After a week in residence, the executions of the men who refused to swear loyalty to Earl Robert were dragged out of the dungeons of Wessex Castle and taken to the scaffolds and hung. After the last traitor was hanged, the Earl’s men heard approaching horses and they immediately raised the alarm and the castle garrison took their positions on the walls of the castle.
A group of 4 riders rode up to the drawbridge, and demanded entry in the name of King Henry. One of the riders wore the livery of a King’s messenger and the captain of the guard ordered the gates opened so the men could enter the castle. The King’s messenger and his guards rode into the courtyard and dismounted quickly and demanded to be taken to the presence of the Earl. The messenger was escorted to the great hall where the Earl had just finished eating.
The messenger approached and handed over the message which the Earl opened and began reading. The message was from his King and informed him that he could expect the King and his men to arrive at the castle to break their journey for several days prior to resuming their progress to London where the King would be crowned at Westminster Abbey.
The Earl stood up and announced that the castle was to be prepared to receive King Henry and his men. The men and women of the castle left the great hall in a hurry to begin the preparations. The traitor remained motionless behind the chair of state and realized that this would mean that he was in great danger. The King had been his enemy and declared him a traitor. Usually traitors, even high born ones like himself were usually quickly and brutally executed. He shuddered in his heavy battle armour and sweat broke out on his body as he began to panic in fear. He had grown used to his new status as a prisoner and object on display but he also knew that Earl Robert could order his death at any time and he also knew that the King could erupt in anger if he realized that the traitor, the general to the defeated yorkist king was still alive even though he was in chains.
The days passed quickly, and the day arrived when the King was expected. The scouts arrived at the gates of Wessex Castle to announce that the King and his procession was near. The gates opened and Earl Robert and his guards rode out to meet the King on the road and to escort him to the castle. The traitor was ordered to remain at the castle and wait in the great hall in his usual position.
Several hours after his departure from the castle, Earl Robert appeared riding beside his King as they entered the courtyard of the castle. The King and the Earl dismounted and walked into the castle entering the great hall. The King was escorted to the dais and seated in the chair of state. He turned to Earl Robert and asked about the armoured figure standing behind his seat. Earl Robert told King Henry that the armoured figure was the traitor Thomas, the former Earl of Wessex and General to the yorkist usurper. King Henry stood up and walked around behind the chair to examine the armoured figure closely. He noted that the traitor was in chains and that the armour was secured by ingenious locking devices to prevent its removal.
The King turned to Earl Robert and asked by this traitor was still being allowed to breathe as he should have been put to death immediately after the Earl had received the writ declaring Thomas a traitor. Earl Robert kneeled and explained his reasoning but the King was not dissuaded.
King Henry nodded and told the Earl that he would consider what he said but he was extremely displeased that the traitor was still alive.
Earl Robert stood up after the King had turned away and was escorted from the great hall to his private chambers. He turned to his men and ordered that certain men were to be summoned immediately. When the men arrived in the hall he gave them orders and told them that the arrangements he demanded were to be completed as soon as possible. The men nodded and turned and ran from the great hall.
That evening, Earl Robert greeted the King and informed him of certain arrangements. The King nodded and smiled. Turning to his guards, he ordered them to take the traitor to the dungeon and wait for them there. The guards, grabbed the armoured arms of the traitor and dragged him from the hall and down the stone steps to the dungeon. There they turned the traitor over to the dungeon master and waited for the King and Earl to arrive.
A few minutes later, the King was escorted into the dungeon by Earl Robert. The dungeon master kneeled and waited for his orders. Earl Robert tossed the key to the locks on the traitor’s armour and told the dungeon master to remove the armour and strip the traitor. Soon, the traitor stood before the King and Earl Robert naked, grimy, sweaty and his head and face covered with long matted hair and beard. The King walked over to the traitor and grabbed a handful of hair and pulled hard lifting the traitors head up so he could look directly into the traitors face. The King laughed and asked the traitor how it felt to be the loser and a traitor. The traitor did not speak and looked defiantly at the man who he felt was a usurper to the throne. The King turned to the Earl and told him to get on with it.
Earl Robert nodded and turned to the guards and told them to put the traitor on the rack and secure him. The men dragged the traitor to the heavy wooden rack and locked the heavy iron shackles on his wrists and ankles. The King and the Earl walked over and watched as the dungeon master began tightening the chains using the winch. Soon, the traitors heavy muscles were straining under the pressure of the tightening chains. The Earl smiling, walked over to a table and picked up a pair of iron plates which had two heavy bolts and nuts connecting the two plates. He opened the device and walked over and picked up the traitors heavy balls and placed them between the iron plates and then he began to tighten the nuts on the bolts slowly closing the device which began to crush the traitor’s balls. He kept tightening until there was resistance and he knew that if the device was tightened further, the traitor’s nuts would split open under the pressure. He smiled as the pain crossed the face of the traitor, the heavy pain from his joints which were at the point of separating and the searing pain of his crushed balls.
The King smiled and walked over to a heavy chair and sat down to watch and enjoy the torture of the traitor. The Earl nodded to the dungeon master who tightened the winch another notch. The traitor grunted and struggled with the pain which was overwhelming his mind. He knew now what it felt like when he was the one inflicting the pain on other men.
The King and the Earl stood up and told the dungeon master to leave the traitor on the rack until he was told otherwise. The dungeon master nodded and told the Earl that his orders would be obeyed. He watched the King and Earl leave the dungeon and the heavy door slammed behind him. He turned and walked back to the rack and looked down at the man who had been his lord and Master. When the traitor had been the Earl, the two men had worked together and enjoyed inflicting pain on prisoners and willing victims alike. The two of men were sadists who enjoyed watching men suffer at their hands. The dungeon master brought over a bucket of cold water and a ladle and held a full ladle of water to the traitors lips and let the traitor drink. He watched as the traitor continued to struggle with the pain from his joints and nuts and he knelt down beside the rack and quietly told the traitor that he could do it and handle the pain. He told the traitor that he did not dare to slacken off the tension on the chains or the ball crushers in case the Earl’s guards reappeared. The traitor turned his head and looked at his old friend and nodded.
Several hours passed, and suddenly the heavy door opened and 4 guards entered the chamber. One of the guards told the dungeon master to release the traitor from the rack and remove the crushing plates from the traitors balls. The dungeon master released the winch and the chains slacked off. He opened the cuffs on the traitor’s wrists and then the ones from his ankles. He left the traitor laying on the bed of the rack while he loosed the nuts on the bolts of the crusher and removed the device from the traitors balls. He then helped the traitor to stand up and the 4 guards surrounded him and they left the dungeon and slowly moved up the stairs to the great hall. The traitor staggered as his ankles were screaming in pain but he kept up with his guards as he was determine not to show any weakness.
They walked into the great hall, and the crowd in the hall parted and moved to the sides of the room leaving the centre of the room empty. Standing in the middle of the room was a iron gibbet cage hanging from a heavy chain from the ceiling beams of the room. The guards escorted the traitor to the cage where the blacksmith that had made the cage was waiting. The guards forced the traitor into the cage so that the traitor faced the dais of the hall. They closed the cage and the blacksmith inserted the rivet into the hasp and hammered it to seal the traitor into the cage. The heavy iron flat bars had been shaped to fit his body and locked his entire body into a stiff standing position. The iron plate that formed the base of the cage had been covered in dull spikes which made standing on them extremely uncomfortable.
He waited sealed in the heavy cage as the King and the Earl stood up and walked towards him. The men walked up and smiled at the naked, grimy sweating man who had been one of the most powerful men in the kingdom. The Earl looked at the traitor and told him that he would be hoisted up and would hang in the great hall as a reminder to anyone who thought they could rebel. He would be fed and watered to prolong the suffering so that he would live as a example of what would happen to those who thought about rebelling. The Earl turned and nodded to some men who began turning a heavy winch lifting the cage and the traitor into the air. The cage eventually stopped when the bottom of it was about 15 feet in the air. The cage slowly swayed as the traitor looked down at the people in the hall and at the usurper who pretended to be king and the man who had been his friend.
Metal would like to thank the author, Rubrpig, for this story!