[LB] The Interview (LB, NB Refresh 02)

edited December 2014 in LadyB
Naomi Bishop,

Some time has passed since you, Jonas and Hecate defeated the troll.

When this scene picks up, you're still soaked with sweat and blood from yet another fight. Who (or what) did you fight this time? How did you beat them? What's hurting the most right now?

You were brought out of the pit, your wrists and ankles shackled, a single starore metal chain linking them together. You were then hooded, and led by one of the beefier guards, Orlence, underneath the pit down a corridor. Your bare feet slapped on the stone for many yards until you were led outside. You know it's outside because of the breeze, the sounds of birds and distant conversation that isn't the rough shouts of bloodthirsty men or the call of odds and bets on you. Or against you. How long has it been since you were outside, Naomi?

Orlence prodded you to step onto a platform, a wooden one. Unstable one. No, not quite right, it isn't falling, it's floating. A ship. A wooden flying ship. It smells like oak and there's a distinct smell here, too. Something sweet, but you can't quite place it.

Natasha Syri, the great and wondrous Lady Blackbird,

You've recently healed enough from Caess' gunshot to be walking around. What still hurts? Have you heard anything about the Pirate King since the month after your last meeting? What did you tell your father?

Natasha, you're dressed to the nines, your handmaiden, Alessa, made sure of it, saying the Lord Blackbird insisted. You've traveled from Ilysium to a small floating island near Olympia. The place smells of squalor and poverty even here. This must be one of those impoverished islands that are populated solely by those who serve, service and entertain the Imperial sailors of the great Navy.

What incense did you ask Alessa to burn today? Something sweet and delicate, what does it remind you of? You know your father expects you any minute, he sent a servant to fetch you. Today he's giving you "a very special present". Does he give you things often now?

What do you do?


  • edited December 2014

    My stomach is still quite tender. I wasn't raised to endure pain. It wouldn't hurt so much if I hadn't tried to escape twice. The medic warned me if I tried to again, I'd be left with a scar. I attempted a third time anyway. I have heard nothing of my king since then, and it bothers me. I can only recall the moment he screamed my name. A man that would jovially offer death a drink, screaming in fear.

    I was a wreck without him. "...you swore to me we'd never be torn apart again."

    With all of my attempts to sneak out of the house, and the nights I woke up with my eyes full tears, he assumes I have become traumatized, and that I believe our household to be where I had been held captive. I hadn't been allowed to leave the house since then. Whether it's because he fears for my sanity, or fears my bouts will leave a blemish on the reputation of our family, I do not know.

    I had asked my handmaiden to burn incense scented with a flower that only grows in the depths. It reminds me of him. I smother the cone of charcoal before departing for the drawing room. My father doesn't shower me with presents as often as he used to. I've desired a lot less since returning, so he hasn't had the need. I don't like it here. It's not even the odor, or its populace.

    It's what I hear them muttering about me. Spoiled. Pompous. They're as spineless as the rich. A servant opens the door for me, and I look towards the floor as I enter the room. Whatever my father has for me, it is certainly not Uriah Flint. His last surprise was my engagement to Count Carlowe. I wept that day, and it certainly wasn't with joy.
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    Even after such a fight, they aren't taking chances with me: confinement in the pit is rarely so...confining. While not luxurious, our cells allow us to move, to exercise, to prepare. The feeling of being shackled like this and having a hood drawn over my head reminds me of how I was brought to the pit to begin with...and I hate it. There's little point in fighting it, but I yearn to do just that: I want to fight the guard, to tear off the chains, to break away and defend myself. I feel too vulnerable like this, too much like an animal being led to slaughter. My body is tense and my senses alert: my brain spins, trying to recognize every sound and smell, and I balk a bit when the guard pushes me onto the platform. I didn't realize until just now how much of myself has slipped away, how much like an animal, accustomed to mindless violence and routine, I've become while in the pit. I think I've been here a year and a half or thereabouts all told, kept alive by skill and luck...and not necessarily in that order.

    It's easy to lose track of time in the pit. There isn't much to help you process the passage of time: days without fights are spent always in the same way. And even the days we're sent out into the arena to bleed to and to die all blend together but for the great victories and losses. The troll was a little of both, and my shoulder still aches as a reminder of my brush with death.

    I've never left the pit before -- not like this, anyway -- but I keep telling myself if they meant to execute me, there wouldn't have been so many theatrics. Today, the arena hosted a private fight. Private fights are rare enough, but they're usually non-fatal: they're usually a show for the owner or potential buyers, a display of skill and worth. But today was something else: a private game, I think, for the sick bastards in their booth up above. All games in the pit shed blood, but this one was particularly depraved. Unarmed slaves, most barely old enough to no longer be considered children, were dumped into the pit with us. Failure to defend your ward resulted in death...for fighter and slave alike. The resulting blood-bath was a terrible thing: we're used to fighting alongside those who can defend themselves, to being aggressive, to having nothing to lose but our lives. Introducing a new element changed all that: some went after the wards directly, while some left their charges behind with the expectation they would defend themselves, I imagine.

    How did I win? Like any free-for-all, you win by creating alliances, by knowing when to break them and knowing when your ally will break them...and you fight smart: take advantage of distraction and weakness, forget your past relationships, and remember that only one of you will leave. People who have never fought in the pit, who have never stared down death with their backs against the wall, make a big deal out of "honor": never attack from behind, never take advantage of an injury, show mercy. But there's no such thing here: you do what you have to do. But I've got no interest in hurting kids who can't defend themselves, especially not when the real target is armed and trying to kill me every bit as much as I am trying to kill them. Plus, I got lucky: the boy I was assigned was smart, and he did what he was told: he kept me between himself and the other fighters, and he kept out from underfoot.

    So, I won: not a glorious, honorable victory. I spilled not a drop of innocent blood -- but I hurt and killed people I had fought alongside in the past. Nysa left me something to remember her by: a trio of cuts from the point of her trident. The outer two wounds are relatively minor, but the middle prong left a jagged tear that would probably scar. The rib that took the brunt of the blow is at least bruised...but, more than likely, cracked -- she meant to kill me with that attack, and if I hadn't managed to knock the trident upwards into my ribs, it certainly would have. She was my final opponent: with the trident in my side and me pinned on my back, she was well out of reach...so I grabbed the haft, snapped it in half, and I used it to pull her in my direction. While she was unbalanced, I tore the weapon out of my side (which did me no favors), then twisted in her direction to strike at her knees. She went down hard -- and I was right on top of her. She tried to deflect me with her ruined weapon, but the attack was clumsy and unbalanced, and I easily brushed it aside as I thrust my blade into her throat.

    Thinking of Nysa brings me strength: I am not an animal. I kill because I am made to kill, but I am not without feelings. Nysa was someone whose company I will miss -- always quick to laugh and easy-going. Tonight, I will honor her and celebrate our fight in the way that we do for all those we lose in the arena. Animals would have no need of comfort. I am Naomi Bishop, and I am unbroken and unbent. If I am being led to my death, I will die proudly and bravely, as is our way...and if they do not let me fight, then I will take the decision out of their hands. I square my shoulders and step fully onto the boat, head held high beneath the hood and back straight.

    I am ready.
  • Lady Blackbird,

    The incense barely masks the smell that assaults your senses as you walk into the state room. There, in the center of the room in chains and wearing a hood, guarded by a broad-shouldered man so tall he has to bend his head forward to avoid the rafters, is a woman of lean muscle and pure power. She stands with her head held high, ignoring the wounds in her side, three puncture marks that all rival the bullet wound that nearly took you. She is perhaps the single most powerful woman you've ever seen.


    Someone has entered the room. Female, light footsteps, wearing heels. She smells different than the incense. Someone else is near as well, but further away, waiting.

    What do you do?
  • edited December 2014

    I am speechless for a moment. She's at least a head taller than me. Physically strong women are not common amongst highborns. Just like handsome men with ink on their skin...I had to stop thinking about Uriah, for the moment, at least.

    "How do you do?" I curtsy, though she obviously can't see it. "Father, why is she here, presented like someone on their way to the gallows? You could have given her a bath and some proper clothes. Let's treat her like she still has a pulse, hmm?"

    I'm no hero of the people, but as I've told my fiancé, I respect people that have bled...and she is bleeding all over the carpet.
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    I assume the person waiting in silence is a second guard or someone of little consequence and that the woman entering the room is the one we're all waiting on. A new buyer, perhaps? But if that were the case, why the strange circumstances? Why bring me here, like this, after such a fight?

    It's painfully apparent that she's a noble almost immediately. There's an educated edge of snobbery in her voice, that better-than-thou whiny pitch I've come to despise. I assume her greeting is intended for her father -- so, it wasn't a guard at all, it seems -- and roll my eyes beneath my hood as she goes on.

    I'm not pretty enough to be in her company, it seems. That's probably why the girl's wearing so much perfume -- trying to drown out the offensive odor of blood and sweat and sand. I hope she doesn't think I'm a house servant. Do I look like a house servant? The chains give a soft clank as I shift to draw myself up a little taller. She can't see me, of course, but I'm glowering in her direction through the hood. Go ahead, ask me to get you tea. I dare you.
  • "I bought her," the Lord Blackbird says, his powerful voice carrying like a trained orator, or an actor on the stage, "For you, my dear. She will be your personal bodyguard. She is the strongest fighter in the Blue. And now, she is yours."
  • edited December 2014

    I go silent again, this time over the prospect of being able to leave the household. I could escape.

    "......thank you." It takes an abnormally long time for my lips to catch up with my thoughts. When they finally do, I chortle. "Certainly a wise decision, father, for all of Ilysium knows my future husband certainly can't protect me!" Father is used to hearing my 'opinion' of my fiancé. I have made it well known. I remove my gloves, and hand them to a servant before approaching the guard with my palm out, silently ordering him to give me the key to her shackles. "...since she is mine, can I order her to snap his neck?" I mumble under my breath as I unlock them. The guard removes the hood for me.

    "What is your name, miss?"
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    My face turns quickly towards this girl's father; my glower turned quickly into a look of surprise? ...Me? Some spoiled tart's bodyguard? Had the world gone mad? And who in their right mind would trust a pit-fighter with the life of their daughter?

    I'm still processing what, exactly, that means when a warm, smooth hand brushes over mine, and the shackles pop open with a click, followed by a clank as they fall heavily to the floor. The slight rustle at my ear is all the warning I have before the hood, too, is yanked off my face. It's a lot brighter than I had expected, and I blink and squint as the world slowly comes into focus around me.

    The girl looking up at me -- did she just call me "miss"? -- is just that: a girl. I was expecting some painted trollop, over-weight and ugly, not this petite slip of a thing. I'm half-expecting this to be some kind of a trap. I glance around the room swiftly, silently sizing up the guard, this girl's father...and the girl herself. I realize, suddenly, that she is still looking at me expectantly, and I answer cautiously. "Bishop. Naomi Bishop." I'm curious to know if she knows the name -- if she watched from her pretty little box way up on high while I spilled blood below.
  • edited December 2014

    "Oh, from the pit-fighting circuit..." I roll my eyes. I have better things to do with my time than watch that. "I'd attend if it was highborn women." I've see them fight over the same gems, and laugh at their expense. "Come, then...Naomi, no more fights to the death for you." I curtsy towards my father before leaving the room, waiting for her to follow me into my quarters. Nothing of mine will fit, so for now I give her some over-sized pajamas, sewn for a man. My handmaiden wondered why I had requested such a thing.

    It reminded me of him.

    That seemed to be the reason for everything I did these days. "...let's get you freshened up." I draw the bath myself, and turn away so she can have a little privacy. The medic's kit is still in my room since the dressing around my abdomen needs to be changed every few days. "Judging by the way you've been glaring at me, and don't think I haven't noticed, you obviously do not know of my reputation."
  • edited December 2014

    I glance over my shoulder at the man who had purchased me, then at the guard, just once, then willingly follow the girl out of the room. Seems she's in charge, then. Alright.

    Her apparent sympathy doesn't help to put me at ease. I'd feel more comfortable walking through the sewer -- everything about this place reminds me that I'm definitely not where I belong: the fine quality of everything, the soft scents, the way the floor feels beneath my feet. I wonder if I'm leaving dirty footprints on the floor, but I don't turn to look; rather, I'm curious about this new world in which I've found myself.

    Squids, gods, star-wanderers: whatever it is you believe in, something somewhere's got a sense of humor.

    Glaring? Had I been glaring? Probably. I'm still not convinced I'm not going to leave this room in a poofy skirt and ringlets and bright make-up like some kind of life-sized doll... The thought makes me shudder.

    Though, I am impressed she knows how to draw a bath...

    What the hell? For a bath, I'll be nice. A real bath. Would you look at all that water? And bubbles... It's kind of mesmerizing, and I reach out to poke one tentatively. My hand sinks into the soft, white cloud and lightly grazes the water below. It's so warm... Yes, for this, I'll definitely be nice.

    "Can't say I do," I tell the girl as I pull off the rags. She might be shy, but I'm certainly not. You get over that kind of thing real quick in the pit. "I wouldn't know you from a squid."

    Oh, yeah. Manners. Nobility.

    "Um, that is, no. My lady."
  • LadyB-

    She seems pleased with the idea of bathing. Being in the company of a pirate, I learned how to do some things myself. Despite being a pirate, he enjoyed bubble baths. "Well, I guess it doesn't matter...people like you don't care." There is a bit of bitterness, and I had not intended for there to be. "I pick fights, and my temper is legendary..." There are other things folk of the Empire say, but I really don't feel the need to mention all of them. "...do I look like a squid?" In his company, I had seen a few.


    All I can ever do is think of him...have I become that dependent? No, I feel that half of me is gone. I know that my eyes are going glassy, and I make haste to wipe the tears away. I suddenly feel exhausted. "I always wanted to have an elder sibling...I want us to be like sisters, so...can I trust you with something?" I am desperate for someone to talk to that I can trust won't go and repeat to my father.
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    People like me don't care? Poor little rich girl with her bubbles and bathwater and fancy room. Instead of answering her question -- I assume she didn't intend for me to really answer -- I concentrate on settling into the water. It licks up against my fresh wounds, and the sting makes me inhale sharply. Still, this is the best damned bath I've ever had. The best.

    I find myself looking skeptically at the girl. Sisters? What fantasy world is she living in? For that matter, what kind of fights is she picking that she needs a bodyguard like me? It's probably just a show.

    But, still, I did promise myself I'd try to be nice. And I think she's trying to be nice too. In her own naive way.

    I clear my throat softly. "My lady, if you're to trust me with your life and there's something I should know, then I think I should hear it."
  • edited December 2014

    Had we met before I met my other half, we'd be having a far different conversation, and I would tell her how I despise assumptions. The ones she's probably making right now as we speak. But, I am beside myself, and I kneel next to the tub, in case anyone is nearby the door to my quarters. She'll be able see the smudged kohl around my eyes. She'll be able to see that I am actually a mess. "...I seek the Remnants. I seek my king. If you help me escape, I'll do everything in my power to assure you never have to serve an Imperial ever, ever again."
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    The intensity in her expression gives me pause for the first time since meeting her. I have no idea what she's talking about, of course, but I don't need to know all the details; I can see the desperation and anguish in her eyes, and that caged expression I'm all-too-familiar with.

    I was that girl once, and there was only one thing I wanted, something no one in the pit could give. I know now why no one gave it to me then, and, if we were in the pit, I wouldn't give it now: but this is not the pit, and this girl is not a fighter. She doesn't have to learn the lessons I learned -- that's what I'm here for. So, without a word, I reach over the edge of the tub to pull the girl into a hug. It's wet and totally inappropriate, and now there are bubbles everywhere, but that's all I had wanted back then -- it's all any of us ever wanted: a hug.
  • --END SCENE--
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