Maciste should have known better. The ugly cretin who’d got a hard-on from giving Maciste a hard time on the journey .. he wasn’t the emperor’s man. He was just some low-life moron who got off on bullying a real hunk of a fighter when his victim had no chance of giving it back. Without the bonds .. without the security of Maciste securely bound to that post .. Maciste would have had that sucker shitting his pants.
The real one to watch was the one who’d introduced himself as Maciste’s worst nightmare. In time Maciste overheard his henchmen calling him Yothin. But for a long time that was how Maciste had thought of him .. with some irony. But forced to acknowledge there was some truth in that name. Nightmare.
From the start Maciste sensed the danger. That cretin who’d given him a hard time was just some mindless bully. Used to do Nightmare’s dirty work .. to lend the muscle. Nightmare was the real danger.
Maciste saw only evil in him. He was a predator and Maciste was his prey. And like a feral cat, he was sure he was going to win the day. The wild cat’s mouse wasn’t going to stand a chance. Nightmare would play with him, he’d toy with Maciste. But this was no game.
Nightmare had a mission, Maciste sensed it. The emperor must have had his choice of men for this role. But Vologases had sent Yothin, his best. Vologases could rely on his man to deliver. Depended on Yothin to make sure Maciste broke.
It took a miracle. It felt beyond the capacity of man. For Maciste not to show his dread. Not to let go the searing fears that were aching to burst in his head. The horror watching as red-hot iron was lowered over his face. Ever closer, over his eyes. Close to his forehead. Feeling the searing heat long before it touched flesh. A flood of panic just at the prospect of its touch.
Something Maciste hadn’t contemplated. Getting branded like an animal. Carrying the Parthian emperor branded on his forehead. Marked out as a Parthian slave.
Even his hatred for this man was not enough. Even his bloody-minded stubbornness to defy this cowardly enemy struggled to find the will-power. A red-hot iron branded into his forehead. Sheer terror of that pain.
The shame of that indignity. Feeling the scorching heat above his eyes. A flurry of panic as men pressed down on his arms to keep him still.
The look of cruelty in Yothin’s eyes gave him some strength. Hatred welled in Maciste’s guts. But he got caught out, taken unawares. Yothin switching Maciste’s attention in a split second from targeting the forehead. The red-hit brand hovered now in Maciste’s armpit. Maciste bit on his lower lip. Readying himself.
Yothin’s cruelty flashed back over, his evil looked into Maciste’s eyes .. already slitted in anticipation of the pain. A sadist’s evil look. A look that took in his victim’s jaws .. already clenched together as he feared the sizzle of agonising pain. A look filled with a greed to dominate. To use the cruelty of the branding iron to break Maciste’s will. To hear him scream.
That was what would give Maciste the strength, that look, his hatred. That would feed the power to clamp down on the scream of agony that would come raging to his throat. Seeing Yothin flick his evil gaze back into Maciste’s threatened armpit. The branding iron held hovering over his skin. To be held there until Maciste gave up his scream.
Maciste told himself that was Yothin’s mistake. Putting iron resolve into Maciste’s defiance. He’d not give in. He would scream. Yothin would make sure of that. He’d keep on at Maciste with that branding iron .. until Maciste’s piercing shrieks had made the monster cum. But break Maciste’s will? No way. He’d not give it up. This evil dog would not win.
It was close. Maciste’s skin quivered in terror of the touch. Closer still. Maciste smelled hair singe. He felt the scorching heat .. any second now skin would pucker. The pain would hit Maciste’s eyes. Another few seconds and Maciste would have had no choice. He’d fight, he’d struggle. But reality promised he’d be forced by agony to scream.
The shrieking tortures. Mindless pain. Halted only when he passed out. Or when Yothin had heard enough of his screaming.
The iron let go of Maciste’s terrors. Yothin withdrew it before the armpit was agonised by the scorching brand. He threw the iron aside. Maciste gasped. The relief was almost as bad as the scorch of human flesh. Maciste sucked in a massive gulp of air. His mind was racked by pains. His head shook wildly from side-to-side. His whole torso needed to heave, he had to gasp in air.
Everything in his being wanted to flee. Nothing had touched. He hadn’t been branded. But his nerves were on fire. His muscular male perfection ablaze. Sweat rushed out of every pore. Pain did a crazed dance in his every nerve. He was sweating. Gasping. Suffering.
The fucker had played with him, the brute. That branding iron was one of his toys. Playing with Maciste’s fears. A game. And he’d won.
“That is the lord emperor’s right. Placing his brand on his slave. Branding him as his own. The lord emperor’s right. He’ll want to command that himself.”
Fuck him! Maciste’s head was in a spin. His chest still heaving in air, recovering his nerves. Yothin had tricked him. And it had worked. Fuck him! He’d got Maciste to show his nerves. Reveal to himself he was not invincible. Betray that he did know fear.
But .. success as he was ….. that trick just put fire in Maciste’s belly. The emperor wanted him delivered back broken. That was Yothin’s mission. Designated above others to that task. And if the emperor got back a Maciste just as pig-headed …..? If Maciste was not a broken man, if he stood up to Vologases …..? What would that mean for the man selected to do that job …..?. The thought of the consequences of failure …. if Yothin let his emperor down ……? That above all else would fuel Maciste’s reserve.
Maciste felt angry with himself. For showing weakness. But, realistically, it would not be the last time. Yothin would try everything in his power. The more Maciste stood up to him, the more the screws would be turned.
But …. that weakness put aside …. one invaluable thing Maciste had learned …. He’d not been branded. He’d not be maimed here. Not in Hellgate. That right was reserved for Vologases. Here in Hellgate, Yothin had his limitations. Something useful to note …..