Titus Norbanus Nepos was not a man to be crossed, literally or figuratively, as he marched down the streets toward his home. The sun was beating down upon him but the storm clouds gathering in his heart and the eyes of thunder would have been terrifying to anyone who looked into them. He knew the truth (well, part of the truth anyway), and part of him wanted to confront the men responsible for his predicament immediately. In fact, he was burning with so much fury that he didn’t know how he wasn’t heading straight to those responsible right now.
But Nepos knew he had to be careful, measured in his response. If he tipped his hand now, he would have less control later. He could end up the target for stronger measures, ones he could not resist. So instead he continued home. It was time to think and to plan.
The cool chamber that housed the bath was the first place he went to. He needed to immerse himself in cold water and cleanse his mind and body of his anger, if only for a moment.
His servants had initially come to his aid but Nepos had requested to be alone. Privacy was what he needed- that and to occupy his mind, even with just simple tasks like filling the bath with water.
When the pool was waist deep Nepos had waded in quickly, then dipped his whole body beneath the surface. Almost immediately he felt refreshed. As the water washed over and cooled his body, it cooled his anger as well.
Yet his resolve burned hot. Nepos knew that he had to confront his enemies but he needed a way to get under their skin, to calmly secret himself into their lives the way they had done to him. With his head slipping underwater, Nepos considered the various ways he could strike back.
When he brought his head back up, his wife, Etruscilla, was standing by the water’s edge, slipping free from her toga. Normally Nepos would be excited to see his wife undress, but he was too deep in thought to appreciate her form. Etruscilla’s initial smile at her husband faded to worry as she took to the water, and she crossed to him quickly.
“What is wrong Titus?” Her eyes implored him.
“I know now what my grandfather’s transgression was.” He replied quietly.
“What happened?” Etruscilla asked softly.
Nepos looked her straight in the eyes. Her soft brown hair grew wet and her face grew still more worried.
“My grandfather offended a senator of the Republic. I do not know how or why, I only know that somehow, he did this, and it cost him dearly. He became a gladiator because he was sentenced to death in the arena and defied his sentence. From there he rose to become the leader of this house, and the rest is well known.”
Etruscilla was silent for a moment, but placed a hand on Nepos’ shoulder. “Your grandfather was a good man- everything I have heard about him tells me this. How could he have offended anyone, let alone a senator?”
“I wish I knew. However, I know of one who knows the details. I need to make him break words on the subject.”
“Marcus Octavius Paulus.”
Etruscilla’s eyes went wide. “Titus, you cannot challenge him.”
“So I have been told.” Nepos smiled. “Do not worry, I will not take rash action. However, he must have a weakness, one I can exploit.”
Etruscilla’s eyes sparkled. “Your clever mind is one of the reasons I am so attracted to you dear husband. I have no doubt you will find such a weakness. Just as I am keen to find yours…” Nepos gasped as Etruscilla reached under the water and grabbed for Nepos’ member. “Hmm, so small at present.”
“Ideas grow when properly massaged.” Replied Nepos playfully.
“Mmm, that they do…” She started to tug gently and Nepos felt the familar lustful sensation move through his loins. “See how your ‘idea’ grows already.”
She kissed him, pressing her breasts against his chest, and Nepos kissed her back. His hands moved over her buttocks and squeezed, and she moaned against his lips. Her hand gripped firmer now, stroking him sweetly, and he ducked his head to nibble upon her neck.
If there was one guaranteed to arouse him, it was Etruscilla’s hands anywhere on his body. Her touch was electrifying, so much so that he had to push her hand away.
“This idea has peaked…” He murmured into her ear.
“Mmm, not yet I hope…” Her voice was light, sultry. She turned around, and bent over the side of the pool, inviting him. “Come and ‘peak’ within me.”
He did not need to be asked twice. Following her, it did not take Nepos any time to slide his hard cock within her, and he cupped her left breast as he started to thrust. She let out gasps of delight and pushed back against him, and purred when he kissed and bit at her neck and shoulders.
For a time, they rutted, and Nepos forgot all about Paulus and his plans.
When their passion had been sated, they had departed to the bed chamber. Their bodies were curled up together, and Nepos was running his fingers through Etruscilla’s soft brown hair.
“You give me such strength my dear wife.” He said quietly.
“I merely help you find the strength you already have.” She smiled back at him.
“No, you grant me more than you know. This is but one reason why I love you, out of many.”
“You flatter me.” Etruscilla’s smile grew. “The new recruits shall be here soon.”
“Yes. Fifteen sub-standard acquisitions. Somehow, I must make Paulus spill his secrets.” Nepos sighed. “I have yet to work out what I can offer him.”
“What does a man like Paulus crave? That is what we must find out.” Etruscilla propped herself up on an elbow. “Knowledge is of great importance to him. Power is of great desire to him.”
Nepos’ eyes widened. “That’s it!” He sat up. “Paulus loves power. His knowledge is the greatest source of power we know of, and it means everything to him. It grants him tremendous control.”
“Then that is what we must offer him. Control.”
Nimr stepped out of the shadows of the viewers’ gallery above him and onto the training sands, and one by one several gladiators of impressive physique turned to look at him. He met their surly stares with steel- if they did not warm to him it was of no concern to him.
He was not going to be Doctore here, not yet. A large Roman man with a whip was aggressively cracking it at other new recruits, who looked terrified. Others were lifting blocks of marble and large rocks, attempting to strengthen their muscles. Nimr ignored them.
The Doctore was about to snap the whip against the back of a hapless gladiator when his eyes came across Nimr. They narrowed, containing a mixture of curiosity and disgust.
Nimr took the opportunity to size him up as they exchanged glances. The Doctore was nearly as tall as he was, with olive skin and a scar across his right cheek. His body was well-toned, without being too bulky. It was very likely that he was quite quick. One or two small scars criss-crossed his stomach, but aside from that he looked unscathed for someone who had risen to the rank of Doctore at a major ludus. Nimr was reasonably confident he could handle the man in a fight.
“HOLD!” Boomed the Doctore’s loud voice. Everyone else froze, and their eyes turned to him.
The whip fell to the ground and the Doctore dragged it across the sands as he strolled toward Nimr. Nimr’s eyes never left those of the Doctore, which as he got closer Nimr noted were ice-blue.
“So, this is the famous Nimr, the Tiger, who has come to join us. I hear you were the greatest warrior for the House of Nepos. Here, you are nothing. Your past glories mean nothing. If you expect to come here and have equal status to those who have earned it then you must earn it in the greatest of all arenas, the Colosseum. Until then, you will remain nothing. You will train hard, show proper deference, and in time you will be accepted as one of us. Unless of course you fail to meet the desired standard.”
Nimr said nothing. He knew the Doctore was hoping to goad him, but he would not rise to the bait.
The Doctore seemed disappointed. “You will join the rest of us in sparring practise. Take a sword from the chest and let us see what you can do.”
“As you wish Doctore.” Replied Nimr calmly, which seemed to infuriate him even more.
“Kaeso, step forward, you will be Nimr’s first opponent.”
A large, muscular blond-haired man, half a head taller than Nimr, stepped out from the rest. He had no scars, save one on his left breast, and he gave an arrogant grin as he looked at Nimr.
“I will not go easy on you just because you are new here.” He said, twirling his wooden practise sword in his right hand.
“And I would not have things any other way.” Replied Nimr evenly.
“Begin!” Boomed the Doctore.
Kaeso lunged for Nimr, who backed away and brought his own sword around in his left hand, deflecting the other man’s attack, then he stepped forward, driving his fist into Kaeso’s jaw. Kaeso stumbled, and gave Nimr a hateful stare, before snarling and swinging out again.
Nimr ducked the first sweeping attack and slammed his fist into Kaeso’s stomach, following up by cracking the training sword across his face. Kaeso fell back, staggering, and brought his sword back around just in time to stop Nimr landing another strike. Nimr parried the next two attacks easily, then shifted to the left as Kaeso came at him again. Kaeso was horribly off-balance and Nimr caught him in the back with his sword. Before Kaeso could recover, Nimr actually drop-kicked him as he spun around, sending Kaeso to the floor.
“I trust this serves as ample demonstration?” He asked loudly.
The Doctore wore a face of anger yet nodded. Nimr had most definitely proven himself.
“Ah Nepos. Always a pleasure.” Crispina winked playfully. Nepos cringed.
“I do not believe you have met my wife, Etruscilla.” He replied.
The three of them were in Crispina’s private chamber, and Etruscilla was gazing at the figurines and statues in their various poses. She’d cast more than one curious look at the toys on the shelves, and Crispina had not failed to notice that.
“Ah yes, the beautiful Etruscilla…” Crispina held out a hand, which Etruscilla shook. “I am honoured by your presence.”
“I do believe the honour is mine. Your… collection, is most interesting. I have one or two questions about…” A cough from Nepos got the attention of his wife, who simply smiled. “Perhaps I shall return to that subject in a moment. We seek your help.”
Crispina laughed. “A young and beautiful couple needing my help? I don’t believe that for a moment.”
“Oh, not in that sense.” Etruscilla smiled at Nepos, who actually found himself blushing. “We come to ask favour, relating to Marcus Paulus.”
The playful demure vanished from Crispina’s face. “I do not like tangling with dangerous men.”
“We are prepared to offer much coin in return for your assistance.” Said Nepos.
“And what is it you would have me do?” She replied warily.
“A man such as Paulus will keep records of what he knows close to his heart. He collects words on parchment and keeps them safe, should he ever need them again. For obvious reasons I cannot simply ask him for what I need, and Etruscilla cannot seek them out, for her face is known to him. I need someone he trusts, or who at least can disarm him, to get close to him, and locate said documents.”
Crispina was silent for a moment, then waved a finger in the air. “You wish me to seduce Paulus, gain entry to his home, and somehow procure documents that will free you from the problems you face- do you have any idea of the danger such a venture poses? If Paulus suspects me of any plot against him my throat will be slit and my heart carved from chest!”
“If there is one thing I have learned, it is that you are marvelous temptress and queen of seduction.” Said Nepos, drawing an odd look from Etruscilla. “My observations have made this quite clear to me.”
“Mmm, true.” A little of the earlier saunter was back into her form. “But coin alone will not persuade me to take such dangerous measures against such a powerful man. I like you Nepos, you are a good man, and if circumstances were different I would have taken you to my bed by now. Alas, your love for your wife is too great. I would however, make request- that the two of you perform for me, that I may see such passionate love- convince me of the strength of your bond, and I will do what you ask, without any further payment.”