Chapter 1: The start of everything
Magnus scoffed from his position on the Ludus’ grainy training floor. The sun was baring down on his mostly bare body, burning away at his skin and causing buckets of sweat to pour in ripples down his back and chest.
It was a punishment deliberately designed to be uncomfortable, painful, to be stood out in weather like this, the scars and cuts of various ludum gladitorians and venatoriums of the past tightening on his skin like icy fire.
Magnus and the rest of the gladiators of Valentine’s ludus stood in a series of perfectly formed lines of six, muscles and scars proudly on display as they remained silent and submissive in the presence of their dominus, their master.
The Indonesian swore that every time Valentine’s beady eyes swivelled in his direction the brand on his arm – a small circle that’s redness and pinching pain seemed never to die no matter how many years he’d had it – flared with even more pain.
He wouldn’t have put it past Valentine to find someway of making that happen.
Magnus and the rest of the gladiators had been up since before dawn’s early rays for their breakfast, a short period of about twenty minutes where they had relative peace, before beginning their gruelling gladiatorial practice had begun with them running laps for an hour – something only Valentine’s ludus seemed to enforce.
Jonathon had been in fine form that morning with his whip, flicking it with disgraceful and humiliating intention towards anyone who so much as breathed at the wrong time, Ragnor had been hit multiple times that morning during the run and Magnus was chomping at the bit prepared to take the blond bastard down.
He probably could, he wasn’t the Hero of Alicante for nothing.
He had slain more men than any other alive, he was Valentine’s favourite.
They had been allowed no breaks, no stops for water or food, and by midday the powerful group of warriors were flagging dangerously under the baking sun.
Blood was pouring freely from a number of cuts on his body, a forest of bruises on his abdomen from Jonathon’s relentless beating after he helped Raphael up from the ludus floor. He was dizzy from the heat and lack of hydration, his muscles screaming in need for rest.
The other men were all the same, bodies flagging under the ceaseless pain and torment they had been subjected to.
Their training had carried on for a few more hours of brutal, non-stop trails and practice fights. Jonathon thrived on the pain of others and forced them all to fight over and over, each time yelling and screaming at them to become more aggressive and life-threatening with their attacks. Magnus could only take so much, but Jonathon always wanted more.
Finally, after a ceaseless wasteland of blood and screaming, they had been ordered to stop and assume their formation. They stood like one machine, equally spaced, hands behind their backs, feet shoulder width apart.
They were an unstoppable army, should Valentine every require them to be.
For now, Magnus stared at their dominus with passion in his eyes and fury in his heart. A blue fire of old, trapped in a cage of chains and kept bound by the memories of his family.
Valentine stood above them, ignorant or uncaring of their pain, unwilling to acknowledge their fatigue. The Asian knew he’d been standing there for over ten minutes now without the elder male saying anything, just his beady little eyes, staring and analysing his property like they were no more than fish in a barrel.
Beside him Ragnor’s breathing was harsh and hoarse. It had been for some time and Magnus feared what it would mean for his oldest friend should Valentine ever find out his slave wasn’t in the best of conditions. He hoped he couldn’t hear it from his balcony above.
He hoped he still had time to get Ragnor away from this place.
This was their punishment, he knew. One of the ludus’ gladiators had fallen in the arena during yesterdays game, a bloody, gruesome, affair, and now Valentine was punishing the rest of them for it.
“Do you understand,” He finally began, voice loud and angry with the fury of losing denarius on a fallen fighter, “why you are here?” His voice trailed off, falling away with the wind and to the grainy floor Magnus was stood upon.
Magnus scoffed again at this ignorance; no man here could forget why he was in this place.
The brand on his arm flared in pain.
“I trusted each and every one of you to be the best,” he screamed, fury uncontained as he paced form one end of his balcony to the other, his wild eyes darting to every face below him like a predator. “I bring you into my ludus, give you the best training, the best food, the best weapons,” he leaned far over the side of the balcony, as if trying to reach down and touch the very men he was insulting.
Red marred his skin, as the anger flared in his face and he spat out his words with venom, “and this is how I am repaid, by one of you pathetic weaklings, DYING!”
He looked to Magnus as if he was taking a calming breath, his hand pinching the bridge of his nose as his wife, the fair skinned and avaricious Jocelyn, stroked her hand gently up and down his arm. She whispered poison in his ear, words of torment and pain, and Magnus saw as Valentine stood a little taller, his anger draining away as he turned cold eyes back to the men below him.
He watched them latch onto Ragnor, watched them see the shaky breaths and weak rise and fall.
His heart collapsed.
Valentine pressed as forward to his balcony as possible, hands gripping tightly to the edge as he spoke with a calm and measured tone. “I will show you what your weakness earns, I will give you a reason to fight like I am teaching you to.”
Dead eyes looked to the man wielding the whip and nodded once only. Dread settled like a rock in Magnus’ stomach, his hands became clammy and detached. He could feel no part of his own body.
Without a word Jonathon stormed forward, frown set as sadistic eyes lit up in anticipation. He grabbed Ragnor by the shoulder and threw him to the ground, foot colliding with dull thuds as he repeatedly kicked and stomped on his limp body.
Ragnor tried to keep his mouth shut, tried to stay strong, but moans of pain and cries of surprise left his mouth as he attempted to fight the onslaught of attacks from a foe a thousand time stronger than he. Magnus looked up in anger, staring straight into the eyes of the demon he was forced to call his dominus.
He was smiling.
Cruel and sadistic, with teeth glinting in the sun. He was enjoying the pain; he was getting off on it. He turned and his dark eyes collided with Magnus’ own and the smile on his face changed, it became darker, less sane.
He shouted something unintelligible to Jonathon without his eyes ever leaving Magnus’ and the sound of thudding stopped almost instantly.
“Not a strong enough lesson?” He questioned almost gaily; arms outstretched in a welcoming gesture.
Magnus wanted to eat his heart raw.
He spoke calmly to Jonathon once more in a language no one understood, and finally Magnus turned his eyes away to witness the blond dragging Ragnor by one, clearly broken, arm, to the pole in the middle of the courtyard.
It was old and chipping, the wood like a thousand daggers when you touched it. Jonathon pressed Ragnor’s front directly onto it, forcing his arms up behind him and tied them tightly with the blood soaked chains that dangled from the top.
There was a heavy silence over the courtyard, broken only by the pained breathing and gasps of Ragnor as he attempted to get away from the pinpricks of pain stabbing viciously at his chest. “Jonathon.” Valentine stated as he pulled Jocelyn closer to him, the pair of them watching Ragnor with determined gleans in their eyes.
“You know what to do.”
Magnus wanted to scream, wanted to fight his way to the front of the crowd and fight for his friend. He wanted to separate Jonathon’s head from his body and pulverise Valentine into the gruel that they were forced to eat every morning.
He wanted them both to suffer.
But he couldn’t. If he wanted Ragnor to have any chance of surviving, he needed to keep quiet, keep his head down and watch the punishment. He steeled his heart as the whip was coiled tightly around Jonathon’s wrist and rose in the sky.
Golden eyes turned one last time to face the balcony, turned to see the happy faces of his masters as they watched one of their playthings get roughed up by their son, Valentine whispering sweet nothings into his wife’s ear as she giggled at the scene below them.
He looked beyond the pair to the indoor servants and slaves collected behind them. Pathetic, the whole lot of them. They didn’t understand the pain Magnus and the rest of the gladiators went through, sheltered behind comfortable walls, spending their time serving wine and food and doing little else.
How dare Valentine call him, his friends, pathetic, when creatures like the ones who served the masters like that existed, when not one of them received any punishment or harm, when not one of them even knew they strength or power of holding a sword or knowing how to fight and feel the exhilaration of being in the arena.
They stood perfectly made up in dainty dresses for the women and subligaria’s and loincloths down to the knee for the men. Slaves dressed up perfectly, kept clean and without scars, hair done beautifully and light make-up covering their faces. Why did they deserve such pleasantness whilst Magnus was down on the grainy ludus floor all day, with blood and sweat marring his skin as he was forced to watch his best friend punished for the death of another.
His eyes caught sight of a slave towards the back. His black hair falling over his eyes and down to his chin in swooping waves with bee-sting lips frowning sadly at the display before him.
He was androgynous in his appearance, milky pale lines and smooth skin, with brightly piercing blue eyes that were deep pools of pain. If only sculptors of great could carve him, Magnus thought briefly, the perhaps then Ganymede would find competition in a slave boy.
Magnus watched the boy close his eyes as the first lash of the whip sounded off Ragnor, and the painful grunt ripped out of his throat unbidden and undesired. His attraction went away almost instantly at the sign of obvious weakness.
What a deception are human eyes, Magnus thought, hiding away what we do not want to see.
Alec was still reeling from the display in the courtyard earlier. That man, Ragnor, he believed him to be called, deserved nothing of what was given to him. No one deserved that amount of humiliation or pain; especially not because of the accidental death of another.
He could say nothing against it, his dominus would punish him with even less mercy.
The evening had passed with relative peace afterwards, with the training stopping almost instantly as a half-dead, bloodied pulp of a man was dragged uncaringly to the medic’s office in the ludus below.
Perhaps Alec would say a prayer tonight, to Aesculapius, and hope the man made a speedy recovery, or perhaps he would pray for his death, and hope the man found some peace in the afterlife. He was unsure of which would be better.
The rest of the slaves had been quiet since, silent in their shock and despair over the display, and Alec had taken some of their roles to ease the horror in their eyes. He did not wish for any under his command to be punished because they could not keep their minds focused enough not to drop one of Jocelyn’s expensive vases.
Quiet footsteps announce his presence to the endless rooms of the villa, and Alec thinks back to the moment just before Ragnor was hit. Anger, eyes glaring like fire, aimed at him with teeth gritted and nostrils flared; Magnus he knows this man to be called.
The pale slave does not understand why the gladiator looked upon him with such anger in his eyes, he had done no wrong in the situation, he had not caused Ragnor to be punished, nor had he done the punishing. Not even did his golden eyes, enchanting though they were, show so much anger towards the dominus and domina of the house.
It confused him greatly, to see such animosity from another slave. Surely Magnus was aware they were on the same side? Shouldn’t he understand that Alec wasn’t the villain?
Even so, the man was attractive, almost god-like in appearance and that brief second of eye-contact would no doubt get him through many nights in the future. He was tall, with tanned, golden, muscles that glistened in the sun. His face was made of sharp lines and marble carved features, with eyes so ensnaring in their golden hues that he had found himself instantly enraptured.
Magnus was no mere man, nor a mortal being of any kind.
Abruptly, he was pulled out of his musings by a small blur of red darting towards him and forcing him to stumble back into the pillar behind him.
Clary stood before him, hair styled fashionably in braids that fell like waterfalls and a silk tunic that hung provocatively from her small frame. Her eyes followed the lines of his torso, down to his feet and back up before a wide smile broke onto her face, canine’s flashing from the torchlight surrounding them.
Alec quickly remembered his training and gave a small bow of respect towards her, mouth sewn shut and eyes lowered to the floor. She quickly lost interest in him and turned her gaze to one of her brothers, Jace, who was waling down the corridor in the opposite direction. Her hand pointed lazily towards one of the doors in the opposite direction and her voice was distracted as Jace proceeded to flirt with one of the slave women further down the hall.
“My father wishes to see you in the caldarium.”
Alec frowned instantly at the mention of the hot room of the baths but bowed once again in respect to the young mistress of the house and turned to find his master. Vaguely, he noticed Clary rush off to hide behind a pillar as Jace began tearing the dress off of the slave girl from earlier.
He would find her tonight and make sure she received some oils. It was the least he could do to protect her.
The walk to the bathhouse was too short, and Alec could feel the darkness and disgust buried within him clawing to the surface as he entered the room. Jocelyn lay at the far side of the bath, her handmaids caressing her naked body with warm water as they rubbed scented oils into her skin and brushed out her burning hair with dead eyes and cold, emotionless faces.
She was humming an unknown song to herself, turning her head this way and that to allow the girls around her to reach the best spots on her body. He wanted to sneer at the sight of the serene smile on her face; didn’t she care that a man was almost beaten to death?
No, Alec reminded himself sternly, she couldn’t give one fuck about the people she and Valentine owned.
Valentine strode into the room seconds later, wrapped lightly in a robe which Alec hastily moved to remove from his body. Happiness radiated off his person as he stepped quickly into the warm water with his wife, arms outstretched in thankfulness.
To whom, Alec did not know.
“What a glorious group of men!” He chanted loudly, striding forward until he was knee deep in water, the girls around them kept their faces down and the mouths shut, hoping to remain invisible to the dominus of the house.
“Magnus’ victories in the arena ignite the fires of the citizens of the city,” Alec realised the winnings from yesterday’s fights must have finally come in, nothing like money spurned a happy mood from Valentine. “The number of people who revere our name rise as every sun sets in the sky.” He clenched his fist with determination, no doubt imagining throes of people who worship his name.
Jocelyn opened her eyes and cast a scathing glance at her husband, whilst Alec stood at the edge of the water, awaiting command quietly as he always does when he was requested to his master’s side. “And so,” she began, sitting up and allowing her hands to fall into the water around her, “does the number of people who wish to see you fail.”
An unbothered growl ripped from Valentine’s throat as Alec was beckoned forward with a flick of his wrist. With shaking hands he unwrapped his subligaria, neatly folding it onto the floor, and stepped into the heated waters of the bath. “I would see all men who oppose me, pay for their grievances,” the man began as Alec gently dipped a sponge in the water and began washing away the sweat of the day.
Valentine waded a little deeper into the water, and, obedient and submissive as always, Alec followed him gracefully. Jocelyn once again raised her hands delicately above the water level and allowed her handmaidens to continue their work on her body. “I would prefer, my darling, that you remove these threats now rather than later.”
Eyes peered down upon his chest as Valentine waved a hand to dismiss his wife’s words. “We have more pressing matters.” He spoke, and a harsh hand gripped Alec’s in a bruising grip and forced him to grab onto Valentine’s erect cock. Alec kept his eyes down and breathed in a sharp breath at the touch.
This is what he hated most.
Jocelyn spoke with half-lidded eyes as she watched the movement of Alec’s hand on her husband’s member. “Do you mean the whipping boy from earlier?” She questioned as Valentine forced Alec to rotate his wrist harder and faster.
“Not the matter I was meaning.” He grunted out; hips begin to thrust forward in pleasure. The smaller dark haired boy fought to keep his face neutral and continue his task of cleaning up his master. The worse part of the evening was coming and he could do nothing but take his mind far away.
Jocelyn purred in pleasure at her husband’s actions and turned her steely gaze upon Alec’s form, emulating her daughter’s earlier actions and looking at his body up and down. “Have the boy’s ass, I wish to watch.”
Valentine let out a joyous laugh at the suggestion and immediately Alec found himself turned around and bent over, his hands gripping tightly to the marble below him.
There was no preparation, no warning, before Valentine’s cock ripped into him from behind; only the barest amount of spit to guide the way. His thrusts were forceful and damaging, reaching far into him and tearing him apart.
Alec stifled a cry as Valentine pressed his body closer, pumping his hips in a languorous manner as if trying to scoop out his insides. Eyes wide open, Alec allowed his mind to drift to happier times in the hopes of ignoring the searing, red hot pain from behind and the resounding laughter and moans from the couple surrounding him. He listened with ears half open to the exchanging words between the couple and imagined golden green eyes and tanned hands on his hips instead.
With every thrust, Alec flinched in pain, his body unable to cope with the never-ending pain and humiliation.
The other slaves in the room refused to look him in the eye, keeping their heads down and mouths shut as they went about their business. Suddenly, the air around him seemed to get tighter and Alec struggled to breath as Valentine tugged harshly on the collar around his neck. His body was propelled backwards by a rough pull around his neck that caused him to gasp aloud as Valentine forced his cock further into Alec with little care.
He felt the sensation of his back being pressed to Valentine’s front, saw the dark spots before him as air left him abandoned, felt the wet heat of spilled seed in his ass as Valentine ground against him one final time.
Rough hands pushed his body harshly away and Alec turned dutifully, picked up the sponge that had laid abandoned floating on the waters surface and continued to clean his master.
It was all he could do.
For a few days, Magnus truly believed Ragnor would not make it. Hungrily, he had survived on tidbits of information provided to him from Raphael, who, in turn, had received them from Catarina the medic. But the latest news was that Ragnor would make a full recovery with rest, which for some reason, Valentine had granted.
Perhaps he was trying to show mercy to his slaves.
Another thought had occupied his mind for some nights however, a blue eyed creature of grace and poise that crawled into his dreams like vapour and gave pleasure upon appearance. Ever since he had seen the boy on the balcony behind Valentine, creamy skin unblemished and untainted, free from punishment and harm, Magnus had felt a stirring of desire like no other since Camille.
It had panicked him the first night, Magnus wasn’t expecting it and was slightly horrified at what depravities his mind played, but he soon accepted it.
It would be nice, he mollified himself, to have such a lover, whom Magnus could spoil and treasure like no other. It was also unobtainable, as the house slaves would never deign to come down and be seen amongst the gladiators, even if they were allowed to do so.
Who would want to be with a ruthless killer like Magnus after all?
When news had come that Ragnor would make a hearty recovery, Magnus threw his all into training once more, mind worried but no longer distracted by the thoughts of his friend passing away without him being nearby to provide comfort and wish him well.
Jonathon’s unnerving eyes refused to leave his form for the first few days, clearly expecting some kind of outburst he could punish, but it had eventually turned away when Magnus did not give him what he so desired. The ludus had turned back to how it was before, and the gladiator’s continued to prepare for the next arena competition in a few days’ time.
Once again, Magnus would be presented to the crowds as the Hero of Alicante and made to fight endless streams of men for the entertainment of the crowds. It was regular now, and Magnus no longer revered the worship he received from the men and women of Idris.
A loud whistle broke his training focus and Magnus, along with the rest of the court yard it seemed, turned to face the noise. Surprisingly, it was Jonathon who made the noise and caused the disruption, eyes fixated onto a point beyond Magnus’ shoulder and the Indonesian quickly turned around to see what had so captured the attention of their doctore.
A startled gasp left Magnus’ lips unbidden as he watched the slave from before, and the demon who haunted his dreams, walk determinedly across the ludus’ sandy floors. His blue eyes held no light or warmth, only blue fires of darkness, and his chin was raised proudly as he approached the gladiators. He was trying hard to hide his fear and trepidation, Magnus realised, as he watched the boys hand shake slightly at the full force of the group watching him so intently.
With a closer look, Magnus created a stronger image in his mind of the boy’s apperance and subconsciously stored it away for later. The house slave was smaller than he, though that was not exactly a difficult task, but towered above many others, with a lithe figure filled out with taunt muscles that appeared as he walked.
Skin paler that the clouds in the sky and smoother than the silk from his homeland, Magnus gazed upon the beauty moving swiftly towards him and licked his suddenly dry lips. A subligaria of deep red covered the boy’s modesty, leaving his firm, nubile chest on display and his nymph-like legs for viewing pleasure.
A collar was tight around his throat, drawing attention to the pleasing sight of his swan like neck which Magnus wanted to sink his teeth into.
Whilst the skin was highly pleasing to Magnus’ eyes, the lack of markings on his body also confirmed what he had known all along. The house slaves lived sheltered lives in comparison, and they suffered no punishment for their actions like the gladiators did, it made the dormant anger within him stir and wake like a dragon.
Around him the men clamoured together, hooting and shouting at the sight of the boy coming towards them, making crude remarks and gestures that the boy struggled to ignore. But as Magnus looked into the eyes of his friends, he knew the boy had equally ensnared them in his thrall.
Jonathon held out his hand and the boy passed along a note to him, Magnus recognising the writing as Valentine’s. He held in a groan at the thought of receiving orders now, when everything had just settled back into normalcy.
The black haired beauty turned and began to walk back but a stout whistle from Jonathon’s lips caused his body to freeze. “Alexander,” his slimy voice called out, hand once more outstretched as he called the boy back to him. “You wouldn’t leave without saying a proper goodbye would you?”
Jonathon’s voice was deceptively sweet, with honeyed words falling from his mouth like blood from a wound. The boy, Alexander, turned reluctantly, eyes looking to the floor as he slowly approached the outstretched palm.
The courtyard was silent as all watched the interaction, breaths caught as Jonathon roughly grabbed the collar around the pale neck and yanked it harshly forward, causing Alexander to stumble and fall into Jonathon’s waiting arms.
Without missing a second, the boy’s chin was dragged harshly upwards as Jonathon forced hip lips onto the boy’s own, hands roughly groping at the skin on his neck and hips. Magnus shuffled where he stood, uncomfortable with the display before him and noted that those around him seemed to be doing the same.
Alexander could only be eighteen to Jonathon’s thirty one.
Magnus’ golden eyes locked on to the blue of the boy’s and widened in surprise at the lack of anything he found there. They were dull, faded with hatred and exhaustion, almost as if in a haze, taking their owner’s mind to another world where he wasn’t being publicly groped by his dominus’ son.
With an over enthusiastic smacking sound, Jonathon parted from Alexander and pushed him away, sending him off with a wave of his hand. With only a slight bow, Alexander turned and walked back towards the house, head held high and steps fast-paced, mouth shut in a harsh line. Turning back to Jonathon, Magnus was unsurprised to see the desire in his lust-blown eyes as he followed the pathway of Alexander’s legs.
The rest of the gladiators turned their attention back to Jonathon, silent as they watched him read the letter from Valentine. His face gave no indication of what was written, the only movement being his eyes as they scanned each line in quick succession.
Then, with an evil smirk which would rival the cruelest of slave masters, Jonathan faced the crowd of gladiators before him.
“Magnus Bane!” He yelled, cold eyes searching for his familiar frame. With a lack of hesitation embedded in his from his years of training, Magnus stepped forward bravely, keeping his head high and eyes to the ground. Jonathon’s smile turned into something more sleazy, and a slimy feeling erupted over Magnus’ skin like a coat.
“You have been called to Valentine’s chambers.”
Magnus let out a soft ‘shit’ and closed his eyes in disbelief.
Parties were perhaps Alec’s least favourite thing about working in the household and not the ludus downstairs. Valentine only ever threw them for two reasons; to celebrate his wealth and success in the arena and to expand his name across the whole of Alicante. High ranking officials and their spouses poured in expecting wine and entertainment, reusing to be denied in any of their requests.
Whenever a party was announced, Alec found a quiet place and was sick behind some bushes.
About a week after the bath incident, when Alec and the other female slaves were cleaning the caldarium after their dominus and domina’s latest visit, Clary had strode into the room declaring to them all that they were to prepare for a party that evening.
She had laughed at prospect of them having to do more work on top of their already demanding chores before knocking over one of her mother’s expensive pottery pieces and flouncing from the room, no doubt off to find Jace for some pleasure or another.
Alec had simply kept his head down and nodded in acknowledgement, he would do as was asked.
Later, Valentine ordered him to his office a few hours before the party was to begin, a large room of golden ornaments and expensive furniture draped in fine fabrics stolen from around the world. He was stood before a mirror, a tailor walking around him and pinning a new toga on his body as he admired his form, scowling as Alec was admitted in.
“Go to Jonathon, give him my letter!” He’d demanded with a dismissive wave of the hand, eyes never leaving the lay of the toga wrapped around him. Again with a nod Alec left the room and done as commanded, praying to the gods above that he went about this job unscathed.
Instead of hearing his prayers, Alec was forced to relish in the shame of having the gladiators witness the horrifying event, having them holler and shout as he approach, having them shuffle awkwardly as Jonathon staked a claim in front of them all.
But perhaps, worse of all, he’d looked into those enchanting golden eyes, those eyes he’d dreamt of every night since the punishment and seen within their depths a profound hatred as they gazed upon his skin, a disgust as his lips were locked with Jonathon’s.
Why did that man hate his so much? What had Alec done to wrong him so?
The moment he’d arrived back into the villa, Alec had been taken to the slave baths and stripped of his normal subligaria by the other slaves he hesitated to call his friends. They’d worked on painting his marble skin with silver paint, lining his body with patterns and designs like smoke drifting in the air, or the voices of gods upon high. Jocelyn envied his paleness but placed it on display whenever guests came to visit; he was their sign of wealth.
They’d sat his bare body down on a wooden chair in one of the back rooms and painted his eyes with dark kohl and his cheeks with fine pink powder to highlight his cheekbones. Furiously, they’d rubbed oil on his lips, making them shiny and smooth in the firelight of the night.
They were angry not to be chosen to serve at this party; Alec was glad they were not; he would hate to see one of them in his position even if they did not realise it.
Once his body was done, the slaves had switched out, and those who would also be serving alongside Alec came in their place. It was a horrifyingly small number and Alec knew the party was going to be of an intimate kind.
He had become happier that those slaves before were not in his position.
These new slaves, Lydia, Aline, Maia, Andrew, they were his friends and he relaxed his shoulders at their presence. Here he was on equal ground, no one wanted to be where they were.
He had been dressed hastily in a flimsy, easy to tear fabric, that settle tightly upon his hips and bellowed out to his thighs, allowing easy access to those who might require it. Andrew, he had noted, was dressed almost similarly but no paint adorned his body, nor makeup was on his face.
It was a signal of the night’s events and from the sadness swimming in the pools of Andrew’s gaze, they both were aware of how it would end.
The girls had been dressed in fluttering tunics of light blue, with deep necklines and short skirts that exposed most of the leg as well as their arms and necks. Alec had smiled sweetly at them, despite the clear attempt at making the girls sexually appealing to the guests, the colour worked beautifully with their skin tones and made them look like goddess’.
He’d told them as such, in his shy, unassuming, voice and received delighted giggles in return, each baring a compliment of its own.
Together they had stayed in that little backroom for some time, allowing the rest of the slaves to continue with preparations as they awaited Valentine’s call to start welcoming and serving the guests. When the call came Alec had blended into the shadows the best he could and began serving the guests.
Now, Alec was regretting that he hadn’t made some fuss earlier in the week.
He flinched as another Roman waved a hand in his direction for his cup to be refilled before slapping his ass and leaving a groping touch behind as his wife howled with laughter at the sight. The party had been going for only a couple of hours and already Alec felt the desire to kill the lot of them, to take a knife from the table and slit the throat of his dominus, declaring himself and his friends free.
Andrew nor the other women were faring better, he realised with a sly glance around the room, with Maia’s dress already being slightly ruffled and Andrew’s lip rouge being smudged along his face. Hopefully, Alec thought to himself as an arm wound itself around his waist and tugged him onto a lap, the party wouldn’t last too long and the guests – an incredibly large amount for the small number of servers – would soon return back to their own villas.
He hoped they would choke when they did so.
“You, whore, fill my cup!” A voice called from nearby and Alec dutifully stood from the strangers lap and walked demurely over, silver body pain shining like stars as he did so.
He prayed this would soon be over.
It was not often that Magnus was called into the villa, it was an even rarer occasion that he was called to Valentine’s chambers.
Only twice had it happened before, the first being when he’d first been purchased by his dominus – he’d been a scrap of a boy only fourteen summers old at the time – and the second being when he became the Hero of Alicante and subsequently Valentine’s champion.
Usually his earnings were sent straight to the ludus and any messages were passed along via Jonathon.
Instead of any tormenting however, Magnus had been stiffly informed by the man that he was to be washed and presented at his gathering that evening; apparently some of the guests desired strongly to see him without the roar of the crowd or blood of the arena.
Magnus had growled at the prospect of being used as entertainment but said nothing and accepted his role. Ragnor was already in enough trouble without him making it worse.
He now regretted his silence and pondered how much exactly Ragnor meant to him as another housewife strolled over to him and placed her dainty hand upon his chest. She turned to giggle at her friends who stood behind gasping at the scandalous behaviour she was displaying whilst her husband was occupied with speaking to another guest.
After his meeting with Valentine, Magnus had been dragged to the bathhouse and stripped down. Eager house slaves washed his skin, giggling and laughing to themselves as he swore and bared his teeth in their direction.
They could flirt all they wanted; he would not rise for any house slave. Especially not if they were the pampered darlings of his domina.
They had painted chest with swirling patterns of gold, emphasising the lining of his muscles and highlighting the strength in his legs and arms.
He’d been kept in the little bathhouse for a very long time – long after the party had begun – before a loud announcement from Valentine had premeditated his entrance. The second he walked in, eyes of all the high class of Alicante had fallen on him, roaming his bare chest and herculean thighs and biceps. The eyes of the women, and some men, had fallen to the golden coloured subligaria wrapped tightly around his waist and turned to laugh with their friends at the obvious bulge.
As the women before him turned back around, she lowered her hand down his chest, sharp fingernail drawing a red line down the centre of his torso. “Do you know who I am, slave?” Her voice was silky, as a snake drifting through the grass, but slightly nasally and Magnus scrunched up his face at the sound of it.
She laughed loudly at his silence, “Well?”. Magnus simply shook his head, well aware of the consequence should he open his mouth. “My name is Camille,” she continued, somehow deluding herself into pretending Magnus was listening, “I am the wife of Ralf Scott, I am a very,” she prowled closer, ignoring the scandalised gasps of her equally annoying friends, “rich”, her lips pursed as the came to rest along his, “woman.”
She finished her introduction and moved back, eyes challenging him to respond, demanding her act on her flirtations. “What do you think about that?” She questioned. Magnus kept quiet for fear of what he would say if allowed to speak.
I think I’d like to tear your throat out along with your husband, I want you to put your hand upon me so that I may rip it from your arm.
She turned to her friends once more, rolling her eyes in annoyance, and moved away, flouncing back in the direction Magnus presumed her husband to be.
With freedom from the witch, Magnus trailed his eyes around the room, looking beyond the small podium he was stood upon to gain more of an understanding of the event he was being forced to endure.
The villa was packed to the brim with people dressed in high quality toga’s of varying colours and designs. Jewellery, no doubt worth so much more than the value that had been placed upon himself, dangled carelessly from unblemished necks and wrists.
Boisterous laughter echoed down the halls alongside loud conversations of inane topics of no meaning and Magnus could pick out the boasting speech of his dominus from the crowd. Valentine took pleasure in having his most prized possession on display like a strange creature and was inviting more people to go and gaze upon his figure.
Food was laid out upon large tables, food that looked colourful and brimmed with taste far more satisfying and fulfilling then the gruel giving in the ludus below, and his stomach growled in desperation to taste some.
No doubt, any attempt to do so would see him to a swift punishment.
He began to look beyond the party and the guests, golden eyes zeroing in on the few house slaves assigned to help the proceedings. There were far less than Magnus would have used, only a handful for the sheer amount of freemen and women that lay about the room.
He could see a slender girl with pale skin and blonde hair bending over to pour wine into a woman’s glass, whilst behind her roaming eyes gazed upon her form like vultures, tongues licking lips in desire.
In the opposite corner of the room a girl with skin the colour of bronze and eyes of molten gold, was sat in the lap of a large man, his arm wound around her waist as the other fondled her leg. The crowd around them were laughing, ignoring her for the most part and chatting amongst themselves as though she were not even there.
A male, with stout body and blond hair was hand feeding grapes to a woman, her head tilted back and eyes closed in pleasure as she bit into one. He, like the girl from before, was surrounded by women acting as though he did not exist beyond the realm of proving a service apart from a singular woman next to him, whose hand was moving languorously up and down his chest, lingering on his pecs.
It disgusted him, this display of hedonism and greed.
Didn’t anyone care that these servers were people, who deserved more than to be gazed upon like meat or caressed without their consent.
And then, Magnus caught sight of the one figure that caused the blood in his body to freeze and a small gasp leave his lips.
Alexander, pressed against a pillar with Valentine’s son Jace, forcing his lips against his neck as his hands wandered with determination across his exposed torso and legs.
His body was painted in enchanting waves of silver that glinted in the light, making him appear to all the world like a spectre from the gods in the dying light of the torches. The lines mirrored his own and Magnus spared a thought to wonder at the purpose of such a thing. Lips were slick and oily in wetness, making them look plump and biteable whilst light rouge dusted his cheeks, highlighting the sharpness of the lines on his face.
His eyes, those ensnaring pools of fiery blue, were lined in dark kohl, making them look bigger and doe-like in innocence, yet at the same time sultry and sensual. They called to Magnus, begged him to take what was left bare.
Jace was undulating his hips as his strong body kept Alexander in position against the pillar. He was forcing his pleasure on a blank faced Alexander who did no movement to encourage the boy, he simply stood their and took what was given.
It made him want to be sick, the blankness of the younger boy’s face clearly showing that this was not an anomaly, that he was used to people forcing themselves on him.
Perhaps, Magnus thought as Jace clearly reached his completion and stood apart from Alexander, allowing him to move away and continue with his duties, a house slave was not entirely without its demerits.
The party had lasted longer than Alec believed it would.
Normally these events lasted for around four hours, however, tonight had stretched for a few more and Alec found himself dead on his feet.
But he knew that his services were still required.
As the last of the normal guests left, Alec and the other house slaves had got to work as Valentine and Jocelyn entertained the remaining, intimate, guests with a grand tour of the villa, complete with Magnus going along as ‘protection’ against the dark.
Alec had tried his best not to think about the gladiator on display this evening, blocking his mind from even treading upon what was going to happen soon.
He had been mostly successful.
Together he and Andrew hung stripes of white cloth around a small, withdrawn alcove on the villa’s main floor as the girls filled jugs of wine and created platters of fruit and cheese to lay upon the small chair-side tables.
The area looked elegant, with chaise lounges of fine fabrics and the white cloths drifting softly in the night-time breeze. It was such a shame, Alec though blankly as the small group of freemen and women returned with bright smiles and eager eyes, that such a beautiful space would be so desecrated.
He recognised his dominus and domina, of course, as well as Camille and Ralf who were close friends of his masters, but the other couple was a mystery to him, perhaps a high ranking official Valentine desired to have in his pocket.
Alec stood stock still with his small group as Jocelyn turned to Camille, smile gay and sultry in a way that promised desires untold, and outstretch her arm towards his small group. “I believe its your turn to pick” she laughed lightly, moving to rest upon one of the lounges, Valentine settling besides her.
The two other couples moved with them, each taking a lounge each and laying upon it with little care.
Camille turned her dark eyes amongst the group, moving swiftly past him and onto Aline with a little sneer. She pointed, and Alec and his group bowed their head as one, moving to their respected positions; Alec and Aline remaining within the alcove whilst the rest stood outside, patiently waiting command should they be needed.
Unlikely, seeing as serving them was precisely what Aline had been chosen for.
Magnus stood at the edge of the space, seemingly confused and unnerved by the display he had just witnessed and Alec could not forget about him anymore.
The gold painted upon his skin was hypnotic and if they were in any other situation besides this one, he perhaps would deign to gaze lustily upon his person; but that was not to be and after what was about to happen, Alec knew Magnus would never again think of him in a positive way.
Valentine turned towards the new couple with an easy smile, eyes lazy with wine and the lateness of evening. “My dear Victor and Zara, welcome to house of Morgenstern, we treasure your presence here tonight.” His silver tongue whispered words of poison in their ear and the couple nodded in gratitude of the honeyed words.
“As you are aware, the house offers some more intimate parties and I would hate for you to have travelled all this way without witnessing one. So please, choose who you will, though as you can see we have Camille’s and Ralf’s preference on display.” The groups eyes moved over to Alec and he ducked his head, eyes falling to his bare feet in shame as his cheeks flamed.
“Look how he blushes!” Camille cooed, stroking the arm of her husband in anticipation. The group laughed and Alec prayed to the gods once again hoping that finally they would listen to him at least once this evening.
If Jace’s attack on him earlier against the pillar was any indication however, the gods most certainly were not on his side this evening.
Magnus was more than confused.
He was already completely astounded by the displays he’d seen tonight but this strange meeting in the alcove was taking things further than Magnus could have imagined.
The small group of freemen and women were gazing intently upon the smaller boy stood beside Jocelyn whose cheeks were flaming red with, what? Shame? Embarrassment? Delight?
All Magnus could really focus on however, was the large bruise adorning his neck from the younger dominus’ ministrations earlier in the evening. It was red and bloody, it looked more painful than pleasurable.
The only other house slave with them, a dark-haired beauty who had escaped his earlier observations, was holding a jug of wine patiently, eyes staring straight ahead and blank. She was Ignoring everything happening around her.
Magnus wished he could do the same.
The woman he believed to be called Zara – if Valentine’s earlier introduction was correct – moved to sit upright on her lounge, gaze turning intently upon his own person with thinly veiled desire and lust.
“You” she called, dainty hand pointing towards him, “Gladiator, come to the middle.”
With a brief glance towards Alexander, whose gaze had yet to move from the floor, Magnus stepped into the middle of the alcove, gaze lying above the heads of those surrounding him. “I wish to see him all, may I?” Her voice came from beside him, low and dangerous with intent, fingers touching lightly upon his ribs and trailing the pattern of his muscles.
Jocelyn laughed lightly in amusement and nodded her assent. Magnus began to dread this evening harder than ever in response.
“Remove your subligaria.” The girl demanded, moving back towards her husband and laying down once again, back pressed against his front. Her eyes, like those of her companions were dark and fully blown.
With shaking hands Magnus moved slowly towards the wrappings around him, breathing deeply and gulping away his disgust. Inch by inch the fabric came away from him until Magnus was stood completely bare to the room, his gaze unwavering as he blinked away tears.
This was more shameful than any fighting he’d been forced to endure in the arena.
The women were laughing, gasping at the sight of his manhood, whilst the men just whistled at his size, discussing amongst themselves who closest compared.
“Is this all you desire?” Valentine requested, eyes moving towards the new couple in their group. This time Victor leaned forward, analysing Magnus’ body with unbridled lust.
“I would desire, Valentine, a feast of the eyes. I do not disagree with Camille’s usual choice,” Magnus watched as Victor’s hand rose to point in the direction of Alexander and horror filled his heart as he realised where the events of the evening were leading to.
“Have him fuck this one!”
Of course, Alec thought as tears drew unbidden to his eyes.
Of course, once again he’d have to lay down any self-respect and bow to his superiors to provide entertainment.
The gods had truly abandoned him this night, he knew now, as Magnus glanced up at him in shock, eyes betraying the pure disbelief and horror at the idea. Did Magnus truly not know what was expected of him this night?
Could he not guess from the way they had been presented, the silver on his chest merging perfectly with the golden on Magnus?
He moved with practiced step to join Magnus in the middle of the alcove, fur rug beneath his feet providing little comfort to him in this moment.
He blinked away his tears, placing a mask of indifference on his face as he turned his head up to gaze into Magnus’ horror struck eyes, smiling slightly in reassurance to the gladiator. It would provide little comfort, but Magnus had never done this before and a friendly smile could go a long way.
It was, after all, all Alec had hoped for the first time.
Magnus stepped wearily closer to him, hands laying flat at his side in confusion and uncertainty and eyes begging for information. He wore a deep frown of disgust and was attempting to signal something with the raise of his eyebrows.
But Alec did not know what.
They stood completely still, facing each other, golden eyes filled with expression whilst blue was like ice and held everything back.
Beside him, Victor began feeding Zara some grapes, licking away the juices that dripped down her face whilst the other members of the room waited with bated breath for something to happen.
Alec watched as Zara frowned at their hesitance and turned to her husband with a deep scowl of unease. Victor snapped his gaze to Magnus, eyes blazing with authority and lust. “Remove his subligaria.”
Alec closed his eyes briefly before raising his eyes once more onto Magnus’, attempting to communicate his acceptance of the situation and urge him to do as he was ordered. The taller male moved closer hesitantly, breaths quickening and eyes widening as he approached.
Gently, and much to Alec’s appreciation, Magnus outstretched his hands and began the process of removing his subligaria, eyes never moving from Alec’s own.
He allowed a small smile to pass his lips, reassuring the older man that everything was okay no matter what the scenario suggested otherwise.
Magnus was close to ignoring his orders and causing a riot. The look on Alexander’s face, the resignation and acceptance, the tears lining his eyes like a barrier, the small smile of reassurance hit his heart like a sword.
He had been so wrong in his belief the house slaves suffered nothing, that they lived sheltered lives. This was their reality, this humiliation and disregard of humanity.
The resignation on Alexander’s face and the attempted blankness in his eyes only proved to him that this was a regular occurrence, that Alexander had faced situations like this many times before. Was this what the house slaves suffered?
Whilst in the arena or taking his punishment, Magnus could still retain his pride, retain his freedom of choice. Every act of sexual pleasure he engaged in was consensual and chosen at a time both parties desired.
Had Alexander ever had that choice? Had he ever been allowed his pride or felt the hold of a lover who cherished him?
The thoughts made tears come to his eyes.
He understood now why Alexander had been painted in beautiful lines of silver and himself in gold. They would move together in a fluid array of colour that, in the ethereal glow of the light, would turn them into something a thousand times more pleasing to their crowd’s eyes.
Finally, the subligaria was fully removed and Alexander stood as bare as him. He did not move for a moment, stunned by the earth-shatteringly beautiful image the smaller boy made before him, and his heart skipped a beat as his blue eyes looked deep into his own.
He fell headfirst into love. And it was glorious.
“Well?” Came Camille’s demanding voice and Magnus watched as with practiced movement Alexander sunk to the floor and lay expectantly upon his back, legs spread and eyes staring straight up.
He was expecting no comfort, no love in this act.
He was expecting harshness and rough handling.
Magnus kneeled between his open legs, arms holding himself above the smaller boy with a helpless look in his eye.
Alexander finally looked him in the eye and Magnus had to stifle his cry of distress at the sight of a solitary tear falling down the side of his face, his blue eyes filling with a hopeless sadness that Magnus could not take away.
“Alexander I –“ He began to whisper, low enough to avoid the detection of their audience.
“Please Magnus,” Came an equally quiet yet more reserved voice, “See it done. Please?”
Magnus simply nodded and his hand began the descent of the paler boy’s body, however he refused to allow his eyes to leave Alexander’s, hoping to whatever gods the younger boy believed in that it would provide some comfort.
They were well into fucking when Alec came into awareness of himself once more. Magnus was thrusting deep and fast into his pliant body, grunts of reluctant pleasure escaping his throat and entering the quiet alcove around them.
They had had no oil to guide the way so Magnus had done his best to ease the way with excessive spit and initially slow movements.
Alec was glad, he appreciated this care more than he could ever hope to express to the gladiator.
He looked into the golden eyes of the man above him, surprised at the care and sadness he found within their depths. It made for a nice replacement on the usual excitement and maliciousness he usually found on the people who had come before him.
Magnus was directly hitting the bundle of nerves deep within him repeatedly and Alec couldn’t help the genuinely pleasurable moans and mewls that left his mouth. Never before had a lover reached that space within him, made his body alight with pleasure and desire.
He was so close to completion; it was a sensation he had never yet experienced.
No longer could he keep his hands sedately in the rug beneath him and Alec gripped tightly at the skin of Magnus’ back as his legs wrapped tightly around his waist, urging Magnus deeper and faster with his thrusts.
His nails turned to claws and dragged down Magnus back as his blood boiled and his nerves sang to the heavens.
He was babbling now, nonsense words in his mother tongue that rolled out his mouth and into Magnus’ ears. No longer could he sense the people around them, watching them. He couldn’t hear their own moans of pleasure or comments on his and Magnus’ performances.
All he could focus on was the crippling pleasure building within and the weight of Magnus on top of him.
Suddenly Alec could no longer maintain eye contact with Magnus, he threw his head back and screamed as his release flew from his untouched member and up his chest, painting his chest a slippery white.
He panted with overstimulation as Magnus continued to pound within him, drawing out the final strings of his own orgasm. Hot liquid filled his insides as Magnus reached his height and Alec raised his hips in welcome of the intrusion, grappling with Magnus’ back to pull him into a tight embrace, tears falling like waterfalls down his cheeks and along his neck.
Together they froze their movements, panting with excursion and exhaustion. Magnus remained lying atop him for some time, before finally slipping free and moving to lay besides him.
Neither one moved for a moment, caught up in the feelings and passion that had passed between them before finally Magnus moved to stand, holding out his hand for Alec to take.
With his eyes drawn to the floor Alec stood and began redressing himself, content to listen the fading sound of their audience walk away and the other house slaves cleaning away the mess of the evening.
Because of his performance tonight, Alec would be allowed to go to bed early.
Magnus kept his smaller hand encased within his own and gestured for Alec to take the lead. He tilted his head in confusion at the movement, unsure as to why Magnus was bothering with him at all.
Surely Magnus could see he was no better than a whore?
Even so, Alec was too tired to argue and began the torturous walk back to his room within the villa, wincing slightly with every step. Behind him a tut sounded and suddenly Alec found himself lifted from the ground in a bridle carry and Magnus striding down the corridors.
“Tell me where to go sayang.”
Magnus felt disgusted with himself and the masters of the house.
Never before in his life had he forced himself on another as he had with Alexander and he was even more disgusted with the fact that he had enjoyed it.
Alexander had made expressively beautiful faces within the throes of passion, blue eyes clouded and cheeks red with heat, lips parted slightly with pink tongue poking teasingly in the opening.
Magnus was wrong before, Alexander’s lips were not like bee-stings, but rather tulip petals, delicate and desirable all in one. Never had he wanted to kiss another person as Alexander tonight, and the way the gold paint had transferred onto the smaller man’s chest and mixed together with the silver had driven him wild with desire.
His face when the orgasm overtook him was explosive, his mouth parted in a scream and eyes scrunched closed. It hadn’t taken him long afterwards to finish and Magnus had felt like pure shit for doing what he had just done.
How dare he take pleasure in an act so deplorable?
The was Alexander had turned from him in shame to get dressed would haunt his memories for longer than he cared to admit.
Seeing the boy attempt to walk back to his rooms with a harsh limp and whimpers had nearly caused him to break into tears once more, and it was the least he could do to provide some aid and take him back quicker and safer.
He placed the boy at the entrance to his room and gazed down at his smaller frame with hesitation, unsure as to what would happen now.
The began at the same time and Magnus’ voice stuttered to a stop alongside Alexander’s. “Please,” he began again, “speak your mind.”
Alexander gazed up at him, blue eyes wide in surprise before he ducked his head once again and stared at the floor. “Thank you.” His voice was soft yet deep, like honeyed wine or silk. It was pleasurable to listen to and carried a daintiness he did not expect.
“For what?” He had to ask; mind clouded with confusion. What had he done tonight that deserved such praise?
“For being gentle with me, for trying to make it pleasurable.” Alexander continued hesitantly, voice trailing off with uncertainty.
Magnus started at the admission; eyes wide with disbelief at the show of gratitude for basic decency. “You need not thank me little one, I only did what I thought was best. I-I did not want to cause you further harm. Do not think I wanted to force myself on you tonight.”
Alec simply smiled up at Magnus, blue eyes clear for the first time since Magnus had gazed upon them. His smile was perfect, wide and honest with dimples at either side and Magnus couldn’t take his eyes away.
“I know you did not, do not think otherwise. Tonight was something that was forced upon us both, I am only sorry that you had to witness such acts and that you had to do them with so undesirable a partner.”
Magnus gasped in pure shock at the admission. How Alexander could ever believe himself to be an undesirable partner was beyond Magnus’ realm of understanding. “Darling Alexander you are far from undesira-“
A finger at his lips stopped his words and Magnus looked down into the delighted yet conflicted eyes of Alexander – whom Magnus was too quickly falling in love with to be natural. “Say nothing please, do not spoil what you gave me this night.”
Before Magnus could say more, Alexander stood onto the tips of his toes and pressed a light, hesitant kiss upon his lips before drawing away.
“Goodnight Magnus.” He whispered dreamily before shuffling into the room behind them and closing the door.
The taller man stood there for a few minutes in shock. His cheeks burned with delight as a finger rose to touch the very lips Alexander’s had touched and he drew the space around them in glee.
Magnus’ smile widened and he charged down the corridors back to the ludus, mind filled with happiness that whisked away the horror of this evening.
Alexander had kissed him!
Magnus stopped in his tracks halfway down the steps of the ludus. He needed to see Alexander again, needed to court him and win his affections properly this time.
If they ever got a chance to be intimate again, Magnus wanted it to be of their choosing, he wanted Alexander to feel safe and loved around him.
He wanted Alexander to experience love in all its splendour and be allowed to feel the warmth and affection of a true lover and not one forced upon him.
Magnus would do this for Alexander; even if it killed him.
Hi, so i severely underestimated how many chapters I needed so I've bumped this up to three instead of two but it should be completed soon! Speaking of writing, I hope to have the next chapter in Of Kings and Queens up tomorrow so look out for that!
Hope you enjoyed this chapter and please don't hesitate to comment on what you liked, didn't and any suggestions for the final chapter.
The morning after the party, before the training regime began and all was in relative peace, Magnus’ friends clamoured around him, eager and excited to know what had taken him from their presence and kept him from them until late into the night. Catarina, her dark skin reflecting in the early morning rays like honey, had her eyes wide open in readiness, eager to hear of the grandeur of life upstairs, far removed from her bloody and dirty medical room in the ludus.
“Why were you there?” Ragnor asked, voice low and hoarse from his slowly remerging strength, “Jonathon didn’t say.”
Magnus lowered his head towards them, turning away from the curious onlookers surrounding them who were prepared to use any information they could to remove Magnus from his position as Valentine’s prized fighter. “There was a party,” he began slowly, “to celebrate Valentine’s win or new friends or,” the Indonesian paused, trying to remember what had been said at the event, “or something, it doesn’t really matter.” Magnus shook his head, and Raphael pitched forward, hand coming to rest upon the taller male’s arm in support.
“I was scrubbed clean and given a new loincloth by the houseslaves,” Catarina scrunched her nose at the mention of houseslaves, disgust lining her feature as she thought of their pristine skin and clean living quatres in comparison to the shit she was forced to reside in, “but then they painted me in ribbons of gold, they painted a line below each muscle to, I don’t know, make it bigger, more obvious?”
Ragnor snorted and smirked at Magnus, raising an eyebrow in disbelief, “you’re telling me that whilst we all worried for your safety, you were off getting pampered by some houseslaves to attend some fancy party. I can see why you might not enjoy that but I’m pretty sure those houseslaves were overjoyed at the prospect.” Magnus went to open his mouth, to inform his friends that their ideas from before were wrong, that the slaves indoors suffered a different kind of hell all together, but Raphael beat him and spoke loudly to the group,
“I bet they enjoyed washing down our gladiator, and that party is definitely a chance for them to show off their lovely assets, isn’t that right Magnus?”
The elder frowned and his eyes, so sharp and clear usually, were vacant and cloudy as they recalled the events of last night. “We’re wrong.” He whispered, voice mumbling and low with shame, “those houseslaves, my gods, the things Valentine has them doing.” His voice rose, become louder and higher as his distress mounted. Magnus clenched his hands tightly under their table, skin turning white as he recalled the vacancy, the resignation in Alexander’s expression throughout the evening; the small smile he had found the strength to give Magnus before the worst part of the evening began.
“Magnus?” Catarina’s timid voice broke through his thoughts and the Indonesian jerked backwards as her hand lay upon his shoulder in support. “What do you mean?”
“Those bastards up there, those civilised people we call dominus and domina, they had me on display, for their guests to enjoy and discuss, but the houseslaves…” he trailed off as his voice caught in his throat, the gates of tortured screams keeping it from coming out. “They were just games for his guests, he lets them touch them, fuck them, do whatever the fuck they want with them and no one cares. I saw a man rip one of the girls dresses just to grab her arse and his wife just sat by and laughed.”
Magnus knows his teeth are clattered together in a vice grip, each word escaping his mouth as if being pulled by the gods themselves. His friends are, for once, silent as they take in the information; he can see it in their eyes, the way each one is revaluating what they’ve witnessed. The simple command spoken with soft words and a kind smile, nothing more than an order commanded with a lecherous grin and roaming hands.
The gentle grip of a hand when pottery is dropped and the slave brought to their own medical bay, a dominating hand marching a body to punishment.
Behand them the cracking of a whip cuts the conversation short and all heads turn to watch as Jonathon’s dead eyes track their movement before a winning grin emerges on his face. “Five minutes.” His voice, like iron, commands and the gladiators hasten to finish their meals to start training.
“Did anyone touch you?” Raphael’s concerned voice draws the groups attention once more and Magnus swallows the lump building like a cavern in his throat. “Not so much,” he replies, reaching for the nearby water pewter to clear away the frog.
“At the end of the night,” Magnus finds himself lowering his voice further, guilt scaring away the volume more than Jonathon’s whip ever could, “when most guests had gone, the others made this kind of space in the main area whilst I was forced to follow a more intimate group round. When we got back they, they made me…”
Magnus finds he can’t finish the sentence, tears drawing to his eyes as the haze of love and horror that seeped into his brain through the night vanishes under Sol’s burning gaze. “Magnus?” Ragnor’s voice was quiet but laced with despair and concern, his expression mirrored onto the other’s around him.
“They made me rape Alexander, the blue eyed houseslave who delivered my note, made me rape him for their entertainment. My gods, how can he ever forgive me!” He resolutely ignored the horrified gasps and mummers of his friends, more than aware that if he stopped now, the story would never get finished. “He thanked me Ragnor, thanked me for being gentle and taking my time! What monster’s has he faced to be surprised at such curtesy, what had Valentine forced him to do?”
His friends said nothing in return but their eyes shone with sadness that could never be expressed with words. Later, once the day was finished and Jonathon’s unholy whip was gone from there backs, Magnus would tell them of his affection for the blue eyed boy, the way he smiled to try and provide the elder with some support and strength, the way he kissed his lips in a light peck and blushed adorably so, the way his voice sounded in the hallway of his bedroom when they were surrounded by nought but shadows.
Magnus knew he was impossibly infatuated with the boy, probably far too quickly to be anything other than the gods bringing them together, but he couldn’t help the way his heart beat a little faster as his thoughts turned to that dimpled smile, or the way the very blood in his veins became energised at the thought of seeing him again.
“Fucking move it!” Jonathon’s voice sounded in tandem with his whip, and Magnus rushed to the sands of the ludus once more, thinking nothing of seeing his blue eyed beauty again.
Alec stood silently behind Valentine’s chair as he conducted a meeting with multiple high ranking citizens. His arms were aching from where he was forced to hold the two jugs of wine aloft and his eyes burned the wall before him to avoid seeing the lustful gazes sent towards his form.
It had been a week since the party and Valentine was finally reaping the rewards as more wealthy patrons came forward desiring to put money into his gladiatorial empire; meanwhile the bruises on his hips from Magnus’ golden hands gripping his had only just faded. It had been a sad moment of realisation for him when he’d awoken, to see the marks placed upon him had faded away. He knew that Magnus had left them only due to passion not pain, and the sense of happiness that arose within him at the reminder that the elder hadn’t wanted to hurt him caused him to smile constantly.
The attraction Alec knew he felt for the Asian, the desire that flooded in his system and made him sigh like a maiden, should have fled the moment a hand was laid upon him, but Magnus’ tender gaze and horrified expression at the thought of hurting him, his attempt at an apology was endearing and Alec knew he had long since fallen for the man.
But the wistfulness at imagining the taller gladiator putting more willing marks upon his body was overshadowed by the realisation that Valentine was more than aware of the lack of bruises and so his body was once again open and ready for his, or anyone else’s, use. Just as Magnus was said to be Valentine’s champion, Alec was his dominus’ head of house and domina’s body slave; prized beyond all measure and used near exclusively with guests.
No other would serve them as Alec would, Valentine had made that immediately aware once he’d turned thirteen, and gazes began becoming more appreciative and lustful. The only reason he was in this meeting, holding wine jugs in such a way to showcase his arms, wearing a loincloth that was near transparent in colour was because of the benefit he could bring the noble and esteemed house of Morgenstern.
Alec hated that the tactic was working. Hated that he could feel the caresses each man was performing in their minds, could envision the way they planned to move him like a ragdoll into a position of their choosing, push into him with ignorance to his muted grunts of pain or silent tears. He tried to keep his mind blank, tried to think of nothing but the chipped paint opposite him, or the sounds of marbles coming from the guards stationed in the room next to them.
From past experiences, Alec knew the meeting had a few more hours to go before he was truly needed beyond the realm of refilling drinks or being the victim of a wandering grope, and his mind failed him immediately as he began thinking back to the broad shoulders and muscular chest of the golden eyed gladiator who had captured his thoughts and his heart; taking him far away from the situation he was forced to be in.
Last night, once the other slaves had returned to their chambers and Andrew had come to rest in the bed next to him, the two had spoke for hours in the dying flickering of the candle between them. Quietly, with only the moon’s rays as witness, the two spoke freely about the events of tonight, reaching out in the darkness to join hands in solidarity when moments became to hard to discuss or the tears blurred their eyes. At one point, as Andrew was recalling a partygoer reaching into his loincloth as the group around him jeered and laughed, Alec moved across and the two cuddled together in desperation.
“There was one guest,” Andrew had whispered in the breaths between them, clutching tight at Alec’s own hands in eagerness. “he stood up for me and made the man stop touching me Alec! Then he kept making excuses for me not to leave his side for the rest of the night until he left, oh Allie, is it so bad that I’m a little enamoured?”
With a small chuckle Alec had shaken his head and wiped away the residual tears lingering on his friends cheek. “We must take kindness where we find it in this life Andy, if he showed you some respect and decency where we receive none, I cannot blame you for your feelings.” The two proceeded to giggle like the children they never were and huddle closer together at the sound of footsteps passing by their door.
“How was…” Andrew’s had voice trailed off, the suffocating silence around them more than making up for the question he refused to ask. Alec stayed silent for a moment, needing time to collect his thoughts, before peering pensively into the eyes of his closest friend. “Andy, I want to say it was bad, I mean it was, I hate being humiliated, so thoroughly abused for the enjoyment of others, but Magnus…”
His eyes twinkled in the moonlight, a shy blush appeared on his face as Andrew has elbowed him in the ribs, knowing that sometimes the slightly older boy could become lost in his memories. “Magnus, he was so gentle, so upset at what he had to do that he refused to hurt me, to take pleasure in violating me. My gods Andrew, he took his time to prepare me, smiled at me and gave me time to adjust, it was more than I could ever have hoped for.” The younger boy had smiled, never before seeing such light or happiness in his friends eyes or countenance and bundled closer in reassurance.”
“What happened when you left us?” he asked, voice giddy and childlike in wonder. He had seen his friend escorted out of the area by the gladiator but the need to complete his tasks for the evening took precedence and he’d been forced to turn from them before seeing anything more.
“He carried me to the door Andrew!” Alec’s voice had burst out, “actually carried me when he saw that I was limping. He even tried to apologise to me! When has a gladiator ever deigned to speak to us, let alone apologise for their actions. He was so sweet Andy, so attentive and caring.” The smaller boy’s smile held the warmth of a home when he looked at Alec and the two molded into each other as the exhaustion of the day truly caught up with them.
“I think I love him Andy.” Came the whisper.
“That’s okay.” Came the offered reply before the two slaves surrendered themselves to the moon’s eternal rays, both content in the knowledge that, for once in their lives, happiness, however fleeting, had found them and given them a night to relish and relax before the sun’s burning rays destroyed the fantasy they had built around themselves.
Slaves could never truly be happy.
With a loud snap Alec broke from his thoughts and saw, with mounted dread, as Valentine smiled lecherously at his guests before gesturing towards his position with a nod and leaving the room. He took a shaky breath and gently placed the wine jugs on a nearby stand, grateful for the second in which he could relax them by his sides, before a sharp whistle brought his attention back to the four men now surrounding him, each ogling at his body with glazed and hungry eyes.
“Come on then angel,” one of them spoke as his hand grabbed harshly at his hair, “Give us what that prick promised us.”
Alec simply smiled blankly and did as commanded; it was all he could do.
As you may have noticed the chapter number has once again risen because I am truly awful at chapter content management. Either way, I hope you enjoyed this chapter and please don't hesitate to comment on what you liked, didn't and any thing you want to see in the future - either in this story on in general.