Ekim 19, 2021

Barbaria Act 2 Chapter 7

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Barbaria Act 2 Chapter 7MAIN NARRATIVECaptain Varian was understandably pleased by the news which was sent back from the reconnaissance fleet. It seemed obvious that the power of Sythia had been greatly overrated. They were dealing with a small two-island State whose citizens lacked the sterling qualities of Barbaria. For their smaller island had been most easily conquered. Resistance had been minimal and already all suitable young men and women would be in the slave-pens.Perhaps the best news of all was that, when the news of the conquest reached the larger island, on which the capital was situated, the Court and Government at once sought terms of surrender. They were, it seemed, ready to submit to Barbarian rule if suitable conditions could be arranged. The safety of the hierarchy, for example. A continuing existence on their island, but under Barbarian authority. Above all they were concerned that their ruler, Princess Venetia. should come to no harm… and that she should be granted some kind of status at the Court of Barbaria.The gallant Captain had laughed out aloud at that. He could just imagine what kind of status Princess Alexena would grant this woman! A woman who had had the temerity to give the impression she could challenge the might of Barbaria!However, being a wily bird, the Captain agreed to a meeting at which conditions of surrender would be discussed. His object, of course, was to capture the larger island of Sythia without a fight and, even more important, to ensure that he took this Princess Venetia alive. As his own Princess had ordered.How pleased Princess Alexena would be, he reflected. An ex-princess to play with! To do whatever she liked with! To convert into the lowliest of her slaves. Lower even than Flavia. Why, it would keep her happy for months! In that flush of triumph, there was very little she would not grant her Chief Commander, he was sure. Greater riches, greater powers. Certainly he would be given Flavia if he asked for her. Which he intended to do.Thus it was with a light heart that Captain Varian ordered the main fleet to proceed eastwards, so as to join the reconnaissance fleet, before proceeding to the main island of Sythia in one body. Down in the galley holds of ‘The Taurus’, the whips of Lady Helen and Lady Livia were soon at work again … cracking across the backs of their weakened charges. Many of those backs, after repeated floggings, were red-raw. A mass of welts from which the blood oozed as the rhino-hide fell yet again.Yet the oars kept sweeping.At the pace the drum beat out.Drawing on final reserves.It was indeed incredible how an instinct for survival could drive men to such efforts!The harbour of the main island was surprisingly large. It was practically land-locked, with high cliffs in the background. However, there were no more than ten small vessels within the harbour and each· of these flew a white flag of surrender. Another white flag flew at the harbour entrance. It made a rather pitiful sight really, thought Captain Varian. He preferred a State which put up some show of resistance. Perhaps this lot would have done if they had known what was coming to them, he reflected.At the head of his magnificent fleet of some forty ships, Captain Varian led the way into the waiting harbour.Another triumph for Barbaria.And how easy it had been!Within half an hour of having dropped anchor, Captain Varian was on his way to the main jetty in a pinnace, accompanied by his senior officers. Also aboard were the Ladies Helen and Livia, who seemed anxious to get a look at this Princess Venetia.As they approached the jetty, a group of thirty or forty people could be seen assembled there. Obviously chief members of the Court and Government. At their centre would be detected a figure in white. The Princess.Enjoy your last few moments of power, woman, said Captain Varian to himself. For there will be no more. For you it is over! The pinnace glided to the jetty. Ropes were flung out and secured to bollards by waiting sailors. Several of the pinnace’s crew jumped to the jetty and ran out a gangway.Across it walked Captain Varian.Followed by his officers and the Ladies.He was glad to note that Princess Venetia went to her knees as the company approached.Already she was getting the right idea!“You may rise, woman,” said Captain Varian benignly.The white-robed figure rose slowly. There were little murmurings from the watching Barbarians as she stood proudly erect. Lady Helen and Lady Livia looked at each other, smiling.For here was a truly magnificent creature.A woman six feet tall and superbly proportioned. Rather on the statuesque lines of the Ladies Helen and Livia, in fact.Her features were those of a classical beauty. A Creek or Roman beauty. So finely made; so perfectly chiselled. The mouth wide, the lips full. The nose straight and delicate. And the eyes canlı bahis were a startling blue, rather like the colour of the sea under a hot, bright sun. Crowning this loveliness was a mass of fine, light blonde hair, failing shoulder length.Captain Varian gazed for some time in silence. Almost in awe it seemed. He did not think he had seen a more magnificent-looking… a more beautiful… woman ever.Even Princess Alexena could not match her, he decided with a faint feeling of disloyalty.By the gods, what a slave she was going to make!The ruler of Barbaria could not ask for anything better! “Welcome to Barbaria, Sir…”The voice was firm and melodious. Well-controlled,The blue eyes were cool but wary.Captain Varian bowed slightly. Why not? all this was rather amusing. It was worth keeping up the charade a little longer. For soon this woman would be naked, hanging by her hair from a cross-mast of the pinnace while she was being taken back to ‘The Taurus’.!“Thank you,” he said politely, but refraining from actually addressing her as Princess. “You seek terms, I believe?”“That is correct, Sir…”This woman is remarkably poised and calm under the circumstances, thought Captain Varian. But then, she probably is now aware of how we Barbarians treat our captives.“My terms are unconditional surrender,” he said flatly.Princess Venetia nodded… rather as if he had fully expected that reply. “So,” she said evenly,” you do not respect flags of truce.”Captain Varian smiled at this naivety. “Of course not,” he answered disdainfully. “We Barbarians do not play such stupid games. How do you think we became masters of the world?”Again that faint nod of the head. As if all her suspicions were being confirmed. But, if she had had suspicions, why had this woman been so stupid to allow the whole Barbarian fleet into her harbour without a fight?Captain Varian was very shortly to find out.“I just want to be sure of the sort of people I am dealing with,” said Princess Venetia calmly.Captain Varian bridled. He did not like the tone nor the insolent demeanour. “You will resume your posture on your knees, woman,” he said curtly. If she does not, he thought, I’ll have her forced down then stripped. That would show her he meant business.Princess Venetia quite ignored this order. She might not even have heard it, for all the notice she took of it. By the gods, thought Lady Livia, with a sudden leap of her heart, how I’m going to enjoy seeing this arrogant bitch get her first whipping!“We heard rumours, of course,” continued Princess Venetia in her unruffled way. “Then our spies brought us actual news of your vile State… “Colour suffused the Captain’s face. “How dare you!” he began furiously. “You are defeated… conquered! How dare you speak thus to a Barbarian…”The Princess actually smiled. “I dare, because I can,” she said… which sent Captain Varian into a paroxysm of fury.“force her to her knees… strip her!” he bellowed.There were shouts of approval from his escort… two of whom dashed forward to do his bidding. But, instantly, the ranks closed around Princess Venetia. Six tall military-looking figures with impassive features.“Swords!” shouted Captain Varian.Four more of the escort drew their swords and advanced. “Stand aside or you’ll feel cold steel!” shouted their leader.The rank was unmoving.The leader stepped forward, sword raised menacingly. “Very well, you oaf!”As the sword swept higher, preparatory to being slashed down, the man who was menaced produced something from his tunic-belt. There was a sharp crack… and the sword-bearer fell instantly to the jetty. One might say that the sound was the crack of doom for Barbaria!For it came from a Mauser pistol held in the Sythian soldier’s hand…For a few moments, there was a deathly, disbelieving silence. It was broken by Captain Varian’s orders.“Attack them… attack… strike them down!”Three more of the Barbarian escort leapt forward, swords swinging. Three more sharp cracks split the air… and three more lifeless bodies joined the one already bleeding on the dank, wooden planking.Captain Varian was, at first, speechless. Then, almost purple in the face, he gathered himself. “What devilry is this? Wh-What is going on?” He kicked one of the prostrate figures. “Get up, you cowardly pig! You have not been touched!” But blood seeping over the jetty belied that statement. The Captain stepped back, obviously trying to gather his wits. He must do something. He could not be made to look a fool in front of these damned Sythians…At that moment, the ranks parted and Princess Venetia stood there, looking as serene as ever.“If you want to be killed… if you want every member of your entourage killed… you will continue in this absurd fashion,” she said. Then she gave one of the swords on the jetty a push with her foot. “You will continue to wave these absurd tin bahis siteleri blades…”Incensed beyond reason, another of the Barbaria escort leapt forward, sword aloft.“Captain… let me cleave her…” he began.Another crack and the young gallant joined his comrades. I mean exactly what I say,” said the Princess with controlled calm. The Barbarians now stood silent. This was something beyond their ken. Something terrible was happening. But they did not understand what. They stood, facing the unknown, feeling tentacles of fear slowly beginning to entwine them.Captain Varian’s face was a spectacle. One moment furious. The next, incredulous. He kept looking this way and that, quite at a loss as to how to proceed. Yet, he repeated to himself, I must take some action. Hesitantly, he stepped forward.The pistol swung upon him.“Do you wish to die?” enquired the Princess. Her eyes had acquired a brittle look, like molten blue glass hardening.The Captain did not wish to die. Not yet anyway! He took a step back, cursing his cowardice… yet so completely baffled by what was happening that his brain seemed to have frozen.What was happening?What was this ‘thing’ in the hand?This ‘thing’ that could fell a man at a distance. Could kill a man at a distance?It was unnatural. The work of some Satanic force.It is my duty, said Captain Varian, to find out what it is. Then to make it captive. To take it back to Princess Alexena. Yes… that was what he must do. he felt relief that, at least, he had come to some sort of decision.“Princess.” he began politely, now determined to play the diplomat rather than the bully.He was imperiously waved to silence.“You will now surrender the whole of your fleet,” said Princess Venetia. It was not so much an order; more a statement.Captain Varian staggered back as if he had been pole-axed. Surrender his fleet! The mightiest fleet in the world! This woman must be crazy! “Never!” he almost screeched. “Never!”Around him, the Barbarians were shouting vengeance at this piece of insolence. Fists were raised. Features were contorted with rage. But none stepped forward. They had seen what had happened to five of their countrymen already. It would be foolish to take unnecessary risks.The Princess looked quite unmoved. She simply raised one hand… and the white flag which fluttered above them was lowered.Instantly, from the harbour entrance, came a violent clanking sound, as if a giant portcullis were being lowered. Every Barbarian turned and then gazed in disbelieving amazement at the sight before them.A portcullis was not being lowered… but one was rising up from out of the water. In less than half a minute the harbour entrance was completely blocked.Within the harbour, the entire Barbarian fleet was completely trapped!Rendered as helpless as a slave in irons!White with shock, suddenly realizing that he had duped… that he had been led by the nose into this disaster… Captain Varian ran to the edge of the jetty and climbed upon a bollard, waving his arms. Such was the state of his mind he was indifferent to the ‘thing’ which had just despatched five of his men.“Storm the entrance!” he bellowed at the top of his voice to the nearest vessel. “Pass the word… run out a signal. Put them all to the sword… all of them… do you hear!”It was rather a pointless exhortation for there did not seem to be any Sythians to put to the sword. But it made the Captain feel a bit better.He must show that he was still a commander. And a Barbarian commander at that. Some faint lines of satisfaction etched his features as he saw the signal to attack being run out and passed from ship to ship.Like an iceberg, the figure of Princess Venetia remained silent still. There was a faint look of disdain on her imperious face. “We’ll show you what Barbarians are made of!” Captain Varian shouted as he turned back from the edge of the jetty. There were some cries of agreement around him. But not many. Those tentacles of fear were tightening. What race of people were these Sythians who could kill at a distance? Who could make such an incredible machine rise from out the sea?The first seeds of doubt of Barbarian superiority were being sown. However, with as much hope as they could muster, all eyes watched three vessels converging on the harbour entrance.When the leading vessel was little more than fifty yards away from the entrapping iron work, a small body of men were seen to run to some kind of metal construction on the harbour wall. Within moments, this contrivance, making an ear-splitting din, seemed to erupt. There were violent flashes… smoke… a crescendo of sound. Then the bows of the leading vessel burst into flames.The screams of dying men could be heard.Another thunder of sound.More flames and debris flying.The vessel began to list… to sink.Captain Varian’s mouth was agape, his eyes bolting from güvenilir bahis his head. Quite naturally, he had never seen a Bofors gun in action before… nor the effect it could have on a frail wooden ship. Before his eyes, the flames hissing and spitting as water overtook them, the vessel sank. Green waters bubbled and boiled; timbers and bodies floated.Nevertheless, uncomprehendingly, the other two vessel still bore down towards the entrance. There came the same crackling cacophony of sound. Flames and flying timberwork. Bending sounds as shells struck home. Awful screams, even if distant.In the same fashion, these two vessels also sank.Captain Varian, covering his face in his hands, fell to his knees and actually sobbed.For the first time in his life, he knew defeat.Utter defeat.He realised he, and all his fleet, were in the grip of some hitherto unknown force. An unimaginable force. Capable of destruction with an almost obscene rapidity.In short, he had come up against something quite invincible.“Do you wish to change your orders, Captain?” asked Princess Venetia. “Or do you wish the rest of your fleet destroyed in a similar fashion?”Though he had never been defeated before, Captain Varian knew he was now. He nodded his head.“You surrender?”“Yes… Yes… Princess,” he muttered, rising to his feet, face ashen white. Slowly, and with dignity, he walked back towards the group of Barbarians. Then, without a word, he took a sword from the nearest man. He placed the point to his belly then slowly fell forward. A high-pitched hissing sound came from him as the sword penetrated him and blood flowed copiously. Then he lay silent, twitching feebly.“A brave man,” remarked Princess Venetia unemotionally, “And a sensible one.”Now the silence among the Barbarians was absolute. They realized this was the end for them… even if they did not understand how it had come about. These spitting, cracking machines of war were beyond their comprehension.What they did not know, naturally, was that, several years before, the Sythians had come upon a stock of weapons and ammunition hidden deep in the ground. A relic of ‘Old Times’. Cleverly, they had learnt how to operate these weapons, realising the power they would give them.But, of course, such weapons were few in number. Ammunition was limited. So everything had to be used sparingly. Only on very special occasions. Such as the arrival of the Barbarians!“Gentlemen,” said Princess Venetia, addressing the company around her, “see to the disarmament of this fleet. All Barbarians are to be made captive. Release the slaves from their oars, but keep them under some form of reasonable control.”She looked at the group of stunned Barbarians before her and smiled faintly. After never having known anything but triumph after triumph, defeat must be bitter indeed, she reflected. Her eyes alighted upon Lady Helen and Lady Livia.“Have those two women brought to me,” she ordered.Male hands seized the pair. Protesting and struggling, they were led out… feeling the pitiless blue eyes upon them. Knowing, after years and years of power, what it was like to be a subject creature. Oh how swift had been their descent! Why, not ten minutes before, they had been revelling in the idea of watching this woman being whipped! “What are your names?”“Lady… Helen…”“And I am Lady Livia. Naturally, as a woman yourself… you will respect our status. I am sure of that, Princess…”The baleful look upon her silenced even one of Lady Livia’s arrogance. She felt a sudden and terrible dread. Could this really be happening to her? To her? It was like a nightmare.“What are you two doing on war vessels?”“We… we are galley masters,” responded Lady Helen. “In charge of the slaves.”“Indeed?” Blonde eyebrows went up. “And are there more like you on the other vessels?”“Yes… on all the vessels,” replied Lady Livia, trying to keep her voice respectful. It might be best to crawl to this bitch, she was telling herself.“Well, well,” smiled the Princess. “Then you’ll make a nice looking team when you’re all put to the oars yourself!”Then she turned on her heel.Her entourage parted to make a way for her. Behind her the long white robe billowed as she moved with easy-striding grace towards a litter which awaited her. It was borne by four huge, dusky males, each nude but for a brief white loincloth.Princess Venetia mounted, entered and reclined. Silken curtains were drawn around her. The litter moved off smoothly. Fortunately for the slaves who bore it. For, if there had been any undue jerking, all four of them would have been flogged without mercy.Because Princess Venetia was just as great a tyrant – if not more so – than the ruler of Barbaria!In the cool comfort of her litter, she smiled with satisfaction. What was this Princess Alexena like, she wondered? Beautiful, doubtless. A woman of power and arrogance, doubtless. A woman who had never bowed the knee, doubtless.A woman whom it would be a delight to have as a humble and obedient slave!Oh yes… certainly!The future was indeed pleasant to contemplate…

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