Maciste heard clapping. Slow mocking applause. The general still at his table, now stood. Giving “the prince” a slow hand-clap.
“Impressive. Very impressive indeed.”
Maciste took another hard crack with a weapon across his shoulders. He had been wrestled to his knees. The force of the blow rocked him forward but grim-faced he stood his ground. He had got what he wanted. He had the general’s attention.
Maciste had had enough. Pushed far enough. OK, play power games. But there were limits …
“General … …”
He got no further. The club jabbed into his throat. Sensing Maciste trying to get up, the grips on his shoulders kept on pushing him down. Maciste squirmed, resisted. But pressure squeezed back down. A murderous grip had him in the back of his neck .. keeping him on his knees.
The general came around the table, he approached. Looked Maciste straight in the face. Contempt.
“Sergeant, what-the-fuck have you dragged in?”
His nose visibly wrinkled. Highlighted the smell of pig-shit that this so-called prince gave off. Nervous the sergeant didn’t answer.
“This the prick you were talking about?”
Tiradates cast another long look over the prisoner on his knees. Dressed in rages, filthy-dirty. Reeking of dung.
“You mentioned some prince? Not some stinking goat-shagger. Get rid of this piece of shit.”
His orders were for his sergeant. But Maciste jumped in first.
“Tiradates, I am …”
Tiradates interrupted, he snapped back.
“I know exactly who you are.”
His voice was sharp. His eyes were cold.
“And I know exactly what-the-fuck you are.”
He got closer. Leering over Maciste. Cold eyes solidly fixed on his face.
“Question is .. what the fuck are you up to?”
Maciste tried to struggle out of the grips on his shoulder. He ought to be on his own two feet. Dealing this general man-to-man .. face-to-face. But the force insisted, pressed down. Keeping him on his knees. Making him look up at the man he’d come to surrender to. Not equal-to-equal. Not as he’d planned it. But … tactics didn’t always go to-plan.
Tiradates edged closer. Maciste was forced to look up at him .. but his demeanour said he was still engaging with Tiradates. Equals .. even on his knees. Then .. only a few paces away .. without warning Tiradates rushed forward. His boot took Maciste in the belly. A vicious kick with military sandals smacked into his belly.
Maciste had tightened at the last moment. But still the force into his midriff pitched him forward. But the grip on his neck tightened, yanked him back upright. Ideally placed for another ferocious kick. Tiradates knee-slammed him in his chin.
Maciste’s head was spinning from the savagery of the blow. Ears ringing. Vaguely feeling the grip on his neck righting him again. Holding him upright. The attacker saw his chance. It came. The metal tip of a military sandal again smacked hard into Maciste’s guts. The hands on his shoulders shoved him forward. No arms or hands to stop himself, Maciste fell face-first into the dirt.
Tiradates stomped down on the prisoner’s back. Metal cleats dug painfully into muscled flesh.
“Question is …. What you fucking up to? Scum.”