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“Our mother fancies sending you back home.”
Kheir gloated safely from the other side of the bars.
Maciste snapped back as his jaws ripped at the rock-solid bread.
Kheir shrugged. Mothers, fathers — it made no difference now. He had been anointed king.
“Back home .. we have a quarry …,” he continued unabashed.
“… . mines for iron ore .. in the middle of absolute nowhere. Fine place for someone to disappear.”
He was pleased by the frown that creased Maciste’s face.
“Good place for my enemy to pay off his crime. Paying a hefty price.
“Lifelong slavery. Back-breaking labour.”
Maciste scowled back .. anything else was a waste of time. He’d committed no crime .. but no point in arguing. It was Kheir who had. But who was listening?
“Just the place for a studly man like you .. fit, strong, a fighter to the core. Even if I didn’t order it .. you’d get the heaviest duties.”
Kheir smirked to himself at the thought of all that warrior-muscle being put to useless back-breaking work. How that waste would get right up Maciste’s nose!
“The toughest regime .. for a tough-guy like you. Goes without saying, doesn’t it? Looking like you, gonna have to earn your keep. Slogging it out from first light to sunset. Back-breaking. Spirit-crushing. Hard labour as hard as it comes”
He grinned triumphant.
“Punishment fit for a traitor to the king.”
Maciste started to protest but Kheir rattled on.
“If the cap fits, wear it.”
“Not that you’ll be getting a cap to wear.”
He enjoyed the glare as Maciste anticipated his next remark.
“Or anything else, I think.”
Kheir looked pleased at his novel idea. That big arrogant big-brother of his .. naked as the day he was born. For the rest of his miserable degrading life.
“After all, they’re all men around. Who’s gonna care?”
Kheir grinned. Warming to the idea.
“Not even the smallest stitch.”
Kheir looked through the bars at his stepbrother .. here also stripped of any covering. Lording it, Kheir pronounced judgement.
“Lifelong slavery .. heavy labour .. naked as the day he was born .. worked into the filth and the dirt.”
Kheir sneered through the bars. Safely staying clear of his stepbrother’s anger.
“THAT is our mother’s wish for you. Neat, don’t you think?”
Without even stopping as he gnawed on the stale bread, Maciste swore.
“That bitch is no mother of mine.”
“I’d be careful how you refer to her. After all .. look at where she is .. mother to a king.”
Kheir ignored Maciste shaking his head .. denying his right to that title.
“And look where you are right now …..brother-dear ….”
The threat was clear but Maciste was not impressed. He sat gnawing away at stale bread .. staring back through iron bars at the usurper … washing the food down with stale water. But refusing to show any sign of being beaten. Or intimidated by threats of slavery. Looking relaxed. He knew that would get right under Kheir’s skin.
It did. He torqued up the threat.
“Of course .. it can’t be hidden .. the guards are going to know. A new slave .. special delivery from their prince. Can hardly hide the fact .. who this naked muscle-head is. Impossible. Isn’t it?”
Maciste saw Kheir grab at the bars. As if eager to get through to his prisoner. Determined to make him scared. Give Maciste something to worry about.
“A ROYAL prince. Orders to treat him like SHIT. Work the BASTARD into ground. Because their own king has ordered it so. Because this muscled fuckhead is a PAIN-IN-THE-ARSE.”
Maciste looked up. He smirked, he’d done it, got under Kheir’s skin. Kheir had lost it. He had started raising his voice.
“Gonna know, aren’t they?”
Frustrated, Kheir’s tone had got harsher, louder.
“Whatever they do .. however much they pile it on .. No come-back. Royal protection from their king. Fuck this prisoner over .. as much as they want. Can do WHATEVER they want.”
Kheir growled his last words through the bars. But the sight of his prisoner looking unperturbed only got him more wound up.
“Maybe even earn themselves a reward. Doing the RIGHT THING.”
Maciste was not going to let it show in his face. But he suspected Kheir had something specific in mind. He was not wrong.
Kheir gripped on the bars. His face half penetrated into the cage between the bars.
“Tell me, brother-dear .. what do you reckon ….?”
Kheir’s eyes were alight.
“Those guards. How many of those fucking savages have ever had their cock up a ROYAL arse?”
Maciste did not flicker. His face did not register any reaction. But a shiver of anger involuntarily passed down his spine. Appreciating why his brother was planning to condemn Maciste to the squalor of a quarry-slave. A lifetime of degradation.
“And how many guards do you reckon there are? How many are needed to mind a quarry-ful of slaves?”
“DOZENS. Needy. Needing to get their rocks off.”
To Maciste, Kheir looked like he was drooling like some mad cow. But Kheir had got the idea stuck in his head. Maciste prey to dozens of guards. He snorted suggestively.
“And what’s the betting those animals will not be satisfied with just one go?”
A lifetime of degradation.