Topic: Part of first chapter of "Nicea, Descent Into Slavery"
Member # 50357
posted June 03, 2013 18:06
The whole book has already been accepted to publish and it's now with the editor.
We're in Thebes, Greece, about 50 BC
Fair Warning - I write M/M Slash, though there is nothing explicit in this small portion.
Nicea stumbled up the dimly lit stairs, shoved occasionally by the man behind him. He had known since last night that he would be sent to the dealer today; that he and all the other slaves Nikos left behind would be sold. Phaelen had explained it so calmly in the small room they’d once shared, had caressed his face and assured him this was the opportunity he’d hoped for.
“I know you’ve hated it here; now, you’ll be gone from this life, Nicea. You’re still very young; you’re beautiful. Your pale hair and your eyes – they will attract buyers who will be good to you. Please don’t be so afraid… By all the gods, I swear that your life will be so much better.”
And by the time Phaelen had left him, Nicea had believed; had been sure he’d accepted whatever would happen.
But this morning, at his abrupt awakening by this man he didn’t know, his confidence had disappeared. He knew his fear wasn’t of leaving; the fear was of being sold. As terrible as Nikos had been, as cruel as some of the Romans who’d used him, this place had been his only home since he was just a child, and his parents had been forced to sell him.
Now, it would happen again. It was possible, as Phaelen had told him, that he would go to someplace better. But that had been much easier to believe last night with Phaelen so close.
And regardless of where he went, the friends he’d made here would be gone. He would never see them again; a loss so real that he had pinched his arm brutally not to cry.
Dascas, a free man and head steward of Nikos’ household. The man had always been strict when training him in those first months; the one who would cane his feet when he failed even the least little thing. But Dascas knew Latin. And, after only two years, Nicea had been desperate enough to beg him to be taught. Even after he agreed, Dascas had still been a bitter taskmaster, using his canes regularly.
But Nicea had been equally determined to find a way to a better life; to become something more than Nikos’ whore. With little sleep and much hard work, he had exceeded Dascas’ strict requirements. Toward the end of his first year of study, Dascas had actually praised him. And after Nicea begged again, Dascas had taught him the basics of the abacus.
Most of the Romans, Nicea would willingly forget. But Marcus, the only name he’d ever had for the man, had been different. Extraordinarily malicious when they’d first met, Nicea still thought Marcus was responsible for Leander’s death. Except…except there was another side to the man. He had argued with Nikos to allow Nicea to study Latin after Dascas had inquired. He had given Nicea a flute – and demanded that Nikos provide the opportunity for the boy to learn it. And, in some of their times together, Marcus had made promises. Such wonderful promises…so full of hope…
Phaelen had warned Nicea not to believe them.
Phaelen, who had been bought shortly after Leander’s death…to replace him. A stunningly beautiful eunuch from Persia, he had easily taken control in the small room that Nicea and Leander had shared. At first, Nicea had been terrified of him, his bluster and his bizarrely foreign ways.
In time though, he’d seen beyond Phaelen’s façade to his humanity; saw that he had hopes and fears like all the others.
Phaelen’s bitter experiences with slavery had made him wise in many things. He had taught Nicea so much: how to move more gracefully and use seduction to be more pleasing; how to avoid punishments; how inflicting a certain amount of pain to himself could stop tears and blushing.
And then Nikos had taken Phaelen away to be his private body slave, no longer available to just anyone with coin in his purse. No longer staying in the small underground room with Nicea. Though Phalen was bound more tightly than ever to Nikos, he and Nicea had still seen each other in the household, and had continued to talk when they could find privacy and time.
When the news broke that Nikos would leave Thebes and his thriving enterprise as a supplier to the Roman occupiers, for a new life in Macedonia as an honorable gentleman, Phaelen had admitted that he worried Nikos would leave him behind. “I know I’ve pleased him, Nicea. I…I almost think he’s been happy with me. But he never…demonstrates affection.”
Nicea had been surprised that Phaelen would care. “Surely you don’t love him, Phaelen?”
Phaelen had shaken his head impatiently, his long dark hair swinging about his shoulders.
“Of course not. I’m not that stupid. I just…I ’m getting older. Damn it Nicea, I’m almost thirty! If Nikos cares about me, this could be my final chance.”
Nicea remembered that now as he stepped outside. Worrying about his friend, he suddenly felt tears in his eyes and wiped at them furiously. They were a sign of weakness and of shame. He could let no one see them; no one who might tell Nikos. Or Phaelen.
When he could, while his guard talked with another, he looked around. Never before had Nikos allowed him outside. Even the courtyards of this place had been forbidden to him. It was still dark, but the many torches made some things visible. The cart, holding Nikos’ unwanted slaves, stood out prominently, set close to the well. Nikos, himself, was near the outer wall, surrounded by his entourage.
Within just moments, Nicea felt a sharp stab in his back as the man who had come for him, shoved him toward the cart. “Get your pretty ass going.”
Nicea obeyed, of course, as Dascas had made certain he’d learned to obey every order he was given. But his eyes rapidly took in the cart’s occupants. He recognized all of them, though he’d known few of them personally. Phaelen wasn’t there! He thanked the gods, praying silently that Nikos had kept his promise.
From his position in the crowded cart, Nicea watched as Nikos took the reins of two horses from one of his guards. There he was! Phaelen stood close to Nikos now, his long dark hair pulled back with a colorful ribbon, his excitement apparent on his face. For a moment, Nicea feared he would cry again. Likely, this was the last time he would ever see Phaelen. His dearest friend.
Not willing to let tears form again, absolutely not willing, he pinched his arm to fight away the urge. When he looked up again, he saw the eunuch approaching him.
His heart seemed to freeze as Phaelen grasped his shoulders through the bars of the cart. “You’re not crying are you?” his friend accused. “Don’t you dare forget what I’ve worked so hard to teach you.”
Nicea met his eyes and nodded. “I won’t, Phaelen. I promise.”
Phaelen wasn’t fooled. Nicea’s strange blue eyes were far too bright. But he was proud of the determination he saw there. Proud of the bruise he saw forming on the boy’s arm. Impulsively, breaking his own strict rules, Phaelen pulled Nicea as close to his body as the bars would permit and kissed his forehead. “Be strong, young one,” he whispered very softly. “There is a world of possibilities open to you now. Just…please remember there is never hope in death. Only in life. Cling to life.”
Nicea could not respond… Fortunately, he didn’t need to. Nikos was calling and Phalen was running back to him He watched as Phaelen took the reins Nikos offered and hoisted himself into the saddle.
The cart started to move and all the slaves gripped the bars or each other, trying to maintain their precarious balance. Nicea glanced back desperately, hoping against hope that Marcus had miraculously appeared.
But he hadn't. Phaelen had been right yet again. There would be no rescue.
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Member # 4924
posted June 05, 2013 13:19
Best of luck with your writting, we used to have someother autors posting in these parts. I even bought one of her books. Never finished it though.
"If they're not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and violent extremists, then why should I take the time to distinguish between decent, fearful white people and racists?"
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