... he stood before the soldiers.
What had he ever done to deserve this posting? His brother got to fight in the wars against the barbarians and here he was stuck; nurse-maid in this lousy province. He couldn't wait until troop rotation took place. It had been over ten years since he had last seen Rome.
If it wasn't for the distraction these prisoners provided he would go crazy with boredom.
He looked over the latest unfortunate victim. Looks like he had already met the wrong end of a spear or two. Someone had worked him over pretty good. He looked tired. Better than what he would look by the time his friends had finished with him.
He wondered what his story was. Probably some political thing. Better not to know. It really didn't matter by the time they were handed over to the soldiers; flesh was flesh, regardless of what it was before.
Already his buddies were beginning the fun. There would be some shoving, mocking, a bit of mind games. Then they would strip him down and begin with the fists. After they tired of hitting him they would start in on the whips and chains. That's when it would really get messy.
He would rather be out fighting against other soldiers. At least then it was a fair fight. What they did here was just entertainment. He still didn't have a stomach for the scourging. He was a seasoned soldier but it was too hard to see a man's flesh ripped from his back like that.
He looked over the prisoner again as the first fist landed squarely on his jaw. They say this one had claimed to be a king. Didn't matter much now what he claimed to be.
He heard a deep rasping laugh escape from his mouth as his fist proved to be the fifth one to find its mark. He actually allowed himself to smile as his blow sent the prisoner falling onto his back. In about an hour there wouldn't be much left of that back.
He stood over him, pondering what tomorrow would bring.
No, it didn't matter much any more what he had claimed to be.
He would be dead by morning ...