CW/TW: Sexual assault, harassment, rape, victim-blaming NSFW I have recently started a series of blogs following the #TrumpTapes and the #WeAren’tJustStats hashtags on Twitter. The first three, When I Was Twelve, When I Was Thirteen and When I Was Fifteen can be viewed by clicking on the links. In my post We Aren’t Just Stats, there is an explanation as to […]

via #WeAren’tJustStats – This Is Rape Culture — The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise

As the US election draws ever closer, and the world awaits with baited breath to see if the unthinkable can come true, it’s worth taking a closer look at Donald Trump’s would-be vice-President, Mike Pence.

Pence is the Governor of the State of Indiana, a position he’s held since 2013, and his involvement in US politics goes back further. Trump has been clever to get Pence on-side, so to speak – his right-hand man has political experience.

Pence is in many ways the insidious side of Trump’s campaign. Whilst Trump (rightly) receives condemnation from various quarters for the things he’s been saying, Pence is arguably worse. No, that isn’t a typo. Mike Pence is a man who is decidedly dangerous in his views, across a range of subjects.

Abortion: Like Trump, Pence is anti-abortion and his state requires women to mourn and grieve the foetus, putting them through a traumatic experience during what will already be a difficult time. One of his constituents was actually jailed, though this sentence was overruled.

Sex Education: Pence seriously believes that abstinence education is better than using protection. I hope I don’t have to explain to anyone how stupid this is.



LBGT Rights: It’s probably not a surprise to learn that Pence doesn’t believe same-sex couples should have the right to marry and he wants to strip this right from them. More than that, Pence wants to remove any legal protections the LGBT community has.

There’s yet more. Pence is on record as saying that smoking doesn’t kill and he compared a ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It should speak volumes that Trump regards this man as the person he wants to serve alongside him.


Round 18 of the 2016 F1 season brings us to Austin, Texas, for the US Grand Prix – the fifth time this venue has hosted the race.

A circuit that has proven popular with drivers, due to a cherry-picking of elements from other tracks that has actually worked quite well, Austin has also proven popular with fans, and it appears to be popular with the Americans as well, with the event well-attended, year after year. Bernie’s long desired to crack the US market, and so far, so good with Austin.

Especially noteworthy parts of the track would have to include the sequence from turn 3 to turn 9, which borrows from Silverstone and Suzuka to create a windy, high-speed set of corners that test a driver’s mettle. Turns 1, 11 and 12 are obvious opportunities to overtake, though some may look to other, more unlikely points to have a go.

In the context of 2016, Lewis Hamilton comes here needing a win to keep his title hopes alive. He is at a stage where he can win every one of the remaining four races and still lose the title, so it is imperative that he doesn’t drop points today. He’s put his Mercedes on pole for the first time here, but pole position, especially this season, is no guarantee of victory. His teammate and championship leader Nico Rosberg lines up beside him, so the blast up the hill to the wide first corner should be interesting.

Lurking just behind the Mercs are the Red Bull pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Both are ‘punchy’ drivers who aren’t afraid to go for an overtake and the Red Bulls had good long-distance pace here in practice. Might they be the variable that upsets Hamilton or Rosberg today?


Ok, where do I even begin with this one?!

Sausage Party (I had to be very careful googling that to get the movie poster) is an animated adventure film, set in a supermarket, that deals with one sausage’s realisation that the promised land beyond the doors is in fact one great big lie. It’s also a film filled to the brim with swearing, sexual references and some very off-colour political humour.

As is now pretty much expected from animation, it all looks very slick and polished. The humour… the humour is twisted, and crude, and there’s a good chance it will offend at some stage – but behind all that lies a film I would best describe as ‘subversive’.

I’m not actually sure that’s the right word, but I can’t think of a better one right now. Sausage Party puts ideas of faith and truth under a microscope, as the characters – who have had unwavering faith in ‘The Great Beyond’ (paradise), come to suspect this might be one big lie. Confronted with evidence, some characters take it upon themselves to shove what they consider to be the new truth down everyone else’s throats – others rebuke the idea, preferring to believe in the Great Beyond, for that is easier. You can probably guess what they’re actually referring to.

There is subtlety here. It’s woven into the threads of a film that made waves for being brash and rude (which it is, it very much is!), but there is also cleverness.

I honestly don’t know if this is a film that can be easily enjoyed. If bad language offends you, don’t watch it, for it’s extremely heavy on the swears. In fact, my chief complaint is that there is an overload of swearing. I’m no prude (read my Greatest Ludus story, which is gradually going up on the site, and you’ll see that), but there were points where even I felt the swearing was getting out of hand. If sexual references offend you, don’t watch this movie. There’s a lot of that too (and the finale of the film goes nuts with this). If you don’t like close-to-the-mark political statements – well, there are a few of these as well.

Despite all that, I have to say that I actually enjoyed this film. It isn’t something I’d necessarily go out of my way to watch again, but I wouldn’t switch it off if it were on TV.


It was a rare thing for a gladiator to be given such an honour, but for Nimr, such events had been earned more than once. His final, glorious victory for the House of Nepos was to be marked by passage to a venue of much decadence and enjoyment- and for Nimr, a place that held treasures close to his heart.

Crispina’s House- a place of pleasure- or pain, if you preferred. A place of indulgence. Cloaked in simple garb and with hoods up to conceal themselves, Nepos and Nimr had made their way down busy streets, even as the hour grew late and the sun’s hue reddened.

Nimr didn’t know when he would next be able to come here. Would his new master reward victories with such rewards?

Nepos knocked. The door swung open, a beautiful- and naked- red-haired woman bade them entry, eying them both up. Nepos smiled politely but only his wife could hold his interest. Nimr’s tastes were entirely different.

Most of the rooms either side of the main corridor had their doors and covers closed, indicating they were occupied- though the noises alone were proof of that. Petillia Crispina herself, clothed in fine royal blue silk that was nearly see-through, stood proudly by the doors to her private chamber, and grinned widely as she spotted Nepos and Nimr.

“My…” She began, hips sauntering as she walked toward them. “I am honoured by the presence of Rome’s finest gladiator.” Her eyes twinkled with mischief. “To what do I owe this pleasure?” She placed a slight inflection upon the last word, and winked at them both.

“Nimr is here to celebrate his latest victory- and to bid the House of Nepos farewell. He wishes for a private celebration- with one that has been of good and sturdy company to him in the past.” Nepos replied.

Crispina’s smile grew wider. “I see.” She faced Nimr, winked again. “Allow me to summon him for you.”

She swept back into her chamber- and within a few moments returned with the Moor that had previously welcomed Nepos to the house. “Ekwueme stands ready for you Nimr. You will notice that one of the rooms has just become available.” Sure enough, two men of older vintage and a rather younger woman were slipping out of one of the private rooms.

“Enjoy.” She grinned as Nimr smiled at Ekwueme. She shot Nepos a brief glance, one that suggested they should talk.

“Come my love.” Said Nimr, offering a hand to Ekwueme.

“Heh, I suspect this will not be the first time tonight you say those words.” Ekwueme, of a figure nearly as imposing as Nimr’s, took the gladiator’s hand and the two of them made their way into the room.

“I do hope they control themselves a little more this time. They cracked the bedposts last time.” Crispina mused.

“Indeed- Nimr is a powerful fellow.” Replied Nepos.

“I believe Ekwueme did most of the damage. I have seen him in training. Once he builds up a head of steam, well…” Her thoughts seemed to wander for a moment. “That poor man lasted only a few minutes with that big black cock inside him before he lost his seed. I had to help Ekwueme reach satisfaction myself.”

Nepos didn’t know what to say to that.

“Come Nepos, we should break words.” She grinned, pushing open the door to her chamber. “I won’t bite. Unless of course you want me to.”

Nepos chuckled despite himself. “Do you ever give up?” He crossed the threshold, and the door swung shut.

“If I gave up at the first setback I would not have the fortune I have today.” She walked toward her dresser, shaking her hips flirtatiously. “Wine?”

“Please.” Nepos took a seat. “What is the matter you wish to discuss?”

“Oh Nepos…” Crispina returned with the wine, and took a seat close to him. “Or can I call you Titus?” Nepos nodded. “Straight to business aren’t we. A pity, I could gladly provide you with some added experience- I’m sure your wife would appreciate the new techniques.”

Nepos laughed. “I am flattered by your persistence but I must decline. I love my wife too much to consider such a deed.”

Crispina took a sip from her goblet. “Such a good man you are! Well Titus, it is because you are a good man that I feel urged to warn you- I have heard whispers that the stock you shall receive as replacement for Nimr will be sub-standard. Someone out there bears a grudge against you Titus- someone powerful, and they wish to see you fall.”

Nepos held his goblet steady, somehow. “What do you mean?”

Crispina placed her drink beside her and took Nepos’ hand in her own. “Titus, since we met it has become clear to me that you are a good man. You are a loving husband. You are gracious and kind toward your warriors. You treat people with respect and dignity. Yet you have enemies. Enemies who seek to undermine you. I am warning you of this because I cannot bear to see a good man fall due to the grudges of old, bitter men.”


“Aaaah, Ekwu, you torturer you…” Nimr groaned as Ekwueme rubbed his erect length against Nimr’s own. Nimr had been restrained with rope, easy enough for him to escape from but the game was most fun.

“Hush now. Remember, if you make but a sound, you will get nothing…” Ekwueme grinned, ran his hands over Nimr’s thighs, and stomach, and let his own hard cock rest against Nimr’s leg. Nimr gazed hungrily at him, desperate for more, yet bit his lip as Ekwueme’s hands explored his body.

There was pain in his heart though, which he hid from his eyes, thanks to years of practice. Tonight could be the last time he would hold Ekwueme’s body in his arms. There was so much love in the Moor’s eyes, and the prospect of never seeing them again…

Nimr pushed the thought from his mind, focusing instead on how Ekwu’s hands were working his shaft. It felt glorious, but still he did not make a sound.


Nepos paced the room, agitated beyond belief.

“Who would wish me and my loved ones harm? I have offended no one, assaulted no one. What manner of man would seek to destroy me?”

Crispina remained seated. “It is not because of you they take action. All I understand is, it has something to do with your grandfather.”

Nepos snapped around to face her. “What could my grandfather have done?”

“I do not know. As I have said, I have heard but whispers. I know of but one man who make hold more information. Marcus Octavius Paulus.”

For a moment fury swept up in Nepos’ heart. Paulus had been the broker- how much had he been manipulating him? Then a very different notion struck him.

“Paulus? Am I not to meet him here, tomorrow, to confirm my decision?”

There was strong warning in Crispina’s eyes. “Do not challenge Paulus. He holds the ear of the most powerful forces in Rome. He is not against you Titus- for him, everything is business- make an enemy of him, and there will surely be no way back.”

Nepos looked grim. “Nevertheless, he could part words on what he knows of this plot.”

Crispina snorted. “Paulus did not get to where he is because he has a loose tongue. What could you offer him that could persuade him to spill his thoughts?”


For Nimr, the surrender of power was liberating.

His body was upon all fours, hands tied to the bedposts in front of him by rope. His legs were tied behind him in similar fashion. Ekwueme did love to torment him.

He’d let powerful hands stroke his thighs, which had made him shiver. He’d felt Ekwueme’s hands cup his balls and massage his hard cock, which he had loved. Now He felt Ekwueme behind him, and he knew what was coming next.

“How much more can a man take before he is given what he desires most?” Groaned Nimr.

“It is better to let desire peak before satisfying it…” Nimr could almost hear Ekwueme’s evil grin.

But Ekwueme was ready to relent anyway- he too wanted this, and as he slowly started to thrust, Nimr forgot about the pain that was waiting for him tomorrow and gave himself to the moment…


Nepos was seated once more, his head in his hands. He had no idea what to do.

“I have nothing to offer a man like Paulus. I cannot offer him coin- he does not need it. I cannot appeal to his good nature- men like him do not have one. You say I should not threaten him, lest I bring the wrath of all of Rome upon me. There is nothing I can do.”

Crispina’s normally sensual demure was completely gone now. “I am sorry Titus. I had thought it better you know the truth, but the truth can be a burden. Perhaps I should never have parted words on this subject.” She looked contrite.

“No, no, I am grateful to know the truth. At least if the path chosen for him is still the one I must tread, I can face it more like a lion than a lamb to unwitting slaughter.”

“Hmm, true. In such circumstances I would feel the same. I wish there was more I could offer you. If this relates in some way to your grandfather then perhaps…” A thought was now taking hold. “Perhaps you should speak to those who knew him. Perhaps he left documents to be found, or news with consorts and friends.”

Nepos nodded. “Grandfather was a gladiator of great worth in his youth and much loved. He was respected as a dominus of a ludus as well.”

“Then make this the first place you look.”


Nimr was screaming in ecstasy but the horrible knowledge that lurked in the back of his mind refused to leave. He could feel Ekwueme’s massive cock throb inside of him and relished in how there was nothing he could do but take it. Sweat dripped off them both as they rutted, and Ekwueme groaned in pleasure as he neared the ultimate moment.

Nimr was struggling to resist that himself. If this was to be the last time then he wanted them to peak together.

“I don’t believe I can prevent my surge any longer…” Ekwueme panted, and reached a hand around to caress Nimr’s length as he did. That was the final trigger, and the two of them hit the height of pleasure at the same time- just as Nimr had wanted.

Soon he would sink lower than he thought possible.

A warning for the readers – this is where the content – which was rated 18 anyway – gets even more 18+. You’ve been warned!


“Mmmm, my husband, you are excelling today…” Etruscilla shivered from lust.

She straddled Nepos’ lips, indulging in playful, teasing flicks of his tongue, right in her most sensitive regions. His hands stroked her hips and swatted her buttocks, and she would have giggled, if not for that tongue, probing and teasing away…

They had returned to their villa and ludus, celebrating Nimr’s latest victory, and the coin that had come with it. Nepos’ heart was still heavy with the burden of telling Nimr he was to be sold, but Etruscilla had persuaded him to savour the moment- so he savoured.

His tongue lapped at her and she moaned, closing her eyes and reaching back with her left hand to rake her nails across his stomach, which in turn made him groan into her. She enjoyed that, so she did it again. Her body arched as pleasure swept through her, her passion rising.

But she didn’t want things to happen too quickly. She lifted her hips up, temporarily leaving her husband’s welcome tongue, and turned, placing herself back upon them, but now looking down Nepos’ handsome body.

“My, if you are already at attention then one wonders what would happen were my lips to take you in dear husband.” She teased, her fingers scratching gently around his cock but not quite touching him.

“I can endure more than you think.” He replied, having parted his tongue from her for just a moment, before resuming his delightful dance.

“Mmmm, we shall see…” Etruscilla purred, leaning over, holding the base of his shaft in her left hand as her tongue licked at the tip. Nepos groaned softly, and gasped when her lips engulfed his cock and applied firm, wet suction.

Their tongues weaved and rubbed and stroked each other’s most sensitive regions, and they both groaned as lustful heat pulsed through their bodies. They were as one now, perfectly attuned to the needs of each other, driving each other further and further up their sensual spiral.

There was far more to it than the passion of the act. This was love, deep and powerful, both determined to satisfy the other. Etruscilla, for her part, began to bob her head, picking up the pace, slurping hungrily upon Nepos, who was starting to pant into her. She could feel how hard he was, knew how much she was pleasing him, and that only served to heighten her arousal. As for her, she felt so wet, and knew that she wasn’t going to take much more of his tongue- which made her determined to finish him off first.

Still, she stopped for a moment, just letting her hands caress his length.

“So dear husband, it would seem you are nearing the limits of your stamina.” She teased, before diving back down upon him.

“Mmmm, I don’t think so- aaah… well… perhaps.” He let out a gasp as she sucked away, starting to edge toward the point of no return. “But I don’t think you can last much longer either.”

Etruscilla chuckled. “I dare say you are right.”

Their mutual pleasure only grew as they each worked their magic on the other. Etruscilla closed her eyes, moaning passionately against Nepos’ hard cock, feeling every little vibration from his own groans move through her. She couldn’t let him win, she couldn’t… yet he was good, and he was working harder now, his lovely warm tongue doing all the right moves in all the right places…

It was too much for her to take. Her body was weaker than her spirit, and she couldn’t help but reach climax with a shriek. She had to stop sucking him, and let out a deep, powerful cry as her orgasm wracked her body. She trembled, loving every magnificent moment, until finally she came down from the peak of her esctasy.

“I am not to be outdone dear husband.” She said, and slowly started to lick his cock once again. She lapped at him, took him into her mouth again, licking and sucking with fevour, knowing he was already close- she could feel it. She felt his body tighten, felt him tense, and felt his passionate cry as he reached orgasm. He erupted, and she pulled back, letting his seed fall to his chest as he came.

When they were both spent, she curled up into Nepos’ arms, fingers idly caressing his chest.

“You know what you must do now.” She said softly.

Nepos stared at the ceiling. “Yes. It is a weight around my neck that I fear will only tighten once I break the news with him.” His eyes focused on hers. “Nimr is more than slave or gladiator. He is a friend, that I have known all my life. Now I must tell him we are to part ways, and one day he will be a rival in the arena, fighting against my house, not for it. To give such thoughts voice to you is hardship enough. To give them voice to Nimr will be… agony.”

Etruscilla nodded. “Yet in your heart you know he will understand, if not immediately then in time. If this house is to survive, you must both make sacrifices.”

“True.” Nepos sighed. “Yet some sacrifices are harder than others. I should go now, speak with him, get this done with. Then I can arrange to meet with Marcus and conclude business.”

Etruscilla nodded again. “Perhaps you should let Nimr enjoy one final night here. I can make arrangements for him and the other to celebrate his final victory in the manner most befitting a man of his stature.”

Nepos smiled despite himself. “I can only imagine what that will be.”

“The gleam in Etruscilla’s eyes was most revealing. “Now dear husband, you know precisely what it will be.”

“True. However, I should not delay the inevitable. Nimr needs to know, and the sooner the better.” Nepos gently shifted out from under Etruscilla’s body. “I shall speak with him now, and let tonight be a celebration of his entire time here.”

Etruscilla propped herself up with an elbow. “If you feel now is the right time. Do not be saddened Titus- you are only doing what you must, and Nimr will understand.”

“I hope so.”


The clash of wooden training swords continued under Nimr’s watchful gaze. The warriors upon the sands of the ludus practised without relenting, determined not to fall foul of Nimr’s wrath, even though the hot sun beat down upon them. Nepos moved in the shadows, watching from behind the coluums that supported the balcony, as his gladiators clashed, trying to learn and impress.

“All of you, again! Use your body- move like liquid! If you are stiff and unyielding you will become easy prey!” Nimr’s voice boomed over the sands. He was clearly unimpressed thus far with the efforts of his trainees.

“Nimr!” Nepos barked, stepping out onto the sands. All the gladiators now turned, bowing their heads in deference to their master.

“Dominus. I am surprised to see you here.” Nimr likewise bowed.

Nepos walked slowly across the sands, sandals kicking it up as he moved. “I would have words Nimr. Please accompany me.”

“Of course Dominus.” Nimr bowed again, then turned and faced the rest of the assembled warriors. “Continue until I return. Remember what I have told and shown you!”

Up in the cooler, marbled main chamber, light gossamar curtains waved gently in a light breeze that had picked up. Nimr stood in nothing but his leathered garments that protected his modesty, looking decidedly out of place next to the smaller, yet fully clothed Nepos, whose blue one-piece attire revealed only his arms and legs.

Nepos picked up a jug from a table in the corner of the room, and poured two goblets of wine. “This is not the stuff that would normally grace a gladiator’s lips. This wine is from the finest vineyards in the Empire. It is reserved for the very wealthy and the very important. My father kept it stored for years, knowing it would be saved for special occasions.” He turned, offered a goblet to Nimr. “I deem today to be such an occasion.”

Nimr nodded, and took the offered drink. “I am honoured Dominus, yet I do not know what I have done to merit such a gesture.”

Nepos smiled sadly. “You have done much for this house Nimr. More than can be expressed in one conversation. I will always be grateful for your contributions here.”

Nimr cocked his head quizzically. “You refer to these deeds in the past tense. Something is wrong.”

“Correct. I wish it were not the case, but circumstances have left me no choice.” Nepos looked Nimr squarely, his eyes very clear. “You are to be sold Nimr. Arrangements have been made.” Nepos tried to keep his voice from cracking. “It is with a heavy heart, but if I do not, this house and ludus will become a faded ruin by year’s end.”

Nimr tried to keep his composure but it was a struggle. “How? I have given everything in pursuit of glory for your name! Am I worth nothing but coin to this house?” His voice rose, as shock turned to anger.

“Of course not! Nimr, you are like a brother to me!” Tears started to well up in Nepos’ eyes. “If I had but another option, anything else that I could do, I would do it! But I don’t!” He stepped toward Nimr, arms spread out, pleading. “This decision has torn my heart from my chest Nimr! I wish nothing more than to proudly proclaim your entry to the arena, but if I do not sell, my wife, our friends, all of us will be cast out onto the streets!”

Biting his tongue, Nimr closed his eyes, turned away for a moment. When he looked back, the tears in his eyes mirrored Nepos’ own. “When am I to leave?”

Nepos swallowed. “Tomorrow. Which is why tonight will be a night of celebration in your honour, at the most appropriate venue.”

The Tiger and the Butcher faced each other on the sands. Sigivald was nursing a couple of wounds- his chest had been sliced into on the left side of his ribcage, and there was a small cut above his right knee. His right cheek was bruised but not too badly. The one injury that troubled him was his broken left forearm, which throbbed with pain.

Nimr was largely unhurt. One or two kicks had landed upon him but he felt completely fine. He wielded Sigivald’s original weapon, a ball and chain, and he swung it gently as Sigivald readied his sword.

The mace was not Nimr’s first choice of weapon. It was heavy and clumsy. Unfortunately his sword was the other side of the arena, so he had to make do. As it was, he’d broken Sigivald’s arm with it, so it was at least proving a little useful.

Sigivald cried out in red-hot rage as he charged Nimr. Not trusting the ball and chain to find the target, Nimr launched it but across himself and Sigivald, the chain stretching out. Sigivald ran straight into the chain, which wrapped itself around his knees, and he tumbled to the floor. He grunted in pain as the impact jarred his injured arm, but righted himself quickly. He span round, expecting Nimr to be running for his sword- so when a shard of wood from his broken shield pierced his right eye, he not only screamed from the sheer agony, but from shock as well.

He staggered backwards, dropping his sword as blood poured around the wood now stuck in his eyeball. Somehow he managed to slip his helmet off- long blond hair was matted and damp from sweat- and slowly pulled the piece of wood from his eye, a process that caused him even more pain. When it was free what was left of his eye was a bloody mess, and all of a sudden Sigivald felt sick.

Nimr raised his arms aloft.

“So this is the great warrior of Capua? The famous Butcher? Ladies and Gentlemen, I am not impressed!”

The locals approved his admonition. They cheered his name as Sigivald continued to stagger.

“So, how shall you die Butcher?” Asked Nimr casually. He picked up Sigivald’s own sword, testing the weight, swapping it between his hands.

“Fuck you!” Came the angry reply.

Nimr chuckled. “How can you without a cock?”

Sigivald grabbed one of the larger pieces of his broken shield and hurled it at Nimr, but it wasn’t even on target. Nimr launched himself into a run, almost skipping across the sands, and though Sigivald tried to get out of the way, the Butcher could do nothing to avoid the sweeping sword as it cut through his left arm, taking it completely away. Blood spurted everywhere and Sigivald screamed again. Nimr brought his fist into the other man’s teeth, snapping three of them off at the gum line. A hearty kick to the stomach sent the Butch stumbling, and he fell to his knees.

Nimr brought the blade to Sigivald’s neck. His stricken foe raised his head to stare at him with his one good eye, and defiant rage burned there.

Up on the balcony, a rather portly man, wrapped in a cream toga, shot daggers at Nepos’ back. Sextus was angry, to put it mildly.

“Good people of Rome, this fight is nearly at its end. Nimr has once conquered his prey! The only question remains, shall Sigivald live, or die?”

The audience stamped their feet, and cheered, and roared. They began, as one, to chant one word- ‘KILL’.

Nimr looked to Nepos, who held his thumb out straight. Sigivald closed his eye, and took a deep breath. He did not expect to live.

Sure enough, Nepos pointed his thumb down. Nimr glanced back down at his opponent, and swung his blade. Sigivald’s head fell to the sands. His body collapsed a moment later.


“This is beyond outrageous! That whelp has cost me much coin in future earnings!” Sextus stormed into the local hall that doubled as Castrense’s ‘administrative’ centre. He walked straight up to a small table with a rather large vase filled with beautiful potted honeysuckle flowers- and shoved the vase to the ground. It shattered in hundreds of pieces on the black marble floor.

“Calm yourself Sextus. The fight was fair. You boasted of Sigivald’s prowess and you were warned of Nimr’s impressive record, so any loss of coin is your own doing.” Maccina Severina, wearing an elaborate royal blue robe that distracted from the silver strands in her brunette hair, walked around the ruined vase. Water trickled toward her sandals and so she kept moving.

“I do not recall inviting your opinion Maccina.” Spat Sextus. “As a woman, what can you possibly know of the arena?”

“More than you might think Sextus, and you would be wise not to take such tone with my wife.” Caius Maccius Metellus, a relatively short man, like Sextus out of shape but not nearly to the same degree, and unlike his wife completely grey, turned his sharp brown eyes to the other man as he entered the hall. “Maccina has seen many a contest in the arena, a fact you will do well to remember. She is also the wife of a senator, another fact you would be wise to remember.”

Sextus looked like he had more to say, but instead took in a breath.

“Apologies. This has been a difficult day, and I did not mean to place blame on your shoulders my lady.”

“Accepted.” Maccina smiled. “And do not worry Sextus, you will be compensated. Young Nepos has powerful enemies, and even now they move against him. It will not be long before he is destitute.”

Sextus switched his gaze between the married couple. “I would dearly love to see him destroyed.”

“As would I.” Replied Caius. “Nepos and his family have inflicted much hurt upon my own down the years. It is therefore fitting that revenge should be thoroughly and equally painful- which it will be.”

Sextus snorted. “You are a senator. Why not simply have Nepos arrested for any arbitary reason you desire, and be done with the arrogant whelp?”

“Because such a move would be entirely lacking in satisfaction.” Replied Caius with a grin. “I wish to see Nepos ground beneath my heel, not dealt with quickly. There is no enjoyment to be had from that. Trust me though- Nepos will get what’s coming to him.”

As Praxites made his way from the arena the audience cheered. They had enjoyed the bloody spectacle of his execution of five thieves, and they eagerly awaited the next fight. As the guards dragged the bodies from the arena, Nepos raised his hands to request silence.

“Now good citizens of Rome, we welcome, all the way from Capua, one of the House of Sextus’ finest warriors. Many times has Sigivald- known to the good people of Capua simply as ‘The Butcher’- left behind many bloodied bodies in the arena. Today, you get to witness his prowess first hand!”

More cheering. The crowd was in boisterous form. Once again the far gate opened, revealing the one they called the Butcher.

At over six feet tall, it was difficult to make much out about the man. He wore a helmet that revealed only his eyes, nose and mouth, and was clad in thick leather armour. In his right hand he carried a large, spiky, ball and chain mace- his left a thick wooden shield.

“Today he faces the best we have to offer- one you all know and love. One I know you enjoy watching. The great and mighty tiger Nimr!”

If the crowd had been loud before they were deafening now. Nimr was the hero of the Castrense Arena, and the crowd adored him. Nimr entered the arena floor, clad very differently to Sigivald.

Nimr had always eschewed heavy armour and large shields. Underneath the hot Roman sun, and on the soft crunchy sands, he wanted to be as light as possible. He sported a small oval shield of light metal on his right arm, and wielded an impressive sword in his left, but aside from leather boots and shorts he wore nothing. His dark brown hair was kept as short as possible, and his passionate green eyes were focused entirely on his opponent as the two drew closer.

“Begin!” Came Nepos’ voice from the balcony, where the elite watched. Nimr smiled. It was time to give himself to the freedom of battle.

“I will tear you limb from limb, and reveal you not as a tiger but as a pussy.” Spat Sigivald. For a change, Nimr did not have to look down to look his enemy in the eye.

“Words are meaningless, especially from a man who hides his face.”

Sigivald didn’t like that. He roared and charged, and swung his mace above his head, then launched it at Nimr’s chest. Nimr simply side-stepped to his left, and the mace clattered into the sands. As Sigivald started to pull it back Nimr bolted toward him, swinging his sword for the other man’s ribcage, but Sigivald was wise to him and thrust his shield out, which splintered ever so slightly as Nimr’s sword smashed into it. The ‘Butcher’ pushed out, and Nimr was pushed back, his sword coming loose from Sigivald’s shield as it did. By now Sigivald was ready with his mace again, and swung it out quickly at Nimr’s legs.

Nimr jumped over it, and then again as Sigivald quickly readied it and attacked again. The third swing was for Nimr’s head, and it was easy enough to duck, though he also moved to the left, in case Sigivald tried anything elaborate. He hadn’t yet put his shield to the test against the mace, because he suspected it would offer little resistance, and he had to keep sharp, for if that spiky ball caught him even once…

The crowd cheered each time Nimr dodged the swinging weapon, but he couldn’t do this forever. He had to change the game.

The mace came out for Nimr again, and this time he dodged to his right. As he did so, he drove his sword down, through one of the links in the chain and into the sands. With Sigivald’s one and only weapon stuck, Nimr darted toward the other man again.

Sigivald dropped the chain and tried to catch Nimr in the jaw with his shield, but Nimr was quick- he ducked underneath the attack, punched Sigivald in the stomach as hard as he could, and swung for his ribs with the sharp edge of his own shield.

The thin metal shield didn’t have a lot of penetrating power, especially against Sigivald’s thick leather, but it was swung with such strength that Nimr managed, however slightly, to slice through the armour and into skin. Sigivald howled, and hurled a fist at Nimr’s face, which the Tiger managed to evade simply by leaning back. Sigivald kicked out, catching Nimr in his left hip, but it wasn’t a very good effort. Nimr rolled backwards, kicking at the chain that now lay on the floor, and scooped up his sword again.

The two man faced each other. Where Sigivald’s eyes had held such confidence and venom earlier, now they held caution.

Nimr grinned. He would never choose the mace- unwieldy, even in experienced hands, it could certainly kill with a single blow but landing that blow was very difficult. Plus, as he had demonstrated, it was a weapon easily removed.

Sigivald however, was no fool. He reached to his side- and unsheathed a hidden sword that had been disguised by his armour. Slightly smaller than Nimr’s own weapon, it looked well-made as it shimmered in the sunlight.

“Come at me then Butcher. Or is it you who is the pussy?” Taunted Nimr. Sigivald snarled and charged.

Their swords crashed against each other in a dizzying whirl of movement. The two men pirouetted, appearing to dance, yet as fluid as their movements looked this was a fierce fight to the death. Shields blocked fatal strikes, flesh was narrowly brought out of reach, and sparks flew as the steel blades struck one another. For Nimr, his shield was starting to be a burden.

Being quite flimsy, it was denting, even tearing where Sigivald’s sword hammered away at it. Deciding to ditch the rapidly deteriorating shield, Nimr kicked out at Sigivald, knocking him back a little, then tore it away. Sigivald looked as though he wasn’t sure whether to smile or be worried, then came back at Nimr.

Nimr did the unexpected. He kicked the sand up into Sigivald’s face, stopping him in his tracks for just an instant. He slashed out for Sigivald’s right hip, just catching it with the tip of his blade before Sigivald re-orientated himself and tried to slash his throat. Nimr rolled away, in a very specific direction, and Sigivald growled.

“Cowardly fuck!” The Butcher roared. “You claim to seek battle yet you keep running away!”

“Then why are you the one bleeding?” Retorted Nimr.

Sigivald snarled again. He once again ran at Nimr, his sword held at his side. He swung for Nimr’s neck again, and Nimr jumped back, flicking his sword across Sigivald’s right cheek. The helmet prevented serious injury but the crunch of steel upon steel still managed to hurt. Before Sigivald could react, Nimr kicked him hard in the stomach. Sigivald staggered backward, but bared his teeth and came back once again. He slashed his sword quickly, forcing Nimr to retreat and parry with all of his skill, but Nimr was silently pleased. He shimmied backwards just in time to avoid his left leg getting gored, and took another cheeky swipe at Sigivald, slicing the Butcher’s leg just above his right knee.

Enraged, Sigivald finally managed to land a blow- he kicked out with his left leg, catching Nimr in the chest. Nimr stumbled, the breath knocked from him, and though he blocked Sigivald’s attempt to slice down his chest, he could do nothing to stop Sigivald’s heavy shield, which crashed into his right hip and sent him sprawling, dropping his sword.

Sigivald kicked the sword away and tried to impale Nimr upon the sands, but Nimr rolled out of the way and got back to his feet. Winding up weaponless had not been part of his original plan and now Sigivald stalked him, his eyes full of bloodlust. Nimr was hoping to get around the other man and get his sword back, but Sigivald was cleverly covering that option.

So Nimr went for something else instead.

The chains beneath his feet as he retreated across the arena belonged the ball and chained-mace that had failed so miserably earlier to be a burden to Nimr. He stepped back, scooping up as much of the chain as possible, then held his ground.

Sigivald sneered, then charged forward again. His sword came around, aiming to end the fight swiftly… So when Nimr launched the spiked iron ball directly at him, Sigivald’s eyes widened in shock, just before the ball smashed into his shield, shattering it and breaking his left forearm in the process, not to mention sending him crashing to the ground.

The Butcher shrieked in pain. The crowd went wild, cheering and applauding their hero. But Nimr knew the fight was not over. Sigivald, holding his injured left arm to his side, slowly rose again. What was left of his shield lay in pieces on the arena floor.

“When I gouge the eyes from your lifeless face I will skull-fuck you you worthless shit!” He screamed. Nimr laughed.

Five against one. Well, four against one, as Numerius was bleeding out slowly from several wounds, and struggling to remain on his feet, let alone fight. Praxites faced Appius, a young man, actually slightly taller than Praxites and not of unreasonable build, but hardly a gladiator, either in body or mind. The thief’s eyes held fear and fury, and though his right knee was bruised, he was standing his ground.

Worse for Praxites, his former comrades were closing too.

Mamercus, Titus and Servius. None of them were particularly noteworthy. One had long wavy black hair, the other blond, and the third short brown hair. None of them looked like they’d washed in days. Praxites had no idea who was who. They advanced together, slowly moving outwards to entrap him.

But Praxites, though new to the arena, though rough around the edges, was prepared. When Titus lunged forward Praxites rolled across the sands, his sword trailing in his right hand, which then came sweeping around, aiming straight for Titus’ right thigh.

His sword cleaved through flesh and bone, nearly but not quite severing the leg. Just a tiny piece of flesh remained, and blood burst out from severed arteries, like a fountain. It felt like hot rain upon Praxites’ body, and the scream that came from Titus’ lips was like a beautiful melody.

The shock in the eyes of Titus’ fellow thieves was amazing. Their comrade fell, his life’s blood flowing from his body, his screams fading to whimpers. So paralysing was their shock that Mamercus didn’t move when Praxites picked up Titus’ sword and flung it in his direction. Mamercus still didn’t move when the sword pierced his heart, though he did cough up blood.

As Mamercus collapsed, Servius looked like he didn’t know whether to scream or cry. The soppy-looking lad brushed his blond hair from his eyes held his sword up, as the blood-soaked Praxites began to walk toward him.

Servius backed away, but there was nowhere to truly run. The crowd was on their feet, roaring with delight. Praxites grinned and Servius shuddered. He tried shouting and screaming at Praxites, trying in vain to intimdate him, but to no avail.

“How shall you die?” Asked Praxites casually. “Shall I make it quick, and cleave your head from your shoulders? Or shall I carve a hundred wounds into you and let you die slowly upon the sands?”

“Fuck you!” Spat Servius. He lunged forward, sword slashing manically. Praxites calmly blocked or side-stepped every attack, blocking a couple with his shield for good measure, backing up a few times, before stepping forward, shield slamming against Servius’ chest. He jumped, planting both boots heavily against the young man’s chest and sent him sprawling.

Appius had not been idle, but he could only limp. It was all too easy for Praxites, who evaded the slightly surprising slash of sword, then, with Appius off balance, drove his steel into his stomach, and twisted the blade.

Appius staggered, blood pouring down his body. He looked up at Praxites, eyes full of indignation, before flopping to the ground.

Servius was back on his feet, screaming obscenities at Praxites. Perhaps Appius had meant something to him- Praxites didn’t really care. Sword met sword as the two duelled, Servius’ rage granting him greater energy.

It did not however, grant him greater skill. Praxites easily deflected every blow, then used his shield to trap Servius’ sword, and slammed his sword into Servius’ ribcage.

The satisfying crack of bone was music to Praxites’ ears, and as his sword came away, his boot slammed into Servius stomach. Shield then smashed into jaw, and sword just below navel. Praxites sliced outward, spilling Servius’ intestines to the arena floor.

Servius somehow remained on his feet, shaking. The crowd’s roar sent shivers down Praxites’ spine. His next two quick swipes removed the thief’s arms, and blood erupted across the sands again. In one quick movement, Praxites then parted head from shoulders, and laughed from the freedom of battle as Servius’ body fell.

Numerius had fallen to the sands, but was not yet dead. He struggled to stand again, as Praxites walked casually over to him, and plunged his sword through Numerius’ chest. He raised his hands aloft, and the crowd chanted his name. It felt good.