Chasing down a ghost
A KING. MIGHTY. POWERFUL. A SACRIFICE WORTHY FOR MZANKA.
It was like this chief’s stare bored deeply into Tarzan’s soul. He had a grip clutching tight at the pit of his stomach. Nervous Tarzan watched him nodding as the chief assured himself .. affirming the strength of the idea forming in his head.
“If Mzanka only wanted a muscled slave .. he could have you .. me .. any one of a dozen Untula men …..every warrior here would have accepted the honour.”
UNTULA. Now Tarzan had the name. The tribe that had held Omekono. Tormented him, tortured him. And he remembered hearing how Omekono had shivered at mentioning their name. Looked over his shoulder .. in terror .. seeing Untula demons haunting him. After he had run away. Prisoner of this fearsome cruel tribe of all-manly warriors. Captured by monsters .. like Tarzan himself.
Omekono had been subjected to inhuman treatment. As good as tortured him out of his skin. The Untula had tortured him out of his mind. A muscular shell was all they had left behind.
“Mzanka could have had his pick of muscular men. If we could have placated Mzanka’s disfavour by the willing sacrificing our most supreme warrior ……”
And Tarzan had seen there were plenty to choose from. He had been surrounded by prime examples of the most muscular males since his capture.
“ then … we could have worked ourselves back to his grace years ago …..”
The chief still had not stopped devouring Tarzan greedily with his eyes. It was irritating. But the wildness in his looks was also disconcerting.
“Muscular males. Fearsome warriors. Not enough! Not to atone for that mistake.”
Tarzan felt the cutting swipe of the chief’s gaze down his front .. like the slash of a well-aimed knife. Sharp. Almost felt like slicing him open. A lethal blow. From a knife of sacrifice.
“But a KING ….!”
This chief’s grip tightened in the pit of Tarzan’s guts as his gaze devoured the captive.
“A bondsman . supremely suited. A KING! Offered to serve Mzanka’s every need, fulfil his every insatiable desires ….. THAT demands more than a muscled body. That needs SPIRIT. That demands GUTS.”
The chief’s gaze had a strong grip on Tarzan’s hard-muscled shoulder.
“The guts of a KING!”
To Tarzan it was as if the king’s mania was physically holding him at arm’s length. Appraising in him the spirit of a king. The man was off his head!
“A body-slave worthy of the might of Mzanka .. THAT would be more than a mere man.”
Ravenous greed shone in the chief’s eyes. His mouth creased with abandonment to the cunning of his idea.
“That Runaway …..”
A look of dismissiveness sneered off his lips as he recalled Omekono.
“ …. exceptional physique. The fire of a warrior burned like an eternal fire in his guts. But still only a MAN.”
The greed of a starving leopard held Tarzan’s entire being in its grip.
“NOT A KING!”
Uncanny how Tarzan could feel the eyes on him .. physically .. hands spread across the hardness of his chest .. squeezing on the solidness of his shoulders. Tight. No escape.
Again those arms were out-spread to Tarzan. Embracing Tarzan’s worthiness. Perfect for the purpose.
“This is a KING. KING of the jungle.”
The chief’s eyes burned with the fire of his idea.
“The Runaway spoke of him, this Tarzan. He described him .. in awed terms. Greater than any man. Greater than that Omekono.”
Tarzan could see the mess he had got into. Inadvertently Omekono had talked him up. Never believing the impossible could happen. But it had. He could almost feel the hand crushing on his throat. Throttling him with the power of the chief’s vision for him. Mzanka’s body-slave.
“To work ourselves back into his favours …… demands more than a powerful physique. SPIRIT. GUTS. A KING.”
He couldn’t piece this all together. Who the hell was this Mzanka? Some kind of overlord? .. They had paid homage to him? Had they promised him Omekono as a body-slave too? That radiant manly vitality .. his stunning physique. And then Omekono had grabbed the chance and got away. Upsetting their precious Mzanka so much, he exiled them? And they’d been pining for years? What kind of power did an overlord hold over a tribe that they lost all reason to live unless they could serve?
It didn’t make sense. And now they were trying substitution .. Tarzan for Omekono. To worm themselves back into favour? Because he supposedly was a KING .. and therefore, worth more? That made him more worthy than Omekono? Good enough to charm this tribe back into favour with their unforgiving overlord?
Tarzan wanted to tell them to get real. To laugh at their idiocy. But one look at the exultant mania in the chief’s eyes .. seeing the arousal that had his body in a tight grip .. no one was listening.
“Furnish Mzanka’s every desire?” It didn’t take too much to work out what the chief had meant by that. But “sacrifice”? And “body-slave to serve”? How did those two ideas match up in the chief’s little plan? Tarzan did not plan on hanging around as anyone’s body-slave. But killed off, sacrificed? AND body-slave? How the hell was he supposed to carry those two actions out? Dead, how did Tarzan become some body-slave then? Had the chief lost it? But looking at the wild-eyed muscular man .. Tarzan didn’t seem him as a dreamer. This was a man of muscled action. What was there that Tarzan was still missing?
One thing was clear, though. Omekono’s praise had not served him well. Unintentionally his admiration had set Tarzan up. Tarzan was up to his neck in severe trouble.
The chief’s hand fingered Tarzan’s physique .. interrupting his trail of thought. Making Tarzan concentrate on what mattered right now. The chief’s next move against him.
The hand seemed to tremble with emotion, aroused at the fire of his plan. It seemed huge .. big enough to encompass Tarzan’s strength of mind. The chief’s pointing finger shuddered with excitement .. singling Tarzan out.
“THIS .. TARZAN .. a sacrifice worthy of Mzanka.”