Fear wasn’t an emotion Conan allowed himself. In life he’d faced down the worst. A slave from childhood, he’d learned to take the lash. Life’s hard knocks had taught him the worst side of life, there was little else. Scum had had him beaten up. He’d fallen into the hands of evil men .. women too, some of them the worst.
Conan knew the rough side of life .. little else had come his way. Enslaved, abused, beaten up .. he’d come across more than his share of sadistic scum. He’d taken their knocks. Waiting .. intently awaiting his chance .. then he’d shown the fuckers what he was made of. Sword wounds to the gut .. his favourite .. taking an overlong time for his enemy to die. While Conan stood and gloated over their pain.
He’d squeeze the life out of a fucker’s throat .. his massive arms turned into lethal weapons .. crush a fucker’s windpipe .. not even breaking into a sweat. Get a hold on some cocksucker’s head .. twisting .. breaking the fucker’s neck. His only regret .. the arsehole had died too quick.
But the nervousness of those villagers .. scuttling away as fast as they could .. that had seeped into his consciousness. Twisted a knot of anxiety in his gut. Like this .. bound hand-and-foot .. upside-down .. no fucking chance. SOMETHING was down this hole. And when it sprang .. fuck-all Conan could do to defend himself!
He’d stopped descending. Hung by his feet, swaying. Nervously peering around, Conan saw only total blackness. He heard nothing. Aware only of his breathing, the pounding on blood in his ear .. and the creaking of rope from him rocking in the air. In other circumstances he’d have reached up, fought against gravity and struggled with the knots on his ankles. But his arms were trapped by the loops of rope around his chest. Stuck upside-down in darkness. Trapped. Helpless. Stuck down in this hole. For what?
Movement. Sounds. Getting closer, getting louder. He twisted his head there. Perring .. seeing nothing. Cocking his ear in that direction. Footsteps. Strong ponderous gait approaching through the darkness. One? No, two things approaching. Two at least.
Whatever they were, Conan sensed they were big. Bulky. He craned his neck .. in what he thought was the direction. But in all directions it looked the same. But movement was progressing purposefully towards him. Strong certain steps. Without light? What could move without seeing? At such a pace?
Conan tensed. Feeling bodies close-by. Very close. Sensing large bodies. Animals? Giant apes? Their presence seemed enormous. Larger-than-life.
Suddenly a metallic swish. Conan recognised the sound of a sword. He tensed. Expecting the worst. He braced himself for the bite of steel. Suddenly he was falling. The rope to his feet cut through. In one blow, razor sharp blade. Just in time he threw himself over to the side. Landing with a solid thud on hard rock. Knocking the wind out of him. Better than landing on his head.
Still catching his breath .. quickly hands were on him, four hands, two of the brutes. Lifting him up. Throwing him bodily up. Lifted him effortlessly .. most men in a fight could not knock him over. Thrown up. Like he was no effort. Lugged up in the air and thrown over a brawny shoulder. Even still struggling to find his second wind, Conan’s head appreciated that strength. What did it take to haul his muscled hide up off the earth like? What brute force could sling him easily over its shoulder? What monstrous strength could lumber off through the darkness with him slung over his shoulder .. like he weighed nothing at all?
Improbable strength. Monstrous muscle. Perturbing bulk. Daunting thought.