Title: [The Price of] Freedom
Description: Tagged: wee Cuttles
La - February 8, 2012 10:27 PM (GMT)
The African coastline suffered under the flat noonday heat as the sun struck mercilessly down upon the bent backs of the men who laboured unceasingly back and forth from the rim of the emerald jungle where provisions and cargo were stowed, down past the master's house to the bustling docks and the clutch of ships that lay berthed there. Those to whom wealth or rank had gifted the privilege of command, clung to the meagre shadows, issuing orders in imperious voices while those under order cursed not only themselves but also their masters and the pitiless sun. Everywhere there was a clamour of voices and the stench of sweat; shouts of anger, cries of pain, the clatter of chains and the occasional crack of a whip.
Beyond the docks at the very fringes of the jungle a lone man stood guard beneath a patch of drooping greenery, grateful for the shade but longing for his bunk, and with his pale gaze fixed on some point far out at sea and his hands occupied with locating the elusive lice that crawled through his sandy hair, he did not notice the prisoner ebbing back to consciousness at his feet.
La let out a soft moan, the steady throb behind her left ear a reminder of the bloody revenge she would take upon her captors later, men who had ambushed, hunted and out-numbered her. Her slim fingers flexed into claws, clutching blindly, desperately before her and her eyes opened wide - the staff, where was her staff? Memory came back in painful snatches, the ambush, the strange weapons they had used to cut down her three guards, the retreat they had forced her into ... and the staff? Yes, she had hidden it before they had caught her, hidden it and and hidden it well, none would disturb its resting place until she returned and when she returned they would pay for their insolence.
Moaning again she rolled over onto her side and immediately winced, jarred fully awake as with a painful wrench she discovered that her was wrists and ankles were secured. Fools! How do you dare? La was no stranger to the merits of shackles, being chained herself however, was a novel and by no means pleasant experience. Cautiously so as not to arouse the guard's suspicion, she tested the limits of her bonds. A heavy metal collar encircled her neck while similar manacles restrained both wrists, keeping her arms in front of her. Her ankles too were bound and hobbled, with a strong chain running the length of her body, passing through each manacle by means of a metal eye. Clearly escape on foot was impossible - at least for the present.
With a surge she sat upright, careful to keep her wrists and ankles aligned and then bringing her knees close to her body, used the tree at her back to silently push herself to her feet. A lesser woman may have succumbed to her fate, La however had no intention of doing so and stared with open distaste at her still oblivious guard, her nose crinkling with disgust at the smell of his unwashed body and the endless movements of his fingers as he scratched at his scalp. How dare he turn his back on her! Raising her arms as much as the shackles would allow she chopped him swiftly and viciously between the shoulder blades so that with a squawk he stumbled forwards and turning, stared at her wide-eyed and fearful.
La drew herself up and fixed him with her luminous eyes, every inch a queen despite her bonds. A lesser woman might have begged or cajoled but not Queen La, her voice was soft, cool, irrefusable. "I will speak with whoever has ordered my presence here. Send for him now, I command you." She left no room for doubt or compromise and conditioned to take orders unquestioningly the man was helpless to do anything but obey. Her lip curled as he cringed before her, "And bring me water at once, and food. Do not make me wait" Through narrowed eyes, she watched him hurry raggedly away towards the dock, glancing back from time to time as though he feared she could strike him down with mere thought alone. Ahhh his death should be slow and pleasurable, his and whoever else had ordered her capture. Sinking fluidly back to the soft earth beneath the tree and seemingly oblivious to the misery and din surrounding the dockside below, La gave herself up to thoughts of revenge and smiled.
Cutler Beckett - February 16, 2012 02:42 PM (GMT)
Cutler Beckett had always been different.
He was a rare specimen to come into the Company’s grasp, one that they had soon come to cherish. Cutler Beckett, even in the prime of his life, was a hard worker, putting nearly as much devotion into advancing the Company’s empire and developing the economy of the New World as those in convents gave to the Lord. While other men his age were celebrating their freedom by chasing women around, having drinks with friends, and going on the occasional voyage to sea, Beckett stayed in his office (wherever he happened to be located) and worked. He always worked. He worked, and therefore, he was productive. Very quickly, he had gained a significant amount of respect from the Company, and had, therefore, escalated through the ranks. It had been nearly ten years since he was first hired, and even Beckett himself could not have believed where he ended up: he became one of the division supervisors, and was trusted with the job of facilitating the slave trade in the particular area of Africa.
Even at twenty-five - a villain in his prime - Cutler Beckett was different.
He’d never gotten married, nor had he even thought of the concept. Marriage was an obstacle, a distraction, and it was one that Beckett did not have the need to face. He hadn’t even fallen in love (or, more specifically, there was no particular time that he would have the dignity to admit) or attempted to court a woman, for it was a waste of time. He’d even refused to marry for money; Beckett preferred to earn his wages. It was this mentality, and others, that kept him at his desk, feverishly working, feverishly producing results, and in turn feverishly getting closer to obtaining a title.
So while other men would have been flocking the taverns for a good drink and a warm fire, and other men still would have been sitting at home in England close to the fire with a cup of tea and his loving wife, Beckett had no need for a fire. The climate was horridly humid, so much so that Beckett found himself taking off his coat when he was in private in fear of perspiring, which, in excess, would stain his clothing. He, instead, sat in his own cabin on one of the Company ships that had been docked, anticipating a load of "cargo" that was currently being rounded up on that particular island. However, bringing the cargo back to the ship seemed to take a bit... longer than usual. Beckett began to become impatient. First, his eyes scanned his desk for anything, most likely work, to do to distract his mind from the inevitable late arrival of his men and his cargo. Then, he stood up and walked around, putting odd things away back where they went, attempting to remember things that he had forgotten earlier that day, and looking through some books that he had brought on board specifically in case an occasion like this would come. He brought them all to his desk, and he began to sit and read one of them (it was one of his favorites; he'd chosen it to calm his nerves at the moment). Suddenly, a few pages later, the door opened. Beckett looked up, glancing expectantly at the man in front of him.
"Yes?" he asked, looking at his guest straight in the eye. His attentive, light blue eyes and his soft expression were that of a young man, which heavily contrasted with the powdered wig he had only obtained a few years ago. Beckett was patient, but yet his patience had a tendency to run out quicker than he would have liked, a habit that he would have liked to break. Still waiting for a response, Beckett repeated, "Yes?"
"One of the slaves requests to see you," he stated as calmly as he could manage (which, in Beckett's eyes, wasn't very calm at all) in reply, appearing to be quite flustered.
Beckett raised an eyebrow.
"... Sir," he added. still not used to addressing a man much younger than he as a figure of authority.
Beckett smirked. This gentleman would be eventually used to properly addressing him. With a calm air to his voice, Beckett replied, "Does he, now?"
"She. She, Sir."
If Beckett hadn't been looking at his guest, he certainly turned his gaze toward him now.
"She?" he repeated, an amused gleam in his eyes. "Well... if she requests to speak to me... I must look presentable," he stated sarcastically, leaning back in his chair.
"There's no time... Sir," was the sudden interjection. "She's hostile. She tried to attack me, Sir."
"A feisty one," Beckett stated thoughtfully, before standing up. "Very well. If she wishes to see me that badly, I suppose I am obligated to see what she wants. Take me to her, then."
"Yes, Sir. This way."
La - February 28, 2012 09:09 PM (GMT)
La shifted a little as the sun climbed higher. The dull-witted idiot it seemed was intent on taking his time despite the ringing air of command in her voice, and as the day grew hotter so did her temper. Flies began to buzz about, settling to drink the sweat of those unfortunate enough to be slumped further downhill away from the cooling shadows. Hands flapped, bodies twitched but La sat on unmoved as though oblivious to the flies' flickering touch for indeed her entire thoughts now were bent upon what manner of man would dare to treat her thus.
Moans and whimpers reached her ears but she dismissed them after all but the most cursory of glances from the corners of her eyes. Fools, they wasted their energy in bewailing their lot and thrashing about when it would be far more productive to lie still and conserve their strength for although those that had captured her had taken her freedom, she was still far from defenceless. Her eyes hardened as a nearby voice cried out feebly for water and unbidden her own tongue moved briefly to moisten her lips. True, she was plagued with thirst herself yet it would be long before Queen La would lower herself to beg her tormentors for a drink.
Movement down towards the glittering ocean drew her attention and immediately she recognised the lurching gait and servile attitude of the man she had sent away, here he was returning now with another close on his heels. La leaned forward slightly, her cool gaze fixed on the newcomer. She had no real concept of the subtleties of rank and file, for being queen of her own hidden land and supreme and unassailable in her own right, she was quite ignorant of the system that defined her captors behaviour. Equally, she was wholly unfamiliar with their bureaucracy, and believing them to function much like any other pack of apes, wolves or jungle cats, it came as something of a surprise to her to see that the second man - the superior - was shorter and slighter in stature than the first.
Rising of her own accord before they came too close (for no man ordered Queen La to stand) she watched the newcomer through slitted eyes. A small man, small and soft-fleshed although certainly not over-plump. To her Opar-trained eyes he looked unused to strenuous physical activity, there was little of the predator about him and he seemed to have some strange affliction of the head for his hair was prematurely white and clung to his skull unmoving, even as his companion's flopped repeatedly onto his sweating forehead with the effort of the climb. As the man drew closer she realised he wore some kind of headdress, perhaps a leader after all then although certainly a leader bred for sitting in state and fanning flies and not for leading the hunt.
As the two men stopped before her, she turned to the sandy-haired one, looking upon him with open distaste, "You I have done with. Leave us. " The expression on her face gave him no room for argument and dismissing him at once from her thoughts she turned to the smaller man, realising with satisfaction that unlike his lackey, she was able to look him straight in the eye, an eye which she noted contained after all, a subtle predatory gleam, bright yet calm and indolent, lazy and confident as opposed to razor sharp.
Dismissing this thought, La drew herself up, "I am Queen La and you I will speak with. Explain yourself. Explain this." Proudly she thrust forward her bound wrists, pushing them almost into his face. Her voice was level, her stance relaxed with the weight perfectly balanced on the balls of her feet. She did not smile, let him think her defenceless if he would.
Cutler Beckett - March 10, 2012 11:29 PM (GMT)
"Here he is."
Beckett smirked, although there was a slight curiosity in his eyes at the sight of the slave who had sent for him. He saw something in her that he didn't see in the other slaves: a fighting spirit. Stubbornly, she refused to succumb to the heat, thirst, and fatigue. She was much more intelligent than the others, and Beckett would have seen that as a threat... if it was not also a factor to admire about her. She was different, and possibly someone he could utilize, if he could only find the right means to bribe her. She didn't seem the type to easily succumb, unlike the others, which meant it would be challenging to get her to see his way.
However, Cutler Beckett liked a challenge.
"You I have done with. Leave us."
Though there was fear in the other man's eyes - fear of being attacked and likely killed, mainly - that at first prevented him from moving, Beckett stayed perfectly still and content. His eyes watched as the other man fled, although he could tell that his underling desperately tried to make it look like he was moving on to another duty of his. Cute. After the man was out of sight, Beckett turned back to the slave. He was alone with her, she who he heard could easily take his life if she wanted, and was not intimidated. He had learned not to be, for it was a weakness. If he showed any sign of weakness, Beckett had the impression that she would be able to sense it in him. She looked like the type of savage (yes, savage was most certainly the correct word for her) that could sense fear. However, in his time at the Company, he learned to sense fear himself... and learned not to give any, as well.
"I am Queen La and you I will speak with. Explain yourself. Explain this."
”Straightforward, and to the point as well,” he stated casually. ”I like it.” Casually, he started to fan himself from the heat, thankful that he was actually in a state to have a fan in his possession, as opposed to the pitiful slaves who were being captured. Poor them. ”I’m actually surprised I wasn’t introduced earlier. See, my name is Cutler Beckett, and you are my... guest. You and... your people, I assume.” He paced back and forth, simply asking for La to try to lash out at him, with his white “headdress” and his ornate fan that brushed air against his delicate face. ”I do apologize if the transition seems to be a bit... bumpy. You see, it’s only convenient to bring so many ships. And seeing the sheer amount of ‘guests’ we have to bring back? It seemed like some people didn’t put much thought into this expedition. Dear, dear, dear...” The one thing Beckett knew about talking with captives (especially those as ferocious as this one in front of him!) was never to mention the word “slave”. The word “slave” was universally an ugly word, and it would have been wise not to provoke her with its use. He felt like he had provoked her enough with his mere presence, but now was not the time to worry about that.
"I do apologize for how my men have treated you and your people. To them, you're all savages, and therefore should be treated like such. However, I am one of the few who see... something more." Beckett chuckled. "Especially... now that I've taken a look at you. Never before have I seen such willpower." From a slave, he added to himself.
"However," Beckett soon added, taking the fact that she was queen of her people into full consideration, "Should you greatly disdain the treatment you are receiving, I could, perhaps, arrange for something else? Something... more to your liking? Something... you more rightfully deserve?"
For a price, of course.
La - March 25, 2012 08:12 PM (GMT)
As the man began to speak, La could not help but raise her eyebrows for not only did he fail to look like a leader of men, but neither did he speak like one. His voice was much softer than she had expected it to be, and interspersed with frequent pauses as though he were weighing and choosing each word with the utmost care before letting it pass his lips. For someone as impulsive, outspoken, and as short-fused as herself, his mannerisms seemed almost bizarre. How did he ever expect to maintain control of his rabble if he never raised his voice or at the very least put an edge of merciless menace into it. Power after all commanded respect ... and also fear
Intrigued despite herself, she watched as the man calling himself Cutler Beckett (an odd name, but not displeasing) suddenly pulled out an ornate wedge of material and began to fan himself with a curious sense of grace, clearly enjoying the slight breeze that his languid movements afforded. Her eyes narrowed, quite why he should choose to fan himself when there were so many able-bodied servants standing idly at the dockside (or indeed lying, moaning at her feet) defied her understanding, surely this was another sign of his weakness - or was he merely humbling himself before her, acknowledging the fact that she was Queen La and he simply Cutler Beckett. An odd man with odd customs, she stared at him almost pityingly as he continued to speak, the concept that she was effectively his prisoner was quite lost on her.
"Never before have I seen such willpower."
And never would he see its like again! Unable to resist such a comment, ambiguous though it may have been, La drew herself up proudly,"Few men have looked upon La, Queen of Opar." The darker truth 'and of those, fewer still have lived to tell their tale' she left unspoken. Unwilling to debase herself and yet as always hungry for attention, and susceptible to flattery, she shifted her weight to favour one leg and with head held high tossed back her pale hair, fixing the man with two gleaming and cat-like turquoise eyes, making light of the manacles that clamped her tender skin despite their iron bite. She gave the hapless wretches lying around them no more than a careless shrug, "These are not my people, do with them as you will, I care not." Her lips curled upwards in a smile quite devoid of warmth, did Beckett honestly believe that she, Queen La looked anything like these craven fools whimpering and bewailing their lot? She slid a step or two closer to him, her eyes never leaving his and pleased that he somehow managed to hold his ground. Ah, Cutler Beckett was all too ready to trust her, or perhaps he had simply begun to appreciate her strength and regal beauty.
"Should you greatly disdain the treatment you are receiving, I could, perhaps, arrange for something else? Something... more to your liking? Something... you more rightfully deserve?"
So, he dared make her work for her release after all. Irritation flickered briefly in her bright gaze before she masked it with another smile, imagining him her captive. Imagining how her fingers might stroke this throat, relishing the throb of life in the great vein, taut below her touch as he lay staked out in the great temple at Opar. Imagining him pleading. Perhaps them she would taunt him, ask him if he greatly disdained this treatment of hers. Perhaps he would even plead to be her mate. Her smile was languid, yet her voice held no compromise and again she thrust forward her wrists. "I am Queen La, I deserve both your respect and your homage. Release me, Cutler Beckett for I shall not beg." Aware that this statement might appear challenging and in turn invite him to withdraw his offer, La dipped her head, her mind working quickly ... Perhaps it would be beneficial to compromise, at least for now. Meeting Beckett's unwavering gaze once again, this time she allowed the warmth of the smile to reach her eyes, "I should be pleased for your help in my release, and also for some water. I assure you, you will not find me ungrateful and in time Cutler Beckett, I shall reward you in kind. I am not without riches."
The wealth of which she spoke was not of course based upon silver or gold, but although still uncertain of what Beckett's price would be, La was confident that she could meet it measure for measure.
[OOC: apologies for the horrible wait, Faryl =S ]
Cutler Beckett - March 27, 2012 01:30 AM (GMT)
Beckett kept his gaze locked on the woman who called herself Queen La. Surprisingly to Beckett, the savage woman seemed to have a sense of class all on her own, implying that she was somehow above all of the others his men had captured on the island to be slaves. Somehow, Beckett sensed that she would not make the best slave. It seemed as though she was more civil than the entire island's population combined, as never before had Beckett seen a woman like her. She was defiant and rebellious, and yet Beckett felt she was too valuable of a specimen to lose. La was an interesting catch, one that he would have to watch closely in order to decide her ultimate fate - whether she was to be respected for the "royalty" she was, or whether she was going to have to be forced to comply...
"Few men have looked upon La, Queen of Opar."
"I guess I got damn lucky today," he replied, his sharp tongue overtaking his entire instinct. He chuckled, before he added in a significantly more civil tone, "You have the making of a worthy adversary. If I even considered underestimating you, I would have regretted it greatly."
Of course, there was not much to do at the moment other than to flatter her. Though Beckett was never the best at it (he had been told this on more than one occasion, often from the women themselves), he still had enough knowledge of flattery to at least temporarily pull it off. After that, Beckett would suddenly grow bored of the romantic environment and attempt to get back to his work (often more easily than he would have expected, given as his "mate" was so eager to release him). But he was at least going to flatter this savage woman until he figured out what to do with her next... which started by no longer calling her a savage. She was too civilized for that.
"These are not my people, do with them as you will, I care not."
Beckett was intrigued by this response. So she was willing to sacrifice the lives of others to keep her own dignity? It was an interesting concept for a queen to do this, but that was what made La interesting as well. She was one Beckett was eager to know more about, to gain more insight into her fiery personality. Of course, that didn't mean he was going to accept her into his society, nor would he offer his shelter to her. Beckett wasn't about to stoop that low in his flattering.
He would die before he did so.
"I thank you for your approval," Beckett replied. "I am always worried there will be a rebellion, you see. That is never good."
Beckett had a sense that she knew he was toying with her. Teasing her, to an extent. Yet she took such measures to hide it, to attempt to show she was more superior to him. He had never had this sort of a conversation with a slave before, so he was able to admit that it threw him off guard to have this long of an unprompted conversation with one of them. One of them, at that, who seemed to be echoing his own thoughts, but in her favor. Did he read that amused gleam in her eyes correctly? Did she really think she was going to condescend him to be her servant? Queen La? Though Beckett was skeptical of it at first, he still kept in the back of his mind that this was a woman not to be underestimated.
But she was also unpredictable.
"I am Queen La, I deserve both your respect and your homage. Release me, Cutler Beckett for I shall not beg."
"I shall not beg"... Never had Beckett heard those words come out of a savage's mouth. Though she smiled at him like he was her equal, Beckett could tell there was something behind her eyes that told him she wanted him in the chains that she now bore. So abruptly, she attempted to reason with him... However much Beckett wanted to turn her away, the young man felt like taking risks. He was reckless to an extent, always thinking outside the box with his decisions, as long as they did not anger his superiors. Speaking of his superiors... what would they say about his discovery of the savage queen? Would she still be his prisoner, or would she be Company property? Or, even worse, would she be anyone's property at all?
She was right; she DID deserve his respect. But his homage? It was apparent that this "Queen" was only used to having her subjects worship her. And for good reason, as a creature like her was rare to come across in the jungles. An intelligent creature like this... like her... was worth worshiping like a god, to the uncivilized savages of the wilderness. But a civilized man like Beckett, especially one born of higher class? She may as well have been asking to chew on his intestines.
However, Beckett considered her offer.
"You intrigue me, Queen La. I wish to continue this discussion further, but not here. Now is not the right time, and it is definitely not the right place. I invite you to accompany me to my ship - a cooler shelter, and a pleasant change from the wilderness. It will only be temporarily, for I am aware that this is your home. In my office, we shall negotiate, for I think I am able to come up with a small... compromise." Beckett smirked, and he was about to anticipate the savage's response until she spoke again.
"I should be pleased for your help in my release, and also for some water. I assure you, you will not find me ungrateful and in time Cutler Beckett, I shall reward you in kind. I am not without riches."
"We will discuss this in my quarters, unless you wish us not to do so. Indeed, you have earned my respect, and I am aware that you are not to be condescended. Please, do consider my offer. I am curious to hear your verdict."
La - April 11, 2012 11:32 AM (GMT)
Listening to the Englishman's smooth, glib speech La, despite her natural suspicion, could not help but be pleased by his gentle brand of flattery and the fact that he made no bones about addressing her as Queen La. Her cat-like eyes moved appraising up and down his frame, taking in everything from his dust-sprinkled boots and well-cut clothing, to the shape of his lips, and the shadowed glitter of his eyes beneath the curious headdress. Her regard was slow, appraising, and very open. Cutler Beckett had come before her apparently weaponless and as such she had judged him a fool but on consideration perhaps she had misjudged, for it seemed certain to her now that he wielded a power quite unbefitting of his appearance; power of a sort quite new to her.
She was however, not pleased with his suggestion that they retired to his ship to talk, nor by his mention of negotiating. La, used to getting her way unchallenged in all things was neither accustomed to nor indeed mentally equipped for bargaining, and the idea of being forced to debate her preferred terms in a just and reasonable manner left her both enraged and confused. Ever the queen however, she was anxious not to let him read this discomfort in her face, although despite her intentions, she found herself balking as she stared down at the great ship, realising that she had to take great care with her next move in this game they were playing, a game where for once she was not mistress of the board.
Raising her slender hands again - and inwardly smouldering over his continuing polite detachment regarding her requests to be unchained - she smoothed back a strand of hair that had fallen across her face and transferred her weight to the other hip."To your ship? Know that if it were it I offering you hospitality, then I should do so under the open sky or perhaps within the great halls of splendid Opar." Her eyes widened, "There I would show you such wonders as Cutler Beckett has never dared to dream..." Not waiting for his response La deliberately turned her back and taking measured, careful steps to avoid tripping within her shackles, moved away from him and into the shadow of the surrounding trees, rejoicing to feel the cool soil beneath her soles. How far would he let her go she wondered. Did he think her fool enough to flee or himself fool enough to stop her if she did? In truth she did not wish to enter the ship, it was unnatural, it was wrong and despite herself she was afraid that he sought to confine her there against her will, and that without the Leopard Staff his strange power would be enough to overcome her. There were catacombs beneath Opar, and she was well used to the damp and darkness there but the great wooden vessel that sat upon the water unlike any craft she had seen upon the jungle rivers was beyond her understanding.
It could only be a trap. Pausing, she found she had moved well away from him into deeper shadow yet still he had made no move to recall her. Curiously, this felt like a challenge and so turning sharply she moved on, stepping parallel to him now, aware all the time of the silence between them. Her mind raced, for how could she, a queen, show fear or refuse a challenge? The answer was simple, she could not. Swivelling on her heel La turned back to face her captor, staring into the unflinching blue of his eyes as she closed the gap between them, completing the triangle. "I would prefer that we speak here, but perhaps the sun is too hot for you. I forget that not all men are tempered from fire as am I." The shade of a mocking smile played upon her pink lips but before she could speak again or he reply, a stray salt breeze curled up from the bay below to send her hair into whipping disarray, capturing them both within its pale arms as it sent long strands teasingly brushing against his face. Sensing that here perhaps was a will as stubborn as her own - a will she would take great pleasure in cowing - she moved closer. The challenge was irresistible, trap or no, she would do as he asked.
She gestured gracefully with a slim hand, "I have chosen to be your guest, so let us descend to your ship and ... talk." Her smile now held a glint of predator, "You may address me as La, Cutler Beckett. Or simply my queen. Lead on."
Cutler Beckett - April 12, 2012 05:43 PM (GMT)
Something about her intent focus on him as he was speaking to her made Beckett realize that she was comprehending what he was saying, and taking the time to think about the reasonable way to avoid any further plight. There was an added degree of sentience to her, one that Beckett had not seen in any of the other savages he had interacted with throughout his time in Africa. It did not just make him see that he had underestimated her deducing and reasoning ability, but part of it made him realize that perhaps he had met his match, in terms of cleverness and thinking that were above the set standards.
"To your ship? Know that if it were it I offering you hospitality, then I should do so under the open sky or perhaps within the great halls of splendid Opar. There I would show you such wonders as Cutler Beckett has never dared to dream..."
Though he did not immediately respond to this, Beckett kept this piece of information in the back of his mind. He did not want to look gullible in front of her, and request that she lead him to these "wonders". He saw through her attempt to trick him into setting her free, and even if she did not intend to flee as soon as her chains were released (for some reason, he found her to be much too civil to even attempt such a trick), it was going to take quite a bit of persuading to sway Cutler Beckett from his original proposition.
He stood in the same place as before, watching her inch farther and farther away from him. Cutler Beckett remained steadfast, observing her carefully, seeming to not care whether or not she took advantage of the free opportunity to escape. If she did take the opportunity, then she would most certainly have been civil enough to know that she would have immediately become a fugitive. Therefore, she would have also been aware that if this was the case, then she would be relentlessly pursued until she was eventually caught and handed over back to him. The scene played out in the young man's mind as the savage woman returned his gaze.
Ah, she seemed to give up on her attempt to lure him out of his stubborn shell. Now with a satisfied smirk on his face, Beckett watched as La made her way back to him with a slight modification to her take on his offer.
"I would prefer that we speak here, but perhaps the sun is too hot for you. I forget that not all men are tempered from fire as am I."
Beckett ignored the insult in her voice. Reckless as he had a tendency to be sometimes, he also knew that there was a time and a place for defensive remarks. This in particular - dealing with the savage woman who scrutinized him for weaknesses almost as much as he scrutinized her for the same - was not one of those times.
"That's better," he replied. "Please, do forgive me for my... physical weaknesses. I am not as accustomed to this environment as you are, and I am not afraid to admit that it does make me... susceptible. In fact..." An idea suddenly came to him, one that he knew would be a suitable compromise for them both, "if you are as discontent as you are with the proposition that we converse in shelter, may I suggest that we simply speak on the ship's deck? In this way, you will still have the African sun with which you take comfort, while the environment is... slightly more civilized." With this, he meant that he did not feel comfortable talking in the dense overgrowth that was the African jungle, and instead wanted to carry out his conversation somewhere where he felt... safer, for lack of a better word. Even after all this time, the jungle still unsettled him, frightened him to an extent. He hoped that he wouldn't spend any more time in its overbearing, leafy grasp than necessary.
Beckett's thoughts were interrupted by the pale strands of hair that brushed up against his face. It caught him off guard, his eyelids reflexively closing as some of the hair was dangerously close to his eyes. Dismissing this as soon as he could, Beckett patiently listened to La's next comment.
"I have chosen to be your guest, so let us descend to your ship and ... talk. You may address me as La, Cutler Beckett. Or simply my queen. Lead on."
There was something unsettling about the way she had made her final verdict. Almost as unsettling as the jungle that surrounded them. However, she had accepted his request, and there was now no going back on it.
"I shall keep that in mind," he replied when she had mentioned about how to refer to her, before adding, "Do follow me."
La - May 10, 2012 06:29 PM (GMT)
Acutely aware that every step she took lead her further from the sheltering protection of the thick green jungle and possible escape, La followed Beckett down the sloping path towards the ship moored close to the bustling quayside. The shackles looped around her ankles restricted her movements and chafed at every stilted step, while those about her wrists ensured a constant ache across her shoulders. Nevertheless, she moved like a queen, stately, upright, proud, with her head held high as she coolly stared down every man brazen enough to leer at her. She also stared at Beckett's back for she knew all the vulnerable spots - those which would merely make him twitch, and those which would leave him on his knees gasping out his life's blood. The faintest smile curled her shell-pink lips, it would be so easy to slide a knife between his ribs, if only she had a knife.
Concentrating as she was on his demise, it took her a second or two to realise they had reached the water's edge and that he had stopped at the foot of a narrow walkway that led steeply up onto the ship as the vessel itself reared above them. She eyed the walkway dispassionately, noting the slight motion as the ship rocked gently in its berth. Her captor's face was expressionless but she felt he was perhaps testing her. Her own expression masked a wealth of emotion, did Cutler Beckett expect her to balk or whine that she could not walk his path? More fool him if that was the truth, she was La of Opar, used to jungle, mountain and torrent, this bridge of his would scarce test the skill of a child!
The ship itself was another matter, it crouched above her like some dark, ill beast, its sides festooned with more ugly faces as many of the crew, seeing a woman about to board, cried out raucously. A sour scent moved on the breeze that rose to greet her, sweat, tar, old fish, and fear.
Instinctively the African was loth to board the vessel and yet as always, always
, her pride won out for she refused to show weakness in front of her captors. So it was then that without waiting for any invitation, the white haired woman brushed past the man who would discuss her fate so glibly and moved swiftly up the gangplank with all the dignity her shackles would allow, her bare feet sure on its sun-worn surface.
Curious sailors watched her come, some of them raising their hands as though to ward off evil and unblinking she met their eyes one by one. Reaching the top she made to turn and watch Beckett following her up only for a sudden movement of the ship to throw her off balance, forcing her to clutch out at the thick greasy rope that served as a guardrail. Something hard pricked her palm and her fingers closed about it, tugging fluidly so that as the object tore away from the rope, she could close her hand about it and still turn in time to watch her captor's approach, the very picture of humble compliance. The deck had cleared as he began his climb and she found herself alone as he stood before her.
Unsure of where to go - the ship was quite bewildering to her and she did not like the way it moved
however subtly beneath her feet, she turned to Beckett, her voice quite calm. "So here is your ship, and here am I. Is this the civilisation you require, Cutler Beckett? Would you see fit to speak to me now and discuss my release? I assure you again, you shall not find me ungrateful. Come, can we not talk now? A queen is not used to waiting."
As he looked past her, searching perhaps for a place more private where they could talk without being overheard by the curious seamen, La's eyes dropped briefly to the object still hidden between her fingers. A bone, a fish bone; no doubt caught in the rope when some careless boy had thrown the scraps overboard. Her finger caressed it, tested it. Bleached white by sun and tide, it was old, strong and horribly sharp. It was a weapon.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * [OOC: Faryl, hope it was okay to say Cuttles was going up the gangplank / looking to find a good chat venue, if you need me to edit that, just say the word, I'm just trying to move 'em along here! =)
Cutler Beckett - May 21, 2012 05:00 PM (GMT)
As he began to lead her toward the ship, Beckett could not help but to take a small, subtle glance behind him every once in a while and see how his "guest" was reacting to the journey. After some careful observation of her, both while they were and were not conversing, Beckett had come to a conclusion: there, indeed, was a way to manipulate her, and that was through her pride. Whenever it appeared that he was belittling her, she seemed to be all the more determined to follow through with her actions. For a while, he decided to test this theory to see if it was correct. For a while until they reached the ship, Beckett peered over his shoulder simply to see how she would react. He did not do this constantly, as even he knew that it would have annoyed her to the point of not being civil with him (and that, he concluded, was the last thing he wanted at that moment). Instead, it was on occasion that he checked on her, making his subtle movements completely random and unpredictable in nature, yet seeming to be normal for anyone who didn't have the nerve to look twice. Once he got the reaction that was satisfying to him, Beckett ceased to continue with his test, although he took note of her actions and behaviors toward him. Once he saw what she was capable of, he would know what to use against her and how to go about doing so.
His final test came when the ship was looming over them, and Beckett had paused for a brief moment at the gangplank. He turned toward her, an expectant gleam in his dull, emotionless eyes. He wanted to know whether she was too prideful to see through his masquerade, to know exactly what he was doing. For a moment, it appeared as though she had seen what he was doing, but it turned out that the young Beckett had jumped to conclusions too quickly. It was not the expression of having seen what he wanted of her, it was the expression that he had expected from her. With distaste, she ascended the gangplank without even so much as a command, even going as far as to ascend before he even got a chance to move.
Certainly, she had passed his test.
Beckett, although recovering from his brief blunder, was not blind to the curious and fearful glances from the ship's crewmen. Looking at them as distastefully as La looked at him, he figured he had some... explaining to do, especially if he wanted to assure Queen La the Savage a civil conversation, exactly as he had promised her.
"Gentlemen," Beckett remarked calmly, with a casual tone as if he was having tea with most of the men on board, "I ask that, in order to properly welcome our... guest, I ask that you allow us to converse in peace, and make no objections of any sort to the way I have willed the situation. Any sort of qualms you may have about having a woman on board the ship, I will personally increase the magnitude of those fears sevenfold, and that will be your reality. You know I don't believe in those sorts of superstitions. Dismissed."
Beckett smirked with satisfaction as the men hesitated for a moment before returning to work as if nothing ever happened (although there was some trace of fear in their movements, particularly about the consequences of objecting to Beckett's demands). True, part of that was to show off for La, to cause her to take him even more seriously than before, but it was also because he simply enjoyed doing that. It gave him pleasure to see men older and younger than he become reduced to mere insects trapped in his strong fist.
It was fun.
Of course, Beckett was so absorbed in himself at that moment that he did not notice La's discovery of the fish bone, so he had dismissed the entire affair when he turned back to her to address her.
"So here is your ship, and here am I. Is this the civilisation you require, Cutler Beckett? Would you see fit to speak to me now and discuss my release? I assure you again, you shall not find me ungrateful. Come, can we not talk now? A queen is not used to waiting."
"Indeed," Beckett replied. "Now.... I brought you here and gave you this opportunity to speak for yourself because, in you, I see... potential." He started to walk toward the rail that separated the deck from a sailor's watery grave. Casually, he leaned forward against it, inviting La to follow. "You are not like the others. However, you probably already know that."
However, she didn't need to answer. He knew she did.
La - June 19, 2012 09:08 PM (GMT)
Indeed, La did not need to answer and instead, with the hidden bone secreted snugly between her fingers, took the time to gaze coolly about the ship, purposely avoiding her captor's eyes and making him wait for a response.
She was inexperienced in the ways of men, or at least in holding civil conversations with them. The few who did fall into her clutches and whom were swiftly brought to their knees before her throne, offered little in the way of diversion, and most revealed themselves to be abject cravens. Cutler Beckett however, was a strange man, he appeared not to fear her and so she surmised that although he admittedly recognised her potential, he had not as yet realised its full and deadly potency.
The sun beat down on the seasoned boards beneath her feet and at last she turned her bright eyes back to the Englishman. The present inertia frustrated her, bored her, made her long for action, yet here was a man whom she instinctively knew preferred to use words as his weapons whereas she herself preferred of course, to simply wield weapons. Expressionless, she unleashed the full malice of her imperious turquoise gaze upon him, Cutler Beckett could play around with words as much as he liked, for now that she was here she found that she did not feel much disposed to talk to him."What would you have of me, Cutler Beckett, for I assure you, potential or not, I am no man's plaything. If you have offers to make then make them and be swift, Queen La is not one for idle bargaining, nor is my patience infinite. You will begin by explaining why I have been chained like some common slave, and you will apologise! I can assure you that had I had my staff with me, then those who captured me in the foothills of Opar would have quickly learned to treat me with - "
Sensing a sudden frisson, the African woman stopped abruptly, realising perhaps too late, that mentioning the magical Leopard Staff, may not have been wise. Her fingers tightened reflexively around the bone, something about the gleam of eyes in his otherwise impassive face told her that Beckett had been paying close attention even if she herself had not.
=================================[OOC: sorry it's kind of rushed / short / thrown together Faryl, I just really wanted to get a reply in before I disappear for a few days. Hopefully we can get these two trekking back through the worst of the jungle (with Beckett on a leash!!!) heading towards Opar eventually too! =)