A roleplay by @Elle Joyner and @onyxsunrise Elle Alora has lived there her entire life. She knows that isn't right. Her and her three nursemaids, and no one else. Her father tells her in the letters he sends that she is kept there for her safety, for he is very wealthy and she is his only daughter, and she is grateful for his protection... But she is also quite lonely. Every day is much the same. She wakes to the sound of the shore, the sea brushing foam against the sand, to the cry of gulls and the subtle whisper of the breeze through fronds of trees. She rises and her nurse Rebecca brings her breakfast on a tray before the lit fire, then Aria comes to see her dressed. In the afternoon, if the weather is fair she walks with Pisan along the tide line to collect shells and fragments of wood that have washed up. Then Pisan will leave Alora to sun on the rocks while she gathers sand crabs and shellfish for supper. They return just as the sun begins her journey south, touching the sky with golds and oranges, purples and pinks. In the cottage, Rebecca prepared supper, and Alora sits with Aria by the fire. Aria is the youngest of the three, very pretty and fair, a wisp, short and thin, with light blonde hair and eyes the color of cornflowers. She's a mercurial girl, but sweet and kind, often given to bouts of gossip, which is met by frowns from the other two. They aren't permitted, Alora’s told, to tell stories of the Mainlands. They eat, then she is bathed and dressed and put to bed and while she sleeps, she dreams that she is a bird, or a fish... and there is unfathomable freedom. Sometimes she wakes in the night and cries, and she doesn’t always understand why, but when she speaks of it to her darling nursemaids there are always looks of pity and sadness. But as light dawns through the window and morning begins anew, those looks are forgotten and routine begins again. On the day when everything changed, she woke to the sound of rain, pattering against the rooftop of the cottage and to the sound of her nursemaids, whispering amongst themselves. Sleep unfurls and she opens her eyes, and for a moment, only a moment, she lies there, still and she listens. "Should we tell him? The master?" "I don't see why. It's not like we found anything." "But what if..." "He'll want to come all this way, and if it's for nothing..." "Shh! Listen... I think she's awake." Sitting up with a wide stretch and a yawn, Alora meets each of them with a smile. They needn't know she’s heard them, and what she’s heard she can make very little sense of anyway. She learned long ago that some things are better left unsaid and vexing a nursemaid can make for a very lonely afternoon. "Was there a storm?" She asks, instead.. Rebecca makes a noise, like the squeal of an animal and Aria turns suddenly pale, and in the moment she is very aware that she’s said something entirely wrong, trying to say nothing wrong at all. Pisan scowls at the women, steps forward and holds her hands out, to help Alora down from the dais upon which sits her bed, "Just a small one, but it's still raining. Rebecca has made bread this morning, and if you'd like I can heat you up some tea. It's dreadful outside, sure to be misery, but nothing a bit of tea can't warm away." "That would be lovely." Turning to the others, Pisan nods and Rebecca and Aria scurry off, looking only too grateful for the opportunity to leave. Alora’s mind reflects on their conversation, but nothing beyond the prospect of her father visiting sheds any enlightenment on their uneasiness. She thinks to ask, but holds her tongue at the stony look that crosses Pisan's plump face. She is the eldest of the three, a remarkably wide woman, more broad than tall, with ruddy skin and watery blue eyes, a mess of dark grey hair clumped into a knot on the top of her head and impossibly large hands. She seems severe, but there is a maternal tenderness to her that makes her easily Alora’s favorite of the three. After breakfast, the rain clears, but the cloud sodden sky promises more foul weather later. Pisan knows how Alora detest being cooped up in the cottage, so they take their walk anyway. Today, however, she insists that the sand is too damp and they travel the edge of trees instead, filling out baskets with fruit and nuts and herbs. They return early, and Rebecca makes quail. That night, the women retire early and Alora am left to soak in a tub of lavender and salt. And for a time, she sits... and she is content to continue pretending. But she cannot ignore it for long, the pressing thought that she is missing something. Climbing from the water, she dries herself and slips into a nightgown of ivory linen and peering through the window she spots the woman gathered in front of the root cellar, chatting wildly to each other. She knows she ought not to, and her father's warnings ring in her mind, but she finds herself slipping through the door, gliding like a wraith along the side of the house, and in the opposite direction of the cellar, down to the beach. For a while, she just walks, unsure where she’s going or what her purpose is. She has never wandered off before, and she remembers now why. At least with her nursemaids she has company, but here in the dark, with only the sounds of the water, washing across the shore and the pounding of her heart in her ears she is terribly alone. The air is cold, and she shivers, wrapping her arms tightly across her chest. She should turn back, but she doesn’t. She knows she should, but she can't... it's as if something is drawing her. Then she sees it. Through the darkness, at first it's only bits of black across the pale grey sand. She can hardly see what she’s looking at until she draws closer. And then she freezes. Father told her about them, once... a long time ago, but the words are clear as the day she read them. The Other Kind. They were dangerous, he'd said... vile and foul beasts, slayers of men, of women and children. Perverse and twisted and wicked creatures. But it doesn't look dangerous, the tall, bronzed thing that has washed up. Tattered-ragged and tangled in ripes, it looks harmless... Slowly, she steps towards it. "Don't... touch it!" Alora spins to see Pisan standing behind her, her hands on her hips, eyes wide and angry. Directly behind her, Rebecca and Aria look terrified, "Has it moved?" "N...no." Alora answers, but it comes out in a whisper, barely carrying across the wind. She turns back to look at it, frowning thoughtfully, "It's... it's one of them isn't it?" "Yes." Pisan says, her lips curved downwards, "And we must get rid of it, before the Master finds out." "Get rid of it?" Alora whips her head around, "But where will you..." Understanding dawns, and she steps back, "Oh! But you can't mean... You aren't going to..." "We have to. Before it wakes." "...No, Pi. Please. You... you can't." She can feel the tears stinging her eyes, feel them building, clinging to her lashes and she blink to clear my vision, sending a stream of them trailing along her cold skin, "Look at it! It... it doesn't look at all a danger." "Of course not. Things that harm us don't always come in the form of Devils, child. Now... back to the house with you." Shaking my head, Alora steps back again, planting her feet in the sand, “No. I won’t… I won’t let you.” “...This is not a discussion I will have with you Alora. Back to the house!” “No!” Her voice rises, and she can see Aria flinch, and she knows how she sounds, but she can feel rationality slipping. She has no conscious idea why she needs to protect it, but she must. She must. She wants to think that it’s just inherent goodness, that the murder of any creature would plague her so, but she knows her reaction, at least in part is due to curiosity. She wants to know what it is… to see it for herself. The sky cracks apart with a violent, heliotrope fork of lightning, a growl of thunder, and the rain pours from the blackened heavens in rivers. Pisan mutters, turns to Aria and Rebecca, shaking her head, “Take it back to the cottage! Chain it up. No sense all of us dying out here for that miserable thing…” Alora remains suspicions, as the three woman move forward to lift the creature that Pisan isn’t referring to it, but she can’t be worried by her nursemaid’s irritation. She’s won, at least for now. But as she moves to take hold of the thing’s foot, to help carry it, Pisan barks at her, “Do NOT touch it!” There is such fury in her voice that Alora yanks her hand away, as if struck, and as they cart the creature towards the cottage, she follows slowly in wake. Inside the cottage, the creature it chained to the post beside the fireplace. In the rich light of the flickering flames, Alora watches… Pisan stands beside it, narrowed eyes, hand gripping tightly around an iron poker. “...You will not approach it. You will not go near it, do you understand me, Alora?” Pisan asks, and she nods, but she barely hears her nursemaid. She knows what her father has told her. She knows that it is evil. Wicked. But it is also beautiful, and awestruck, she cannot tear her gaze away. onyxsunrise Though sand presses into his skin, it seems to be grains that have infiltrated his sodden clothing rather than the welcoming embrace of a beach. Dimly he registers voices, but his attention is elsewhere; leaning forward, he heaves, and a deluge of saltwater splatters on the floor. The last events in his memory start to come back in waves; the nearby ship unfurling that black flag and engaging, the exchanges of rounds, the rolling thunder, the freefall when they smashed into some rocks and tipped over, and then nothing. And then this. Samson is a sailor, and has been most at home on a boat for as long as he can remember. He was on a trading ship, headed to the rich islands of the south where exotic goods of all manners could be obtained, when the storm and the pirates came upon them near simultaneously. The flapping skull and crossbones and the sudden change of wind had sent chills down his spine; neither could mean anything good. He knew. But he was a hardened man and he never let his discomfort show. Not that that helped him much, when the boats broke on the craggy rocks and flipped. He's certainly worse off for that particular misadventure. His head throbs with what can only be a fever, and his throat is hot and painful to use. "Water," he croaks, opening his eyes blearily. A group of women surround him. "Please," he adds softly, remembering his manners. Around then, he becomes aware of the chains binding him and groans once more, a little more self-aware this time. Perhaps he has not fallen into the hands of saviors after all. Elle The eyes crack open, the mouth… and it speaks, and for a moment all Alora can think is how ordinary it sounds.. How strangely... human. Yet she remembers distinctly, the words from her father's letters, about their ferocity, but also their craftiness. How they draw maidens to their doom with words and song, but to touch them, to allow yourself to be touched by them is flame and death. Pisan stares at it with her eyes narrowed and wary, and in her hand she clutches the poker tightly, her knuckles white around the wrought iron. When she speaks, Alora hardly recognizes the tone of her voice. “Silence!” She snaps, “You’ll say nothing, or it’s the end for you, Beast.” The door opens behind Alora and she is drawn from her wearisome thoughts by the expression on Rebecca's pale face. She is easily the prettiest of the three women, delicate and soft, by with fiery red hair and large, bright green eyes - mossy and warm. Across her skin is a constellation of bronze freckles, which in the sun increase, exponentially. Her smile is tender and sweet, but rare... reserved, Alora think, for someone quite special to her. There is no smile now, but a face threadbare. "Pisan..." She says, and her gaze flickers to Alora, warily, "We've found another." Alora’s heart jumps at the thought, and Pisan stands, slowly, "Where?" "Further down the beach. It's alive, but unconscious. I had to leave Aria..." "You... what!?" Pisan's cheeks redden, and for a moment Alora feels terribly for Rebecca, but then sees the opportunity, her woes are forgotten. "They're dangerous, Pi! If it wakes... Oh, poor Aria. You must go to her at once. Go!" Alora chimes pitifully, and when Pisan looks to her with suspicion in her gaze, she quickly adds, "I will sit here on the bed and I swear not to move until you've returned. But oh, please hurry!" Pisan mutters an oath, but nods, gesturing Rebecca out the cottage door, "Go, on with you. Take me to him... And you..." She adds, turning to Alora , a plump finger pointed like a blade, "If you move from that spot, it's the rod for you." Making a noise in her throat like a threatening animal, Pisan turns and storms out. Alora wait. She waits as long as she can stand to, and then she moves, quickly. Her hands find the pitcher by the bedside table, filled with a tart wine and a wooden bowl. It isn’t water, but it will have to do. Edging towards the creature, she hesitates, frown. If she’s wrong... But no, she can't be. Sitting down on the edge of the hearth, her heart pounding in her chest, she fills a bowl and gently as she can, afraid to move closer, she holds it out, her hands trembling as she offer it to his lips. “Drink, quickly… before they return.” onyxsunrise He blinks a few times, trying to clear the haze out of his vision and get a good look around. Two women, one older, broader, harder-looking. The other, on the other hand, is a beautiful creature, and his fever-addled mind thinks for a moment that she must be a siren, having led him from the safety of his ship to this... sticky situation. Sluggishly, he dismisses the notion and warily eyes the poker clutched in the biddy's hand. Another siren - no, just a pretty young thing - enters. If Samson is understanding rightly, something foul has washed up on the beach. More than one, even - what could it be that has struck such concern into the voices of these women? And on that note, who is here to protect them? He has yet to see a man. Could it be they are alone here? If that's the case, he can hardly blame them for being so wary, though perhaps denying him water is a little extreme. He'd like to protest that particular decision, but his years have taught him that vexing a scared woman is ill-advised. His headache seems to grow worse suddenly, and he closes his eyes, leaning closer to the fire. With a start, he feels the bowl against his lips and smells more than hears the siren - no, beautiful girl. She smells sweet like tropical flowers, lilies and orchids, hibiscus and jasmine. She smells fresh, like salt in the air. He straightens and drinks with great gulps, nearly coughing to find it isn't water - but mercy, it's something. After quickly draining the bowl, he looks up at the girl and manages a small smile. "Thank you," he says, hoarseness offset by his quiet tone. His eyes scan the room, then, more alert this time. While he's certainly glad he hasn't drowned, he gets the feeling staying here too long would be a very bad idea. There has to be a key to these chains somewhere... But he can't find it. Maybe the large one - Pisan? - has them. He sighs and settles back down, looking back at the girl. "Is this how your friends treat all their guests?" he teases lightly. Elle Her eyes remain down turned, focused with stalwart attention on the bowl in her hands and so she cannot see his weary smile. But somehow, some part of her can sense it there upon his lips, within his words, and it frightens her. This is what she had been warned of, her whole life. These tricks, this craftiness, and the ease with which is comes. These are creatures who spin words like silken thread, to drape about your throat... not to warm, though, but to choke, to strangle. And she is letting him bewitch her, even now, like a fool, letting him entrance. "Shh..." She hisses, though it's soft and her voice quivers when she speaks, "You mustn't talk. I know of your trickery, and I won't fall prey to pretty words. I've been taught well the nature of your kind, Creature." But despite her warning, her eyes drift upwards and for a moment they cannot help but linger on his face. How could something so soft, so handsome be so evil. But as Pisan's words ring in her ear, she feels the heat of anger rise in her skin at her own stupidity. He might not appear a devil... but that doesn't make him good. No. Eyes snapping away again, she lowers the wooden bowl down to the hearth and rises slowly to her feet, her hands clasped in front of her, fingers anxiously knotted together like rope, "They'll come back, when they've dealt with the other one, and when they do, I don't know what they intend to do with you, but I know what the rules are, if one of your kind comes upon our shore. My father has made it abundantly clear" With a swallow of nerves, she looks to him again, and among the fear there is perhaps something else there, perhaps pity, "...They will probably kill you." She knows it shouldn't sadden her, yet she can feel the weight of those words as they leave her mouth with a bitter, vile taste. So many times she's heard and read of the atrocities... yet in word it is much easier to believe something, than when it sits before you, desperately broken and frightened and trying very hard to look amiable and kindhearted. onyxsunrise "...your kind, Creature." Samson frowns as she speaks, blinking. What did I miss? he wonders. Still, he honors her order not to talk. After all, he's rather busy trying to work out what exactly is going on. The girl is still talking, and he registers her words on some level, but he's also connecting the dots, his eyes glinting with thought as they remain fixed on her. If he is something so distasteful as to be stripped of humanity, and if the women have found "another" on the beach, it stands to reason that the "other" is one like him. A survivor from the crash? His heart swells with hope. Until she delivers the death sentence. "Kill?" he blurts out, hands struggling against the chains in earnest now. "Now hold on, what exactly is it that you think I am?" His mind races. "A deviant? A demon? A pirate? Oh, miss... I'm none of those things, really I'm not. I'm only a man, I swear it." With a grunt of frustration, he gives up on trying to break the chain by pulling, instead casting his eyes about the room for something, anything. Perhaps the key, perhaps a file... or perhaps a butter knife fallen on the floor, under a nearby table. It'll do, he thinks with desperation, already picturing himself working it into the chains and cutting through during the night, when all are asleep. Now, how to get it without being suspicious? Surely his legs could reach that far, but... He glances back at the girl. A siren after all. That's what he wants to think. Bitter dislike would make it easy, but she seems... sad. Anxious. Perhaps she still needs to taste the blood in the water before she begins to circle, but he is inclined to think she's nothing more than a very pretty, very sheltered young girl. Elle If she didn't know any better, she might think his words sounded genuine, the shock behind them. He struggles, and as he does, she pulled back, startled, scrambling out of the reach of his hands, even chained. Is it possible that Pisan and the others were wrong? That he's not one of the others her father warned of? Or is this all part of that wicked trickery she was so confident she could resist. There is no confidence, now. Only confusion. Surely there could be no mistake. But then why does she feel so utterly conflicted. And why does it bother her so, to see him fighting at his binds. She wants to help him. Against her better judgment, she wants to help him, because she can see the fear in his eyes and whether his words mean anything or not, that expression feels very real. "I'm sorry..." She says, honestly. Even if he is a monster, she is not, and it greatly saddens her to think even inadvertently, she is responsible for the death of another. But what can she do? She is only one girl, and the little she knows about the world the little she does know had hardly prepared her for waging argument against Pisan, a woman much older and wiser than Alora could ever hope to be. Deciding it is the only bit of good she can do, Alora kneels and pours another bowl of wine and carefully, she brings it back to him, tipping it up for him to drink, "They are good women, and they will take no joy in your death, I assure you. And they will not allow you to suffer." Though it isn't entirely from personal experience these conclusions are formed. This has never happened before, and really there is no precedence by which Alora can draw sound reasoning. For all she knows, Pisan could endeavor to make his life misery, before ending it. And while she certainly hopes not, there's very little she can do, otherwise. "I'm sorry..." She repeats, those this time it is definitively an apology, more than it is sympathy. She feels powerless, and it is decidedly not a comfortable feeling, at all. onyxsunrise He hangs his head at her apology, wondering if it's all just a fever dream he'll soon wake from but logically knowing he really is awake. Urgency and concern have set in, but not fear, and certainly not resignation. He hears what the girl is saying, but he's been in many a tight situation. When a shark caught his leg and tugged him underwater, did Samson go limp and let the beast devour him like a fish carcass? No! He drew his filet knife and he sheathed it in the predator's eye socket, and the tooth that stayed lodged in his skin as he swum back up and was hauled back onto the ship hangs on his neck now. He certainly didn't die. When his ship was accosted in the Eastern Isles by an unusually hulking junk twice the size of his humble galleon and with half again as many munitions, did Samson take his sails down and invite them aboard? No! He showed them why junks were often built small in the first place, running circles around them until its crushed and flaming hull sunk into the sea as men jumped overboard, begging to join his ranks if he would only rescue them, and he certainly didn't die! When Dread Pirate Trumble Perry prodded him down the thick logs on which the sails were fixed, a one-hundred foot drop to the deck below them, did Samson lose his balance and fall?! Well, yes - but he caught the sails on the way down and climbed to safety, and he certainly didn't die any more than he is about to die now. So when she offers him more wine, he is not so morose that he cannot take it gratefully, though he can't help but choke on it and pull his face away when she casually talks about how his supposed death will be painless. "That, er... That's enough, thank you." Of the wine and of the talk, but he doesn't say that part. He still has his manners. He spears the girl on a stare as she apologizes yet again, a sneaking suspicion growing in his mind that she doesn't know why he deserves death any more than he does. "My name's Samson," he offers, casually stretching his legs out in front of him. His foot comes to rest on the butter knife, hiding it, he hopes, from view. "Am I still not allowed to talk? It's not personal, miss, but you must know I don't plan to just let them kill me." He smiles, mirthlessly this time. "I'm a wee bit attached to being alive." Elle He has a name. Why under all the stars above does he have to have a name. The thought travails above all others, as she watched him, lowering the bowl back to the edge of the hearth. She can feel his gaze on her, but she doesn't dare meet it. She's already allowed him to speak too long, to dig his way beneath her skin and behind the eyes were the soul, and she was terrified of what she might see when she looked at him. This, decidedly, is why her father has left her for so long on the island. Because he must know she's weak... That she would fail in a world filled with his kind. She couldn't be trusted. "You really shouldn't." But it isn't a demand. She hadn't the heart for demands anymore. Knowing his fate and that in part she is responsible for it, it's all she can do not to release him from his chains, to give him a fair shot at escaping, "It's rather conflicting. The... the stories I've been told. You're not at all like they say, and... and I can't help but wonder if there's not been a mistake" But Pisan is wise, and she would never imprison an innocent creature. Alora has to believe that. That the woman who has raised her... who loves her like her own child could be capable of cruelty of that nature. But if Pisan isn't capable of such a terrible behavior, then it must reason that he is what they claim, and stupidly, she's allowed herself to fall beneath his spell, already. She's allowed herself to find sympathy for the creature, and he would use that to destroy her. Swiftly, she rises, brushes off her skirt and moved back to her perch on the dais, where she has promised Pisan she would wait. They will return soon, and if she's caught disobeying she knows her punishment will be all too severe. Three lashes with the mule whip. And deservedly, so. Her father is a wise man and the rules he sets, the rules he requires her to live by are fair... put in place for her own good, to protect her and the women tasked with her care. Still, folding her hands in her lap, she looks across the room at him, and before she can stop them, she finds the words leaving her mouth, "I'm Alora..." onyxsunrise He tilts his head, watching her speak with eyes downcast as if avoiding seeing him. She's confirming his suspicions, and inwardly he wonders what fearful rhetoric she must have grown up with. Samson has brushed elbows with evil, wined and dined with some of the most morally reprehensible figures you can find. He has learned the look in the eyes of someone who can't be saved, and in all his captivity he hasn't seen that look. These are good people he's dealing with, and that's a mixed blessing and curse. The evil man need only be stopped by any means possible. The good man... The good man isn't your enemy. But the good man must be convinced as much. Or good woman, in this case. Samson bows - as much as he can, anyway, chained as he is. "A beautiful name. I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, Alora." He inwardly has to admit a little disappointment that she has returned herself to her post. It has been many months at sea for him, and a beautiful woman in all her sweetness standing nearby is never amiss. She's a sight for his sore eyes. He imagines he smells something fierce, though, so perhaps it's for the best she stays a few feet off. Sighing, he folds his legs around each other, dragging the dully serrated knife in closer to his body. He nearly jumps when he hears the metallic scrape of it against the stone floor, giving him away unless he is most absolutely the luckiest man in the world. As if on cue, in rush the girl's companions. Samson acts as normal as he can, but he's sweating. Elle There is the flattery again, and Alora's skin flushes as she lowers her gaze. She has been called beautiful before, but only ever by her handmaidens, and so the word feels strange coming from the lips of the very thing she had been raised to fear. It is only her name, but she feels the weight of that word and it frightens her to feel so flattered. She looks away, and so she doesn't see his surreptitious efforts, though if she had there was little telling what she might have done. Instead, she stares hard into the floor and wonders if it's at all possibly that her father has been wrong all along. She doesn't notice Pisan has returned until she hears the footsteps on the hard, wooden floor. Looking up, she frowns at the sight of the woman, haggard and sopping wet, ringlets coming unfurled from her dark hair. For a moment, she studies Alora and Alora can feel the weight of his stare boring into her, the scrutiny. But it isn't until the woman's eyes move towards the fireplace that Alora realizes where she has made a mistake. The bowl sits, still, beside the wine pitcher - all the evidence Pisan needs to know Alora has disobeyed. She says nothing. She doesn't have to. She knows the consequences and she has no doubt they will come. The silence is deafening, but brief and when she turns her eyes from Alora to Samson, they narrow, her voice frank and cold, "We've secured the other one. He's in the root cellar. I imagine you've figured out by now what needs to happen here. There's no point in trying to change your fate, so however you need to make peace... I'd do so, now." Her gaze shifts back to Alora and that coldness remains, "...Outside, Alora." Stepping back, she holds the door open and swallowing, Alora rises to her feet, moving out into the cold. onyxsunrise Samson sees Pisan come in before Alora does, and he watches the woman intently, then follows her gaze to the bowl. He feels sad for the girl, really he does, but at the same time he can't help but think his situation rather more dire. When the woman turns her cold gaze to him, he does his best not to roll his eyes. "All due respect, ma'am, but I still haven't figured out why you're so intent on making a filet of me in the first place." He winces in sympathy as Alora rises from her seat, trembling. In a haze he had heard something about lashes, and it echoes around his mind now. Still, when the room is empty he breathes a sigh of relief and, with some awkward shuffling, slides the butter knife behind him, where his hands are bound. He pulls it into his fingers and immediately feels safer, stronger - never mind it's only made to cut soft things. He twists his hand around and begins tapping the shackles with the tip of the knife, navigating by feel until - aha. There's a slot for a key, there. Samson slips the knife into the opening and jiggles, trying to open the lock. No success. He twists, he jabs, he shakes, but none of his efforts yield the results he's looking for. He curses, then withdraws the knife. "I really didn't want to do this," he says aloud, then with one hand slips the knife between his other and its cuff, the serrated edge pressed against the metal. It's a tight fit, pressing uncomfortably into his wrist, and he can only hope his skin is loose enough to move with the friction he's about to generate. He starts to file with quick, frantic strokes, knowing this will be the work of hours. And as he works, he thinks, going through all the recent events trying to gain some insight. From what I can remember, our ship and the pirates' were both in bad shape when we hit the rocks, and the storm didn't help. We went overboard, and then... nothing, for a while. Maybe I hit my head. Then there was a moment - I woke up on the shore, sick to my stomach, and spewed out water. It wasn't all of it, I know that, but it seemed so cold and then... I think I was hit in the head? Again? And that's when I woke up in here, like this. There was the girl, this woman, and I think others, but I was not well - damn it all, I'm still not well. His arms are beginning to grow tired, but he continues, knowing he hasn't even made a dent. A chill shivers through him, skin hot to touch. The skin of his wrist is beginning to grow sore. They spoke, very angrily, and then there was the other, who spoke of another like me. And I still can't draw the confounded connection, except perhaps being a man or a sailor. They can't be as backwards-like to do this just because I am a sailor, can they? The girl - if the girl returns, bless her heart, perhaps she will explain it. When he hears footsteps, he stops abruptly, disengaging the knife and slipping it under his sleeve, where the shackle holds it in place. If it comes down to it, he still has his legs. Elle Her punishment is harsh, but brief, befitting her crime of disobedience. A reed, snapped against her back, bruising cracks that leave welts. It is only with the notion that the consequences will be much worse should she break the rules again that she is allowed to return to the cottage and she does, with slow, pained steps. Her vision blurred by tears, her hand finds the knob and she turns it, pushing the door open. Inside, the candles have waned, the wax dripping low into a pool beneath the holder. The cottage is dark, but from the corner of her eye she can see the captive, right where they left him. Embers crackle in the fireplace. Normally, Aria will come and stoke it to life with fresh logs, but Alora wonders if anything will go according to order. Breathing in, she climbs the dais and sinks onto the edge of the bed. Will they remove him? Or will he be there all night. Pisan muttered something about dealing with the one in the root cellar first - whose behavior has been less than cooperative - before coming to take care of Samson, but she fears they are stalling... that perhaps her concerns are not unfounded that Samson is different. That a mistake has been made. But if he is different, what is he? A twinge of pain brings a grimace and a reminder that those are the types of questions she must be wary of. Those are the types of questions that breed more disobedient behavior. Still, her eyes drift to him and in the dying light of the fire she can see a determination, she can see fear... there are a myriad emotions that cross that handsome, sun-bronzed face, but great and terrible evil? She simply couldn't find it in him. But then why were they so afraid of him? Catching herself staring, she pulls her eyes away, lowering them to the floor, the words escaping in a breath, just barely audible, "They'll come for you, soon. I... I'm sorry." onyxsunrise Samson stares the girl down for a long time before she speaks. Her eyes flit towards him eventually, and he has to wonder what is passing through her thoughts to cause such a miserable and confused expression. He finds out soon enough; the words come out in one sweet breath. His lips twist into a disapproving frown. "Not if I can help it, Miss Alora," he responds, almost as quiet as his companion. It seems the hush is unnecessary; muffled yells are coming from the cellar, thuds and shouts that suggest a struggle. Sam hums thoughtfully. "Looks like your other guest's thinking the same thing. What can you tell me of him? Is he a sailor? Did he survive the wreck too? I hope at least one of my friends made it." The thought darkens his face and hardens his resolve. "Or maybe he was one of the pirates that attacked us." Spurred on by the thought of retribution for his drowned comrades, he grips his improvised file in his hand and maneuvers himself into the right position, beginning again to saw away, not caring that Alora sees. She clearly isn't going away, and he can't wait much longer. Besides, he doubts she'd do anything to stop him; she seems almost as impartial to the idea of his death as he is. He's only about halfway through; he knows he probably doesn't have enough time. "Or if you don't feel like talking, you could help. Do you know where your mother keeps the key? 'Cause I have to say, this...?" He jerks his head in the direction of his frantically moving hands. "It hurts." There's an easy smile on his face. Elle She can't blame him. Were their situation reversed, she undoubtedly would feel very much the same. Sitting, waiting patiently for one's death... there are very few people she can think of who would settle for such a fate. It's that thought, however, that compels her to the unfortunate truth she has been avoiding since he first woke... since he introduced himself to her. He is no monster. And something tells her Pisan knows this as well. The look in her eyes, that broken quality that is so uncommon to Alora. But why he must be killed if he isn't one of the creatures her father warned her of. Unless... Unless her father lied. A chill creeps along her spine and tensing, Alora shifts, her gaze falling to Samson. There is a hesitation in her expression, like someone plagued by the weight of indecision, and indeed she is. To aid him in his escape would go beyond disobedience. Her father would certainly not stand for it, and how that might reflect on her ladies in waiting, she couldn't know. But to allow an innocent person to suffer, to die simply for her own fear...? "I... I haven't seen him. I can only imagine he's... well, he must be quite dangerous for them to leave me here with you, alone. I'm afraid for them... we've never had... we've never had anything quite like this happen on the island." As he shifts, her eyes widen slightly and she rises to her feet, "Oh! Oh, you mustn't do that... you... you're bleeding." Turning to the chest of drawers in the corner, she opens it and produces a cloth, before moving to the fireplace again, kneeling down to press the cloth against his palm, where the file has cut into his skin. "She isn't my mother... She's..." It isn't an easy thing to explain, and there's hardly time, "Never mind. She'll have it with her, the key. Anyway, where will you go? You... you're on an island, Samson." onyxsunrise She still hesitates when approaching him, but she doesn't seem strung quite so tightly, and if her words are anything to go by Samson would even wager she wants to help him escape. He can't say he's sure what caused her change of heart, but he's certainly grateful for it, and he doesn't need to know more. It wouldn't be acceptable, dying here and now. He still has so much to atone for and he hasn't even begun to right his wrongs. "Probably not one of my boys, then. Well, shipwrecks're probably pretty rare wherever you go. Kidnap and murder's a bit of a strange way to treat the survivors, though," he says with a bite to his voice, and then his face falls. His furious sawing is becoming a smooth motion; the blade is dull and no longer making headway. Sighing heavily, he drops it to the floor with a clatter, shoulders slumping. "Thank you," he says to the girl as she presses a cloth to the blood on his hand. "It's not so bad, honestly." He chuckles. "An island, is it? Well, I'm a sailor. A little ocean never bothered me... I'll figure something out." Meanwhile, his gaze roamed about the room, resuming his search for some way, any way to escape. "Do you have any oil? Maybe if I pull hard enough, I cou-" He hears heavy, clumsy footsteps and abruptly cuts himself off, tensing. "You should sit down. And hide this cloth. I hear your friends." Moments later, Pisan and Aria enter, supporting Rebecca between them. A dripping line of red slashes across her arm, and she's grimacing. Waving off the other two, she sits down on a nearby couch and manages a smile for Alora. "It's not as bad as it looks, just a big scratch," she says. "I should have checked his boots." "Yes," snaps Pisan. "You should have." Aria busies herself with retrieving bandages and cloths. Samson's blood boils. None of his mates would have submitted to death, he is sure, but none of them would have gone so unnecessarily far either. And a woman, no less! "That man did this?" he asks, face darkening. Elle "Samson. If you... if I help you, will you..." But whatever she's going to ask, she doesn't get the chance. The door opens, and Pisan and Aria step through the door, Rebecca between them, the tip-tap of blood dripping to the wooden floor from the gash in her arm. "Oh!" Alora exclaims, as she rises, the cloth falling from her grasp. There's no thought for her own safety - she knows the warning Pisan gave her, but that can be discussed later. Moving swiftly, she helps as Rebecca is led to the bed and Aria begins to clean and bandage the wound. As Samson speaks, Alora looks over to the eldest of her ladies, frowning softly, but Pisan's expression is unreadable. She watches Samson, curiously for a moment, a brow lifting slowly, at Pisan's words, nearly amiable in tone, "...Indeed, he did. Scoundrel had a knife in his boot, and when Rebecca reached to tighten his bonds, he stabbed at her. Might've killed her, if Aria hadn't seen what he was doing and shouted." "What did you do with him?" Alora asks, her voice quivering slightly. Pisan meets her gaze and for a moment it's a cold stare, before her eyes soften and she shakes her head. "I'm afraid he's escaped. He's run into the jungle. It... it's not a large island, I don't imagine he'll stay hidden for long. I fear he may return and if he does, I don't doubt he'll use whatever means necessary to get off this island." "What can we do?" "...We can do nothing. But he..." Looking to Samson, Pisan's lips turn down in a soft scowl, "He can. You know this man. What he's capable of. If I release you, you will hunt him down and you will stop him, whatever it takes. If you succeed, I've a small slip hidden away. It's doubtful it will get you far, but that's not really any of my concern. You'll be free, and I imagine that's enough for you?" onyxsunrise "Aye." He doesn't even need to think about it; hell, he might have offered the deal himself, and maybe not in as self-beneficial a variation. He clenches his jaw tightly as he thinks back to the night before. The first sight of land in a long time: some little no-name island. The shore wouldn't be far over the horizon, then. Samson wondered what goods he and the captain would bring back to sell. Fruits, seeds, perfumes, minerals? Idly swinging his telescope around, Samson caught sight of the ship that had been slowly drawing closer for some time. It was close now, enough that he could make out some details even without the collapsible telescope. The flag... "Aye, I'll catch him for you. It's just not right, hurting a lady like that." He jangles the chains around his wrists. "But I'll need my hands to do anything." The women exchange a look of apprehension before Pisan, stoney-faced, looks him dead in the eye. "Kick your boots off, first." Samson shrugs. After what they've just been through, it's a reasonable enough demand. It takes some struggling to get the waterlogged, tightly fitted shoes off his feet, but he manages, wriggling his toes demonstratively. "No hidden knives here. There's a butter knife on the floor nearby, though." Pisan kicks it away, then sighs and crouches, fitting the key into the lock on his shackles. He almost groans with pleasure as the binds fall free. Laboriously, he puts his shoes back on under the women's watchful eyes, then rises, muscles sore and protesting after the long period of being still. Now standing tall above each of them, he looks down at Pisan. It's a wonderful change in perspective; why, even Pisan almost looks pretty. "Take me to the cellar." Pisan leads the way. Once there, he scans the room. "Did he leave anything behind? Some trinket, maybe the knife he pulled on you..." He's thinking about the man, one of the pirates who attacked his ship, wondering if he can glean anything from his jumbled memories. Bit by bit, more information trickles back in images, like brightly colored paints. It wasn't flying a flag. Samson felt his heart drop into his stomach as his telescope clattered to the deck. "Raymond!" he called out, trying to keep concern from his voice. The wind shifted, heralding the fulfillment of the promise that the dark clouds overhead made. The incoming vessel shifted course slightly to catch the gusts, coming into cannon range, and as Captain Raymond stomped his way next to Samson, the flag finally unfurled. Skull and crossbones. As she pulled broadside, the men saw her name painted in dark slashes on her side: Blood of Brine. Under his breath, Samson swears. Elle She follows along. Maybe it's a mistake. Pisan is already so upset with her, but Alora knows that what's happening is unprecedented, and when something new happens, the only thing one can do is try to make sense of it. She is a stranger in her own world, kept captive by her father's fears, and the only way she can learn is by experience. Pisan instructs her, keeps her safe, cares for her, but Alora is still capable of making her own choices - she is no prisoner, even if sometimes it feels that way. She follows, and no one says anything and as they head down to the cellar she watches Samson with a quiet sense of fascination. He could run. He could run and never look back and they would undoubtedly have to let him go. Pisan fears the creature that escaped, but she seems to understand Samson is no risk to them. Perhaps then, she means what she says when she says she will let him live. Perhaps Alora won't need to help him escape after all. But it seems unlikely that Pisan does not have some clever goal in mind. Perhaps she hopes that both Samson on the other captive will get rid of one another. Or that if she gives Samson escape from the island, he won't make it home. Whatever her motive, it makes Alora uneasy and she isn't sure why. She owes Samson nothing, yet she feels oddly indebted to him. And if he runs off after this beast of a man, who would ruthlessly attack a young girl... he might very well not survive. "The knife is in the corner..." Pisan murmurs, as Samson mutters an oath. Without a word, Alora moves and retrieves it, carrying it carefully over to Samson, to whom she holds it out. Pisan's eyes bore into her, but she ignores the woman's stare. "Do you know him?" Alora asks, and Pisan hisses softly, but says nothing otherwise. onyxsunrise Samson murmurs a word of thanks as Alora hands him the knife. He doesn't immediately answer the question, instead looking at the weapon... turning it over in his hands. It's familiar, and as he runs his thumb along the handle he feels an engraving he almost expected. Letters, two of them - "M. K." "I might," he admits, slipping the knife into a loop on his belt. He should have know this piece of his past would come back to rain down on him, but it had been several uneventful years and he had relaxed... had though the storm was past. The storm is not past. "The man... did he have a long face? Dark hair?" The women nod, but look unconvinced. Samson's mind whirs. M.K. - Meallán Kelly, better known across the seas as the Lightning Charmer, shook salt water from his dreaded hair. He smiled at Samson as he was presented with the knife. "I have knives, boy." Samson pushed his hair back with his fingers - it was much longer, then - embarrassed as he responded. "Sure, but with this one yeh don't hafta complain yeh don't know which is yers." Meallán stripped his tunic off and sat himself upon the deck to dry in the sun, taking the knife from Samson's hand and examining it. "My initials?" Experimentally, he stabbed the knife into the wood of the deck, where it stuck. Pulling it out, he grinned again. "Well, nobody actually cares which is theirs when they're runnin' to grab one. But it's a good knife. What is this, pretty boy? Some confession of love?" Samson swung his fist half-heartedly at his captain, who ducked and laughed. "It's yer birthday, tosser." "Is it?" Meallán looks ponderous for a moment, then shrugs. "That's Captain Tosser, kid." "How about a scar on his left cheek?" he continues. Aria cries out, "How did you know?" Samson laughs. "Because I gave it to him." Lifting his shirt and jacket slightly, he points to a thick scar along his waist. "But he won that fight." Elle The flash of metal in the darkness and Alora could barely make out the initials. What little it meant to her, it apparently meant endlessly more to Samson, for his expression shifted. Alora knew little of tragedy, beyond what she had perceived from tales of the main lands, but whatever Samson had done, whatever passed through his mind, she could see the subtle traces of pain in his gaze. He lifted his shirt to reveal the scar and almost absently, she reached out, her hand touching his arm. There was a snapping sound, and she felt Pisan's fingers loop around her wrist, a sharp tug. "You will return to the house..." Pisan hissed, and with a sigh, Alora nodded, but something within her, the same something that had encouraged her to speak with him at all, made her glance back, her eyes drifting upwards, catching his gaze, "...Be safe." She whispered, and suddenly, irrationally, she wanted nothing more than to help him. For the pitiful amount of experience she had, for all the years she was sheltered in that cottage, alone on the island, she wanted desperately, to aid him. Turning away, without a word, she left the cellar, but her feet, for the first time disobedient to Pisan's instructions, didn't carry her towards the cottage. Instead, she bypassed the building entirely, and without a sound, made for the edge of the treeline, which led deeper into the jungle. There, leaning against the trunk of a spiny palm, she waited, breath held in her chest, hands quaking with anxiety. With anticipation.