Ransomed

Ransomed
A Garth Serial by Rendszeretlen
(Garth is a character appearing in an adventure strip in the British newspaper Daily Mirror from 1943-1997. For most of us probably brought to life for the first time in Aquadude’s set of comic scrolls. I am grateful to Aquadude for his suggestion I try a retake based upon the adventure strip. In keeping with the fact that one of Garth’s enduring foes is Madame Voss, it seemed in keeping to match him up against female adversaries again.)
Part One
1. Ultimatum: Distraught
That night their lovemaking had been long and caring. It was always was, it had been that way since their first coupling. Not usually one able to hang around in his line of work, in his time with Lenana Garth had discovered the pleasure of lingering tenderness. Actually that night Lenana had drawn him inside her only twice. But they had lain together, kissed, stroked, talked and smiled till late into the depths of the night.   A remarkable change from the athletic performances he had generally put in with his women. So the commotion took a long while to penetrate, Gath had been in a deep sleep when Lenana was shaking him awake. Wondering what the uproar was outside.

He slipped a blanket around his shoulders against the night chill and stepped out of their hut. A crowd of people outside the chief’s place, more curious people were joining sleepy-eyed from their huts, drawn by the hysterical sobbing. Taller than the tribes-people. Garth could look over their heads. The sobbing was Syda, beside herself. Looking worse-for-wear, her long hair dishevelled, down on the earth sobbing in her mother’s arms. Gazaan, the Maru chief, looked on with a confused fatherly concern.
Quite a crowd had already gathered by the time Garth got there. Syda would start getting herself together, accept a drink of water from her mother. But then she’d lose composure again. Her father looked on anxiously. Garth too was getting increasingly concerned. He had agreed with the chief that her brothers should take Syda away, to a place of safety. Where were Doa and Muran?
“They’ve got them ….” Syda broke down into hysterical crying again. ” .. the Krottak …” Garth bit on his lower lip. Made sense, the three of them had gone off together. But now Syda had returned alone. How come? “…. I thought they were dead …” Terror shook her. A tremble passed through the crowd. ” …. beaten to death ….” Syda broke down again, she buried her face in her mother’s lap. Annoyingly Garth could not understand the words she was sobbing for a few more minutes. ” … Mabat …. she told me ….” Mabat? Garth felt a shudder go through the crowd. Syda had met with Mabat? The Krottak queen? Whom they had been campaigning against for years? Her name could send shivers down the spine for ordinary tribes-people. How many of them had not had a son mindlessly slaughtered by her troops? Syda with Mabat? How? Why? ” … said she’ll set them free …” Syda cried out distraught, pleading to no one in particular, tears streaming down her face. ” … if …..” Them? Muran and Doa? Syda’s brothers. The chief’s two sons … Mabat had snatched Muran and Doa? Beaten them. Syda had thought them dead … ” … She wants the Earthman, she said.”
Garth. Like a thunderbolt. It was out. It was clear. All eyes suddenly turned on him. ” …   if we give her Garth.” Clothed in just a blanket against the night-time cold Garth started. An electric charge shivered down his backbone. The moment he’d dreaded had come. His time had run out.
1. Ultimatum: Interrogations
The thwack across his busted belly burst in shock out of his eyes. “Give up. You’ll get nothing from us,” it took all he had to spit the words out. Muran was alive, at least his pain told him he was. But every bone in his body hurt, every bit of him was in torment, every fibre of his tortured torso screamed pain. Another brutal blow for his insolence was smacked across his battered belly, the force whipped Muran’s feet out from under him. He was drenched in his own sweat. Hung off the rope overhead, he tried to wipe his forehead on his raised arm. But the sweat just kept running. And he noticed as he did it that his face felt like it was just bruises. He needed water, uselessly a leather tongue licked at his badly bruised lips. He was panting, hard, he could not pant hard enough to get breath back.
“Murder us now.” Muran struggled to get words out. He had every reason to think the Krottak were going to beat them to death, he had every reason to wish this over. “Be done with it,” he managed to croak. He’d seen what they had done to his younger brother. Doa hung motionless next to him. Seemingly lifeless. Maybe dead. His bare upper body blotched with ugly bruises, a splotched mixture of dark red blood and blue-black bruises. Probably they had gone for the younger brother first. Thinking he’d break easier. Or thinking the older brother would say anything to stop them killing his kid brother like this.
Commendably Doa had defied them, incredibly. He had refused the Krottak everything they wanted from him. He’d given up his pain. He’d cried out. Dozens of blows across his back. Dozens more slashed across his front. Yelped, yelled, cried out, sobbed. But when they stopped to question him, when they had asked where the Earthman could be found, Doa had stared into the distance. Early on when he could still do it, provocatively he had whistled. Muran had smiled for him. And he had cringed for him. With his dumb insolence Doa had only invited the Krottak to start beating him mercilessly again.
They had. This evil general had shaken her head and his dumb stupidity and nodded, her guards had laid into Doa again. Brutally hard. Doa had cried out, he’d screamed. In a desperate move to distract them from his brother Muran had cussed them. He had sworn at their general, he had mocked her a a woman. Trying to get her to turn their canes onto him. But she had just smiled. Enjoying his torment, gloating at Muran’s agonising. Watching helpless as they beat Doa senseless.
Muran had given up trying to think up wisecracks. Bruising pain had seeped at his strength. Hurt had spread into every muscle. But still he managed defiance. Come-what-may, he’d hang on to that. “You’ll get nothing,” he taunted. Under lank hair hung sweaty and matted across his face, Muran sneered. Contempt for this Krottak general still shining through even after the horrendous beatings he had taken. He would have spat in her face – only his mouth was parched. With the cussing and shouting, with the sweating, with the hurt. With his terror for what he had seen his brother take. “You so sure of that?” A sadistic smirk filled her face. It was only a hand’s distance away. “You so sure nothing will make you talk?”
Muran cried out. The evil bastard had grabbed him between the legs, this bitch-general who commanded the bitch-queen’s armies . His arms were trapped in the ropes hanging down from above. There was a bar across the back of his ankles keeping his legs open. A vulture’s talons crushed down on him there. Squeezing him. Crushing him. “Maybe this is where we should try?” With a final punishing squeeze, she let Muran go. Her sadistic sneer swam in the blur of Muran’s sight.
Muran owed Garth, for their freedom, their survival. The Krottak had had his tribe on the run, for months. Garth had started to show them better, how to fight. His new tactics had worked, the tribe owed everything to Garth. Their security and existence – they owed it totally to their Earthman. A gratitude so deep, Muran would lay down his life for Garth. He was doing it now.
The first blow hit him with terrifying force. The bound canes whooshing up, thwacking him between the legs. Agonising. A force so powerful it lifted him off the ground. Muran screamed. The firestorm of pain after the blow was even worse. His cry just kept coming. Until cut short by another blow from underneath. Bellowed like a tortured bull. Lifted in the air, his legs flailing under him.
Shocks so intense Muran’s screams sometimes got caught in his throat. Seemingly dozens of blows there. He wanted to die. He prayed to pass out. A seemingly never-ending assault between his spread legs. And when the beating from hell stopped, the pain exploded, it only got worse. An inferno in his balls and guts. She had Muran by the hair. He couldn’t see her, a thick curtain of red-yellow pain before his eyes. His legs collapsed under him, hanging off the overhead rope. An unstoppable series of prolonged groans dripping from his throat. She twisted his head up into her calculating face. Ice-cold, uncaring of his torment. She wanted only one thing. “This Earthman. This one called Garth. Where do we find him?”
She got nothing. Pain filled Muran’s every thought. All she got from him were his cries bursting from him as more canes flattened his balls into his body, as his torments were racked with even more unspeakable pains. She stood aside, patient, confident he’d break. Experience said it was only a matter of time. When you went for a man there, he always broke. She nodded for the beatings to continue.
1. Ultimatum: Arrival
From his first encounter with the Maru, literally from the first moment, Garth had learned how the Maru feared only one thing. The Krottak. Garth was still trying to work out where the hell he had landed. Wandering for hours lost deep in some forest, no sightlines, no idea which country or even planet, which century he was in. He hadn’t heard a thing. Yes, for hours he’d heard the bird calls, he’d heard the rustle of the trees while searching for some way out of this forest. But he hadn’t heard any untoward sound. Not till the net dropped over his head and enveloped him. A thud from behind unsettled him, the netting caught around his legs upended him.
Through the netting he could see maybe a half dozen men surrounding him. Young grim-faced men, holding hunting spears pointed at him. Lean and wiry but their short kilts showed their muscular force. And the strength in their bare arms said that if he tried anything on, there was power behind those spears to do plenty of damage. They let him unwrap himself from the net. Ignoring his questions and annoyance, aggressively gesturing without saying a word for him to free himself. But at the last moment, they gathered in close, spears ready for any false move. In a second, get things wrong, Garth could be a gonna.
That had been the first time he heard the word, the word that was going to dominate his life. Krottak. They’d thought he was some Krottak spy. Some wanted him killed straight away. In case he got back and split on them. But such murderous voices were over-ruled. Someone called Muran would squeeze information out of him. First they’d find out what the Krottak were up to. Then they’d kill him. Garth was tied up and was taken back to “Muran”. To be tortured for information he did not have.
In all his travels Garth had often finished up somewhere unexpected. Gone adrift as Time nudged with Space and he spooled up somewhere he’d not planned. But his time in this place had endured. This time he’d been dumped here for weeks. Where the hell he was in the universe of Time he had not the foggiest idea. Eventually, though, this adventure in time-space had found its compensations. That Muran turned out to be the chief’s son, he was leading their fight against the Krottak. Garth persuaded them of their mistake. Not by anything he said. Muran looked at him and straightaway he knew. This giant of a man. Standing head and shoulders above them. Broad deep-set muscular chest, a back on him like some bear. When had they ever seen a Krottak like that, Muran laughed? Garth later realised that was right, this planet seemed to be peopled by the small and lean. The Maru were hunters, there was not much fat on any of the young men. They raced wild animals into their traps. They lived off the forests, chopping down trees for their huts and fires, it was hard work physically. Strong in the arms, fit, tight in the belly. The Krottak too, when Garth came across them – small, lean, tough. When had any of them ever seen any Krottak as tall and as big-muscled as Garth? When asked about his whereabouts, Garth could hardly explain he had travelled through time and space. He was a stranger, he’d said, he had stumbled into these troubled lands by mistake. Just trying to find his way back. As such the Maru had welcomed him in. They were kind to strangers, they were generous – and Garth learned soon enough they were in trouble. The Krottak were on the march.   Raids into the Maru forests were intense, non-stop. Krottak spies were everywhere. Spying out Maru weaknesses. Intent on conquest.
Garth was grateful for Muran’s insights. But secretly that gave him doubts about the man. If Garth has been commanding the Krottak forces, wouldn’t he have sent out spies that did not fit the Krottak stereotype? A giant of a man, heavy in shoulder muscle, broad across the chest. Wouldn’t he have used a man whose arms were the size of a Maru-hunter’s thigh? This Muran – he might be their chief’s son. But how cute was he? As a war leader he had a way to go.
Meanwhile Garth found love, genuinely. In his travels his life did not usually allow for much hanging around with his women. This time he had been here for months already. And how long till he got himself out of this fix in the no-ness of Time there was no saying. Meantime in Lenana he had found a kind of love he had scarcely known. And he had found a job to do, a mission. The Maru were under attack, they were hunters not fighters. The Krottak, in all their plans and tactics, – they showed themselves seasoned warriors, well-equipped, numerous – and driven by a ruthlessly ambition for conquest.
Fighting off the Krottak hordes had become Garth’s full-time job, a military mission. He had found love in Lenana – and he had made her people’s destiny his own. Using his skills in military strategy and training the tribe in guerrilla tactics was paying off. They were hunters, hunters and woodsmen. Natural instincts pitched them against wild animals to get their food, skilled in the ways of stealth using the forests to get their prey. Garth realised the Maru were well equipped to ward off Krottak incursions. He’d taught them to turn what they were good at into fighting tools. Pitching their hunter wits and forest skills against the invaders from outside. That Muran – once destined to “squeeze” Garth for intelligence – he turned out to be a fast military learner. And soon together they were fighting the incursions back. They claimed back their forest-home, the Maru had made their forests a Krottak no-go zone.
Muran had become a skilful leader. But all the tribe appreciated it was Garth who had saved them. Embarrassingly he found himself hero-worshipped, just the mention of his name could motivate. The Earthman. Garth did not feel comfortable becoming a living myth. But from his military training he also knew the power of belief. Because of him the Maru had hope. That hope was keeping the Krottak at bay.
But still it was a constant touch-and-go. In any face-to-face encounter they’d lose out, – by sheer weight of numbers. By superior arms. So Garth had taught young men to strike when unexpected. To keep the Krottak on the back foot. Deceptive feints and lightning strikes. Hit at their weakest point, darting in just out of reach and then exhausting the enemy in pursuit. Harry, hassle, worry their enemy, guerrilla tactics – and evaporate back into the forests. Never allowing the Krottak to strike a decisive blow. Enter the forests and they’d be picked off. For months the Maru had kept the Krottak hopping mad. And the living myth, the Earthman, had turned himself into Krottak public enemy #1.
The Maru hadn’t got them on the run, just kept them at bay. The Krottak kept coming back for more, eager for conquest. Garth had often wondered, Was it only a matter of time …..?
1. Ultimatum: Demands
“Get the girl. Bring her.” She knew that look from Mabat. Scathing, –   it had become a regular feature. If she hadn’t been prostituting herself to the queen’s baby brother this past year, the general knew by now she would have been removed. Probably living the life of just another barrack’s whore. She’d known Mabat would react contemptuously to the news, she did not understanding the realities. Some men believed in a cause, some men had the resolve not to be broken, these two had had both. A tough combination. The general’s persuasions had not broken them. The prisoners were not immutable to pain. They had screamed, they had agonised under torture. But offer up that single piece of information? They would sooner have died, – and they would have died if the general had not intervened to keep them alive. If it wasn’t for the fact that Mabat doted on her little brother ….. The general’s sole insurance policy was in keeping that spoilt brat permanently hard between her legs. Even then, it seemed that distasteful ploy was wearing thin.
Everything had been tried, she’d informed Mabat. The worst imaginable without actually killing them. And where would they have been if that had happened ……? These men did in fact crave death, keeping them alive was the worst thing the general could do to them. Still running the risk they might let something slip. Anything rather than betray that Earthman. They were not particularly strong in body. But they were phenomenally tough. They had laughed in her face, tauntingly inviting more punishment. Where these Maru had found such strength of mind, – it was hard to tell. But before that big Earthman had taken up their fight, they had been a walkover. “Meet me there with the slut. In their dungeon.” Mabat had dismissed her general with the habitual contemptuous sneer.
“Shut its snivelling mouth!” The guard’s hard slap across Syda’s mouth did just that. Dragged out of the cell, in fear of her life, thinking these guards were going to have their way with her. Astonished to be shoved into a dungeon where her brothers were hanging corpse-like off hooks. Dead meat. And that fiend Mabat waiting for her. Syda terrified out of her mind, she had started crying.
The slap stung her into silence. For a moment. Till the shock gave way to what she could see. Till the horror of her two brothers trussed up like dead meat again clawed at her heart. A terrified Syda screamed. Screams that burst into agonised sobs and echoed off the dungeon walls.
The guard knew better than not stop that. Grabbing the girl by her hair, forcing her to her knees and sending Syda’s head spinning with a pair of stinging slaps. Her head was twisted over the back of her shoulders by the force. Stunned into silence. Till her face was dragged back to look at the queen. Seeing her iciness glaring down at her, seeing her brothers, bare to the waist, bodies blotched and broken, beaten to death. Horror clutched at the young girl’s throat, crying out at the sight of her poor brothers hanging lifeless like that. “Keep that snivelling slut shut up!” The guard hovered, hand raised, the threat of another stinging beating closing down Syda’s throat. Mabat stood icily dominating the scene, lording it now, stood between the corpses of Syda’s brothers. Their bare upper bodies striped with proof of her ugly endowment, evidence of their endless pain. “They still live, you dim-witted whore.”
To prove it, Mabat had them thrashed. Syda cried out when an inert Doa was beaten across his bare belly. Syda was biting her bottom lip at the sight of his stretched torso blotched an evil crimson. The force of the blow whipping his feet out from under him. His unconscious body gave up a cry, Syda trembled at the sharpness of the sound. Doa was alive. From all appearances, Syda would have sworn he must have been dead. Muran, too. The thwack of bound rods across his front drew a shout from his unconsciousness. His head thrown back, grotesquely sweat from his hair flying through the air. Mercifully out-of-it. But still alive.
Syda was beside herself with shock, terror and joy. She had been kept in a blackened cell by herself. She had been touched up by guffawing guards. She had feared the worst when they had come for her. Dragged by a pair of bullying soldiers holding her terrified by the arms. She had expected to be raped, not taken to see her brothers’ corpses hanging off ropes like butcher’s meat. Like meat after the kill. At first sight she had thought them dead. Now she knew they were alive. That was almost worse. Now she was terrified for them when they came-to. What they must have gone through. How they would suffer from those injuries when they came-to. And what this Krottak hellcat could still do to them. That queen. That name with which since childhood she had been hushed into obedience. A bogey-woman. Warned that Mabat would come and get her. Now lording over her. The woman terrified her.
Mabat turned to her. A mere woman, small stood beside the broken torsos of her two brothers. Their injuries were living proof what this mere woman was capable of, though. She commanded, with a vicious hand. Ruthless against any who defied her. Every word she spoke resonated with evil authority. Every icy look filled Syda with dread. “Go home. Tell your father what you have seen.”
Mabat’s general had failed her. Commanded to break these men. Anything to get at the truth. The whereabouts of that Earthman they called Garth. Cut the Muran off at the head and the body would die. She had failed, this general. But all was not lost, there was still this slobbering whore. This snivelling piece of shit was now the key. She had seen what her brothers had suffered, what more their still living bodies still could suffer. Some women just did not have the guts. The snivelling slut knew, too, they would know much more. Unless she did her job. Told her father what she had seen with her own eyes.
Disdainfully, Mabat snarled at the slobbering girl. “You want them to live? These useless brothers of yours?” The girl did not answer, her face was somewhere down in her lap, her shoulders shuddering. As if not seeing the whiplashed bodies would take the problem away. Mabat nodded, the guard took the sobbing girl by the hair, he made that tear-streaked face look up and see evidence of her brothers hanging there lifeless. “You want to watch? You want this started again?” Terror grabbed her, Syda did not even have the strength to shake her head. Her big brothers trussed up there, beaten within an inch of their lives. Hung like butchered meat. Starting again.
“Answer. Or else …..” Syda shook her head in the queen’s grip. Shook it hard, strong. So there could be no doubt. Her heart bursting at the sight of Muran. His head slumped down lifeless between his raised arms. Legs crumpled under him. His stretched bare torso painted with crimson stripes from a fiendish frenzy that had been laid on him, blotched purple and blue. Beaten repeatedly till he had passed out. “You want to help? Save their wretched lives?”
Syda could not believe this was happening. Violently shaken by the hair, face-to-face with this devil of a queen. In a tortured blur she saw Doa’s strong young body swish before her tear-streaked eyes. Evidence that he had been racked with suffering for endless hours. “Answer, slut.” Syda broke down. “Yes. Yes, yes, yes …..” Saying it over and over. Saying it loud so there could be no doubt. Shouting it through broken sobs and streaming tears.
“Then go home.” Mabat stood dominating over the slut. On her knees, Syda’s face was made to look at her tortured brothers. “Go to your father. Tell him. Tell him what you see. Tell him his sons will be freed.” Syda could not believe her ears. Hope flooded her heart. Not thinking, not seeing the inconsistency in the queen’s words. Just hearing that she could free her brothers from their anguish. “On one condition …. ” Mabat had Syda’s face yanked up into her own calculating eyes.
“Listen, slut. Listen, get this straight.” Mabat paused. “They go free, these sons of his. On one condition ….” Another pause. Giving Syda’s bewildered head a chance to clear. To get the message straight. “On the condition ….. Your father brings that Earthman here. The one called Garth. Tomorrow. By nightfall at the latest.”
Mabat glared disgusted by the girl’s weakness. Contemptuous of her sobbing. Having her slapped to silence once again. Hard across her slobbering face. To emphasise the message. But Mabat was confident the hysterical slut had filled her tear-streaked eyes. Mabat’s talons had clawed the message in lines of her brothers’ blood on the girl’s memory. Frozen it here by the sight of their torture. And galvanised by the promise to start on them again.
“When I have got what I want …. these useless dogs go free.” Syda broke down at the hope. “Your father brings that Garth. Here. Bound, a prisoner. Tomorrow. Nightfall.” Mabat paused again. She made sure the girl was frozen in terror by her icy gaze. “Or I finished the job …..”
1. Ultimatum: Options
Ironic that Garth should be persuading the chief, over-riding Gazaan’s reluctance to surrender him. He’d seen with his own eyes many times what had happened when the Krottak got their hands on their enemies. What was going to happen when they got their claws on him. For Garth time had run out. Paradoxical that he was having to persuade them, like some masochist, someone seized by a lust for unbearable torments. Crazy. But what choice did they have, Garth argued back? He didn’t wait for Gazaan’s answer. He supplied it himself, None. The Krottak had issued an ultimatum. The Maru hand Garth over. Or the Krottak would wage a war of attrition. They’d start with Gazaan’s two sons. Then every day, they’d said – until Mabat got what she wanted, they’d go about grabbing a hostage. Snatching some innocent Maru. With Muran gone, the Maru fight-back was weakened. Young, old, vulnerable, warrior, child – it would not matter whom the Krottak snatched. Just the act of torturing some innocent Maru to death. Wearing Maru resistance down, playing on their nerves. And everyone knew they would.
She had an evil streak, this Mabat. Terror was her chief weapon. The Krottak butchered mindlessly, they killed mercilessly. The tribe knew what that meant, a Krottak war of attrition, they had seen it for themselves, not a single family had been spared. Men impaled alive on a stake and left to their agonies. Attrition, wearing away at the Maru, one snatched, one tortured to death every day. One of their own, the innocent, the vulnerable. Every day! A hysteria was already seizing hold just at the thought, the Maru had already lived on their nerves for months.
A blameless Maru slaughtered, every day.   Is that what they’d said, Garth had asked Syda? She confirmed it. Starting with her brothers. Then one every day, kidnapped, tortured, put to an unspeakable death. Syda broke down again into hysterical tears. The tribe’s own experiences could complete her words – mindless butchery, appalling tortures. Syda broke down in frenzied sobbing.   Made messenger of the most appalling ultimatum. Carried out until the Maru saw sense. And handed the Earthman over.
Ironic that Garth was having to persuade them. He had still woken up in the night sometimes, in heavy sweats at the memories of finding that young Maru savaged by bears. Garth had seen for himself the lengths the Krottak would go to when they had him in their clutches. Toy for their sadism. He had come across the mangled remains. One of their own, a young Maru hunter, his remains making it almost impossible to identify who he had been. The Krottak soldiers were bad enough, those women who ruled, though, were the real she-devils, evil monsters. It was the female rulers who gave the soldiers their head, allowed full reign to their sadistic tendencies.
Garth had found him, the young hunter – or rather his remains. A young man, barely 20. Caught by the Krottak. On the edge of the forests, he’d been staked out, spread-eagled. And left. Garth could only hope he had been dead when they had left him. Everything Garth knew about the Krottak denied that, though. Everything he knew said they’d have liked to stay and watch if they hadn’t feared the bears.
Was it possible to die of fright? Garth had hoped to hell it was. But he’d never known a case. Just imagine, staked out, waiting for bears to come and feed. The sheer terror building before a single bear put in an appearance. Pissing himself, shitting himself with fear at the thought. He and his friends had hunted down bear often enough, he knew how scary that was. He knew what to expect. Hardly anything had been left to say the remains were human. Limbs ripped away, flesh torn from bones.
It wasn’t Garth’s over-ripe imagination to see in his mind’s eye what abject terrors that poor helpless hunter had known when the first bear came sniffing. Appearing on the edge of the forest, scenting prey. Rearing up on his hind legs as his flaring nostrils scented out meat. The first slash of razor-sharp claws. A rumpus kicked up as other bears joined and got aggressive over him. Snarled, roared and fought each other off. Fighting over him, fighting over his still living flesh.
Garth was in no doubt what it would be like, delivered into Krottak hands. But what was the alternative? An eternity of anxiety and horror. Bewildered mothers going insane with worry whenever a child wandered off into the forest to play. The Maru had suffered enough at Krottak hands, they didn’t need it spelling out. Anyone captured, ruthlessly put to death, in the most sadistic way. More Maru staked out for the wild animals, maimed bodies left for carrion. Leaving impaled corpses for the Maru to find. A war of attrition, warfare by terror. Until the Maru saw sense and handed the Earthman over.
How long could that go on, Garth asked Gazaan realistically? How many people had to be kidnapped and slaughtered before they were forced to give in? Wasn’t it only a matter of time? The Maru had fought a brave fight. Now innocent Maru would die, the Krottak would go for the weakest, the most vulnerable, the children. Because of the Earthman. The Maru had run out of options. It was only a matter of time before Mabat got what she wanted. Inevitable. Mothers would be going out of their mind if their children dropped out of sight. Nerves would be stretched unbearably taut. The cries of the Maru for their dead would reaching screaming pitch. How long before the people turned on the chief and made him hand over Garth? They had been out-witted, the Krottak had gained the upper hand. The Maru handed Garth over now – hostilities would cease.
So the Krottak had responded with a change of tactics too, had they? Garth had reasoned to himself as he had listened to Syda’s sobbed tale? Feeling all the eyes of Maru on him. Gauging his reaction. They couldn’t capture him, the Maru couldn’t face the Krottak in an open fight. Their damned forests were a no-go zone for Krottak troops, they were untouchable as long as the Maru stayed within their protection. And under the Earthman’s shield. But the Krottak wanted Garth. They wanted the Maru hope captured, the Earthman. So they’d changed tactics. Get the Earthman – and the Krottak would chop off Maru resistance at its head. So they had set up a trap. One which Garth would have to spring on himself. Give himself in. Garth had run out of time.
Cut down Maru resistance at its root, – that was the plan. No, Garth insisted, no – when the chief told him to flee. Get out of here, leave Maru lands and live. This was not his fight, said Gazaan. Garth knew better. The Krottak had made it clear. And Syda confirmed their words. Bring Garth in. Surrender him. It was not enough for Garth to disappear, he could not flee into the hills and hide. Gazaan had to hand Garth in, that was the deal, Gazaan had to bring Garth in as prisoner. The Krottak had made that crystal clear, that act of betrayal was part of the deal.
Run away? Everyone run to the hills? Garth told Gazaan what the chief already knew. Impossible. Winter was coming on. Already the night air was chilling at Garth’s bare legs as he stood in the middle of the tribe persuading Gazaan what he had to do. The children. The old people. They could not survive, not in the harshness of the winter that was rapidly closing in. Nothing for it, no choice. They had to surrender him, Gazaan had to hand Garth over into the cruel clutches of the Krottak. Leave him to his own devices. For the sake of the tribe.
Yes, Garth knew what that meant. They all did, they had witnessed it often, their young men mutilated for daring to fight. Handing Garth over was condemning him to hell. But what choice did they have? No point in thinking it over, Garth answered back. Why sleep on it, he answered back? By nightfall tonight, that was the deadline. The decision was made for them. Mabat had them by the throat. No choice.
2.   The Krottak: Predators
They made no pretence of subterfuge, none at all, not bothering to keep hidden, the Krottak wanted to show the Maru party it was being watched. To know their every move was monitored. The party bringing the prisoner in was being kept under observation. Gazaan had set out with his party at first light. Garth, the chief and five men riding out by horseback. The tribe had stood in silence, watching with heavy heart. Knowing what was happening, knowing what their champion was condemning himself to. Garth had ordered Lenana not to appear. Not to be there when he rode out to his certain death. Death – and probably worse. Not sure if he too would find the strength to go ahead with this folly if she was watching him leave.
His last night with Lenana had not been easy. She was furious, he was deserting her. Just when she needed him. Both of them knew why he was doing it. He was protecting their unborn child. No one else knew about the baby, Lenana was not showing yet. To give Lenana a chance to bring their baby into some sort of decent life, – Garth was having to sacrifice his own. She had wept, she had beaten him sobbing about the chest. But even when her crying had calmed, still her body had resisted his comforting hand. Too angry at him, too distraught to accept his offer. He was sacrificing himself, for the greater good. But what about her? Them?
High above the valley floor, secure on the top of the ridge, Garth had spotted a single Krottak soldier watching from afar. Letting it be seen the party was being watched bringing in their champion. Intimidating them. For hours as they rode on. At a distance, observed, no doubt ferrying back the message that the Earthman was being brought in. The Mura were ostensibly surrendering their own general, – secretly with a heavy heart. Seemingly paying a ransom with this betrayal. With Garth’s ransom they were bringing home their own chief’s sons.
But did it go against the grain! Angered that their brave efforts over the months to drive the Krottak off had come to nothing. They were crawling on their hands and knees to beg, to submit their champion to Krottak demands. Knowing that they were laughing at them for getting themselves tricked. Mocking their heavy hearts caught in this act of betrayal. Forced into committing this sacrifice. This sacrilege.
For hours riding on, guilty at what they were doing. Observed all the way, hearing the Krottak mockery. Knowing Garth had been right in persuading them into this betrayal. But resenting that Mabat had tricked them. Guilty at sacrificing the man who had given them hope. Riding on, the journey interminable with their guilt. Feeling the eyes of their enemy drilling into their backs. Feeling guilty. Condemning their hero to hell – and worse. The bright light of the day mocking the darkness of their spirits. The sun rising high, the late autumn sun warming their backs – even as winter took hold of their hearts.
2. The Krottak: Welcome
The horses were tired, they needed rest. But the scent of water lifted their heads, picking up speed and heading for the river. Looking forward to the drink. The river that separated them from Krottak lands. The river beyond which Mabat ruled with an iron hand. A vicious fist of steel.
Tension rose even as the horses tried to pick up speed. The scent of the water prickling in their nostrils. But the riders were reining them back. Spotting on the other side the welcoming party. A troop of Krottak soldiers, maybe twenty. Armed. Welcoming them on the other side.
“What is it you want?” As if they didn’t know! After all, Mabat had demanded Garth be brought. But this was no occasion to provoke a fight. “We bring you the Earthman.” Garth heard a tremble in Gazaan’s voice. Not showing he was intimidated by this show of strength. But nevertheless Gazaan was revealing his guilt at his betrayal. “The Earthman? What is that?” The Krottak were playing a game. But Gazaan was holding a weak hand.
Gazaan hesitated for a moment. Wondering if this all might be some mistake. Maybe Syda had been hysterical at the sight of her brothers and had got the message wrong. Was Gazaan about to make a terrible mistake? No need to hand over Garth. Them defiantly he continued. “I bring Queen Mabat the Earthman. In exchange for my sons The Earthman as ransom for my sons.”
Suddenly a commotion. Unexpectedly the troop of soldiers plunged into the river. Driving their horses through the water. Water spraying everywhere. Upsetting the Maru’s horses, already frisky at being kept from their drink. Loud yelling as Krottak troops spurred on their steeds through foaming spray. A sight meant to intimidate. Encircled by enemy soldiers. Whooping and yelling, weapons drawn. Twenty of them racing around a hddle of a half-dozen men and their prisoner. Coming unarmed, coming in peace. On a mission of betrayal. Fighting their frightened horses, fighting down their own emotions. Wanting to strike back, knowing they did not dare.
“Prisoner? I see no prisoner.” The enemy officer sat tall in his saddle. Glaring at Gazaan. “There is no prisoner here.” Gazaan was shaking his head, unnerved. Seeing themselves trapped, unarmed and surrounded by troops of their enemy. Out-numbered, without weapons. Unthinking, he gestured with his thumb. Pointing out Garth. Regretting his move in the almost same moment.
The officer snapped his head around. He kicked his horse to move, moving over to Garth. Eyeing him. Sizing him up, a tall giant seated high on his horse. Staring him aggressively back. The pair eyed each other in hostile silence. A burning look. Breathing deep, their legs nearly touching. A long exchange of defiant glares. Two implacable enemies, neither giving way.
Suddenly, a flash. A glint of metal. Just in time, Garth saw the battle-axe. He glimpsed in the blur of light the weapon heading for his shoulder. Twisting out of the way, evading the thwack of heavy metal into bone. Just in time. Surprised. Then surprised again. A kick into his side. Feeling himself falling, plummeting sideways off his horse.
The Krottak officer laughed. His boot had deftly caught the arrogant giant. Got him as he was twisting out of the way. Unbalancing him, shoving him out of his saddle. Mocking the muscular big-head falling off his horse. Hitting the earth with a grunt.   Kicked sprawling to the dirt. “Now I see. I see a prisoner now. Down on the earth. The Earthman. In the dirt. That’s where your captive belongs.”
2. The Krottak: Prey
Taken by surprise, Garth was plummeted off his horse. Shocked by tahe two-pronged attack, his shoulder took all his weight. Slamming into the hard earth. A grunt of pain escaped before he could stop it. The grunt exploded when his head smashed into the ground.
But recovering fast. Realising what had happened. Instincts burst into action. Already fists balled for a fight, testosterone pounding in his blood. Overcoming the thudding in his head. Ignoring the burning in his side. Sheer instinct, springing to his feet. Already up on one knee. Now looking up. Looking up into a half dozen spears aimed at his face.
Catching himself. Remembering. Recalling what this was about. He was Mabat’s prisoner. Ostensibly the Maru had betrayed him, though in fact he was given himself into Krottak hands. That shock-incident was what this was all about, being kicked off his horse, thrown into the dirt. Treated as muck. That was the first occurrence, this was the choice he had made. Undoubtedly the first incident of many. Catching himself Garth stayed down. Less intimidated by the weapons pointed at him. More constrained by the part he was playing here. Garth had tied himself in these knots. Helping the Maru out. He was a Krottak captive. That was why he was here, kicked into this dirt. Now it was happening, though, it felt harder to take. But Garth made himself. He forced himself. Made himself breath deep, hard. Relaxing his tensions. Staying down on his knees. No longer fighting back. However much it hurt his pride. And it did hurt seeing that Krottak officer on his horse glorying over him. Feeling that smirk of superiority sweep over him.
“You say you are bringing Queen Mabat a prisoner?” The Krottak officer was sneering into Gazaan’s face. Garth felt anger. He knew his fists could easily wipe that smirk off the man’s face. But ….. “A prisoner? Brought in on a horse? Riding? As your equal? Riding a horse?” Garth could read Gazaan’s anger. The chief wanted the same as Garth. Even if surrounded, even though out-numbered, without arms, Gazaan wanted to strike out, – regardless. But he also wanted his sons back. And Garth had given him the only way to do that.
“You think Queen Mabat should accept such an offer?” Garth knew Gazaan was torn two ways. What Gazaan really wanted was to get somewhere near Mabat and slit her throat. “You want I show you how?”
The officer didn’t wait. His nod had a pair of his soldiers grabbing Garth’s arms. Garth, still down on his knees, saw his hands seized. Watched coarse rope scrapping around his wrists. Pulled tight, making him wince. Hands tied across his front. Forced to watch passively his own binding, made submissive by his own will, forced into being taken prisoner of the evil murderers he had fought against for months. Delivered up by his own conflicted friends standing helplessly by.
The officer had dismounted. Standing right in front of Garth. Lording it over his capture. Garth could easily have jerked forward. Butting him in the nuts. It would have cost, it would have meant a good beating. It would have been as easy as sin. And just as much fun. Thing was, how far would it have got Gazaan’s plight? Hands had moved to Garth’s feet. Ankles crossed over the top of each other. Rope again scraping coarse into his bare skin. Garth was hog-tied, ankles, wrists.
“This a prisoner? Or is this piece of human shit your friend? Your hero?” Garth knew the answer. He felt for Gazaan. Knowing how he was torn apart. Knowing Gazaan would have wanted anything else in the world if it had been humanly possible. Garth was momentarily distracted by his thoughts. Not ever-alert for this move. Shocked by the smack across the back of his head. Taken unawares by the shove across his shoulder. Throwing him face-first into the dust. Turning his head just in time to save his nose. Landing with a grunt. Smacking his head into the dust. Angered, trying to rise. Stopped by a boot jammed across the back of his neck. Feeling his face ground into the dirt. Remembering quickly his place.
“Doing you a favour, chief.” Garth could not see Gazaan’s reaction. Every time he had tried to react, the boot in his neck jarred down harder and ground his nose into the earth. “You bring a prisoner in like this … riding a horse? Arriving in dignity? Like some hero   … ” Down on his front, bound hand and foot, Garth wondered what was going on. Around he could hear inexplicable sounds. Like banging, like chopping. “…. stands to reason, don’t it? Someone’s gonna think your heart’s not in it   …” Garth knew it wasn’t. That was Gazaan’s quandary. “Queen Mabat’s not gonna accept THIS ….” Garth felt what he could not see, the Krottak officer sweeping his hands disdainfully over Garth’s broad back, a contemptuous move over his strong torso imprisoned on the earth. ”   someone’s gonna think this is some kind of joke ….” It wasn’t. But this had to be. Garth knew that Gazaan had had to steel himself. There was going to be no easy way out of this hostage crisis.
“Doing you a favour, chief. Making sure your offering passes inspection.” It happened with no warning. Garth’s feet were suddenly grabbed, lifted, he felt something hard and rough passing between his calves. Putting pressure on his bound ankles. Forcing apart his legs. “Don’t want THIS rejected …. do we?” After the emotional turmoil Gazaan had gone through, Garth knew the answer better than his friend the chief. Suddenly surprised by his torso being lifted, his hands being roughly pulled out from underneath him. Pulled out in front of his head and then Garth was dropped onto his face again. Before getting the drift of what was happening, feeling hands on his wrists. Raising his arms upwards. A tension was being pulling down his arms and into his armpits. Panicking somewhat as he felt that thing slip between his bound wrists too. Something rough scraping over his back and between his shoulders, inserted through the wrists held out in front of his head. Feeling nervous, sensing something bad. Krottak-bad. Fearing the worst.
2. The Krottak: The catch
It was unstoppable, the strained groan. A long sustained expression of pain. He was being raised, Garth’s chest was being lifted off the ground. His whole torso was being raised off the earth. His whole weight taken by back-bent joints. From the first moment a grinding pain screwed into his joints, a gnawing hurt grating through muscle, dragging hurt out of tendons. Slowly Garth felt the sensations change. From gnawing to biting. The pain started biting hard and sharp. As sharp as rodents’ teeth. Biting into his armpits. Crunching on his elbows. An intense burning began to grow down the length of his arms. Now he’d been pulled up in the air, his arms dragged high up in front of his head. A pole between his bound wrists. Arms stretched out in front of his head. Hanging by his wrists off a pole. His muscled bodyweight hanging down off the pole. An intense torture on tendons, dragging pain out of sinews, threatening to dislocate him at his elbows. Joints pulling against nature. Pain growing, promising to get unbearable. Hurt growing into pain, pain giving way in time to agony. Hanging off the pole, his feet pulled upwards, dangling in the air. Suspended off bound ankles and wrists. Racked backwards off the pole. Pain ripping with sharp claws down his arms. Agonies clawing at his shoulder joints. Hell. Within the first moments it was hell. And a dread of how this hurt was going to grow flashing exponentially through his guts.
Garth braced himself, holding himself rigid, muscles trying to control movement, trying to reduce the strain. Even as the Krottak lifted him, he was being jerked, deliberately being jostled. A pole between his wrists, his arms stretched out in front. Dangling off the pole, bent backwards. The pole between his ankles too. Putting a tremendous strain on his back-bent thighs, arching his back, twisting his backbone backwards. Garth winced at each and every move, feeling his arms pulling at their sockets. An intense pain felt like he had been stabbed by a knife in the back of his neck. Felt like a heavy weight had crushed him in the small of his back. Hell, it was hellish. Grimacing in sharp pain – like a spear was being scored down his arms and was stabbing into his armpits. Racked off the pole, every muscle in his body rigid. Rigid with pain.
The Krottak had no intention of carrying him. They were victors not porters. Maru men were ordered to take over. The Krottak releasing the prisoner into their care. Uncaringly lifting Garth and dropping him onto two Maru shoulders. Garth let go a sharp grunt as the Krottak settled his muscle-heavy weight onto the fresh porters’ shoulders. Garth heard his captors laughing at his hiss of shock, he heard them mock, enjoying themselves. Ridiculing his spasms of pain.
Garth had had no reason to expect kid-glove treatment, the Krottak troops hated him, he had seen them regularly humiliated. They were not going to make things easy on him. In his journeys he had often known pain. This tortured journey to the Krottak stronghold, though, probably was going to beat anything he had known. And cruelly it was his Maru friends being made to torture him. Garth’s ankles either side of the pole behind, his wrists stretched out in front, his muscled bodyweight dangling below the pole. Hell. Bloody hell. Garth’s friends forced to carry him like this, forced to witness the agony they themselves were made to inflict on him. A vicious streak, these Krottak had. This was their own special twist on subjugation and torture.
Within five minutes, pain in straining joints pulled against nature had become unbearable. The backward drag on his spine mocked nature and ground agonies through his tortured torso. His legs were naturally strong. From boyhood he had become used to hard work. Years in sports and training had given him world-class muscles in his thighs. But the pull on his powerful muscles for these enduring hours, the burning agonies of strong muscle locked in the same position – for countless hours – it was more than Garth could do not to cry out. Letting go the frustrations, releasing the pain. Often. Taken at walking pace to the Krottak stronghold. Transported by his own friends at the speed of a walking man. Hours of swinging off the pole. For hours the sweat of pain trickling off his body. Being brought to Mabat weakened by pain. Suffering in crippling frustration that this endless suffering seemed to know no end. Sweat dripped off Garth’s face. Unspeakable agonies had his body crushed by steel bands. The strain down his out-stretched arms and into his armpits had his face contorted into a permanent clench. He thought sometimes he’d pass out, overcome with crippling pain. Unbearable. But nature was not so kind.
The sun had been at its highest when they had encountered the Krottak at the river. It was still at full strength when the parade of horror saw the Krottak stronghold in the far distance. Hours of unspeakable agony had passed. Hours still to go when in every minute Garth feared a joint would give up the fight. Saved only by the strength in his body fighting back, helped by the power of his physique. But Garth had kept himself in one piece at a cost. A cost to his strength, a price paid by his nerves. Worked by Krottak cruelty to break down his resolve. Garth was shattered. Physically suffering as rarely before.
Ironic that he should crave to reach that destination. The place when the Krottak would take him and torture his physique on the wheel of fate. He could hope they would execute him outright. A spear to the heart, finished, the Maru insurrections obliterated, out-of-the-way. But everything he had learned of the Krottak whispered mockingly that was a forlorn hope. They’d play with him, toy with him, torture him. Make him suffer, make him endure the unendurable. Make him pay for humiliations suffered. Only when they were bored would they give his tormented body peace. Hung off this pole, every step his Maru friends took tortured Garth, for hours plodding on foot over the dry-rock desert floor, stumbling, cursing themselves for the pain they caused him. Welling up with tears at his shocked yelp, demoralised by their act of betrayal. Right now nothing seemed more desirable to Garth than to be delivered into Krottak hands. To be thrown into their torture chambers. To be strung up in their dungeons. Better than this eternal hell hanging off the pole.
2. The Krottak: Krottak stronghold
Ingenious. As a form of torture, it was inspired. His hands in front, the highest point of his body. Behind, his ankle ropes twisted his legs back up. His whole body was back-twisted out of shape. Like caught on some medieval torture wheel of his own devising. His belly extended, downwards, his muscular abs for hours stretched on a rack. The vertebrae of his back were crushed for space, the nerves jangled as bones jostled for space. Ingenious this Krottak torture device. As a torture device remarkable simple. As a torture device incredibly effective. Tortured by his own body weight, Tortured by his friends gingerly stepping forward, delivering him with heavy hearts into Krottak hands. Into a living hell. A hell which Garth had brought on himself. Ironic he had had to persuade the Maru to deliver him up. Into a hell of his own devising. If Garth had needed any convincing of what fate he was submitting himself to, these hours dangling in torment off that pole left him in no doubt.
At the stronghold his Maru attendants gently lowered Garth to the ground. It was impossible not to let out a moan of relief. Garth had been going out of his mind with the suffering of being hung like this. Road-kill, treated worse than a dead animal. Every muscle at screaming pitch. The earlier terror of his shoulders dislocating had been drowned out by insufferable agonies that seemed to know no end. Relief flooded his body when they lowered him to the ground. Gently, kindly. His Maru porters knew of his suffering. They shivered with guilt at the groans that Garth no longer managed to suppress. Irrelevant that now his life of torture was about to begin. Best thing for now, the agony of that hanging had stopped. Face down in the dirt, he eased muscles, he tested his joints. Foolish. Every movement only gave him further agony, every thought of finding out where he did not hurt brought him knowledge there was no such place. He trembled in respite on his front on the ground, oddly grateful the torture of the journey was over. Ironically pleased that he’d arrived at the place where his suffering was about to begin.
“This is a tribute to Queen Mabat, you say?” Garth had lain passively on his front, down in the dirt. He knew he hurt, he hurt everywhere. All he wanted was to be left. Left to wallow in the fact that he was not being transported. Content for now to lie recovering on his front and let the welcome balm of not moving waft over him. The Krottak thought otherwise. “Then get the fucker to his feet.”
Rough soldier talk got the Maru moving. They were playing a part, supposed to be bringing in their prisoner, handing over the Earthman as ransom. Nevertheless they tried to lift him without hurting. Impossible, pain was ingrained in every movement. Torture had been pumped into every muscle of his body. The Maru cringed uncomfortably at their friend’s hisses, trying not to hurt their champion further as they got him to his feet. Clenching their teeth in guilt as he groaned at every movement, they shuddered at his every twitch. His journey here had been Krottak torture at its cruel best. Defeating even Garth’s prodigious resolve, crippling even his enviable physique.
“Over there.” The Krottak sergeant pointed to the gate to the stronghold. “Bring him there.” Garth’s hands were still bound across his front, his feet were tied. His friends were forced to drag him. Holding Garth by his tortured arms, – trying not to hurt him too much. Pulling his bound feet over the burning earth. Garth winced, a sharp intake of breath at their every step. “Set him here.” Stood at an arm’s length away, Garth was looking straight into the closed gate to the Krottak stronghold. In his wildest dreams he had dreamed of assailing this gate, breaking it down and slaughtering the Krottak in their beds. Now, bound hand and foot, he was staring into the closed entrance to their stronghold. Hurting in every pore of his body. Exhausted to his core. “Wait.”
They waited. The Maru waited. Garth waited an interminable time. Outside the closed gateway to the Krottak stronghold. Staring at a closed gate. Made to await Queen Mabat’s summons. Made to attend her Krottak majesty’s will.
2. The Krottak: Hand-over
The day had been warm. But it was the tortures in Garth’s body that burned more wildly in his flesh. And …. the tension. Made to wait. A trick that was meant to play on his nerves. For the Maru the idea of sacrificing their champion to the Krottak eat away at their souls. They were obligated to Garth for everything. Now forced to hand him over to their sworn enemies. Knowing what that foretold. Gazaan was torn. He had heard Garth’s logic, he had bent to Garth’s resolve. AND he wanted his sons free. But his people owed everything to this Earthman. He had given them hope. His skills in fighting had given them success. They had kept the Krottak at bay – thanks alone to him. Now they were handing him over, selling him out, betrayal, of the worst kind. For his own piece of mind, Gazaan would have wanted this over with, this betrayal. Hand Garth over and collect his sons. Then flee. Run away from his guilt. But they were bid to wait. No matter Gazaan was getting back his sons. It cut him to the quick that he was handing over this man to whom his tribe owed everything. And this waiting was driving him insane.
“Not the prisoner.” The Maru waited, made to wait, they passed around the water sacks. Not even allowed to give his friend Garth water. He was forced to stand right up against the closed gates. No one could talk to him, no one could take away any nervousness at what lay for him beyond those gates. Not a word of friendship, no comfort, no distraction. Just the torture of being made to wait – and anticipate. The wait outside the gates was torture itself. The dying sun was losing its strength. But it could have been the chilliest of days. A sense of misery had their hearts in its grip. Guilt ate away at them.
Krottak guards scrutinised their wait outside. When Gazaan had nodded to his men to offer Garth water, they were hustled back. Garth was forced to stand there, his face almost pressed against the mighty gates of the fortress. No food, no water. Only thing allowed for his guts was the dread of what lay for him waiting behind those gates. A waiting game. Made to let the Maru know who was boss here. Made to weaken Garth’s strength of mind – imagining what horrors welcomed him.
Abandoned to his thoughts, Garth reviewed his options. Escape – he could try and get away. Somehow he sensed that was not on the cards, the Krottak had given every indication he was not someone they wished to see go. Die – he could get himself killed. Could the Krottak get so vengeful that they’d overstep the mark? Not if the Krottak had anything to do with it. Letting him die quickly was too easy a way out. Endure – take everything they threw at him. Defy the bastards, fight them every inch of the way. Show to the Krottak he had rightly justified his title, the Earthman, a living myth. A hard decision, a risky strategy, one that would cost him dear. But whatever, Garth had no doubt, – he’d have no say in the matter.
They were devils, these Krottak. Monsters, masters of brutish cruelty. But you could not fault their mastery of technique. You wanted to learn how to torture, Garth had to admit, there was no one better. Physically, mentally. He’d been transported here in agonies. And now left staring for hours at their closed gate. Inevitably the waiting had been getting to him. The nerves had started working on him. Torn between wishing he could stand here for the rest of his life, wishing he’d wake up and this nightmare would be gone. And ironically also wanting the gates to swing open. To get the hell on with things. Torn, at conflict with himself. But feeling his pulse had lifted, knowing he had started getting jittery. Getting himself under control again, in response to his loss of control, breathing deeply. But then the nerves got the better of him again. Wishing – and not wishing – things would get moving.
Unexpectedly the enormous wooden gates in front of Garth’s nose started to swing open. He felt his pulse start to race, he steeled himself. Whatever his desires to get over his suffering when he’d been suspended off the pole, whatever he had been wishing to get this waiting over with, – this was it, this was now real. The gates of hell were opening before his eyes. To reveal a party stood 20 yards away. A woman and about a dozen armed men.
“I am Dikton, general to Queen Mabat. What have you brought, peasant?” The woman’s insult did not faze Gazaan, he was used to this kind of arrogance from the Krottak. “I am Gazaan. Chief of the Maru.” The general made no reaction. As if the appearance of a chief was nothing to her. Seemingly unfazed Gazaan gave back his authority as chief. “We bring Queen Mabat a gift.” Amused Dikton snorted. “I see no gift. I see only shit.”
Gazaan remembered the script. Garth had persuaded him of it. “I bring Queen Mabat the Earthman. The one named Garth. For months he has led my young men astray. Fighting against your armies, shaming my tribe.” Garth knew how much it cost Gazaan to say such things. “Enough is enough,” Gazaan managed to sound decisive. “We bring this troublemaker in humble tribute. We offer this troublemaker who has led my men astray, a tribute to Queen Mabat. To do with him as she pleases. We are well rid off him.”
The general nodded. Mentally Garth found himself struggling against the self-same situation he had wished on himself. The Krottak guards who had kept guard over him these past hours grabbed at his arms. Garth had to steel himself and work hard on himself not to teach them a lesson for such impudence. He felt coarse rope being threaded through the crook of his elbow, scraped across his back and dragged through the other elbow. To keep himself looking strong, he stared undaunted across at the general. He was their prisoner, he had been delivered into Krottak hands. By his own wishes. But he was still going to show them his strength of mind. The rope threaded through his elbows was pulled tight behind, pulling his elbows together behind his back, pulling the rope around his wrists tighter. Flattening his hands tight across his belly. Whatever hopes Garth might have harboured as he had stared long hours at the closed fortress gates were gone. Any pleasure he might have promised himself of thwacking some Krottak soldier two-handed across the jaw had been stolen away. His bonds were tighter, he couldn’t use his hands, Garth’s fighting strength had been disabled by Krottak tactics. Had they anticipated he was not going to give in as easily as that? These Krottak guards grabbed Garth by the upper arms. Tipped him forward and dragged his bound feet over the earth into the courtyard. In an instant Garth knew that his body had not recovered from his journey here. Hung by the arms between a pair of Krottak soldiers, his feet dragging behind, pain swept over his whole body. The agonies of his journey off that pole had not left his body.
“Stay!” The general raised her hand when the Maru offered to follow Garth into the courtyard. “What place has your presence within Queen Mabat’s stronghold. Stay outside.” Gazaan obediently halted at the gates. “We offer the Earthman in tribute of Queen Mabat’s rule,” he called over to the general. He knew this was done to make him look stupid, ordering him not to enter the fortress, he knew what they were playing at. But his demeanour gave no sign that he was being humbled by this. “We ask only that she accepts this gift as token of our respect …. Gazaan gave a slight deferential bow before getting to the point of the negotiations. ” … and request she will return to us our two recalcitrant sons …?”
Garth had been dragged into the courtyard by the Krottak soldiers. Every step hurt. Hung by his upper arms off the two guards, feeling again how far the limits of his tortured body had been taken on the journey here. His shoulders trembled for this to stop. He was a long way from recovery. Unceremoniously he had to let himself be dragged towards Mabat’s general. Getting there, hauled to his feet. Then a hard blow behind his knees crumpled him to his knees. Kneeling at the feet of Dikton, Mabat’s general.
“Recalcitrant sons? That would be the snivelling cowards groaning for their lives in our dungeons?” Garth knew how much it cost Gazaan to grovel like this. How it hurt to deliver Garth up. For the sake of his sons, – Gazaan had to. It had taken a long time to over-rule him. Even on the journey here, Garth still had had to work on Gazaan to persuade him to hold his tongue. Even now, mentally Garth had his fingers crossed, not sure, he willed Gazaan to behave himself and do what they had agreed.
After a weighty silence, Gazaan replied. “The same. They will be punished for their high spirits. They will acknowledge their transgressions.” Garth uncrossed his fingers. Gazaan was playing to the script.
On his knees before the Krottak general Garth looked up. Dikton left a weight silence before she replied. “I will relay your request to the queen. For this shit of a gift …” her disdainful hand swept over the bound Garth on his knees at her feet. “… in the queen’s name … I thank you. What this piece of shit is worth … ” Her eyes cast downwards, the curl of her lips said Garth was worth very little … ” …. the queen will consider.” Her gaze turned on Gazaan, negotiating like crazy to have his sons set free. Riven by guilt at sacrificing his friend Garth to Krottak mercies … “Is THIS ….” Dikton’s hand dismissed the shit on his knees in front .. ” .. worth the release of two rebels? THAT question Queen Mabat will decide.” Standing outside the stronghold, forbidden to enter, seeing their champion on his knees, bound hand and foot, sacrificed by them into his enemies’ hand, Gazaan shivered. He could but hope. But the deed was done.
“Go home. Your sons will return to you …” The gates started shutting. Closing the Maru delegation outside. Locking Garth inside. Ending the negotiations. “… if her majesty so decides.”
The gates were still closing. Slowly, deliberately slowly. So that from the outside the Maru could see the attack. Fists broke out. Clubs descended. On his knees, bound hand and foot, Garth had no defence. Kicked in the belly, eaten about the back. Held up by the head, slapped across the face. Boots stomped into his guts. Slowly the gates closed to. The Maru’s last sight of their hero – their champion Garth beaten to the floor, crumpling to the dirt. Feet kicking him. Boots stomping onto his helpless torso. The gates closed. Locking the Maru outside. Trapping their champion in Krottak hands. Their last sight, their Earthman-myth having the crap beaten out of him.
Ransomed (2) A Garth Serial by Rendszeretlen
Part Two
3. Strategy: Abandoned
He came-to in near-darkness. He hurt, everywhere. His body was made to remember the beating before his memory did. Hissing out at his first movements. Garth stood head and shoulders above these Krottak. He was a muscular giant to their slighter wiry frames. But they’d found their way to cutting him down to size. Clubs, punches, boots. Fists to the face, bludgeoned in the guts. Punches in low below the belt. Evil-minded blows thudded into his back. When they released their grip on his arms, his awkward stance on bound legs let him down. Falling to the sandy earth, a fist stunned him across the head. Boots pounded at his abs, going for his backbone. Stomped on by vindictive heels. Kicked at by sadistic feet. After those hours of torment off that pole, even his famed toughness started closing down.
As they dragged him away into the cells, Garth was nearly passing out. Still they had him helpless, bound hand and foot, bouncing him down the steps, dropping him outside a cell. Bundling him inside with more kicks, releasing his bonds, their boots dishing out a few reminders before abandoning him. Leaving him hurting, leaving his reeling body to give in and find a home in restless unconsciousness.
He’d come-to hurting. In the distance down some underground passageway there was a faint light. A torch flickering on the wall somewhere. Confirming to Garth that he was behind bars. In his own private cell, in a dank cold dungeon made for him. No other sounds of human life, abandoned to this darkness, buried somewhere underground. Abandoned and forgotten. Garth suspected not, though – just the lull before the storm. Hands and feet free now, Garth felt at the damage. Gently easing fingers over the wrists scraped raw from his weight dragging at them from the pole. Tentatively feeing at his belly. The slightest pressure confirming how hard a kicking his abs had taken. He eased himself up against the damp wall, every fibre in his body protesting at the movement. The muscles of his back confirming the punishment they had taken. Unthinking pushing down on his hands to right himself, his shoulders hit back. Yelling at him for the stupidity of such a move. Reminding him how they had nearly been dislocated hour after hour on his journey here. Garth was in a sorry state, his toughness had taken punishment – and he had only just arrived here.
Drifting in-and-out of unconsciousness, often. Hurting, thirsty, hungry. With rest slowly coming to some semblance of his former self. His powers of recovery had always been extraordinary. In the moments of painful lucidity, his first chance to think since that battle-axe going for his head had unseated him. How to play this now? How to play this game? He was their prisoner but no rules said he had to accept that fact. Those bastards had started re-writing the rules. He had voluntarily turned himself in. Ransomed for Gazaan’s two sons. The Krottak had turned on him, tortured him for hours off the pole. And then afterwards weak and tortured, bound and helpless, they had beaten him senseless. They evil sods had laid into him. Just for the sake of it. Who did they think they had on their hands? Did they reckon he was going to take this lying down? Like hell they did.
Those Krottak bullies had upped the game. Hung off that pole like some beast caught in the hunt. Treated worse than some animal. Brought in with pure premeditated torture, the bastards had got off on that unadulterated sadistic torture. No chance bringing him in like that, all planned. And the bastards had enjoyed it. Mindless brutality like that turned the Krottak on. And they had more of the same coming down the line for him – Garth could bet on that.
He was their prisoner now. He was hurting, beaten shitless, – the crap beaten out of him when he couldn’t strike back. Done for a laugh. Because they could. He was in their dungeon, in their hands. But if they thought he was going to cringe and beg, – they were gonna have another think coming. Roll over and let them do as they pleased? When they came for him, what would they be expecting? Did they think he’d take this lying down? Cringing, anxious, begging for mercy?
Would he hell! He’d piss them off, he decided. Nothing got up the enemy’s nose than when he refused to give. Not show any sigh of fear. To hell with looking beaten, he’d give back harder than he took. Never rising to their taunts. Not answering back. Not even giving them the time-of-day. Treat them like the scum they were. Nothing pissed an enemy off more than rising above their best attempts to make him cringe. Lashing out, he’d make them fight him every inch of the way. Gonna deny the bastards every bit of satisfaction for whatever they threw at him. He’d pay for it of course. It’d bring out the worst in them. But it would get right up their noses. And he’d go down with the satisfaction that he had got to them when they hadn’t got him. Striking back, sneering at their best efforts like that – that was a masterly stroke they could not beat. Look beaten, seem anxious, give some show of capitulation, – no chance of that happening. And they’d crave just that – his capitulation. Wanting to see him squirm, hear him beg. Beating the shit out of him till he did. No way, he was going to deny them that, refused them their greatest hopes. He was their prisoner, not some docile poodle. Come-to-think of it, – probably Garth would been doing them a favour too. He reckoned these guards ‘d be grateful for him giving them any excuse. Bring it on, then, you mindless bastards.
A meeting of the minds, then. War. Because that was just what they were going to get. He’d hated these bastards for months, he’d seen what they were capable of. He’d lost friends to their sadistic tricks. These bastards owed. Even in this seemingly unpromising situation, he had a plan. His defiance would piss them off big-time. And Garth was not a man to let his debtors get off lightly, – particularly when they thought they held all the cards. After what the Krottak had done to him in the past few hours – outwitted, that torture off the pole, that thrashing when defenceless – Garth was in no mood to take anything lying down. His fists itched to crack a few Krottak jaws. It would cost – but heck, what had he got to lose? Their prisoner, in their dungeon – whatever, Garth was far from finished with the Krottak yet.
3. Strategy: Motivation
It had been an odd romance. Garth had spotted Lenana the very first night he was accepted in the Maru camp. The Maru had not been sure how to take him, this stranger from nowhere. They had never heard of where he came from, he dared not tell them the truth. But Muran had convinced them he was no Krottak. And his father the chief was curious about this far-seeing giant. His ideas, his plans. This Earthman. Where was that? Why was he here?
A girl had brought food. Unassuming, not saying a word, entering with food and drink. Leaving without saying a word. Not a single look had they exchanged. But when she had left, for Garth suddenly the hut had felt empty. He had had his women.   Often he was passing just through. His time with women was along the same lines. Often enough Time-and-Space had passed him on, no warning, usually he couldn’t do otherwise.
This time was different, Garth seemed stuck in some time-warp, he didn’t pass on. At first he watched the woman from some distance. Attracted but strangely at odds about what to do about it. Not his usual self with a woman he liked. He shared a hut with the chief’s two son’s. And nightly his dreams were visited by visions of this woman with whom he had not spoken one single word. But still he did not make a move. Feeling oddly awkward.
He’d been down at the river. Back from a skirmish he had led against the Krottak. Hard fighting, success by the skin-of-the-teeth. Stripping off in the river, letting the waters massage his anxieties that they had only just got away with their daring attack. Stepping from the water, resting on the banks, letting the warmth of the sun do its restorative job on his bare body. Garth had fallen asleep. They had got away with it, touch-and-go, the Krottak had been driven away, their tails between their legs. The Krottak again unsettled, they’d think again about entering Maru forests. Garth had come to. Feeling better for his rest, enjoying the warm sun wakening his bare body. Feeling more at one with the world.
He opened his eyes at a sound. Surprised, faintly awkward. She was sitting opposite him. His naked body in full view. Doing nothing, saying nothing. Just looking. Not there for any reason. Except to be with him. Oddly Garth had felt embarrassed. Odd because normally he’d not be so shy. A good-looking woman, looking him over like that. Beautiful, her eyes full of the message, she was there for him. Oddly instinct had rolled him over on to his front. Hiding his nakedness from her sight. Strange in one normally so confident with the opposite sex. She didn’t say a word, she made not a single move. Her eyes were on his. Her face lightened, a smile broke on her lips. Garth frowned, uncertain. Then he rolled over, back onto his back. He sat up, naked to her sight. Tentatively he opened his arms. Wondering, inviting her in. Lenana complied.
She was full of anxiety for him when he went off fighting. Yet there was none of the predictable reckless passion when he returned safe, no making up for lost time. At first, just lying together. Long time saying nothing, just finding comfort in each other. Even their love-making took a steady pace. No wild obsession of the soldier fearing there’d be no tomorrow. No mindless craze to have it off, frantically going for it. Not driven by any lusts because he might be dead tomorrow. By contrast, a slow rhythmic adulation of each other. Adoration. A beautiful slow rhythm of love-making that chimed with the beauty of the universe. Garth had never known love like this.
When Lenana had said she was with child, Garth wanted nothing more out of life. The last thing he wanted was for the forces of physics to re-collide and whip him out of here. His destiny was here. He was going to be a father. Father to the child of the woman he had fallen in love with. Garth wanted nothing more. His destiny was with Lenana. He had melded his fortunes with those of the Maru. His battles against the Krottak were those of a father battling for his unborn child.
3. Strategy: Getting ideas
Echoing steps intruded on their love-making. Garth blocked them out, intent on the pleasure of pleasing the woman he loved. Passing his lower lip languorously over her nipple again. Feeling his breath coming back hot against her soft breast. Enjoying the feel of her firming more against his playing lip. Knowing his love was getting through when her hand tousled in his hair. He’d enter her now but softly, gently, tenderly. Eyes full on her, full of his love for her.
   The echoes persisted, they got annoyingly louder, footsteps clonking harsh on rocky ground. Irritated Garth wished them away. An intrusion had no place here, not at this place, not at this time. His time with his love. Dismissing them, Garth felt himself pushing forward. As if they had a life of their own his hips were gently rolling against Lenana’s leg. Telling her of him hard and willing, smiling at her feeling Lenana pushing back. Her thigh invitingly stroking against him. Tenderly smiling. Ready to take him.   Wanting to make him her own.
“Let’s have you, shithead.” Garth shot his eyes open. For a brief moment bewildered, not recognising this place. Perplexed by male voices, confused by the harsh tone, disoriented by the unfamiliar sights that flickered before his eyes. Then knowing, then remembering. The dungeon, the prison bars. And seeing Krottak soldiers standing outside, their torches shining on him from beyond his bars. “You’re summoned. On your feet.”
With sudden embarrassment Garth realised. He had a hard-on. Lying on his side on the hard rock floor, – when he obeyed their orders and got to his feet, they’d spot it immediately. And bastards like these, – they didn’t need any encouragement. He’d already taken crippling blows to the balls from them. These were the kind of men who got ideas at the drop of a hat. Letting them see him with a full-blown erection, – it was asking for trouble. He did not have to pretend his look of defiance, Garth shuffled himself up onto his backside. Then he slid back to lean against the wall. Staring back at them disrespectfully through the bars. One knee sliding up to cover himself, arms folded insolently over his chest. In a come-and-get-me pose. Seeing a half-dozen of them had come for him, armed and ready, clubs hanging off their belts, their bristling aggression illuminated in their flickering torches.
“Summoned?” he derided. “Any reason why I should care?” Buying himself time. Enough to let himself deflate. Long enough so they’d not notice and get ideas. He’d probably pay for insolence, they’d rough him up. But better than encouraging them to go for him there.
“Care? I’ll make you care, shithead. On your feet!” The officer who’d done Garth’s abs over looked like he’d look forward to it, too. Garth stayed seated. Wanna make me? The disrespectful message written in every pore. “Who’s the lucky woman? Who’s the woman who needs a real man to get her going?” Woman, it was bound to be a woman who had sent for him. Like that general who had let her goons loose on him. That was the surprising thing about these Krottak. – it was the women who called the shots. And it was the women who set the tone, cruel she-devils. When it came to dealing with their enemies, Garth knew the bitches had done to their prisoners, – he had no illusions, they were less than human. They had a way with them, a vicious female streak. And for the greater good he had volunteered himself into their hands.
So what did that say about the men who did women’s dirty work? His jibe was never going to go down well. Not to men fighters like these. That kind of male mockery was not going to go down well here, on that subject Garth suspected every male guard had had a sense-of-humour by-pass, a weakness to go for. The faces outside the bars just hardened. “Not gonna tell you again, shithead. Up!” Defiant Garth remained seated. He stared insolently back from the wall. Knees hiding his vulnerability from their sight. A giant’s formidable arms folded impressively over an expanse of hard-muscled chest. He knew he impressed, he was big, they were slight. He was intimidating them with everything he could. After all, he could see the clubs on their belts, he’d have to pay for it. But he was getting the message across, crystal-clear, the Earthman was not someone who took to being pushed around.
“Get him outta here, boys. Don’t mind how.” The gate into the cell was narrow, they could only come through one at a time. Before the door was unlocked, Garth was on his feet. His pained body protested. But no time for worrying. The first through the gate got a foot in the nuts, crumpling up, down on one knee. The second Garth had grabbed by the head, turned and rammed him head-first into the rock-wall. Two more had got inside his cell by the time he turned back. The first took a right-hander to the jaw, spinning him round, falling over the soldier nursing his crutch.
The rest were rushing the door now. The next through already had got out a club. Garth twisted out of its downward path. But still he took a sideswipe of a blow to the side of his head. Spinning him backwards. Head reeling. Seeing stars. Falling back into the wall as he sensed hands grabbing at him. Hands on his wrists, pinning his arms back against the rock-wall. Recovering quick, realising his situation. Cussing to give himself strength and push them off. But then his head was smashed back against the wall. Held there, pinned there. A club across his windpipe. Pressing backwards, crushing his skull into the rock behind. The club held two handed either side of his neck. Cutting off his wind. Throttling him.
A kick got him in the belly. Unable to move, pinned back by arms, held down at the windpipe, choking against the wall. Another knee kick got him hard in the guts. The first. Hard and vengeful. Joined by a club to his ribs. The first of many.
3. Strategy: Yoked
   “You’re gonna be fun, shithead. You know that?” Garth was still in his cell. They had released their grip on him. The choking had stopped. Garth had fallen to the ground. Gasping, heaving in air. His windpipe crushed, his chest on fire. He must have also taken over a dozen knee-kicks to the belly. Into muscle he’d struggled to flex and protect, struggling against the choking. Thwacked repeatedly across his ribcage. Pounded into his abs. Well-toned and strong. But they already taken a beating when he’d first arrived. His innards had already been hurting before this attack had started. “Keep this up – and we’ll be voting your our best ever ….”
A kick in his side emphasised the point. Hands pulled him up to his knees. “Don’t let me stop you ….,” Garth managed the insolence despite gasping for air. “Be my guest ….” The officer had Garth by the hair. Pulled his head up, laughing into a face contorted with choking. Snorting at Garth’s effort to catch his breath. “Some joker, you, Earthman ….” Yanking on Garth’s head, getting him to look up, straight into the path of a powerhouse of a punch. Catching Garth hard across the jaw. With such force that it twisted him over. Felling Garth back to the floor. “Get this piece of shit outta here.”
Hauled out of the cell, dragged by his feet. Still desperately fighting to get back his wind. Outside dumped on his back, yanked by a hand in his hair up to his knees, held by firm grips on his arms stretching them out to the sides. Garth fought to catch his breath. His whole torso was rocking with the effort as angrily he eyed back the guards. Making a mental note of each one. He’d be holed up here for some time. Sometime he get them, every one. He had every intention of returning the compliment. He saw them standing around. Itching. Itching to be let loose, to get their hands on him, to put this Earthman-shit in his place. Ironically Garth congratulated himself, he’d got away with hiding his hard-on. But he’d antagonised them like hell.
“Now we’ve got your attention …..” The officer was looking down on Garth, dominating the scene, a sadistic pleasure, lording it over his prisoner. ” ….. now you have to get dressed. Can’t have you meeting royalty. Not looking like that …..” Royalty? Was Garth going to meet that head-hellcat, eh? He’d not seen Mabat in all these weeks of struggles. This land was ruled by women. But it was the men who did their dirty work. Meet the queen. Suddenly things might be looking up. Was he going to get the chance to come up close? It would be the last thing he did – but if he had the chance, he’d crush the life out of that Mabat, … without any hesitation he’d do it. No questions asked.
He heard two more soldiers approaching from out of the gloom. Carrying something between them, something heavy. Garth glanced at it, didn’t understand, he shot a look at the officer for a clue. Seeing only him grin back at Garth’s uncertainty. Then Garth glanced back. A heavy piece of wood, some contraption made out of thick wood. A massive block of wood maybe six inches thick. He couldn’t make it out, didn’t understand what it was. But the pressure tightening on his arms betrayed it was something for him. Something he wasn’t going to be allowed to escape.
The soldiers were opening the ponderous contraption up, it was hinged in the middle. They made to slip it over his head. Garth got sight of a thick block of timber, maybe about 2 foot square and 6 inches thick. What the ….? His pulse pounding with uncertainty, Garth tried to resist. Not understand, not wanting to get caught in something that. Not knowing what it was but fearing it was going to restrict his freedom to fight back. Knowing full well whatever the hell the thing was, he wasn’t going to like it, – whatever they were going to use it for. The thing was heavy, very, the soldiers were struggling to lift up its weight to his shoulders and slot it around his neck. He made them struggle, he squirmed and made them struggle more. He wriggled, he tried to twist out of the way with his head as the guards were making to slip it over his shoulders. Fold it around his neck. But hands shoved his strugglings back to his knees. The tight grips on his out-stretched arms resisted his efforts just as hard, they fought back to keep him in his place. Garth tried again to rise to his feet to evade the thing. But sharp knee-kicks in the side kept him down.
Whatever the damned contraption was, it had a hinge, it was being folded around the back of his neck. In a moment, following a hard stomp onto his thigh, accompanied by an elbow hard onto the top of his skull, the guard had it around his neck. Despite his dogged fight-back they had it sitting on his shoulders, folded around his neck. Then Garth felt it closed around the back of his neck. Trapping his head in a hole in some heavy-weight wooden contraption.
It was heavy, damned heavy. When the soldiers let it go, Garth had to grab with his hands at the thing. Otherwise it felt it could break his neck. A huge square block of wood sitting on his shoulders. And his head sticking out of the top. Awkwardly the hole with his neck poking out was at the back, the damned thing was all unbalanced. The front flopped down onto his chest. Pulling his head forward, making him bend forward. A sudden irrational sensation exploded in Garth’s head. The damned contraption would make Garth bow his head to Krottak might!
Damn! It was like those stocks Garth had seen in the old films. Robin Hood-type movies where the outlaw was stuck in the stocks. Only these were portable, they sat across his shoulders, encasing his neck. His head sticking out of the top. Heavy, damnably heavy and unwieldy. And unbalanced, ungainly. Damned weird. This heavy thick wooden contraption sitting on his shoulders, ungainly, unbalanced, all the weight at the front. Garth had to use his hands from underneath to stabilise it, otherwise he was bent forward by it, the huge block of wood in front pulling forward, pulling down on his neck. There was so much thick wood in front of his face, it threatened to pull his face down towards the ground if his arms didn’t hold it up. It even felt like it could crack a few bones in his neck. The damned thing was so unwieldy Garth was forced into doing their Krottak dirty work himself, he had to hold it himself around his neck.
Garth was breathing hard. Still on his knees, angry at being overcome. Uncertain with being trapped into this strange contraption. Not understanding its purpose but knowing it was something hard to control. Taking much of the effort he’d wanted to turn on his guards. Panting from the effort of resisting, nervous at what they were up to. And now puffing, his nerves jumping, struggling with the effort of holding this damned thing still Arms made useless in his need to stop it from cricking his neck, using hands to balance it so it did not take control of him. He looked up. Into the smirking eyes of the officer. His own eyes immediately turned to hatred.
“Like I said, ….. need for you to be properly dressed. To meet royalty.” Garth was going into Mabat’s presence with a set of mobile stocks around his neck. Fat chance he’d able to surprise her like this. “Finish the job, then ….” Spoken harshly to his men. But Garth could see the bastard was enjoying getting this muscular giant into this fix.
A soldier approached. The thick wood in front of Garth’s face, it seemed, was hinged too. Opened up. Then hands wrenched Garth’s hands from supporting the stocks. It swayed clumsily on his neck as he let it go, yanking hard on his neck. Hands had a strong hold on his arms, pulling them in front. Inserted his wrists from underneath into two slots. And the guards then closed the device again. Garth’s fists were trapped, poking through in front of his face.   Sticking up through the stocks from underneath. This thing was weird, damned weird. But a piece of Krottak ingenuity that firmly disabled Garth’s ability to fight.
As he got his senses together, Garth realised it was like they had his arms trapped in a permanent bicep curl. Arms in front, elbows bent upwards at 90 degrees. And his wrists inserted up into the stocks. Poking through, right in front of his face, Garth was staring at his own clenched fists. Some damned weird restraining device. But bloody effective. It completely took away his ability to fight. A heavy wooden rectangle sitting on his menacingly powerful shoulders, completely robbing him of his famed strength. Head poking through a hole, neck trapped. And his arms supporting the damned thing from underneath, his hands poking through holes right in front of his eyes. A warrior’s prime weapons, his arms and shoulders, robbed of fighting power.
Heavy. And unbalanced. It seemed the thing kept his whole body distracted into the effort of keeping the thing bearable. Arms disabled, his wrists caught in the pair of holes. Back exposed, belly vulnerable. Not a damned thing he’d be able to do in defence while stuck in this device. Never mind his pipe-dream of a final fatal attack on Queen Mabat. Completely undone by this bloody contraption.
3. Strategy: Food for thought
Heavy, damned heavy. Uncomfortable. And bloody ungainly. His head poking through 6 inches of wood, arms locked underneath. So bloody heavy and awkward it threatened to wrench at his neck and tear at shoulder muscles. All his efforts were going into keeping it balanced. Using his arms. Hands locked in from underneath in the stocks. Deadly arms he had planned to let loose on Mabat in one final attack. And too soon Garth realised it wasn’t taking long before the strain began to tell. He could already feel first signs of a burn telling in his locked biceps. He was impressively strong there. But this was an iso exercise like nothing else. As time went on, even powerful biceps like his locked into a fixed position would burn, they’d tremble, on fire from constant unremitting strain.
“Hungry, shithead?” Garth hadn’t eaten since before dawn. Lenana had risen early. Determined to make some final gesture of feminine caring. Making him a breakfast that expressed all the love she felt for him. Not betraying the bitterness she felt that he was going to sacrifice himself like this. Abandon her, desert her – for the greater good. For their unborn child. With bitter sadness she had lovingly shared a last meal with him. But that had been hours ago.
It tasted foul. Heaven-knew what shit they had put into the gruel. But he hadn’t eaten, needs must. The buggers had just got started. From what had happened so far, Garth had no reason to think things were not going to get much worse. To stand up to their punishment, – not promising himself he was going to survive, just determined to have the strength not to break – Garth knew he needed to get something down.
Eat – no matter how much he needed to gag at the taste. The bastards had probably spat in the gruel. However much innerly he fumed at the way they coated the viscous shit across his mouth and made him work for it. Laughed at him because they were forcing him to lick it off his chin. Hands stuck into a bowl and scraped across his face. Laughing as his tongue greedily whipped out and struggled to lick up the gung. Forcing his tongue to try and slide across the wood in front of his chin for another morsel. Licking up as much as he could. Getting down as much as possible to build up his strength. They were going to put him through hell, he had no doubt. These guards had been bad enough – but compared to their bosses they were raw amateurs. Those sadistic she-devils who ruled over Krottak lands – that was where it counted. With those she-cats, sick evil monsters. And Garth had to be their prized treat. After all, hadn’t this all been done just for him, – for him and him alone? Hadn’t they set all this up to ensnare him? No one else, no one else mattered. Cleverly hadn’t they got him to prise open their trap himself, voluntarily? Walk straight in? Invited him to entangle himself in their web of evil?
He let them laugh, he let them mock, these guards, the bitches’ henchmen. But he was taking on fuel, he’d use that against them. They were using him as some object in their childish game. Probably they’d spiced his obnoxious gunk, spat in it, laughing as they did, pleased that they were putting one over on him. They may even have pissed in this gruel. Smugly sniggering to themselves as they did, relishing the thought. Garth kept his breathing easy, no point in wasting energy on futile anger. Not going to give them that pleasure. If that was what turned them on …..! Garth was building up his strength. And they were being stupid enough to feed him. He’d take it, – however flavoured it came.
4.    Council meets:  Cleansing He needed cleaning up, the officer had said. “Can’t take a shithead into the royal presence.  Not stinking like that.” His face was coated with sticky goo.  The muck had dripped off Garth’s chin and lay thick on the stocks before his face. The cold hit bare skin as they exited the cells.  The year was approaching its end.  Out here in the desert when the sun went down, the temperature plummeted.  The night air settled chill on Garth’s bare flesh.  Down from the sleeveless top, his bare arms were frozen into that enforced bicep curl, made to hold up the precarious stocks.  Cold shivered on bare legs under his short Maru kilt.  An instant chill, the flesh prickled, the skin quivered with goose-bumps.  It was dark outside, just a wan eerie grey-blue moonlight, a few torches lit the scene dramatically.  The same courtyard where Garth had been handed over.  Where Gazaan’s heart had broken as he committed the betrayal.   The courtyard where that woman general had ordered these same guards to kick the shit out of him. They cleaned him up.  Loads of water, buckets of cold water thrown over him.  Soaking him.  Thrown in his face to wash off the goo.  Thrown down his back to rid his clothes of the stink of sweat.  Cleaning him up for the royal nose.  Drenching him.  Wet to the skin.  Soaked in the chill desert air.  But it was water.  Heaven knew when he’d get water  again.  Gamely he tried to catch what he could of the precious liquid.  Licking it off with his tongue, off his face, off his chin, off that strange contraption around his neck,.  Bugger if they took his efforts as weakness  Garth needed water. And then they waited.  They waited to be summoned.  Garth waited to face their queen.  Stood out in the chill.  Water dripping off him, less regular now.  But still tickling chill down his legs.  His clothes soaked to the skin.  Freezing.  His arms trembling with strain as he held up the giant weight from tormenting his neck.  Feeling an intense burn in his straining arms.  His back drenched, cold, freezing.  Strong tall legs trembling with the cold.  Trembling  –  just what they intended,  –   meaning to take him into the royal presence.  Facing Queen Mabat.  Trembling.
4. Council meets: Waiting game
More than one way to torture. Something these Krottak had made a speciality of. Garth had seen the brutal maimings, their crucifixions, men left to die in agony. But there were other means too. Playing with the mind, psyching the prisoner out. Getting him nervous or shit-scared before a single blow landed. This waiting – all part of the game. First having him wait on her attendance. Drenched, made to shiver in the cold outside. Giving the appearance of nervousness. Then when summoned into the royal presence, made to wait again. To stand in silence and attend her will. While waiting outside expecting for something serious to get going when he was brought face-to-face with Mabat. But then more waiting, more twisting of the screw. Made to wait till the queen he’d waged war against deigned to turn her attention to him.
Odd that being summoned to hear his death proclaimed should be something he’d wished she’d get on with. But by the time the order came Garth was shivering like hell. With the cold outside he thought he even risked pissing himself. Wouldn’t his guards have enjoyed that? That would have been something where he just wouldn’t have been able to hide his shame. What these Krottak made of that! He’d lost control over this shivering – but then they had planned just that, hadn’t they? Even though they knew he wasn’t shivering in fear, hard to deny them that thought. The bastard had more than beating a guy up in their armoury of tormenting. All part of the humiliation game, this drenching, this shivering, this waiting. Telling him they could do with him as they wished, that they had wrenched every bit of control over his life out of his grip. And not a damned thing he was going to be able to do against it. Wasn’t there, Garth’s stubborn spirit reacted strongly back? He’d see about that.
Garth had been around the block enough to know what they were doing. He knew not to let them get to him. Allowing the feeling to grow in his head that he was done-for – that was giving in as much as surrendering a weapon. Letting them get to him, believing he could not answer back – that was the downhill slippery slope. All he had left to fight them back was his strength of mind. And, by hell, Mabat’s henchmen were not getting that. Of course they were trying it on. But Garth knew their game.
Not enough, though, – it turned out. Just another indignity. One thing he had been promising himself when he got to face Mabat. He had hoped to rush her, kill her in one final deadly move. But with this contraption around his neck, he’d had to settle for something less. Best he had come up with shivering outside in the cold was to make sure that, whatever it cost, she was going to get a piece of his mind. She was going to hear she had trouble on her hands, whatever it cost, however much her guards went for him, he was going to answer her back. Let her know, let her hear, Garth was no easy pickings. It was like they could read his mind. The order to enter had come, the guards had started shuffling him towards the doors. Then from behind a hand suddenly gripped Garth by the hair, yanking him backwards. That damned yoke around his neck nearly upended him, he cried out. In shock. His neck jerked backwards by the ponderous weight around his head. Hard enough for some guard to get a cord across his mouth. Jar it tight in, nearly cutting the corners of Garth’s mouth. Deftly as, recovering, Garth tried to saw his head from side-to-side, encumbered by the huge ungainly weight wrenching painfully at his neck – but there was nothing he managed to do to stop them from pulling the cord tight around his head. Tying it in the back of his head. Gagged. Tight braided leather imprisoning his tongue. It seemed Mabat did not want a piece of his mind.
“Got nothing Queen Mabat needs to hear from you, shithead.” As if these guards had got a whiff of what Garth had in mind. Their jibe underlined by a slap across the back of Garth’s head. “Just in case you thought otherwise ….” He had … but it was going to have to wait for another day …… Garth couldn’t get away from the fact that this all seemed too well planned. Every time they seemed to get one step ahead. Lie they’d done this many times before. Every move against him well thought out. Or practised, – like they did this to all the chiefs they took captive. The beatings, this yoke, the gag – done to shame any proud war-leader, moves that made you feel small.   ….. if you let it. Yes, it worked if you let these bastards get to you. But only then. Of course, it was well planned. After all, he was part of their plan, they had sent him this invitation. He had accepted it, he’d walked straight into their well-elaborated plot. It was for him to live with that decision, wasn’t it? And fight the bastards back. This war wasn’t over yet. Mabat was going to find out what she had invited into her spider’s web.
4.  Council meets: Royal presence
The waiting, all part of the game.  Though how long he was gonna manage to make light of this matter was beginning to look clear.  Made to wait outside, to attend her royal will.  Encased in this god-damned yoke around his neck.  Dowsed with cold water and left to shiver.  Wet in sthe cold air.  Symbolic.  To shiver in anticipation of her awe.  Now at last, Garth was being permitted into her royal presence, the Krottak’s vindictive queen.   And again he was made to wait.  All done to make him nervous.  Done to make him feel small alongside her, lording over his nothingness with the might of her regal powers.  And her reputation for ruthless cruelty. The doors to the great chamber had finally opened.  Garth was deliberately pushed inside with a hard shove across his back, making him stumble, making him wrestle with the ungainly weight on his shoulders, her first sight of the Earthman.  Humiliatingly presented as a hopeless case.  Even gagged, like a bridled beast  –  the Earthman would not answer back. A U-shaped set of tables at the other end.  A collection of perhaps a dozen women sitting on the other side.  Watching him jostled into their presence.  Made to stop in the middle of the U, surrounding him, intimidating him.  Knowing all eyes were on him, his clothes soaked, a chill settled on his wet skin.  His defiance for silenced by a gag.  The room was filled with their silence.  A focussed intense silence as he was scrutinised. Garth knew instinctively where to look.  Mabat in the centre, surrounded by her council.  Looking him in the eye.  He knew to return the favour.  And not waiver, not for one second.  It was the least he could do, it was all he could do. Eventually Mabat spoke.  Addressing the general who had accepted Garth from the Maru. “What is this thing you have brought me?” Garth had expected a more statuesque figure in the queen.  More Valkyrie-like, broad-shoulders, big chest.  And older.  Above all, some kind of Amazon warrior.  To his surprise he was facing a slight woman his own age, early thirties, smallish.  And she was attractive, good-looking.  Her appearance took him by surprise. In other circumstances, ….. Her voice did not affect any disdain for the way he looked like this.  Wet-through, some odd contraption trapping his arms and neck.  Her voice came across neutral in tone, curious, yet a leader who was used to surprises, was used to taking the unexpected in her stride.  Quickly Garth knew to adjust his image of this queen, she hadn’t turned out to be what he had expected. The eyes that looked him over were a deep green.  Green, green eyes could be soft, warming, alluring, warmed the soul when a women looked into your heart with eyes like that..  But these were cold, hard, bottomless.  Garth was looking into the green calculating eyes of a snake. The general had taken a stand alongside Garth, reckoning he was no danger stood in his stocks like this.  Garth could have gone for her, knocked her over with the yoke.  But the effort would probably have upended him too.  What a prick he would have looked then.  First impressions counted, for now, he was out to impress, with his height, build, his presence of mind.  Floundering on the floor was not the right move right now. “The Maru delivered this ransom today.” Delivered?  Like they did not know who he was or why he had been “delivered”.  A set-up.  They had virtually commanded it, the Maru had had no choice,  Garth had been given no choice either, out-manoeuvred.  So much for his prized skills in military strategy. “The one they call the Earthman, their general.” They knew full well he was.  They were going to take him out  –  and cut off at the head any chance of resistance from the Maru, kill off any chance to fight back. The queen absorbed the information slowly.  Garth felt her eyes all the time of her prisoner, he knew what she saw.  Tall, handsome, well-built.  The archetype of the warrior, a worthy adversary.  But he came with his clothes soaked to the skin.  Signs of a heavy beating.  Bearing this overweight contraption around his neck.  Humiliated, –  and gagged.  Hardly the symbol of any threat to Mabat’s power.  Still, Garth stood tall, showing himself unworried at appearing in her royal presence like this, “We’ll eat,” she commanded. Garth was first  surprised at her response.  Then he saw it for what it was, more of the same.  The waiting game. Mind-games.   All done for effect.
4. Council meets: Divisions
The meal passed in total silence. All part of the technique. To intimidate, to put the shits under him. Garth stood, his impressive torso exposed to their silent scrutiny but weakened by that heavy monstrosity around his neck. Powerful upper arms the object of admiring female gaze but burning under the tension as Garth struggled with the strain on his neck. He felt the continuous female scrutiny. Garth knew how his appearance impressed women. His build turned men’s heads in the streets, women fancied him for the way he bore himself. Some women had even joked he looked like a god. He stood out in a crowd, with his height, with his good looks, with his unmissable physique. He was used to women checking him out, – and judging by the looks he was getting, these Krottak leaders did not strike him as any different.   Garth struck an awesome picture. On the other hand, these Krottak she-devils were no ordinary women.
“So this is the thing that has kept your armies on the run?” Meal over and cleared away. The tables now clear, not even cups of water left. Back to business. Eliminate the Earthman inconvenience. Garth caught the movement, the general fidgeted, she looked awkward. You could not miss the criticism in Mabat’s voice. Her general’s failures to pin Garth and his rabble resistance down must have been a repeated topic of scorn, voiced sarcastic in the queen’s tone. For a brief moment Garth felt a prickle of pleasure at the general’s expense. But Mabat may look beautiful. Like other female villains Garth had known, though, he knew she was hard. That was what had put her where she was.
The queen let her general squirm. Mabat was in no mood to pay the general compliments for the Earthman’s capture. Over the months all the Council had heard the queen’s scorn for her general when soldiers had repeatedly returned empty-handed. If the general had hoped his capture would put things behind them, she was mistaken …. But eventually Mabat moved on. Dismissively she indicated at her prisoner. “So what do we do with   … THIS ….?”
“Kill it. It must die.” The Council member jumped in over fast. Seeking to ingratiate herself. As if trying to seize advantege of the general’s embarrassment. “Destroy it. And Maru resistance dies with it.” Another voice jumped in. Garth heard eager voices condemning him to death in an effort to gain favour with their queen. More joined in, not to be out-done, shouting too for Garth’s death.
Mabat stood up, respectfully the shouting instantly stopped. She walked in silence around the backs of the table. All eyes on her, waiting for a response, eager for her decision. She approached Garth from the side. He twisted to face her down, intent on not being seen to be cowed. But hampered like hell by this damned thing around his neck. Frustrating his best efforts to stand up to her. Her eyes were fixed on his in response. But only on his face. Awkwardly encased in the yoke, head poking up, through the hole, his hands immobilised. And that thin leather cord across his mouth silencing his tongue. Mabat’s focus was directed solely on the apparatus of Garth’s subjugation.
She stopped well away from him, safely. Rightly so, that caution lifted Garth’s spirits, she recognised the danger, suspecting he might be tempted to go for her. Could she sense the danger prickling in his every fibre? Did she know what kind of tiger she had on her hands? She stood right in front of him. In the middle of the U-shape, her councillors attending her every word. She sighed. Her eyes focused on Garth. “Why am I surrounded by fools?” Talking to him. As if she was asking his opinion. As if she was seeking her prisoner’s sympathy. Surrounded by fools. Mabat was shaking her head. But her gaze still had not left Garth’s face. Looking for all the world as if she expected him to empathise with her plight.
“Is that the best they can do?” Although her eyes were full on Garth’s strong gaze, although ostensibly she was talking to Garth, her scorn was for her council. “Is that the reason they are privileged to advise a queen?” In peripheral vision Garth was aware that her councillors glanced to each other, knowingly. And then their eyes dropped. They were used to scorn like this. Not annoyed by her offence, though, too cowed, like this was the way it always was from her. Keeping their heads down, fearful of where her anger might strike.
“Kill? Eliminate? Of course. Of course, this …. this THING will be destroyed.” She shrugged towards Garth. Like asking, what do you do? “My dog could have come up with solutions like that,” she mocked. Garth’s look could not afford to flinch from Mabat’s cold calculating gaze, she was hard to read. He saw nothing in her eyes that said she was belittling him, she was not deriding him. She was not crowing that she had her irritating adversary in her hands and had humiliated like this. There was nothing in those eyes. Just a bottomless pit. Emptiness. “My question was, What value can we squeeze out of this?” Still she spoke quietly. Not shouting, no raised voice. But scathing. How could these fools miss her point? The effect of her words struck her advisors silent. This woman was feared, Garth noticed. She was cruel in her dealings with outsiders, she was equally vicious at home.
“Question is, How valuable is this thing? How can we make … THIS … work?” THIS? Valuable? What was the bitch up to? Work for her? Had Garth got her wrong? Was she going to make him work? Hard labour? Not kill him after all? Penal servitude? Her pet slave? Mabat’s attitude towards her council still felt derisive, she was pouring scorn on her advisors still. But all her attention remained on Garth. Like she was consulting with him on what to do with him. Garth was not fooled.
“Why will this thing die? How can we gain by destroying him?” Back to square-one. So she was going to kill him. Destroy him. Her advisors, though, were in no mood to offer an answer, no one was going to put a foot wrong. Garth saw the crippling power Mabat wielded – even over those closest to her. Clearly even with her own she inspired terror.
But Mabat did not wait for the council to offer ideas, she answered for herself. Or rather for Garth. Talking to him. Taking him into her confidence. Letting him know the manner of his destruction. “This man is a legend, is he not? The Earthman. No one knows a thing about him, he came from nowhere. Born of the earth? What does that mean?” Garth felt her gaze upon him. Stood with that ungainly contraption around his neck. He had volunteered himself into her hands. And was about to learn the price he was to pay for that.
4. Council meets: Strategies
“But ….. ” Mabat’s eyes had locked on Garth. Strong, tall, head a shoulders above any of her troops. The power in his body unmissable even clothed. Even locked into his humiliation what Mabat saw still represented a considerable threat. ” … this Earthman brought it off. He led a band of peasants, he kept our armies on their toes. For weeks.” Mabat’s gaze flickered over to her general. Her look as severe a reprimand as her words. “Never beaten, not once.” Mabat kept his harsh look on her general. “Never humiliated into a retreat, not once. Not like us. A rabble, peasants. It was our well-trained, well-armed armies that came home. This Earthman sent us scurrying with our tails between our legs. Made to lick their wounds by a rabble, by farmers.”
Garth could see the general now squirming. When he’d been handed over she’d set her men on him. She had given the guards a free hand to do him over. But in sharp contrast she was now squirming under the quietly spoken whiplash of reproach from her queen. One minute delighting in commanding Garth’s beatings, the next being belittled by her queen. She was wriggling, in discomfort, reproached publicly for Garth’s successes over her. Interesting, Garth thought. Wondering if he was spotting an opportunity here. Understandably Mabat had been angry when the troops came back empty-handed, Garth realised now she’d have given her general a hard time. But was this the way? Like this? In front of the council? In front of the guards? Putting her general down in front of a prisoner? There was dissension here. And where there was division, there was opportunity.
On the other hand, when this was over, when Garth was back in their dungeons, he suspected the general was likely to be getting her own back, venting her anger. It didn’t taken much to work out where that anger would be turned. And truth be told, – in their many combats she really had put Garth through his paces, sometimes winning had been touch-and-go. This public criticism was hardly deserved. – but …. dissent was welcome …. On the other hand, when Mabat had finished with her public reprimand … It would be Garth getting it in the neck.
“He had made us look small.” Mabat’s tone for her general was quiet but harsh. “This Earthman … we let him make fools out of us ….” The whole council heard Mabat’s derision, quietly spoken but snide. But Garth could not afford to be distracted, his battle was with their queen. Eerily Garth could see no rancour in the eyes that turned back on his. But there was no admiration for his fighting skills either, she was certainly not in the business of eliciting his sympathy because she had a fool of a general. What he saw in her gaze were those bottomless pits. She had ugly eyes, he decided. A monster’s eyes.
“That is what must be destroyed,” Mabat explained. “That reputation. Not this man, not this body ….” Garth sensed his powerful torso being scanned. But eerily the eyes never moved, they did not flicker off his face trapped in this yoke of humiliation. “That myth, the Earthman. That legend of invincibility. That is what we destroy. Long before this body is broken up.”
How did she do it? Again Garth felt her attention travel down his body. But her eyes were locked on his. But something was sizing up the powerful arms frozen in a bicep-curl under the yoke. The strong shoulders holding up that prodigious weight. Broad chest clothed in his tunic, the tight waist cinched by the belt. Sizing up the legend. Scanning him down to his long muscular legs, bronzed, bare under the short Maru kilt. Appraising his strength, getting an eye for the power in that body, sizing up the myth. As if working out what to do with him. How to use that manly physique as a means to destroying the legend he had become. But in truth, disconcertingly Mabat’s eyes never once flickered from his face.
“Destroy the legend. And in public. The downfall must be seen. The myth of his invincibility being ripped apart before public’s eyes. The living legend. Torn apart, destroyed.” Her eyes were eating him up, this woman had a presence that belied her size. No greater contrast – his powerful manly physique against her slight demure form. And yet that petit figure housed a monster. She was planning his “destruction”. The word rang more menacing than “his death”. Garth could only imagine behind the coldness of those gruesome eyes what she was seeing when she envisaged his “destruction”. Imagining the tortures she had promised herself. Glorying in his failure to endure. Seeing the strength of his powerful physique breaking under her will. Visualizing Garth breaking under the tortures she had planned. Planned to subject on him. And in public. For the world to see the Earthman legend annihilated.
Her gaze was addressing him. “Extreme, excessive. Beyond human endurance.” Impeded by this monstrosity around his neck, Garth could only stare her back. All her had, his glare. Robbed even of the ability to scoff at her threats. Inhibited by that leather cord tight over his tongue. But for all his frustrations, for all the evil thoughts that lay behind her words, for all the chills that might niggle deep in his guts, Garth could not afford to let himself look daunted. He had brought this on himself. But she wasn’t going to take him that easy. And no way was he going to show himself browbeaten. Defiant he locked eyes with her threats.
“The Earthman, this invincible legend, – it must be seen for what it was. An illusion, a lie.” Mabat still had her eyes on Garth’s face, consuming the vulnerability of his powerful presence in that fathomless gaze. In response, despite how he looked, his dignity encased in that damned yoke, – still Garth was giving her back as strong as she was. Part of the game, psyching her out. Psyching each other out.
Mabat allowed herself a slim lightening of the mouth as she saw her prisoner’s destiny. As she looked into his defiant gaze. “Suffer. Scream. Beg.” Still she had eyes only for Garth. Helping him vizualize his destiny. “This false myth of invincibility. THIS. Not some super-human hero.” Mabat had put enough to the test, she knew. Many times, she herself had seen what even the strongest of men could not take. ” … Human flesh, that is all. Not some spiritual force. No super-natural being.   Skin and bones ….” Again Garth got the feeling that her gaze took in the power of his physique in one enormous gulp, swallowing him whole. ” … just like the rest of the public watching. Skin and bones. It hurts, it pains, it breaks.” Garth caught the slightest flicker of a smile. A sadist’s smile. ” …. His audience, … they will know the truth when they hear the false legend scream. And it WILL scream ….” She was addressing Garth. Greedily Mabat gulped down Garth’s defiant look in the depths of her cruel eyes. “They will see they were following a false god ….. No god, no invincible hero. Skin and bones ….” Garth saw the sadist now. Not some beautiful woman with warm green eyes. ” … I promise … “Mabat paused for Garth’s attention. “it will scream …. I promise ….” Words addressed to Garth. “Like any other flesh that is being broken beyond endurance.”
Garth had known what these Krottak were like, he’d seen the results. He had had no illusions what surrendering would mean. But now he was in Mabat’s clutches, a chill realisation settled in the pit of his guts. Not that he was going to let it show.
“Take it away.” Mabat dismissed the general in the same gesture as dismissing Garth. The general had him moved out quick. As if she could not wait to get away. As Garth approached the outer door, Garth heard from behind. “Leave me. I need to think.” Garth heard the Councillors rise. As if they wanted to quit this discomfort too. Leaving their queen to ponder. Best get out of there and let Mabat consider how best to kill off a people’s hopes. How best to destroy a myth. The hope people had invested in the Earthman.
5.   Stress: Tough guy
Stress position. When Garth had heard “specialists in interrogation techniques” use words like that, it hadn’t sounded such a big deal. But when he experienced it, it was something else, the words did not match the deed, another-world. The occasions when it had happened to him, he knew it was more than that, a lot more than a big deal. Now, when it had had already lasted for what seemed hours it really was a big deal. It was hell.
Inevitable, like he’d thought, when they got him back down in the dungeons, she took out her frustrations on him. That general – he’d already more than pissed her off with his guerrilla tactics. The strategies he had taught the Maru had kept her Krottak armies wrong-footed for months. Their general must have been hopping mad. And now Garth had seen how she had been paid to pay back in Mabat’s court. Made to feel small. Like just now. Now she was going to take that out on Garth.
“Wipe that impertinence off his face.” The punch was loaded on top of the beatings in the abs he’d already taken earlier. It hurt but Garth was not going to show it. “Think you’re so god-damned tough, don’t you?” She nodded, another load was tossed into the pot. Till Garth was sweating, till he was finding it hard to breathe.
She had come up close now that Garth’s limbs were incapacitated. Once they had Garth weakened, her henchmen had caught his legs in a spreader, then-and-only then releasing him from the yoke. Confirming to Garth that he could still get them worried. He didn’t mean to disappoint. As soon as he could, Garth had made himself trouble. As soon as they let him use his arms, he shoved them back. His fists lashed out when they tried to raise his hands to the overhanging manacles. Nothing much he was going to do, his legs were incapacitated, he wasn’t going to move far like this. But he was making a point. They might have him trapped, but they hadn’t captured his spirit. Their treatment had done nothing to crush his will.
There were a half-dozen of them, though, – all against him. And he had no movement in the legs. An arm around his neck from behind was cutting off his air. Garth’s elbow hammered backwards. In response, hands went for his arms, two men each fighting against this strength. They might be midgets to his giant height. But they were no beginners at this, every move felt practised. Others again unloaded punishment into his abs until he couldn’t breathe. Despite his grunts, his struggles and bloody-minded efforts they got his wrists manacled to the chains above.
“Think you’re so damned clever ….” Mabat’s general did not share her sovereign’s good looks. Nor her control over her moods. “By the time we next meet, scum ….” She spat out her words. Laced with sadistic pleasure. Fire in her veins, hatred for this man who had been the source of her discomfort for months. Payback. “… I’m gonna have you realise what you are taking on. You lump of shit, you’re gonna find out what you are in for. Not gonna be so god-damned cocky, then, dog. THAT I promise you.” Garth knew she couldn’t wait to get on with it. Why disappoint? No way was she going to let him off. So …. “You’re trying my patience, bitch. Get on with it.” He shook his head, with disdain. “You up for it …..? Up for failing another time ….?” He could see her bristle at his impudence. In for a penny, in for a pound.
She wasn’t fazed, though, Garth hadn’t expected that. This hellcat tortured for a living. Maybe, it was how she got her kicks. Later Garth had wondered what got her hot between the legs. Suspecting it was the kind of things she had put him through.
His wrists had rough manacles around them, dangling from chains overhead. His ankles had a spreader on them, a bar across the back of his legs. When he had grittily given it back at her, not holding back on his insolence, she stood back. She gave him what he deserved. Letting her men go for him repeatedly in the abs. Garth flexed, he tightened all he had, those muscles clearly remembering the beatings they had already taken there. The guards did not pull anything back, they were there to please, after all. As well, as getting their rocks off on getting their hands on the Earthman at last. The punches dug in deep. Evil-minded pounding breaking through tightened muscle into Garth’s pained innards. Three, four, a dozen times, hard, determined, to silence his mouth. To shut up his insolence.
Garth was panting. Beatings he had taken a dozen times. But this was on top of a severe going-over in his belly only hours before. Looking through pain-blurred eyes, she seemed pleased. Gloating at the efforts Garth was being forced to make. Struggling to breathe, fighting to catch his breath. He was angered at a smirk that lightened her face. Even though Garth still gave his best, glaring back at her in unrestrained anger.
“Stretch him.”
5.  Stress:  Inclinations
It was nothing, not much of a move.  Just a slight backward pull on his feet.  A couple of guards had grabbed at the leg stretcher.  Pulled it back just a few feet.  They’d hammered a pair of metal stakes into the rocky ground.  And pulled his legs back, pinning Garth’s stretcher back, pinning it to the earth.  Not much of a move, not much of an angle.  Garth had decided he couldn’t afford to look, though, he couldn’t be distracted.  He had thrown down the gauntlet, he had issued the challenge.  He and this woman general were at war, for the dominance of wills.  A war of determined glares.  His features were telling her with every thwack of a mallet into the hard earth floor behind, Garth was not a man to give in to intimidation.  Try what she may, he was not going to break.  He had surrendered into their clutches.  But he was not going to be put down. Bring it on, bitch.  Do your best. She was trying, trying some simple technique.  Making Garth lean forward at an angle, standing on the balls of his feet, legs held back by the stretcher, arms pulled forward by the overhead chains.  Not much of an angle,  just enough.  Stress position, no great deal.  Just making Garth lean forward.  It didn’t take long, though, before he realised what it was going to mean,  –  this no-big-deal.  Pretty quick the pull on his arms began to tell.  From elbows down to shoulders, the start of a burning sensation.  A stretching in his armpits, a noticeable pulling at the shoulder joints.  He was beginning to feel it, too, down his sides, the muscles between his ribs starting to register the strain.  He’d back-hung off that damned pole only hours ago.  His back continuously arched, his thighs back-stretched.  On that painful journey he’d feared that being trussed up for the hours like some game taken in the hunt would eventually dislocate his shoulders.  These bastards here knew exactly what they were up to, they knew precisely where he now hurt.  His leg stretcher pulled him back, pinned it solid into the rock floor.  Stretched forward at an angle, his hands in front caught in the manacles dangling down, the rough metal casting was digging into his wrists.  The weight of Garth’s muscled body was being taken by his aching back, gravity was his torturer, pulling his hips and belly down to the earth.  His powerful thighs, already today locked for endless hours in a painful backwards stretch off the pole,  –  already they were beginning to protest at the burn. A look at the smirking general confirmed his fears.  These signs of strain were just the start.  What had she said?  Garth was “going to find out what he was in for”.  He could see the pleasure lightening her face already.  But damned if he was going to show it, he defied her sadistic eagerness, itching to see the stretch taking its toll.  But deep-down he was knowing otherwise, it took no time at all to feel where their torture was beginning to hurt.  His belly reached for the earth, his hips pulled down with gravity.  Down the length of his slightly arched spine, today’s nagging aches trembled at the warnings of further pains.  Again his backbone was beginning to take the strain. “Not gonna be so god-damned cocky then ….”,  –  that was what she had promised.  Garth feared she was right. That atmosphere he’d witnessed, the bad vibes between Mabat and this general of hers  –  there was no justice in it.  This bitch had had her men hunting the Maru down like dogs.  More than once they had got too close for comfort.  And there had been no let-up, she had lost men but not the determination to hunt Garth down.  This was one dogged bitch. But right now, she was going for Garth.  Getting her own back for the verbal roughing-up she’d taken from her queen.  And once she’d got him like this, helpless, aching  …..  what did she then have in mind? He felt his heart-rate rising, sensing this stressposition already grinding into aching joints.  But god-damn-it, this bitch was not going to get a rise out of him.  He was trapped inside this nightmare and he was going to see this through.  He’d toughed-out enough challenges in his life, he was going to rise above this bitch too.  Garth dug deep, he refused to show any anxieties in his eyes.  He transformed the advent of this stretch growing into worsening pains into a grim set of his jaw.  Making himself hate the bitch,  –  not hard.  Hatred for these Krottak taking on shape in his defiant stretched torso, teeth gritted in a harsh determination to show no weakness. They were experts, though, they had done this before.  These Krottak were past-masters at making captives suffer.  Garth suspected he was not fooling anyone, experience might be putting them one step ahead of his thinking.  But bugger if he was going to show it, damned if they’d wrong-foot him.  Like hell,  –  he was going to pull out all the stops.
“Pretend, dog.  Convince yourself.  Not persuading any else  ….  ” Could the bitch read his mind?  This bastard of a general was lording it over his growing strains, she could read the signs, in his body if not in his mind  –  however much he hid it.  Yes, this damned bitch tortured for a living, of course her past experience could see into his mind.  She knew where he’d hurt, she’d seen this done before.  This had been ordered this especially for him.  No novice, she was betting on this breaking him.  So she could go back to Mabat and crow. “Come dawn   ….  ” patronisingly she had stroked her hand a few times down Garth’s face.  Now she was giving him a few light slaps on the cheek.  Mocking the helplessness of his manly physique made to bow before her womanly wiles. “…  no, before dawn, long before   …  you’ll know your pitiable strength for what it is  ….  …..” Garth suspected she was right, this was going to be no tea-party.  He could feel the burn in his stretched thighs.  His lower back which had been pole-racked in torment was begging him to push himself upright, take the strain off his exhausted spine. But this damned bitch was not going to see that.  Hatred for her powered Garth’s defiance. Bring it on, sucker!
5. Stress: General resentment
“Bag him.” Garth had no way to resist. But a rush of panic made him realise how jumpy his nerves were. Hooded, not able to see. Not able to anticipate their moves against him, they could creep up on him, take him by surprise, they could have him living on his nerves. But even if he had wanted to, they would have slipped the hood over his head eventually. Why pretend? Why waste his breath? He was going to have to live with it, worse things would happen still. One plus, enclosed in a bag he was free to let his features go. Straightaway, hidden from her sight, he let things go. His face twisted into a contortion of stress. Giving vent to the strain that had already grown to trembling in his shoulders. Stress aching in his joints clawed across his eyes. The pains growing in his joints scratched talons down his cheeks. Secretly, now left to himself alone, he could acknowledge he was in trouble. And this bitch was opening the door to hell.
Her eyes feasted on him. This Earthman myth was certainly a sight. Any woman would be tempted. Now he could not see, her eyes allowed themselves to peruse him. Greedily. He was a stud, no doubt about it. What woman could deny that? What she would do with a man like that? Under other circumstances …. When she thought what she put up with every night from that wimp she had to indulge to save her skin ….! The Earthman looked every bit a god. And she had had to put up with Mabat’s baby brother when there were studs like this ready to be taken.
In the field, out campaigning, she had her choice. Surrounded by eager warriors, men away from their own women for weeks and days, there was no shortage. Men who thought that making their mark between her legs would earn them promotion, get them preferred. She had her choice, pick of the best. But this big, this tall, this muscular, this god … good looking too. What she could do with a force like that!
A man looking this good – it was easy for people to turn him into a myth. Unintentionally her tongue moistened her dry lip as her gaze scanned the muscular power in her grasp. The shoulders peaked solid under the incline of these restraints. Her eyes feasted on the stretch in his belly. She led soldiers, she kept them fighting-fit, they’d kill to get into her bed. But in their race it was unknown for a man to display such muscular definition, it could make your mouth water. If only …. Quickly she fled from any thoughts. What she had suffered because of this bastard …. She could not afford to indulge such thoughts. Her life depended on getting a result here. By the time this dog had spent hours in her grip, the thing would know himself for what he was. No myth. A man, flesh and blood – and flesh and blood was sooner or later crippled by pain. Not some supernatural being. A man in muscular torment, all that meaty power was to broken by her simple device. That was what was important here. Get that Mabat and her scorn out of her hair. Leaving him for hours in a position like this, that was the start. A quivering wreck he’d be, every muscle on fire, every joint screaming pain. A shell of this conceited self-belief. His every movement would be giving him hell by the time she was finished with him. Greedily she took him in, he hung forward, the strain on his body putting every fibre in this god-like body into stress. But no god, she sensed already from the signs shaping in his muscle that the adrenaline beginning to pump as awareness did its bit. This stretch delineating every muscle. Briefly her eyes allowed a moment of pleasure at the sight. The upward pull on his chest – stretching the muscle out but hardening them up into solid plates. She felt a flicker in her loins. At the eye-catching power in his belly.
As general she surrounded herself with fit troops, she had them train topless all the time – for her pleasure. But this …. This incredible strength,   … it was all she could to keep his hands off. She treated herself, eyed him around the sides, moving to looking him over from the back. The pull on his arms domed the power in his shoulders, the enforced arch of his back chiselled mouth-watering strength out of his straining muscles. This Earthman was every woman’s delight, she indulged in the thought of her legs eagerly gripping around those long thick-muscled thighs. Such a muscle-god would be welcome in every bed. After what she had had to endure from Mabat’s sick wimp of a brother ……
But it was this dog that was the cause of all her problems. His sorties had humiliated her troops. His successes had earned her only reprimands and scorn. It would be more than a pleasure to see this unmatchable specimen of manhood brought to its knees. Already she detected a nervousness in his flesh as the burn and the hurting were teaching their lessons to this “myth.” This power, this sight, this titillating attraction – again she hasd to clear her head of the warmth that quivered in her inside. A man, no myth, no god, it was only flesh and bones. And this mere ale was the source of her humiliations. Since he had come on the scene, her troops had been driven out of the Maru forests. Earning her Mabat’s derision every day.
Yet still her eyes greedily consumed the manly power laid helpless before her. Wondering ….. Noticing he was not fighting it, he was not struggling against his restraints, he seemed to be taking it as it came. Like he was asking, This the best you can do? Kids’ play? Under that hood, she couldn’t read his face. But no, she told herself, he was hurting, he had to be. Or was he taking this on as a personal battle? Her against him? Was he battling this out with her? He seemed to be making every visible fibre of his body deny her any sign of his struggle. Acting like nothing like this was anywhere near enough to harm him, he was beyond such tricks. A fight, a duel, one-to-one. That was what he was issuing, a challenge, fight this out, one-on-one. Incongruously she pressed her thighs tighter together. The move making her realise, he was getting to her. He was taking her on. A fight, a tussle. Like frantic lovers before getting down to fucking. She was getting aroused, the sight of him, the aura of him, the challenge of him. Him putting up a fight – it was getting to her between the legs. Catching her fantasies at birth, the general snorted lightly to herself. She knew better, he was bluffing. But he wanted a tussle, he thought he could defy her? She’d take him on, she’d give him a fight. Before long he’d be hurting. She was betting he had worked that out too, this was all bluff. But for now she’d play along, she’d play the sucker at his game. And when it came to it, when it came to the showdown, boy, would she get off on the sight! The arousal of watching him recognising he was beat, that a woman had broken this manly self-esteem. She couldn’t wait.
Mabat wanted him for a political tool. She wanted his reputation seen to be destroyed before she wanted this hunk dead. But first her general had to save her neck. Getting her hands on this stud had become a personal mission. All those looks from Mabat, her snide remarks when again her troops had returned with their tails between their legs. For months now. All this sucker’s fault. He might look like a god, he might look good enough to eat. But he owed her. She had clung on to her job by the skin of her teeth. Just because she had kept Mabat’s kid brother permanently hard between her thighs these past months. And that feeble bastard had made the best of the fact. He knew he had his sister’s general dangling on a string. His tastes had become increasingly perverse. The acts he insisted on had got increasingly deranged. She’d put up with it, she’d gone along, she’d had to. All this Earthman’s fault. Mabat’s bastard of a brother – he wanted her to feel disgust, self-loathing, some power-thing. It was like some kind of rape. Getting his rocks off because he had the power to force the Krottak general into submitting to his perverse acts. She had endured an act of power-rape every night. Because of this hunk.
She resented that, she hated Mabat, she hated her brother for this. And she hated this blasted Earthman even more. He owed her. For every single time she’d submitted to the kid brother’s sadism. For every public rebuke from Mabat. She took a look at this giant stud again. From the back, studying the play of power in this body. And the thought caught her breath, she saw the answer. Since he’d been hooded, since his warring glare had not been dictating her need to stand up to him, – she’d been wildly swinging between fantasies and need. Between two extremes. OK, he was more than something to fancy, he was something she craved to dominate in her bed. Her gaze again allowed itself a sweep of that strength, briefly feeling his hard body working for her between her legs. But look at what he had made her go through. What she really needed was to get Mabat off her back. And get that perv of a brother out of her hair, kick the sicko out of her bed. Desires for this body versus the needs to get those two out of her hair. Suddenly she realised she could have both. Not extremes, not opposite poles. She could have her cake AND eat it. And this big muscled stud was the answer. In this powerfully seductive body, both needs and desires coalesced into one.
He wanted a fight, eh? He wanted her to take him on, did he? She’d give him a fight alright. . There was always a sexual satisfaction to be had from making male physical power crawl. From making an overweening man’s self-belief creep. She’d practised it enough with those fighters in her bed who thought their erections could buy them power. Sexual gratification was easily bought. She looked at that muscle straining – but pretending. Pretending he was not hurting. If he wasn’t now, he soon would be, leaning like that. But stoically he hung, denying the growing aches in his joints was being thrown down as some challenge. Challenges she liked, this challenge she was in every position to win. Every single odd was on her side. She would have the crap beaten out of this stud, she’d have him tortured out of his skin. She’d get off on seeing him resist. She’d go hot between the legs at that moment when he felt himself breaking down.   Flesh-and-bones – eventually it always broke.   She’d cum when the Earthman myth looked up at her whimpering in the corner of his cell. His eyes pleading for mercy from the woman who had brought him down.
That would settle Mabat. That would give it to her perv of a brother hard between the legs. Just let them try it on when it was known that it was Mabat’s general who had offered the Earthman broken on a plate.   Right here,   …. this night in this dungeon, – this was just the start. He’d break, he’d crawl, on his hands and knees he’d beg. And she would get off on every single step on the way to his downward path.
Hooded, locked in darkness, left alone with the growing aches in his back. Garth had been suffering. Long hours, nagging hurt, insufferable aching. Sometimes pulling on his arms to relieve his back. Pulling and holding himself there until another strain become too much. Feeling it start with a quivering in the shoulders. The quivering turning to a trembling that spasmed across the top of his back. A shuddering setting into muscles the length of his arms. Forced to give in to the strain. Letting the body sag. Instantly the aches in his backbone started protesting. The crushing in his vertebrae warning him. Warnings were ignored and Garth was made to pay the price. Grimaces contorted across his face. Alone inside a hood, abandoned in some dungeon cell. The strain of a clenched jaw burning into his head. Burning taking another form, a pounding ache inside his head. His body clutched at straws, arms pulled on the ropes, shoulders took the strain again. Sometimes desperation forcing him on tip-toe, digging into his calves to take some strain off the shoulders. Till they too showed tell-tale signs, weakening. A burning in the muscle, the trembling in the flesh. And the cycle began all again. A slow never-ending torment. Moans of desperation seeped into his hood and suffocated his strength. Stress position. A phrase, no big deal. Until it came after being tortured off that pole. Unless it lasted for hours. Lasted an endless night.
Ransomed (3) A Garth Serial by Rendszeretlen
Part Three
6.   Games people play
Dark thoughts
Again he had been summoned to her cruel presence. Brought before Mabat like a piece of wild game bagged in the hunt, yoked, this was meant to make Garth feel small. After hours in tortured darkness in that stress position. Now bundled with that weighty yoke around his shoulders and shoved outside into the morning light. And made to attend Mabat’s arrival.   Again that power-game, that waiting trick. Awkwardly Garth had been made to walk the length of the courtyard, up to the point in the middle where there was a bulky frame. Leading him up to it. Letting him inspect it, imagine the threat it gave. This was where they tortured. Where they were going to go for him, he assumed. Turned around, though, his back to his painful destiny, turned facing the building, turned to wait, waiting for Mabat. Left to stew. In the sun, in the light. To attend her arrival. Struggling to hold that brainless weight around his head. At least this time they had abandoned the gag. The chance now to tell her what she had got on her hands. Not some dumb piece of game thrown at her feet. The light was welcome, the warmth on his back was bliss. After his black tortured night, knowing only moments of lucidity between the nightmare aches, kept in rigid spasms all night. Abandoned to his thoughts, Garth had tried to work things out. He had come face-to-face with Mabat now, he was eager to work her out, how to play her, what advantage in his situation he might have gained. In the tortured blackness her face burned like a demon’s in front of him.
He remembered above all those eyes. Deep-set, so deep they were hard to penetrate. Intensely cold, an eerie black. A snake’s. So penetrating when she’d looked him over, for a moment Garth had thought she could see into his heart. He had dismissed the thought ….. but the discomforting sight of her demon eyes had stayed with him in the tortures of the night. Gloating over his suffering. It took supreme effort to cope with his aches, it took as much to dismiss those black thoughts about Mabat. Garth had made himself turn to the positive. What was his plan?
Strategy was a never-ending feast. Garth had made up his mind how to play his guards. He was not going to take any shit from them. They knew him for what he was, a warrior, a fighter. They were too. They’d not expect a warrior to take things lying down. And Krottaks were used to being given the freedom to let go their sadistic urges. They held all the cards, so far they had the advantage, done him over, – but no way had he given up. He’d see them right, he’d see them pay. Some time he was going to give Mabat’s bullies hell. As yet – it was two-nil to the guards. But they’d get trigger-happy …. then he’d pounce. Then like a cobra he’d strike. But how to play Mabat? He had volunteered himself, he had given himself into her hands. But no reason why that should be the end of things. He had no ideas about rolling over and taking things come-what-may. Question was, How to play her? And keep up the fight? Play along so that some time he’d get his hands around that throat? Those snide comments with her council – a lot there niggled away at Garth. There was dissent there, – useful? She called her council “fools”. Treated them with disdain. And the way she’d lorded it over her general. Something to work on?
But first it came down to him and her, prisoner and head-bitch. How did she see expect him to behave? Compliant? Frightened of her? She had a reputation for viciousness. How did she expect him to react in her hands? Behaving himself, crawling? In the hope of buying some brownie points?
Hard to tell, hard to read, the bitch. What had she said? She wanted him dead, but before that she wanted his name dead. She was going to kill him, – yes but first she was out to slaughter that myth of the Earthman. As if those two happenings were not the same for her.
AND she wanted that destruction seen, done in public. Garth was not some private prize, not some trophy to be enjoyed, he was a tool in her propaganda machine. He had given the Maru hope, she wanted that slaughtered. She’d not want other tribes getting ideas. So the slaughter of the Earthman myth had to be seen, publicly. Then – and only then – was she going for Garth the man. Was there something in the way she’d looked him over, he’d wondered? Garth knew how he looked, he knew his physique impressed the opposite sex. Usually his looks turned women on. He got their imaginations running. Could it be ….? Was there a woman underneath all that coldness ….? Between the legs. Wishful thinking, the demon in his head mocked? Male conceit? Or could she be moved to move on him like other women did?
He wouldn’t bet on it. That was one bet he reckoned he could win. If she did show some response to him physically, it would not be the normal kind. Domination, lording it, shame and humiliation, physical – sexual ….Garth had reckoned you could count on that being more her line of thinking. This regime was vicious, cruel, sadistic. And it was Mabat was top-dog, she set the tone. A guy who looked like hell of a guy, a male prisoner, defenceless, vulnerable, but still a stud who impressed and looked the part – Garth reckoned, with a female of her ilk, … that could only bring out the worst. Maybe, just maybe, – deep-down did she fancy him standing up to her? Not a sex partner, a combatant? Garth wondered if he had sensed a lurking suspicion that she welcomed some personal combat in this? Had he been reading it right? Or wishful thinking again? But the way she had be pouring scorn on her general …. couldn’t even run Garth down …. couldn’t manage to bring him in ….?.
Was there some super-ego at work here? What they couldn’t, she could ….? Was Garth an opportunity to put her general down? Was that it? She was going to do what they had not?
“Why am I surrounded by fools?” Fools and incompetents. Failed to track him down, failed to capture him, failed to break the Maru resolve. Was that it? Did she crave to break Garth herself? Show them up? Garth a tool in asserting her supremacy? If so, was she inviting Garth to join her in this game? A partner? Did she want him to put up some fight? So she could appear to be battling him. And all the better when ultimately she triumphed. Was she inviting Garth to be a partner in her game? Them against the fools and incompetents. Put up a fight so she could keep applying the pressure? So she had to keep upping her game? Squeezing him harder till eventually he cracked? If that was her game, was there a chance here for Garth? Play along with her, playing his own game, play her along, – so one time she got too close and his hands closed around her throat. It was like an ambush. And playing the waiting game in an ambush was just as much a part as the attack. Being ready for whenever the chance came. Reading your adversary, if the enemy was wary he might come early – or he might come late. Key was, Be ready when the chance came.
Was that the slut’s game? Them against her council?
Damn it, Garth found her hard to read Look at the way she had treated her general – the object of her contempt. Truth be told, unfair, not justified. Her general had thrown everything into the hunt, she had come precariously close to snatching Garth a few times. Yet – here in front of her full council – Mabat had treated like some piece of crap. What was Mabat’s plan for him?
“How to squeeze maximum value out of this offer?”
Lord it over her council? High risk strategy, – if Garth played along, if he did not make it easy for Mabat, – that was going to hurt. If he made her fight for him every inch of the way – she’d keep turning the thumbscrews. Hardly a pleasant thought.
Worth the risk? Did that make sense? Did any of this make sense? But anyway, he was not the kind to bend the knee. Circumstances had made him volunteer himself. But that did not mean he had to roll over and take things lying down. His innate inclinations were still to stand up to her. To fight her every inch of the way.
Was that what Mabat wanted too? A risky strategy. Where was it going to get him? One thing was sure, more pain. She held all the cards, all the implements of torture. But Garth would win himself more time. More chance to get his hands on the witch and settle this combat once-and-for-all. At some point she’d let her guard down?
Risky, bloody high risk for him.
Fightback
Right now Garth’s main problem was tiredness. Been trussed-up like that, strung-up at a slant for hours, every muscle in his body had been under strain like crazy. Every cell in his muscular physique seemed to ache like hell. His back was killing him. All down his sides weakened by a fearsome burning, robbed of rest. Every muscle hurt.
Sensory deprivation. Banned under Geneva Conventions. Declared an infringement of human rights. Obviously the Krottak had not read their copy. Stuck inside that hood, deprived of all senses for hours. Hours focused just on agonising physical strain. Trapped inside that bag, inside his own private hell, locked inside with only his agonies to occupy his mind. Psychologically torturing his spirit. Physically breaking him down, body and soul. Now stood in the light in some Krottak arena, his enemies’ cumbersome burden locked around his neck, it felt like he had hardly got any rest at all. He needed to get his wits about him. Exhausted, deprived of any rest. Since leaving the Maru, he’d barely eaten. Water only what he had grabbed. They were wearing him down by multiple deprivations. But …. he was not one to give up in a fight. Last night he’d heard himself condemned. Now, followed by her cohort of council females, Mabat had entered the arena, she was walking to a dais where a chair for her stood. From which she was going to attend … what? At least she had betrayed he was not to die yet, first the Earthman legend was to be annihilated. In public. No public here, not going to happen here, then.
Overnight, while she’d had him tortured in her dungeons, she’d taken her time to “think about it” …. From the way she had been talking, Garth reckoned it was not going to be a short ride to that annihilation. No quick execution. And with the reputation for viciousness that came with these Krottak females – he suspected it wasn’t going to be an easy ride either.
“He’s got a mouth on him, queen.”
Mabat sat alone on the dais, her council made to stand around her either side. This was her general speaking. She had walked to the centre of the arena, stood near Garth trapped in his yoke. Lording it over this performance, – whatever that was. Her baton tapped disdainfully at the yoke, asking Mabat’s permission to gag Garth again.
Garth suspected this general had looked in several times in the night to check on him, she’d enjoy seeing him suffering. Enjoy that payback for the numerous reprimands she’d got when her troops had come back empty-handed. She’d be enjoying seeing the spasms of pain written in every muscle of his being.
Certainly someone had been there in his torment. He had called out into the dungeon at sounds. But the presence hadn’t replied. He had cussed through the hood guessing it was her out there, come to gloat. The general or … Would Mabat have come herself?. To help her think things out, to plan what she wanted done with Garth. Na, he’d dismissed the idea. That bitch knew exactly what she wanted done with him – and HOW. She’d fantasised that out months ago. And he reckoned Mabat’s cup ran over with evil ideas.
Whatever, whichever slut had come visiting, –   if they’d hoped to hear him beg, if they’d had any thought about hearing him plead for this hooded suffering agony to end, they’d had another think coming. But that night of torment had reinforced his resolve, he’d do his damned best not to show his pains. Whatever was happening in this arena with his yoke back on, bugger if he was into showing his pains. “I should gag him.”
Garth’s features did not flicker. But the idea of being robbed of that chance to mouth-off and provoke – that annoyed. He held his breath and hoped. Part of his satisfaction was to show Mabat he was standing up to her – getting gagged again, that idea plunged like a stone to the pit of his stomach.
If only they’d get rid of the yoke, leave him free, hands free, legs free. Mabat was only about 10 metres away. He could go for her, it would take only seconds to sprint the distance and grab her. OK, Krottak guards were around, but his determination would swat them aside. His one ultimate task had to be to put her out. Garth had to finish off the cruel bastard. Throttle her, batter her to death.
But …. his hands weren’t free. Little chance of that right now. By the sound of it, though, she was not in any hurry to kill him off. There’d be another time, he’d just have to tough it out, wait another chance. And take what came. The general approached, she handed some cord to a guard. To gag Garth again, to silence him. One of the few tools he had left was his appearance of defiance. They thought they could break him by abusing him, mistreating him, – his strength of mind would prove them wrong. And he could not let them get the idea that any struggling he put up was done out of fear. They had to be made to realise he was giving it back to them –   because they were shit! Clear and simple. And the Earthman was not frightened by shit.
He was banking on the fact that he and Mabat would be locked in combat for some time. The sadistic she-devil did not want to see him broken too soon. She meant to show up her council. SHE’d done it, SHE’d broken the legend, – made him, forced him, defeated him. Triumphing in bloody-minded combat over his iron will, vanquishing every fibre in his manly body.
Whatever the Krottak were up to, – Garth was going to find every way to stand up to them. They were going to gag him? – still he’d find some way to prove he was fighting Mabat every inch of the way. He’d show them he was not one easy to break. They’d have to keep on at him. That was what was going to keep him going, that reason to live, that driving urge to beat them back.
AND they were going to have to kill him first. Give in, really give in? Have Mabat beat him, break him? ….. Over his dead body. “No.”
The voice from the throne stopped the guard making to gag Garth’s mouth.
“No, not this time.”
Grateful, grateful to the she-devil he wanted like hell to kill, odd. Garth actually felt his thanks to her. For making that mistake.
”   ….. if he wants to beg for mercy – he can.”
As if ….! Garth eyed her, a wry smile flickered across his face. As if that was going to happen …. She saw it, she read it. Over my dead body, bitch! His expression repeated. But her face did not flicker either. Garth could not read her thoughts, her eyes still green and bottomless. The general nodded, over-ruled. Probably irritated by being countermanded. But bowing to the authority of the throne.
“Guards!”
Her voice rang out across the bare arena. Echoing eerily off the stone walls.
“On parade!”
Enter the parade
She’d put up with enough snide remarks. Enough of Mabat’s sarcastic comments. She was going to show it was her that had it in her, she was going to have the crap beaten out of this Earthman and break the dog. Hand him like tenderised meat on plate to her queen. And kick that evil turd of a brother out of her bed. She had jumped through enough of his perverted hoops.
“Guards! By the left. March!” A drum beat set the pace. A heavy thump onto leather. Started the odd procession.
One-two-three-thwack. One-two-three-thwack. One-two-three-thwack.
The soldiers had lined up in a phalanx in front of Garth, stood in the centre of their arena. Mabat and her crew watching from the other end. The soldiers had formed line in silence. Stripped of their tops. Stripped for action. Not one of them was a match for Garth. Smaller by far, wiry not broad. But they were soldiers, they were fit, they were lean-muscled, they knew how to make the best of what they had. Maybe Mabat did not feed them well, precious little body fat between the lot of them. They’d stood at ease, doing nothing but looking intense. Just by their sheer numbers lined up against Garth, they looked intimidating. That and the canes they held in their hands. Stood at ease, their hands crossed over in front, in front of their crutches, the tip of their weapons resting on the floor.
March! They’d set off. Parading in some weird militaristic ritual around Garth. Circling him. Circling their victim, stood imprisoned in his preposterous heavy yoke, his hands trapped, his torso exposed, his back unprotected.
One-two-three-thwack. One-two-three-thwack. One-two-three-thwack. Circling him. A parade of menace.
In time to the drum, choreographed to hell. Marching in a menacing loop around. Marching one-two-three. At four thwacking the end of their weapons in unison into the ground. A resounding thwack that threw up dust. A game, a play of nerves. Playing on Garth’s nerves. Round and round, the menacing parade, beating out a warning, thwacking into the earth a forewarning of his pain. Throwing up dust. Garth could have held two of them down at any one time, pinned them hopeless to the ground. They were no match for his physique, height or build. But he was not being given that luxury. He stood defenceless. Watching this bizarre pageant of mean-minded muscle encircling him. About twenty guards, stripped for action. Circling him in some creepy parade of intimidation, thwacking the end of that weapon of theirs into the ground and raising dust. Weapons they were going to turn on him. When they’d been standing at ease, Garth had squinted. Trying to make out what it was they were equipped with. Hard to tell at first but in morbid curiosity Garth strained to see. Now being thwacked in ominous unison with a deadly thud into the dust. Each weapon, maybe a half dozen wooden switches, perhaps willow, bound together with cord. Bound at the top, again in the middle. And at the base to make a handle. Willow, he knew, flexible, willowy. Willow smarted. Bound together with cord. Tied together to give it strength. Like these Krottak warriors, bound together in unity to give them strength. Bound to make a bludgeon, bound to make a mark. Thwacking at the dust, thwacked against his flesh.
Games people play: Line-up
“Positions!” This was rehearsed, this ritual. This had every feeling of every intimidating move being practised. At the general’s snapped order the circling menace broke up. At a run, the twenty-odd guards broke off their ominous circle-dance and rushed out across the arena. Spreading themselves out, at random, no particular formation, it seemed. If Garth still wanted to go for the queen, there were now twenty of her bare-topped guards in-between. A sheen had coated their bodies. A sheen of effort from their odd militaristic ritual. Or maybe they glowed with an anticipation of the task to come. Randomly the men were spread out. In some arbitrary formation. They were all over the place. Dotted around, stood between Garth and Mabat.
Garth had learned to keep his eyes everywhere. His focus was on the queen, knowing that was where the vindictiveness that ruled these lands resided. But it was that general of hers who had approached. The hellcat who had subjected him to a night of horrors. Looking him over, looking at him from head-to-foot. Garth eyed her back. Wishing to hell he could get his hands free of this yoke. She’d wanted him gagged, to humiliate him, to put him in his place. Again over-ruled by Mabat.   Now she was scrutinising him. Starting from his head, smirked at his proud manliness trapped helpless in their yoke. Down over this chest, running her gaze down his defined abs. Defiant Garth eyed her back. She’d put him through hell overnight, he was going to show her she’d have to try harder. Suddenly, though, she disappeared in a blur. In a confused moment, something was over his face. Suddenly something closed tight around his neck. Hooded. She had blind-sided Garth with her scrutiny. The slut! Garth had a bag around his head. Suddenly Garth could not see. “Blast you!” The bitch had distracted him.
She did not bother to reply. Garth felt hands on his shoulders from behind. Twisting him, hands from behind were turning him. Turning him round and round. Blind-man’s-bluff. Hands roughly span him round. Dis-orienting him. In the background a pair of drums started up, a steady beat, two-tone. The drum of the dead-man’s walk. Their ominous regular beat echoing around this arena. Bouncing menacing off bare stone walls. Suddenly a hand shoved him hard from behind. Propelling Garth into the unknown, he stumbled forward. The weighty yoke swaying wildly off his neck. Pushed into the unseeable. Weighted down by the swaying yoke. Arms defenceless. A game of blind-man’s-bluff. An obstacle course. Facing human obstacles wielding weapons. Willowy bludgeons meant to hurt. Twenty-odd warriors with willowy weapons intending to hurt.
6. Games people play: Blind-man’s-bluff
No doubt about it, they packed a punch. Those weapons that he’d analysed as the bare-topped Krottaks had paraded around him, – they hit you, you knew you were hit. The first blow Garth took was across the shoulders, right under the yoke. Taken by surprise, still not into this little game of theirs, Garth had jerked forward. Surprised. And then knocked forward by the force. That bludgeon of bound willowy staves packed enough punch to jolt him forward. Unable to see, not expecting any such power, any sound disguised by the drumbeats echoing off stone walls. Garth took a smacker of a hit across his back. Shocked, not holding on to himself. Knocked forward. By force, by the shock. And then that god-damned yoke was all over the place. Swaying wildly, threatening to tip him up. Pulling his head down to the earth, yanking his body with it. Forcibly wrenching it back, his neck cracking at the effort. Just one blow – and Garth saw the shit he was in. Right up to his neck. Pawn in their silly game.
The general scowled at the referee. The soldier given the job to keep the game going. Chosen not for his brain, he was the bulkiest of the lot. His job was to keep the prisoner on the run. Chosen because his bulk stood more chance of shoving the Earthman around. Satisfied she saw the idiot caught on, he withered under her gaze, the fool knew better than not to do his best. He rushed forward and shoved the Earthman in the middle of his back. Towards a guard. Unsuspecting, stumbling into the downward slice of a soldier’s club. The general had anticipated the Earthman would need some help. To kick off the match, he had been given a shove forward. The first blow had taken him by surprise, suddenly he was reeling, struggling with the weight around his neck. But blindfolded he had stopped himself, hesitant, unsure what to do. Catching on fast, assessing rapidly the risk, rightly uncertain where to step. He was catching on, realising what stepping forward would bring. Any direction. The stud needed some help.
The referee’s job was to lend a helping hand. Prompted by a shiver of fear at the general’s scowl, he did just that. The whoosh of his switch caught the Earthman right behind the knee. A stinging slap, a smarting bite. Weakening the knee, jarring him forward. Assisting by the referee’s shove on his shoulders. Propelling him forward. Lost, confused inside his blindfold, the yoke on his neck wobbling wildly under the shove. Stumbling forward right down a perilous path. Wobbling into a sideways trajectory. Stumbling blind into blows from a pair of clubs. Caught unawares, smacked across his waist. Caught unexpected by a two-handed swipe across his abs. Doubling up with a cry. Then jarred unawares by another in the middle of his back. Jolted up, yanking that yoke with him. Stumbling on, hit again, unexpected, understanding this game yet not mastering it.
Not able to see. But he’d be catching on. Lurching forward under the momentum, the weight of yoke unsettling his blind-man’s gait. Wobbling around his neck, threatening to throw him forwards, pitch him tripping to the earth. Catching unexpected another hard blow, smashed across the shoulders, forcing him stumbling into another soldier’s reach. A cry of surprise blurted out of his hood. Thwacked again with a harsh sting across his broad back. Another shocked grunt. Twisting off the pain, twisting blind, away from the source of the blow. Twisting the slow moving burden around his head with him. Jerking away, turning blindly. Lurching into another sideways swipe. Cracked hard into his ribcage, eye-watering hard. Pain lifting him, pain twisting him.
Garth was panting, sweating. He’d stood still again for a moment. Panting, thoughts flying. A moment to try and get a hook on this. Brain racing, trying to think how to help himself. Any one step in any direction was going to set it off again. He’d been buffeted from one blow to the next. He must have taken a half-dozen blind swipes. His brain was racing, his face was sweating. One step in front of the other – that was all it seemed to take.   Suddenly a shove shouldered him in the middle of his back. A split-second later a stinging blow caught him. Across the belly. The shock making him fold-up. Another bludgeoning hit into the small of his back. Jerking his spine upwards. That preposterous yoke around his neck holding him down, his neck cracking under the strain. The bloody thing was swaying ungainly. Wrenching at his head, cracking at his neck-bones. Unable to see. Unable to hear the swish of canes. Finding them too late. The beats of a pair of drums blanking out sound, ominous beats echoing off the bare walls. Till the thwack caught him across a thigh. Stumbling forward another ungainly step, one step moving into reach.   Taking a burning swipe, caught across a taut delt struggling with his neck brace. Under his blindfold, the sting leapt to his eye.
He’d tried to stand still, out of reach. Trying to get his senses together. Mind running ahead, trying to remember what he could of the lay of the land. Recalling where the guards had been lined up. Seeing only a random configuration. Armed Krottak spread loosely around. And who ever said they had to stand still? What the guess that they were stalking him? Unseen creeping up to his side, the canes braced over their shoulder. Coiled muscle like a spring about to snap. Letting go the tension. Two-handed swishing unseen shocks across his ribcage. Like a red-hot iron burned into his side. Garth was panting, short, light. His blood racing, tense, unsure. His nerves raging, on edge. Barely daring to move. Then made to move, barged hard from behind. A burning swipe across the back of his leg to make sure. Dozens of blows already burning on his flesh. Dozens more awaiting him. The pulse in his ear pounding. Breathing in and out of his mouth in rapid pants. The air inside his hood choking, hot, panicky. Ears pricked. Under this blindfold seeing nothing. Against the echoing beats of the drums hearing nothing. Drowned out by the thudding of his blood.
A sudden sharp jerk. Jarred into the back of his neck. Someone had grabbed at the back of the yoke. Shoved it upwards. Shoving Garth forward in surprise. He felt the bones in his neck crack. Lurching a pair of stumbling steps forward. A smarting bite tore across his backside. Jerking him forward. Fear following him into a tunnel of blinding pain. Forced to keep moving. In the same moment, at the last second he heard a brief swish of air. Pain tore across his shoulder blades. The touch of a blowtorch swished across his skin. A short unstoppable yelp propelled him forwards. Struggling with the unwieldiness around his neck, his body lurched. Garth was on the move again. Blindfold running a gauntlet of horror. Krottak-style.
6. Games people play: General thoughts
The general watched with heightened satisfaction. She was giving her queen a show. Showing what her general was made of – after all her snide remarks. And who could not be impressed by this show of arrogant male muscle being made to dance? Dance to a general’s tune? Broad-backed, deep in the chest. The limbs powerful and muscular. Yet all caught up in this tortured jig. Muscle ambushed into an inescapable trap. The arrogance of this man who had made her troops sweat. This beast of a rebel who had denied access to the Maru forests. All this muscled power that had denied her success – she had it jigging blind and ungainly to a general’s tune. What use now all that muscular strength? His cowardly refusal to meet her troops in an open fight – where had that got him now? His flesh colouring up red and hurting. Stumbling from one vicious blow to the next. Her men knew better than to hold anything back. They were performing for their general, they were on show before their queen. Any one soldier who did not give every single blow every bit of his effort knew how he’d end up. They were beating hatred into every single slash. Thrashing into his vulnerable torso payback for each embarrassing defeat. For each mate’s death at Maru hands.
Two-handed, a swipe caught the stud across his ribs. Catching him unseen on a tender spot, already red, already bruised. Jerking his body upwards in pain. The yoke on him unbalancing him, making him stumble over to the side, a couple of uncertain steps till he got himself steady again. Just in time, he had blundered into another blow, this one thwacking across his front, under the belt. Bending the sucker up. Throwing him forward, a pair of ungainly steps. Struggling desperately with his arms to right the yoke again. Lurching as he went, stumbling into the path of another vengeful guard trembling like some coiled spring. Aching for him to take one more step closer. Determination to make his mark written in the grimness on his face. Then the spring snapped.   Searing pain took the rebel hunk across his back. Turning briefly rigid at the smarting burn. Before the force of the blow had him staggering on again. Blind, into a maelstrom of merciless blows. His arms glistened with his struggles. The general saw his back running with pained sweat. Her men were putting on a show, they had got it right, they had wanted this moment for a long time. All this male haughtiness. All the unjust lectures she had got from the queen, all the bollockings they had got from their general. Being exorcised here, vented in burning pain, taking payment in this dance of torment. Throbbing pain shoving him on, staggering from one blow to the next. Jarring as flesh was torched, jigging as hurting thrust him on. Lurching under the burden of that unwieldy punishment around his neck. Payback burned, revenge torched with each stinging swipe into his conceited flesh.
He thought he was something, this Earthman. He thought he had the guts to defy. Let him try. In her he had met his match. She had got it right, she had denied him rest last night. In this arena her dance of torture was teaching him. Respect for Krottak might. Where does all this muscle get you, stud? It took a woman to get this muscular arrogance paying the price.
And this was just the start. First steps in breaking him in.
7.   Doubts: Recovery
He’d come-to. In his barred cell a fire raged within. In his every muscle, Garth ached like hell, every bone felt sore. Coming alive to a burning hell deep in their Krottak dungeons. He had no recollection of getting here. Being dragged away, back across the courtyard where he’d had the crap beaten out of him. Every step his guards took yanked pain through his tortured body. He must have blacked out, he had no idea of being dragged through the tunnels to here, being thrown into this cell.
He remembered coming-to, several times. The cell was dank and cold, the earth beneath him chilly. But Garth was burning up. He lay on his front where they had dumped him, not moving. When some rational thought did creep into his thinking he was very nervous about moving. A torch flickered outside his bars, he could see his surroundings. By the door a plate of food, bread, meat. A flagon to drink. But nothing could induce him to reach for it. He had not eaten in a day, little liquid had passed his lips since capture. But Garth could not move himself to grab the drink.
“Bring him round,” At the time Garth had not registered the general’s order. Or taken it on board that Mabat too was within reach. His arch-enemy stood over him only an arm’s length away. Still in the courtyard, still there where the crap had been beaten out of him. He was in agony, close to blacking out. He’d taken a brutal beating, , inhuman, sustained. He hurt, every-damned-where, every god-damned bit of him. Those bound switches slamming into him, front, back, thwacking into his sides. Beating the strength out of him. His muscles weren’t working for him, robbed of muscular power. Hard to focus. His mind kept washing away from him like waves on a receding tide.
The soldiers loosened the hood. The sudden light blinded him. Aware for a brief moment of that courtyard where they had thwacked the hell out of him. Garth was on his knees, his body bent forward, tipped onto the yoke. The front end resting on the earth. Like Garth was some supplicant bowing before this queen. He panted, he panted out loud and hard, heaved like crazy for life. Heaving in oxygen mixed with his moans as his powerful body was taken over by the pain. Burning up, frenzied whirlpools of weakness spinning in his head. Legs under him, his whole body weight tipped forward, the front end of that damned yoke rested in the dirt, the back digging into his neck. As if Garth was kissing the earth on which Queen Mabat deigned to tread. Tipped forward. Like Garth was bowing deep before Mabat his queen.
Garth hovered on the edge of blacking out. A bucket of water splashed over his head. Garth broke with a cry, shocked. But the cooling waters flooded his brain, a fresh awakening as coolness flooded his back. Awakening fresh agonies, arousing mind-crippling pain as his awareness woke up. A hand grabbed at his hair from behind, his head tugged back. Pulling him up to his knees. Another bucket, this time splashed into his face. Catching him unawares, swallowing liquid, spluttering, coughing up his brutalised guts.
The hand still held up Garth’s head, twisting his neck backwards so the queen could look down into his face. The yoke dug painfully into the back of his neck, the ungainly weight would have unbalanced his weakness if it hadn’t been for the grip in his hair. Blinking through the water streaming off his hair, barely seeing her. From the tortured body that hung hurt off the grip in his scalp Garth was barely aware of her. Till Mabat spoke. Till Garth’s inner self registered his arch-enemy’s voice, she stood close. Awakening his fighter’s instincts, the predator was near.
“The dog played well, don’t you think, queen?” Played? That some bloody game the general had thought up? That had been just some god-damned sport? The queen answered, addressing her general. “It did. Entertaining.” Garth shook himself, her voice, Mabat was near. The enemy lurked close-by.
Groggy as hell, still Garth tried not to give in to the pain. His head twisted up by the pull on his hair. Vision swam before his eyes, water still dripped off his hair. Briefly he viewed Mabat through the sweat and tears. Alongside her general, right by him. Within striking distance. If it weren’t for this yoke ….. “A game that confirmed my appraisal.” They were talking freely, – as if Garth was not right under their feet. Not far from the truth, he barely was with them in this ….. But Garth got a grip. But still letting them think him done-in, luring them into speaking freely. In the hope of some intel he could use. Not hard to fake it, Garth could barely see, his guts threatened to erupt. Garth was battling away with himself, trying not to pass out before he heard something he could use. Looking for them like he was near-broken by that thrashing. And he damned-near was …. But strength-of-mind kept him going, kept up the fight. Breathing hard, groaning for breath, moaning into his pain. But Garth, his eyes still swimming, sounding like he was fighting for his last breath, – he forced himself to listen, he forced himself alert.
“It did not plead. Barely even cried out. As I thought ….. Garth was astonished, though. Mabat was saying he hadn’t cried out? After the way he’d felt, he found that hard to believe. In the agonising “game” they’d played on him it seemed his body had been crying out in pain for hours. Still, a manly pride rushed to his head, apparently he’d managed to stand up to the she-devil. Through that inhuman attack on him. Mabat’s feedback inflamed his self-belief. But still Garth could barely believe he had managed that.
“Hardly the broken beast, though …. Is it?” Was she talking about him? Was Mabat saying he didn’t look done-in? “The dog took well over 50 blows. This is one tough brute,” the general emphasised. Politely protesting …. 50. Only fifty? Garth could hardly believe only fifty. It felt ten times that many. Delivered with such mind-blowing ferocity. And he had managed to hold himself in, Mabat had said so. Yes, that must make him some tuff sonofabitch. Only ….   the way he felt , he could not believe it. BUT … Mabat was saying he HAD denied the bitch-general!
“Tough?   …. did you expect anything else?….” Garth sensed a sweep of Mabat’s gaze over his bent back. She never seemed to miss a single opportunity to put her general down. Just like at their dinner last night. Garth remembered how she’d looked at him, in cold silence. Looking him over, working out what he was capable of. And she had read him well. He was a tough nut to crack. He had performed well in this arena –   as Mabat had expected. Performed to her expectations. Mabat had been reading him. And got him right. Reading right the defiance in his eyes. Rightly summing up the resistance written in his body language. Signs of their kickings and beatings on his body. Made helpless and vulnerable in that yoke. At dinner last night she had made an appraisal of his strengths – and got him right. Worrying or what? But right now to Mabat his body was giving back the message – far from beaten, it was going to take a lot to break him. After this performance in the arena Mabat was saying her general was still a lifetime from breaking Garth down.
“He has not given in. Or has he ….?” Mabat’s voice was soft, – like she was talking only to the general. Ignoring the fact that Garth too was listening in. Within striking distance. Capable of dealing Mabat a killer blow. Or would have been if ……
“This is what you call broken ….?” Mabat sneered. “This the best you and your men can do ….?” Tiredness suddenly washed over Garth, weakness threatened, dizziness came back. It would have been so easy to give into the pain and let himself drift away. But Garth could not afford to, not right now. Again Garth was listening in to dissension in the ranks. Mabat going for her general, cutting her down to size. Dissent. Disagreement. Where that existed, there was something to exploit. Gut instincts dictated he had to keep listening in here.
“Look at it? Has THIS given in? Has this charade broken him ….?” Mabat again. Garth, on his knees, burdened by the unwieldy yoke, sensed as much as saw Mabat’s eyes scanning his beaten body. “This myth? This Earthman? Is THIS what you call broken?” “Only a matter of time …..” The general was cut short by Mabat. “How much MORE time?” Mabat’s snarl bounced off the bare stone walls.
These signs of dissent were the first bright light so far. But …. BLAST! Garth was shattered, his brain wasn’t working,. Dissent in the Krottak ranks. But where the heck did that get him? SHIT! What was he going to do? Where exactly was Garth’s great strategic thinking getting him?
7. Doubts: Challenges
Then suddenly forces changed. A momentary lapse of focus – and the hand in Garth’s scalp holding him up gave a push. Inexplicably, unexpected, Garth was collapsing forward. Momentum did the rest. Garth went down to the earth face-first, hitting yoke-first. The front-end jammed at the dirt, pain jarred itself into his neck. The reverberations shuddered down his spine. The cry of shock was out before he could prevent it. Smacked yoke-first onto the hard sandy earth. She was talking now, the arch-bitch. Mabat had the floor. Addressing her council, her gang of female thugs.
“Entertaining,   … these little games ….”
Garth’s head was in a swirl. Exhaustion, pain, lost and confused. He was hearing her words but the hurt that had hold of his body threatened to claim him back. Teeth gritted, his visions filled with only the dirt at her feet, he clawed his way back. Bent double, like some supplicant bending the knee to Mabat. But still he’d heard a disparaging tone in Mabat’s voice. These little games? Another put-down for her general. Almost overcome with exhaustion, ……   Garth forced himself to listen. “But how far has it got us? This show, this little … entertainment …. of yours. “
Garth’s back knew full well where. But he was remembering that idle thought earlier. Suspecting Mabat wanted to dominate, show off. Wanting to show her cronies that she could succeed where they had failed. The ultimate power-play. “And if that charade had broken his body … where does that get us?”
The general stayed silent. Knowing better than to answer back. Best keep her head down when Mabat was in a mood like this.
“Don’t get it, do you? This is more than a mere body to be beaten,” Mabat snorted. “Break every bone in his body – what have we got …..?”
Another barely disguised snort of contempt. Dished out in public.
“Most men, – yes, you and your men can beat the crap out of weaklings like them – Play your games like this. Lesser men break.” Garth hated this pose. Like he was bent forward on his knees, at her feet, kissing the earth. Kissing the very dirt on which Mabat walked. He was too exhausted to move. But this symbolism did grate. On his knees, his head bowed ……   And she was only inches away ….. If only ….. If only he had the strength ….
“But is this one of your easy pickings ….? One like this …..?”
Garth had nearly lost the plot, so tied up in his own concerns. So near too to the woman he wanted to kill. No way could he attack her. He doubted he could even get to his feet. If he tried, even a woman could overpower him. Yoked up and done-for like this. ” … break every bone in his body   …. flog him to death …… So what? This one is more than that …much more. This is a legend. This body personifies Maru hope.” She must have given a signal. He missed it, too caught up in his exhaustion. Hands were suddenly pulling Garth up, lifting him to his feet. The tugging awoke all the pain. The movement in his back had him hissing out with the pain. Brutalised flesh and muscle protesting tenfold. “Maru hope – and any other tribe that thinks they can stand u to us. There is more to do with this one than merely beating the life out of him. Don’t you get it …?”
His head swimming but Garth’s defiance managed the thought. Too right, queenie …. but the thought was cut short. Cut off by stabbing pains. Hands had grabbed at his arms, guards were pulling him away. Mabat must have dismissed him.
“It is the spirit. It is the will. It is what he represents to those Maru peasants.”
Garth was being turned away but still hearing Mabat lecturing her council. Pain shook his body as they hauled him off.
“Broken bones. Battered flesh …. Worth nothing if this NAME lives on …. Like some martyr …. “
Garth lost the rest. The sudden pain of moving had him cry out. Being dragged away. A battered body grabbed and dragged hurting from Mabat’s royal presence. With every tortured muscle in his body protesting. “Feed it,” she had said.
Garth never heard that order. Not hearing that Mabat didn’t want him starved to death, she had other ideas for him.
“Food and water. Let it rest.”
Even now, hours later, waking up after his fitful rest, agony still burst out of his every pore. Hurting, burning, on fire. Beaten into exhaustion by their barrages of attacks. He hadn’t imagined when he’d surrendered he’d go through something like that arena attack. Garth had surrendered to save Lenana, he’d had to safeguard his unborn child. Alone now, deserted, in the dank darkness of Mabat’s dungeons. Cold was eating him from the damp earth beneath yet flames of hell were burning in his back. Beaten up three times already, that last one beat the best. One day only in the clutches of these vindictive women – and Garth had begun questioning his resolve. How long he was going to hold out? If it kept on going like this …? He cussed the hurt as he struggled on all-fours towards the food. He needed to eat, he needed every bit of his strength. If he had to tough this out, he needed his strength. But the distance to that plate was a lifetime of agony away. Reaching it, he fell back moaning against the gate. Head crushed against the iron bars that kept him Mabat’s prisoner, panting out his pains. The plate stayed by his side. Unable to find the strength to get it down. He was in unchartered territory, uncertain what was going on, what to do. Food and drink – that meant Mabat wanted him fed, the slag. She wasn’t going to starve him to death, she wanted him strong. Garth’s powers of recovery before had never let him down. Steeling himself, his chest rocking with the effort, he reached again for the plate. His head swam, acid flooded his throat.
But out of nowhere Garth enjoyed a sudden rush of strength. He’d battled the Krottaks for months. Now he had their queen in his sights. He had victory in his crosshairs. He was in touching distance of settling this. Not going to be easy …. but ….. Right, bitch. You want a challenge? God-damn you, Garth ‘ll give you a fight.
She wanted to break him herself, did she?   By hell, he’d show her what-for.
Too right, bitch, Garth thought, too right, you have a fight on your hands.
Today he’d survived. Incredible after the inhumanity of that “little game” of theirs. But he’d got through it.   He’d endure tomorrow too.
Bring it on. Do your best, you evil slag.
8. Guile: Ogre
“So what’s his line of work? Why’s he have to come dragging along?” Garth nodded in the direction of the man. He was huge. He gave Garth a feeling for how the Maru had looked on him. A giant among their wiry race. This guy was no local, they must have brought him in. Question was, Why? Garth towered over the Krottak, he could imagine why they itched to put a big man like him down, Garth was a threat just by standing there and looking down on them. This man did the same to Garth. In silence, standing nearby, looking down on Garth tied down on this flat rock in the dungeons. What he had of a neck looked like one of Garth’s thighs. If this had been back on planet Earth Garth would have put him down for one of those really freakish bodybuilders. An ogre. All bulk, muscle that could not find space. He wore a tunic down to his knees. But Garth could imagine his knees had never touched, so much muscle on his thighs.
The pair of them had appeared, out-of-nowhere. Krottak guards had forced the aching Garth out of his cell and bound him to this rock. Left him to wait, left him to work things out for himself. Enter Ogre with Waif-Woman in tow. “He has a job to do. Orders of the queen,” she replied. Calmly. Her eyes travelling the length of Garth’s defined body. For one of the rare times in his life Garth was suddenly feeling small alongside this Ogre to his right.
No sign of the general, then. Not even to command the guards who’d dragged him here. And she had not been slow to be around when Garth was given a doing-over. So was it happening? Was she “otherwise engaged”? Was Mabat’s general out of the picture, her queen was taking charge lie Garth had suspected before? She’d sent this brute to do her will, had she? To beat the crap out of him? The thug didn’t need to fold his arms across his chest like that to impress. Relaxed they bulged. They couldn’t fail to amaze. How did a man to get a big as that? “Like?” Garth was indulging the Waif, leading her in some kind of conversation at last. Interested genuinely on why this freak had turned up. Tied over a stone with a good-looking woman – better than being beat up by the Krottak guards. Or being gagged in front of Mabat. But if she unleashed that muscle-freak on to Garth, he was going to know he’d come calling.
She was a bit skinny for Garth’s taste. But otherwise the Waif was quite a beauty. “All in good time …….” Not unkindly Garth half-snorted. “Muscle? Back-up ….?” Garth’s wrist tugged at the rope that was keeping him tied to this stone. “Security? You planning on releasing these, …?” Fine chance! Garth was keeping his tone light – as much to disguise the worrying feeling deep inside his gut. He didn’t believe in fairies. Or fairy stories. Mabat was never going to let Garth run free. But he did believe in ogres and if that one got Garth’s head in some headlock the brute could snap his neck. His glowering presence towering over Garth tied down like this was not just for show. The tunic was clung tight down to the waist. The snug top showed everything he’d got. And with Garth tied defenceless over this stone, what he was showing was going to be more than enough.
“Too many questions,” The woman said dismissively. “Let’s get down to things.” She did, right down. Arms moved out to the side, slipping her cloak back over her shoulders, Revealing her body, skinny but eye-catching too. Especially as she had hardly anything on. The nipples covered, only, braided cord keeping soft leather pads in pace. Bare torso otherwise, a good figure, firm, everything in place. A body hard not to fancy, eye-catching. Garth’s suspicions snapped to attention, she wasn’t here looking like this for a photo-shoot. Inevitably his man’s eyes slipped down. Another minimal triangle of soft black leather did the job. She wasn’t here for a bit of fun, though. Not dressed like that. She was Krottak. And she was a woman, one of their sadistic bitches. She too was here for a job. With a plan to “get down to things”. Quite a combination. It did not take much imagination where “things” were headed. And with a back-up a guy who could do a good line in back-breaking punches – quite thought!.
Later when he had some chance to think about it – another one interminable night of blackness when pain would not let him rest – Barth wondered whether it was possible the ogre was another captive too. Another race they’d walked over, – though for the life of him he could not imagine how the scrawny Krottak could take on a race of monsters like him. If the Ogre was Krottak he was definitely some freak of birth. Whatever, captive himself or not. The monster came with a job – looked made for torture, built for breaking the strongest of wills, those fists could smash up the most powerful resolve. He was god’s gift if you wanted to put the shits under someone, – just imagine having him let loose on you. Garth imagined this naked bitch giving orders to take Garth out – most men would be wetting their pants.
Astonishingly the ogre had done nothing when she’d revealed herself. Not batted an eyelid. HOW? He’d just stood there, his gaze didn’t even flicker towards a naked woman, just stood arms crossed over his barrel of a chest looking down at Garth. Intimidating to say the least. Garth wasn’t going to show it. But he felt worryingly vulnerable underneath all that brute force. And Garth knew well enough it would only take a word. A single word. Just a nod for those daunting shoulders to hammerblow a punch into his abs. That was intimidation enough. In fact, the strong-arm tactics hadn’t been needed. Turned out the bare-assed slut could manage things by herself.
8. Guile: Waif
Without any ado, she climbed onto Garth’s stone, slung a leg over his hips and settled herself down. A rocking movement assured her pose, her womanhood resting on the top of Garth’s manhood. As if to focus Garth’s eyes on the job, her hands caressed herself. Garth had guessed right at the point of her nakedness. He could have resisted, he could have bucked her off. Despite the presence of the glowering ogre alongside. Question was, how best to respond? How best to beat her at her little game? Arms crossed over, lightly touching the opposite breast. Fingering carelessly at a nipple. Lightly caressing, then cupping them, shaping them, stroking herself. Like Garth had often done in his wondrous nights with Lenana. Hard to look away, – even when not interested sexually. The cupping , the gently squeezing, shaping and moving beguiling pert breasts, – her work-out went on some time. Garth watched but not impressed. Glad he was not physically responding to this. Sure he understood the direction of the sexual torture she was starting on. Garth was in no doubt, she was skilled enough to get him aroused, she’d been chosen for that. But the sight of his enemy feeling herself up, – that was not going to get him going.
How best to play her? How best to undermine her little tricks? What was she up to? What did she expect? For him to get carried away? For him to get animal-like aroused, dying for it, begging for it? Just so she could deny him? Her hands, still crossed over, stroked lasciviously down her sides, down to her hips. Then pausing a moment, deliberately bidding to get his eyes’ attention, one hand travelled to her core. The back of her hand was pressed against Garth’s disinterested cock as she fingered herself. Inserted a pair of fingers inside. That felt distinctly uncomfortable, maybe even perverse. Garth squirmed under her. But he could not escape her hand feeling herself inside. Languidly caressing herself, the backs of her fingers caressing him too. Starting to arouse herself, breathing deeper, slower, starting to rock to her self-loving, starting to sway from her hips, her womanhood hot over Garth’s own core. Hard not to feel some sensation as her womanhood was masturbated, as the heat of her womanhood rolled over his cock.   As her thighs squeezed around him and she moaned with self-lust on each rise.
Or was she expecting him to resist, to try and deny her, to bump her off? Just so that she could foil his futile attempts. Force him into accepting her. Shame him into a hard-on despite his valiant efforts to fight her back. Still rolling on him, somewhat taken in her arousal, Garth saw her hands extend out to the side. Practised, on signal, her Ogre poured oil into her hand. Spreading it over both hands, then her one hand went to a breast, stroking, caressing, the skin beginning to glisten, her upper body rising and falling as she touched herself up. Her heart massaging on Garth’s bulge. Her finger slicking over her glistening skin. Her oiled nipple catching the torchlight.
The other hand lowered to Garth’s chest. Oily fingers played in his abs.   Circling themselves in the definition he bore. Slowly moving upwards, finding his ribs. Joined by the other hand, massaging fingertips stroking deep into his upper abs. A sensuous deep massage, not unpleasant, But in the circumstances not welcomed. Not if Garth meant to resist her efforts. And still she rocked upon him, still her thighs squeezed on his hips, rising and falling, her womanhood working firmly on his manliness.
An eager slick finger had found his nipple. A tingle of expectation thrilled through his skin as it lightly played on the nub. Garth knew on that first touch he was already reacting, the flesh there had already firmed up, his nipple was tingling to her touch. The firmness of flesh there giving signals back to her searching fingertips. As if receiving a signal from him to proceed, she leaned forward, her firm breasts swaying forward, the sight of them filled his view. A hand over each pec, soft oily hands massaging him there, the thumb occasionally gliding over his nub. A light electric shock. Leaning forward over him, her whole body weight rocking over the dome of his cock. Confirming to Garth what he had starting to suspect. Despite any reluctance he might have had not to give in, his body was going to know otherwise. Under her weight, her willing heat weighted immediately over his crown, Garth knew his condition had changed. And she was going to know it too. The inevitable was happening. As she had known, as she had planned.
8. Guile: Getting going
The working on his erect nipple was getting manly responses reverberating throughout his body. As his “worshipper” worked her oily focus on his nipple, a second touch was felt on his belly. Her other hand groped at his flat stomach, fingering him deep below the navel, inside his kilt, gliding seductively down over his fur trail. And then, just a hair’s breadth from touching her target, the toying halted. As if thinking it over, as if giving Garth time to think, then seductively the fingering tickled its way back to his belly button. Circling it, lightly playing there. Leaving the thought behind. Garth knew his pulse had upped, he was breathing deeper now, exhaling stronger. There was going to be no macho fighting back, no ignoring these moves. He was starting to sweat, the sweat of sex, – even if unwelcome. His head could tell him everything he wanted about wanting to fight back. But against that continuing rocking over his shaft and her groping, there was no holding back. He couldn’t fight it, he had to accept it, his genitals were in for torture. The other hand was still working his chest. Disconcertingly he could feel his nipple as firm as he was going to get against the touch of her thumb. Further down, he was rapidly heading the same way. Still she rolled on him, pressing, leaning forward, hips sliding her more onto the solid crown under her heat. Rocking onto him, her occasional moaning the only sound he could hear. Except the increased pulsing of blood in his ear.
The slut had got him going. Inevitable. He was a man. She took her time. She’d slid back down off him, pushing herself down over his legs. Her hands massaging on his thighs, her soft oily fingers spread, a thumb playing with the nerves up the inner part of his legs. But first her nails had racked agony’s stripes own his chest. Talons digging into his skin and tearing sizzling pain through his flesh. Worryingly Garth felt that painful scrape burst in a response elsewhere too. A rush of energy crackled up his erect cock and sparkled at his tip. His heart rate increased.
Like briefed the Ogre used her move, he used his knife, sliced Garth’s final clothing away. Revealing Garth at his full power. Letting his powerful erection spring for the skies. Garth knew it, he had felt it. A sudden shower of beaded sweat flushed through his torso. He’d known it happening. But the actual sight of an erection aroused at her will and against his still unnerved him. She had assumed control over that part of him. He was fully erect, she had got him hard, she had him prepared. Fun over, inevitable, the torture was going to begin. Not much of a conversationalist, she simply extended a hand. Her Ogre handed her one. A delicate set of clips. Pearly-handled, dainty, woman-like. But with the sharpest set of teeth. A bite to cause the sharpest pain wherever inserted. On his nub. Expertly applied, not grossly clamped down anywhere on Garth’s nipple. More adroit, more experienced. Biting straight into his bud. At the first touch, Garth’s torso reacted, his eyes opened wider. Snapped dexterously on the firmed-up flesh she had aroused in his chest. Garth felt himself react lower down, in an instant. She moved back up, straddling him again about the hips. His full erection again pressed back down by her body, crushed between her heat and the flatness of his belly. A rush of sexual flush roared up the length of him. Her flattening him, the sharp teeth getting to him. It felt like life’s energy throbbed frustrated in his crown, nowhere for such force to escape to. She was on top of him. Their heats co-mingling. The full hardness of his erection swamped by the wetness of her womanhood.
Had she felt his rush of energy too? Had she felt the measure of her success? No telling, she didn’t look like she was planning to enjoy this. No woman here arousing a man in sex. The torturer had clocked in for work. This was a job, this was what she did for a living. Manfully Garth tried to control his response, at least not to show his nerves at losing this. But, truth was, the sight of the second clip tantalisingly hovering over his other nub, torturing his sight, tormenting his nerves, playing on his fear of reacting, the playing with him as effective as the response itself   … it was hard not to stare, not to wish it away, not to try and twist his torso away and escape that bite. To avoid that surge of energy in his cock that was a sign of his weakness against her. Blood pounded in his ear, he could feel his heart-rate had quickened, he was holding his breath. A hiss escaped as the evil teeth found their mark. And then Garth was panting hard and slow into the pain. Fighting for control.
A flick of a finger, – that was all it took. Flicking her finger tip against the clip. Garth jumped, he jerked, –   as best he could in his tight restraints. Trapped between the heat of her thighs. Garth could feel the sweat trickling down his temples.
8. Guile: Throbs
She did it all herself. After slipping her cloak completely from her shoulders, still naked except for those toying bits of leather covering her womanly parts. She took dripping wet leather cord from the Ogre and bound up Garth’s genitals. As a boy, he’d played at such games. As a man, some girls who had been into domination games had played with him the same way. But Garth was here in the hands of a tormentor … with her own specific plans in mind. A figure of eight tied up his balls, it cut off his blood supply tightly binding around the root of his cock. He’d already been hard from her toying. By the time his body heat started drying out the damp cord, he’d stay that way. No backing down.
Her oily thumb played over his throbbing cockhead. Electric shocks. Circling over the top, drooping smoothly over the sides, lightly playing at his trigger spot. A game that was being played out in silence. Garth trying not to whimper, her intent on her task. Since this had all started, not a word had passed her lips. Only her moans as she had masturbated on his erection. Replaced now by his grunts as his body unwillingly twitched under her touch. Her thumb was underneath him. Slick, oily, light. Over and over that spot. Garth was fully aroused, his strength pointing straight up. His body was tingling, a victim of long arousal. On edge, knowing she had that part of him, wondering where she was taking it. Prickling with excitement, aroused by anticipation. Of what? Slow languorous movements of her thumb.   Working him over. Light touches, electrical sparks crackling in his shaft. Garth worried. It was happening, he was going to come, she was going to make him come. No harm in that, eh? What victory in that? It was what men did, wasn’t it? No doubt, the bare-arsed slag had done this many times before, she knew it was nothing a man could stop. Nothing a hot-blooded man like Garth was going to hold in check. Why get bothered? Why worry if he shed a load? Why get hung up on that? If this had been Lenana, would he have held back? Let it be, let her have her little victory. If a man ejaculated, – so what the hell?
But it was just that. It was that she had won, this was a fight – and he could not win that fight. Shedding that load – it was a sign. A sign there was a weakness he could not control. It was that caution that held him in check. Knowing she could make him do this without him wanting it, – how much did she learn about him from that? How would it prompt her to find out more? SHIT! It was happening, all that stroking, the slick fingers playing on and around his trigger spot, stroking it, leaving it, going back, circling, stroking up and down – it was going to happen, want it or not. Unlike when Lenana was pleasing him, Garth told himself to keep his reactions hidden. Not lifting with his hips. Not like offering his manhood into Lenana’s hand, showing how her touch was welcome to him. How her kindnesses and love was what he desired. Garth forced himself back, he made himself lay still, he let the slag have her games, he was not going to play his part. Control, fighting for control. Damned if he was going to give in to Nature. Bugger that. No humping, no shoving with his hips, no pleasurable drool of a smile playing on his lips.
But he feared this bitch knew, she could read his body as well as could Garth. He was cuming, he could not stop his body from finding that release. Eventually his breathing betrayed him, hotter, harder. Without thinking his head gave a few releasing sways, rocking from left-to-right. On the spot of shooting his spunk. Then suddenly her touch was gone. Her hands raised above him, her eyes on him. Slipped back off him, letting his freed erection spring for the skies. Untouched by human hand. Reading his reaction, reading Garth like an open book, the bitch. Unstoppable, Garth heard himself moan. He regretted it in the same instant. But once there was one, others followed. He felt her eyes on him as his body squirmed, first hoping to let himself go, trying to will himself to ejaculate. Then left trembling with his frustration. Feeling the energy sizzling in his tumultuous flesh. On the verge, on the brink. Quivering. Frustrated. So THAT was her game, the slut.
8. Guile: Master of her trade
Sexual torture, part-and-parcel of her game. Played to question his manly sexuality. Meant to undermine his image of himself. Questioning who now was master of the game. Garth was used to playing the dominant role, throughout his challenging life it was always him making the moves. A woman torturing his sexuality, taking that dominance from him ….. By force …. . Made against his will to dance to her tune. Play by the rules, the rules she was writing. Rules that denied Garth any say in her game. A game that she played out many times that night.
Mounting him yet again, she leaned herself hot against his hardness. Trapped in her figure-of-eight, the wet heat of her pressing his frustration nerve-bitingly back against his belly. Riding him, stroking over his smarting desperation, her hot womanhood moist against his raging and needy manly pride. Rubbing the length of him, slowly, stroking his firmness to crazed desires. He had been here before, may times this night, he knew it was heading nowhere. But the crazed need hoped beyond hope. Rising above him when the moment came. Like she could read his needs, however hard he tried to mask them. He was an open book to her, she seemed to judge precisely the right moment. Just when he quivered with wild hope that this time the moment had come, she slipped out of his reach. The urgency of need burst from his tortured chest. Burning with frustration. His body was tormented by repeated denials, Garth had tried the lot. He’d done make-believe, he’d dissembled, he’d pretended. He tried like hell to fool her. But the slag was a past-master at her game, her game of mastering him. Garth was sweating, –   profusely. He could feel it freely flowing down his bare legs. The sweat of wild sex had collected on his abs. But there hadn’t been any wild sex, there wouldn’t be any. Other times with a woman who was into bondage, the feeling of powerlessness like this could be an incredible turn-on. Made to hold himself back, denied what he craved, the intensity of sexual urges overwhelming. His manhood taken over to his grinning girl. But this whore was not grinning, Garth was not invited to play along. The sick bitch was torturing his dick. Torturing his sexuality. Nothing more.
Knowing what she was up to, knowing how she was playing this game of demeaning – surely it helped the head to understand?   At first he had feigned disdain. Indifferent to her fumblings about his inner core, mauling at his private self. Unable to stop her so falling into a feeling of indifference to her moves. Indifference, though, had given way to shame. Ashamed that she could lord-over his body in this way. That he could not control that bit of himself.   That he was subjected to this indignity, forced to having his privacy being felt up like this. Shame that his own manliness could desert him, treacherously sided with his tormentor. Human nature, the way he was built – but he was deeply ashamed that he could become such easy prey. His head knew what was going on. It knew not to play along, not to let her take over him. But his body insisted otherwise, it craved her touch. Willingly sliding down into the slime of her control. Dragging his sexuality to places his head did not want it to be. Knowingly giving him into the claws of her vicious grip. Her evil grasp on his craving.
Shame had given way to need, mad, frantic needing. Her slick thumb rode up and down his shaft, her slick fingers wrapped around his hotness on the other side , sometimes squeezing him, arousing him to let go a moan. That grip on him reminding Garth how hot he was, how hard she had made him become. Blood-engorged, achingly hard, aching with frantic frustration. There were intense moments when he thought he might even pass out, panting, hyper-ventilating. The thumb on him was sometimes tantalisingly light, other times her hand strongly massaged down his shaft. Prickling, life leapt up like static all over his skin. Desperate moans escaped, plaintive groans seeped out betraying his suffering. He couldn’t help it, his head told him not to, his thinking being warned against giving out signals. But obscenely his body gave his head the finger. There was only one thing it craved. Garth was trembling, his whole being was wired. Each pass over his trigger point had his shaft burst with light, his whole core aflame.
A dozen times he had been ridden to the brink of bursting point. And then abandoned to his dismay. Orgasm suspended, achingly suspended in the torture of endless time. His whole body pumped full of unfulfilled desires. Every pore throbbing with frantic need. The first times those desires were containable, he could curse, he could rant. And then he had managed to laugh the off, laugh that he had let her overcome him. As if this was some whore he had bought, a girl who was paid to play him at this game.
But Garth had to confess she was good at this. No game, no pleasure, no paid whore. Kept on the edge, bursting on the brim, kept tottering on the verge. Crazily needing to let go. A female tormentor, master of her game. He throbbed, all of his powerful body throbbed. Physically a match for any challenge. But burning with denied pleasure. Garth crushed tight his eyes, he concentrated, teeth gritted, sucking in an agonised breath. Forcing his head to take back control. She was playing him like an maestro on a musical instrument. Despite his earlier resolve, his muscled chest heaved with the effort of containing his raging needs. His head fighting to claim him back slammed face-first into a terrible realisation, like running head-first into a wall. Lust. Garth’s lust. Shamefully he was overcome with such whorish lust. He had to, he just damned-well had to ….. He almost pleaded, it was on the tip of his tongue. Beg her to finish him off. Beg her to let him. His brain sprang to life. Reminding that she had no such plans. Begging only boosted her success. But SHIT …. he ached. Such wanton lust. His whole being wanted only that one thing …..
She thought it amusing to tickle at his cord-bound bollocks, driving Garth beyond himself, beyond his control. Releasing to his nostrils the piquancy of his body’s natural musk.   His long-engorged shaft shuddered rigid with frustration, his throbbing virile cockhead ached with torrid heat.   But nothing came, no sexual release. Pain and denied sexual fulfilment pulsating wildly in his groin. Pitiful moans were his only release, not the one he craved. Plaintive moans that oozed from deep in his tortured soul. Dignity violated.
He handed her the cloak abandoned on the floor. Garth looked as if through a dream at her. Sexy, shapely, in many ways desirable. A bitch, a slut of the highest order. A tart. A sex torturer. He lay sweating on his platform. His chest breathing in deep, his skin coated with a thick gluey sweat. He reeked of sex, unfulfilled sex. The Ogre had retrieved her cloak and given it her. She was going? She had finished? She had done with him?
Her eyes travelled over him. Tied down, helpless, flushed with unfulfilled needs. Overlooking as if insignificant the massive tumescent organ reaching for the skies. Close by him, right by his side. Not a word had passed between them since this torture had begun. Seemingly hours ago. Garth for all his strength, for all that defined muscle bound to that rock, reduced to a sweating reeking hulk.
She hadn’t broken him. But he hadn’t won either. Her hand extended over his hips. Her hand crept towards and touched the aching purple crown of his manhood, It leapt greedily for the touch, his heart sprang to life at the promise. Reminding him in that one instant how much he had craved that touch. How much that single contact filled his body instantly with sexual lust. She pressed him backwards. Her hand pushed Garth’s aching, long-engorged purple-bulging erection back down towards his legs. To the point when nature said no more. Garth was already straining upwards, trying to give his trembling hard-on more scope. More freedom to move. He was trembling, he was sweating. Still the pressure continued. Pushing him back. Until it began to feel beyond uncomfortable. Continuing the pressure downwards. Garth was tense, rigid, biting his bottom lip. Knowing if she carried on, …. damage could be done. Trembling … it could not go any further. On the tip of his tongue. Begging, pleading not to.   No eye contact, her eyes on the magnificence of his erection, flaring purple, at risk, at the danger tipping-point, at the point when he could snap. When irreparable damage would be done.
Unaccountably. Thankfully. Letting him go. Releasing the pressure. Letting his manhood spring back. A loud slap of hard flesh bouncing off his belly. “BIIITCH!” Garth’s slur bounced off the walls. Echoing off the bare rock walls. After she had walked out on him, without a word, not sparing him a single glance, his cry still bounced back at him. Mocking his downfall. His own futile curses laughing at his disgrace.
Ransomed (4) A Garth Serial by Rendszeretlen
Part Four
9.    Breaking wills:  Ransom demands “You said they’d go free.” Garth snarled his protest at Mabat.  Brought again into her presence, shoved into the chamber to find the two brothers on their knees, Marun and Doa.  Looking at him in astonishment.  Seeing unexpectedly their leader encased in some unwieldy yoke around his neck.  His fabled strength disabled, his mighty body inescapably in the clutches of the Krottak. “That was the deal.  Hand me over, they go free.” Gazaan’s sons for whose freedom Garth had bargained his life. A sneer lifted the corner of Mabat’s mouth.  She could have had him silenced before being brought into her presence.  But letting the Earthman mouth off was one part of today’s tricks. “Only a bit of the deal.  Did that slut not report my words accurately?” Garth frowned.  Slut?  Gazaan’s daughter?  Which message did Syda neglect to tell?  Garth suspected Mabat was playing more of her tricks. “When I have got what I want  …  the dogs go free.  My exact words.   That is what I told her.” Garth remembered that clearly.  Syda had faithfully reported the exact words.  And everyone had known exactly what that meant.  Instantly the Maru people had looked at Garth.  The words meant what they said, Mabat wanted Garth.  When she had what the bitch wanted …… “And you have got me,”  Garth snapped back.  “These bruises give proof.  The stripes on my back are evidence  –  I have surrendered.  Now let them go.” Angry he stood up to the lying bitch.  Deceit had always annoyed him. Eerily Garth saw Mabat smirk.  Looking at him, looking him over.  Stood tall and proud  –  locked up in this ungainly yoke.  For all his power, looking the peak of male flawlessness.  For all his reputation as a warrior-leader  –  wearing this thing Garth was no danger, he could do the Krottak no harm.  As he felt her scathing glance whip across the sight of his subjugation, he felt at conflict with himself.  A mixture of unwillingness to face the facts, he WAS her prisoner.  What the hell could he do about that?  Locked in this stupid contraption.  But he was damned if he was going to take things lying down.  Especially after this deception.  Muran and Deo were still her captives.  After he had ransomed himself. BLAST!  This god-damned thing around his shoulders just symbolised his helplessness.  Even if he launched himself at a guard, just as a gesture, just to show he was no snivelling coward intimidated by being held in their clutches,  –  if he did that he ran the risk of overbalancing.  Just a Krottak foot stuck out and tripping him up.  Finishing up on the floor with everyone sniggering at his stupidity.  And what would he have gained?  Nothing.  Just feeling a prick. He posed no danger, that was clear.  Mabat knew that.  That was why she had descended from the dais, left her throne and was circling him.  A finger stroked toying across his broad bare back.  A hand stroked over his backside.  A mocking touch rested on his powerless bicep, flexed under the weight of the yoke.  Mabat’s hand slapped lightly at his cheek.  Not to hurt, to make Garth feel small. “Have I got what I want, though, Earthman?” Mabat stood in front.  Only about a yard away.  Without this crippling imponderance around his neck, she would be a gonna.  And she knew that,  –  and she knew his incapacity to do just what Garth itched to do.  She knew how that irked.  Her chin was cupped in her palm, the classic figure of a thinker.  A ring finger stroked meditatively across her cheek. “What have I got?” Mabat was ignoring the captive brothers on their knees.  Watching this game intently.  Concerned for their friend and the war-leader they revered, made helpless by that thing around his neck.  On their knees, their bare torsos bruised and striped with the severity of treatment in Mabat’s dungeons. “And just what is it I have gained, Earthman?” Garth felt her eyes on his own.  He frowned, she was playing tricks, she knew where this was going if he didn’t.  Questioning him, seeking to dominate. “One.  I have your freedom  ……” Mabat smiled, she nodded, ticking off her assets as she counted them down. “Two   ….  Your body  …..” She took her time now.  Slowly scrutinising Garth from head to foot.  Taking in the powerful chest.  Appraising slowly the hard rocks of muscle protruding in his abs.  Lingering gaze down on his hips, rounding over the short kilt.  Lording her power over the full length of his bare legs.  Stopping a while at the bare feet.  Lingering on the way back up, relishing the muscled power in his thighs.  With a slight tremor, Garth reckoned her gaze rested long and hard on his private parts.  Hidden still from sight under the kilt,  –  his only covering since the Ogre had ripped away his underwear.  She could see nothing.  But it felt like she had X-ray eyes.  No doubt that slut of a waif had reported, she knew what had happened in the waif’s dungeon that night.  In her imagination was Mabat’s gaze envisioning the sights? It was a look of mockery, though, that took in the power of his arms.  Held helpless in these stocks, bulging with trapped strength as his daunting biceps curled to support the weight around his neck.  It was a pleasure of domination that passed taunting over his peaked shoulders, the muscled strength there locked-down in that yoke.  Enjoying the sight of him standing only a yard from her and yet frustrated from doing what he longed to do.  Attack her, kill her, end the reign  of terror against which he had fought. “So much power in this body.  So much strength.  And now  …   it belongs to me.” Over my dead body, thought Garth.  Only as long as you keep me in chains.  Or in this preposterous yoke. Mabat smirked into his face.  As if she had read his thoughts. “What else?”  she pondered.  “What’s missing, Earthman?”
9. Breaking wills: Possibilities
“What else might I want from …. this ….? What else might I wish to take?” Mabat’s gaze swept over the powerful body she held captive in her hands. Stuck in his preposterous yoke. “What are you after, bitch?” Garth was losing patience. It hurt enough to be her prisoner. To have her play mind-games with him as well was getting right up his nose. Mabat did not react to the insult. Except by raising her eyebrow. Like in answer to his question, What else was she after? She took a long time in answering. Not that she really had to think, Garth knew just what she was up to. Trying to mess with his head. She knew exactly what she was after. It was only Garth did not. And she was playing at keeping him waiting.
“Your life.” Garth snapped back, laughing in her face. “You’ve got that. You can kill me any time.” To emphasise his point, he shook his shoulders. Showed her how he could do nothing against her powers. Locked down in the ridiculous yoke like this. Against this imprisonment into which he had freely given himself. Ransomed to free the brothers. A deal Mabat hadn’t kept.
Slowly Mabat nodded. As if in agreement. Still she was within murdering distance, standing close-by – if only …. “True. Yes. Any time. Anyhow.” Her eyes were on his. Cold. Uncaring. No revenge burning there. The calculating eyes of a snake. “I could have a guard run you through with a spear. Here. Now, this second.” A brief smile flickered on her lips. “Problem over. Hassle removed.” Garth knew he had constituted more than a mere hassle these past weeks. He had kept the best part of their forces locked down. He snorted lightly to show he knew better, she still had her games to play.
“Or …..” Mabat mused, “… I could have you starve to death. Slowly fade away. You’d do it in my presence of course. Your dying would attend me at all times. Denied sustenance. Your body eating up all reserves of fat, consuming this muscle. Withering away. Depressed and powerless at what was happening, feeling your life-strength draining away. Eventually too weak even to protest. Too feeble to beg.” Her head cocked to one side. “How long, Earthman …. ? How long for all this ….. ” Mabat’s hand passed through the air, in appreciation of Garth’s unrivalled physical power. A sample of male physique unknown in her race. “How long for this to wither away? Days? A week even? And how hurtful? To take so long to die. Under such tortured conditions. Too weak to help yourself ….. This specimen of supreme masculinity withering away …. Sad ….” Her tone was mocking his powerlessness. She nodded to herself. “This …. ” her arms open, palms up, taking in the matchless physical might she had trapped in her yoke. ” … this would undoubtedly take long to shrivel away.”
“Anytime. Anyhow.” Garth bristled at her smirk. “Yes, I have your life, Earthman, already. I have your freedom …..” Like some prim school mistress Mabat was listing off her assets. “Your body …..” Her upper lip broke slightly. As if she was really appreciating having such an peerless specimen of male power manifestly in her grip. For a brief moment, Garth wondered whether his experiences with the Waif had been some test. Testing his sexuality to the limit. Whether she intended to keep him for herself. But his train of thoughts was interrupted ……
“Your life. Anytime. Anyhow.” She was shaking her head. “No, not just anyhow. Only one way.” A dramatic pause. Christ, was the she-devil into melodrama, Garth thought! Get the hell on with it. What else do you want? But Mabat was not to be diverted from her games.
“Slowly. A body like this deserves the best. Only a drawn-out agonising death …. only dying slowly will do to test such strength.” She grinned. Briefly. “You’d agree? Of course. Tables turned, wouldn’t it be the same?” Garth had known what it was going to mean to deliver himself into Mabat’s clutches. He’d seen enough of the reprisals taken against anyone who had stood up to her. Yet despite the mindless brutality taken out against any taken in battle alive, the Maru had bravely stood their ground. They had not weakened. These two brothers, brought here, on their knees, were testimony to that, Syda had said they had been beaten with an inch of their lives. But they would not betray where the Krottak could find Garth. Mabat had had to use psychological warfare on Garth to get that.
Killing slowly. The Krottak way. He knew of warriors taken, flayed alive. Left out in the blistering sun to die in agony and dismay. Maggots feeding on their wounds. Others staked out near the woods. Alive and well. Waiting for wild cats to come feasting. To be eaten alive. The remains picked over by vultures. Dying slowly, in agony. The Krottak way.
Mabat was back to cupping her chin. Mock-meditation, eyeing her physically potent prisoner, stroking her cheek. “Freedom, body, life.” She shrugged. “I’ve got it all. Haven’t I?” She cocked her head at Garth. “Or … is something missing?” Looking down on her, his gaze unintimidated, as if not imprisoned in some cumbersome yoke, Garth smirked. “I’m sure you’re going to tell me, bitch.”
Possibilities
“What else might I want from …. this ….? What else might I wish to take?” Mabat’s gaze swept over the powerful body she held captive in her hands. Stuck in his preposterous yoke. “What are you after, bitch?” Garth was losing patience. It hurt enough to be her prisoner. To have her play mind-games with him as well was getting right up his nose. Mabat did not react to the insult. Except by raising her eyebrow. Like in answer to his question, What else was she after? She took a long time in answering. Not that she really had to think, Garth knew just what she was up to. Trying to mess with his head. She knew exactly what she was after. It was only Garth did not. And she was playing at keeping him waiting.
“Your life.” Garth snapped back, laughing in her face. “You’ve got that. You can kill me any time.” To emphasise his point, he shook his shoulders. Showed her how he could do nothing against her powers. Locked down in the ridiculous yoke like this. Against this imprisonment into which he had freely given himself. Ransomed to free the brothers. A deal Mabat hadn’t kept.
Slowly Mabat nodded. As if in agreement. Still she was within murdering distance, standing close-by – if only …. “True. Yes. Any time. Anyhow.” Her eyes were on his. Cold. Uncaring. No revenge burning there. The calculating eyes of a snake. “I could have a guard run you through with a spear. Here. Now, this second.” A brief smile flickered on her lips. “Problem over. Hassle removed.” Garth knew he had constituted more than a mere hassle these past weeks. He had kept the best part of their forces locked down. He snorted lightly to show he knew better, she still had her games to play.
“Or …..” Mabat mused, “… I could have you starve to death. Slowly fade away. You’d do it in my presence of course. Your dying would attend me at all times. Denied sustenance. Your body eating up all reserves of fat, consuming this muscle. Withering away. Depressed and powerless at what was happening, feeling your life-strength draining away. Eventually too weak even to protest. Too feeble to beg.” Her head cocked to one side. “How long, Earthman …. ? How long for all this ….. ” Mabat’s hand passed through the air, in appreciation of Garth’s unrivalled physical power. A sample of male physique unknown in her race. “How long for this to wither away? Days? A week even? And how hurtful? To take so long to die. Under such tortured conditions. Too weak to help yourself ….. This specimen of supreme masculinity withering away …. Sad ….” Her tone was mocking his powerlessness. She nodded to herself. “This …. ” her arms open, palms up, taking in the matchless physical might she had trapped in her yoke. ” … this would undoubtedly take long to shrivel away.”
“Anytime. Anyhow.” Garth bristled at her smirk. “Yes, I have your life, Earthman, already. I have your freedom …..” Like some prim school mistress Mabat was listing off her assets. “Your body …..” Her upper lip broke slightly. As if she was really appreciating having such an peerless specimen of male power manifestly in her grip. For a brief moment, Garth wondered whether his experiences with the Waif had been some test. Testing his sexuality to the limit. Whether she intended to keep him for herself. But his train of thoughts was interrupted ……
“Your life. Anytime. Anyhow.” She was shaking her head. “No, not just anyhow. Only one way.” A dramatic pause. Christ, was the she-devil into melodrama, Garth thought! Get the hell on with it. What else do you want? But Mabat was not to be diverted from her games.
“Slowly. A body like this deserves the best. Only a drawn-out agonising death …. only dying slowly will do to test such strength.” She grinned. Briefly. “You’d agree? Of course. Tables turned, wouldn’t it be the same?” Garth had known what it was going to mean to deliver himself into Mabat’s clutches. He’d seen enough of the reprisals taken against anyone who had stood up to her. Yet despite the mindless brutality taken out against any taken in battle alive, the Maru had bravely stood their ground. They had not weakened. These two brothers, brought here, on their knees, were testimony to that, Syda had said they had been beaten with an inch of their lives. But they would not betray where the Krottak could find Garth. Mabat had had to use psychological warfare on Garth to get that.
Killing slowly. The Krottak way. He knew of warriors taken, flayed alive. Left out in the blistering sun to die in agony and dismay. Maggots feeding on their wounds. Others staked out near the woods. Alive and well. Waiting for wild cats to come feasting. To be eaten alive. The remains picked over by vultures. Dying slowly, in agony. The Krottak way.
Mabat was back to cupping her chin. Mock-meditation, eyeing her physically potent prisoner, stroking her cheek. “Freedom, body, life.” She shrugged. “I’ve got it all. Haven’t I?” She cocked her head at Garth. “Or … is something missing?” Looking down on her, his gaze unintimidated, as if not imprisoned in some cumbersome yoke, Garth smirked. “I’m sure you’re going to tell me, bitch.”
9. Breaking wills: Tests
“Your will.” Mabat left it at that. She turned slowly on her heels. Garth watched her walking away from her. His will? “I desire your will, Earthman.” Mabat was back on her throne. “You dare call me “bitch”. Still you are rebelling. In the depths of your soul there is something to claim. You have been delivered into my hands. You have given me this body, your freedom, your life.” Garth stared back firmly. Knowing this one last thing she wanted was not on the cards, his willpower. He’d call her bitch till he had drawn his last breath. “Still in your heart, you defy. I can have you beaten. I can see you humiliated. I can have your prowess as a man shrivel to nothing.” Confirmation. She had had her report on Garth’s torture last night.
“THAT I will have. Still you rebel. A will that will not bend. An iron defiant will. That will not bow the knee to me” And nothing you can do can change that ….. Garth swore to himself. Over my dead body ….. “In that case, … bitch …..”Garth deliberately used the word again, ” …. you’ve got a long wait.” He snorted in contempt. ” ….. this conversation is over. Nothing more to say.”
Garth saw her eye him. Snake-like, cold and calculating. Feeling with a sudden rush he had made a wrong move. A mild panic telling him he had walked into some trap. One set up for him. One laid open for him. And he’d stepped right in. After a seeming eternity, she gestured. Garth had returned her look firm and hard, he was showing himself not in the slightest intimidated. But something clawed away at his guts, something unnerving. Worrying feelings he had made the wrong move.
Mabat gestured to her general. “As suspected …. ” Garth told himself that at least she was reading him right. She had expected him to defy. Then he realised that she was also prepared, she had expected him to tell her to get lost. Ready for him. “Take two of them outside. Bind the Earthman between two stakes.”
Two? Garth did not have to wait long for an explanation. Mabat’s eyes travelled over to the brothers. Innocent witnesses to this confrontation. They should have been released when Garth had ransomed himself. With a sudden realisation Garth recognised they were not here as non-actors. “The younger one, I think …..” Mabat quickly appraised the men on their knees. Settling on Doa. Garth looked at them, Marun his older brother suddenly looking concerned at Doa, troubled that his younger brother had been singled out. For what?
Mabat explained. Not to keep the prisoners informed. To let Garth know the consequences of his stubbornness. “Bind that one to the Earthman’s front. Face-to-face. Thirty lashes now. With the metal flail. Clean him off with salt water.” Garth felt his jaw set. His eyes reduced to slits. He was suddenly breathing slow and deep through his mouth. He was face-to-face with Mabat’s viciousness. “At noon, another thirty. Same procedure. Flail the flesh off his back. Disinfect with brine. Mabat eyed Garth. “Don’t want him too soon to die. Do we?
“You bitch!” Garth’s words came out slow and long. Quiet but audible enough for Mabat to smirk. Like answering him back, A bitch that exercises total power over your life. And will soon lay claim to your will. “Nightfall, another thirty,” Mabat declared. Ninety. With a flail. There’d be nothing left of Doa’s back. But the torture would be dragged out over the whole day. Passing in-and-out of an eternity of agony. Best if Doa could pass out, stay out cold. Somehow Garth doubted the Krottak would allow Doa that luxury. Garth neither. Face-to-face with the torture his obduracy had caused. Tortured by his own guilt. Chest-to-chest with Doa’s agonies. All the daylight hours.
“Left like that all night. A pair of lovers. Bound together in their obstinacy.” Bound together, burning up. Doa in his agonies, Garth consumed by his guilt. “Left like that, day and night. Till the flesh is stinking. Till the stench of responsibility invades your nose, Earthman.” Garth felt the gloating eyes on him. Now he knew why he had felt unnerved. She had read him right, she had this all worked out. Suspecting he could not let this happen. Making him responsible for the torture and sustained agonies of a close friend. Pinned to his chest. Face-to-face with his blame for such a brutality. Guilty of Doa’s agonised end.
“Bitch. You evil bitch.” Mabat eyed him. Scrutinising him. She smiled briefly.   Lording it. “Your choice. When you find it impossible to get that word over your lips, Earthman …..” She paused, letting Garth learn for himself what was going down here …. ” … then he will be cut down. Dispatched before your eyes. Once you have seen the error of your ways, this dog will be put out of the misery you gifted him.”
Garth saw the fists stuck up through the yoke ball into fighting machines. His upper body, hard with muscle, readied itself for the fight. But what did he have? His physical power was Mabat’s to control. Now his strength of mind – she was going to test it beyond the limits.
“Then the other one ….” Mabat gestured over to Marun. Looking thunder, glaring daggers at the monster who has having his younger brother tortured into an agonising death. “Replacing his younger brat. Same procedure, bound to your front, flayed alive. Your choice, Earthman. You offer me your will – or he gets the same. Any time you change your mind, though, Earthman, …. – this can stop.” Marun exploded to his feet. “The fight will never stop,” he yelled. The club across the back of his skull collapsed Marun to the floor.
Mabat barely took any notice. Her fight was elsewhere. “And when that fool has breathed his last agonised breath – ” contemptuous her hand flickered towards the inert Marun …. Mabat smiled. Closing the trap. Dropping the predator’s net over Garth’s head. “Plenty of recruits …. the whole of the Maru tribe. All their fighting men. One-by-one butchered against your chest.” Mabat allowed herself a lightening of her cold face. ” ….. Such a powerful, impressive chest.” Mabat allowed an appreciative softened look. It lasted a second. “Such a powerful impressive will.” Spoken in mockery.
Mabat looked Garth over in a long silent stare. “Your decision, Earthman. Their lives – or your will.”
10.   Demands: Doa
“Everyone?” Garth was kicking himself. Realising with angry bitterness how he had under-estimated the evil bitch. “Every single one of us ….” Doa replied. The bitches. They’d taken him for a ride. Stupid dumb moron, Garth had taken them at their word. This damned bitch Mabat had made a fool out of him. “The whole tribe. Everyone ….,” Doa went on back. “We spent the night in the slave pens. They are all there.” Garth felt the words unspoken. Lenana as well. Taken captive, made hostages. Till Mabat broke the Earthman’s will.
Doa was tied with his arms around Garth’s chest, his hands secured to his friend’s shoulders at the back. Bare to the waist, the pair of them. Outside in the courtyard. Doa was awaiting his lashings, waiting to be whipped to death. His back flayed raw. Unless Garth gave in, unless he gave Mabat what she wanted. His strength of will. His full submission. Holding nothing back. That day that Gazaan had delivered Garth into Krottak hands, the gates had closed on Garth sealing him to his fate. But even as they were kicking the crap out of him, he was now learning the Krottak had been imprisoning Gazaan and his men. And then the Krottak army had gone out and rounded the Maru up. Brought here and kept in the slave pens. Mabat had cheated. Why the hell had Garth expected anything else? What a prick! Why had he even thought he could trust her? Believing she wanted only one thing, the Earthman’s life. Didn’t that just match what he’d always known? Like some idiotic prick, Garth had thought he had bought the brothers’ freedom. He had thought the Krottak would leave the Maru alone once they had him, – that had been the deal. But he’d been tricked. He’d been putting himself through all this – for nothing.
Back to square one. But Mabat still not got what she wanted from Garth. It seemed she was intent on wiping the Maru out if that was what it would take. One-by-one. Flayed raw, flayed to death. Including Lenana. And Garth’s unborn child. If Garth did not give in. One-by-one, helpless, like Doa bound to Garth’s bare front. And after Doa’s screams, when the life had been agonisingly torn from him, Doa would be replaced by his brother. And then the rest of the Maru, one-by-one.
A waste, all of this a waste, this ransom, these beatings. For nothing. And who had been the biggest prick? Out-flanked, out-manoeuvred. What a moron. Garth wanted to kill. Mabat was counting on the fact that Garth could not let that be. She would, though, Garth had no doubt she’d do it. If that was what it took, …. Garth was trapped. She’d enjoy the turmoil destroying Garth’s strength of mind as one-by-one he was responsible for men and women being flayed alive. Against his front, under his eyes. Their screams filling his ears, the smell of their blood full in his nose. Garth seethed. He’d give in, he’d surrender. Of course he would. Mabat knew it, counted on it. She had him trapped.
The waiting game. Part of the tricks these Krottak played. Left to wait it out. Garth was left with the enormity of what was going to happen. Young Doa bound to Garth’s front. Over the course of the day to be beaten, whipped. Lashed until he was dying on Garth’s front. Flayed. Garth was left with his victim tied to his front. Left to stew, sweat it out. Until Dikton and her henchmen arrived to do their evil deed. Doa was brave, Garth had no doubts, he had proven himself fearless in many a fight. But it was inevitable that nervousness would get to his spirit. Left to stew, waiting for the first vicious strokes of their metal flails tearing away at his bare flesh. Facing an agonising and meaningless end, one that could achieve nothing in their fight. No way for a brave warrior to die. Broken and defeated. Garth felt that Doa’s nerves had got to him. Feeling the nervous reaction pressed against this own body.
The very thought of how she had out-manoeuvred him got right up his nose. So much Garth had been tempted, his temper was so up he was almost prepared to go ahead with it. Defy them. Call their bluff. But he had weakened. He couldn’t let them go through this. Whatever Mabat demanded of him as proof he had given himself up totally to her, …. he’d have to give it her. The thought of putting Doa through such meaningless agonies. And then the others ….. Unthinkable. For what? For the sake of Garth’s own pride? But that Mabat had gone back on her deal …. Garth had acted in good faith, she had him. His life, his freedom, his suffering if necessary. Not enough for the evil bitch. His blood boiled. At her deceit, at his own stupidity. When he heard about the Maru being rounded up and condemned to slavery,   …. he wanted to blow his top. Like hell! Damned if he was going to give in to that she-devil! Give in another time! He’d already paid that price, he’d ransomed himself. He bore the scars on his back. Sacrifice himself again? He’d done what she’d demanded. And she had gone back on the deal? Like hell! Damned if he was going to give in.
But time wore him down too. When Dikton stood there with her thugs, Garth had decided. He had to concede. Dikton was not interested. She ignored his words, she had a thug unfurl his whip. “One.”
Garth shouted out, “Stop!” Pained jarred Doa into Garth’s chest. Breath-taking agony as metal scythed across Doa’s bare back. Garth himself had been stood loosely-bound between two stakes, his arms outstretched with rope. He had to steel himself as the searing agonies of the lash threw Doa into his front “Stop this!” Garth snarled his fury at the general. She wasn’t listening, the evil bastard. “Two.” Sharp teeth tore at Doa’s back. Pain shivered like an electric shock through Garth’s chest. Still shuddering as it earthed down his powerful legs. “Are you deaf?” Garth shouted over the pain-stricken body roped to him. “Stop this! NOW!”
“Three.” Doa could no longer suppress the cry. “Take me to Mabat.” Fury broke through the shudders of agony crackling through his chest. Doa’s yelp burst against Garth’s shoulder. It shivered like sharp blades into his soul. “I demand to speak to Mabat,” he snapped. “You have nothing to say to her,” Dikton rejoiced. “You are shit. You have nothing of interest to say.” She smirked. “Four.”
Furious, Garth gave his friend support. Setting his legs like tree trunks. Pulling hard on the arm ropes to give Doa’s agony firm support. Doa’s head went back. His body broke in twisted torment against Garth’s front. “You want to be to explain ….?” Garth demanded. “You going to tell Mabat ….?” Fury blazed in his eyes. But guile as well. He’d read how Mabat had treated her general. ” …. when the Earthman was submitting? And it was you defying her will …..?”
10. Demands: Submit
“You have something to say, Earthman?” Garth was in her council chamber, surrounded by her other women. This time Garth was not bound, there was no sign of that infernal yoke. And guards stood at a distance. As if they already knew why he was there. He did not disappoint.
“You win.” That hurt, speaking those words, every fibre in his body bristled. He wanted to rush forward and strike the bitch dead. He was tempted, it would be foolhardy in the extreme. What held him back was the thought of all the Maru in the slave pens. And Mabat’s retribution. Garth had to find some way to set them free. If tricking this queen into thinking he was giving in would do the trick, Garth would bite his tongue.
He wiped the look of defiance from his eyes. He managed a look of deference and defeat as she stared over at him. He saw her cock an eyebrow. As if she was waiting for more. Garth complied. “Whatever you demand. You want me to bend the knee, …. Say the word.” She looked over at him, a coldness in her face. Not even the expected look of victory.
A long pause. Not even a sign that she was thinking things over. Or had to. Not even betraying that she had expected as much. Hard to read. She had engineered him into this position, she had out-flanked him. But still in victory the she-devil showed no emotion. A formidable enemy.
“Take off your clothes.” All he had remaining was the short Maru kilt, nothing underneath. Garth had no worries about going naked before women. But it was with some reluctance that he obeyed. He released the cord and felt the coarse material scrape down his leg. Hesitant to appear like this before the women who were now dictating his life. On the other hand, if he was set the Maru free   …… Garth bit his tongue. Demeaned he looked back, he hid every sign of his anger from his eyes and his body. His every pore spoke of obedience to Mabat’s will.
“Hands behind your head, dog.” Garth had been taken prisoner often enough, he knew the pose, it no longer felt humiliating. Just familiar.   He obeyed. Stood fully naked, in a pose of total submission. Facing the enemy he had fought against for weeks. Now submitting himself to her will. For the sake of the others. Giving himself up that others might live. He was not unused to impressing others. Enough women seeing him like this in his full glory went weak at the knees. Men knew not to stand up to him. His physique daunted even before he wielded his fists. He was used to appreciative looks.
But what faced him across the council chamber was a cold indifference to his impressive physique. Garth expected a female curiosity to glide down over his broad chest and flat belly to grab a view of what had so far lain hidden. Nothing of the kind. The queen just stared at him. Seeing a defeated enemy. One who had successfully tied down her troops for months. Who had transformed a tribe of farmers into a guerrilla force. But Garth had to admit that she had out-manoeuvred him. She had used his attachment to others to bring him in. Now she was looking at a rebel leader who had just put his fate in her hands. But no sign of gloating, no victory in his defeat. She was hard to read.
“I surrender,” he repeated. Garth stood tall and strong before her and her council members. Not looking cowed, though, no evidence of fear in his stance. “I submit to you. Do with me as you will.” Garth took a deep calming breath. Emphasising the power in his strong body. Giving evidence of the force he was putting into her hands. “On one condition, ……” Her general exploded. “You think you can negotiate, slave? Are you blind?”
Garth wasn’t, he ignored her. He knew full well the risks he was running. His fate was already in their hands, his future was bleak. Negotiating was digging his hole even deeper. Astonishingly – but grateful – Garth saw their queen raise a hand. Silencing her general. Then she cocked an eyebrow, curious at such behaviour from a slave who had just submitted himself totally. Inviting Garth to continue.
“We had a deal. My life for the brothers. You broke our deal.” Garth sensed rather than saw the general bristle. In her eyes, he had no right to talk at all, never mind to offend. Quickly he pressed on. “Worse. You rounded up the Maru. Put them into your slave-pens.” He saw a wry smile briefly lighten Mabat’s lips. Was she laughing at his naivety? If not, it was what he deserved.
Truly he didn’t know what he was letting himself in for. She’d want proof of him subjugating his will to her. They had already beaten the crap out of him. Before the gates had closed on Gazaan, the Krottak had taken their revenge for his successes against them. Beaten him, though he was bound and helpless. Beaten the hell out of him, beaten him unconscious. Then again, hooded and blind, encumbered by his preposterous yoke, they had turned their sticks on him. In that bizarre game of blind man’s bluff. Every bit of his torso still hurt. Thwacked mercilessly, seemingly endlessly, no defence. Still he shuddered at the torture that night. When the Waif and her Ogre-mate had come visiting. Torturing the man in him, torturing him by ripping every modicum of control over his male sexuality from him. Shaming him with his frustration. Shaming him that he was so easily overcome. And now ….? What was Mabat going to exact as proof that the Earthman was holding nothing back?
“Here’s the deal …..” Garth stood tall, no yoke, no bonds. Proud, strong, a man to his very core. But giving himself up, to her, to his enemy, to this evil-minded bitch – even if it was just a way of winning time. ” ….   I submit. I place my fate in your hands. You wanted my will. You have it …..” Standing tall and powerful with his hands behind his head, naked, Garth gave out the appearance of his unmatchable physical strength combined with the prospect of him submitting to her his will. Sacrificing what made him the man he was. Giving himself in to her evil ways. ” …. Set the Maru free. Then you have my will. Do with me as you wish. I will not fight.” It hurt like crazy to say this. Even if he did not mean it. Even if he saw this as some way to win himself time. A trick till he could squeeze the last breath out of her neck. “I am yours. Totally. Not resist.”
10. Demands: Proof
“Nothing in your demeanour, Earthman, says anything of the kind.” Mabat looked at the tall giant standing naked before him. Declaring his willingness to submit his indomitable will to her wishes. His words, though, conflicted with his stance. “You want it on a plate?” Garth looked at her firmly. “You want it that easy?” Mabat frowned at him. And awaited his explanation. After all, time was on her side. Everything was on her side. “You want some snivelling rat? You want some cowering slave?” Garth was putting his faith in guessing he had read the woman right. She had a track record of cruelty. So …… “Or you want something you can enjoy breaking down?” That was his temptation, probably doing the wrong deed for the right reason. Once she had him broken, what attraction in having Garth in her clutches then?
She sat watching him. Garth stood alone in the centre of the large bare chamber. Clothed in nothing but his audacity. His deadly enemies were seated in their ceremonial seats. Women of cruel power set against a single muscular male with no weapons but his wits. “You ask a high price, Earthman. Your submission to my will. For the price of setting the Maru free… All of them.” Garth cocked his head to one side. “What use have you for simple hunters? Are there not woodsmen enough?”
Mabat eyed him. Eventually she answered him. “I need proof. This demeanour of yours betrays your real meaning, Earthman. You are not offering your all   ..you are holding back. You dare make demands.” Garth repeated himself. “I have told you. I submit. Do with me as you will. Now. I surrender my will to you. Any time. I will not fight. Not resist.” Mabat nodded. But was she convinced? “Beat me. Whip me. Have me tortured – take your proof. ” Garth remembered the game of blind man’s bluff.   And his night in the dungeons with her Waif. “Humiliate me as you wish.”
Impatient to test him, the general glanced behind Garth, her nod prompted some movement behind. Garth started to turn. Curious. “Eyes front, dog.” The general snapped, banging her staff against Garth’s chest. It did not hurt. But it hurt Garth not to be able to react. He didn’t hit out at women. With these Krottak bitches he’d make an exception. This piss-arrogant general who thought she had him beat. That hurt, – the first of many, he suspected.
His first reaction was to yank his arm away. A guard had grabbed Garth by the elbow pulling him to one side. First reaction – but in quick time he remembered. It went against the grain. Letting himself be pushed around by his enemies like this. But circumstances had changed, he was going to have to prove to Mabat she had his will in her grip. It was going to take some getting used to, allowing his enemies to do with them as they wished. But he had to convince. If his plan was going to have any chance of success, he had to give Mabat her proof. Get her to believe he had given up fighting back. He let himself be led. Arms still up, hands clasped behind his head, he let himself be led around some frame that had been installed behind his back. Something like the asymmetric bars he’d used in gymnastics. Led like some lamb to the slaughter around to the back.
From behind the frame, he was faced by Mabat seated at the heart of her council. The rest of her goons were gawking at him. Pushed by his guard towards the lower bar of the frame. Asymmetric bars like he’d used in college gymnastics. The lower bar on his side, the higher closer to the BITCH. Letting himself be led until the lower bar pushed against his hips. Hands on his shoulders bent him forward. He let himself be lowered till his upper chest rested against the upper bar. Garth kept his eyes on the source of his torment. He was being tested, his every move, gesture, look was being investigated, looking for proof that he was playing them along. Biting deep, playing the submissive part, Garth was looking straight at Mabat, giving her a look of neutrality in his eyes. Forcing himself to look pliant and unresisting. But knowing himself that it was his decision, he was letting this happen on his own accord, he had not been forced into it by the arch-bitch. Somehow that difference meant something, but the result was going to be the same. Pain, humiliation, loss of self-price. Done to rescue the Maru from her clutches, – his decision. Tamely letting hands pull on his wrists, spreading his arms out the length of the upper bar. Rope around his wrists, binding him in place. Bent over the lower bar, forced to lean over the lower bar, his chest touching the upper bar. And now his arms spread along the upper bar, tied at the wrists. This felt unnerving, bent forward, his body at about 45Ëš. Arms out-stretched and tied. His bare backside helplessly exposed. Bent like some badly behaved kid bent over the teacher’s desk. Waiting to have his arse tanned. Was that what this was about? They were gonna whip his arse? Surely not? Humiliating, yes. But devastating, no. Surely there was more to this than having his arse caned? This was the Krottak he was dealing with.
10. Demands: Akhton
“You know Akhton.” Garth had not recognised her, he’d had eyes only for his act with Mabat. With clothes on and her hair tied up on her head, he had not noticed the Waif from the previous night seated at the council table. Not till she had stood up and come to his side. Akhton, her ogre-in-crime had joined her, lumbering up out of his primeval slime. Now gross and immensely grotesque he stood on Garth’s other side. Leaving space so that Mabat had an uninterrupted view of Garth spread out, bent forwards over the frame. “He has a job to do.” That was the phrase the Waif had used. Garth felt a shiver, recalling his night in the dungeon. Then this Akhton had done nothing much at all, just attended, a monstrous looming presence. As if there had been some signal, the Ogre now started pulling his tunic over his head, he had a job to do. Worryingly he had nothing on underneath. As Garth has suspected, he was all meat, brawn and heavy-duty muscle. Last night he’d just been in attendance, tonight he had a job to do. With him naked and Garth pinned out over the frame like this – and with nothing on either – , a bad picture began to form itself in Garth’s head. Inevitably that thought led Garth’s attention down to the Ogre’s groin. Similar, just as heavy-duty. A thick, long weapon. A feeling of menace was beginning to shape itself in Garth’s gut.
“Queen Mabat needs proof of your submission.” The Waif was right beside Garth’s head. But Garth knew where to direct his attention. He knew who called the shots hereabouts. And the bitch he had to convince if his plan to free the Maru was going to work. “As proof she claims your back passage.” No hanging about. No subtlety of expression from the Waif. Straight to the heart of the matter.
A shiver passed through Garth’s guts. Confirmation. A tightness had Garth by the throat. He felt his heart race, the pulse in his ear hardened its beat. Garth stole a glance at the weapon he suspected was going to be used on him. Limp, it was the size of most men fully erect. Garth feared the Ogre held down a job because of its ultimate size. Not a promising prospect. “Akhton has a job. To hand Queen Mabat that prize.” And, Garth suspected, it was in the slave’s best interests to please. Good work if you could get it. Better than slaving away down in some mine.
“That price, Earthman ….” Mabat had started addressing Garth. Already the Waif was down on her knees in front of Akhton binding cord around his cock. Incredible scene, perverted, sick but hard to ignore. The Waif had snapped her fingers, Akhton had approached her, he had thrown open his legs, thrust his hands behind his head in classic prisoner pose – and was letting Garth’s tormentor tie up his shaft and balls in a figure of eight with cord. To get him ready for Garth. “… you demand too high a price, Earthman ….” Mabat was addressing Garth as if nothing untoward was going on between her and Garth, as if her line of vision could wipe out the sordid sight of the Ogre growing erect. To do his job. Fucking Garth up the arse. “…. all the Maru set free   …..to earn that, there would have to require a high fee   …” Why does that not surprise me, Garth wondered to himself? On the other hand, this had been his own stipulation …..
“This demanding ….. this assumption you have some right to negotiate ….. that is not to my liking, Earthman.” Garth kept silent, remembering his role. All his instincts were to curse, contradict, be strong. But he acted stumm, tamely he looked reprimanded – for now. He had to win her conviction. It was indeed going to be a high price to pay. Unless something occurred to him quick …. “I claim your will. Given over to mine. Nothing held back.   But ….”
The Waif had stood up, already the blood trapped in the Ogre’s cock was well into doing its work. The monster didn’t hang about. ” … still you think you can make demands …?” Already the gross menace between them was taking shape. Not a pleasant sight, – if you were going to be on the receiving end. “Not to my liking …. is that surrendering to my your free will?” Garth had eyes for the queen only, he tried to make them look repentant. But his heart was racing at the thought of what was shaping up in-between. And no reason for Garth to expect the Ogre to take his job easy. What points did a slave earn for going easy on Garth?
“But let’s say I go part-way …. .” Garth was torn between positive and evil. Mabat was talking to Garth as if in-between there was not the most ominous of weapons being forged. But on the other hand, his spirits lifted a little. Was that risky condition he had made for his submission winning him some advantage? Garth kept his eyes soft, obedient, focussed on the queen, subservient. But still his peripheral vision was confirming his worst fears. There was one obvious reason why Akhton had been appointed to this job. He has getting huge. And not even reached the perpendicular yet. But Garth forced himself to concentrate. Was Mabat going to give partly in to his conditions about the Maru?
“What need have I for women and children? They just need feeding and finding work.” Garth’s spirits lifted. Since hearing that the Maru had been rounded up and brought here, his main priority had been Lenana – and their unborn child. “Let’s say they go free. Convince me, Earthman … give me unbreakable proof that your will is surrendered … without any more conditions, without anything held back …. then the women go. And their brats too.” Garth had saved Lenana. Whatever it cost, … whatever that awesome weapon on the edge of his eyesight did to him   – it would have been worth the cost.
All he had to do was put on a convincing act. And with the sight of Akhton now standing in his full glory, Garth could see that was going to be no easy performance to give.
10. Demands – Much to swallow
   Just be careful what you wish for. A wise maxim often enough. Garth had made it a condition of his total submission. Set the Maru free. And he was getting his wish. Whatever he had been thinking when he’d made his demands, however clear Garth had been about his mission and setting the Maru women free – when it came down to it, it was going to be a lot to swallow. It took a massive amount of self-control not to shudder at the first touch from behind. At getting what he had wished for. He could suppress a shiver passing through his body at that first touch. The brutish Ogre was standing behind him. Rough calloused thumbs were on either side of Garth’s arsecrack, he was prising him open. Thumbs sliding down to the point where the thug would make his assault. Garth was fighting a racing pulse. Easy to agree to saving the women-folk, hard to take the act of rape. A high price, a massive conflict.
Already, from behind, Garth had felt Akhton step between his feet, roughly kick Garth’s legs outwards. A knee jarred into the back of his thighs bent Garth’s legs at the knee. Hands were immediately on Garth’s legs, rope being tied around them, keeping them spreading outwards. Opening up his backside. No defence, no way to resist. No way out. Garth had intended none, he’d intended to give in, fully, totally. But when another man’s thumbs were prising open his crack, – when he felt something hot and hard messing around his rear entrance, it was near-impossible not to put up the barricades. The thought of a man fooling around with his virgin territory ….. Garth could be in no doubt about the ferocity of that sweaty weapon playing around his backside, in his mind’s eye he could see the enormity of it. His hands were clenched into fists, his abs pulled in tight. He wanted to beat the living shits out of the gross dickhead behind. He wanted to crush the life out of that evil bitch who had tricked him into this. Without thinking his reflexes were squeezing his arse-cheeks together as best he could.
A stinging slap reminded him of his declaration. No resistance, no defiance, the Krottak could do with him as they wished, that had been his offer. Garth looked over his burning cheek at the Waif. Her eyebrow cocked. Asking if he was giving up already. Garth forced himself to relax. He forced himself to give in to the inevitable. Full of dread for the burning assault about to be launched.
“Akhton will claim Queen Mabat’s prize.” Like an announcement of the start of a boxing match. Like children lined up for a race. Ready-steady-go. Garth felt an enormous lump in his throat. A shiver in his gut that ended freezing in his balls. The Waif-tormentor stood to one side, giving her queen a clear field of vision of Garth surrendering to Mabat his will. Stood to one side, the Waif had his hair in her hand, holding up his head for Mabat to see, triumphantly displaying Garth’s downfall to his victor. A symbolic gesture. The Waif held Garth in Mabat’s grip. Garth shivered. Sensing the enormity of this crushing defeat.
“But first, I claim another prize …..” It was Mabat speaking. Garth’s vision flicked over to a movement from the queen bitch. Relief, reprieve – a flash of hope. Then it crashed as he saw her picking something up from the table in front of her, holding it aloft. Something that glistened in the lights. His heart sank. At the sight of something shiny and metal.
“First.” “Another.” One rape was not enough? He had brought this on himself. Do whatever you wish – his submission to Mabat. The bitch was milking it. Milking it for everything this was worth. The Waif retrieved Mabat’s surprise gift. Flourishing it above her head. In a dramatic move to attract Garth’s attention. She lowered it in front of his eyes, he could see it confirmed for what it was. A metal-cast cock. Disgusting, he shivered. In shiny steel, a cock in full arousal. Intricately cast, veined, every detail exact. Loathsome, he knew what it was for. A full-sized cock cast in shiny steel held out for him. Taunting Garth’s vision. To tempt him to refuse. Refuse a dildo fit for a queen. “Queen Mabat will have the Earthman raped. As proof.” Garth shivered. First the dildo, then the slave. “Starting with his mouth. Open, slave.”
SHIT! Why should such a pronouncement get his heart racing? It was illogical. Garth already had an Ogres’ hard-on of enormous proportions pressed menacing against his arsehole. That Akhton was a slave, he held his position by doing what pleased – and he was going to go-to-town in pleasing these hellcats by the brutality with which he took Garth’s arse. And now Mabat demanded now another prize. Garth’s mouth. Plugged with a steel dildo. “Honoured by the queen’s own dildo.” The queen’s own! The idea of being raped in the mouth by some inanimate object was bad enough. It had the pulse pounding in Garth’s ear. On top of everything else …. But having his mouth plugged by Mabat’s own sex-toy …. A crushing humiliation if ever there was one. Bugger that! The thought of where the she-devil had had this thing stuck before ….! A bitter defeat. Burning like acid in the gut. Milking this for all it was worth. Garth was struggling against the tight choking in his lungs.
“Open!” FUCK! The Waif waived it under his nose. Demanding Garth have Mabat’s sex toy shoved down his throat. Bugger that! Then Garth got a grip. Remembering the act he was playing. Remembering this had been his own condition. He’d trapped himself in this corner. And anyway, what choice was there? He had made this decision with eyes open. And suddenly the full impact had come crashing down about his ears. He had offered to surrender his will, totally. Invited Mabat to do with him as she wished. He had made his own bed …. now he was lying in it. Garth did as told.
10. Demands: Comply or they die
The slag was playing with him, she was fucking with his mind. Stroking the head of the dildo across his lips. Circling it around his open mouth. Tempting Garth to shy away. Why should it seem so disgusting? Why so sickening that his mouth was being toyed with by Mabat’s own sex-toy? It didn’t make sense, – after what else he’d taken. Garth made himself put such feelings to one side. He looked Mabat in the eye. He adjusted his looks to suit his act. Looking submissive, taking this humiliation. But secretly doing it on his own terms.
A sudden pressure leant against Garth’s arsehole, he gasped. Making him focus, getting him to concentrate. It took a massive attempt not to squeeze himself shut. The Ogre was on the attack. Under attack from front and back. He’d thought he knew what he was letting himself in for. Setting his own conditions, to see Lenana and the others set free. But he’d not allowed for the evil in this bitch. Stupid, naive. What better way to put Garth down? How better than to have him humiliate himself? A man in his full-blown glory and pride. Letting himself be raped by another man. Surrendering his masculinity to the whims of a woman of Mabat’s kind. Mouth-fucked, arse-raped. For all his experiences around Time-and-Space, Garth had not seen this one coming.
Under attack, from in-front. From the monstrous hard-on behind. Wrong. Not yet. Garth felt a hand in his hair. From behind, Akhton was leaning forward, his hard-hot groin in Garth’s backside, setting his victim’s pulse racing. But the monster had just grabbed hold on his scalp, pulling Garth’s head up by the hair. Opening his mouth wide, making him grunt with the sudden pain in his scalp. The Waif followed through. A sense of dread loomed that was hard to suppress shivered through Garth. Seeing the bullet-headed metal thickness aiming ever closer for his gaping mouth. In close-up, in slow-motion. His mouth forced open, being made an unwilling volunteer to swallow the bloody thing. Not allowed to surrender himself, not allowed to accept. Forced. The expanded crown shone evil, the huge bugger seemed to be glistening with sadistic pleasure at his discomfort. Accurate in every detail. A monstrous erection in full arousal, the slit open-eyed and gloating. Garth’s instincts were to twist away, fight the steely monster, bite his teeth together to evade the invasion of his mouth. But he’d agreed. However monstrous this now seemed. Tested, Mabat seeking proof. Mabat gloating at his discomfort. Garth complied.
The bulbous head passed over his lips, he felt a tremor. The hard thickness quickly filling his reluctant mouth, feeling the veined surfaces of the cold shaft prickle like nettles over his tongue. Mabat’s revolting sex-toy was sliding in, toyingly slowly, sadistically filling Garth’s mouth. Shitting with his head, shitting on his emotions. Gross. He felt sick, cheapened, repelled. He was sucking cock! Turned into some common whore.
“Relax, dog.” With this thing in his mouth! The big metal arousal had come up against a barrier. Trapped at the trapped entrance to Garth’s throat. “Take it right down. That is Mabat’s will.” How? Relax? Garth felt under obscene attack from two directions. The tormentor was demanding to fill his throat with Mabat’s toy. And still the Ogre stood with that monstrous tool hot against his virgin rear, a mammoth weapon touching sticky and menacing against his entrance. Attack-ready. Relax, she said! Bollocks! What a joke.
It was thick, in his mouth it felt greater than the entrance to Garth’s throat. He felt it stretching him as reluctantly the sickening obscenity was sliding further down into his mouth. Not able to get rid of the idea of where Mabat had stuck it in the past. But she meant him to, didn’t she? That was the point. To make him think where she had had it before, to make him feel revolting, demeaned. Revolted by her, by himself, as Mabat had it slid further down his throat. Yet he had agreed, they could do anything to him they wished. Even the sordid. Even the most disgusting. She gave him some time, the Waif. Garth was breathing rapidly through his nose, snorting out his disgust, his throat constricted by the enormity thrust upon him. Garth forced himself, he made himself relax. Or tried. But still the size that was supposed to slide down his throat seemed grossly beyond his powers. Could he swallow that much? That thick? He sensed she was giving him time, Mabat’s Waif. More important to succeed in having him humiliated like this, better than for him to choke and fail. Better the lingering shame of having him with Mabat’s obscenity plugging his throat than letting him cough up his guts. Forcing himself to be rational, telling himself it was better too for him, all part of his plan. Garth had to please, he had to convince. His strategy said, he had to demean himself, to be seen to be shamed. He had to win Mabat’s trust, she had to believe in his defeat. For his plans to secure the Maru release to work out, …. this was the way to go. What a plan!
10. Offer: Demands – Offer
“Bite on it. Keep it in place.” No choice. What a bloody mess! It felt like the whole of Garth’s being had been inflated. That thing was far down his throat. Was this what women did for men! She had taken her time, this slut of a tormentor. No point in getting him gag, the Waif had waited while Garth’s reflexes struggled against the invasion of his throat. His shame was better than having him puke up his guts. The Waif wanted to give Mabat the sight of the Earthman grotesquely humiliated. Mabat’s own personal dildo plugging up his mouth. A dildo made for a queen jamming open his slavish throat. Forced to swallow her, made to take Mabat shamefully right down into his throat. Humiliation, total subjugation. Garth shivered at the thought. Even though he kept telling himself this was a trick. Winning him time. Hard to breathe. His whole body tense, hands clenched into fists. Not now in anger. In discomfort, shame, in extreme embarrassment. His eyes were watering at the effort. Head held up, for Mabat to see. Shivers of distress trembled through his helpless torso. He’d promised Mabat he’d not stand up to her, endure their treatment. He’d invited them to do anything they wished. Easier said than done, now he was learning what he had brought on himself. And the beatings hadn’t started, they hadn’t resorted to any physical violence this far. This was Krottak country. These masters of their trade would have more in hand.
He tried to lower his head. An unwanted tear released itself and trickled down his cheek. Instinct wanted to lower his head, hide the tear. But from behind the Ogre felt his move and resisted, kept his head yanked back up. Letting Mabat see the shameful tears forming in his eyes. Garth was sure his face had turned red.
“Older men, too ….” What? Garth in his temporary confusion did not understand what Mabat was saying. “You wanted all Maru released. Out of the question. But what need have I of old men?” Was Mabat pleased to see Garth so brought low like this? Was she going to concede more? Out of gratitude? Enjoying what she was seeing? His tears, his distress, his shame. Taking pleasure in Garth’s extreme discomfort? “Only men of fighting age will be held back.” She continued. “Made to work, earn their keep, made to pay back the costs.” Garth had seen how the Krottak exacted their payback. The young men would be worked into the ground, beaten into submission, a life of hell. But that was going to happen to them anyway, – whatever Garth himself chose to do. At least, his actions could save the women. If this act of subjugation pleased …. And now the older men? Had the sight of Garth in torment won a concession? From Mabat, he snorted to himself? Think again. There was something going on …. She was up to something ….Bound to be … But progress interrupted his thought. Back on red-alert.
“Proceed.” If he had won that indulgence, he was now to earn it. His eyes bulged in shock when the Ogre roughly jarred a calloused thumb afresh into Garth’s rear entry. Shock waves reverberated down his backbone. Gouging out a way through rock. Chiselling at reluctant stone. The sudden move had made Garth’s reflexes shut it off, slammed together the door. Awkwardly corny fingers scrabbled around his entrance, prising at muscled flesh, clawing him open. Garth had known this was going to happen. But when it started, gut instincts kicked in. His head still swimming with being mouth-raped, disoriented, out of any comfort zone. Natural reflexes sealed off the entrance.
Snot blasted out of his nose, his eyes burst open wide. The Ogre had punched him hard between the shoulder blades. A hammerblow right on his spine. His upper torso crumpled into the upper bar, splattered under the devastating force of a sledgehammer into his back. Pain exited muffled through his body, sounds gagged by Mabat’s sex-toy jammed tight in his throat. Too shocked to react fast enough. One single Ogre’s punch had broken down the gates. A thumb jarred itself inside. Before Garth knew it, two fingers of the other hand were in there too. Jammed in hard. Tearing, stretching him. Gouging a way in, the Ogre’s talons clawing towards Garth’s sphincter. Whatever he might have resolved about not resisting, Garth tightened. With a sense of relief, he felt the fingers pull out. Holding his breath, but banking on some reprieve. Then a thud into his lower back, another one, hammer-hard. Garth’s upper torso arced up. Talons stabbed back in, jabbing themselves inside, driven in, hard, further in. Smashing up the cliff wall of Garth’s insides. Buzzing from the blow of invasion, reeling from the shock of punches, Garth fought against an impending swoon. Painfully stretching, opening him, brutally prising him apart. Gouging, clawing, evil talons tearing at him. Over the penis gag in his throat, Garth snorted in spluttering bursts. Tears ran, – of shame, of pain. The finger-rape on his arse was on.
11.   Sacrifice: Slut
“Head up, slut.“ Garth was in a bewildering whirl, his head was all over the place. He wanted to kill, Every bit of him wanted to lash out. Free, despite the size of the brute with his fingers clawing at Garth‘s back passage, Garth would kill the wanker with his bare hands. And as for that Mabat, woman or not – nothing was brutal enough. But … He had to save the Maru. This was Garth‘s own plan, he just hadn‘t seen it heading this way. You can plan all you like, he knew, once the first shots go off, you have to take it from there. He had brought this largely on himself, he had decided of his own volition to let this happen. But he had imagined beatings, torture. He had seen what the Krottak could do. Brutal beatings, men worked to death. Men flayed alive and left to rot. Back stripped of flesh eaten alive by maggots and carrion. Staked out in the woods for the wild animals to tear apart. He had been prepared for that. But rape …. somehow male rape had not been part of his plans. Through the confusions racing through his whole body Garth was doing rapid catch-up, his head was sprinting to come to terms with this dizzying turn of events.
The plan was to play Mabat at her own game. She wanted him to crumple, she wanted him to see him humiliate himself, so she‘d set him up so there was no way out. Stuck here like this, Garth‘s strategy had to be to get her convinced that she really had him broken. Then, – once she thought she had won –   he‘d find some way of taking her down. Mabat would not expect a warrior to take such submission easy. She‘d tempt him to resist, expecting he‘d baulk. That was what she up to right now. Tempting him into fighting back. She‘d read him right, she‘d rightly identified the iron resolve of a man given to only winning. Mabat reckoned Garth was hardly the type not to go down fighting.
The plan, Garth‘s plan – what a plan! Easily sketched out. Proving hard to carry out. But … First give her the proof, first get Lenana and the women and children out of her clutches – then he‘d find some way to beat the she-devil at her own game. Once free of those human shields, it was down to Garth. Winning him time, offering a chance. To get his hands on her throat. Time was his opportunity, it was time that gave him the chance to strike back. That was the plan.
But once the action started, plans flew out of the window. “Keep your head up, slut.“ Slut! That word from the Waif sent a genuine tremor of anger throughout his torso. He was stretched out across the upper bar of this torture frame. Sweat was dripping off his drooping head, heavy beads of tortured sweat had splattered beneath onto the floor. He reeked of it, he was drenched in sweat. The sweat of pain, the sweat of anger, the sweat of bewilderment as his head tried to reason this out. A man‘s gross fingers clawing at his backside! Was he doing the right thing? Dizzy from a haze of conflicting emotions. Slut! He could still rationalise to himself, he knew they were playing with his head, working on his emotions, tempting him, making him angry, at such words, keeping him confused, bewildered from the groping. But rational or not, – still that word could make him seethe.
“You deaf, slut?“ For a change, it was Mabat intervening. Ordering Garth to look her in the eye. Head up, slut! Garth knew better than not to obey. He had to, it went with the strategy. He got a grip, he adjusted his look, he raised his head to her. Presenting her with a look of enforced compliance. A look betraying this was hard to take but he was not resisting. Subjugated to her will.
Mabat saw a face streaming with his sweat. Garth revealed a man in pain. Mentally, physically. His whole body trembled with the indignity he was forced to endure. Genuine tears of pain cut through the sweat on his face. The ravages in his backside had spread over his whole being. Psychologically Garth was being torn apart. Tortured by the physical pain centred on his backside. By the mental torment into which he had plunged himself. Kicking himself for not seen this coming. Concern at the lengths to which this douche-bag would seen him suffer. This bitch-queen, impossible to read, hard to know how much more she was going to put him through. Till he had saved the others.
Even then he expected her to keep throwing him an unexpected side-ball. Something else he had not anticipated. Garth was already having to play catch-up. She‘d kept him on the run. And for all his guile and experience, for all his physique, strength and determination, it felt she was staying one step ahead. Unnerving, unsettling. Garth had to rely on his wits. But plagued by doubts, caught in a dizzying tumult, tortured by pains, humiliated by these attacks on the depths of his male core – it was hard to stay on top of his game.
But the face that lifted to Mabat‘s gaze revealed nothing of his uncertainties. He knew she saw his face reddened with shame. She could see the tears of pain streaked in viscous glue of sweat on his face. From her angle, she could read how his dick had reacted. With all that grinding, to all that sexual stimulation, between his out-stretched legs, Garth was half-erect. He had brought everything on himself, he had bought into all of this. But it was hard to take this lying down. Hard to swallow. But the face he gave to Mabat betrayed nothing of such thoughts. His mission was clear, freeing the Maru women – and his unborn child.
11. Sacrifice: Plugged
“Best do it while the thing is still wet.” That bastard. The stinking bitch. But the Waif was talking sense, sickening. But what a choice! The Ogre had had his fingers jammed up inside. Garth reckoned all fingers and thumb had been jabbed into him. Despite telling them to do whatever they wished, when it came to this his backside baulked. The Ogre’s inward drive with his talons had torn agonies out of Garth, painfully jarred out of him, every little step. Nails clawing at him on the inside. Powerful fingers squeezing and clenching, forcing him open inside him, ripping him apart against the forces of nature. Clawing at him. Devastatingly hard thumps jarred into Garth’s backbone. Catching him unawares, thrusting the hand deeper inside. Garth had wondered how far the bastard was going to go. Get his whole arm in? Fist him? In all his travels, in all the tight corners he had found himself, Garth had been saved from anything like this. A nagging worry said this moron was not going to stop. Not until the Ogre had his whole fist up inside.
Wrong. Thank god, wrong. The Waif had whipped Mabat’s dildo out of Garth’s mouth and handed it over to her slave. In one deft move, Garth felt the Ogre’s finger-raping claws withdraw. Oddly Garth still felt full of his presence. And a split second later the dildo was being rammed up inside him. Hard, painfully hard. Lubricated with Garth own saliva. Pain burst in his eyes. Jammed up inside, agonisingly painful.
That hellcat had been right. Better to take in the dildo when still wet with his own saliva. Better than having this monster force it inside when it had dried out. But everything   .. all this …. all this assault on his dignity – it was hard to swallow. Defence reflexes kicked in. Screamed, NO. Haul up the drawbridge. Garth’s reflexes denied his enemy access. The Ogre felt the resistance. Jarring, jabbing, poking, forcing its way it. Thumping Garth repeatedly on his backbone. Grappling for access with Garth’s will. Garth could feel the Ogre’s monstrous hard-on gyrating against his leg, grinding against him as he fought Garth back. Menacing and hot sliding against his thigh. Shivering at contact with the boner. A monster fit for a monster. A battle for the touch-line, dogged opponents battling it out. The Ogre equally determined to overcome any resistance Garth was putting up. He meant to keep his job. That club of a hard-on – a reminder of the enormity he was going to use on him. To keep himself in work.
SHIT! He had no choice. Garth had to convince. Fighting back was wrong. Reluctantly Garth made himself relax. Letting the invasion in. Hard, bloody hard. Suddenly the dildo was being driven in with such force that Garth let go a hard grunt of pain. It was long, longer than the fingers had dug so far. Garth’s eyes shot wide, he snorted with the shock. The monster ploughed it, he dug in hard, The shock inside crackled in stars of white pain. Mabat’s own dildo, jarring apart Garth’s protective ring of muscle. Impossible to disguise from Mabat the spasms of pain, he could not hide it as his back passage was forcibly raped. Raped by Mabat’s own artificial cock. Like a piston engine the monster pulled it back and then evilly he thrust it hard inside. This was rape, this was a violent act of male rape. Humiliation was not enough. The stretch unbearable, the shock to his self-image indescribable. Garth’s backside was being raped. Being brutishly fucked, man-raped. Mabat’s dildo. Mercilessly rammed inside of him. The Krottak enemy #1 being sadistically raped. The Earthman was being fucked. Done over by pain. His will crushed by Mabat’s fake cock.
11. Sacrifice: Monstrosity
Garth was trembling with shame. The physical pain was awful, in all his travels he’d known pain of various kinds enough. Beaten up, deprived of food, sleep. Tortured, by evil men, done-over by some sadistic women. But this rape was on another scale. The whole of his lower body was a mass of trembling pain. And all made worse by the shame. It did not help knowing that he had volunteered for this. That it was his own decision to submit for the sake of the others. He was shivering. Deep-down riven with the most intense horror that his manliness was being subjected to this. That there were creatures in the universe capable of doing such a thing to another human being. That this suffering of his was satisfying some cold-blooded lust to torture and torment. And the effort of hiding this …. His head held up for Mabat to glory in his humiliation. Bloody hard to take. Even when he turned his emotions back on her, turning his sense of utter shame into fury. Garth was resolved not to show this horror was driving him out of his skin but ….. it was still more than he could chew. He was horrified. Repugnance fluttered in his guts, his being trembled in an overload of impossibly strong feelings of revulsion. And things were only getting worse.
“You can take it wet. Or dry.” Garth recoiled at the sight of the Ogre’s erect cock stuck right in his face.   The Waif’s words sounded like they were really enjoying Garth’s shock and discomfort. “Suck it. Wet it first. Or Akhton gives it to you dry.” No skin off my nose, your choice, Earthman, he could hear the tone. Garth heard the pleasure in the Waif’s mockery. She was lying, the whore. Not all the same to her, not at all. She’d prefer to give it to him dry. She’d rather Garth kept his mouth tight closed and have the Ogre force his way into Garth’s back passage. Vicious male rape, taken dry. Already stretched open, now forced open even more. Agonisingly forcing open every inch of resistance. Broken down with hisses of pain, with pangs of suffering. Akhton had the dildo jammed up Garth’s arse already, had him stretched. Now he was about to ram himself inside. And the sight of that thing poking at Garth’s nose said there’d be more stretching to go. When he brutally raped Garth, viciously taking him against his will.
On the other hand, they were inviting the Earthman suck cock. There was something in that too! Garth could use this act, here was a chance to convince Mabat he’d let her do anything to him. But that was his head thinking. The very idea was sickening. His head said Yes, his guts wanted to throw up.
Mabat couldn’t see his face, the Ogre and his throbbing monstrosity were right in front. That was a plus. The one and only compensation in all this sickening play, Mabat could see his out-stretched arms, glowing with his embarrassment and perspiration. But the Ogre’s girth hid his face. The atrociousness of the bloated blood-purple horror filled Garth’s vision. Huge, sticking out at him. Like being charged by a battering ram. Garth licked at his lower lip. He swallowed deep at the awesome sight. The slave had been trapped in his bonds for a long time already. He’d be throbbing, needy. Welcome the chance of being sucked off. Panting, getting himself in grip, Garth took his decision. Making himself, he opened his mouth. Garth was welcoming in the Ogre’s straining cock, unbelievable. The bulbous head, long imprisoned in tight cords, deep purple, heavy with blood. The shaft, thick-veined, throbbing with sexual need. Prodigiously long, grotesquely thick. Throbbing with trapped heat, needy with imprisoned lust. Thrust into Garth’s mouth, greedy. It was all Garth could do not to gag as it passed over his lips. He felt his stomach heave.
Garth was being made to suck the bastard off. The ugly monster was raping him. The bastard was raping Garth’s face. Those Krottak bitches couldn’t see. But they could see the Ogre’s arse-cheeks rhythmically squeezing as he ploughed Garth’s mouth. It didn’t leave anything to the imagination. Unmistakable. Garth thought he could hear the bitches gloating in a deranged cackle at his plight. The Ogre was humping himself against the roof of Garth’s mouth, working himself up. Garth felt filled with evil pulsating hot-hard flesh. And dammit, his arse was still plugged too. Forcibly stretched by Mabat’s damned thing. He felt sick, wanted to choke. His nose full of the heavy sweaty scent, the hateful curls of thick black hair. Dirty, so unclean, downright obscene. Quickly the humping was hitting the back of his throat. Panic. Garth suddenly realised the brute could cum in his mouth. He thought he was going to throw up, just at the thought. Deep in his chest, powerful wretches propelled unwelcome urges from up in his guts. Garth had to concentrate, he made himself focus on his purpose, on his ultimate goal. Remind himself why this was happening – focus to stop himself from going mad with the shame.
But the Ogre had done this before, he sensed the warning signs, he withdrew. He withdrew just a little, knowing to let the captive’s reactions settle down. But still his huge domed crown was sickeningly sliding around the top of Garth’s mouth. Nauseatingly like a burning rod he slid over Garth’s tongue, mauling at his emotions, back and forth over Garth’s taste-buds, touching Garth up, giving him a break but still filling his emotions with disgust. But the bastard was not going away, just a pause, the sick bugger was going to be coming back. The shame infused Garth’s torso. Billowing and swirling as it coalesced with the physical tremors emanating from his backside. How to take this? How to make his mouth go slack? How to take all that …? What to do when the evil bastard ejaculated in his mouth? How was he going to relax enough to get that monstrous thing down his throat ….? Trapped, out-flanked, thrown a side-ball. Garth had not planned on anything like this.
11. Sacrifice – Foreplay over
Later Garth would wonder at Mabat’s tolerance. His reluctance could be read in every fibre of his being. This was not the man subjugating himself totally. Not what he had promised. Let her do whatever she craved. Mentally he was struggling, the very core of his being was fighting this. He had not given up at all. Was she being indulgent? Knowing the man was a warrior, he’d still fight, of course. Not expecting anything else? He was a man to his core, he’d not take rape lying down. Indulgent? Tolerant? Like bloody hell. Garth knew her for what she was. All the better when Garth had been forced to give in. Conquer, break, belittle – that was infinitely better than receiving Garth as a gift-on-the-plate. Mabat was glorying in crushing every last bit of fight out of the Earthman. Crushing the legend into dust.
Garth had lubricated it. But that was all, he had not been required to do more than wet the huge monstrosity. And, thank god, the bastard had not cum inside his mouth either. Garth himself was wet all over, covered in nervous sweat. Feeling tired out, like he’d been in a long-drawn out fight. The evil Ogre-bastard was not in any hurry to get on with things, though, when he pulled himself out. Garth astonished himself at his own morbid fascination, he could hardly credit how his eyes centred on his own saliva glistening on the ugly monster. But Garth found himself worrying. The dickhead was in no rush as he rounded the frame to go to Garth’s rear. Astonished at himself, Garth’s head urged him to get back there and do the deed fast – while still wet. The bugger would be drying off. Losing the benefits of his face-fucking. Paradoxical, Garth was astonished at himself – willing the bugger to get on with the foul deed! But the Waif-bitch filled in the time for Garth’s attention. Grabbing him by the hair. Tugging his head up again. Giving her queen full sight of how far the legend of the Earthman had been brought low. Showing him sweating, suffering. Mentally, physically. His arse still full of Mabat’s male-substitute, his mouth just conquered by Mabat’s slave. The “slut’s” sense of manliness ravaged. Mabat’s orders, her will, her design. The Earthman legend her “volunteer” victim. And about to have some male monstrosity stuck up his arse.
Maybe there had been a signal allowing the Ogre to proceed. But Garth’s focus was on Mabat. Giving her the image she desired. Overcoming his own fury, not showing anger on his face. Masking his eyes with the look of a warrior letting this happen – because he had to. Giving her a champion’s sense of shame. But also not letting her think he was some snivelling coward, still showing some signs of spunk. Giving Mabat the reluctant hero, being assailed by his sense of shame. Some remnants of his warrior will still left for Mabat to conquer. He was reckoning on Mabat still wanting his mental anguish, the crushing more to her taste than the end-result. Calculating that Mabat would prefer him still feisty. Giving her the image of himself hating himself for letting this happen. But trapped, trapped by her ingenuity, out-manoeuvring him, catching him on the hop. Flattering her sense of triumph. Giving her just enough strength in his features to show he was hating this. His arse raped by her dildo, face-fucked, sexually stimulated into throwing a boner himself. Hating this but forced by her cunning, tricking him into letting her do with him as she wished.
If there was a signal to the Ogre Garth had not seen it. But the fingers grabbling at his backside were warning enough. Fingers grabbing hold of the dildo. Roughly pulling it out, hurriedly emptying Garth’s back passage. For only one reason. For only one purpose. Garth had got the measure of it, his eyes had rounded on it when it glistened with Garth’s fluids, the brutal warclub that now threatened him from behind. He’d had his mouth on it, the fullness, the brute strength, the eye-smacking length of it. That revenge-tipped missile that was poking around at his backside. The thought was devastating, the size unnerving. Was it possible, he wondered, for him to open that wide? It was going to rip him. It was going to drive him out of his head. With the pain. And with the shame. With the sheer raw emotion that Mabat had ordered another man to force himself onto Garth. And that he himself had invited this.
Despite all the foreplay, roughly finger-raping him inside, despite having had Mabat’s artificial cock slid deep inside him, the mere touch of that monster against his rear-entry sent shudders down Garth’s spine. However he knew it was going to happen, whatever mental preparations he had made, however often he had told himself this had to be – for the Maru womenfolk to go free – the touch of that warclub there shocked. The feel of the Ogre’s hands on Garth’s hips as he prepared for a first thrust sent a shiver of panic through his guts. This was a nightmare. Garth could not fight against this rape of his backside. Not tied up like this. Not bound by the bonds he had tied on himself. Deep in his guts, he felt there was no dignity left. But he was damned if Mabat was going to see this terror on his lifted face. There was no defence, nothing he could do about this. Nothing except grit his teeth. There was no avoiding this horror. His face put on an act for Mabat. She would never see the dread he felt. Or the shame. Just his acceptance of the inevitable.
“Enough!” Mabat’s command echoed through the bare chamber. Cutting through the atmosphere like a sharp knife. “Enough. I’ve seen enough.” Garth’s disbelief equalled the look of confusion on her council. Confusion mingled with disappointment. Mabat was stopping the proceedings. Right at the moment of highest sadism. Just when they had got to where these bitches had been itching to be. No doubt the other women at the table were wet between their legs at the prospect. Seeing this hunk of a man forced to take the monster of a cock. This rebel who had plagued their lives for months – getting his come-uppance in the worst possible way for a man. Their enemy, a man looking that good being raped for their satisfaction. Yet she’d stopped it, Mabat had seen enough!
Garth didn’t believe it. He couldn’t fathom it. Had he put on a good enough act? Had he convinced? It couldn’t be Mabat was taking pity on him? No, she wouldn’t, she couldn’t, she had no pity. His head in an even greater whirl now. Knowing this made no sense. She’d seen enough, she’d said. He had given her enough? Subjugated himself enough? He couldn’t believe it. But for the sake of his arse he wanted like hell to believe it.
11. Sacrifice: Dawn
“We convene again at dawn.” Mabat had stood up. She had walked the length of her council table and was standing in front of Garth. Her Waif had tugged Garth’s head up by the hair, making him look into his dominatrix’ eyes.
“Not enough, Earthman. Not enough to convince.” Garth’s eyes hardened. The way he saw it he had given more than enough, certainly more than he had bargained for. What else did the bitch want? As if reading his thoughts …. “You want the women to go free ….?” The tormentor shook Garth by the hair demanding his answer. It felt like she was going to pull hair out of Garth’s scalp. His features suppressed the wince of pain. He nodded. “… And the old men. I was generous enough to offer the old men too.” Something suspicious in that. The she-devil gave nothing away, Garth had already told himself. “You want their freedom …..?” Again Garth was shaken by the hair. “Answer, dog.” Garth could not hold back the grimace at the pain in his scalp this time. He suddenly realised how tired he was, shattered. His emotions had run a marathon. “Yes. Yes.” He hesitated, he wondered if he should add anything extra. “… Mistress ..” A flattery he did not mean, – but ….
Mabat snorted. She laughed in his face. “Don’t flatter yourself, slut. You are nothing to me.” She turned and walked away from him. The grip in his hair released. Garth let his head droop. Happy to give expression to the pain in his scalp. Feeling a sting in his eye as sweat trickled down his face. “Tomorrow at dawn, Earthman ….” Garth again pricked his ear, suspicious. To be informed why she had stopped this game of hers. “… outside in the courtyard   … you will give me proof. Prove your will is truly mine.” Over my dead body, Garth thought, no chance, not in reality. But he’d play along. He kept his eyes down so he betrayed no such thoughts. Playing the bitch at her own game of deceit. She wanted proof, he’d give her it. Then, once Lenana was safe, he’d take this monster down. “Of your own free will, you will bend over. No ropes, no restraints. Bend over and, spread your legs. No guards to force you, no soldiers to hold you down. Arse in the air, of your own volition.”
Not over then? Garth listened, his lowered head seemingly submissive, breathing slow. So at dawn, they took off from where they were now. Had this just been some dress rehearsal? So he knew the steps? So he had learned the pose? “Akhton will claim your arse for me. You will not resist.” If that was what it took ….. Only difference was, Garth knew what to expect. No surprises, not like today. He’d spend the night coming to terms with the violence of male rape. No change, though, that had been going to happen right now. At least he’d be mentally prepared, he’d have accepted his fate by then.
“Watched by the Maru.” His head shot up, Garth looked at her hard. His breathing stopped by her words. “The Maru gathered in the courtyard. To see and to learn. Watching their champion giving in to me. Enduring the violence of male rape. Willingly, not forced.” Over my dead body   ….. Gut instinct yelled back his response. But in the same second a chill reality hit the pit of his stomach like a stone. What choice did he have? For the sake of the women …. If his unborn child was to know some semblance of life? Garth was caught in a trap. One of his own making, anything done to set the women free. Mabat wanted only one thing, she’d said it clear enough. The destruction of the myth. She had set him this trap, with open eyes Garth had walked into it. She had lied, she had deceived. A fool he had blundered in …. Garth had to go ahead with it, – because Garth wanted only one thing. For the mother of his child to go free. That was his own trap. One from which he had found no escape. And he had just sprung the trap on himself.
He hadn’t seen that one coming. Blast! THAT took him completely by surprise. Yet she had warned him, the evil bitch. At that first meeting. Destruction of the legend, – that had been what she had said. In public. Seen. The Maru herded into the courtyard to watch. Where the legend that had become the Earthman was destroyed. Seen destroyed. Their love of him annihilated. He had heard her that first meeting, he had listened to her planning his destruction. But he’d not reckoned on THIS. Not seen by his Maru friends, volunteering to bend down and take it up the backside.   Never had he contemplated his Lenana looking on as some Ogre tore agonies out of his arse. He would survive, Garth would live. But Lenana? It would kill her. To see the man she loved allowing his enemies to do such a hateful thing. Garth would lose all respect. Hero-worshipped and admired by the Maru. To be seen volunteering for that. Brutal male rape. Not fighting, not resisting, the hero in him reduced to that. Not bound, not forced. Freely submitting, letting this happen. Garth had volunteered himself into Mabat’s hands. But he’d not reckoned on this.
“Convince me, Earthman …… and the women go free.” And Garth could trust the bitch?
TBC

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