Impassively the captain reviewed progress. The accumulative attack on the traitors since
he’d ordered them hung on that cross at dawn had done its job. The emperor had ordered them broken. The emperor’s word was law.
He had ordered the people see what became of those who defied his rule. The sight of muscled men near-broken had driven the mob to screaming point. Since hauling their feet off the air, they had started counting every body-breaking blow. Roaring approval as-one .. cheering each helpless jerk of muscular bodies off every strike. Cheering in unison with each tortured yell broken out of helpless strapping bodies.
They’d cheered still even when the traitor-general had fallen into unconsciousness, dangling lifeless. Until a smarting blow had slammed across the red crimson of his bare belly .. just above his limp cock. The pain had penetrated through into his hideaway of unconsciousness. The shock had torn a tortured cry even out of the depths of his unconscious despair. And a howl of glee had erupted from the mob.
The rebel, it seemed, had been made of sterner stuff. More blows needed to his back, gyrating in the air off the pain. The captain had kept up the count .. elated the mob had joined in. The emperor’s orders .. the same punishment, suffer together. The general had been thrashed into unconsciousness .. same rules, same treatment. The stinking rebel would get the same. Had to finish off the same. Broken. Unconscious.
Tougher stuff, though. It had taken more thwacks. More effort needed. The captain had had to bawl his men out. Put their backs into it. Harder! More stinging smacks from the cane. Savage bludgeoning with the pole into his tortured back. His men getting off on the heat of torture. Howls for pain thick in the air. More and more .. until eventually the stinking rebel had passed out with his pain. Inert to the final few hits.
Finally unconscious, the stinking pair had hung senseless off their ropes. His men gasping, bent over their knees. The traitors swaying. Displayed in shame. Broken. Job done. The mob had got what the lord emperor craved. Justifiable punishment. Ruthlessly laid on. The traitors broken. Broken by pain. An emperor’s pride restored.
The water brought them round. Shock, agony, despair .. all
combined greeted their return to consciousness. There was no escaping an emperor’s wrath. Nor, it seemed, no end to the mob’s lust for
pain and blood. Water dribbled off their
feet, suspended above the steps, hung in tortured agony. The captain held up his hand and waited for
the jeering to stop.
But on and on they cheered. On and on they insisted.
“More! More! More!”
Insatiable. Their blood was up.
Equally undaunted, the captain held up his hand for
silence. Stood strong, imposing. But he was out-numbered. The roar from the mob just amplified. Not letting the traitors off. Their cries for more pain drowning out his
shouts. They were ravenous for more.
“More! More! More!”
But the captain took his orders from the emperor, not the mob.
To indicate Enough was Enough, he’d ordered the prisoners released. Time to move on to the next stage. They both collapsed in a heap in the puddles. That stupid antic from the soldier slipping in the wet broke the tension. Laughter seemed to ease the pressure. The captain had felt himself overwhelmed by this mass craving for the beatings to go on.
Nevertheless he was pleased to see the other crew did not
emulate the joke. A soldier from behind
grabbed hold of the rebel by his hair and yanked his head back.
“On your fucking feet!”
Maciste was on his hands and knees. Keeping his head down. Hiding his pains from the mob. Hiding the grimaces on his face. Shoulders heaving up and down mightily as his
battered chest painfully heaved in air.
“”Get your stinking hide up, dog!”
The tug on his scalp brought a look of rage to Maciste’s face. He’d had enough! The pull in his hair kept on yanking him up. Through the pain Maciste fought to get a leg up under him. Rising up off one knee. The pull on his hair yanked up his head .. exposed his face. Showed Maciste’s features to the jeering mob. Pure fury.
More pulling had got Maciste to his feet, swaying as he stood. In part he should have been grateful for the help .. pulling him up by his hair .. but his manly pride was hurt. His body was one mass of burning aches. He struggled to breathe. He’d had ENOUGH. His vision swam. Beaten. Yanked around. He was sick-and-tired of being pushed around.
Maciste shook his head. Determined to dislodge the hand twisted in his hair. But the grip hung on. Suddenly a fist hammered into his back. Into a pain-spot. Pain tore up his backbone and settled on his face. Pain transformed into a look of pure rage. He bawled it out. He let go his rage. Face red with fury. Fists clenched. Body fighting-tense. About to throw a killer-punch. About to murder.
In time, the hand released him, roughly shoving him
forward. Maciste lurched, just managing
to plant one foot in front of himself .. saving
his weakness from collapsing back to the ground.
“You see that? See the way that fucker looked?”
The captain heard a man at the front. Pointing at the rebel.
“He ain’t broken. See that look?”
The captain felt the frenzy taking off again.
He identified a gang of men at the front. Pointing at the defiant Maciste. Red-faced with anger. Fists punching in the air. Mob-fury.
“Give him more!”
The man’s friends had joined in the cry.
“He deserves more! Filthy rebel.”
Punching their arms in the air.
Demanding the rebel be thrashed.
“More! More! More!”
“Give it the fucker!”
More men joined in the call.
“More! More! More!”
The captain had his orders.
It was the traitor that this was all about. The lord emperor had made clear the object of
his wrath. The rebel was just some
side-show. It was the traitor-general
the emperor wanted. Suddenly this
mission was losing focus. The mob was
turning on the rebel. Desperately the
captain shouted into the mob.
“More? There IS more!”
He doubted they could hear him above the din echoing off the palace wall. But his men did. He bawled out his order.
“To the death fields!”
The bloodlust of hundreds of greedy wolves plumed like poisonous vapours in the square.