer he's most likely to give in Vendetta's psyche and ushering it into blossom. “I don't want anything from you,” he says, finally, softly, the emphasis on 'want' subtle but audible. “Least of all forgiveness for what he's done. I certainly won't be doing anything of the sort. However, I do enjoy the situation he's in. There's some poetic justice in making him run around the gym circuit listening to the instructions of the gym leaders until he drops dead from old age - and in the meanwhile, it gives him a lot of time to deconstruct himself.” An expression of light concern lets its gaze linger on Vendetta's face, for the moment resisting the urge to do anything about the tears. “I don't in the least mind if you hate him, but I'd much rather you hated him for, say, being a pathetic worm than for being a manifested nightmare; for your sake.”