At any step along the way, George could have said no. The Emperor was practically begging him to do so!
But this Roman soldier was willing to do whatever it took; and he would not say a word, even to stop the torture. Not even to save his own life.
An incredulous crowd of warriors, steeped in the Mysteries of Mithras, would all have been proud to have him amongst their number. They had each already fought alongside him, over many years of campaigns and tours into the theater of war.
They already knew his bravery and prowess. The disbelief stemmed from why George was doing this.
It was all in the name of Christianity!
Let's retreat a few steps to see how we got here. In the arena, with Emperor Diocletian and his wife presiding over a bloody scene, with thousands of spectators heightened in tension. Because nobody thought it would come to that.
In the Roman Imperial World of 303 CE, there were many problems with Christianity. At least there were from the point of view of the authorities and much of the populace.
For a start, the religion preached a single almighty God, who dealt with all aspects of life and was ranked higher than the Emperor. Instant problem right there at the end, when Diocletian was supposed to be a God on Earth and supreme ruler of all.
Thus the Christian God hadn't won friends and influenced people in the Senate. In fact, he was an insult.
For the people themselves, a few wry chuckles at that might have been expressed behind their hands, but the major distasteful element there was the omnipresent part. There are some things best left on the battlefield, which don't need taking into the bedroom nor into the nursery, where the women and children reside.
And no woman wants a male God anywhere near her in childbirth.
These were just spiritual quibbles and with so many deities around, the people could take their pick of the right one in the circumstances.
There was something more insidious, in an Empire based around battle and imperial gains, in a religion which seemed anti-war.