The apeman had taken him by surprise .. leaping up on to the stone of sacrifice. And not making any move to attack him. As if he didn’t need to. Like his muscled presence alone was enough to settle their differences.
The chief was aware of his surroundings, eyes on him .. watching for his next move. Stood on the stone, surrounded, the whole tribe observing, closely .. expectant. The tribe witnessing Tarzan insolently staring him down.
His men were close-to-hand. The chief had only to make a gesture, they’d be on this Tarzan in a flash. They could beat the shit out of him. The apeman would regret this insolence.
But instinct told him the legend of the White Bull did not call on others for help He had to settle this himself .. no help .. only by the powers invested in him. Overwhelming Tarzan by the power of his office. As chief. Beating Tarzan down by the force of his strength of will. Fitting to the legend of White Bull.
They were watching him for a response, the tribe. White Bull sensed every eye. He could let rip with his fists. He had the advantage. The apeman was bound. He had been weakened by the beatings. White Bull could make a surprise move on him. He could knock him off the stone, laughingly send Tarzan sprawling into the dirt.
But White Bull chose otherwise. They were in each other’s face. Stood high on the stone, in the focus of everyone in the shrine. White Bull stared into Tarzan’s insolent glare. He pulled himself up to his full height. Slowly he breathed in .. demonstrating this confrontation with the hated apeman held no fears. Calm, feeling the strong mounds of his muscular chest fill. Below the might of his flat muscled belly pulled in even tighter. He kept breathing calmly. Staring strong back into this captive’s insolence.
His gaze broke contact. Allowing the apeman to see his eyes drop. Inviting the apeman to follow his gaze. Falling across the breadth of Tarzan’s powerfully-built shoulders. Taking his time, White Bull lowered his gaze to Tarzan’s upper body. Roving unintimidated over the daunting strength in his chest. The sleek chest .. hard-muscled plates of power .. the deep cleft in-between .. lingering on the ridge of muscle .. Tarzan’s nipples poking out defiant.
White Bull smirked. He looked back up into Tarzan’s eyes, he let the apeman see his contempt. There was nothing in this muscular might .. nothing that this so-called lord of the jungle could throw at him. Nothing that could daunt a legend called White Bull.
Likewise White Bull did not throw a punch. He was not going to lay a hand on the tribe’s hated enemy. Still staring hard into Tarzan’s face, the chief addressed his tribe.
“Who has brought untold shame on our tribe?”
For a moment there was no reply in the echoing emptiness. Then a single voice broke the silence.
The chief breathed. Calm. Waiting for the response to swell. Hearing a murmur grow in this vast cavern. Murmurs repeating that loathsome name. Tarzan. Tarzan. Tarzan.
“Who brutally murdered our chief?”
White Bull was locked in an intense war of glares with this apeman. His question rang out. The answer bounced back. Loud. Harder.
More joined in. Harsher.
“Tarzan.” “Tarzan.” “Tarzan.”
The response thickened as it grew. The reviled name spat out of dozens of mouths. A cloud of venom billowed .. echoing off bare stone walls.
“Left us leaderless. Dissent broke out. Men fighting, fighting among ourselves.”
The chief waited.
“Stupidly weakening ourselves.”
White Bull paused. He could sense the whole cave waiting on his question.
“Who is responsible for that?”
As one, the answer was roared out. In unison the tribe condemned the despised perpetrator.
That scorned name bounced off the walls of the cave. Venomous echoes declared him guilty.
The tribe was now chanting. In unison. Every voice calling it out.
“TAR-ZAN!.. TAR-ZAN!.. TAR-ZAN!”
White Bull stared into Tarzan’s face. Grim. His eyes giving into his captive’s features the universal denunciation. Letting the sounds filling this chamber do its work. The echoes did the talking for him.
Judging the despised apeman. Begging their chief for the verdict.
Suddenly White Bull shouted out. Looking up into the roof of the cavern. As if spying a force in the light pouring in through the hole there.
“For years the goddess has wept. Who made her weep?”
“TAR-ZAN!.. TAR-ZAN!.. TAR-ZAN!”
His head raised to the divine light above, a powerful chest filled with his accusation.
“Who has brought us years of shame?”
Around the air roared with cries of hate.
“TAR-ZAN!.. TAR-ZAN!.. TAR-ZAN! TAR-ZAN!”
The chief stood imperious and strong. A statue of muscular power infused with the tribe’s condemnation of this man.
“Who brought our goddess pain?”
White Bull’s head whipped back. His question bawled into the enemy’s face.
“TAR-ZAN! .. TAR-ZAN! .. TAR-ZAN! .. TAR-ZAN! .. TAR-ZAN! .. TAR-ZAN!”
Broad-chested. Breathing calmly. His support from the people confirmed. Surrounded by a hate-filled mob, White Bull glared at his captive. Unperturbed by Tarzan staring him insolently back. The chant of collective condemnation rang off every wall. The tribe’s denunciation cut through the hot airless space. White Bull’s eyes bore into Tarzan’s look of disrespect. For daring to face him down before his own tribe.
He raised his arm. His gesture called for silence. Though enflamed, the tribe’s chanting quickly died away. Ghostly echoes of denunciation faded in the cave. White Bull bided his time. Waiting .. knowing every ear in this cavern was his. Waiting on his words.
Quietly he spoke. So that every ear had to strain. His eyes addressing the apeman. His words spoken for the tribe.
“The people want it.”
White Bull drew himself up. The power of his muscle chest bloomed.
“The goddess is owed it.”
He raised his chin .. as if looking down on his prisoner. Scorn. Addressing Tarzan as if he was bound hand and foot helpless at his feet.
“This chief wills it.”
The tense silence persisted. White Bull felt every ear in this cavern waiting for him. He sensed every member of his tribe willing him to make the final denunciation.
“She deserves it. She had longed for it. Our goddess.”
He stood .. imperious .. dominating the scene .. unconcerned by the impertinence of some fool captive who thought he could stand up to this sea of hate.
“The greatest gift.”
Chin up, stood looking commanding over the tribe crammed into this shrine for this ceremony.
“Your chief will give it her that gift.
White Bull looked invincible. Perfect in body, his will etched in stone. He stood erect .. a man empowered by the backing of his people. Willing him to do the right thing. Say the right words.
“Give her Tarzan’s last breath.”