Nepos was not himself. Etruscilla knew this immediately.
The stillness of the night surrounded them, as did the cloying humidity, and Nepos’ handsome, unclothed body was cuddled up against hers, yet he made no move to seduce her. She knew he was worried- deeply worried- by events he could not control, yet precisely because of that, she wanted him to relax- whatever happened would happen, but at least now they knew who their enemy was, and could prepare as best they could. Fretting simply made no sense to her.
She rolled onto her side, presenting her sleek rear to Nepos, and Nepos rolled also, taking her into a cuddle, but not taking the invitation as she had hoped. It was time to take matters into her own hands.
“My dear husband…” Etruscilla’s left hand reached back to caress his stomach. “Lend voice to your concerns, so that I might offer soothing tongue.”
He let out a little sigh at her touch, but was that because her touch was having desired effect, or because of his fears?
“I do not see a way out.” He said solemnly. “my family’s enemies are powerful, and have powerful friends. What can one man do in the face of such strength?”
“Be true to your own strengths dear husband.” Etruscilla’s hand wandered, sliding over his thigh. Nepos let out another little gasp. That time it had to be from her touch.
“Mmm, but how will this help us overcome the House of Metellus and their allies?” He started to respond as she had hoped, sliding a hand across her stomach, then lower, and lower… Etruscilla murmured in heated approval, and teased her nails along her husband’s cock.
“There will be time in the morning to consider what actions to take, and I know you will find a way.”
He leaned in closer, kissing gently at her neck. A finger slipped inside her, then another, and she moaned quietly, enjoying the pleasure, yet she wanted more than his fingers. Her body arched, and Nepos took the hint. His hard dick entered her, a hand clasped her breast and she felt his hot breath upon her neck, and she gave herself to her lust for the man she loved, the man’s whose strength would save them and their house. As she cried out in pleasure from every powerful, passionate thrust of that mighty cock, and felt his skin pressing to hers, she knew they would be fine.
“You cannot do this.” Marcus Paulus implored of Senator Caius Metellus. “To move now would be foolish.”
The two men walked down the side of one of the senator’s many courtyards. Impressive stone columns cast shadows as the sun rose, and Paulus couldn’t help but admire the splendour of the garden. Flowers bloomed in all colours- and the slaves that attended to them wore only what the gods had given them upon birth. Young women and men dared not raise their eyes to their master or his guests- instead they toiled to ensure his home was perfect.
“Careful Marcus. You address a senator of Rome.”
“Yes, I do.” Paulus ignored the warning tone in Caius’ voice. “And I seek to protect you. You and your brother have waited so long for this, why hasten your plans now, only to see them shatter through haste?”
Caius stopped, looking Paulus squarely in the eyes. “Because there is nothing, not a thing, that can be done to stop us. Why wait several months when in two we can move?”
Paulus suppressed a sigh. “I cannot guarantee that everything will be in order in two months. Nepos is expected to slip into debt by then and I can.. persuade certain circles to hasten this, but even my powers have limits. Not everyone can be influenced, some may even create new problems.”
“You forget Marcus, I am a senator. I can lend weight to your influence, convince those in the right positions that our interests are also their interests.”
Paulus had to hold back another sigh. Technically, Caius was correct- but the more people knew of this plot, the more chance it had of reaching the ears of their enemies, and Nepos himself. If the history were to be revealed…
But Paulus saw in Caius’ eyes resolve and stubbornness. It was rare that someone could match his own, but in Caius Paulus had a match.
“Very well. I shall attempt to cause Nepos further difficulty. His new gladiators take to the sands for their first taste of combat this afternoon. I will try to see to it that his entry fees are increased.”
“Excellent. Perhaps under the guise of a tax increase? After all, he dare not refuse to pay; it is for the benefit of Rome and her people, after all.” An evil smile crossed Caius’ face.
“He is gone! Call for the guards and have them tear the district apart!” Vibius Metellus stood upon his balcony, face red with fury. This was not possible!
Yet it had happened. Three guards lay dead, their heads caved in, and two swords and a shield stolen. Blood-stained marks on the wall by the main gates went all the way up- he had escaped by somehow scaling the wall. But he could not have gotten far.
“Fiiiiiind him!” Vibius bellowed. Over a dozen guards swarmed to the gate and heaved it open, before pursuing their prey under the morning sun.
More wine fell down the throat of Munatius. He looked at Nimr with a relaxed expression- the first time such a look had crossed the other man’s face since Nimr had arrived.
Nimr had seen his chance. He was confident in his abilities and knew he had to act- but Munatius had then unhinged his plans completely.
“You desire escape don’t you?” It was less a question and more a statement. “I can see in your eyes the love you have for your former dominus. The sincere desire to a part of that house again.”
Nimr had been ready to pummel Munatius into unconsciousness. It would not have been difficult in his adversary’s drunken state, but his voice and eyes gave him pause.
“The truth is…” Munatius held his goblet up. “No one serves this house out of loyalty. Even myself, in position as Doctore…” He spread his arms out. “Well, you see with your own eyes the squalor I must live in.”
“Then why accept it?” Asked Nimr. “You know as well as I the truth, so why accept it?”
“Because this is the only life I have ever known.” There was sadness in Munatius’ voice.
“I can show you another life.” Replied Nimr. “Help me, and I will help you.”
“And if I should help you, what then? A slave who rebels against his master will forever be a hunted man. And Vibius Metellus is a cruel man- he will punish those who are completely innocent to make a point.”
Nimr had no answer to that. However, his responsibility was not to Vibius, but to Nepos.
“Sometimes, the blood of the innocent gets spilled, so that more damage is not done. It is a choice we must live with, and it will cost a piece of ourselves, but doing what’s right does not involve doing what is easy. You know of the plot to destroy my former dominus and all who reside within his house. How many innocent lives will suffer if no one will take action?”
Munatius looked at Nimr, with eyes full of weary resignation. “I am too tired Nimr, to become involved in plots and conspiracies. I will not endanger the lives of the other slaves within these walls.” Nimr looked away, frustrated. Munatius continued. “But, if you would do one thing for me, I will not impede your escape.”
Nimr looked back. “What is it you would have me do?”
There was a haunted look in the other man’s eyes. “It has been a long time Nimr, since I felt the touch of another.”
Nimr started to speak, then stopped. Was this to be the price of freedom? He knew Ekwueme fucked others, but he was in servitude- he had no choice. Nimr had a choice. He could not betray his love for Ekwu… but if he didn’t, there was every chance Nepos, Etruscilla, and everyone else in that house he held dear would suffer for it.
“I… my heart belongs to another.” He began, but Munatius cut him off.
“Love. That greatest of strengths- and most dangerous of weaknesses. If you love the House of Nepos, would you not be willing to give me one night- perhaps a final night- of physical comfort?”
He had summed up Nimr’s dilemma. Could be break one bond to save another? Would Ekwu understand? Would he even see Ekwu again if he did not do this?
He could smash Munatius’ head against the wall until his skull caved in. He could choke the very life out of him with ease at this point. Yet in the short time he had known the man, Nimr had come to respect him. He did not deserve such a fate.
Looking away again, Nimr sighed. When he looked back, he was resolved.
“I will do as you ask, if I have your word that you will not impede my escape.”
Munatius looked grateful. “You have my word.”
Nimr began to remove his clothing, letting each article slip away. His scarred body came into focus in the torch’s light. Munatius exhaled, his eyes turning from grattitude to desire. “The gods have favoured you.” He said, voice trembling slightly.
“I do not know if I could claim that.” Nimr replied neutrally.
Munatius began to slip his own clothing away. “I could.” Hesitating, Munatius reached to caress Nimr’s chest, tracing his fingers over his scars. Nimr wanted to flinch, yet he had to admit the gentle touch of Munatius’ hands as they ran over his chest was not unwelcome. His own hands returned the gesture, and Munatius let out another sigh, his cock stirring. Munatius pressed his body against Nimr’s, brushing his lips against Nimr’s for a moment, and Nimr ran his hands over the other man’s buttocks, giving them a gentle squeeze.
Munatius groaned, and Nimr could feel his cock becoming erect against his stomach. He stepped back, and let his hand slip to Munatius’ length, teasing him with his fingertips.
“The gods have been kind to you as well.” He remarked. Munatius was certainly well-endowed. Not as big as Ekwu, but then, no man was that big.
Munatius chuckled, slipped his own hand to cup Nimr’s balls, and toyed with them as his free hand stroked Nimr’s arse.
“I am satisfied with what I have.” He said, kissing Nimr again.
They enjoyed each other’s bodies. Nimr provided Munatius with oral delights, ultilising all of his skills to bring the other man to the edge of climax and then hold him there. Munatius rode Nimr ferociously and Nimr bucked like a wild boar, whilst stroking Munatius beautifully.
When Nimr took Munatius from behind, he did not let up until Munatius had shot his seed all over the ground, and Nimr blasted his deep within Munatius. The two collapsed, panting in pleasure.
The night was still. No wind ruffled the rags upon the floor or flickered the flame.
“How will you make your escape?” Munatius asked as Nimr got dressed.
“So many gladiators are slumbering, exhausted from drink and whores. There will surely be few guards to keep watch upon such a flock. I will dispatch any who get in my way and make escape via main gate.”
“Bold. Ambitious. Certainly possible.” Munatius seemed back to his stoic self. “There is one final detail. Kaeso knows you came here. If I am unscathed…”
Nimr locked eyes to Munatius. “You wish me to provide injury.”
Munatius nodded. “It will provide a measure of cover. A simple strike to the face would render me unconscious.”
Now dressed, Nimr stood, and Munatius also rose. The Doctore swiftly donned his own attire (a naked Munatius would raise questions), and stood expectantly before Nimr.
“I will make it as painless as possible.” Said Nimr simply.
Munatius nodded, closed his eyes…
… and went down when Nimr’s fist crashed into his cheek.
The deed done, Nimr began to move through the corridors of the ludus. He was unarmed, yet this did not perturb him; when the first guard, patrolling the dungeon-like labyrinth below the main ludus, found Nimr out of his cell, he moved to shout, but Nimr’s fist shot out like lightening into the guard’s face, snapping teeth and sending him to the floor. Nimr pinned him, and smashed his head upon the stone floor until he heard the crack of bone. The guard’s eyes flickered, his body convulsed, and then was still.
Nimr stole the man’s keys and sword. Quietly he unlocked the gate and climbed the stairs to the training level.
Another guard, yawning as he carried a torch down one of the corridors, found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nimr shot out a fist that caught the guard’s cheek, wrenched the torch from the man’s grip and hooked a leg against the guard, kicking out and sending the man to the floor. He drove the bottom end of the iron torch against the guard’s temple as hard as he could; he needed only do this twice before he heard another satisfying crunch.
Nimr took another sword and sheathed it. He passed by the armoury and took advantage of the chance to acquire a shield. As he was leaving, yet another unfortunate guard was walking by.
This one died more quickly. Nimr employed a trick he had used before in the arena- he slammed the sharp edge of the sword into side of the man’s head- it sliced through flesh and into bone; when he pulled it free the man crumpled, blood leaking from the wound onto the floor and onto his boots.
It was then that Nimr noticed the sun starting to rise. With that, it would not be long before more guards awoke. He sprinted out onto the training sands, racing to the gate and walls, and leaped as high as he could at the wall, before scrambling as hard as he could.
The gods favoured him. He somehow managed to hook a hand upon the top and hauled himself over. The drop was not a low one but fortunately a cart carrying hay for Vibius’ horses was parked outside. Nimr dropped down into it, then pulled himself out and sprinted into the slowly-filling streets.