Will was surrounded, the Sherriff's men on all sides with drawn swords levelled at him. He wasn’t going to go easily, he was too angry for that. He had been angry for most of his life– at his mother, at his father, the whole world and everyone who had let him down. The Sherriff of Nottingham had reigned through fear and brutality for many years and his soldiers had acted out his will gleefully. They would pay. Will grit his teeth and lunged, but these men were well trained and he caught a blow to the side of his face for his trouble.
He shook it off and tried again, this time getting a blow to the ribs. He turned, trying to find the weakest but a jab to the back of the legs had him falling to his knees.
“Look we don’t have all day, are you going to come along quietly?” demanded one soldier.
Will spit to one side and made to stand again, when the soldier sighed and shoved the hilt of his sword into his back, sending him sprawling. “Let’s get this done quickly then.”
He was trying to stand but the soldiers were upon him. One grabbed his hands, pulling them roughly to the small of his back. Will couldn’t see but could feel rough rope being wound around his wrists in wide bands, reaching up his forearms. He struggled, bucked, trying to throw the men off but they were too strong. They were still tying the knots when the strain started – a tugging through his shoulders and across his chest that flared with each movement.
At the same time someone sat across the back of his knees to prevent him kicking out and similar treatment was applied to his ankles, bound roughly together tight enough to make the bones grind.
“He looks just like a freshly caught fish” one of the men laughed and Will supposed that he did, now unable to move arms or legs and do more than wriggle, though the comparison enraged him further.
“You low life, dirty - “ he started throwing insults as his only weapon but he was interrupted by a sharp kick to the ribs that made him splutter.
“That’s enough for now, save the brave words for later. I’m sure his Lordship would love to hear them.”
The words sent a chill down Will’s spine but he couldn’t stop resisting, pulling at the ropes pointlessly.
“We just need to get you there.”
Will didn’t think he could be any more uncomfortable lying on the leaf litter and dirt, muscles straining and already tight. But he was wrong, oh God he was wrong. The soldiers drew his ankles up so he was bent at the knees, and his arms back in a way that raised his chest off the floor. They were pulled together and with a few swift moments bound together, for when the soldiers let go he remained that way, trussed like a goose.
Now he couldn’t even wriggle and the pain was almost instantaneous. All across his shoulders and chest was burning, breathing was difficult, lungs unable to fill.
“We going to put him in a cart or something?”
“You got one of those in your pocket?”
“Then no. We’ll have to carry him, hang on I’ve got an idea.”
From his prone position, head forced up Will could see the man root about in the bushes for a moment returning with a long solid tree branch. Testing it for strength he seemed satisfied, and thrust it along Will’s back so it was between the binding of both his arms and legs. One soldier at each end they heaved, and lifted him.
Dangling as he was Will couldn’t help but let out a yell, bringing merriment to his captors. All his weight was on his ankles and wrists, ropes biting in harshly. Was that the faint trickle of blood he felt running down his arm, or was that sweat? His hands and feet tingled at first but blessedly fast they went completely numb. He was not so lucky else where: knees and hips twisted at an awkward angle were painful, but it was agony in his arms and chest. His breaths came in panting gasps and each jostling step threatened to pull his arms from his sockets.
The soldiers took turns carrying him on the long journey back to the castle but not once did they set him down to give any relief. There were times when lack of air and extreme pain robbed him of his senses but that never last long: forced awake by the next uneven step with a cry. He wasn’t allowed peace while he was carried, his captors filling is ears and mind with what awaited him in the Sheriff's dungeon.
They told him that he would look back with fondness on this time: that the pain he would experience would dwarf anything he felt now. The promised he would beg to be hogtied again and however much he wished to be free right now he would wish for it back tenfold before they were done with him.
Arms straining, gasping shallowly, head spinning Will could feel the slow tear of his muscles. He shook with cramps that he could not alleviate and shuddered from the sway of the soldier’s march. Even so, Will believed them. There was worse yet to come.