At dawn already harsh rays scorched at the skin. In no time the higher sun sapped the resolve. Yoked into pushing this overloaded cart along. The sweat ran. Shoulder muscles ached. Back muscles screamed. Strong thighs dug deep .. burning to find the strength. And every moment the threat of a crack from he driver’s whip. Snapping pain out of an agonised back.
Every step won with a deep-throated grunt. The struggle of pushing burned fiery down their backs. Step-by-tortured-step. Faces aching with grimaced exertion. Every stride torture. Worked into the dirt. Every hard-won pace bringing Maciste closer to a tortured death.
Hard work. Hot sweaty work. A pair of minders got to ride the overloaded cart, hauled along by the slaves. And under orders to be constantly on their backs. The cart had been piled up for the trip .. intended for a pair of burly mindless oxen to haul it.
Overloaded. With what no one cared. Just weighty. To make that fuckhead of a dumb prince-slave work his balls off. Extra weight thrown on when the oxen were given the day off.
For a pair of men the work was arduous. Maciste manacled to the bar .. pushing the weight .. the effort grinding unnerving pains down his backbone. Both were muscled, strong. Menander was a second-son, not destined to rule. His task later to lead the army. No effort had been spared in preparing his body for that task.
But the effort was extreme. The cart creaked forward with deep-throated grunts. Pitting their joint strength against this task .. encouraged on by the crack of the whip.
The coarse earth bit into bare feet, the sun snarled at bare shoulders out of a cloudless sky. A never ending strain. And no amount of effort was going to be good enough for their drivers seated behind.
“Put your backs into it, ya pair of arseholes.”
For Maciste what was MORE frustrating was that his plans had been thwarted. By Menander’s failed rescue attempt. His task had already been risky enough. His prince turning up had set everything upside-down. But Menander was in no mood to apologise.
Reproachful he chided Maciste for his rash move. Sacrificing his freedom to save the hostages. Claiming HE was the prince.
“You know what they’ll do to you …..?”
Menander risked another whispered riposte .. head down so the minders might not hear.
“ …. thinking they have Prince Menander in their hands. Thinking you were really me?”
Menander risked a sideways glance. Catching Maciste’s gaze.
“What they did to my brother ….”
Or worse ….. Maciste had to admit the truth of it. The Parthian emperor would think he had the royal prince in his grip. In the muscular shape of Maciste. He’d take full advantage. Vologases would eradicate the last of the kingly line. He’d take pleasure in doing it in the most memorable way. In public. Maciste’s execution would go down in history.
Maciste chortled back.
“I wasn’t planning on hanging around that long …..”
Maciste had his head down. .. talking to the earth at his feet .. to save another lash across Menander’s back. He was putting his own life on the line. But now he had the problem of Menander to solve. He had to get him away.
“The plan was simple …. rescue the women and get the hell out of here …..”
But things didn’t always go to plan ………
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