AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wanted everyone to know that I am currently working on a novel length version of this story! I want to extend the adventure between Caligula and Adrasteia, and discover where this all goes. I have a plan, don't worry!
Rated M for sexual themes of incest (shudders) and for language. You are hereby warned.
Italian Words and Historical Notes
Accubita – Similar to the triclinium, the accubita was a couch used for relaxing and lounging during the time of the Emperors.
Accubitalia – The bedclothes used with the accubita.
Adrasteia – Latin; feminine name; unyielding
Aeolus – Roman myth name; god of the winds
Caligula – Latin; "little boots"; also the cruelest emperor ever known to ancient Rome.
Campagna – Italian; countryside
Caesar – by now not only the name of Gaius Julius Caesar, but also a title implying 'emperor'.
"Christian's Eve" – Yes, in ancient Rome it was sort of an insult to be compared to anything Christian. Until Constantine, emperor of the Eastern Roman Empirechanged all that.
Drusilla – one of Caligula's three sisters; though he had incestuous relationships with all of them, Drusilla was the one he loved the most. He was devastated when she died.
Intellegentia – Latin; intelligence
Iphis – Latin; masculine name; lover who hanged himself over unrequited love; myth name
"Let them hate me so long as they fear me." – actual quote from Caligula
"My brother of the wind…" – During his reign Caligula actually became deluded enough to think that the Gods his people worshipped were his brothers and sisters, and that he was one of them.
Prometheus – Greek myth name; Prometheus created man, and in his pity, gave man fire, which was against Zeus' specific orders. As a punishment, he was chained to a rock and a bird would come to peck out his liver each day for eternity. It would only stop when one of his own kind gave up their life for him. It was entirely feasible that Caligula would know of this myth at the time.
Roma – What the Romans called Rome in Caligula's time.
Stolla – A stolla is feminine garb for Roman women. It was like a dress, and it was NOT a toga. Women did NOT wear togas. Only men.
Tiberius – The Caesar who ruled before Caligula. When Caligula was a young man of about 16, he was sent to live with Tiberius at his summer villa in Capri where there were grotesque and multiple orgies everyday, and many courtiers who tried to make Caligula curse his uncle verbally, thereby securing his execution. Caligula hated Tiberius because it was well known that the former emperor was responsible for the deaths of Caligula's father, mother, and brother. It is believed that this depravity and sick intrigue was the beginning of Caligula's corruption.
Violentia – Latin; violence
The sun was blistering that day, a hard, round orb that guarded the sky with unfailing diligence. Underneath its gaze carrion circled, their eyes glassy and hungry as they drifted closer and closer to the ground. A breeze, perhaps sent by Aeolus himself, picked up the vulgar scent from the growing pile of dead bodies and permeated the arena.
The Coliseum was empty and haunting, with caws of birds echoing on stone benches. A haphazard stack of dead men was to one side of the inner arena, the unwashed bodies only just starting to smell worse in death than they had in life. Guards also ringed the circular space, miserable in their duty. A green recruit caught sight of a fly crawling over the milky surface of a dead man's eyes and flinched, then regretted his movement as the stink hit him full in the face. His superior officer glared at him for his grimace.
High on the imperial dais, where the air still carried a whisper of the campagna and grapes to be harvested, his royal emperor, Caesar Caligula, sat with a bored expression on his face. He tapped his fingers on his throne and twitched irritably when a slave set another pitcher of wine next to him.
A pair of footsteps sounded on the stone floor again and he narrowed his eyes. That stupid slave must have come back to bother him once more. "I want to be alone you insolent bitch!"
Instead of the sound of someone scurrying away, the footsteps continued until a pair of hands settled on his shoulders. "Peace." A feminine voice said, unconcerned.
Caligula relaxed, the tense muscles in his shoulders unwinding as he recognized Drusilla's voice. Her hand slid slowly across the back of his shoulders as she circled around to face him; there was a sheen of sweat on her skin that made her glow against the sun in the pupils of his eyes. "What are you doing brother?" Her eyes were heavy lidded and sensual as she asked.
Unable to resist, Caligula captured her hand in one of his. He ran his tongue tantalizingly from her inner wrist to elbow, eyes closed as he savored the salt on his tongue. He pulled away, but on second thought darted back down to lave the vein at the inside of her elbow one last time.
"Executions." He replied to her half forgotten question.
Drusilla seated herself on the arm of his throne and bent her body to lean on him with one arm. "This does seem to be your favorite pastime."
His glance was anything but innocent. "One of them, at least."
Another body was removed from the stage at the center of the arena and dragged toward the pile of corpses as he looked down. The executioner bowed to him from the stage once more, awaiting his instructions.
"Next!" Caligula shouted at the man, waving a hand at him as a go ahead. The brawny man nodded, then went to fetch the next condemned convict, careful not to show his emperor his back.
His sister sighed, clearly bored already. "You did not bring in the parents of that one?" She was rightly surprised too, as Caligula had a fondness for having merry chats with those that fathered the ones he killed. She raised an eyebrow at him and stroked her hand down his cheek.
"No, they were already dead. Sadly, My brother of the wind cannot be convinced to carry back the ashes of the departed so that I may laugh at them." He sounded bitter about it.
Drusilla clucked sympathetically and stroked his neck. She counted six men already in the pile and hoped this meant he would be done soon. She hated it in the imperial box, where the sun was more brutal than most any other place and they were too high up above the Coliseum floor for her to be comfortable. A bird of prey cawed as if to agree with her thoughts and she watched its lackadaisical pattern in the air, like a man swilling wine.
"Will you be done soon?"
Caligula looked up, sneering at his sister; it was a sneer intended to remind her who was Caesar and who was not. "I will be done when I choose to be done." He despised it when anyone tried to manipulate or tell him to do anything, even in the subtlest of manners. Especially the subtlest manners, as it brought him back to his former life on Capri…with Tiberius…
With startling clarity, his revulsion of the time and place dredged up angry, recalcitrant visions of it all. The laughing courtiers…the writhing, sex slicked flesh…the raging, white capped sea…the thousand foot drop…the childrens' screams…
Caligula shuddered despite the heat, hating that place, hating that man. Hating all of it. 'Forget. Forget. Forget.' He urged himself.
He composed himself as a sentry appeared with a low bow. "The next parents, Caesar."
A wicked smile managed to stretch across his face as a solemn man and a weeping woman were escorted onto the dais. They knelt before him and he laughed, planning his favorite opening banter. "A beautiful day, don't you agree?"
The man looked up and nodded stiffly, his lips tight, but knowing that he was required to respond. His wife kept sobbing, her hands clasped to her chest. "Tell your bitch to stop crying. I am in no mood to deal with her instability." The commoner's cries got louder.
Unappreciative of true grief, Drusilla's hand snaked out and slapped the woman, her sharp nails raising small welts on the woman's cheek. Gone was the leisurely, sensual sister as she spoke. "Your Caesar has commanded you to be quiet."
The bowed woman slapped her hands over her mouth with conscious effort, and her sobs were quieted, though her frame continued to shake erratically.
Caligula lifted his head to view the arena. "Bring him out now." His voice rang throughout the Coliseum as the convict was escorted onto the stage.
He shrugged Drusilla off and stood so that he could stand by the marble railing that lined the imperial dais. He squinted against the sun and turned to draw the parents up. The mother's hands squeezed the railing till the backs of her hands were white under the rich olive of her skin; the father's face was shuttered, his eyes shadowed.
"What is it exactly that your son has done?" Caligula questioned them as Drusilla came to stand on his other side, flanking him like a dog in heat. She wrapped her arms around him and her skin was unhappily sticky against his.
It was the mother that answered. Her preemptive grief had morphed into a viscous hatred. "He stole an apple! One apple!" Had she been a Roman of old, from when the city was newborn and squalling, had she been more aggressive and unafraid, more feudal, she would have struck at her Caesar as a cobra does at her prey. Her head reared back. "He doesn't deserve this!"
Caligula pricked his lips up, a sly grin that bespoke of too much power and intellegentia corrupted. "Even the Christian's Eve was punished for stealing an apple. Why should your son be any different?"
Her face paled at the insult. He husband reached out to pull her back, to quell her response but he was too late. "The people hate you!" She struck back, her throat roughened and her voice raspy from the strain.
He jerked and reached out to place his hands on her throat, though his eyes were not livid. "Let them hate me as long as they fear me." He whispered, and shoved her back at her husband. In one barely contained movement he whipped around toward the arena. "Begin!" The volume of his voice was a great contrast to that of his earlier words.
With a nod, the executioner lifted his sword, the edge glinting in and spearing through the sunlight, and cut a hand off.
The convict screamed, the sound indicating that all humanity had left him and he was nothing but a dying animal. He struggled to pull his bleeding stump away from the guards who held him. In tandem his mother sagged, all fury evaporated. She fell from her husband's arms and leaned her forehead against the marble railing. She moaned as the body was disemboweled, and darted up straight just in time to see the corpse thrown onto the pile.
Caligula returned to his seat, pulling Drusilla with him, and adopted a bored expression. He motioned for his guards to remove the grieving parents, and stared stoically into Drusilla's face as they were dragged away.
The father went quietly, his head bowed. The mother was the one who struggled, the one who cried, the one who screamed. The one who cursed him. "You are hated! Roma is ashamed of you! You will die and Roma will burn you from the history books!"
Caligula swallowed. "Cut out the bitch's tongue!" He roared after them, having had enough. He was not enjoying the tingles that were shivering up his skin at her words.
It went on regardless. "She will forget you. Roma is ashamed of you! She will kill you!"
When the violentia of the woman's cries had faded by distance, Drusilla sighed and leaned down to rub her cheek against his. "That should be enough for today, shouldn't it?"
Spitefully, Caligula pushed her off of himself and sneered again. "Go back to your chamber. I have not yet finished here." He knew what she wanted, knew where she wanted to take him. He just wasn't ready to let her have it.
She pouted. "Oh, but please – "
"I require a closer look for this one." He interrupted her, standing up again. "Go to your room. I will join you there after this."
Drusilla finally acknowledged his political and physical dominance as she knelt, her stolla gaping at the chest. "You will go to the arena and then come to me? You promise?"
The dampness of the underground prison was muffling, penetrating, and bone chilling. Dust motes flitted about in the rare rays of sun, which seemed not so strong and invincible as they had aboveground. Prisoners lined the walls, all waiting, all wondering if it was to be their last day, last hour, last minute.
They were dejected men with hanging heads and limp wrists. Shackled to the wall as they were, even a breath that rattled in the chest of a sick man shook their chains. They stared at the guards and at the shafts of sun and at the keys that dangled at the guards' belts. But most of all, they stared at their loved ones. Their mothers and fathers that had been ordered to see their children killed. They weren't shackled or imprisoned with their children, but they also couldn't tear themselves away from their doomed spawn. When the time came, they knew they would be brought up to the Imperial dais, taunted and wounded even more by their Caesar.
They stared at her too. Adrasteia shifted uncomfortably, wincing as her nails dug too deep into her tense palms. Her chest rose noticeably as she took a deep breath, hoping it would calm her. It only succeeded in making her body feel chill and dead.
She glanced over at the man directly to her right. Her aggressor, her convict. His name was Iphis, and he was a man of his early years – young and rash and wild. When he drank a fire burned in him that could not be quenched and he did terrible things.
She squeezed her eyes shut, remembering the feel of his hands on her hips, remembering how she had beat her fists against his chest. Remembering the roughness of him as he assaulted her, raped her. Another deep breath. Adrasteia glanced back over at him. He was just like the rest of the prisoners, his head bowed and nothing of his face visible. She wondered how someone with such a perfect swirl of hair on his head could be so cruel.
It made her happy that he was to be executed. She was desperate to see the life fade from his eyes and his liver picked out of his body like Prometheus. She wanted to see his hair grow limp and all motion fade from his form and that last breath still in his chest.
But he wasn't being executed for raping her. And that wasn't the reason she was there with him.
Iphis was to be executed by order of his royal emperor, Caesar Caligula, for not paying taxes on his brothel. It seemed that he'd thought that Caligula would not really charge every act of prostitution to fund the imperial treasury. He was wrong. And she really wasn't there solely to see him die. She was there –
Adrasteia jerked her head up as the portcullis was lifted up, chains clinking rhythmically. The executioner strode in, his clothing filthy, his stench unconscionable, his eyes dead. In his belt was a large sword, its hilt wrapped in leather. She felt gorge rise up in her throat as she imagined all the flesh it had cleaved from bone.
The man walked in a straight line, direct in his path until he came to them. He gave her a puzzled look, as she wasn't old enough to be Iphis' mother, then bent down to stare into her prisoner's eyes. One hand landed heavily on the other man's shoulders. "Iphis, you bastard, you're next." The executioner's anger stemmed from the fact that one of his sisters worked for Iphis as a lady of the night.
Iphis looked up. Adrasteia turned her head away so that she wouldn't have to look him in the eyes. "My turn?" his tone was futilely pleading.
The executioner chuckled. "Your turn." He looked about. "Guards! Unlock this sorry beast. It is his turn to bow to the Cesar. Where are the relatives?"
Adrasteia knew that it was her turn, her moment to act and fulfill her purpose. She stepped closer though her stomach churned, and spoke. "There are no relatives. Only I am here."
Iphis and the executioner turned their heads at the sound of her soft voice, the executioner confused and Iphis slightly disdainful. It was the guard who spoke, his black hair unruly and hanging over one eye. "If you are not a relative, who are you? What is your business here?"
She took one more deep breath to fortify herself. "I am Adrasteia Nipius, and my business is to witness for this man."
"Yet you're no relation to this man here?" A rough hand was thrust in Iphis' direction.
The executioner scratched his head. "But you insist on viewing his death?"
She nodded. "Yes."
The portcullis jingled impatiently, and Iphis stood up. The guard pushed him back down. "And you realize that you must answer to the Caesar for his actions? And for coming here now? He is viewing today."
This was what she had feared, dreaded hearing, and had hoped beyond hope that maybe, maybe she wouldn't have to do that. Any male authority figure drunk on his own power scared her, haunted her nightmares and her dreams. And Caesar Caligula was the epitome of that sort. "Yes."
The helmeted man sighed, as if he was already envisioning the punishment he'd receive for allowing the irregularity. He jerked Iphis to his feet and swept his free arm out in the opposite direction. "Then by all means, go."
Adrasteia frowned at him and swallowed as she looked farther into the abyss of prisoners, dreading the combination of musty, moldy air and the damned men's eyes on her. She looked back to the guard, still waiting impatiently, and sniffed. "Must I go that way?"
The executioner answered her, and his tone was nastily triumphant, as if simply by association with Iphis she deserved terrible things. "Yes, you must. You are not permitted to walk the arena. Go the other way."
His voice made her increasingly uncomfortable and she wished she could inform him that horrible things had already happened to her. Her fingers released and clenched again as she sighed shakily and turned in the indicated direction. Already the nearest prisoners were waiting to dissect her body, her face, her journey, eve the faint scent she would press on them as she rushed by.
Her leg lifted, her heel struck downward, her foot tensed for impact. The very tip of her heel was brushing up against the dusty floor when a sentinel came at them full tilt.
The new man took a moment to catch his breath, his older, weathered face red as the sun over a raging fire from his exertions. When he managed to straighten up and speak, his news proved urgent. "The Emperor is coming to view the execution in the arena!"
Even the executioner paled, and Iphis whimpered from how the guard's grip on his arm tightened. Quickly, the guard began dusting off his uniform and brushing flakes of dried blood to the floor while the executioner began hastily wiping grime off his clothing with a mysteriously procured rag.
Clasping her hands behind her back so that the men could not see how they twisted with anxiety, Adrasteia turned to the guard. His slightly boyish face was panicked. "What does this mean for me?" She demanded of him.
He looked up from the busy work of his hands. "You get to go the way you wished."
As if sensing what she was truly terrified of, the executioner added on, "You'll face Caesar much sooner now."
Surely on cue, several trumpets heralded the arena arrival of his Imperial Majesty, Caesar Caligula.
Adrasteia swallowed thickly and cast a desperate glance at the sentinel as he took her elbow and said, "Miss, please. It is time now." He guided her forward slowly, as if he too, was terrified of the Caesar. Studying his face, Adrasteia decided that he was, though for reasons different from her own.
As she walked out of the holding area she seemed to go from one extreme to the other. Adrasteia squinted and drew a hand up to her eyes, the sun casting a glare on all around her. With each movement, both personal and those of the people around her, her legs were coated with a film of burnt dust. Her body began to sweat and feel disgustingly sticky, and she began to crave water fiercely.
The sentinel left her as soon as he was able, leaving her standing forlornly off to the side. Iphis and his small entourage continued past, and she soon heard his dry footsteps 'thunking' on the steps of the wooden stage. She noted with some satisfaction that his face was drawn and pale as she watched him through narrowed, shaded eyes.
She felt rather than heard the arrogant clearing of a throat and spun guiltily, her embarrassment lighting her cheeks as hot as the orb above them.
The man standing before her was flanked by an inordinate number of Praetorian guards, all sweating under their armor, their faces shiny and red. But he treated all of them as if they meant absolutely and utterly nothing at all. In contrast to them, his face was pale and smooth, full of sharp, clean lines that would make him handsome by any standards. His jaw was stiff with a strange, masked reproach but still somehow managed to convey dominating determination.
His eyes were hooded and dark under a heavy, slightly furrowed brow. The directness of his gaze seemed to sink into her and penetrate every corner of her body. His lips were not very wide, but they were plush and soft looking. His hair was cut short with very short bangs capping his forehead, as seemed traditional for Roman emperors.
She realized that he was studying her in much the same manner that she was him and blushed even more.
Caligula leaned forward as if he was truly interested; but Adrasteia could see through to the sadism in his eyes. "You are his sister." He stated, jerking his head at Iphis, who stood shaking despite the heat.
Adrasteia swallowed, choking on the dryness of her throat. "I am not, Caesar."
"His cousin then." Caligula was studying her eve more seriously.
She shook her head with a forced half smile, startling a fly from her shoulder. "I am not, Caesar."
He was frowning deeply then. "You must be some piece of familial ilk."
His disdain for the institution was almost amusing for a fleeting second, but Adrasteia destroyed the inappropriate feeling before it could visibly surface and sunk back into her fear. "I am sorry Caesar, but no."
Caligula circled her then, his face pensive and his brow corded with tense lines. His footsteps raised clouds of dust around her turned golden in the sunlight and his gaze on her flesh made her stiffen like a scorpion in the sand. As his sister had done to him, he trailed one hand absently across the back of her shoulders.
Hearing her gasp, Caligula laughed, the sound deep and alluring. He came around to look her in the face again, and, sensing it made her uncomfortable, stepped closer to her.
When he smiled it was a heavy mask for his true self, as it tried to lure her into feeling safe. "I confess then," He said, placing his hands on her shaking shoulders. "I cannot figure out who you are. Nor can I understand why you are here."
"Caesar, my name is Adrasteia Nipius." It was the only thing she could think to say.
As if he was not close enough, Caligula leaned in to rest his cheek against hers, his breath hot and demanding on her ear. "And why is it that you are here, Adrasteia Nipius?"
She bit her lip sharply, but did not wince at the pain. "I am here to witness the execution of this man." She went to turn her head and break contact, but his hand jerked her back into place. "I am his victim."
Caligula pulled back slightly, only bare inches between them; the loss of warmth from his face left her cheek feeling strangely chilled despite the arid weather. His fingers were tight on her shoulders, the nails digging into her clavicle as he steadily turned her around to face the stage. Slowly, he extended an arm that drew her eyes to Iphis' face.
"Victim?" She felt him nod quickly. "Ah. Ah. I understand now. You're here for revenge." As he said that word she felt the hair on the back of her neck stiffen from his breath.
"Yes." Caligula hissed, and drew the word out in one long, serpentine whisper. "Revenge. It's what you crave. I can feel it. Your blood calls for his to fall."
"Yes!" He pinched her tighter in his crude grasp. Keeping one hand on her, he gestured sharply, drawing a hard hand across her throat in a pictorial command. "Now."
Caligula whispered the word in her ear, reached out and nipped at her neck with his teeth. He was the feral wolf, the snake displaying the pearl of his fangs, the bull goring its target. Knowing that the malice in him was preying on her made Adrasteia's insides turn icy cold and heavy.
Simultaneous with his Caesar's command the executioner struck. In the moments before, as the executioner plunged the sword down, his mouth opened in silent effort, Iphis struggled . He called out to her for mercy. To her and the gods above as the guards struggled to control the terrible bucking of his body.
"Forgive me before death!" He cried raggedly. "Forgive me before death! Adrast-"
The sword hit its mark; the edge of it, blunted by heavy impacts with countless other convicts, drove into Iphis' stomach.
A choking sound reached Adrasteia's ears and she flinched and took a halted step forward. As Iphis fell she closed her eyes to avoid the sight of blood, entrails, and foolishly, of death.
It was the death she'd waited so long to witness. She'd struggled with her desire for this death, and it was over.
The Coliseum filled with silence as Caligula waited for her reaction. As the time trickled by, and her world narrowed to herself and the man behind her. His breathing reached her ears, raspy with satiated, triumphant effort.
Adrasteia walked over to the wooden stage that had heralded the death of hundreds of men. Gore was dripping down between wooden slats to wet the ground beneath Iphis, although there was no guarantee that it was his. The pale tinges of his entrails were peeking through the vicious stab wound and his mouth had bits of ashen foam at the corners.
At first, all she could think about was the satisfaction. The glorious upwelling of triumph over her rapist, over her tormentor. For a few moments it was all that frothed and whipped under skin, like the sea during a storm. Her skin glowed with the exultation of the feeling and for a moment, Adrasteia feared that she was as bad a person as the Caesar wanted her to be.
But then, as she watched the flesh cool and harden for the longest time in her life, she remembered the real reason that she was there. It was a sobering notion that floundered in the sea of her satisfaction. A small boat that managed to successfully bob and weave over the raving swirl that was inside her.
It was a sobering thing to realize that she was there to provide some small comfort to her rapist's ghost.
Iphis had no one, after all. No more parents or brothers that would have him. No more sisters or cousins. No aunts, uncles, friends. Or even acquaintances. He only had her.
Caligula's shout pulled her back from the insidious edge of her thoughts, pulled her back from possibly feeling…sorry for Iphis. With a start she realized that a great deal of time had passed, that dusk was the dew falling on their heads.
"Ah! It is done! He is well and truly dead. The revenge had been sated, hasn't it?"
Adrasteia turned slowly to look at her Caesar, as he had once again come to stand by her side, his right foot positioned slightly before hers in a show of dominance. No, she didn't feel sorry for Iphis, she couldn't bring herself to go that far, but she did feel sorry for this man.
It was clear from his eyes, his actions, his manners, that he had no sense of remorse or of compassion. And only some twisted, corrupted version of love lived in him.
Refusing to subject herself to the immoral, wicked man next to her and having completed the task set for herself, Adrasteia took a deep breath. She grasped her frenzied and fragile nerves in a stranglehold, and gathered her courage one last time. Then she did the one thing none of Caligula's bowing and scraping retainers would never had done. She walked away from him.
She felt the eyes of all on her as she headed toward the gate that had previously let her in to the Coliseum. Their scrutiny only made her feel everything else so acutely it was painful – the terrible jingling of her breath in her chest, the rigidity of her spine, the pain brewing in the back of her skull.
"Stop!" Caligula's voice rang out, demanding her obedience. "Don't you ever turn your back on me, you insolent bitch!" His feet pounding on the ground as he pursued her was a great counter rhythm of her own steps.
His hand bit into her arm as he spun her around. Gone were the slow, hypnotizing movements that often proceeded an attack. His anger was bursting now, and he was at a breaking point, much as she was.
The backhanded slap he gifted her with hurt, but his words stung much more. "Show some respect bitch! Clearly your parents failed when they spawned you." He sneered cruelly. "What did he do? Did that criminal touch you inappropriately? Is that all that makes you his 'victim'? Or did he go farther? Did he rape you?"
Paling, Adrasteia shuddered when she took a breath, and flinched when the first tear fell. Caligula's voice grew meaner still as he traced the curve of her breast suggestively. "He did, didn't he? He plundered your milky thighs and he ruined you. Made you worthless."
Caligula felt the spite and hatred rising in him, reacting to the oddness of the woman before him. "But that's not why your parents failed with you. It isn't because they didn't protect you properly, it's because they didn't breed a true Roman. Any true Roman maiden that is," He curled his lip, "tainted as you are, would have killed herself long ago. So you see, you shouldn't even be alive."
Jerking away, Adrasteia threw her hands up in an unexpected act of rebellion. "Do you not understand? Life is not about crushing people with any means necessary! Do you not understand that?"
"Wrong!" The Caesar roared. "Wrong! That is exactly what life is about! This world is a mad house and the only way to get what you want in it is to slaughter everyone in your way. No love, no compassion, no regret."
"What do you suggest is in this world then?"
"Simple hatred and revenge. And you are certainly not an exception to the rule. You came here today out of a sense of revenge." A superior expression fell on his face as he spoke, as if there was no way he could be wrong.
"No, I did not!" Adrasteia shrieked, then froze, and fell back down to a supposed level of calm.
She swallowed heavily before admitting that he was right. "I would not be human if I was not motivated by some small sense of revenge – there is no way I could avoid it – even, even the gods suffer from it, after all. But that alone would not have forced me to come here.
Compassion did. The very thing you claim exists not. And remembrance too. Remembrance guided my feet to this place today."
For one striking moment, Caligula's face contorted, and his mind flashed back to the hysterical woman of earlier.
'She will forget you!' The woman had cried, and her words rang just as sharply in his ears as if they had been freshly spoken.
"Iphis had no one." Adrasteia continued, getting the strange feeling that the balance of power was shifting. "No family or friends. No one to remember him fondly. Though I will not remember him happily, what is important, is that I will remember him."
'She will forget you!'
"His soul is not a flame to be put out and carelessly lost to the winds."
'You will die and Roma will burn you from the history books!'
Adrasteia bit her lip as she began to finish. "No one deserves to be forgotten. No one. Not even a rapist, not even a man like that, a man named Iphis. And he won't be forgotten. His name will echo in my head for the rest of my life. And when I die, when I die, and it is my name echoing, his will accompany it. Till the end of time."
Caligula protested through the dread he felt growing in his chest. "That is bull shit."
And Adrasteia ended as if he hadn't spoken at all. "So you see, the compassion in my actions today is in the fact that I have prevented the worst of fates for a man that I despise. To be forgotten is the worst that can happen to a person."
'She will forget you!'
She turned her back on him then, and walked away. And when a guard went to stop her, restrain her, and punish her for her insolence, Caligula stopped him with a sharp word.
He waited as the last lip of sun sank beneath the horizon and night bathed him. And still he did not know what to think, and couldn't convince himself that he was right.
Caligula's eyes were clouded as he walked to his rooms, feeling unusually smothered by the ménage of guards and servants that accompanied him. When he entered his rooms, Drusilla was waiting for him – lounging seductively on an accubita, her hair covering her breasts and luxurious accubitalia draped over her from hip to knee.
He knew what she wanted and he knew what he'd promised her, so he dismissed his attendants and relented with a sigh. But even still, when the night had grown old and Drusilla was sleeping, back in her own quarters, Caligula stayed awake. Thinking.
And as he thought, two voices shifted and mingled, and echoed in his head.
'She will forget you!'
'No one deserves to be forgotten…to be forgotten is the worst that can happen to a person.'
And across the city, a heart beat that never stopped, Adrasteia was awake as well. She was thinking the same thing.
Disclaimer: This is an entirely original story completely of my own devising, which means that I own everything ladies and gentlemen. Everything. So no touchy.
Dedication: This is dedicated to my made-of-awesome Beta-reader, Megan, who is absolutely AWESOME! Seriously guys, she is a miracle worker!
NOTES: I really loved writing this story because it was so far back in time and allowed me to really explore my absolute passion for this time period. Caligula is my favorite Roman emperor (even if he was crazier than bat shit), and I find him fascinating. He merits some serious exploring. No joke. I really love Adrasteia and the message she stands for. I just worry that it won't seem logical or reasonable to everyone else. It does to me though. I think the fact that such a battered woman can manage to stand up to such an incredibly powerful man for the sake of her rapist is...incredible.
Anyway, I really love this story, and I hope that you do to. Please read and review, and tell me what you think! I love great reviews!