Jordan opened his eyes, groaning loudly as feeling returned to his body. The sensation was not pleasant. Far from it. His head throbbed in time to his heartbeat, each pulse a wave of pain that left him retching and nauseated. His wrists were bound together by a thick flaxen rope that raised him up, pulling his arms over his head. Looking down, he realised that he was strung up like a side of meat, feet bound together with more rope, his toes barely scraping the ground. He was imprisoned within the darkly lit interior of a large tent and could hear the murmur and babble of  many voices coming from outside.

“Hello Jordan.”

Jordan instantly recognised the voice. His heart sank. He knew that his life was now forfeit and what little remained of it would probably be spent in agonising pain.

“Hello Slovenia.” He croaked, his throat was parched and his lips were cracked and swollen.

He raised his head to look at her. She stood before him, every bit the warrior Queen. Her armour was functional and had clearly seen extensive use but the design was exceptionally cunning and flattered her figure in a way that only the finest craftsmanship could. They appeared to be alone in what he assumed was her personal tent. He noticed that she was idly toying with a wickedly curved dagger that glinted menacingly in the gloom of the tent.

“You look radiant as ever.” He said, “The years have been kind.”  He meant it too. She had grown impossibly beautiful in the years since their last meeting. It almost hurt to look at her.

“You look like shit.” She snorted derisively.

He was a far cry from the powerfully toned young man she had fallen for. While she had led her army from the front-lines, charging headlong in to battle after battle, honing her skills and strengthening her body such that it appeared carved from marble, he had lounged in the rear of his army letting his muscles atrophy and whither. He was by no means a feeble man, but his paunch and jowls now disguised the once glorious core of  power and strength.

“Oh you know how it is, you try to stay in shape but who has the time?” He replied. His attempt at levity slightly spoiled by a fit of coughing that left him gasping for breath.

“Spare yourself the effort of speaking Jordan.” Slovenia said gently resting her hand on his heaving chest. “I have no interest in anything you have to say.”

She held her dagger up to his face and traced the blade against the line of his cheek and jaw. She grimaced at the sight of his beard matted and patchy with what looked like the remains of entire meals embedded in the thatch.

“What a sorry excuse for a King you are. What your subjects must feel when they see you? You do not deserve the title of Lord let alone High Lord.”

She continued to trace the blade slowly over his skin, down his bare chest. She applied a little more pressure as the edge crossed beneath his right breast, breaking the skin for the first time. Jordan grunted and pulled away in response but his movement was restricted by a firm pair of hands that held him from behind.

“Remove his loin cloth.” Slovenia ordered, “Let me gaze upon the glory of the ‘High’ Lord of the Poan steppes.”

Israel complied, pulling the garment away from Jordan and throwing it to the side. Slovenia wrinkled her nose in disgust. A putrid odour wafted up from Jordan’s groin. The stench was so overpowering she very nearly gagged.

“I shudder to think how many innocent serving maidens you have spoiled with that infectious wand.” She held her breath and using the flat of her blade lifted the offending member and inspected it closely.

She couldn’t help but marvel at the panoply of infections that appeared to festoon its surface. She had been harbouring a fantasy of inflicting sadistic sexual torture on him but the sight of his spoiled penis put her off that line of thinking completely.

“Well this is very disappointing Jordan.” She said thankful for the gauntlets that protected her hands.

“Hold him!” She barked at Israel.

As Israel braced himself against Jordan, wrapping his arms around his broad chest, Slovenia calmly wrapped her gloved forefinger and thumb around Jordan’s dangling testicles, pulled down sharply and severed them from the base of his penis with a  stroke of her dagger. Jordan roared in agony, jerking wildly against Israel, blood spraying forth from his ruined groin. Slovenia  stepped back quickly, being careful to avoid contact with the flood of crimson that spilled at her feet. Jordan’s roar elevated in pitch and stretched out into a piercing wail.

“Here.” Slovenia said to Israel handing him Jordan’s gonads, “shut him up.”

Israel released his hold on Jordan and took the offending article from her. He gave her a quizzical look as Jordan continued writhing and screaming.

“Yes, with those.” She said gesturing for him to proceed.

Israel shrugged.

“As you wish my Lady.”

He pulled a strip of cloth from his robe, turned to Jordan and before the wailing king could react, rammed the bloody sac into his mouth and tied it closed with the cloth.

Silence descended. Jordan’s eyes widened in horror as the realisation of what had just happened sank in. He began puffing heavily through his nose, willing himself not to swallow or gag. He could taste the warm, bloody saltiness of his balls as they rolled around in his mouth.

Slovenia observed his struggle with a cold, dispassionate eye. She was not quite satisfied that he was yet fit for purpose.

“There’s something missing from this picture Israel.” She said turning to her eunuch.

Israel winced but was quick to disguise the reaction. This was not dissimilar to his own emasculation and was flushing out memories that had long since been buried.

“Tears!” Slovenia exclaimed excitedly, “That’s what it is.”

She approached Jordan, dagger raised. Jordan spotted her approach and began twisting and shouting in muffled response.

“Oh hush.” She soothed, “This won’t hurt. Just a light bit of cosmetic work, you’ll barely feel a thing.”

With that she grabbed him by the hair, pulled his head back and made two small cuts beneath his eyes. Jordan began wailing and thrashing again as she stepped back to admire her handiwork.

“Perfect.” She said, genuinely satisfied at the sight of the thin rivulets of blood trickling down his cheeks, “Tears of remorse become you Jordan.”

“Cut him loose and bring him outside. The banner is ready, time to let it fly.”

She turned and marched out of the tent, leaving Israel to carry out her instructions.

Israel watched her leave before turning his attention to the bedraggled Lord. He had stopped flailing against his bonds and was softly whimpering to himself.

The eunuch pulled out his own dagger and cut the rope at the point that held the Jordan upright. The lord collapsed to the floor, moaning and writhing in renewed agony. Israel sheathed his dagger and knelt beside him, lifting Jordan’s head and cradling it in his arms.

“There, there.” He crooned, “This will soon be over.”

He pulled a small leather pouch from a fold in his robe, opened it up and poured its contents into his open hand. He held the fine grey powder out and instructed Jordan to snort it. The battered king pulled his head away, refusing to comply.

“My Lord, I hold no grudge against you.” Israel said unperturbed, “Mark my words, you are about to suffer death in unspeakable agony. At least let me grant you this small succor.”

Jordan looked into his fellow eunuch’s eyes, he sensed the compassion and sincerity in the mans eyes and nodded in acquiescence. Israel held his hand up to Jordan’s nose again and watched as the lord inhaled the powder. He waited a moment for the effects to become apparent. A glazed, far-away look that anyone with a passing familiarity with opium would recognise.

“Here we go.” Israel said as he stood up.

He put his hands under Jordan’s armpits and dragged him from the tent.

There was a shout and the assembled host of Slovenia’s army roared into life as the captured leader of their enemy was thrown at the feet of their divine Countess.

“Warriors of the Wreghan Mark!” She cried, her clear voice carrying out above the horde. “I give you the high lord Jordan. What better banner to hold at the head of our legions.”

She turned to one of her attendants who stood at her side carrying a long, sturdy pole. The pole was roughly fifteen feet in length, carved to roughly two inches in diameter tapering to a rounded tip of roughly an inch. There were two small pegs attached roughly four-foot from the narrowed end.

“Mount the flag of Jordan.” She commanded her attendants gesturing at the prone figure before her.

“And let us march to war.”