Hello everyone! This here is my very first Englisch story so don't pay any attention to grammar or spelling mistakes, I'm still learning English in school. ;-)))
I would be very happy if you post a review because I really don't know if it is good or not. Thank you!
The sun was burning down on the spectators and the stone benches absorbed the heat of the midday. Loud cheers and applause filled Tiberia's ears. Disgusted, she turned her head away from the bloody games down in the arena as the man next to her sprang to his feet to cry out louder the name of his favourite. The gladiators were fighting viciously against each other and the fine sand of the Colosseum was by now stained red with blood of the fighters.
This was Tiberia's first galdiator fight, but long ago she had decided, she did not like these games at all. The crowd errupted again in applause and Tiberia grimaced as she picked up the smell of sweat from her neighbour. She would never see what people liked in these senseless fights, so how could she ever grow accustomed to them?
Her father had forced her to come here today because he wanted her to get used to the games.
"Your future husband will require this from you. Your place is at his side, even in the amphitheater", he had said after he had announced, that she would be going to be married soon.
‚Married to an old, cruel senator!',she thought desperately and looked to her right where Marcus, her going-to-be husband sat. At this moment he turned his head and smiled at her greasely. Tiberia shivered and looked away. Down to the fight in the arena again.
Three gladiators were fighting against one single fighter and it was not long until the man went down.
‚Please let it end!'
Suddenly the crowd became quiet and Tiberia looked up to see the emperor holding up his hand. Relieved that the games were over she took a deep breath.
The three gladiators had won their lives and this had been their last fight in the arena.
‚Lucky ones! The other eleven men did not have that luck',Tiberia thought gloomily and cast a glance down to the arena, where the staff was carrying the bodies out of the Colosseum. One man caught her eye as he picked up a body and laid it on a waggon. He was young and had long fair hair. He was too pale to be a Roman.
‚It is plain to see that he is a Celt. But I would be pale as well if I had to carry out the bodies.'
It seemed that her thought was not that far away, the fair-haired man really looked as though he was going to be sick at any moment. With an expression of utter disgust and an air of sadness he lifted up another lifeless and bloody body. After that, he mounted the waggon and called softly to his horses. The vehicle moved on and disappeared in a great stony arch in direction of the exit.
Tiberia felt pity for the young man and his task. She sighed heavily and then followed her father to the way out.
Tiberia ran. Tears streamed down her face and her vision was blurred. In the darkness she did not see the stone as she tripped over it and fell. A sob hitched in her throat and she lay on the ground motionless for some moments.
What had been going wrong?
First there had been the argument about dinner. Tiberia thought back and remembered, how irritated her father had been as she had said to him that she was not hungry. Of course her father knew how distressed she had been about the games and that had only raised his temper.
After that, there had been again this discussion about Marcus and finally, and desperately, Tiberia had shouted at her father, that she would not marry him.
This had been enough. Tiberia remembered well the anger flicker in his eyes before her father had hit her. She had not said a word then, but only fled the house of her parents.
Tiberia closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. She had to calm down herself or she would only run into a murderers embrace. Rome at night was not exactly the right place for a sixteen-year-old. Slowly she staggered to her feet. Her left knee hurt, as did her cheek. There would be a bruise left from the blow.
Wiping away her tears Tiberia took some unsteady steps and looked around. Unintentionally she had headed into the same direction where she had come from this afternoon: the Colosseum. The stables with the horses were directly in front of her.
Not knowing what to do else she sneaked inside. The smell of horses and straw were strangely soothing and the warmth let her relax a bit. Tiberia walked quietely along the rows of boxes. She stopped in front of a box at the very end of the stable.
There was a beautiful black stallion inside. He tossed his head nervously and snorted vehemently as she tried to caress his muzzle. Not letting herself be denied that easily she slipped into the box and talked softly to the horse. The stallion listened intently and then let his noble head down. Tiberia ruffled him behind his ears and laughed playfully as the horse began to search her clothes for something to eat.
"Usually he does not like strangers that much. He does not let them come nearer than a few steps."
The sudden voice let Tiberia jump and she turned around at once.
In front of her stood the young fair-haired man she had seen earlier in the Colosseum. Not till now she recognized the black stallion as one of the horses who had pulled the waggon with the bodies.
Drawing back she looked for safety behind the horse. The black horse stood now between Tiberia and the stranger. With his head he nudged Tiberia a few times and shot the blond man a somewhat accusing look.
The young man laughed good-naturedly.
"Traitor! I thought you are on my side."
The stallion snorted, but gratefully accepted the apple the stranger was offering him.
Tiberia shifted an inch back as the man glanced at her again. She did not know what to think of him. He did not seem dangerous, he treated the horse with a lot of affection and the horse trusted him in turn. But could she trust him? She did not even know him!
"I do not think you were intending to hurt Arthedain", he said softly and with a slight accent. "But nevertheless I would like to know what you are doing in his box. Where do you come from and what is your name?"
Tiberia hesitated for a moment and pondered her answer, then she answered truthfully: "I have had an argument with my family. I have run away from home and I did not pay attention where I was heading to. I was surprised myself as I stood before the stables."
The young man nodded and looked at her searchingly. Finding the new forming bruise on her left cheek, his eyes narrowed, but he remained silent.
Tiberia did not like the silence and she did not like the feeling, that he could read her that easily, so she said casually: "My name is Tiberia."
A small smile crept to the man's lips as he performed a playful bow.
"I am called Kelegalen. Please excuse my awkward Latin, it is not my mother tongue. I was brought here some months ago. It is a very difficult language to learn", he explained with a grin.
The amusement was dancing in his eyes and Tiberia could not resist the urge to smile herself. It was infectious.
"You are doing fine, believe me. I have some friends of my age and they are faring far worse than you do. And it is their native language", she added.
When Tiberia was sure he was occupated with Arthedain, she took a closer look of Kelegalen. He was really young, even younger than she had thought first. Perhaps twenty years old. And there was an air of longing around him she could not quite grasp but that she knew well from her own feelings. There was another outcast soul who could not fit in the heartless and enslaving society of Rome. One who was not born to watch cruel fights in overheated arenas and to walk in far too narrow alleys.
Blue eyes met suddenly her brown ones and Tiberia knew that she had discovered a kindred soul.
"I know you", she said in a low but kind voice. "I saw you today in the amphitheatre. You are working there."
Kelegalen's soft blue eyes turned steely.
"So you were there as well?"
"Yes, I was there because I had to", Tiberia answered somewhat disappointed, because he had thought she would go there freely and for her own entertainement.
"What does this mean, you had to?", he asked, still a bit suspicious but not that hostile anymore.
"It means that my father forced me to go there and watch men slay each other."
"Your father ordered you there? Why?"
‚Why? This is a good question',Tiberia thought. ‚I do not even know myself.'
"He wants me to get accoustomed to the games. But if you ask me why he or anyone else goes there, I cannot answer your question. Everyone goes there, so I have to go too. It does never matter what I want."
Tiberia's voice had turned bitter and Kelegalen did not look at her directly.
"And", Tiberia asked, her voice sharper then before, "why are you working there? You did not seem to like it either."
Amazement flickered for a short moment over the young man's features.
"You did observe well. My story is not that different from yours. I come from Britannia and I was brought here as a slave. After some months of working as a house slave for one of the owner of a gladiators group, I was faced with a choice: Working in the Colosseum as an almost free man and get paid for it, or to work for him as a house slave forever."
Kelegalen paused and added then in a way close to an excuse: "It is only a tiny bit of freedom, but it is better than nothing. I can work with the horses, this is what I like."
Tiberia raised her eyebrow in doubt but said nothing. Silence stretched itself out in the stable, in which only the soft snorts of the horses could be heard.
Finally, Tiberia asked quietly: "And you are sure you have made the right decision?"
Kelegalen gave a short and hard bark of laughter.
"I have not made a right decision since I left my tribe and my family out of cowardice in war and got caught by the Romans."
Tiberia closed her eyes. Desertation was one of the gravest crimes in Rome.
‚But in some way I am a deserter myself.'
Suddenly an idea had formed itself in Tiberia's head. She grabbed Arthedain's halter and led him out of the box. First, Kelegalen was too astonished to even react. Then he found his voice again.
"What... what are you doing???"
"I am leaving and you are coming with me."
"You heard me."
Kelegalen looked at her, his eyes wide and big.
"You cannot... This is my horse!"
Furious, Tiberia turned around and glared at him angrily.
"Do you not understand? This is not your horse, this is not even your life! You are a slave of the society, like I am! You want to be free and believe me, you have every right to be free. I cannot promise you that we will succeed, but we can at least try."
A long time both of them only stared at each other, then Kelegalen said slowly: "You are right. I was a coward once, I do not want to be one my whole life. We have to try to get to Ostia and there to get a ship to somewhere else. Perhaps Britannia."
His voice was again filled with longing and Tiberia grabbed his hand and smiled.
"Then let us be gone."
‚The Sea. How long have I desired to look upon it?'
Tiberia stared out to the dancing waves and to the light breaking in the clear water. In the distance she saw ships coming across the sea and come into the haven of Ostia, some few miles south of where they were standing now. Seagulls cried high above their heads and a soft breeze played with the long brown curls of Tiberia's hair. Filling her lungs with the fresh and salty air she felt content with her life for the first time.
Beside her, Kelegalen sighed happily and there was a calm on his face she had never seen before.
Five feet away from where they stood, the cliff ended abruptly. Down there, more then fourty feet down, she could see and hear the waves crash to the rocks.
Suddenly there was the sound of hooves and Tiberia and Kelegalen turned around at once. A group of maybe ten Pretorians came galopping to where the two were standing. Their dream was cracking.
"Let the daughter of the Emperor free, Celt, or you will die!", shouted the leader against the wind. Kelegalen was given only a short moment of amazement and he looked at Tiberia shocked, then somewhat sadly.
‚I should have told him',Julia thought with regret.
But then the Pretorians advanced and she cried: "He has nothing to do with me! Let him go!"
No one heeded her.
Suddenly, Kelegalen stepped in the way and whispered to Tiberia: "Go! Make your dream come true! Be free!"
Then he stepped up to the pretorians. Tiberia knew she had no chance to escape. She watched, as Kelegalen went down under many blows, then she turned her back to the fight and walked slowly to the edge of the cliff. She looked out to the wide sea again, breathed in its beauty and wildness, while she heard the sounds of fight behind her cease. Closing her eyes Tiberia let herself fall.
~~ The End ~~