4. An offer not to refuse
“Told you already. Go get those fuckers.”
He was hot. Hours out in the sun. Suspended on this frame, his bodyweight pulling down on his arms. When had he last got something wet down his throat.
“Those lying motherfuckers .. bring ‘em.”
His tongue was like dried leather. Hard to get his curses out.
“Let ‘em accuse me to my face.”
It was a wonder his balls hadn’t ripped off .. it felt like they had hung a ton of rocks dragging the will out of him. He doubted this Han cared if he could ever make use of that tackle again. But Conan never gave up hope.
“Soon show you who’s the lying cocksucker ….”
He was panting hard. That second nail through his chest .. it had taken a lot not to cry out. But the effort of fighting back had got him weakened. Like that impaling had been the final straw .. his nerves overloaded.
“Can’t do that.”
Han answered, He stood right in front of Conan now. Looking up into his face. Conan noticed one of the guards crouched down by the pile of rocks .. his back to Conan. He was doing something there .. something suspicious .. Conan couldn’t see what. But he reckoned he wouldn’t like it when he could.
“His Lordship sent them away. Commuted their sentence for being helpful.”
Conan snorted back.
“Rewarded for talking out of their arses!”
He managed a laugh.
“His Lordship’s an arsehole too, then. For believing the lying motherfuckers ….”
The guard had stood up. From his hand dangled a net on a length of cord. Nervous Conan checked it out. A net stuffed with a bundle of rocks.
“He had sentenced them to the mines. Life-expectancy there is only weeks.”
Conan didn’t give a toss about this old crew, he didn’t like the look of that net. And the fact that the guard was stood waiting for instructions from Han.
“But his Lordship rewarded them .. for their cooperation .. already they are working out their lives on one of his Lordship’s galleys ….”
Conan eyed the net of rocks again, anxious. Then he blurted out in his defence.
“Rewarded? For stitching me up. Accusing me of their crimes …..”
Han wasn’t interested, it seemed. He’d decided what had to be done. Conan saw him look to the guard. Slowly he nodded.
It was looped around the ends of the nail sticking out of Conan’s nipple. A sack of rocks. Dragging down on his chest. Pulling at the muscle. Dragging down on the injured flesh.
“Undoubtedly his Lordship would appreciate your cooperation too.”
Conan had his jaw clenched together. It felt like his chest could not take that weight. He looked down at himself .. at the straining muscle .. pulled taut by the weight pulling down on his chest .. pulling on the wound gouged out by a rusty nail through his chest. His features twisted as his strength of mind adjusted to another torture.
“Maybe his Lordship should stop believing arseholes saving their own skin ….”
It was hard for Conan to utter words through teeth jammed together to fight his overload of pain. But he was going to justify his resolve. To save his own skin.
The guard hadn’t waited this next time for Han’s nod. Did he believe in symmetry? Tying another sack of rocks around the other nail. Letting it drop. Sniggering at the grunt .. grinning at the pained anger glaring down at him. A heavy bag of rocks dragging on Conan’s teat. Snorting back into Conan’s anger, the guard pulled tight on the knot. He finished the job off with a smack on the net. Sending it swinging across Conan’s belly, pulling on the nail.
The curse was not for anyone in particular. Just the whole world. And especially anyone honoured by His Lordship’s employ.
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