3 Chance to talk
“Stop pissing about,” the sergeant said to the troops. “The general is waiting.”
Slowly, seeing he was winning, when their spears lowered, Maciste unwound his own posture. He was getting to see Tiradates. But still nothing in him would let this go. His body was making it quite clear to them ….. Any more of that and there was more where that came from.
He was ALLOWING himself to be escorted .. led to Tiradates. A prince being taken to meet his enemy’s general. Equal to equal. Maciste hadn’t come looking for a fight .. even if he had come to trick Tiradates.
On the other hand, these Parthian thugs kept pushing him .. too far, too often. If this scum wanted to test him out, everything about his bearing said, Be my guest.
A sudden woman’s cry to the side, the sound whipped his head over. Maciste heard a woman crying for help. He knew what soldiers did with women captors. But the circle surrounding him tightened, hands clutched tighter at weapons .. Maciste was forced on his way. He was here to negotiate the women’s release, anyway. Best thing to meet with the enemy general. Then he’d end these women’s torment.
From another tent, Maciste heard a child crying. Distraught sobbing. What did the Empire want with children? War was not somewhere for them. The plaintive sound of a distressed child reinforced his resolve. Menander would not have allowed him to come. But it was the right thing to do. Sacrificing his freedom so that upset children could go home and play.
At the other end stood a large tent. The general’s headquarters. Long-term enemies .. but this was the first time, he and Tiradates had come face-to-face. Not one knew what Menander looked like. This general’s reputation made him no light-weight. Tiradates had no problem turning on the innocent. He was perfectly OK with reprisals to break down any support for the uprisings. Maciste was dealing with a determined man.
His tent was open-sided. Maciste saw Tiradates seated at the table, studying a map. The general could not miss the commotion of a prisoner surrounded by a dozen guards being marched over to him. But Maciste saw Tiradates only once glimpse up when the soldiers stopped him outside the tent. Maciste had felt Tiradates’ eyes flash over his strong muscular body. Once, a quick perusal. Then the general returned his attention to his maps. To important matters. Making the prisoner wait
Tiradates knew exactly who he was .. or thought he knew. Word had got to him about Menander surrendering. Or at least the unbelievable story about some fool purporting to be the prince. The way Maciste bore himself .. undaunted by the soldiers .. no dumb peasant stood before the enemy general like that ….. Tiradates had to be interested.
But he was playing otherwise. Just a glance, that was all Tiradates had thrown him. But he had to be intrigued. He was pretending to study his maps. And Maciste took the chance to study him too. The enemy general was well-built, clearly a fighting man. Muscular arms, broad chest. He sat bare-chested, a soldier’s soldier by the look of him. Those shoulders would wield a sword with force.
Tiradates’ brain had to be whirring, though. Maciste’s behaviour since getting arrested .. no peasant. The way he bore himself now .. .. not intimidated, not out of place. His physique dominating enemy soldiers even though they had him surrounded, bound
Tiradates had to have worked it out for himself. Thinking he couldn’t believe his luck. His strategy with the hostages .. it had worked. This fugitive prince .. their prime target .. he’d strolled right in. Surrendered. Without a fight. No doubt about it. This general couldn’t believe his luck.