Friday, February 5, 2010

Inquisition: Gibbet

She was such a lovely girl. Tall, willowy, with long dark hair and thin muscular body. Her clothes were in tatters, showing more flesh than would be appropriate on the street. Here, in the prison, it was just the start.

Her face was difficult to see, for she hung her head and her hair fell forward. Lifting her head up by the chin revealed a long face with full lips, a cute nose and blue eyes. The eyes made me stop for a moment, they were striking in suck a dark face and made it seem alive.

Her crime? She was the woman of a highwayman. Petty thievery, stopping travelers on the road and robbing them of whatever they had of value. She didn’t do the actual robbing, of course, but she had gone with him and carried booty, and let him hide out in her hovel of a house. Word was she had fought wildly when they came to arrest her man.

The punishment for highwaymen was well established. The gibbet, usually along the road someplace, or at a crossroads. For her… well, interrogation, and then the gibbet. It was unusual for a woman to be executed in this manner, but she had earned it.

Her wrists were bound tightly behind her back, her hands already purple. A quick lash of added rope looped around her bound wrists, and then up over a beam above. Grabbing the rope, I gave a quick hoist. As her arms raised behind her, she bent forward to try and prevent her shoulders from twisting out of their sockets. A gasp came from her as the first real pain made its way through her upper arms and shoulders.

Grabbing the rope high, I pulled down hard, putting my full body weight into it. A scream issued from her throat, a hoarse scream – as if she had already screamed much in the past day or so. As the rope yanked her arms higher, she straightened, pulled upright by the constant pressure of the rope. Her shoulders rotated in an increasingly unnatural way, and her screams became more subdued as her toes left the ground and she was suspended fully by her arms. The pressure and strain on her chest made deep breaths painful. She tended to whimper her pain in a strained wheeze.

She swung, barely 3 inches above the ground, but it was enough. The excruciating pain that encompassed her chest from her shoulders prevented any kind of deep breathing. She panted in small breaths, each expansion of her chest increasing her pain. In this state she made the familiar mewling noise of agony issued by those suspended in strappado.

Stretched as she was her tattered clothing revealed an impressive body. Bits of smooth flesh, skin covering the ripples of ribs, milky cream colored thighs, muscled back… all were hinted at by the openings of cloth. Grabbing one of the tears, I yanked down, hard. The material ripped, but not without first yanking her body down, causing an increased panic in her mewling. A few more yanks, and her arms had straightened almost vertically behind her, tearing shoulder muscles and tendons, and nearly dislocating the joints. Not to mention she was also hanging naked before us.

She swung slightly, occasionally making small movements with her legs which hung free. Any large movements caused added strain on her shoulders and back, and so she stayed as still as possible. As we watched her suffer there, she lost control of her body and urinated down her leg and onto the floor.

Hot pincers were brought. She winced as they approached, but hung in place obediently as the red hot tines approached her breast. With a suddent movement, I shoved the pincers deep against her soft breasts, and then down. She screamed, even with her painful position, screamed with the horrible burning, smoking flesh of her breast as I pulled and tore it open. This process was repeated, first on one breast and then the other, her screams filling and echoing against the stone walls of the prison.

The pincers had cooled. A long, single tailed blacksnake whip was produced. Ten feet long, it could tear and shred flesh apart like a knife, and wrapped around a victim at least once and in her case… twice. Standing behind her shapely body, I hefted the handle, and then pulled back. The hissing leather sent a shudder throughout her flesh, ripples up and down her soft skin as it tore into her back and stomach. In spite of being in the strappado, she wriggled, trying to escape the kiss of the whip.

She was bleeding from where the whip had hugged her. I swung the lash again, higher this time and it cut across her upper back and breasts, blood spattering out in a fine mist. Ten times I stroked her body, and when I was done she was covered with a shiny sheen of red from shoulder to hip.

It was time. She had been prepared for the gibbet nicely, though the interrogation had not produced any useful information (I had not really asked any questions, either). Her pain wracked body was lowered to the ground where she lay, convulsing slightly. A guard and I took her arms and dragged her to the side, where the metal cage lay.

Gibbets are made in very few different sizes, as they are expensive and the comfort of the occupant is not really a concern. This one was built for a medium sized man, and fit her tall form nicely. We lifted her twitching body and dumped her in, laying and arranging her body in line with the rough man-shaped cage. While the damage to her shoulders prevented significant arm movements, she realized what was happening and began to kick freely, and roll about.

The guard placed his foot down firmly on her knee, and I joined him with her other knee. She began crying out and begging for mercy as we both ground down on her vulnerable joint. A wild look was in her eyes, and spittle gathered around her mouth as she attempted to rise. A single strong kick against her upper body and she was thrust back down inside the bottom of the cage.

The front portion of the cage, matching the back portion in which she lay, was brought over and positioned above her. A set of hooks on the back side of the gibbet slid into holes in the front side, and the front of the cage hinged and fell down on top of the poor girl with a loud clang.

Her struggles increased as she felt the confining gibbet surround her body. Her legs banged against the ironwork, and hands reached out, grasping as best they could and pushing. Her naked body writhed inside the tight fitting cage, trying to separate the front and back of the gibbet.

With a smooth motion, the guard took a metal pin and hammered it into place through matching holes in the two sides of the cage. Then, lower down, he applied a large lock, which clicked shut and further prevented the two sides of the gibbet from separating without the key.

This lovely raven haired girl was now caged, in a space hardly larger than her body. She could move no part of her body more than just a few inches in any direction. Her pitiful cries became panicked once again, as she realized she was locked in a prison that would prevent any kind of movement. The metal rattled as she shook the bars which surrounded her, pressing her flesh against her cage as hard as she could.

Picking the cage up by the head, we dragged the woman out of the prison and to a card that was prepared and waiting in the prison courtyard. As we did, the pleas of the young woman begging to be released, echoed against the walls, and several guard came to look at the fair woman locked in place as she was dragged about. With a giant heave, her body was lifted and dumped in the back of the cart.

We drove out of the city about an hour, to a well traveled crossroad which had a sturdy post erected for just such an occasion. While the woman was not heavy, being lean and thin of body, the gibbet itself weighed quite a lot. To assist in hanging the woman on display, we drove the card immediately below the hook that pointed down from the post. Thus we were able to lift the condemned’s gibbet almost erect, place it on the hook, and then drive the cart away.

As the cart pulled out from under the woman, the gibbet dropped from the back of the cart and swung freely, back and forth. The girl renewed her pleas, seeing that she was doomed to hang here in public view, and die slowly of exposure, hunger and thirst. We remained for a moment to watch her swinging, struggling inside in her attempts to free herself from the tight iron bars. Her straining muscles made her all the more attractive, and I felt the power of her youth and beauty call to me. We left her there, on display for all to see, and drove back to the city.

The next day I road out to the cross roads to check on the girls progress toward death. She had spent a difficult night, for it was cold and wet, and she was naked. Her skin, which had been a healthy pinkish white, had begun to take on a slightly grey hue. Passing travelers stopped to view her without fail, observing her shapely form caged and hung for display; the display was unusual and worth a slight detour.

The girl begged for water. None was offered, but she begged anyway. The bottom of her cage, as well as the ground below her, showed signs that she had defecated and urinated during the night. As travelers departed, her body slumped in the cage, though maintained upright by the narrowness of her confinement. Exhaustion was setting in. Her tortures of the day before had pulled much of her strength from her. It was uncertain how long she would last.

On the second day, there was a small crowd that collecte to view the condemned and dying woman. Some had tried to offer her something to drink, others had jeered and thrown rocks at her. Her body showed some signs of abuse, bruises and cuts that came from the rocks or other debris thrush against her. She was bloodied between her legs, showing that someone had tried to rape and impale her with an object, perhaps a stick, the night before.

Her breathing was quick and rasping, her eyes closed. She was still most of the time, though every few minutes her body would convulse and she would open her eyes and cry out. Even in this condition her nakedness was sensual, her form perfect, her body inviting.

The third day the birds began tearing at her body, though she was still alive. Large black crows had been circling above, and now had become bold enough to land on the metal cage and begin picking at her flesh. Unable to move, she posed no threat to them, and they began tearing at easy edges of her flesh; her ears were first, followed by lips, nose and eyes. By late in the day her eyes had fallen from their sockets and her face was no longer beautiful. She still breathed, but I knew she was not long for this world.

She died on the fourth day. I did not observe her last breath, but late in the afternoon I arrived to see that the birds were tearing at her flesh in numerous places. She no longer breathed, though she stood slumped inside the cage in the same position as the previous day. Her naked body still hinted at the beauty she once was, but in death she had become an object, nothing more than the dwindling reminder of what happens to highwaymen when they are caught.