Would that have been his best chance? When the chief ordered him re-positioned? Cut down from being upside and strung back up .. standing on his feet. Should he have made a fight of it? His hands were free, he could have lashed out and fought himself out of their grip.
But there was something uncannily unnerving about that chief, the way he looked, an aura about him. It had temporarily deterred Korak .. robbing him of a chance. The chief had returned to Nguana while Korak was being righted. His friend had not moved, still on his knees, in total subjugation, forehead pressed to the earth. Uncanny. Not his friend at all.
Was that return to his mate another twist of the screw? Hiking-up the threat? Like he was going to take it out on Nguana again? Korak tensed at the thought. Now he’d learned they were friends. Using Nguana, submissive, bent over to the earth. Punishing Nguana as some kind of pressure over Korak?
If Korak had made a move to defend himself, would that ominous bristling brute had taken it out on Nguana? Hard to know what to do. This whole set-up had Korak unnerved, on edge. He felt weakened by the chief’s glare .. by the assembled villagers’ hate for him. Hatred. It hovered in the air. He could almost feeling it clinging to his skin. Loathing .. for his act of violation.
Before he knew it, his chance had passed. He glanced up. His wrists were now bound to that pole hanging down from the branch. The rope had been pulled tight, Korak was standing on the balls of his feet. Every muscle under strain. His torso unnervingly exposed. His gut disconcertingly stretched. Unprotected. Open to attack.
Korak could not deny the chief had his point. From the tribe’s point of view, Korak had done wrong. He was guilty. Twice-over in their eyes. Robbing their gods of their due punishment for Nguana’s sacrilege. Rescuing Nguana would mean his friend got away scot-free. And then he himself was committing sacrilege. But what other choice had he had? Little chance, though, that this chief would listen to reason.
“For this act of violation, there is only one answer ….”
Now Korak was secured and wasn’t going to give trouble, the chief had now joined Korak again. No way did Korak feel he was afraid of him. But the brute didn’t need to kick the shit out of Nguana anymore. He was stood to his left side .. ominously Korak noticed he had been handed a cattle whip.
“Handed down by the gods. For desecration of their domain.”
The whip slashed across the breadth of Korak’s back. Braided leather biting pain out of the middle of his muscular back. The force and the sting had Korak arch his back. His voiced hiss was drowned out. The assembled tribe roared out the sentence.
Korak was still grimacing as the chief raised his free arm. Demanding silence. It fell like a solid rock over Korak’s torso.
“The shaman will reveal their demands ……”
Again a stinging bite caught Korak across his middle back. A short sharp cry broke from his throat.
Eye-watering pain made Korak gasp. Each strike of leather tore criss-cross over his back. Repeatedly. And with each tortured bite, the crowd shouted it out.
Cheering each pain-filled stripe. His body convulsed. It twisted, it contorted. Trying to shake itself free of burning pains. Hearing the tribe declare his sentence.
“DEATH! DEATH! DEATH!”