Bring Out the GIMP (Girls in Merciless Peril)
Stories


THE AMAZON

By Kirsten Smart


One

The procession came through the city gates, greeted by throngs of people. First, the Standard bearers, on horseback, flags held high. Then, the officers, riding proud and victorious, swords slapping the leather of their saddles, armour wiped clean of dirt and blood. And behind them, four cavalry-men riding abreast: from the saddle of each, a tether.

The tethers, in turn, converged upon an iron collar – locked about the neck of a woman, and it was she who the city had turned out to see. She was no ordinary woman. She was tall, her face beautiful beyond words: strong cheekbones, black gull-wing brows, full dark lips, a proud nose and jaw. Her jet-black hair was tied back in a ponytail. Her body, too, was striking, but in a way nobody here had ever seen before. From her broad, brown shoulders, her torso tapered to a narrow waist, the arch of her ribcage framing the rock-hard pillows of her abdominal muscles. Her hips flared to long and powerful legs, the definition breathtaking. Her arms, too, were hard with muscle: but their power was cruelly contained. By ropes thicker than her own thumbs, the Amazon's wrists had been bound behind her back, so tightly that her fisted hands had grown dark, and though she sometimes tugged or turned her bonds, there was no loosening them. Her full lips formed a seal around a worn leather ball, a gag held in place by thick leather straps about her head.

Behind, in a long, weary column, the four hundred returning soldiers. They had set out as five hundred, against forty-eight of these Amazons: the battle had been cruel, but ten of the fearsome women had fallen, and one, the mahogany beauty, had been captured.

Her clothes were far from the robes and rags of the city's people. Over her breasts, a chest-plate of linked bones. Slung about her hips, a loincloth that hung between her thighs. About her arms and legs, thongs of leather, tightly tied. Her muscled limbs, hands and feet were bare: and yet she, and her sisters, had killed a hundred armoured and trained men.

The Amazon's eyes lifted briefly to the battlements of the city into which her captors had marched her. Her face, serene, beautiful, showed no fear at all.

Two

Heavy wooden doors swung wide. Captain Arkan strode in, helmet under his arm, his blue cape thrown back over his shoulder. He saluted smartly.

“Your Majesty, I present the captive.”

Under the escort of four guards, the bound Amazon walked, with dignity, into the chamber. Her presence awed all those gathered, the courtesans falling silent, the King shifting slightly upon the soft cushions of his throne. They stopped, twenty feet from the dais upon which the throne was mounted.

The King whispered to his advisor, a stern man by the name of Roth, who, in turn, indicated the warrior. “She must kneel.” The Amazon turned her head to stare at Roth, defiance upon her beautiful face. “Make her kneel!” Roth shouted.

The four guards grasped her muscular arms, tried to wrench her to the floor, kicking at her legs. Strong, she remained standing, taking their blows, her eyes still upon Roth. Agitation rippled through the courtesans, the King gnawed a knuckle.

“Must I do everything myself?” Grasping his stout wooden staff, Roth stepped down from the dais, strode to the Amazon. “Kneel!” The guards jumped out of the way as Roth swung the staff into the backs of the Amazon's knees. It impacted hard, once, twice, and she stumbled. A third blow, and she lost her balance, slamming to her knees.

There was silence. The Amazon kept her gaze to the floor.

Captain Arkan cleared his throat. “Er … Majesty, before you is evidence that the Amazons do bleed, that they are mortal, that they can be defeated, and even captured. I say that we offer the safe return of this Amazon as an exchange for peace between our people.”

The King nodded slowly. “I see.”

“Although we must keep her restrained at all times, I believe -”

“Surely she is more help to us than that?” the King suddenly asked.

“Majesty?” Arkan did not understand.

The King frowned. “She must … she must know things?”

Roth was quick to grasp the King's meaning. “You are most wise, Majesty! If the Amazons mean to attack us again, and well they might, it is reasonable to assume that this one knows of her sisters' plans.”

“Exactly.” The King glared down at the kneeling prisoner. “Question her!”

Arkan began, “Majesty, I strongly suggest -”

“Arkan.” Roth silenced the Captain with a gesture. “What His Majesty means is that we do not bargain with savages.”

The King looked pleased. “Indeed, you are right, Roth. I want the Amazon questioned, and she must hold nothing from us!”

“Aye, Majesty,” Roth said, with a gracious bow. To Captain Arkan: “Take her to the dungeon, and prepare her.”

Deep beneath the palace, the dungeon was a dark hybrid of natural caves and man-made chambers. Water dripped from the ceiling or made slimy trails on the walls. Chains hung from shadowed rings above. Instruments of horror lay in the dimness. In to this cold, hideous place, they took the bound Amazon, to a chamber in the dungeon beneath a twenty-foot ceiling. On the end of a long chain that dangled from the blackness above, two sturdy manacles awaited a prisoner.

They made the Amazon stand before the manacles, and Arkan drew his sword, touching its tip to her brown throat. “Please, do not make me use this.” The Amazon stood calmly, as, with a guard holding each arm, another loosened the ropes about her wrists. They were deeply grooved from the tight bonds, but she was given no chance to restore the circulation, her wrists instead placed inside the heavy shackles, which were closed and locked snugly. Arkan stepped back as two of his men crossed to a heavy winch, and began to crank it. The chain linking the Amazon's manacles was drawn in, and her muscled arms were slowly drawn above her head, until she stood, her beautiful face framed by her upstretched arms.

For the best part of an hour, she remained standing like that, the four guards on point, Captain Arkan awaiting the arrival of Roth. He noticed the Amazon beginning to shiver where she stood: coming from the much warmer south, she was new to the chill of this dungeon.

Roth finally came, a Medic and a Scribe trailing him, and he nodded with cool civility to Captain Arkan. “Good work, Captain.”

“I must protest about this,” Arkan said. “This treatment is unjustified! We are not savages, nor is the Amazon! She is a prisoner of war, and must be treated with -”

“She will be treated as the King sees fit,” Roth returned impatiently. “Say no more, but remove her gag so I may speak with her.”

Arkan obeyed, stepping behind the restrained Amazon, releasing the buckle of her gag. The ball was extracted from the Amazon's mouth. Relieved of the strain, she worked her jaw, flexed her dry lips.

“What is your name, woman?” Roth demanded.

The Amazon's dark eyes fixed calmly upon him. “Lena.” Her voice was deep, as rich and smooth as her gleaming skin. She went on: “Let me go, and I shall let you all live.”

Roth stared at her. “I beg your pardon? You, dare to threaten me? You stupid, insolent wench!” He ordered two of the guards, “strip her!”

Reluctantly, they ventured to Lena, and began plucking at the leather strips tied about her arms and legs. When these were removed, they unfastened her bone chest-plate, lifting it from her torso. All eyes were at once upon her breasts: round, proud, high, topped by dark-chocolate nipples. She was a woman who evoked both urgent desire, and fear. Her hands closed around the chains that held her arms aloft, her eyes down, braving the stares of all.

“And the rest,” Roth said.

At once, Lena's eyes blazed, fixing on Roth in rage. But she stood, not moving, as the leather of herloincloth was untied, the scant garment taken away, baring the dark oval of hair in her loins. Roth was triumphant. “Where is your pride now, Lena?”

No reply, but her eyes remained defiant. She knew that, even naked and in chains as she was now, she retained every ounce of her dignity. Recognising this, Roth turned to Captain Arkan. “Strike her!”

Arkan looked shocked. “What?”

“Hit her! Hit the woman!”

“No!” Arkan's refusal was resolute. “No, I am not such a man!”

“You disobey my order?” Roth fumed.

“If an order is so clearly wrong, yes.”

For a moment, Roth was speechless. Then, he pointed at one of the guards. “You, man! Strike her, and make it count, or I will have you flogged!”

The guard, reluctantly, moved to stand before the chained Amazon. He drew back, and punched her hard in the belly. The sound was like hitting beef, and she barely jolted. “Curse! She's like a tree-trunk!”

“You fool! Use this!” Roth tossed the guard his sturdy staff.

“Feel this, whore!” The guard swung the club, hard, into Lena's unprotected belly. It bounced off a wall of muscle, with no sign that it had hurt in the slightest. A second blow, and a third, the guard swinging the weapon with all of his strength into her belly. Finally, with a crack! the staff broke into two, and the guard stood, breathing hard, in disbelief.

In sudden motion, Lena grasped her chains, and swung her legs off the floor, capturing the guard's torso with her heels, drawing him in. He gave a yelp, and, before anybody could stop her, the Amazon began to squeeze with her powerful thighs. The guard let out a cry of pain, and the dull crunching sound of his ribs cracking echoed in the dungeon.

Lena's eyes fixed on Roth. “Release me, or I'll kill him.”

Roth blinked slowly.

“Release her!” Captain Arkan cried.

“I don't think you'll do it,” Roth said.

The Amazon bared her white teeth, and drew her legs in. The guard's cries became a rattle of agony as, with an awful sound, his ribcage was crushed, his organs mashed. He clawed helplessly at the Amazon's smooth thighs, blood appearing at his mouth, his eyes bulging, his voice trailing off into a breathless sigh. Finally, Lena released him, and his limp and dying body flopped to the ground.

The Amazon's feet found the floor, her face turning slowly to Roth, who coughed.

“Well. Er …” He beckoned two more of the guards. “You two. Hoist her higher. We shall see how well she sleeps tonight!”

The guards cranked the winch, the chain was drawn in. Lena's arms were stretched tauter over her head, until the manacles were hauling hard upon her fisted hands. Her heels rose off the floor. Still the winch turned, and Lena's toes crept off the flagstones, her magnificent body drawn and tense, hanging by the wrists from the manacles. They cranked her higher, until her feet were fourteen inches above the floor, and locked the winch.

“We shall return. Be ready,” Roth cautioned.

When her captors had gone, Lena felt herself hang, hearing the creak of the chains. Tipping her head back and looking up the landscape of her upstretched arms, she regarded her restraint. True, she could easily haul herself up – she could probably climb the chain all the way to the top – but once there, there was no way she could undo her key-locked fetters, nor detach the chain. She was helpless.

There was nothing else to do. She let her head hang forward, dangling off the floor. She was surprised by the weight of her own body, the pain in her manacled wrists, the tension in her arms. For mere men, her captors were surprisingly cunning.

It was cold, and she began to shiver, hanging naked in the dungeon.

Three

For eighteen long hours, Lena was left to hang. As if by some evil magic, being suspended by the wrists slowly drained her strength, and by morning, she knew she had lost the power to pull herself up. For the first time in her life, she began to feel truly helpless.

Even so, she showed no fear when Roth and his band of assistants returned. Most daunting of all was a huge, ugly man in black leather trousers. Lena knew that he was the torturer, and that today would not be pleasant for her. Still, hanging in chains, she was powerless to avoid it.

“I thought we should discuss your sisters' plans to attack,” Roth said simply.

Lena found cool voice, despite her exhaustion: “I know nothing of any plans.”

“Perhaps,” Roth said, “I should show you that we mean business. Torturer? Whip her.”

The big man produced a four-foot lash of woven hide, half an inch thick, tapering to a cruel tip. He indicated that two of the guards cross to the winch: they lowered Lena until her dangling toes were just an inch off the floor.

The whip hissed through the air and cracked! across her broad and bare back. Then again, and again, cris-crossing blows, quickly drawing a fine cross-hatch of blood in her flesh. The whipping was cruel, setting the hanging woman swinging like a heavy pendulum: but she did not utter a sound.

Twenty lashes became thirty, then forty, and by the fiftieth lash, the torturer was out of breath, showing signs of despair. Lena's eyes fixed on a distant wall, as the chain from which she hung creaked slowly. There were a few beads of sweat on her brow, but no other sign that she felt pain.

“Well?” Roth demanded.

“You will have to do better than that,” she hissed. “Bring it on! I wish to be tested!”

Roth was not impressed. “Very well. Prepare her for the next stage!”

A heavy bench was carried in by four guards, placed before the Amazon. Upon the surface of the bench were two horizontal vices, placed four feet apart, their jaws cruel with sharp iron studs. Lena's legs were lifted apart, her feet put into the vices, and the handles turned until the iron studs were grinding into her flesh. Still, she uttered no sound.

“Does that not hurt?” Roth goaded.

“Does what hurt?” the Amazon asked innocently.

The torturer tightened both vices, until trickles of blood ran to the heavy bench. Lena's fists closed for a moment, but she gave no other reaction.

“Leave her,” Roth ordered. “In a few hours, the pain will be unbearable, and she will confess everything she knows.”

With just two guards remaining to watch her, the inquisitors departed, leaving Lena to hang in chains once more, her feet compressed in the cruel vices.

After four hours, they returned. Roth was pleased to see that, this time, the Amazon's skin shone with sweat, and that her face showed the strain of her ordeal. Her arms appeared to have lost all strength, and she hung limply from the shackles.

“Well?” Roth demanded. “Are you ready to talk?”

“This,” Lena hissed through clenched teeth, “is child's play. You are pathetic.”

The torturer went to the vices, and tightened them again. This time, all those present heard the bones in Lena's feet grinding together under the savage pressure, and fresh trickles of blood ran free. Lena's legs tensed, one cheek twitched, but she made no sound.

“Leave her,” Roth said.

Two more hours they waited, before returning, expecting to find the Amazon pleading for mercy. But they saw little on her face to suggest discomfort, and she watched the inquisitors' return calmly.

“I have been pondering how I might kill you,” she told Roth.

The King's advisor laughed. “You dare threaten me like that? Before today is out, I shall have you begging to kiss my feet! Torturer? Proceed with the next stage!”

From where she hung, Lena watched the next step with interest. Her feet were imprisoned by the vices' crushing jaws, but her bare toes stuck out unprotected. The torturer fetched a two-inch-long iron spike, and a wooden mallet. Before the Amazon's eyes, he positioned the tip of the wedge beneath the nail of her right big toe, and raised the mallet.

“Confess!” Roth shouted, and the mallet fell. The spike was driven a quarter-inch under the Amazon's toenail. Another blow, and another, and the spike was slowly driven further and further, bright lines of blood running down Lena's trapped foot. Between her upstretched arms, her head tipped back. She bit her lip as the mallet finally struck so hard that her nail split from top to bottom, but still she made no sound.

So the torturer took pliers, and slowly ripped the damaged toenail from its mooring, holding the bloodied remnants before her face. Lena looked away.

Roth was most disappointed. “Try again,” he said.

The torturer repeated the process, hammering a spike deep under Lena's left toenail, so that it was lifted most gruesomely from the bed, then slowly tore it away. Most prisoners would have been screaming, but Lena merely pursed her lips and sucked breath.

“Enough,” Roth said in disgust.

They took her bruised and bloodied feet from the vices, and carried the bench away, leaving Lena to hang freely once more. The sheen of sweat on her naked body betrayed her pain, but there was still no sign that she might yet be broken.

“Fetch the hot irons,” Roth commanded.

The torturer stood at a brazier, pumping bellows, heating a branding iron in the roaring coals until it glowed white-hot. Lena said nothing, nor did she move. After more than a day hanging in manacles, she was clearly exhausted, and it seemed that she might be losing her spirit. Roth stood before her, hands on hips.

“Confess to me the battle plans of your sisters,” he demanded.

“Never,” Lena whispered.

“The kiss of the iron is terrible,” Roth warned.

“Do your worst!”

The torturer brought the iron, smoking and sparking in the chill dungeon air, and, upon a nod from Roth, pressed it to the base of Lena's spine. Her skin hissed and squealed and spat, oily smoke rising, and her body shook violently. Her head tipped, her white teeth bared.

“Yes!!” she hissed, and, as tears rolled down her face, Roth was shocked to see a smile appear on her beautiful lips.

“Does that not hurt, wench?” Roth shouted, when the iron was lifted.

Lena's head rocked forward. The sweat ran from her body. “Of course it hurts, fool,” was her reply. “But pain is not to be feared.”

Roth was furious. “Again!” he told the torturer. “Brand her again!”

Twice more the torturer placed the brand at the base of her spine. leaving smoking X-shapes where the iron had touched, and each time the Amazon gave a groan or gasp, but no confession. So a freshly-heated iron was brought, and, this time, pressed to the back of her shoulder. The deeply-muscled flesh hissed savagely, steaming and smoking, and Lena closed her eyes, the sweat running in rivulets down her naked flesh.

Finally, Roth ventured forward, and put his hand to the magnificent orb of one fine breast, cupping its roundness. “It seems a shame to ruin these,” he said. “But if you will not confess to me, ruin them I must.”

“I welcome your puny efforts,” Lena told him, but he saw the tensing of her arms.

“Torturer! Again!”

The time, the hot iron was pressed to the side of one breast. As her flesh burned, the Amazon jolted in her chains, her teeth bared, fresh sweat running down her body. But she did not cry out, and when the brand was lifted, she spat at Roth, hitting him squarely on the cheek.

“Witch!” Roth swung, striking her face hard with his clenched fist, then leaping away, clutching agonised knuckles. “Curse you!”

Lena's eyes returned to him. “You cannot win against me. Give up.”

“Never,” Roth growled. “We will continue this tomorrow.”

Once again, the inquisitors departed. Alone again, Lena let herself hang limp in the chains, her head drooping. Her bare skin steamed, and as her sweat cooled, she became aware of the pain in her tortured feet, slow waves of agony from her branded flesh. She was physically weak, exhausted, but her mind remained strong. She would not be broken.

Four

Lena lifted her eyes as a flame approached through the darkness. A figure, holding a lantern.

For two days, the Amazon had hung from chains in the middle of the dungeon. Her arms had no strength at all, her hands curled and gray above the fetters, her beautiful face weary. But she hid all signs of suffering as the light of the lantern touched her.

It was Captain Arkan, and, after a moment's hesitation, he sank to his knees before the Amazon.

“Forgive me,” he said simply. “I did not want them to do this to you.”

For a long time, Lena was silent. Arkan wonderd if she hung unconscious, at last beaten by the day's torture. But, finally, her voice came, hoarse with thirst and fatigue, but as low and gentle as always. “They are afraid of me. Of course they wish to hurt me.”

Arkan's eyes lifted. “You are a beautiful and dignified woman. You do not deserve to be treated like this.”

“Thank you.”

“But you must confess what you know. Roth is a cruel man, and he will not stop until you give in.”

“Then he will grow old frustrated,” Lena said wearily. “At home, my sisters test each other with tortures worse than any I have felt so far. Our ability to endure pain, to feed from it, makes us stronger warriors. Roth will not succeed.”

“Then I wish you strength.” Arkan stood, and regarded the naked, drawn woman hanging in chains before him, her radiance reduced but not erased, the superb musculature of her body gleaming in the orange torchlight. Arkan saluted smartly, and left.

Hours later, the inquisitors returned to the dungeon. Lena did not stir as they neared, her magnificent body truly exhausted by her long ordeal. For a long time, Roth regarded her, then motioned to a guard.

“Lower her.”

They released the brake of the winch, and Lena dropped to the floor. Her tortured feet would not support her, and she fell, her weakened arms still cuffed before her. She lay, unresisting, as two guards unlocked the shackles, and, with the torturer's help, hoisted her up. Between them, they dragged her to a dark corner of the dungeon, where her barely-focusing eyes recognised a massive wooden construction, at each end a huge roller wound with ropes.

“Put her on,” Roth commanded.

Lena did not fight as she was laid on the rack. They took her arms, first, stretching them over her head and binding her wrists securely to the roller. Then her ankles, placed widely apart and lashed with thick ropes to the second roller. She lay, naked and exposed. Her breasts rose and fell slowly.

“This is your last chance,” Roth said. “Tell me when your sisters next mean to attack, or we will truly make you suffer.”

Lena's eyes opened, her head slowly turned to Roth. “Go to Hell,” she said.

“Rack her!”

The torturer and a guard took up positions on opposite sides of the roller at her fingertips, and began to turn the wheels. The ratchet clicked over, the ropes dragged on Lena's wrists, taking up the slack in ropes and body. Her ankle ropes drew taut. A second turn, and the machine groaned and creaked, a third turn putting the first hint of tension into the Amazon's body.

As the men prepared to turn the roller again, Lena grasped the ropes, and tensed her mighty muscles. This time, the roller did not turn. The ropes creaked, the axle gave a long groan, and the two men fought with the wheels.

“You shall not win!” Lena hissed through her teeth. Her formidable muscles were in incredible definition, her abdomen stark, her whole body shining. There was triumph in her eyes. “Now, let me go!”

But Roth had otherplans. “Assist them!” he ordered two more of the guards. They went to the roller at her feet; now, four men operated the rack. Lena's face registered an instant of panic, but she could not out-pull four men, and the rollers cranked over. Her fingertips were dragged another half-inch from her toes. Still she fought, but was stretched another half-inch. As the tension in her limbs grew, she lost her leverage, and she realised that the machine was winning. Their task done, the assisting guards stood aside.

Two more notches: the Amazon was stretched, her ribcage lifted, her breasts rising towards the ceiling, her limbs visibly lengthening. She began to look afraid. The squealing ropes dragged another inch from her body, and she gave a gasp

“Now,” said Roth, standing over the taut woman. “Ready to talk?”

“Never,” Lena spat. How bad can it be, she thought.

Roth nodded, and the two men at the rack's head turned the wheels again. Lena stretched, her spine lengthening noisily. Her joints were coming under considerable strain. Two more notches, and the sweat began to cluster in droplets all over the Amazon's taut body, growing discomfort apparent on her face. No other torture had used her own muscles against her in this way.

With the next notch, Lena gave an involuntary groan, her body already nearing its limit, the tension fierce. She had long since ceased fighting the rack, instead lay helpless to the gradual stretching. Roth smiled, knowing that he had found the key to breaking her.

Another notch, and the Amazon let out a short gasp. Her face showed the strain. The ropes were shaking with the tension, hundreds of pounds of force on her drawn body.

“Not so proud now, are we?” Roth gloated. “Get out of this, wench!”

“Stop,” Lena gasped, her eyes wide with fear.

“Not until you confess,” Roth said.

“I cannot.”

So the roller turned again, and the Amazon's limbs were wrenched another half inch. This time, she gave a cry – “oh!” – that echoed through the dungeon's cavernous depths. Tears of humiliation and pain squeezed from her eyes.

“Again!” Roth commanded.

They tightened the rack, and Lena's mouth flew wide at the sound of rending muscles, loosening ligaments. The sweat was clustered about her face. The pain was overwhelming, it seemed to burn every nerve in her body, savage agony in her shoulders and hips, along her limbs, along her spine. She could barely breathe, it hurt so much.

“Again,” Roth said.

“No!” Lena begged, but they forced the roller, and her plea dissolved into a long cry of pain, the first they had heard her utter. Roth rubbed his hands in delight.

“More!” He shouted. “Stretch her more!”

Again, they tightened the rack, and Lena screamed in pain. Her muscles were stark in definition, her ribcage extended, the tendons in her armpits and groin like thick cables, fiercely tight, her brown skin shining with sweat. Another notch, and Lena threw her head back, giving a long howl of agony that lasted half a minute, finally trailing into high-pitched whimpering, her breathing shallow.

“Now she knows suffering. Leave her: we will return.”

“No!” Lena shrieked in pain and terror. “Don't leave me like this! Don't!”

But they left her. Alone, she cried out to her sisters, bathed in sweat, confused by the pain that so overwhelmed her. Her body had never been defeated like this, she had thought there was nothing she could not endure: but this, the savage, burning pain in her shoulders and hips, the red-hot agony of wrenched muscles all along her arms and legs, down her sides, along her spine, was excruciating.

And it grew worse.

In reaction to the damage and strain, her muscles now tried to tighten and contract, putting more strain than ever on her tendons. The pain flared and spread like some awful fire, causing her to cry out in her solitude. For two hours, she lay in ever-growing pain, uttering prayers that she might faint, that the ropes might break, that something, anything, could relieve the pain. Gradually, as the agony took its toll, her eyes lost their focus, her mind swimming dazedly in a sea of torment.

Finally, the inquisitors returned, the torturer and guard taking their positions at the wheel once more.

“Well?” Roth regarded the Amazon's suffering face with pleasure. “Ready to talk?”

“It hurts so,” Lena wept, “but I cannot betray my sisters.”

“Stretch her again.”

The roller turned, dragging another half inch from the wretched woman, and this time it hurt a thousand times more than before. She gave a long scream of agony. With a loud crack! her left shoulder suddenly dislocated, followed half a minute later by her right. The pain tore fresh screams from her, and she lost control of her bladder, a warm puddle spreading across the rack.

“Talk,” Roth urged. “Talk, and the pain will stop!”

“I can't! I can't!” Lena shrieked through her pain.

They tightened her a little more, and she screamed as her left hip, then her right, popped out of joint. Now, all four limbs were dislocated, her tendons beginning to tear, and the pain was maddening. She shook her head, shrieking, her body running with sweat.

“Again,” Roth said.

They forced the wheel around, wrenching another half-inch from the Amazon, and her screams became terrible as the ligaments in her elbows and knees began to separate. She was helpless to the pain.

“Will you talk?” Roth demanded.

“Yes! Yes! Anything you want, just stop the pain, stop it!” Lena pleaded.

“When is the attack?”

“The next new moon,” Lena cried. “We planned to strike on the next new moon!”

Roth straightened. “We have almost a month, then! That wasn't so bad, was it?” To the torturer: “keep stretching her, teach her a lesson she will never forget.”

“No-o-o!!” Lena bellowed in terror, but her plea became another long scream as the roller turned, and her elbows began to separate. Groans and creaks came from her stretching spine, accompanied by the awful sound of her abdominal muscles tearing.

They stretched her for an hour longer, until she fainted from the pain.

Five

For two weeks, the broken Lena slumped in a damp and lightless cell, her arms chained above her head, her joints swollen and aching, her body weakened from her ordeal upon the rack. No-one but the rats kept her company, save the once-a-day visit by the jailer to feed her stale bread and a few sips of water.

But on the fifteenth day, the door opened, and Captain Arkan entered cautiously. Once dignified and beautiful, the muscular Amazon now looked filthy, her magnificent body langishing against the wall, wrists locked in chains, her hair lank, her eyes hollow.

Arkan knelt alongside Lena, and offered her the strips of roasted meat he had smuggled into the dungeon. Her dark eyes showed gratitude, and she ate weakly, drawing herself a little higher in her chains.

“Why?” she asked, when she had eaten. “Why are you so kind to me?”

“Because I do not believe the Amazons fight for the sake of it, only for a cause.”

“We do fight for a cause,” Lena agreed. “We survive by hunting, but your so-called 'nobility' takes sport from killing wild animals and leaving their carcasses to rot, and every year we get closer to starvation because of it. We have no choice, but to drive you away.”

Arkan nodded. “Then let me help you. I do not want to see my people die, but nor do I want to see your sisters starve. What can I do?”

Lena straightened. “Take them a message for me. Ride for two days, south, through the forest: they will find you. Don't worry, they will not kill a lone man.”

“And the message?” Arkan asked.

Lena told him.

At the end of the third week, the guards came for Lena. They freed her hands from the shackles over her head, and bound them, instead, behind her body. Naked, she was led up the long, winding stairs to the palace, and escorted in to the King's court.

There were several hundred people gathered. Lena blinked against the brilliant daylight flooding through high windows as she was taken to stand before the King's throne. All eyes were upon her, for, despite the filth on her body, she was beautiful.

The Amazon clung to the tattered remnants of her dignity, finding strength in the tight bonds about her wrists, the affect her body had on the men gathered. Even the King crossed his legs as she neared.

“Kneel.” It was Roth. This time, Lena knelt before the king without hesitation, her eyes lowered in submission.

“The Amazon Lena,” the King announced in a loud voice. “I have broken you!”

Lena hung her head in shame, knowing it to be true.

“In addition, whore, you have been found guilty of crimes against our people!”

“Guilty?” Lena's head lifted, confusion in her eyes. “But there was no trial!”

“Silence!” Roth barked.

“Your punishment is death: in two days, you will be burned at the stake as an example to all those who would wage war against us!”

“No!” Horror filled the Amazon's eyes. The guards hauled her to her feet. “Have mercy upon me! Please!”

“Take her away!” Roth shouted.

For a moment, Lena let the guards lead her away. Then, twisting her powerful body, she wrenched free of their grasp. With arms still bound behind her, she ran for the dais upon with Roth stood, leaping up with the speed of a panther. Roth went for his dagger, but before it was fully drawn, the Amazon's forehead slammed into his nose with a sound like smashing wood, driving an agonised scream from his lungs. He dropped at once, blood streaming down his face.

The guards were closing in, so Lena placed her bare foot between Roth's legs, trapping one testicle against the floor. Roth's pain-filled eyes took on a look of horror. Lena smiled.

“This is how I shall kill you,” she said.

The guards caught her arms, but they were too late to prevent her foot's descent: with a crack! that could be heard at the back of the court, Roth's testicle was split and crushed like an olive, and he screamed insanely with agony.

They quickly took Lena away, leaving Roth writhing and vomiting on the floor.

Six

On the eve of her execution, Lena again languished in her cell, hands chained above her head, her eyelids drooping, her body slumped. She had never expected to end her days like this, and wished that, just once more, she might walk through the forest, feeling the leaf-dappled sun on her bare shoulders, the fallen leaves beneath her feet, but it was not to be.

A little before midnight, her cell door opened, and she recognised the shape of Captain Arkan entering. He crouched alongside her. “I have done as you asked,” he said.

“Then I hope they come quickly,” Lena said, “for tomorrow I go to the stake.”

“They will come,” Arkan promised.

“Any news of Roth?”

“He is not expected to live the night,” Arkan smiled. “They cannot stop the bleeding.”

“Then justice is done.”

A long silence. In the semi-darkness, Arkan gazed at the Amazon's beautiful face, framed by her gleaming arms. He said, “you are so beautiful. May I kiss you?”

“I would like that.”

Gingerly, Arkan put his lips to Lena's. Her mouth opened to him, and their tongues traded with growing hunger. Grasping her chains, the Amazon drew herself higher, tipping her head to deepen the kiss.

After a time, they parted, but Arkan placed small kisses all over the Amazon's face. She smiled. “It is the first time I have been the captive, and the man my captor,” she admitted quietly. “I quite like it.”

“If I had the key to your shackles, you would not be a captive,” Arkan promised.

“Make love to me,” Lena whispered. “Give me pleasure.”

“As you wish,” Arkan said, his heart pounding.

It had been his dream to worship the body of an Amazon, and Lena was no disappointment to him. He kissed her upraised arms, first, tasting the salt of her smooth skin. He tasted her soft underarms, while she sighed with pleasure and shifted her chains. Lower, he licked her breasts, taking her swollen nipples into his mouth and suckling her while she gasped.

Lower still, and he kissed the hard packing of her abdominals, until his tongue found the crisp thatch of hair between her thighs. Even her hair tasted good, and when his tongue found the swelling berry of her clitoris, she rocked her pelvis back and let out a cry of pleasure. He licked her until orgasm swept over her and she was half-sprawled across the floor, her hands pulled down into the fetters, her skin shining with sweat, her breasts heaving.

Slowly, then, he unfastened his breeches, and eased his erection into her. She hissed her pleasure, matching each thrust, taking him all in, her vaginal muscles clenching and releasing his erection until he could take no more, and exploded deep inside her.

When it was done, he took her face in his hands, kissing her, driving his tongue deeply.

Then: “I promise, I will not let this beautiful body burn.”

“Do not make promises you cannot keep,” Lena warned softly.

“But I love you. I want to be with you.”

“If you were to be with me, it could only be as my slave,” the Amazon said.

“Then so be it.”

Arkan slipped into the shadows, and, for the first time in weeks, Lena slept.

The hour of execution came all too soon. Her hands again bound behind her back, Lena was led out into daylight. Again, hundreds gathered to watch her pass, this time naked, but no less formidable in her muscularity and beauty. But word had spread that she had been broken upon the rack, and it was clear that the ropes were indeed capable of trapping her hands behind her back indefinitely, so rather than the respect with which she was first received, she now endured abuse and insults, taunts, and a shower of stones.

Beyond the city walls, a tall wooden stake had been stood in the ground, twenty guards posted in a circle around it. It was to this that the Amazon was led, and as the crowd gathered around, she was made to stand against it, lashed in place with ropes about her waist and legs. Then her hands were untied, her arms taken behind the stake, and tied again, tightly. She tested her bonds with all of her strength, but could not free herself.

As the citizens filed past to place wood and straw about her feet, Lena watched the crowd beyond the guards for the face of Arkan, but failed to see him. Soon, there was a large pile around the bound woman, and the Chief of Justice stepped into the circle of guards, facing Lena. A hush fell.

“Amazon Lena, you have been condemned to burn today, for your crimes against this city, and now, also, for the death of Roth, King's Advisor. Have you anything to say?”

“Soon, you shall all die,” she said.

The Chief of Justice hesitated, then smiled. “Perhaps you refer to the 'rescue' for which you hope? I have news, then.” He lifted a hand. “Bring it!”

Lena's eyes widened in horror as the torturer, at the hands of whom she suffered so greatly, appeared from the crowd. In his grasp was a hooded object, and when he drew away the hood, a gasp rose from all around.

The severed head of Captain Arkan was thrown into the wood-pile at Lena's feet.

“No!” she shrieked.

“Our army set off last night to destroy, for once and for all, the Amazon army!” the Bailiff announced. “Victory is ours!”

The crowd cheered. The bound Amazon, tears streaming down her face, still struggled to tear herself from the stake. But the hope had gone from her eyes. The torturer gathered a burning torch from a brazier nearby, and Lena could do nothing as it was laid in straw at her feet.

Many times, she had watched fire grow in kindling-wood. The grey ribbons of smoke, the crackling of sap, the tiny sparks: those things that had once been a comfort to her were now a horror beyond words. Lena could think of no fate worse than to die in fire, but for all her strength and beauty, she could not free her hands from their bonds. The flames spread, leaped, the fire caught quickly, and in moments, she could feel the heat on her naked skin.

“Have mercy! Do not let me burn!” Her cries went unheeded.

She fought the ropes, her powerful muscles bulging and shifting, but the fire crackled and roared. The heat grew intolerable, her bare skin shining with sweat. Then, the first flames began to snap at her bare feet. Lena clenched her teeth, turned her face from the fire.

“Oh, Goddess!” she gave in agony. “Somebody, please, kill me now!”

But nobody stepped forward, and as the fire began to eat at her beautiful legs, her cries dissolved into wordless screams of pain. Drifts of smoke offered to screen the awful sight of a beautiful woman burning, but she was still visible as a shape, writhing against the stake, struggling to break free as the fire engulfed her, turning flesh to tallow and burning her as a slow candle. The smell was unmistakable. Black rolls of smoke rose into the air, and her screams echoed over the silent crowd.

Her beautiful hair caught, flared, was gone. Her skin was alight. Her breasts were melting. But her Amazonian strength was now a curse to her, her body refusing to succumb to the fire. Even as she burned, she struggled against the ropes, though she had learned long ago that they would not give.

Seven

Slowly, the gathered people began to realise the horror of what they had done. This was not an act of noble warfare, but a brutal and savage act of vengeance, needless and barbaric. The woman they had consigned to the flames was a warrior, proud, disciplined, a woman to whom combat was an art. The Amazons would not kill an unarmed opponent, nor mistreat a captive. But this day, all had changed.

The fire thundered, now, and the screams of the Amazon bound within them faded. The flames tore away what was left of her beauty, her bones burst, and she was dead.

Then, from the trees two hundred yards distant, a terrifying sound. Whoops and shrieks, the pounding of horses' hooves, the clattering of armour. As one, the crowd saw the attacking Amazon army, and panic overcame them in an instant. With its own army already gone, the city was undefended.

In seconds, the Amazons were upon the scattering crowd, and the carnage was terrible. A sword sheared the slender neck of a fleeing woman: her body ran several steps, her head thumped to the grass, her eyes wide in silent terror. An arrow slammed into the chest of a man. A spear impaled the belly of another. The guards tried to fight, but they were lightly armed, and too few, and those who did not lose their heads to the Amazons' razor-swords within the first few minutes of the fight were run down by the charging horses. Blood stained the grass, corpses twitched and flopped, those citizens lucky enough to avoid the swinging blades and whistling arrows ran into the forest.

The torturer, a big man and frightened of nothing, put up the fiercest fight. Soon, he was surrounded by a circle of Amazons: he held a huge axe in his massive arms, swinging it wildly, and no woman could get close enough to fight him. Then, a hissing crossbow bolt slammed into the back of his knee, severing ligaments, and he dropped with a scream, clutching his wounded leg. Another Amazon raised her crossbow, and fired into his elbow. Another shot took his other knee. Soon, the torturer lay bristling with crossbow bolts, every limb rendered useless.

One of the Amazons dismounted, and walked up to him. “We know of your role in our sister's torment,” she said quietly.

“Mercy,” the torturer gasped, in agony, from where he lay. But the beautiful woman raised her sword, and sliced down. The torturer's head rolled from his crippled body, his face showing anguish as he realised what had happened. But soon, his eyes glazed, and he was dead.

The Amazons circled the blazing pyre that had been the death of their sister, and gathered from it burning branches, then rode en masse through the open city gates, setting light to thatched roofs, market awnings, piled wares. The slaughter continued amidst the flames, until blood ran in the streets.

It did not take long to reach the city square, and the Amazons found only a small collection of soldiers waiting for them. The fight was brief: only one Amazon lost her life, soon thirty male corpses lay.

“Sisters!” Across the square, an Amazon called her comrades, and beckoned that they followed. They rode to a short alleyway, where, by two women warriors, the King and his four closest bodyguards had been cornered.

The Amazon Queen dismounted her horse and drew her sword. She stood no taller than the king, and was smaller than his guards, but her slender limbs had an athletic muscularity that showed she was an able fighter indeed. Her jet-black hair fell about her bronzed shoulders, blue eyes blazing.

“What you have done to our sister, we can never forgive,” she hissed, white teeth bared. “You filth must all die!”

The King knew the odds: he saw the three dozen Amazons beyond the alleyway, each woman able to take on a small army on her own. But if he must die, he decided, it would be with dignity. He thrust a finger forward. “Guards! Kill her!”

The four men rushed forward: steel met steel in a flash of sparks, and the battle began. In the alleyway, there was scarce room to manoeuvre, and any advantage the four may have had against their sole opponent was lost. The Queen's gleaming blade smashed the sword of one guard as if it were wood: her second slash split his arm from the thumb to elbow, and he fell screaming. She spun, lithe muscles flexing as she deflected another's attack, flicked her sword to his neck. His head thumped to the ground, his body dropping to its knees. The third guard was already swinging down, but the Queen parried with her arm, her attacker's sword biting into the steel of her bracelet, but not breaking through. The guard could only gasp as the sticky-sharp blade of the Queen's sword ran through his belly.

The remaining guard tried to run, but found his exit blocked by Amazons. A long dribble of urine escaped him as one of the warriors lifted her crossbow, aimed it squarely at his face, and let fly. The guard dropped with the arrow shaft protruding from his mouth.

Now, there only remained the King, and he fell to his knees as the Queen drew near, bloodied sword in her hand. “Don't kill me,” the King pleaded. “Have mercy!”

“The same kind of mercy you showed Lena?” the Queen checked. “The same kind of mercy we should expect from your soldiers, trying to ambush us? Stand up, you worthless rat.”

The King rose, and as he did, his eyes, out of sheer habit, took in the Queen's magnificent figure: her blue-black mane of hair, her blazing blue eyes and dark brows, her full lips, her slender neck and broad shoulders, her muscled arms, her slender hips and strong thighs, her powerful belly. Her skin was golden and gleaming. His eyes finally came to rest on her rounded breasts, firm and proud beneath the bone and steel of her bustier.

His gaze flicked up to the Amazon Queen's eyes again. She smiled. “Do you like what you see?”

“You are … most beautiful,” the King admitted.

“Maybe.” She sheathed her sword, smoothed one hand across her belly. “But do you know how long it has been, since I had the touch of a man?” She drifted forward, her eyes on the King's, her breasts rising and falling just inches from his chest.

“How long?”

“Too long,” she whispered, her lips brushing the King's ear. Her hand caressed his thigh, slid higher, worked into the folds of his robe. The King sighed, growing erect, helpless to the Amazon Queen's seduction as her soft, cool fingers closed around his shaft, easing back and forth, making him harder. “Is that good, your Majesty?”

“Oh, that's good,” the King groaned.

“And what about … THIS?” the Queen gripped, and twisted. The King folded around her hand as his penis' inner moorings tore. He was screaming, his legs failing, his body's weight held by the Amazon's grasp on his agonized cock. Again, the Queen twisted, the King's penis tearing, until all that held it in place was skin. So she pushed him to the ground, where he fell, writhing in pain.

“A punishment fit for a king, no?” the Amazon Queen remarked, standing over him. She placed the toe of her boot on one testicle, crunched down. The King's scream was awful, his scrotum splitting open in a bust of fluid and tissue. “That is enough for you.”

Hippolyta walked back to the entrance of the alleyway, gestured to the dying King and his wounded guard. “Finish them.”

The Amazons let fly with their bows, bolts thudding into the flesh of the men, bristling from their limbs and torsos and faces until their bodies all lay still.




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