He watched intently. His lieutenant had done this before .. they had played the same trick .. Hassan knew exactly how to lay it on. Lay the strap on thick. Make every hit count. Hassan knew how things worked.
This stupid sailor had come equipped. Bringing the tool of his punishment with him. A belt wide as a splayed hand. Five hits and it covered the back from neck to waist. Hardened leather. Hit with a sting. Slapped with a thunderous crack. Muscle breaking with the thud. Lambs’ meat pulverised under the mallet.
Pounded. Thwacked. Given all the force of Hassan’s bulk. Skin on fire. Muscle burning. Senses reeling. A pitiless sight. Merciless torture. Hassan understood how to lay it on. Muscled might thudded into the mast. Punched in the chest by solid wood. This big-headed sailor paying a price he would not forget in a hurry. A punishment he’d not want to repeat.
Mitchell was panting hard. A strong wave of tidal heat surged up his back and flooded his head. He knew the beatings had stopped. For a few seconds his senses had been on full alert .. primed for that dreaded sound .. expecting another stinger to pound his chest into the mast again. But it hadn’t come. A breather.
The sweat of shock ran in rivulets down his sides .. tickling and irritating. But a break! He took advantage .. rapidly forcing himself to collect himself. Calling on his inner strength. Remembering his manly pride. Putting faith in his hatred for these heathen swine.
But still he was suffering. Panting. Sweating. Clutching at the mast for dear life. Now the beating had stopped for a moment, he could feel the chafing on his wrists .. in vain he had tugged at his restraints to fight himself free. How many had it been? He clenched his eyes together against the stinging sweat that ran off his hair. How many strokes? He had counted up to six. But then the swirl of confusion had taken over. It no longer mattered.
The corsair’s voice grated into Mitchell’s suffering.
“ …. Those who know me will tell you I am a cautious man …..”
Mitchell was sweating, suffering. But something grated at the back of his mind. This chattering .. interrupting his beating .. this had to have something to do with him. Why stop the lashing otherwise? Mitchell expected nothing good to come of this. His sentence .. whipped to death .. could it get worse? But best to be forewarned. He forced his heart to slow down .. breathing deep. His ears pricked .. he listened in.
“When it comes to profit .. very cautious.”
It took a lot to concentrate. Mitchell had lost count of how many. A dozen perhaps. But his heart was pounding. That thudding in his ear nearly fazed that bastard corsair out. But Mitchell needed to hear. This was about HIM.
“A slave like this .. strong, muscular .. it will fetch a good price.”
Whatever his situation .. however much his back was on fire and he was panting for air .. still it grated on Mitchell’s ear .. to be talked about like some bullock up-for-sale.
“I am loathe to waste first-class goods.”
Condemned to death .. by the most vicious means .. exhausted by a savage beating .. but still .. the idea of being classed as “goods” .. that got Mitchell’s blood pumping.
The corsair continued .. talking to Mitchell’s own captain .. whose actions had got Mitchell in this strait.
“So here’s the deal …….”