Dangerous Games

Coast of the Southern Sea - A Seedy Tavern

The Rubicon river yawns into the breadth of the Southern Sea in the distant east, waters churning, collecting and curving 'round the sand banks that sit in the way to the vast freedoms whispered and beckoned by the horizon. Dusk settles, the land becoming a shadow against the last reflective glint of choppy waves hanging onto the last of Rukbat's light. Red and grey paints the sky, partially hidden by the ominous clouds that cover any sign of night's twin moons. Along this coast, tucked into a rocky and unwelcoming groove, and sheltered by the shadows of tall, dense tree line is one of many a'tavern. This one, like many, is known best by those seafolk who aren't of the lot that makes their trade and heads home. The wooden shack is short and squat, held up off the beach by thick, molded pillons. A long staircase, not meant for the faint of heart due to the many a'stair missing or questionably intact, leads up to the building proper. Candlelight rather than glows or bulbs illuminates the interior with that dynamic, dim sort of light. The real warmth comes from the music, the woodwind and string instruments that sound calamitous from a distance, but somehow find melody the closer one gets. Bad and heavily slurred drunk singing voices accompany those tunes.

Within, it is what one might expect. A long bar towards the back. A small semi-circular raised stage beyond to the right of that bar, currently occupied by a man and a woman with instruments who look pained, and two men attempting to sing and stand at the same time by leaning against each other. Numerous round tables spread throughout the rest of the room with their chairs moved to suit the raucous and rough looking crowd. It's moderately busy, though a few tables remain vacant. One man in particular sits with two others towards the back of the room, their conversation masked by the cacophony of the room. Swathed in dark leather and the foreboding glint of silver, he pays no attention to the soured musical number. They speak lowly together, though primarily it seems the other two men are trying to tell him something, as Ki'lian is leaned back in his chair in a manner and poise that owns that space while he waits.. for something. His right hand remains on the table, silver ring'd fingers wrapped lightly around a clear glass filled part way with amber liquid. His left arm is reclined on the back of the empty chair beside him in part of this cocksure posture that breathes dominance, drips pride.

She looks like she belongs. Her copper-red hair, piled in braids with only wisps hanging free are a flash of color among the many here. The only thing that gives the slightest hint that these taverns are not her true home is the fineness of her face. She's never suffered a scar or broken nose. While she's not perfectly clean, she's seen a bath more recently than many making up the patrons of the establishment. Her clothing is worn but of the make to last, a pair of black pantaloons that hug her hips in a sheath and then flare out low on her hips, to provide a little flow and grace to them before tightening where knee-high brown boots end. It's the movement of this fabric and the loose flow of the tunic a size too big for her that slips off one slender but strong shoulder that draws the eye as much as the way her form has a way of threading through the crowd as though she were merely walking on an empty path. She never touches them; even those that reach to touch her simply don't manage. She moves from a place closer to the stage toward the back of the room, her pale gaze sweeping over faces and places as though she's looking for a seat. In one hand is a mug that never spills its full contents, no matter the sway of the path it takes to equally avoid others moving about in search of drink or a better vantage. Her eyes pass across the dark man and his bubble of space, a Cheshire smile slipping across her lips and then gone again. It's a smile for him, though, should he catch it, because then she's moving toward a place even farther back than where he's staked his claim, but when Tejra stops, leaning on one of the support beams that stretches to the floor, she's not too far to possibly be out of earshot, and the weight of her gaze is on him.

"…can't possibly expect him to.." The bubble of that questionable space is broken when she gets nearer, though the men beside Ki'lian continue to speak to him- or more accurately at him- despite Tejra's pass. "..was meant to be delivered two sevens ago.." "..60 marks were in that.." "Idiot, what makes ye think that's even part of what he.." The snippets come and go as their voices rise and fall, as the music rises and falls, as they're reminded to keep it down by gazes that stray towards them. The man clad in black lifts his glass to his lips, that rum as much a taste of home as the waters themselves. As copper-haired lass passes them by, too-light eyes lined in kohl follow her, shaded by the almost-too-long strands of black, disshelved hair and the abyss that somehow exists beyond that ice and chill within them. They meet her gaze, hold it for that breadth of a moment if she keeps it. The glass doesn't quite return to the table as he addresses his companions, "You're both bloody fools to think he might turn me away." The words are as gravel-touched as they are liquid-poison smooth, and accented heavily in something that might be Bitran, might be something else altogether. "You can take your insecurities elsewhere, if you don't mind." This, not at all a suggestion by the obvious command it bares, "I know where to find you when it's my turn." They're dismissed- just like that, and while neither appear surprised, they do both bare the sort of tension of friction, of not being used to needing to obey. Chairs scrape harshly on the wooden flooring, already sanded smooth of most of its natural grain from the decades of similar abuse. Left alone, he watches the pair for only a few seconds as they move away and join another table across the tavern. Then, that callous, serpentine attention returns to Tejra, his glass raised slightly towards her, and then in gesture towards the seat beside him. She's just far enough away that he doesn't bother to speak, but the invitation is clear enough. An apple of an offer, to sit beside the devil perhaps.

It's a tease, the way she holds his gaze. The way she flips that smile. Really, she mightn't mean to return, she might just mean to watch this interesting specimen from the distance of that post, where her casual lean makes her look more comfortable than anyone pressed against rough wood has a right to. Even as she watches him, that pale gaze flicking to departing companions and back, she doesn't appear to be fishing for that invitation that comes. She'll hold his gaze for a beat, two, her expression too serene to betray what might be consideration behind that mask. But then with a sudden step that might be pure impulse, she glides toward him, to settle in that chair with every grace of a dress sliding to the floor. She angles her face away from him, her single bare shoulder the closest point of non-contact, leaning her weight toward him even as one leg draws up to catch the heel of her boot just on the edge of the seat and the hand holding her mug of refreshment draws across her knee to let her forearm come to rest lazily there. No sooner has she occupied the seat, the pose than she looks like she's always been there, unflappably sure in her own right of just where she is. Does she dawdle beside a devil? Then perhaps that's just exactly the thing she was made to do, natural as breathing. There's so much that can be said in a look, and the look that Tejra casts half over that shoulder and up from under lashes may be all he's going to get for communication as yet, for she doesn't open her lips save to bring her drink to it for a swallow before her pale gaze leaves the black-clad man and goes back to the music makers. For not even a quarter of a heartbeat, her expression sharpens from its habitual serene state with interest that is smoothed away again before the heart ticks its next marker of moments that are one way to sum a life.

Patient impatience embodies the nature of the gaze that lingers on the woman. There's an expectation that he can't be denied- for who would wish to deny him?- and yet an impending dismissal of her should she turn away. The dark rapscallion's poise doesn't change when she moves, though the edge of his mouth crookedly turns in faint traces of a sinister grin. For all the black that he wears, the tunic beneath is seen better upclose, a deep blood crimson elaborate in deeper shades of stitching. Each button and buckle, silver. The earring of his right ear, the rings of various style upon his fingers, the weapons that sit at his hip and back create an air of dangerous decoration. The metal chain that hangs around his neck has its pendants lost from immediate view by the long fold of his collar, and with him is not the stench of the other men that haven't bathed in the months they've spent at sea, but rather the inviting comfort of leather, rum and the sea. He waits until she's settled, those intense, studious seablue eyes always watching. Then, a rustle of that leather comes quietly, subtlely, but assuredly there- a lean towards her as that dark voice speaks again, but in a manner that is all but private, that accent a low hum though never-quite a whisper. "They leave a lot to be desired, don't they." Ki'lian says of the music, though he might not exactly mean the music. The man is close- that almost-touching sort of close that brings about it a heat and almost tangible electricity. A whole invasion of her space, intentional, calculated. Briefly, they're almost interrupted as a large man flanked by what looks to be quite a young boy approaches their table, but there must be some short, unpleasant glance that sends them on their way even if the larger man makes some gruff, disgruntled noise before he leaves them be. Eyes seem to stray towards them more than once from around the room, as if there was a number of people in line for whatever business this man apparently keeps. "What brings you to a place like this?" The 'what' could easily be exchanged for a 'who', for all of that delightful confidence that bid her through the room, there are few who stray to these places alone.

"Enough that I'm seeking further entertainment with you," is a quick quip delivered in a melodic purr. Her eyes don't leave the musicians, but the ever so slight lean toward Ki'lian might indicate the vaguer threads of the topic are within her wits and interest to toy with. Or maybe it's just that he's the best smelling thing in the building, besides her, her own decidedly more feminine scents not more than the fresh smell of soap scented with… clove? Perhaps. It's something spicy, something that's not of the usual flowery varieties favored by other women. If nothing else, the table is the best olfactory spot in the building, to be sure. It might also be the most kinetically enticing, for two can play that game. It's with apparent effortlessness that Tej maintains the breath of space between them, even as she meets his invasion of her space with an advance on his, removing distance, though there's still the smallest hair left when she's done. "Friends of yours?" The red-head inquires of the come-and-go pair, voice whisper soft now that her cheek is close enough that all it would take would be a turn of her head to be pressed to him. As to what brings her, there's her bare shoulder rising in a shrug that rubs in brief, surely intentional, contact with his arm (or shoulder, or chest, depending on just how he's leaning, but some part of him, unless he avoids her), no words accompanying the gesture to offer clues to that part of her mystery.

The grin broadens by degrees in the wake of her response, a breath of an amused sound through his nose all that's given of a chuckle. "Not exactly." Ki'lian grants to her question, a slow intent to his answers, as if time or the convenience of others simply does not matter to him. "But.. they are useful." The 'they' remains utterly vague, but something about it seems to encompass many more than just the pair that tried to engage him after she'd joined him. The weight, the pressure of his presence is as intense as his look upon her. Even with her own gaze directed away, there is no doubt he still watches. Dauntingly predatorial he lingers at that hairsbreadth, allowing that tauntingly delicious air of protection around her for now, yet retaining an air of possession that carries over from simply the table, to now her too. His glass-holding hand rises again, this time a gesture to the barmaid who is making her rounds- a homely older woman who could only logically be the wife to the seaman who owns the place. She seems to know whatever it is that he wants, and doesn't bother talking to either of them before returning to the bar and unstacking a couple of glasses. While there is no evident change in him when her shoulder touches his chest, he does continue on, "Not many people come around here without a purpose. Unless perhaps-" He drawls, curiously entertained by her dodging of the question, "you're the adventurous sort of lass who stumbled into this terribly unsavory place."

… The moment draws out, with Tejra in her own trademark brand of motionlessness that few can match for the sheer volume of muscular control that it takes to achieve. Then, a simpering sigh escapes her lips and she shifts in her seat, sitting up slightly so she can set her mug on the table and twist into him, both hands settling to paw cloyingly (annoyingly?) at the fabric of his shirt, the chain of his pendant, as though she were suddenly some fainting violet out of her depth. Her lashes flutter at him and her expression is so thoroughly transformed to one of wholesome innocence, that the effect is comic, but all too thorough. "Oh, please, kind sir. I've wandered off the path to my grandmother's cottage, and taken a terribly wrong turn. Won't you see me safely on my way?" The effect of her voice, too, is an entirely different thing than the melodic purr of moments before. Toss her on that stage and she could doubtless give a better show than those performing now. And just as instantly as the change took her face, it's slipping away in favor of a slow smirk. "Perhaps," she murmurs, that purr back in her low voice, the fingers on his chest now a sensuous dance, "I just don't want to tell." By the time she's on the last word, she's close enough that her lips brush his but not in a kiss, only in proximity, a proximity she'll seek to widen as soon as the word is done.

The act is allowed, with that devilish gaze falling and rising as she shifts to move towards him more directly. Metal clinks mutedly and leather gives under her pawing, and he very simply straightens his posture to give her room to do as she will. His black-wrapped hand which had rested over the back of her chair, falls to her side once she's breached that contractual space. "You misunderstand me, love." Ki'lian's muses into the flutter-light touch of her lips, but doesn't chase her to claim that moment as something more than it is. Nothing is worthwhile without the game of it, and she is playing just fine. "A man would be blind to describe you as a fragile lost lass looking for her savior." And by all rights, no one would mistake him as one that could save anyone from anything except whatever constitutes the right-and-just path. "All I wish to know, is what it is you desire." His head tilts just a little with that, her act appreciated insomuch as it entertained him, amused him to some extent. "I'd rather not leave a lady like yourself wanting, afterall." Two glasses are set on their table around that time, a repeat of whatever Tejra already had, and another glass of rum.

Despite the relative distance Tej claims as she rights herself, an amused smile plays across her lips. "Blind, hm?" She repeats letting the sound hum a little long, before letting a smile blossom on her lips. She abandons her first mug in favor of the second; it would be ungrateful after all to deny the gift. That one she brings to her lips and takes a lingering sip. Only once she's settled it back on the table top does she let her pale gaze come back to his. "A blind man could tell I'm not as easy to know or satisfy as you invite me to be." There's a beat before she adds with a mischievous tip of her lips, just at the corners, "Besides, you've yet to make an offer that would warrant you treasure of that kind." Speaking of treasure, she'll seek to capture his free hand, to curl his arm around her shoulders in a way that lets her examine his rings, lips parted just slightly so that when she breathes, as inevitably she must, the warmth of it rolls across those finger, and if the feel of her fingers intimates a tease of something more, it's probably all just part of the game.

"Why else would I have invited you to my table." Ki'lian might take up 'easy' some days that have already had their fair share of trouble, but that isn't fun. It isn't entertaining. It isn't worth his time. When she rights herself, that hand on her side falls away when she's moved out of its easy reach, but her claiming of his arm is granted smoothly with a bit of his help. His hand and the treasures dawned on each of those fingers is maleable to her exploration. There's three there, one silver band around his thumb, two of silver and jewel, a baleful crimson much like his tunic. He admires the action- or, more likely, the boldness of it. His tongue traces his lips, considering her. A nefarious thoughtfulness, though not in the moment malicious. His now-free other hand scratches the scruff of his face, an abrasive sound amongst the closeness before he reaches for his new glass of rum to take of it a long drink of it. It returns to the table with a quiet, dull clink, his thumb tapped against it once, twice- "If you won't grant me what it is you wish just yet, it only makes the challenge more interesting." A pause draws on as he watches her, and endulges in her teasing, only to comment almost more to himself than to her, "No, it wouldn't be so simple as wealth. That would be far too dull."

"'Delayed satisfaction is satisfaction magnified,'" Tejra quotes an unknown source, her voice still low, though she pitches the word to a more monotone than melodic quality. "I'd hate to be a firework when I can be a star." Those words, more typically melodic though tinged with just enough hint of the wild to promise that that serene demeanor that is like Tej's second skin can hold something much more animate, if one has the key to free the caged bird. She casts a look at him through her lashes that to anyone but him might look like simple flirtation, but to the man whose gaze she seeks is a deeper assessment. Her fingers briefly, experimentally, lace between his before slipping away and releasing his hand entirely. She breaks her eye contact with him to draw herself up and reclaim her cup. "Wealth is nice," she murmurs against the brim; she wouldn't reject the option for luxury, but it sounds like she could take it or leave it - in a word, as he said: dull. Her eyes slip across the others in the room, her body leaning slightly away from him as though, perhaps, this whole interlude is beginning to lose her interest. Is there better sport elsewhere?

"Has such a fate befallen you before?" To be no more than firework, is what he's likely after. Ice-touched gaze, as cold and distant as it is deep like some abyss that holds a leviathian waiting beyond, keeps hers for as long as she carries out that assessment. Intensity persists, as does an overwhelming sort of pressure. That sort that one could lost in, or be crushed by, if not careful enough. Though the man's grin touches his eyes such that small lines edge those eyes darkened by kohl, an enigmatic mask remains, difficult to feather out anything more than what he says. When she lets his hand go and moves away from that drawn embrace, he lets his gaze wander to where his fingertips trail down her spine. "What about freedom? Something a little harder to obtain than a chest of jewel and mark." It's no longer a gift he can truely give, not like he used to be able to. It was a promise of open horizons and endless adventure, that came with the ball and chain of other things that simply couldn't be romanticized. "Or the semblance of it, for a little while, at my side." A rustling of leather arises again, a shrug intermingled with the rise of his glass again as the last of the rum is taken. A bit of a pleased grimace follows the bite of it, "Unless this is where you want to be." A comment directed at her lean away from him and potential departure.

The touch of fingers down spine sparks reaction, her subtle but sinuous arching following the trail of his finger, the contact enough to draw her attention back to him. Maybe all her wandering attention needed was a reminder that she had his. Is it enough to keep it? The redhead does resituate herself again, turning in the chair so her knees touch the outside of his thigh, one arm drooping lazily over her chair back. "If I were with you, would I be free?" Her curiosity shows in the lift of elegantly arched brows. Tej's fingers are no less graceful than the rest of her and they walk across the edge of the table a moment before tapping the surface. "This table, yours," the fingers of her other hand tap the chair back in which she sits, "this chair, yours. Your body possesses these things as easily as you do your glass." The glass that her table-side hand is reaching to wrap her fingers around, touching his in their place on the glass. If it weren't empty now, she might have dared to try to appropriate a sip. Instead, she'll settle for brushing her fingertips across his, another tease-and-gone gesture as she pulls back. "I don't see any evidence that you know how to give freedom," she challenges, her purr low and her voice practically hypnotic in its deliberate pacing. "A pretty cage and one you'll probably tire of minding soon after you've found someone to occupy it, but it sounds more like temporary possession, not temporary freedom. Can you do better?"

Whatever else he might trace over her back is interrupted as she turns in the chair, that wandering hand falling to her leg. "Perceptive." Drawls that deep accent, not yet slurred despite the amount of rum the man must have consumed by now. No remorse comes of her description, only pride that inflames his innate swagger. Only more of that smug grin that draws shallow lines in the shadows of his rugged scruff. "Everything comes with a price, love." The statement comes so easily, so naturally, as if it's one he spins on a daily basis. "What you see is a man in a bar otherwise full of sad men with vendettas and secrets willing to give just about anything to get what it is they want. To many of them," And that empty glass is lifted in a vague gesture to where a few are still looking over at them before its set on the table and left there, "I've given… opportunities. Opportunities it was up to them to take." He settles back in his chair, no longer leaning towards her, but no less engaged. This is the part of the Deal. His favorite part. Their favorite part. Yet, he pauses for a moment, considers this concern of hers. An exhale dissolves a bit of that grin of his, but not all of it. Not every part of why he would claim her where he would take her is selfish- even if that is a large part of what and who he is. A grand lot of it is safety. "Could you bare to be by a man's side until you reach whatever destination suits your fancy? If it was wealth that you wanted, your evidence would be as easy as a coinpurse left on this table. To have something greater takes a bit of trust, does it not?" His thumb on her leg drifts a little, a tender but greedy sort of motion that restates all that she's already said of possession. "I never tire of minding what's mine." His tone darkens a little with this, a flare of the danger that so obviously coats him. A cautioning, if nothing else, of how far she wishes to tread.

Tejra moves. The lithe quickness of the movement is warning to any man who would take her lack of obvious weapon or other flash and sparkle and mistake that for prey. Their favorite part, indeed, and she is a predator in her own right. Perhaps a smaller predator, so far, but then, she's still young; there's time to grow if she doesn't get swallowed by something or someone higher on the food chain. Like this man. Bigger and badder though he may be, where would be the fun if he held all the cards? The move she makes is into him. One hand lands, not violently, but with distinct pressure right where his thigh meets his hip, while the other settles beside his collar on his opposite side, her lips very near his ear, skin brushing skin as she speaks low and intense, "Even a little trust can be very costly." And, "Can you ever bear to let a treasure go?" This woman, though young, has no apparent doubt of her own worth, or— well, apparently her welcome, for the next move she makes is to slide straddle-legged across his lap and sit, face drawing back but not far. And if those eyes are still on them? Let them stare.

Just as she was permitted to toy with his hand, her swift 'attack' isn't impeded. The way he's reclined in that chair makes it all too easy for her to take over, to take that little bit of power from him. The dominance of a taller position that all but pins him unless he wanted to take unnecessarily violent action to remove her and the table from his way. His hands rest at her hips, not really holding her there, not really supporting, just there because he can and does. When she speaks into his ear, his head turns slightly into her, an almost intimate motion, allowing the side of his face- as harsh as the scruff makes it- to touch hers unless she moves. "Aye, but with risk can come great reward. You just have to take a bit of a leap." He hums in return, that low rumble of rogue's voice deep and still not-quite a whisper but yet just for her, "A treasure, no. But a woman is not that. She is not a trophy unless she desires herself to be, and there are plenty who do." This implies two things- one, that he doesn't believe that is all she thinks she's worth, and two, that he has had more than his fair share of those who are fine with being no more than that. "To come with me for the evening is to find what you really want and take it. If it is the next island over, so be it. If it is the scallywag that minds the galley- I suppose I would be a bit disappointed in that one-" This pulls a breathy chuckle from him, the chest upon which she now sort of leans rocking beneath her briefly in that amusement, "but it is your choice."

The brush of his rough cheek changes nothing in the actions she makes. Once she's settled as though she might possess the man while he possesses the table, the chair, the bubble, and all things of lesser value, her pale eyes trace lines of his face, lingering at his eyes - at the kohl. Slowly, a smile spreads across Tej's face, as bright as to shame Rukbat for failing to match its vibrancy. It's a look of revelation, of epiphany and she laughs. The laugh is a full-voiced thing; let the world witness her… joy? Amusement? Something. Then she raises the hand at his collar and lets her fingertips sweep gently down his cheek of one, long, lingering moment. "If you figure out what I really want and how to give it to me, come and find me." The challenge is laid before the man, and may be meant to be a parting, only— impulsively for there's no evidence of pre-meditation in the movement, she sways forward, lays upon his lips the kind of plundering, claiming kiss that many a man has given many a woman the world over in many a more intimate setting, ending it with a nip to his lower lip, laughter and mischief fairly dancing in her eyes as she seeks his gaze for a moment. Then she's seeking to slide free of his lap and weave her way toward the door with a cocky glance and wink back his way just before she's gone.

One heavy brow raises at her laughter, studying her expression for hints at the essence of it, the cause of it. Failing this, his attention falls to follow her hand when it moves, returned to her face when she traces his own. If he was going to speak, since for sure Pern would freeze over the day he has nothing to say, it's silenced by that kiss. One of his hands strays from her hips to twine into the hair at the back of her head. This is a man that doesn't have hesitance, doesn't have doubt, and thus whatever surprise was immediately had is melted away within that breath she steals from him. His eyes close, and that passion which Darkness boasts in the lack of restraint, lack of boundaries, and freedom of whim to take as one pleases, is whispered within his return. His embrace of her is encompassing and claiming even with as little as he takes. The response of his lips to hers is not like a tsunami hurtling over the beach and nearby holds destroying all it touches, though it feels like it could at any moment. It is more like a promise of more, indulgent and simmering, a flame threatening to engulf her as a ship dead in the water with nowhere to go for safety. Despite the hand that had moved to pull her to him, it does not stop her from leaving when she goes to untangle herself from him. He rises shortly after she starts to head towards the doorway, and despite all the eyes that had been on them, not a one judges him. Not a one expects anything else of this man, painting another facet of who, or what, he might be. The crowd does not delay him, bodies parting for his passage rather than expecting him to wind around them. It's outside of the bar, as the door swings behind him to punctuate his appearance, that he reaches to take hold of her arm to pause her. "M'lady, I don't think you quite understand." If she doesn't fight him, he will pull her to him, turning with a gracefulness that befits his mischievous charm to cage her between himself and the outter wall of the bar. From afar, it absolutely looks like something far more intimate than conversation, though the only light upon them is that which leaks from the small square windows beside them and the cracks 'round the door. "I am a very busy man. What makes you think my offer will stand longer than tonight? You've teased me with your wiles, and dangled your mystery before my curiosity, but it would take much more than that for me to waste my time searching for someone who is too afraid to take a risk."

Although not expected, the truth is that when Ki'lian grips her arm, Tej spins with him, making it all the easier to cage her, not an unwilling bird in this temporary prison. Maybe this is just one more step in the dance. "What makes you think it's fear that stops me?" And there it is, a smile that is feral, that spreads across the woman's face as if she has the bigger predator right where she wants him. It's the kind of look that might raise the hairs on the back of the neck for fear of being in a crossbow's unseen aim. He's not, of course, but that smile of Tejra's would be as frightening to some (the sane, mostly) as it is fearless. "I know what I want. I don't think it's in your power to give. And frankly, darling," she purrs the term of endearment, making it somehow sharp, "I don't think you're thinking big enough to offer me the kind of risk that's worth my time." She presses gently off the wall to lean toward him, adding to that appearance of intimacy without really creating it to demand, "Do better, if you want me." She glances over his shoulder then, leaning back against the wall, her arms rising to fold across her slender frame, "Or let me go. I think it might matter more to you than to me which it is." She sounds sure, even if she might not be.

Rather than fear, in those cold, callous seablue eyes is amusement of the feral smile that is illicited by his actions. Something else. Something new. Some deeper part of her spurred on- it's what he desired to see, though certainly not enough to satisfy whatever it is he's after. "What else would it be? Clearly, you want me." He's so close, his body so-lightly against hers, there but not pressing, the warmth of him as invasive as this action he's taken. "You wouldn't know unless you ask, love." Of what she wants being within his power, he means. How much power does he have? Soft power can be nigh endless, a reach that extends far beyond that tavern and those people, but is it all talk? If he's lying, he is a damn good liar, so sure of himself, dripping in arrogant confidence. His head is slightly tilted as he talks to her, his attention slipping from her eyes to her lips and back again, a viperous edge to his expression in aftermath of her comment of doing better. "Does it?" He straightens, letting her arm go, opening the door to that cage for now. He is one who indulges, whose nature is only worsened by the mind that is attached to his, and although she has piqued his interest- often a difficult thing to do for this long without a Deal made- for some reason the predator releases his prey. The serpent uncoils. The monster of the ocean receeds. "As you wish." It's the first thing she's asked for, and now the first she's received. The arm that had caged her sweeps outwards, paving her path to flee.

Less ask than suggestion, but the fact that he grants it, makes her lips twist in wry amusement. Tej doesn't move. Obviously. The cat lingers at the door to the cage. In or out? In? Or… out? In fact, she seems decided on in, in this moment, even if the cage no longer exists, rendering the point moot. "I want you," she'll give him that agreement much without any riddling attached, although that amusement is only growing in her expression at some thought as yet unshared. She keeps her arms slung loosely across her chest, head dropping to one side like a puppet with cord clipped, "Do you meet many who don't?" She squints a little at him, as if she has a hard time seeing it. "Doesn't it grow dull for you? Maybe that's why you're speaking with me," maybe she's been trying to puzzle that bit out this whole while, even if her face has never so much as hinted at it. "What I want can only be given without being asked for." The smile is suppressed to a guttered candle rather than wild brilliance. "And it takes a lot of effort." And so, that being said, she tilts her face up in a way that highlights the smooth line of her neck, tickled by those wisps of locks knocked from the pile of braids on her head during their kiss, or before. Quietly now, she studies his face again. "What's in it for you? If I go with you and choose my own destiny." She makes that last part sound presumptive, droll. Maybe it's just funny to her that he seems to think she's not doing that already.

The cage may no longer be there, but his body is. That relatively tall, solid, foreboding pressure of him remains in contact with her until she deems ready to slip free. The left side of that smirk broadens when what he already knows is confirmed by her words, though he never had any doubt of it- clearly. If there is someone who has denied him before, it goes unsaid. Instead, "How could it possibly grow dull?" A breathy chuckle laces his accent, amused by her question as if it's such an impossibility. His hand returns, reaching to touch her face, the chill of his rings stark against the warmth of his skin as his touch follows the curve of her jaw to the side of her neck before letting his fingers tangle loosely in the locks of hair he finds there. "Everyone desires something a bit different. Different flavors, if you will. There are always the boring ones, but then I happen to cross paths with someone like you." He grants it to be a rarity in that statement- special, interesting, worth chasing at least for a moment before he's to vanish again. "A riddle, is it? That, I can work with." Anything is better than nothing in this teasing out of information, of something for his greed of soft power to hold onto, to take. Knowledge is dangerous, but so far she's kept a fire ring around her camp, the predator just-barely at bay. Pacing. Waiting. His face comes closer to hers now, his nose touching, his words a warmth breath, "More than you might think." In a double life, there is so much effort put into creating one or the other facade. There is more than companionship and entertainment that he would gain, but a reaffirming of the Captain's face among men who would surge at the first chance to question him in all his strange abscences. And since creating that scene in tavern, she's already started to play her part. "All you have to do is say yes." Darkness whispers, it urges and beckons only to those threads that already exist. He sees it in her, and coaxes all-so-gently.

That near impossible level of motionlessness returns to her frame as his hand travels from her face and down; it's almost like she doesn't breathe, only her chest does a gentle and remarkably steady rise and fall to mark each one. Tej's pale gaze continues to search the man's face, and a few paltry morsels are tossed to the predator just waiting for her guard to go down. The slight wrinkle of her nose and the mild exasperation laced into her tone as she murmurs, "It grows dull for me, and it's not even all the time," must be some kind of real; a glimpse of something more than mask, maybe? But then her lightning fast change in the tavern might suggest that there's no end to the layers here. "Not everyone likes a redhead," she quips on, or even a redhead with so willowy a frame as hers. She lets her voice pitch low to that sensual purr again, "Maybe you just attract a better crowd. Or care less." There's that stinging kiss (or would be, if he were easy to wound) implying less than flattering thing about the dark man's character. There's a very slight rock forward, pressing her even more tightly to him as she opens her mouth to say— to agree? Perhaps, just perhaps. She probably doesn't even intend to dangle that prize only to snatch it back as her eyes narrow in more visible thought than her expression has betrayed as yet and she rocks back on her heels putting just a touch of distance between them. "Do you ever relax?" It's a real question, and maybe for all that he's seemed entirely at ease through all of this and in the tavern, that's probably not quite what she means.

"Then perhaps you're looking for more than just a good time." Yet another statement digging, searching for purchase with that clawed grasp to sink in just a little deeper. There is a constant, persistent search for reaction, sussing pleasure out of the stillness of her frame when he touches her. He enjoys it, revels in it for a moment. Ki'lian plays with that lock of hair between his fingers, teases it lightly, and eventually lets it tumble back to its place as she remarks on the color of it, "Or they simply do not know how to handle one." Is corrected of redheads, the sly, arrogant smirk of his twitching at its corner as if there's more inappropriate humor in there than the words account for. At this closeness, the chuckle she pulls from him is more a motion, a short rocking of his chest. More felt than heard in the nefarious, breathy characteristic of it. "I can only imagine what sort of crowd you indulge in then if they are worse than that." He relinquishes a little space between his face and hers, his head tipped by a fraction towards the doorway to indicate the less than savory lot that they'd just been surrounded by. Rather than stung, amusement rests in the wake of her jab, and worse- furthering of the serpent's interest should she really frequent such unsavory places. Far too narcissistic to mind what others think of him, he likely doesn't even take it as a thought about his character at all. That rocking forward of her body is responded to in kind- that just slight degree of pressure from his own as if the cage's door has already started to swing back to close once more. That black-wrapped left hand falls from the wall where it had boxed her in to stray to her lower back where she'd given that space away from the wall in her motion. Despite all that, her question does seem to catch him off-guard, a dark brow raising slightly, "That's quite what the rum is for, don't you think?" It's not a real answer, and it's an obvious dodge to whatever it is he thinks she means.

The fissure in her mask takes the form of a derisive snort. It's that impulsiveness that gets her into trouble in the midst of a well-played game. The words are out, in a tone that might show too much of her hand, her tone one that spells out perhaps too plainly that she's not nearly as affected by him as proximity and her near acceptance might lead him to believe. "And you'd have me believe that you do?" It's a direct challenge, but Tejra is willing to lend him much rope, possibly as much as he could ever want, to hang himself with. Her briefly animated face takes refuge in the natural tranquility her fine features lend her, the crack repairing itself in a heartbeat, but leaving behind, certainly, that as redheads go, this one probably falls into the "handful or more" category. Her demeanor slides back into what must be a familiar facade because the transition is fast and without any apparent effort, just as readily. She leans back into the hand pressed to her back and the look in her eyes as she meets his is knowing. "No," pretty lips caress the word, and each to follow as if they were their own caress of skin, or touch of her lips to some deep part of him that might've forgotten that enticement, that potential for care, "that's not what the rum is for." And now it's her turn to press forward; she's smaller than him, but the way her muscles flex and mold to him now is a giveaway that within this deceptive frame is the coiled strength one might more readily find in a guardsman obsessive to his craft. "I'll go," she speaks the breath of the words to the skin that's closest be that neck, chin or lips. If her answer about the rum isn't warning enough for him that he might not like what he gets in half of the deal, she isn't about to offer him more obvious clues.

There's no motion of the man for quite some time as he very simply watches her, studious still of her expression, of the slips or cracks of that mask that bars him from quicker advancement. But, easy prey is no test at all, and would all the quicker lose his interest. "You can believe whatever it is you wish to." He will look through her noose, know damn well what it is, and let her keep it there without protest. Let her have that impending threat, that impending power over a potential misstep to come of what he claims he can handle. A practiced womanizer knows better than to a tell a woman what she knows, of course. Patience simmers now in that tangible impatience of danger on the precipice needing permission to cross the threshold. Waiting for the circle to come around to let her come to her own decision under the burden of the mental and physical weight of him and the scars this game has already made, marked briefly in the way there are less words from him. Inscribed in the way that intensity of his ice-touched light eyes never leave hers. Animated by how his head remains just-slightly tilted to one side. Listening. Accepting but not accepting her response, because rum is always the answer. His eyes narrow a little bit, though there's no anger there. Anger could only be an utterly ugly thing upon him, given how terribly treacherous, menacing, wicked his pleased evidently is. "Brilliant." An exclaimation of approval upon her acceptance, still given low in his graveled accent. The Devil's words still speak, though, not yet moving to release her. There's an abrupt shift from the villainous playful to a serious warning, spoken quietly to her ear, now close with how her answer was granted to his skin, "No matter how brave or strong you may be, do not leave my side." That is it. That is all, before he steps back with his wrapped hand still in place at her back to bring her with him with intention to lead the way down the precarious steps to the questionable docks full of questionable ships just beyond the rocks that protect this inlet.

Brave and strong. Tej must be both. Or very foolish. Possibly all three in varying degrees. She dares to look bemused by his warning, but not in a way that suggests she isn't still entertaining it. In fact, there's the barest move of her chin to indicate… understanding? Acquiescence? Something, at any rate. It's really quite hard to tell with the way her eyes are back to giving nothing she doesn't want away. She may not be a big predator yet, but control of what the eyes give is a mark in her favor that given enough fodder to sate herself on, she could become a bigger threat, in time. Or a better ally. Impulse flashes again as she interrupts their path toward the stairs, pressing into him and tilting her head, pressing to toes to nip at his neck and finish with the light press of a kiss. This might be a game, all a game, but the part about wanting him is probably real enough, and maybe she just needed to make sure that he hadn't forgotten that. Then she's content enough to move with him, her catlike grace making short work of even the most questionable of steps, feet seeming to take pleasure in finding not the easiest path, but the most fun, with a little jump to the ground, landing as firm as if the ground had reached up to catch her. If she had to leave him to do it, then she did, but she'll come back to him (isn't that the trouble with addictive games? You always come back to them in the end), content to let him lead the way, her arm seeking to encircle his waist under is coat, as if she could tuck herself in against him. There's no tension of fear in her frame, but more the subtle relaxation of one enjoying the play of kinetics - his movement and energy and how it fits, or doesn't, naturally along with her fluid gait.

The warning is there, for her to take or to leave. Regardless, it concedes a hint as to where they're going, something deeper about his character, or both. Ki'lian's start is paused by her impulsive gesture, but his arm wraps around her to support her as her body meets his, taking her in for whatever she gives. Moldable, maleable to these kinds of desires in that manner of the oceans to and fro, ab and flow. His head tilts to meet her kiss, though he doesn't keep her there, doesn't take it for more than what she gives. Yet, it isn't a passive acceptance. Just as before, and suggested in the way he caged her tavernside, it's just the heat before the flames. The sway of the surface before the drowning. She earns a light 'mmm' from him low in his throat though at the nip- despite all that he is, he is still a man, and would be daft to claim he's not affected by her wiles and all that she's brought to this game. He offers no caution of the stairs, no protectiveness over her dancing forward over the rickety steps that creek and moan under even the lightest foot. No, for that doesn't carry the same potential dire consequences as what could happen if she ignores what he did warn her for. Instead, he enjoys it, entertains himself with the movements of her form. And, becomes lost for a second. One. Two. Three. His gaze is distance, no longer present in the here and now. Distracted. And within that moment, tension crosses his face. Then, it's no more. He's back, he's staring at her the same way he was as if that time was never missed. "How are you sealegs?" He inquires as she returns to him, and he collects her with that arm once more. The leathery shuffling of his longcoat comes with her tucking herself against him, the warmth of it odd but not- for now- uncomfortable for the tropical zone of the South. Each heavy booted stride is relatively loud against the wood, his gait long and easy, bold, commanding still of his space in an effortlessness born of decades of living it. Much like the way he speaks, there is no rush to his pace. The world is at his beck and call. And it makes it easy to keep beside him. "Between's Black. M'lady of the sea." Ki'lian introduces as he directs them onto a farther dock towards a ship moored there that is fittingly as intimidating as he- An older trader ship of good size, a brig to be exact, whose hull had long ago lost its paint replaced by a charred brown hue. The sails, currently battoned down, and the riggings that sway in the night's languid breeze look to be in order, well cared for. "Ahoy mate!" Ki'lian's voice abruptly rises, calling to the shadowed figure that sits on a trunk near the raised gangplank. The small, squat man stands- scrambles, really- and the loud sound of wood scrapping on wood is prolonged as he shoves the plank out to meet the dock. "Cap'n! Thought you'd be out all night." A beat, and the gruff voice adds, "Brought somethin' to share did ye?" The hand that has hold of Tejra's side squeezes lightly- ressurance perhaps? "Not tonight. In fact, you'll make yourself scarce until mornin', understood?" "Aye, aye- whatever ye say." Grumbled. Disappointment. When that plank touches down in front of them, he'd direct them upwards and onto the deck. A place rife with crates of food and fruit, a few cages of small livestock, and further- trunks and barrells, many of them locked or chained from easy access.

Rather than give him a solid insight in words, Tej's response is a murmured, "I'd suppose you're about to find out." This, long before any sight of sail; it doesn't take a genius, after all. If she paid any attention to his attention to her or his lack of it rather than being fully invested in what the movements offered her in experience and small delights, there is no outward sign. It's a prelude to the knowledge he will doubtless gain when seeing Tejra's sealegs in action that she inspects the ship with a critical eye but ends with a look that splits the difference between smile and smirk. "She has a fine figure." Anyone who's been around the sea's servants long enough knows to compliment the ladies that ride the rough and ready waves when introduced. It's only polite, and if her compliment comes with an edge of dark humor, then that's only a further indication of her acquaintance with the water. That dark humor is subverted by a suddenly saucy smile, cast first up to him with deliberate pause, a twitch in her eyebrow silently asking the question, 'Like this?' before she casts that sultry look toward the crewman before letting her free arm slip across the Captain's middle, her red head coming to rest briefly, on his shoulder. It's almost as if the pose confirms that she's his, all his, while making sure the other man knows what he's missing. It might be unkind, really, but kindness has never been something Tejra loses sleep over. She reclaims her own space, though, as they move up the gangplank (she as though her feet aren't even touching it, such is her lithe grace and ease with its questionable balance). Pale eyes make an assessment, to be sure, though her expression upon stepping foot on the deck plays boredly as if this weren't why she was here, and what a waste of time it is to still be in clothes at all, but alas and alack that humans can't just between to a private location of their choosing to dispense with all this walking. Sealegs? Yes, in working order. There's nary a sign that this is any different for her than walking on land. She doesn't say anything, though, only looks to Ki'lian with what to others would be read as waiting and wanton, but holds a subtle movement just for him of lips settling gently together and another brow twitch that says, 'What next?'

The crewman nightguard is none too pleased by the sight of her clinging to the captain, his vulgar assessment of her looking at everything but her face. However, at the same time he appears hardly surprised by it- the captain's claim or Tejra's poise to reaffirm it. The general tone of acceptance and then returning to his post repositioned on the dock rather than the deck to keep reading the worn book in his lap dictates something routine about the behavior. "Aye, that she is." Oh does she stroke that ego of his, that absolute approval of her confirming the excellence of this ship that has seen every sort of passage, from kind uneventful travels to destinations left to the imagination, to sea and sky soaked by blood. His love of this vessel is not what it once was, but there is no sign of lack of the affection that can only exist between a captain and his ship. Though the cargo in immediate sight is nothing spectacular, it denotes one critical fact- that it is readied to set sail for some very long time at sea. One or two other crewmen seem to be milling about, but take this opportunity to head down to dry land for the rest of the night, vanishing from sight as they're swallowed by the darkness. Their depature begs the feeling of solitude. It's quiet. The harsh discord of the tavern has been left behind, replaced by the lapping of subdued waves against the wooden hull, the gentle clink of the metal riggings above tapping against the main and foremasts in a disjointed echo on each so-gentle rocking of the ship nestled in the blackened crib of the sea. "Appearances, love." He comments without anything other than the context of getting her here without having to deal with his crew further. An apology, likely, for the delay- or as much of one as she's going to get. A glance around the deck is inspective, a habit, though concise and as limited as the time it takes to show her to the door towards stern aspect of the maindeck. His freehand searches his pocket on the side opposite of her, the metallic jingling evidence he's fishing for a key. The long skeleton key unlocks the door with a heavy clunk, the mechanism old but robust against the expectation that this sort of crew would have no qualms trying their hand at it. 'Less she hesitates, he would draw her with him through the doorway at the same night apathetic pace. That is, until they've passed the corner. Before the door even has a chance to separate them from the night air, he rounds on her. The odd softness of the ragged wrap of his hand cups her face to angle it towards him. Danger in those kohl rimmed eyes speak of a hunger that was only suggested before, searching her gaze one more time for panic, for resistance. In the absence of it, he removes the rest of the distance, taking her lips as his own in a fierce, greedy kiss. At the same time, his embrace shifts from lady's guide to possessive, as if a famine had overtaken. He lifts her with that hold, one hand fallen to wrap her leg around his waist to keep her there.

The only hesitation Tejra seems to have is long before they reach the door, it's when the deck is cleared of human inhabitants and the natural music of wave-and-rigging is without added distraction. One foot shifts enough to imply a step toward the opposite rail, without actually taking the step. Does the water tempt her? The horizon? Just the unobstructed view? He won't get to find out just now. Just now, she'll follow him, to the door, wait watchfully as he quests for that key and unlocks the portal. She doesn't need his draw through, but she accepts it as part and parcel of this adventure. If she's supposed to be showing shrinking violet qualities in earnest by now, he's bound to be sorely disappointed. She's not too eager on the other side of that spectrum either, but her lithe steps follow fearlessly where he leads. If his shift in demeanor is a surprise to her (and that's a pretty big if, given that she's willingly entered the predator's den and she has to understand that implies more than a little degree of surrender), then it's a pleasant surprise. Danger in his eyes meets bold daring and not a shred of panic or doubt in hers, not even a little bothered (at least not in any of the negative ways the word can imply) by the way he rounds on her. She meets his possession and blaze of passion(?), with her own, stoking a fire, redoubling what she's given with what she gives in turn. She already said she wanted him; now she shows him, by not only yielding to the possession he seeks (if not wholly, maybe, but where would be the fun if she were suddenly a pliant maiden), but in pressing her own however temporary possession of the man who holds the power. There's greed in her hands as they slide under his coat, palms pressed flat to his sides and around to his back, nails dragging there before she's freeing her hold so her arms can twine around his neck, letting the kiss deepen as he wishes, her leg indeed drawing up as he encourages. Hopefully he's braced for her weight because her other leg is moving with a moment of weightlessness courtesy of the press of foot to deck before it's linked up behind his hips with her opposite leg, and the Captain is in full possession (for now) of an armful of willing woman.

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