The chief held up an arm for silence. In this cavernous space the sounds died away slowly. He was an immensely proud man. He expected obedience. Since becoming chief he demanded attention.
But the sounds of excitement were reluctant to die away. For this occasion he was prepared to indulge the tribe. He stood on the large boulder, looming over them. Seeing the cheering faces turned in appreciation to him. It was to be expected, they had reason to rejoice.
But even allowing for his people’s exhilaration there was a limit, he was not a patient man. He wanted the tribe’s praise. He expected his efforts to be hailed. Irritated that they were not paying attention to his demands, he raised his other arm above his head. Presenting a fearsome image of his physical power. The muscular power of his torso demanding attention. He clapped his big hands together, he glared at them. Demanding the tribe listen. The excitement echoed away.
“What did your chief promise you?”
His presence stood towering over them. Respectful faces turned up to him. He knew he cut an imposing figure. His chest lifted to emphasise his power. Out of a muscled chest his strong deep voice carried well into the depths of the cave. Every man, woman and child was now turned to him. Hanging on the words of their chief. He was aware of the image he gave off. Tall, strong, powerful. He felt the adulation of his people eyeing him up .. he was giving them just what they had ached for .. for years. Stood muscular and proud before them, his shredded physique represented all they yearned to be again. Dominant, feared, a warrior-tribe. Eager to impose its will.
“Wealth. Prosperity. And our pride back.”
The line of warriors raised their spears. Arms punched upward. They led the cheering. Hailing the triumphant words of their chief. The tribe joined in willingly. Above all, their pride, they wanted to walk proud again. After these shameful years .. robbed of their right to hold their heads high and be feared. The tribe’s cheers hailed the dawning of this new age in their lives. All down to this strong chief.
The chief swept his arms outwards. Encompassing the dozen or so boxes spread out on the cavern floor. Treasure plundered from another tribe. Robbed from their sacred shrine. For years poor people had scrimped and saved .. scraping together their tributes to honour their gods. His men had gone out raiding again. This treasure raided, taken by force. His men’s successful raid .. swooping down with overwhelming violence crushing farmers and fishermen. Unconcerned by the cost of numerous lives. They had seized the plunder, brought it back in triumphant pride.
The chief’s arm indicated backwards. Drawing the tribe’s attention to the pair of white-men bound to stakes. Stripped to the waist. Hands tied above their heads. Powerful, strong-looking men.
The chief sauntered his own imposing frame over to the nearest. Domineering he grabbed hold of the man by the hair. But his attention was all about acknowledging the cheering crowd. The other arm raised to accept their applause for the success of his deeds.
“Slaves. Look at them. Fetch a good price.”
He shouted it out.
“The first of many.”
The white man spat back.
“You treacherous fucker. I’ll get you for this.”
The chief was a proud man. He did not countenance offence. With no warning he twisted around. His arm flashed forward in a blur. A powerfully built man, his body weight slammed forward. Smacking the man in the middle of his belly. The white-man doubled up. A muscular giant had punched him with all his weight in the midriff. His belly had flattened back into the post. His cry exploded with every bit of wind in his chest.
“Asshole! Let him be!”
The other white-man protested from the other stake. The chief twisted his head back over. His face scowled. A slave did not answer back. His eyes took in the taut physique pinned to the upright. The etched belly .. the chief’s irritated gaze chewed up the slave’s muscular torso. He nodded to a warrior standing nearby.
“Our warriors will venture out raiding. Bringing back captives. The slavers will come trading again.”
The cheers rang across the cavern. The tribe welcoming this new age of prosperity. Hailing their chief’s plan. Drowning out the white-man. Taking it in the gut. His tight-muscled belly thwacked several times with a club until he learned to shut his mouth.
The tribe were still cheering. The chief had turned his head to the side. But here was the real triumph .. the third man tied up between the two stakes. His hands tied just above head height .. tied to a branch strung between the two white-men’s uprights. For all the punishment he had received, this strung-out man still had the strength to glare. The power of his look as strong as the hard plates of muscle on his chest. But the chief’s resolve was just as hard.
They were at the centre of this play, the two of them .. all the eyes in this cavern were fixed on the combat between this pair. Those other two white-men .. they were just some extra, a side-show. Here was the real action.
Strongly the chief held the captive’s angry glare. He was burning up, the chief knew .. for all that glaring, the captive was on fire. On fire with anger and the will-crushing punishment the chief had ordered him.
The eyes of the tribe on him, the chief stared back into the captive’s ferocious glare. As muscular as the strength in that strong belly. But the chief’s resolve was equally fierce, as powerful as the imposing strength in his own shoulders.
He was surprised that the captive was not broken. But it suited the chief that the captive still had the strength of mind to fight back. All the better for him. When even more agonising punishment broke him down. When the tribe saw how he had tried to stand up to their chief. And failed. That muscled torso did not have the strength to best the steely resolve of their chief.
The chief moved over, he crossed behind this third captive. At the move cheers exploded further. They had watched his punishment, cheering it on. They had shouted out in jubilation at this man’s grunts as pain burst free from his stubborn body. The euphoria at his cries had echoed loud and joyous around the massive cavern.
This here WAS the prize indeed. It was here where this drama would play itself out. With their chief who had had him brought back to them. Their chief who had promised them back their pride. And THAT began with the agonies of this man. This captive, universally hated by the tribe. For hours, the tribe had applauded his suffering. And they weren’t finished yet with Tarzan.