Beast of burden
Schooled in warrior-skills since early childhood, Maciste had known hard times a-plenty. No concession made for his royal birth, he had taken punishment beatings from his training-masters. Serious errors were met with harsh whippings. The first crack of leather from behind made him twitch. But nothing fell on him. It was the soldier just cracking at the air. Playing at it. Playing him.
“Put your back into it!”
Tiradates snapped at the soldiers, tired of playing games with this prick-of-a-prince. The next whoosh of air tore across the middle of Maciste’s back. His flesh jerked, strong muscle burned. But the grim set of his jaw did not flinch. Glowering in anger back up at the enemy general.
Another whoosh of air from behind saw Maciste’s jaw clenched tight. A light grunt erupted in his chest. A burning pain tore from his shoulder down his broad back. Still Maciste glowered back. Determined not to give way. Not to give in to the burning stripes marking his flesh.
His hatred tore into that man smirking down from his horse. He drew strength from his loathing. Seated smug on his horse. A man that could drive children out into the night to be ripped apart by wild cats. This general looked sure that a severe whipping could change his prisoner’s mind. And sure as hell, Maciste was going to prove him wrong.
A stinging blow caught Maciste around his sides. The shock of biting leather twisted his body round. But a split-second later that grim-faced determination was back in his eyes. Behind the air again whooshed menacing. Stinging lashes tore down his back. Pain slashed briefly its claws across the prince’s face. The force rocked him a little. But still Maciste set firm his feet. Still he refused to move.
The command from the sergeant was going to make no difference, Maciste was standing firm. Another cutting bite of the whip into the defiant back had no effect. Biting. Cutting into flesh. Smarting. Painful lashes stung at his skin. Still Maciste refused to move. He was no ox.
“Move ya arse, fucking dog.”
Burning. Red welts of frustration burst across Maciste’s helpless back. He could not escape their stinging persuasion. But sure-as-hell he’d not move his feet. He’d not play their game. No ox, no dog, no slave. His stand against a man who could send women and children to such a death.
Not a slave. Unlike that monster seated on his horse, Maciste was a man, he was human. And to a monster he’d not surrender any signs of his pain.