Crucifixion kills by suffocation. When a person’s arms are secured straight out from their body and slightly above their head the weight of the person’s body closes the airway. A cruel executioner will place a wooden block under the victim’s feet. Desperation will make the condemned soul push up on the block with his feet, opening the airway ever so slightly. This simple mechanism will prolong a man’s suffering for hours.
Why do I know these things? The desert sun cooked the man’s brain in his skull. Raised blisters on his exposed skin; and all of his skin was exposed.
A truly vicious executioner will place the block so that only the victim’s toes will reach it. Silwynn’s calves burned with effort. He sucked in a series of short, quick breaths. He had seen divers do as much before long dives. When they had to hold their breath for a long time.
“A curse on all Stygia and their serpent god!”
His legs gave out.
He held his breath as long as he could. Finally, lungs burning, his instinct for self-preservation took over. He was nigh-unconscious as his legs spasmed, lifting his body again on his toes. Desperate breaths brought air to desperate lungs. His head spun from effort and exhaustion.
“Why do you fight?” He heard the Stygian nobleman’s voice as loud as though he were standing before him again. “The torture will last as long as you allow it. All you have to do,” he leaned in close, his potent perfume stinging Silwynn’s nose, “is die.” Silwynn had pulled against the steel binding his arms to the stone wall of the prison. Only a noble would use steel in his dungeon instead of iron. Silwynn spat in the noble’s face. He had spittle then. No so now. Not under this brutal sun.
He pulled against the hemp rope that secured his arms to the wooden cross. “Well,” he breathed, “at least it’s not stone!” He started laughing. Tears rolled down his cheeks. His legs shook. His hysterical outburst was answered by a pitiful moan from somewhere behind him. Who was that? One of the others? There had been, what, fifteen, twenty prisoners chained to that wagon? He heard one more feeble outburst behind him, then nothing more. Strangulation was a quiet death.
“Mitra,” he prayed, “I have tried to do my best by you. Please,” he croaked, “just don’t send me to hell.”
His legs sagged. He imagined himself jumping off the foredeck of the Bloody Mermaid into the crystal clear waters of the Barachan Isles. He sunk down, down into depths he knew he would never rise from again.
He sunk to the bottom and landed on the soft sand. The sand became soft leopard fur rugs. Cool water became a cool jungle breeze drifting in through an open window in the large reed hut. Silwynn lounged under silk sheets. The sheets stirred and he felt the warmth of a naked body pressed against his. He pulled back the sheet so he could see his wife curled up next to him. Her dark skin stood in stark contrast to the white spider-silk sheets. She flashed him a crescent-moon smile and ran delicate fingers through the hair on his chest. He caressed her face with his fingertips – sharp features carved in obsidian with fire-opal eyes. His heart skipped a beat every time he looked into those eyes. Sounds of the jungle floated on the cool breeze. The woman he loved kissed his chest. “Come,” she whispered, “rule with me. My king.”
Silwynn sat bolt upright. Panic squeezed his chest like a hungry jungle snake. he gasped for breath. The soft sheets were pulled away, leaving him sitting on hot sand. Stars filled the sky above him. A crescent moon smiled down on him like his lover. He shook his head. Confusion ruled his senses. His wife tickled his chest. He brushed her hand away. But it was no woman, but a scorpion the size of his palm. He jumped to his feet and was almost thrown back into the depths of unconsciousness by the effort. With the force of a physical blow, realization returned.
He was in the desert. He was no longer on the cross. He rubbed his wrists. His hand encountered the bracelet. The gold bracelet with the glowing gemstone. Before he could fully gather his wits, he saw another figure laying in the sand. He scrambled over to the man, rolled him onto his back. Like Silwynn, he was naked. Like Silwynn, he was no longer hanging from a cross. Silwynn could not tell if he was breathing. If he was alive or dead. He felt suddenly alone. Lost in a foreign desert. He balled his fist. Pounded on the stranger’s chest. Again. Again.
The man’s eyes popped open. He convulsed. Sucked in deep breaths. He locked eyes with Silwynn. “Who – who are you?”
by Silwynn Bloodbane on May 21, 2017 at 03:43 PM}