The other slaves threw him angry looks when they could .. pissed that this former prince got the privilege to ride. Rode on the cart while they were yoked into hauling him along.
They knew who he was, would have become their king it he hadn’t been out gallivanting when the invaders struck. Instead of being at home leading their army .. driving the invaders back. Looked like the prick had got what was coming to him.
So what, he was now just a slave like them, wasn’t he? So why he got the right to ride. Life didn’t fucking change, did it? Slave or not slave .. it was one rule for the rich, another for the poor. Even when the nobility fell, they still enjoyed their privileges, it seemed. This fucker got to ride, they got to haul.
It had taken Maciste all morning to regain the strength to stand. He was not aware of the slaves who were ordered into hauling down his cross. Unconcerned they dropped it to the temple steps. Maciste’s unconscious body had cried out. But his tortured soul was too far gone. Hauled uncaringly over to the cart and thrown on. Soldiers left him there comatose .. couldn’t give them any trouble like that .. tying his arms to an upright set up on the cart. Thick strands of unbreakable rope would keep him safe, no way this arsehole got the chance to make a run for it. More than their life’s worth .. to lose this fucker. His guards could never risk losing a cargo like this arsehole. Too valued by the king.
The sun was already high when, confused, Maciste began to come round. Slowly crawling back to the surface of pained consciousness .. every fibre in his body hurting. His head filled with throbbing, full to bursting. Tongue like old leather in his mouth. As his head cleared, he found himself on the way to Kheir’s visions of hell. He was already crossing the great wilderness, no sign of life around. Tied to a stake, thick rope pinning back his arms, on some cart hauled by a gang of slaves. Taken away to serve. To labour under a pitiless sun. Labouring in service to the usurper Kheir.
The guards’ whips cracked. With a joint grunt of effort, the newly enslaved men dug their bare shoulders into the yoke and hauled it jolting out of another rut. The sun had been beating pitilessly down on them since first light. It had now reached its height. They would have been running with sweat if they’d had any left. And that fucking prince was allowed to recline on the cart and ride in comfort. The sucker was big, the arsehole was strong enough, he could be pulling his weight. Instead they were pulling him. Riding in luxury.
The guards didn’t like it either. Orders were orders. Keep the fucker safe, tied up, no chance of getting loose. Orders maybe. But it didn’t mean they had to like them. Not one of them liked the idea of this royal piece of shit not being put in his place. This was an opportunity missed .. to sort some royal bighead out and show the cocksucker who was boss. They’d been bottom of the shit-pile long enough .. now it was this fucker’s turn.
It was a long march to the quarries. It’d take all day to get across this wilderness. Endless hours trudging on bare bleeding feet .. – that was where they’d have had him. Yoked to the cart, sweating his bollocks off and hauling shit. Grit and stones scraping at his princely bare skin. That was where this royal fucker should be. Yoked with the other scum .. getting his arse whipped like any other lazy ox. Shoulders baked by the sun, head fried in this fucking heat. Allowed no let-up in effort despite this merciless heat.
This prince-sucker had spent a lifetime pushing his weight around. Let the arsehole see what it felt like. Treated no better than an animal. Beaten like a beast of burden. Kept slaving away by the sting of a slavemaster’s whip .. keep the cocksucker hauling shit through this heat.
Each guard wanted to let this fucker see how it felt like. Life as the under-dog. Instead .. fuck-it .. orders were, he got to ride on the cart. They didn’t like it, they took their resentment out on the others. But, given every chance, they got their own back on the once-royal swine. Stopped to water the beasts – whoops, they forgot the one on the cart. Catch a break in the heat of the midday sun, letting the slave-scum crawl into the shade of some rocks .. like the lizards they were.
But their noble arsehole had already had it easy. Riding in comfort on the cart. Orders were not to let him make a run for it. No choice, eh? Had to leave the prick baking in the sun, didn’t they? Stood regal at his stake on the cart.
Resentful at not getting their chance to show him for the shit he now was .. they let the royal dog get fried. More than one way to skin a cat …..
Maciste had been jarred and jolted for hours. Tied to a stake, stood upright on the cart. Stupidly-thick rope binding him to the post .. impossible to break. A sign that they did not dare lose the king’s prize-prisoner. Maciste had been bounced and jolted as the cart was hauled over stony ground. Wheels getting caught on rocks. Jarring down into a rut. He ached from being tied in the same position all day, weak from the blistering heat. Still struggling after a day-and-night on the cross. Not eaten a thing since the previous day. A drop of water hadn’t passed his lips. Deliberately being weakened.
But still he had it easy. It was those poor bastards hauling the cart taking the brunt. Relentlessly whipped into continuous effort. Maciste had managed slaves. Bringing captured soldiers back from war .. destined for the slave markets. As part of his education his tutor had taken him to the mines. To appreciate the wealth under their royal feet. Maciste’s family was kept on the throne on the backs of those stinking sweat-streaked males .. worked into the ground in the mines. Maciste had seen what it meant to be a slave. Grime clinging to their flesh. Endlessly whipped into labouring .. worked into the dirt.
And now that was him. Maciste knew about work slaves. But had he ever thought it could come to this? Himself condemned into slavery, back-breaking work in Kheir’s quarries. Stuck on this cart he was observing at first-hand what it was going to mean. Watching the poor bastards yoked into hauling him along on this cart. His sentence – condemned by his step-mother to never-ending suffering. Stood on the cart observing the random dishing out of stinging blows across straining bent backs. Sadistic guards .. dishing it out to slaves who were less than dogs.
He was weakening, he knew. Parched. Starving hungry. A day strung up on a cross. A night of endless torture between his legs. Exhaustion kept taking him. He’d drift off .. a fitful rest. But then a wheel would catch in another rock. He’d jar back to a painful reality. Feeling exhaustion threatening to crush his resolve.
He made himself remind himself. He was fit, he was strong, he’d told himself. His hatred would keep his will alive. But already he was seeing what an uphill struggle he was taken on. On the other side of his endless baking wilderness .. his destiny .. Kheir’s quarries. Condemned to pitiless hard labour, meant to break his back. Intended to break his will. He had no doubts special instructions had gone ahead.
For now he was having it easy on this cart. When they got to the slave quarries .. it would be another thing. All treatment meant to break his will .. his every waking moment .. every single breath. Maciste had resolved to survive. He had vowed to escape. He’d liberate his people. He’d get back his throne.
Judging by the way things were going .. to keep up that resolve .. he had a fight on his hands.