• Jessie Wolf

The Price of Freedom

1. INT. XIPIL'S KITCHEN - NIGHT - TENOCHTITLAN, 1518

Beautiful Aztec slave girls are busy working. CHANTICO (20),

the jaded head slave, comes and goes - organising the other

slaves before returning to the dinner upstairs. There are

two guards stationed by the only entrance.

OHTLI (16), the most beautiful slave, is the only girl

singing as she works. Her voice is exceptional. OHTLI is

preparing the drinking chocolate for the end of the evening.

She wears her dark hair loose and it swings forward as she

works through the process.

A third guard stands watching the mound of cocoa beans OHTLI

is working with.

Noises of revelry and loud, male conversation drift down

from the dinner upstairs and mingle with OHTLI's exquisite

singing.

As OHTLI works the other noises drift away until only the

singing can be heard, as though the world has stopped to

listen.

Another GUARD enters, searches for the source of the singing

with his eyes, then strides purposefully to OHTLI. He seizes

her by the arm and drags her from the kitchen.


OHTLI

Where are you taking me? Let me go.

GUARD

...

OHTLI

I have done nothing wrong. Unhand

me.


The GUARD is leading her through the substantial house,

through numerous corridors and up the stairs.


OHTLI (CONT'D)

Tell me where you are taking me.

GUARD

...

The noises from the dinner are getting louder as the GUARD

leads OHTLI down a long corridor that ends with heavy doors

leading to the dining chamber.


OHTLI

I have done nothing...


The GUARD cuts her off with a knock at the door, OHTLI's arm

still tightly clasped in his hand.


OHTLI

What have I...


The door swings open and the GUARD leads OHTLI in to the

large, richly decorated dining chamber.

Several powerful, rich nobles sit on plump cushions,

half-finished dishes in clay pots scattered around them.

CHANTICO and some male slaves are visible around the edge of

the room.

XIPIL (35), a darkly handsome man, sits above his guests on

a low stool and it is to him OHTLI is brought.


GUARD

My lord.


XIPIL waves the GUARD away and OHTLI stands alone, clutching

her bare arms across her chest as XIPIL takes her in with

hungry eyes.


XIPIL

Your name, girl.

OHTLI

Ohtli.


CHANTICO clears her throat and catches OHTLI's eye.


OHTLI (CONT'D)

Master.

XIPIL

Ohtli?


XIPIL glances at the men around him until his eyes settle on

one man, ICHTACKA. OHTLI follows his gaze and lets out a

small gasp as she notices ICHTACKA. ICHTACKA swallows hard.

XIPIL turns back to OHTLI with a smile.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

Ohtli, of course.

(beat)

Such a beautiful voice.


OHTLI tears her eyes from ICHTACKA and slowly brings them up

to XIPIL's smiling face.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

Sing.

OHTLI

I...

XIPIL

Sing.


OHTLI hesitates, glancing involuntarily to ICHTACKA then

quickly back to XIPIL.


XIPIL

Sing!


OHTLI risks a glance at CHANTICO, who nods grimly at her

then quickly looks away.

OHTLI begins to sing, hesitantly at first but she soon

becomes lost in the melody, her voice swelling, filling the

quiet chamber.

A small knock can be heard and a male slave slips in,

carrying a tray of clay drinking cups filled with drinking

chocolate.


XIPIL

Enough.


OHTLI stops abruptly and opens her eyes, her chest heaving

and her cheeks pink. The gathered noblemen are staring at

her, lust clearly visible on their faces. ICHTACKA alone

seems uninterested.

XIPIL smiles at the effect she has had on his guests.


XIPIL

I have only the best here, my

friends.


His guests laugh while XIPIL takes a cup and sips

appreciatively, his eyebrows raising in surprise. The other

men are then served.

XIPIL gestures for CHANTICO to come towards him.


XIPIL

This... Is much better than usual.

You have outdone yourself.

Chantico.

CHANTICO

Master... I thank you for the

praise

(beat)

But it was... Ohtli who prepared

you drink this evening.


XIPIL turns towards OHTLI. CHANTICO, forgotten, steps back

into the shadows, glancing apologetically at OHTLI.


XIPIL

Ohtli.

(beat)

Indeed.


ICHTACKA watches OHTLI as she steps forward, following

XIPIL's beckoning finger to the side of his stool.


XIPIL

You made this drink, girl?

OHTLI

Yes... Master.

XIPIL

How did you learn to make this?

OHTLI raises her head and looks defiantly into XIPIL's eyes.

OHTLI

My mother.


ICHTACKA quickly lowers his gaze back to the floor.


OHTLI (CONT'D)

She was a priestess at the Temple

of Xolotl. She taught me.

XIPIL

You will make this for me from now

on.


XIPIL looks towards ICHTACKA and raises his voice to be sure

everyone can hear him.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

And you will serve it to me in my

chambers. Every night.


XIPIL smiles as OHTLI bows her head and retreats from the

room. XIPIL and ICHTACKA watch her leave.


2. INT. XIPIL'S CHAMBER - NIGHT

XIPIL lounges on a low couch in the centre of his dimly lit

room. He is wearing an open gown that reveals his muscular

chest and loose fitting trousers. A pretty slave girl is

preparing his bed for the night.

A knock at the door.


XIPIL

Enter.


OHTLI slowly enters, carrying a clay goblet. She carries it

steadily, not spilling a single drop of the dark liquid.

XIPIL smiles predatorily and dismisses the other slave with

a flick of his wrist.


XIPIL

Ohtli. So pleasant to see you

again. Your performance last night

was quite... Enchanting.


OHTLI places the goblet beside the couch and turns to leave.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

Stay.


OHTLI stops but does not turn around.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

I do not wish to be disturbed again

tonight. You will stay until I have

finished my drink.


XIPIL takes a slow sip as OHTLI turns back towards him.


XIPIL

Come. Sit. Sing to me as I drink.


OHTLI takes smalls steps towards XIPIL and he gestures for

her to kneel at his feet. She kneels, keeping her eyes on

her lap.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

I want to savour every drop. After

all...


XIPIL smiles at the kneeling girl and takes another slow

sip.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

It is like drinking money.

OHTLI

I will wait for you to finish...

Master.

XIPIL

Sing.


OHTLI glances up, startled at the sudden change of tone.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

Do not make me ask you again. Girl.


She begins to sing, her eyes returning to her lap, the waver

in her voice betraying her nervousness. XIPIL settles back

and sips luxuriously on his chocolate as OHTLI sings a

quietly enchanting melody.

When the song is over, OHTLI keeps her eyes fixed on her

knees. XIPIL bends forward and holds the nearly empty goblet

out to her.


XIPIL

Have you ever tasted chocolate,

Ohtli?


OHTLI shakes her head, her loose hair swishing.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

It is exquisite. Divine.


He moves the cup away from her.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

Try some.


OHTLI looks up. XIPIL is smiling ruthlessly down at her. She

returns her gaze down.


OHTLI

Chocolate is for the noble.

Quetzalcoatl brought it as a gift

from the gods. I am unworthy.


XIPIL smiles again, takes hold of her chin and tips her head

back so her eyes lock with his.


XIPIL

I insist.


He holds the goblet towards OHTLI again and, trembling, she

reaches out a hand towards it. Her fingers close around the

stem and XIPIL locks his fingers over hers.

His hand still on her chin, XIPIL pulls OHTLI unsteadily to

her feet, the two hands clasping the goblet pulled close

into his bare chest, crushed between their bodies. The hand

cupping her chin snakes to the back of her neck and OHTLI

gasps as he pulls firmly on her hair, tilting her head up.


XIPIL

You may share the taste with me.


XIPIL presses his mouth to hers. OHTLI struggles against him

but he holds her fast.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

You do not like the taste?

OHTLI

I...


Her mouth now parted, XIPIL brings his mouth back to

OHTLI's, his tongue pushing inside her mouth.

OHTLI bites down on his tongue and XIPIL jerks backwards

before backhanding OHTLI across the face. OHTLI falls with

the force.


XIPIL

You dare...


OHTLI scrabbles backwards as XIPIL reaches for her and pulls

her up by her hair.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

Aiac xictli in tlalticpac!

(Subtitle: You waste of

space!)


XIPIL laughs as he pins OHTLI's flailing arms with one arm,

cupping her breast with his other hand. He leers at her.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

You are mine. And I will do as I

please with you.


He pulls her head close to his again but OHTLI spits in his

face. XIPIL delivers a massive backhand to her face and

OHTLI is sent sprawling to the floor, where she lies

unconscious.

He wipes the spit from his face.


XIPIL

Guard!


A GUARD enters immediately.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

Take her somewhere she can't make a

fuss.

GUARD

My lord.


The GUARD hoists OHTLI onto his shoulder and leaves the

room, closing the door behind him.


3. INT. XIPIL'S KITCHEN - NIGHT

OHTLI is sat preparing the cocoa beans. Her face is marred

by a large bruise. She is silent. CHANTICO is checking the

kitchen is clean. A guard is stood by the entrance.

Satisfied, CHANTICO begins to leave but turns back to OHTLI.


CHANTICO

Ohtli?


OHTLI glances up from her work.


CHANTICO (CONT'D)

I'm...

(beat)

He owns you.

(beat)

He owns us all.


CHANTICO turns and leaves the kitchen.

OHTLI sighs, picks up a cocoa bean and holds it between her

thumb and forefinger, examining it.

FLASHBACK TO:

EXT. MERCHANT HOUSE - DAY - TWO YEARS EARLIER

XIPIL is holding a cocoa bean between his thumb and

forefinger. He looks at it a moment and then places it in

the upturned palm of a man.


OHTLI (O.S)

Father, please! Don't!


OHTLI is struggling between two guards beside XIPIL.


OHTLI (CONT'D)

Mother wouldn't want this!


The man closes his fingers over the bean, squeezing his hand

into a tight fist.


ICHTACKA

Your mother is gone.


ICHTACKA turns away and walks back into the house. XIPIL

smiles victoriously and walks away from the house. The

guards follow him, dragging OHTLI between them.


BACK TO PRESENT.

INT. XIPIL'S KITCHEN - CONTINUED

OHTLI looks at the bean a moment longer then places it in

the grinder. She pulls her hair back and ties it up with a

strip of fabric.


OHTLI

(whispering)

Thank you, Mother.


She begins to grind the bean violently, her face a mask of

steely determination.

Then she begins to sing.


4. INT. XIPIL'S CHAMBER - LATER

XIPIL is lounging in the same position as the previous

night,this time wearing only the loose trousers, his

muscular chest and arms exposed. He is alone.

A knock at the door.


XIPIL

En...


OHTLI walks in carrying the clay goblet. Her hair is still

tied up and she walks with her chin held up, her bruise

darkened by the dim light. She carries the goblet steadily

to XIPIL. She offers it to him and he grasps the stem.


XIPIL

Ohtli. How lovely to see you again.


He raises the goblet to his lips but stops and stands up

instead. He stands close to OHTLI and caresses her bruise

with his palm. OHTLI does not move away.


XIPIL (CONT'D)

Your poor face. You must be more

careful, my girl.


OHTLI places her palm over the hand XIPIL has resting on her

cheek and moves her body closer to his.


OHTLI

I acted foolishly about your kind

offer. I did not think I deserved

such a... noble gift.


OHTLI rests her hand lightly against his chest and lowers

her mouth to his ear. His hand drops from her cheek and

falls helplessly to his side.


OHTLI (CONT'D)

(whispering seductively)

I am ready for a taste now.

(beat)

Master.


XIPIL's eyes widen and his lips part. OHTLI allows him room

as he raises the goblet to his lips and drains the liquid.

OHTLI takes the goblet from his hand and, leaning into his

body, places it down behind him.

She takes his hand and guides it to her breast, letting out

a sigh as he grasps it. She moves her mouth close to his and

her lips part.


OHTLI (CONT'D)

You say I am yours.

(beat)

Master.


XIPIL's mouth opens and he tries to move closer but OHTLI's

hand is still on his chest, holding him back.


XIPIL

You are mine.


OHTLI smiles and brings her mouth close to his. His lips

part with a sigh but before he can move closer he lets out a

horrible strangled noise and clutches at his throat.

His eyes wide, XIPIL steps back from OHTLI, his eyes wildly

searching for help. Still grasping his throat, he struggles

to draw breath.

He falls the ground, looking pleadingly up at OHTLI who

stands above him, unmoved. XIPIL's face is turning red as he

writhes and gasps for air.


OHTLI

I am no one's.


She stands over him and watches as he struggles to breath

until finally he lies still and silence fills the room.

OHTLI picks up the empty goblet and walks to the door

without looking at the body. She lets her hair fall loose

and tousles in slightly.

She steps out into the hall, closing the door softly behind

her with a coy smile at the GUARD stationed there.


OHTLI

Master is sleeping and does not

wish to be disturbed.


The GUARD glances at her, nods once and resumes his stoic

stance.

OHTLI walks down the hall and through the corridors, her

steps purposeful. She reaches the front door and steps into

the open courtyard. The moon fills it with light.

She walks through the courtyard, away from the house. The

night air is still and quiet. She walks out into the street,

and as she goes, she begins to sing.

THE END

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