His body was sore from the beating he had taken earlier, yet Amicus stood proud and strong. He winced at the pain that wrung through his muscles, but quickly noticed that no other being was around to see his momentary sign of weakness, he was alone in his cell. Then a gentle voice called for him through the rusty gate. A women with a round face and serene eyes stood before him, an expressionless mask place upon her soft face.
"Domina sends for you," the guards that stood beside her opened the iron doors and she beckoned for him to follow. The halls of the ludus were lit with many torches yet the path he walked was dark, he could sense it in his gut that a dark storm was simply looming overhead and his destination would be a catalyst.
The girl led him up a stone stairway and through a narrow corridor with floors of marble instead of dirt; they had entered the villa. His guide had stopped walking and motioned for him to enter a chamber shrouded in red curtains. As he did he sensed someone else, he could smell her presence.
"My, you look like savage animal, yet I've seen men who look far worse," her grin was seductive yet his eyes stayed to the ground, jaw clenched, muscles tense. "You must relax, I am but your friend in this house," She walked towards him, her fingers trailing up his arm stopping at his shoulder. "So tell me slave, what shall I call you by?"
He hesitated before he began to speak, "Amicus."
"Ah, our newest member, Amicus. Let me inform you," she spoke as she began to walk behind him, her slender fingers never leaving his skin, "whenever we are to communicate you are to call me Domina. Is that clear?" she had walked all the way around him and now faced the slave, her hand on the opposite shoulder.
"Yes Domina," Amicus obediently replied. She gave him a seemingly full hearted smile at his words.
"You shall be my new champion, Amicus, and, if well earned, your rewards shall be the envy of your comrades and your fame will be the equivalent to that of a God's," her smile was and lustful, something dark flickered in her eyes, like a smoldering flame. "But before all that," she wrapped her fingers around his locks, "let's get rid of all this excess, you look like a savage creature."
Down below the ludus lay the bathing chambers for the gladiators, and within those chambers lingered only a quarter of the men. Among them was Caius who wiped his freshly healed wounds with a soft wet cloth and ran a pair of wet fingers through his short hair. He dunked his lean body further into the water and tilted his head back, eyes closing, muscles relaxing. His broad shoulders began to sag a bit and his heart began to beat at a slow and steady pace.
Yet his peace was shattered by one of the guards that patrolled the ludus, "Caius! My lady calls for you." Caius looked at the man and grinned, she melted at his request and he was so proud of himself. He got out of the bath and dressed himself before he was led out of the dank ludus, his team mates looking at him with envy.
The guard led him down a hall of the villa that was decorated with bright flowers of every color and every fragrance (hand picked by Leta herself). From the corner of his eye he saw a fountain still filled from the last storm, elegantly decorated in small fragments of silver that shimmered in the moonlight protruding from above. The guard abruptly stopped in front of an opening that was adorned with purple curtains neatly tied up, and urged him for him to continue on his own. As he walked he went through layers upon layers of purple curtains until he reached the center point. There, sitting upon animal fur, was Leta, her cup already filled with wine. Her cheeks were tinged pink and it signaled to Caius that she had poured herself a glass well before she had even sent for him.
"You are so impatient," he sighed and laughed silently at the girl.
"I allowed the wine to decide if I wanted your company or not," she gave him a drunk giggle. " Do you plan on joining me or do you plan on standing there like a fool?" She poured another glass and handed it to her friend as he sat down.
"It feels like forever since we have done this," Caius said as he began to down his glass.
"I know my friend, but here we are at last," she smiled at him and took another sip from her glass. Her eyes escaped his face and trailed down to the rest of his body, taking note of every scar and wound he had on him. "Does the gladiator life bring much pleasure to you, Caius?"
"Of course it does, in that arena, with all those people cheering, I truly feel free. I am no slave upon those sands, I am something more, something greater than this ludus," he had a large handsome smirk playing on his lips. As Leta looked at the fire in his eyes she began to laugh. "You are drunk with wine," he said with amused curiosity.
"And you are drunk with vanity," she blurted and her laughing gradually seized.
"I am not," he still had a grin on his face and rolled his eyes at her.
"Listen to your own words. What were to happen if one day you were to be slain upon the arena?" she had slight concern playing upon her face.
"Well then my memory will lingered forever within these walls," he sounded so certain, but her eyes were no solemn as she shook her head.
"You are a fool," she had stopped drinking her sweet wine and had wrapped her delicate arms around her legs, her eyes saddened and pale.
"You should hold your tongue sometimes," his tone was that of irritation. He looked at her form with scorn but it softened when her eyes refused to meet with his.
"I simply do not want to watch a dearest friend be dragged away across those violent sands, his lifeless body simply thrown in a pile of bloody corpses," she sighed and looked at him. His expression had turned into a comforting smile.
"Oh Leta, you always speak such nonsense," he put an arm around her and gently laughed.
"And you are worse than a stubborn ass" she smiled at him and playfully shoved him with her elbow.
"Why, I am offended by such harsh words," sarcasm dripped from his worse and they both began to laugh at one another.
"This was nice, Caius, I am glad the wine made a right choice for once," she grinned.
"And I am glad that my closest of friends is still as crazy as a goat," he smiled at her attempt to smack him and laughed when her face turned red after when she had failed. "So tell me, who was the best of the two today?" he smirked at her.
"Would you like me to be brutally honest?" she smirked back.
"Of course," he said.
"Maximus was able to outsmart you not just once but twice," she giggled at him putting a hand to her mouth.
"You smite me with such harsh words," he put a hand to his chest and flashed a pained expression.
"Oh stop, you know I banter," she looked away and took one last sip from her cup.
"No you do not, I have seen the way you gaze at him from the veranda," his grin widened at her bemused expression.
"No," she whispered.
"Yes, you cannot fool me, I am your dearest friend,"
She sighed, "Caius I am infatuated with him,"
"You are struck by a smoldering fever and all I can do is laugh."
"And why laugh?"
"Because, Leta, I know you. This will only be a fleeting moment, and then your attention will be used for something else," he finished his third glass of wine and then laid upon the pelts, staring at the ceiling.
"Am I really that predictable?" she looked at him curiously.
He sighed as he put his arms behind his head, "You are only predictable to me my friend."
She smiled at his comment as she stared at her reflexion in the cup. She looked back at Caius whose eyes were now closed. She smiled to herself, remembering just how young they used to be, before he was a gladiator, and before she was referred to as my lady. Back then, they were inseparable, practically attached at the hip. He had been like an older sibling to her for so long, yet now he was just a friend.
She looked at him, his jaw unclenched and his muscles relaxed, yet he wasn't sleeping. She moved closer to him, and smiled at the familiarity of the moment for they had done this many years ago when nightmares would haunt Leta's evenings. She wanted the brother like feeling to return but it wouldn't, and just when she was about to close her eyes Caius spoke.
"You would this almost every night when we were younger, and then your mother would reprimand you for doing such a thing," he chuckled, eyes still closed.
"My mother is a harpy," Leta puffed her cheeks like a small child during a temper tantrum.
"The feeling is mutual," his chest bounced as he chuckled slightly. Leta raised her head to look at him, everything that resembled a boy had disappeared from his face and she couldn't help but wonder when this metamorphosis had occurred. He was now a man and perhaps that was why things were no longer the same.
Her body suddenly began to move subconsciously, her delicate finger tips barely brushing against the warm skin of his chest. He was suddenly a magnet, and before she knew it both her hands were placed on either side of his head. There she was, motionless, hovering over her once good friend. Leta was expecting him to suddenly jolt up and perhaps shove her, bewildered by her actions; yet his reaction was the exact opposite.
He opened his eyes slightly, analyzing every beautiful detail in her porcelain face, an adorable pink playing on her cheeks. This wasn't the wine, for something glistened in her eyes, something innocent. Yet what glared in the eyes of Caius was far from innocent, it was salacious; he loved her yet their loves were opposites.
He wrapped a few fingers in her black hair, realizing just how much he loved the feeling of it on his skin, leaned up to get closer to her, her scent registering in his mind. The hand tangled in her raven hair now caressed her cheek, holding her face so that she could not pull away; not that she wanted to in the first place. The pink still played on her cheeks and Caius grinned at this, his hazel hues growing even more lustful.
Her heart beat fast and she realized just how cruel he was being, he was teasing her to see how many variations of red her face would morph into. She closed her eyes and leaned her face forward so that her rosy lips met with his. Yet what erupted within them the second their lips met was electric.
He flipped her over so that he was now hovering over her, one hand preventing his weight from crushing her delicate body, the other grasping her hip. Her hands dug into the skin of his back, his hunger like a disease spreading to every part of her being. His hand began to caress her thigh, bending her knee so that her legs were almost wrapped around him. He pulled back to look her beautiful face again, removing strands of hair from her soft cheek. The heat between them guided them through the moment; his mouth traveled to her neck where it stayed a while to play and experiment. She moaned at the feeling of his teeth grazing over her soft flesh and let her nails make soft pink trails of passion on his back.
The hand that had been on her thigh moved further into her dress. Her fingers intertwined in his hair as he began to descend from her neck to her collar bone. She arched her back and the hand holding him was now being used to lower the only strap holding up her garments. His kissed down to her now partially exposed breasts, her moans like kisses to his ears.
Suddenly, something in her had doused her carnal fire. "Caius," she whispered yet to him those were moans begging for more. "Please," she couldn't help but moan as he moved back to her lips, silencing her. Her tender hands were now trying to push him off instead of pulling him closer like they had done moments ago. Her body tensed and as his lips parted from hers to descend one more time (this time much further down) she caught his attention.
"Caius!" his eyes slightly widened at her sudden tone, firm and commanding. He moved off her, silent his eyes refusing to meet with hers.
"Perhaps it is best if I leave, my lady," he held his head low, putting himself back in his own place.
"Yes it is, you have permission to go. Have one of the guards escort you," she didn't look at him either, her blue eyes now hard and gray. He left without a word, a sharp pain in his heart and storm in his mind. She stayed in her place, fixing her clothes and running a trembling hand through her hair. Things were indeed very different.
Aurelia had a fortunate encounter with Camilla on her way to the pantry to fetch more wine in case her mistress called. She had offered to give her a tour of the actual ludus and the poor blonde's curiosity had answered for her. They were now walking down dim, dusty hallways. The walls were made of stone and on both sides of the halls were cells where men whistled and yearned for us to come closer. Aurelia seemed appalled while Camilla didn't think anything of it.
They walked further down where more cells and a men's bath were located. Aurelia turned red as from her peripheral she saw something she wished she hadn't as they walked past the bath.
"So innocent," Camilla chuckled soft and linked her arm with Aurelia. The blonde quickly realized that there had been a guard following them the whole time, making sure that none of the men began to get frisky. They traveled down one more flight of stairs before reaching a much smaller section of the ludus; the cells had been replaced with small wooden doors and one of those doors had been purposely left ajar.
The guard had left the two for they had reached their destination and Camilla was now opening the door of the room, letting Aurelia enter first. The room was decently decorated with animal pelts on the floor and a bed fit for two people.
"Ah, more company, and look she has wine," there upon the floor sat a familiar from this morning. Maximus had a cup his lips, and urged the two to come further in. Sitting upon the bed sat another familiar face, the Doctore. Camilla took a spot next to him and leaned in to plant her lips upon his.
"Galenus, I hope you do not mind, but I have brought a new friend," she smilled at Aurelia, her face soft and motherly.
"It is not a bother at all, my love. Her and I came across paths this morning, you are Leta's slave?" he asked, a kind smile upon his scarred mouth.
"Yes, my name is Aurelia," she said timidly.
"Welcome to the ludus, you are now a friend, and as such I must plea you to drink with us," he laughed, his deeply marked chest bouncing.
Maximus attempted to pour a glass of wine from the already opened bottle but only a few drops had dripped out; the blonde handed him the clay bottle she had been subconsciously holding and as he poured Galenus spoke, "Unwind, girl, we won't bite." He chuckled a bit as he sipped more of his beverage and then turned to look at his beloved with adoring eyes.
"Get a room you two," Maximus said as he handed Aurelia her drink.
"Alright, then get out," Camilla retorted grinning at him.
Maximus simply rolled his eyes and smiled, shaking his head a bit. The girl had decided to sit upon the animal pelts, facing Maximus, a bottle of wine between them. She noticed how his skin was slightly darker than fair and all his deformities were almost gone on his chest, yet they left thin cream marks upon his complexion.
Galenus cleared his throat and looked at Maximus, "My friend, perhaps my wife was right." He tenderly stared at Camilla and cupped her round, soft face with his meaty hand.
"Oh, well I comprehend your insinuation, my good friend. We shall leave you to your licentious time together," he winked at Camilla who simply rolled her eyes at his comment. Aurelia stood with Maximus and they both exited the chambers; to her dismay, there were no guards to escort her back to the villa. "So, new friend, what brought you to this forsaken place?" Maximus began to walk and Aurelia simply followed hoping that she could lead her to an escape from the dim labyrinth.
"I was the slave of a butcher, and before that I was the young girl who served wine at a brothel," she looked towards the ground as she spoke, pushing disturbing images into the darkest most forgotten part of her mind.
The gladiator turned to look at her, his eyes analyzing her face, noticing her vibrant green hues and perfect pink lips; she looked nothing like a slave. "It is a blessing that you escaped from a place like that before it did any real damage."
She chuckled slightly, her small laughter hanging in his ears. "And you? How did you fall into the vocation of gladiator?"
His expression was serene as he spoke, "Well like any other gladiator I suppose. I was a strong, 14 year-old boy who was sold into slavery by his Grecian parents and sent to Rome to fight. And now I am an 18 year-old champion of this ludus, so perhaps the Gods have atoned for the deeds of others." He snickered at his remark.
Aurelia snickered along as well; she began to loosen her body up feeling more at ease in her new world. They stepped through this long doorway that led out to the sands and an entrance to the villa, yet the girl never noticed that beside the villa was a small housing area.
"Well I am off to my chambers, and I think you can figure the way out to yours," he turned to say goodbye only to be taken a back. The milky moon was a full beacon in the sky and it shone on her perfectly, her hair was kissed perfectly by the silver light, and figure stood out against the dark sands beneath; she was almost heavenly. Almost. This caught the attention of the stone gladiator but not enough to arouse his curiosity in her, but his interest yes.
He waved goodbye and headed for his chambers where he laid for hours thinking of the perfect image he had witnessed. Yet Caius occupied the room beside his and simply laid upon the floor cursing himself and cursing the woman who had suddenly drove him into madness.
Aurelia entered the chambers of her mistress only to find her laying halfway on her bed, her face was buried into a pillow, her hair was strewn around her, and the rest of her body was being held by her knees who were firmly placed upon the marble floor.
The blonde gently tapped her on the shoulder and Leta revealed her quite humorous expression: a wide frown, furrowed brows, and red tint upon her cheeks. Aurelia had no time to even ask what was wrong for Leta spoke first, "Men are psychotic, useless, complicated, stubborn fools."