They threw her against the far wall, which, with a quick turn, she managed to hit with her shoulder, sparing her face. She fell, and landed on some straw scarcely covering the nude floor. She heard the iron bars of her cell slamming shut, and the pace of the guards leaving. In the dim light of a few flares, out in the long corridor, which filtered into the dungeon, she was barely able to examine the place where, she supposed, she was to await death, or worse. There was no bed, no chair. No bucket with water, no hygienic furniture. Actually there was nothing. Just three walls, a floor, a ceiling and the frame of heavy, thick iron bars that was between her and the corridor. Not between her and freedom, but between her and a feeble hope of escaping. Oh yes, there was some straw on the floor. There where the irons that still kept her wrists shackled behind her back. And there were, she realized hearing squeaking noises, some mice. And probably other little, nasty companions in her captivity. But that definitely was the last of her concerns. She was a born rebel, and stubborn as a girl can be, but she had to accept, unwillingly, there was, at least for the moment, no way to make an escape attempt. So for the first time in twenty-four hours she relaxed, and let her mind sway over what had happened.
Her name was Jolanda. Jolanda de Almaviva, sole daughter of Alonso, Count of Almaviva, a grand noble of Spain. So she was one of the most known and desired girls of her country. But she also was the promised bride of Pedro Rodriguez de Villar, governor of Maracaibo. Better known as the Beast of Maracaibo. The butcher. The criminal, sadistic tyrant who, taking advantage of the low control of far away Spain, had turned Maracaibo in his personal possession and play toy. Obviously she didn’t imagine this, when her father, accomplishing to the uses of the time, had destined her to a prearranged marriage with a man she’d never seen before, in a part of the world she had heard about only in tales. Actually, what was known about the Governor of Maracaibo in Spain had made a very good impression on her. She always had more sympathy for the peasants and the village people, than for the formal way of living of her noble family. She was averse to loving on command; she knew she could never give herself to a man only for political or economical convenience. But back then she thought this man could have made her fall in love. Because what she knew about Pedro Rodriguez de Villar was that he was not of noble blood, and that he had worked himself up to the role of governor starting at the very bottom of society. Little could she know, at the time, he did so not by virtue of braveness and intellect, but by treachery and backstabbing. Yes, she was a Spanish noblewoman, and the promised spouse of the man in whose dungeons now she was held captive. Because above being a noblewoman and a promised bride, she was Jolanda de Almaviva, queen of the pirates.
It seemed an eternity, and yet it was only sixteen months earlier that she arrived in the new world. On the way to Maracaibo her ship was attacked by the crew of Buttafuoco, an Italian pirate. They took her for ransom (not before she had barehanded knocked the air out of five pirates), but would never imagine on Tortuga she was to become the companion and lover of Jean Lafayette, the most respected among the pirates. Nor that she would not be just a standby, a moral support, but rather join actively in all the raids of Lafayette, soon building her own crew, in large part made of female former slaves she had lead to freedom, helping them escape from the plantations of the inlands or from the brothels of Maracaibo. She had seen the cruelty of the man she was ordered to marry, and had become his worst nightmare. Many times she had escaped his clutches, and now… And all due to her unbelievable bad luck.
The night before, Jolanda’s ship, returning to Tortuga from a successful raid, had been caught in a violent, unpredictable storm. She valiantly tried to keep the vessel going, but in order to avoid the centre of the storm they were pushed always more towards Maracaibo. Finally, an enormous wave had swept her from board, throwing her amongst the dark, dancing waters. Her crew could do nothing for her, but it seemed as if the gods were with her, and she managed to clutch a piece of wooden shaft, broken from her ship. Her courage, untameable will and strong physique saved her life, but without that drifting support to clutch at, it all would have been in vain. So struggling for hours, nearly giving up, reaching the limit of her strength, she escaped the drowning death. Only to find it could have been an easy, clean solution, after all. Because in the early lights of dawn she found herself, half naked and exhausted, on a beach near Maracaibo. And she was not alone.
The cursed ill luck was, running to her salvation from the now quieting waters were not only some soldiers of the nearby fortress, but also a diplomat from Madrid, who had chosen exactly that morning and that beach to make an early stroll. She would have had a chance to fool the soldiers, who couldn’t recognize her, as they knew her only by fame but never before saw her face. She would have nothing to fear from the diplomat, because no one in Spain knew anything about her becoming a pirate. But the contemporary presence of four soldiers and the diplomat was lethal.
“Hey, it’s a girl there in the water!” had exclaimed Miguel Miralles Amorтs, as she later discovered was his name. “She must have been surprised by the storm, let’s help her.” So the soldiers who were escorting this diplomat took her by the arms and pulled her on the shore. She was thinking about what story she could tell them to explain her presence in the water, and especially to keep them from taking her to the governor’s palace, when Miguel shouted: “But I know her! This is Jolanda de Almaviva! She was to become the spouse of the governor; in Spain we were told she was killed by pirates before reaching Maracaibo!”
Jolanda understood what’s meant by feeling the earth crumble under your feet. The soldiers were struck as by lightning for a second, but she was too weak to react. She tried getting up, but exhausted as she was they were upon her before she could get to her feet, while the stunned Miguel was asking for explanations. Her fate appeared sealed, but she was determined to not give up hope, and take whatever opportunity she would get to escape.
They tied her hands with an extemporized rope made of their handkerchiefs. Under normal circumstances it would have been easy for her to free herself. But now she was so weak, and why should she try? The soldiers were on their full alert now. They knew this was an opportunity to get a big reward. Even if she tried to run, she could not hope for a merciful bullet in her head. De Villar, the Beast of Maracaibo, had made it pretty clear he wanted her alive, so all she would gain was a bullet in a leg, for these soldiers would not be so stupid to turn a reward in a punishment by delivering her dead. Meanwhile they explained to the bewildered Miguel that this woman was the most wanted criminal in this part of the world. Obviously they didn’t mention the atrocities committed on the population, especially on the natives, by the governor, which had caused her to join piracy.
It was not such a long walk from the beach to the gates of Maracaibo, but Jolanda stumbled and fell a few times. Actually she was mainly faking, pretending to be even weaker than she actually was, and hoping to regain some strength she would certainly need. It took the party almost two hours to reach the gate to the city, and another one to get to the palace. Upon their arrival, they were told the governor had left early that morning and would be back only in the afternoon. So the chief of the guards took Jolanda in custody, promising to the soldiers who found her he would signal their names personally to the governor. But Miguel Miralles Amorтs was not to be dispatched so easily.
“I know this woman by fame, and my father was a personal friend of her father, Count de Almaviva. It was told me she’s a pirate now, but although I’ve got no reason to doubt your words, I hardly can believe it, and until the governor personally tells me how things really are, I insist she has to be treated with humanity!”
“Listen, Senor, I respect your demands, but you’ll see the governor will treat these criminal with righteous severity. She’ll get whatever she deserves” said Luis Etxebarria, the Basque captain of the guards.
“Well then there will be plenty of time to do so, but for now this is a woman whose guilt, to my opinion, has yet to be settled, and above all she’s a girl who has by little escaped death in the sea. At least give her dry clothes, something to eat and to drink!”
In the end Miguel succeeded, and Jolanda was given a cloak of rough cloth and dry sandals. Her hands were freed, but obviously the captain was not taking the risk of leaving her alone, and so she had to undress under the eyes of eight excited guards. Miguel thought about protesting again, but in the end he just shamefully turned his back upon the scene. She accomplished quickly, and the cloth was rough and itching, but at least it was dry. She ate some bread and cheese, and avidly drunk water. Until now things were not going too bad, but soon de Villar would return, and then…
Her hands were fastened with irons behind her back, and they all waited. Finally a messenger entered the guardroom, saying the governor had returned, and inviting Miguel to follow him. Evening was already falling. Strange, Jolanda thought. Why was Pedro Rodriguez de Villar not eager to see her in chains? In ten minutes the messenger returned, and quickly told something in the ear of captain Etxebarria. Who then ordered two soldiers to make Jolanda stand up, and lead her to the dungeons.
Now here she was. Outside it was summer, the fourth of August. But here, at least twenty meters under ground, it was chilly. Why had Pedro, the accursed swine, not appeared yet? She expected rape and torture, but until now nothing had happened. Was this uncertainty part of the torture the Beast of Maracaibo had prepared for her? Why had he not at least showed up to threaten her, to watch his prey?
She was Jolanda de Almaviva, noblewoman of Spain. She was the promised bride of the Beast. She was the queen of the pirates. But more than all this she was a girl who had turned twenty-one only three weeks before. And for the first time in her life she was frightened.
It was the sound of the heavy iron frame opening that awaked her. She had no way to tell night from day, but her still great weariness told her she’d probably slept only a couple of hours. The light of the torches, carried by the men entering her cell, didn’t hurt her eyes as much as usual happens to prisoners kept in dark dungeons because she had not yet spent enough time in darkness to adjust her eyes. Still, it was the voice, prior to the view, that told her the moment of truth had arrived.
“How are you, Milady? No complaints about my hospitality, I hope?” said Pedro Rodriguez de Villar.
“Fuck you!” was her only reply.
The governor laughed at length. “That’s definitely no proper language for a senorita of high society! But I see that going along with those lousy pirates you took on their habits. You certainly would have been unworthy of becoming my bride anyway, but now you’re just scum, like the man I hear you’ve become a servant of.”
Actually Pedro’s scornful words were not expressing his true thoughts. It was not the first time he saw the woman who should have become his wife, and the key to nobility status. More than once he had seen her during battle on the seas, a few times from no more than ten or fifteen meters. But this was the first time he was in reaching range, the first time he could take his time and allow his eyes to idly slide over her body. No more a warrior, moving quick as lightning and seeding death among the rows of his men, but a now defenceless fury awaiting to be tamed. He fully satiated his eyes with her long, slender but perfectly shaped body, which the rough cloth was unable to hide completely. Her tan was by nature bronze brown, and had yet more darkened from her days in the sun, out at sea, but nevertheless it promised to be soft to the touch. Her hair was long and raven black. Her eyes, as black as her hair, were slightly eastern shaped, her mouth was a promise of eternal bliss, her full, perfect breasts caused the cloth to bulge lusciously…
He wanted her badly. Yet Pedro had become governor, starting out as a bastard, the son of a hooker and an unknown father, not by giving in to his desires, but by adequately outweighing each step, by carefully planning each move… He knew this was not yet the right time.
“So you’re blessed once again with your never-ending luck, Jolanda” he said.
“L-Luck? What do you mean?”
“Don’t you wonder why you’re still unharmed? You, Lafayette, all the pirates like you do nothing but spread horrible tales about me to every ear willing to listen. Well, I can say it’s all true. Or rather it are understatements. So you surely expected me to rape you, before crushing your beauty in the torture room. I would already have taken you. Then I would give you to my soldiers. Hell, actually I would give you to the dogs and pigs of this fuckin’ town! That’s what a bitch like you deserves. So why didn’t I do anything like that?”
“Please, cut it short. Say what you’ve got to say, then put me on the rack but please shut up and be gone. Stop torturing me with your filthy voice and your vomiting presence.”
To the honour of Pedro it has to be said he managed to stop himself from kicking her. He had to play this cool, It was no longer just a question of opportunity. It had become a point of prestige. He mentally counted to ten and then went on.
“Good, my dear. Keep defiant. That will make everything more interesting. You see, your devilish luck was Miguel Miralles Amorтs was a witness of your capturing. He’s here on a diplomatic mission, to keep good relations between Maracaibo and His Royal Majesty in Madrid. He’s here along with his uncle, his aunt, a secretary, a personal cook and a company maid for his aunt, some servants, the sailors of his ship… A little fucking army, nearly twenty people. And they know influential people here in Maracaibo, so I can’t just make them all disappear. And the bloody idiot has taken upon himself your cause. He says you’re still a Spanish noblewoman, and you should be judged for your crimes by the Royal Court in Madrid. Probably the horny fool just wants to lay you, but he’s posing me a problem.”
“Now I see,” said Jolanda “you can’t just do what you want with me. Miguel, far from being a horny fool is something you’re not prepared to handle. A righteous man who still believes in justice!”
“Yeah, you’re right. Probably he’s even still a virgin. But his faith in justice can deliver you some surprises, dear Jolanda. In Spain your father will try to get you cloistered, so you could live on like a nun meditating about your sins. Hah! But don’t nourish idle hopes, I’ll send witnesses along with you to Madrid, and in the best case for you you’ll go to the gallows. More probably the garota. Or maybe we could even make filter through the idea you’re possessed. That would be a nice solution, and the Holy Inquisition may be able to do a job on you nearly as good as I would. But I would not be able to watch their accomplishments, so…”
“I told you Miguel strongly believes in justice. And justice means also punishing the sinners. I was able to persuade him you should get some public punishment here, before being sent for definitive trial to Spain. I told him the pirates are hated among the people; they really are, in case you don’t know you’ll soon see, and I persuaded him there was risk of a popular insurrection if the most hated pirate of all was to leave town without paying for her sins here and now. After all it’s the people of this town that suffered from your deeds!”
He laughed once more. Jolanda did not even waste time on a reply.
“You see, Miguel could be dangerous if he was to report anything inconvenient about me to the king. But respect for justice he has, and he agrees the people of Maracaibo deserves righteous vengeance upon you. So while you were enjoying my hospitality, I put together a temporarily popular tribunal, and they’ve decided your sentence. Upon my suggestion, obviously.”
He turned, and made a signal. A man of the town stepped forward, with a scroll in his hands, clearly emotional due to the relevance he (and no one else) saw in his role, as well as by the chained beauty laying at his feet. He unrolled the scroll, and with a trembling voice, proud as a child reciting a Christmas poetry, said:
“Jolanda de Almaviva, daughter of Count Alonso de Almaviva; the people of Maracaibo, in the name of whom I speak, found you guilty of piracy, murdering, robbing, high betrayal, blasphemy, unchristian behaviour, breaking of nuptial promises and attempting to subvert the good rules of our society dictated by God Himself. Obeying to the higher authority of the Crown, we’ll let the judges in Madrid decide upon your life. But before being put upon a ship and set sail, next Monday, to Spain, you will rightfully pay for your sins here, in Maracaibo. So tomorrow, Saturday fifth august, at dawn, you will be shackled to a horse’s saddle and lead barefooted through the streets of town, till you will reach the main square. There you will be tied to a whipping post, and at noon you will receive sixty lashes, with the whole community lined around to watch and learn not to sin from your example. If you should lose consciousness, you’re to be revived by water or any other convenient mean, and the scourging will continue only when you will be ready once again to fully appreciate it. When you’ll have taken the sixtieth blow, the good people of Maracaibo will go to the church and praise the Lord for giving us the chance to make justice triumph. Meanwhile you will be released from the whipping post, and fixed to a St. Andrew’s cross, upon which you’ll stay displayed for two days and two nights, without receiving water or any form of relief, as a terrible warning to all the potential sinners. I have said.”
Jolanda had tried to keep a mocking smile at first, then just a plain, inexpressive face. But Pedro, leaving someone else to communicate her the fate awaiting her, had taken the opportunity to watch her closely. Her throat had betrayed her. She had swallowed once, when the whipping was declared, and once more when it came to public crucifixion. The satisfaction was immense, but he knew it was just a little bit of what was to come.
“So Jolanda, now you know what awaits you. I’m sorry I cannot offer you anything more than this; it surely will be a meaningless triviality for such a defiant, heroic girl like you. But at least now you’ve got something to think about tonight.”
“You… You bastard! This is a comedy! A farce! Anybody knows a popular tribunal in Maracaibo says whatever you want them to say! You..”
“It’s late, I’m going to rest and I would advise you to do the same. Sleep well, my love!”
Pedro left, along with his man, and left behind a quivering Jolanda. She got the shivers, and this time it was not only due to the cold of her cell.
So this was what was going to happen. The torture room would probably have been worse. But at least it would have been a private affair between her, the torturers and Pedro. Now instead her ordeal was going to be public. She would be whipped in front of the whole population of Maracaibo. God, if she was scared!
Her father had raised her in a quite unorthodox way, like the son he never had. At the age of ten she could ride on horseback, use guns, throw knives. And with the sable she was a prodigy. At sixteen there was no warrior in the nearby castles who could even compete with her at fencing. And then there was Chang, the Chinese servant of her father, her bodyguard and personal friend. He had taught her anything about strange ways of fighting, barely known in the western world. So even with bare hands she was a match for the strongest man. She definitely was not a frail, easily scared damsel even before leaving Spain. Then there had been the months on Tortuga. She had learned to kill, even if she never got to like it. She had made the fiercest pirates respect her. She had been slightly wounded a couple of times, so she was no complete stranger to pain. But hell, her father never even spanked her! How was she supposed to endure a whipping?
What was to follow, the cross, worried her less, partly because the scourging was lurking more nearby, partly because she had no idea what to expect from being crucified. She didn’t know the bite of the whip either, but she thought she knew what it would be, more or less. And she did not like the idea. Definitely not.
The devilish governor was right once more: her mind hunted by fearful thoughts, giving her an anticipation on the tortures yet to come, Jolanda slept very little that night. It was a still weary and un-rested queen of the pirates that was waked the next morning, from a state you could not properly call sleep, but lay somewhere in between awareness and unconsciousness. One of the five soldiers entering her cell kicked her on her right leg. Not too hard, cause they all knew the fun had yet to start, and they had been warned her ordeal was to be kept strictly official, within “juridical boundaries”. She raised her head, and felt the contemporaneous assault of four different pains. Her head ached, due to the lack of sleep. Her shoulders hurt, due to the unnatural position in which the irons forced her to keep her arms. Her stomach felt strange, she was not able to tell if by fear or by hunger, for the bread and cheese of the preceding noon had been her only meal in the last thirty-six hours. Finally her eyes, when she opened them, this time felt the sting of the intense flare light. It still was nothing compared to the suffering light caused on the eyes of those who spent months in dark dungeons, yet she needed some time to see properly.
“Stand up, bitch!” shouted the first soldier.
That’s no way to address a senorita! Don’t you know this trump is actually the queen of the pirates?” replied the second one.
A queen? Then she deserves a crown! Why don’t we make her a crown with some briars?” said a third one.
Cut it, boys.” It was captain Etxebarria who entered the cell. “This is going to be an official execution, even if she’s not intended to die. We’re not going to make it a mocking of the suffering of our Lord.”
“Sure captain, but I thought it was a good idea and…”
“Shut up, will you? She’ll have plenty to go through, and some stings in her head wont make a difference. Besides I still have respect for God, so I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear you! And now let’s move. Get up, Jolanda!”
In silence, without any helping hand, Jolanda turned and managed to get upon her knees. Then she rose to her feet, stretched and arched her back. She was ready, and managed to stare boldly at the soldiers. Three went to wait out in the corridor, two lined up at both sides of the exit. Going out, Jolanda threw a flaming glaze on the one to the left, the one who had proposed the idea of crowning her with thorns.
“I’ll go through this. I’ll survive, I’ll be back, I’ll find you. And it will be a pleasure killing you.” She stated with flat, unemotional tone. For a moment the soldier felt like he was the one going to the torments.
They lined up, two soldiers in front, one to Jolanda’s left, captain Etxebarria on her right, two soldiers in the rear. She was led through the dungeons, through the palace, to the inner court. There she found more guards waiting, and a big, black horse. Jolanda’s hands were released from the irons, and it was a relief to finally move her arms. But the relief was brief, as her wrists were soon tied once more, this time in front. They used a long, rough rope, and first dipped it carefully in a bucket full of water. The now wet rope surely was to dry in the summer sun of the tropics during the more than three hour long walk that awaited her through the main streets of town. Jolanda knew this method of bondage, and knew the already tight knot was going to cut her wrists when the sun was to dry it.
The other end of the rope was fixed to the horse’s saddle. Then Jolanda was ordered to raise her left leg, then her right, so that a servant could take of the sandals she had been wearing until now. The soles of her feet were not as soft and vulnerable like those of a noblewoman who had not lived a peculiar life like her, but even less were they though and resistant like those of the black slaves who did never wear anything on their feet. She knew that walking barefooted through the uneven, filthy streets of Maracaibo was going to be an additional torture. And one not to be underestimated. She would have to carefully watch every step just to be still able to stand even when the proper torture had yet to begin.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the elated voice of Pedro.
“Well, my dear, would you like to make a little stroll through town with me this morning? So the people can see who had to become the prime woman in town!”
She could have guessed it! The boastful swine was not going to miss the opportunity to display his triumph. She realized that having avoided the briar crown was, as Etxebarria had remarked, a completely insignificant fact. To be pulled through Maracaibo by the man she most hated! To be seen by everyone…defeated, stumbling and maybe falling, utterly humiliated. Nothing more than a dog in a leash. No, she would die before giving him satisfaction.
She watched the governor, and slowly motioned “yes” with her head. Then she said only: “let’s go.”
Posted March 22nd, 2004
Pedro first lead her through the gardens surrounding the castle, where she had to walk on rough paths covered with little pebbles, on itching dry grass and through a couple of shallow brooks. He sometimes accelerated, forcing her to run, but never so much she was to fall and be dragged. It was no mercy on his side, he just wanted her to be able to walk the whole way, but at the same time to be already tired upon starting the walk through the streets of town.
He succeeded. When after fifty minutes they left the gates of the palace Jolanda was sweating, heavily breathing, and the soles of her feet already were covered with little but nasty open wounds. Now Pedro slowed down a lot, so she had no difficulty in keeping the pace. But just walking was difficult, any single step a new aching pain to her tortured feet. And the now dried rope made her hands bulge, causing serious difficulties to blood circulation.
Outside, a huge crowd had gathered. Jolanda knew her ordeal was going to be the main event in Maracaibo’s history of social happenings, but still she was surprised. Above all she was surprised by how angrily the crowd shouted at her. She knew pirates were not exactly popular, although those people had to thank Pedro, not the pirates, for the miserable conditions they lived in. She didn’t realize that, more than all the rest, it was her violating the traditional unwritten rules of man/woman social roles that had alimented the fire of hate in the hearts of the people. To men she was a menace, to women a cruel reminder of their own cowardice in accepting what she had refused. So, there was no more mercy to be found in the crowd than in Pedro.
“To the gallows with her!” “To the garota!” “Break that luscious body on the wheel!” “Burn her! Witches deserve to die in the flames!” “Feed her to the sharks!” “Not in Spain, here she has to die!” “Kill her! Kill her!”
“Give her to me, I know how to make her die” shouted one, accompanying his words with an obscene gesture, among heavy laughter.
Pedro did not take her straight to the square, but made several detours in order to lead her through all the principal streets of town. A large group of mounted soldiers preceded them, and another one followed. They kept a vigil eye on the crowd, which now and then launched rotten eggs or vegetables to Jolanda. Most missed, but some hit, not very painfully, but adding to her debasement. Everybody had been warned that, on death penalty, no one was to throw stones. It would have been a true pity if she was relieved from her fate by an accidentally too well thrown stone hitting her head. So the soldiers were there not only to avoid a, very unlikely, attempt to free her by some supporter of the pirates, but above all to keep the crowd from unwillingly make her day shorter and easier than was planned.
Finally they arrived at the main square. Jolanda now was breathing very heavily, and the sweat soaked cloth covering her revealed her breasts moving quickly up and down. The square, on which were the entrance to the church and the houses of Maracaibo’s upper society, had been emptied in the centre. There had been placed a massive, wooden pole, nearly two and a halve meters tall, and at least sixty centimetres in diameter, with heavy chains dangling from the top. A few steps further two poles, half as thin but maybe longer, had been shoved diagonally in the ground, forming an X-shaped cross. Another wooden beam joined the two upper parts of the X.
“So”, Jolanda thought, “it looks as if they’ve done a lot of work in my honour tonight.”
Jolanda had managed to go all the way, sometimes stumbling, but never falling. Curiously it was right here, when the governor’s horse finally came to a rest, that she slowly sank to her knees.
Two soldiers dismounted and grabbed her by the arms, lifting her up. They untied her hands, and allowed her a short time to reactivate circulation. Partly walking, partly dragged, she was then forced to the whipping post, amongst rumours of anticipation from the crowd. The soldiers chained her wrists in the dangling irons, fixing them in such a way that her arms were fully stretched, and she could stand only by lifting herself on her toes.
But the spectacle was not yet to begin. Governor de Villar was a men who kept his word, at least when he promised suffering. He had said she would be whipped at noon, and even if her shameful walk had seemed eternal to Jolanda, they had started out at dawn, and it was still little more than an hour to noon. So de Villar made her, as well as the people, wait, be it with very different moods.
By doing so he both allowed her body to recover a little from the exhausting walk, and her mind to savour the anticipation of the torture now to come. Even this hour crawled on slowly for Jolanda. She could somewhat recover breath, but soon she got tired from standing on tiptoe, so she had to hang from the chains to recover strength in her toes and heels. But hanging soon made her shoulders and wrists ache, so she had to lift once again and repeat the whole cycle over and over. And all this time she could see the shadows growing shorter, and she now that the higher the sun climbed in the sky, the nearer the whip approached.
At last, exactly at noon she heard heavy steps approaching her from the rear and saw two huge black hands gripping the chains, lowering them a little so that now she could stand on her soles (aching as they were she had never imagined she would be grateful to once again have her full weight on them), with her arms not fully stretched, but still well above her head. She turned her head to watch the man, and once again had a confirmation of the extraordinary ability of Pedro at planning atrocities. What she saw was a huge Negro, two meters tall and at least 120 Kg of muscles. It unmistakably was Baba.
Considered a traitor by his own people Baba had partially rescued himself from slavery by becoming a slave master in a plantation north of Maracaibo, near Ponta Gallinas. It was said that, in order to prove his loyalty to the plantation owner, he fiercely whipped his own sister, nearly killing her (in some versions of the story the word “nearly” did not appear). Be it truth or not, he certainly had used the whip unmercifully on all the black slaves working in the plantation where he too once worked, and in years had become an artist at his work. But what was worse, three months earlier, on rescuing a couple of girls who since then joined her crew, Jolanda had met face to face with the ebony giant. To Baba’s enormous surprise and humiliation the woman, thirty centimetres shorter and less than half his weight, had floored him using his very strength as a lever. But she knew sooner or later his far superior strength had to prevail, so for the first time in her live Jolanda had fired upon an unarmed enemy. Instead of killing him, she had just shot him in the knee, preventing him from pursuing them and slowing him in warning his masters. She knew very well that, instead of being grateful because, after all, she had spared his life, Baba hated her nearly as much as Pedro, and was going to utterly enjoy the job.
Posted April 14th, 2004
Baba tied a rope tightly around Jolanda’s hips and, without any visible effort, tore her cloth in pieces from the neck, exposing her smooth, olive back, while the luscious orbs of her breasts were still somehow hided to the crowd by the pole she was tied to. The remains of the cloth now dangled from her hips, held up by the rope Baba had placed there. The enormous Negro took her long, raven hair and briskly tied it up in a rough crotch. “Order of gov’nor. No cut. But no in way of whip” he said. While Baba stood at her right, a well known voice came from her left.
“You’re comfortable, my baby? Then we can start!” said Pedro Rodriguez de Villar. He was going to watch the oncoming entertainment from a privileged point of view.
“Well, we’re finally getting to the point” Jolanda thought.
Baba clutched her head in his gigantic left hand, and forced her to watch while, with his right, he uncoiled a lengthy leather whip in front of her eyes. Then he let her go, turned around and without a word went some steps away from her. Slowly, to the benefit of the people, who all seemed to keep their breath, Baba pulled back his muscular arm and then delivered a terrifying first blow.
It hurt her much more than she had imagined, but her will was strong. A low sort of “mMMmmmhhh” was all she uttered. Baba did not just rely on incredible strength, but also on years of experience. He was definitely not to go in a whipping frenzy. He took plenty of time between the first and the second blow, allowing the pain to radiate from the reddish mark the first stroke had left, to her whole back, and then to her whole body. Giving her time to wait for the second lash, fearing it, thinking when it was to come. But even this additional psychological torture was not going to break Jolanda. The second blow found her prepared; she shivered somewhat, but kept perfectly silent. The third and fourth blow went the same way. Baba felt challenged, but did not fall in the trap. He was not going to hurry the blows, and still took his time to carefully plan each single stroke he was to deliver.
Posted April 27th, 2004
The fifth stroke was a surprise for her, and gave Baba the reward of ripping a soft “aahhh” from her mouth. For the first time a blow had crossed the marks of the preceding ones, and at the junctions of the marks blood was trickling out. But, even if the crossings obviously were to increase always more, Jolanda’s spirit now was prepared even for this further punishment. The sixth blow once again left her fully silent.
The people around were not used to watch a whipping. Whipping scenes were common in the plantations, and not unusual on ships, but the town people, differently from in previous epochs, rarely or never got to see one. So only some sailors, a few plantation owners, and obviously Baba and Pedro were able to fully appreciate the unbelievable display of spiritual strength Jolanda was giving. The governor had to admit to himself he was impressed, but he was more determined than ever to break this defiant woman.
After thirty-seven blows Jolanda collapsed, still silent, and hung, unconscious, from the chains.
Pain had prevailed on her body, not on her spirit. A bucket of water was thrown on her. Although it was not ice cold, since there were easily forty degrees in the shadows, it was enough to wake her from merciful oblivion. “Oh hell, why don’t they just kill me?” was Jolanda’s first thought. But even while thinking this she was once more determined not to spoil what she had accomplished until now, and to keep silent. Baba pulled back his arm for the next stroke, but was stopped half way by a hand clutching his wrist.
“She’s not screamed yet,” said Pedro Rodriguez de Villar.
“Not Baba fault. She strong.”
“I want her to scream,” said Pedro.
“Can wet whip. Wet whip, deeper cuts”.
“Wait, I’ve got a better idea.” The governor went to two of his soldiers, who had lined up around the square, and gave them some short orders Jolanda couldn’t hear. In her pain dazed state she wondered what was happening. The soldiers approached and she felt them release the chains. They grabbed her while she slowly started falling to the floor. In spite of the governor’s words to Baba, which she had clearly heard, she felt a little spark of insane hope growing inside her mind. She had stopped counting after the tenth blow, her mind too concentrated on keeping her mouth shut to spend mental energy on whatever other task. But she thought they were approximately just over half way. Was it possible she had misjudged so much? Was it possible the part of her torture she feared most was already over?
Then she felt the soldiers pulling her arms up once again, but this time she felt her tortured back, now reduced to a bloody mess, scratching against the wood of the pole. And when she opened her eyes she saw a grinning Baba in front of her. Jolanda felt her heart sinking to her stomach when she realized what this meant.
She had thought it natural a whipping was given on the back. But now the whip was going to hit much more delicate parts! This was…this was…
She had to fight back the impulse to vomit. God, she had endured so much already, but how was she going to go through THIS?
The first stroke, or rather stroke thirty-eight, was aimed by Baba at her belly, just above her navel, and like all the other it hit exactly where he wanted. The pain was horrible now, but she managed to utter somehow just a medium voice “aaaiihh”, pulling back her flat belly, and, in reaction to the blow, jumping somewhat on her toes in spite of the fact she had by long surpassed the limits of her strength. She started to shiver all over. Baba’s grin grew still broader. The following blow hit just under her navel, with similar effects. Jolanda still didn’t scream.
“AAAAAAAGHHH!!” The scream left her lips at full lungs before she could even try anything to hold it back. With blow number forty Baba had finally let go any delay, and the whip had hit ferociously on her left breast, cleaving her nipple. Blood flowed out copiously, and while injuring her gorgeous breast the blow had also severely crumbled her mental defenses. From now on it was pure hell.
“You bastards! Stop this! No, no… AAAAAAAAAHHH” Jolanda shouted while the whip hit, even more violently than before, on her right breast. “No, please, no…” Jolanda didn’t even notice she had pronounced words she had been sure, even during the sleepless night in the dungeon, would never pass her lips. Her eyes started filling with tears, she had lost control. Every new blow pulled her to new frontiers of pain, slowly turning her in a pain-crazed animal. Again and again the whip hit, finding now her breasts, now her belly. Baba didn’t aim all the strokes on her breasts only because Pedro had given him instructions not to ruin irreparably her beauty.
Posted June 2nd, 2004
On blow number fifty-three Jolanda, now nearly insane with pain, once again entered darkness. Baba halted once more, and a new bucket of water was thrown at her, but caused absolutely no reaction. Baba controlled she still was breathing: even if it was feebly, she was, so he untied her hair from the now useless crotch, and shook her head, but to no avail. A second bucket of water did not change Jolanda’s state. One of the soldiers who threw it called for smelling salts. But Pedro stepped forward and shouted: “Wasting medicinal on that bitch? No way! Bring me a torch, you’ll see pain drives out pain!”
A blowing torch was delivered to him, and the cruel governor cut the rope sustaining the shreds of her cloth, leaving the unconscious Jolanda completely bare and exposed. The men in the crowd cheered, some women who had voluptuously savored her beating now blushed at Jolanda’s complete nudity. Pedro simply neared the torch to Jolanda’s exposed sex, keeping it moving, allowing the flames to lick her, to bite her, but not to sink their teeth in one place. He allowed the incomparable pain of extreme heat to radiate in her body entering from her most sensitive spot, without causing her permanent marks.
Jolanda returned to reality with a howl in which nothing human was left. Pedro withdrew the torch, threw it away, and kissed her. She had nor the strength neither the will left to resist him. By now her mind was not more to be found in her brain, but distributed somewhere between her burned sex, her tortured, bleeding breasts and the rest of her aching body.
Pedro turned away laughing loudly. She received the remaining seven strokes without even having the strength to scream anymore. The last one, as a final scorn, hit her on the face, leaving a long red mark on both cheeks and cutting her lips wide open. Blood flowed out of her mouth.
A battered Jolanda, more dead than living, was released from the whipping post and dragged by two soldiers to the St. Andrew’s-like cross awaiting her. This time she didn’t even try to walk, and just let her head and limbs hang down like a broken doll. They started nailing the chains she still was attached to on the upper horizontal beam, while other henchmen of the governor started tying her feet to the lower parts of the X.
“Make something apt to cover her cunt with the shreds of that cloth” ordered Pedro Rodriguez de Villar to one of his soldiers, “we are in front of a church, after all, and our bishop pretends not to appreciate female nudity.”
“The horny old sinner” Pedro thought by himself, “Gustavo Wilfredo Lasa Montoya, the bishop of Maracaibo, has been on the first row all the time, and while he asked me to cover her before putting her on the cross he was far from disturbed by her nudity, unless he had a banana under his cowl.” But Pedro knew that even for the absolute tyrant of Maracaibo it was better not to express freely his full thoughts about the bishop. Not that he had anything to fear from old Gustavo, actually they had been, and sometimes still were, companions both in orgies and in crimes, but for the foolish people it was better to keep up appearances.
Meanwhile the soldiers finished their job on Jolanda. She was now spread-eagled, with her weight sustained partly by her outstretched arms, partly by her back which she could lean on the crossing of the two poles, mainly she was resting on her feet, as they had tied her so her soles made contact with the floor. This time they had not forced her to stand on tiptoe, but she was barely able to stand anyway. They had not used nails on her ankles and palms to fix her to the cross, mainly because it was clear to everybody that, were she to be nailed on the cross, she certainly would not survive the forty or more hours that awaited her before being shipped to Spain.
Jolanda didn’t care anymore. She had gone to some place beyond any physical feeling, or at least that was what she thought. The pain of the double whipping, of her tortured soles, her heels, her arms, her (be it for few seconds) burned sex, it all had blended into a dull, continuous undertone. The scourging had taken quite a long time, and she vaguely perceived the shadows growing longer to her left. She didn’t know if she was to live through the next day, but at least she knew she would spend the coming hours in a grateful state of catatonic unresponsiveness.
Idle hope. Pedro once again was in front of her, and forced her to lift her hanging head, pulling at her hair.
“So, my baby. Did we entertain you? Not so haughty and defiant any more, are you?”
Jolanda lacked the clarity of mind to even feign a response. Pedro’s voice came to her as through a veil, from far distant places.
“You did give away quite a show, you know? Honey, I knew I would be able to set your pussy on flames!”
“All right, I just want you to understand what’s happening next. You may think, if you’re still able to, that the worst part is over, and that now you’re to stay here for the sole purpose of being further publicly humiliated. But that’s only partially true. Sure, we’re not giving you the honour to die like our Lord.” In a far lower voice he added: “those sheepish idiots love it when I talk about this religious bullshit.”
“We mercifully used no nails on you. You’re not suspended from the cross, so you’ll experience only little difficulties in breathing. However, you’ll never be alone on this cross, Jolanda. So let me introduce your new companions to you. Hunger, but especially thirst. With the new day there will be plenty of sun, your cross is conveniently oriented to the south. With the second night, after the heath of day, you’ll feel freezing. But first flies will start feeding upon you. And with the loss of body salts and the inability to move your limbs more than a very little bit, you will experience devastating cramps. Perhaps the people of town will also put up a little show for you, but that will definitely be a minor part. Did you understand me?”
No response at all came from Jolanda.
“I see. You probably are a little confused, poor girl, we’ve got to brighten your mind somewhat.”
“Hey boys!” the governor shouted to his soldiers. “Don’t you see the lady is injured? We don’t want these nasty cuts to infect, do we? So throw salt on them, and do it generously. We’ve got plenty of salt here!”
“Nooo.no, no” Jolanda managed to say, as the soldiers prepared to execute the inhumane order. Soon the salt entered her wounds, touching her raw flesh. All merciful veils of darkness covering her mind were dissipated at once, and she once again found herself screaming at full lungs, unable to stop, her body ablaze with the flames of white-hot agony.