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Not some bad mistake. Not mistaken identity. The officer knew who he was. And he’d ordered the unanointed king out of his clothes. Naked the prince was subjected to soldiers’ mockery .. laughing at “his royal dick.” They knew exactly who he was ….
Not just confused at this abuse. Everything was out-of-place. It was unnerving. The city was deserted. Empty. Like the bustle that always seethed around the city gate had had the life sucked out of it. Life abandoned here. Abandoning Maciste. He looked about himself unnerved.
Passing under the great arch of the gate .. there was not a soul here. Dead. No traders departing to do their trade. No farmers plying their wares. No peasant women returning home laden with goods from the market. Just a troop of six more armed guards .. who fell in beside Maciste and added to the escort marching the rightful king back into his city. Under guard, in enemy bonds. In rags.
After being made to strip, Maciste had been thrown some stinking rags. A pair of baggy breeches. A peasant’s coarse homespun pants full of holes. A bad swap for his leather breeches. The kind peasants wore working the fields in the heat. Too big for him but kept up by a length of coarse rope. Deliberately humiliating him.
No mistaken identity. But a nightmare. What the hell was going on?