In search of a secret
He’d been conscious when they dragged him into the shrine. He’d made himself walk between his pair of guards .. stubborn .. too proud for anything else. But after a few paces, his knee had given way, his legs collapsed. It was the last thing he wanted. They dragged him .. like a catch from the hunt. Exhaustion, weakness. His will broken down.
Shameful. They dragged him. The proud hero of his tribe. Humbled Omekono had had to put up with that, nothing he could do about it. He was shattered, he realised. Shattered beyond belief, he realised with dismay.
Released from that frame, his being had groaned with overwhelming relief when his feet had touched the ground. Freed from the agonies torturing his shoulders. The racked plates of solid muscle on his chest screamed out with the release. After house of hanging. For a while, the pain there felt even worse than the agony that had taken up home in his muscled chest.
They offered him water. He drank like a madman. He gulped down water with the desperation of a beast that had dragged itself through the wilderness for days .. seeking waterholes, finding them all dried up. But still his legs betrayed him after he had slugged the water down. The prodigious strength in his mighty thighs had nothing left. They’d had to drag him here, into their shrine. No will left in his legs.
Seated on a giant flat stone, head in a sickening whirl, Omekono gulped down his once a day ration of their unpalatable slop. The guards stood ready either side as he sloshed it down. But through all that feeding Omekono knew that he had not the will or power to go for the priest who stood incanting at his altar. Here was the chance he had been waiting for. To break that fucking priest’s neck. But his legs didn’t have the strength.
Omekono’s body rocked with exhaustion as he ate. But .. seated on this huge stone .. gulping back this foul gruel .. rest was bringing some revival. His fighter senses were still with him. He realised that this again .. like being strung up in the air for the day .. this was new. They were upping their game. And he’d not been brought to the shrine before. There were up to something.
That thought brought him some relief. Not the idea that some new torture was imminent ….. The fact that his fighter instincts were still capable of thinking things through. His instincts were reacting. His brain was still thinking. His warrior instincts hadn’t deserted him. Telling him to be on alert. He was not sure he still had the strength to fend off what horrors they might visit on him. BUT .. his fighter spirit promised he’d deal with that.
Like a man starved for days he threw the bowl of gunge down. He reached for the gourd of water, he slugged a huge mouthful down. There wasn’t enough water in the world to quench his raging thirst. Even as he had the gourd to his mouth noisily slugging away, self-interest pinched at his consciousness. So why had they dragged him here? To their shrine. Questioning, thinking .. a good sign that his warrior spirit had not deserted him. So what had they got for him now? Every fighting nerve in his body warned him to be prepared for the unexpected.
The broad muscle-hard back of that priest was turned to him. But even without seeing that damned bastard’s face, Omekono could tell something was wrong. Was he drunk? The priest was stood facing his altar mumbling away to himself .. in communication with his god? Then suddenly he had to grab hold of the altar .. looking like he was about to fall over. Or failing into a trance.
The priest’s other hand grabbed for a bowl. He knocked a good swig of it back. And he was off again .. incanting loudly .. meaningless .. words that meant nothing. Sounds like a man out of his head. He threw his arms up in the air, hands waving madly. Calling out .. shouting at himself. Off his head. Or drugged ……?
Omekono was suddenly aware of a racing in his own blood. His heart beating loud his chest. The veins on the muscled back of the priest stood out in sharp relief .. like veins never stood out. Drunk or drugged? Whatever that half demented priest was on, had Omekono imbibed it too? The water? The gruel? Whatever, Omekono knew he needed to keep his wits about him. He let the gruel spill to earth. He needed sustenance, he hadn’t eaten since dawn. But he didn’t need drugging. He needed to keep alert.
“Isn’t the seed-slave ready?”
The priest had spin around unexpectedly. Wild-eyed, drooling from the mouth. Coarsely he had swiped his forearm across his mouth. Shocked to see Omekono still seated, staring at him.
“Must I do everything myself?”
Wild eyed, the priest snarled at Omekono’s guards.
“A god has need of my services. And you cannot even prepare his slave?”
Omekono had seen for himself before, this priest’s powers were feared. When the priest turned his anger on Omekono’s guards quickly they secured him to the stone. Quickly, firmly, decisively. There had to be rings hammered into the side of the stone. They had his legs either side. Cords secured his ankles .. spreading his legs either side of the stone. Omekono saw in a flash the danger .. his naked crutch threateningly exposed.
Or a stone of sacrifice! His back was being pushed down onto the stone. Omekono resisted. The thought of giving them access to his injured manhood galvanised his will. The idea of getting sliced up on this sacrificial stone had him fighting back.
But a punch to the back of neck broke in loud ringing in his head. A punch to his guts took his wind away. Even as his senses realised how they had weakened him, a hand grabbed in his hair, thudded his head backwards and thwacked it hard onto the stone. The slam took his breath away. The blow had his ears ringing. They were on to him .. crossing his wrists over each other and binding them with cord.
“Not done? Not finished?
The priest’s snarling scared Omekono’s guards.
“Idiots! A god awaits. And you are playing around?”
His fury made them spring into action. A fist buried itself into Omekono’s gut. Desperate to secure him, desperate not to anger their priest anymore. At the other end, a guard was pulling his bound hands over his head. Securing them to a ring under the end of the stone. Pinning him out like their sacrifice.
“A god awaits.”
The priest screamed madly at the guards. Their incompetence driving him wild.
“Get out. Get gone. Before he demands your balls!”
The terrified guards did not need telling twice.