Grapes of Italy by Remmy Meggs

For those of you that do not know my work, I grew up hearing stories from other boys about self-exploration and sexual partners with other boys and girls. I have not had any such experiences in Real Life as some of us call it. However, that does not mean I do not think about it and wish that things turned out different than they did.

IF the laws in your country make it illegal to or read fantasy stories about minors, or if you are under of age of eighteen or have someone in your presence under the age of eighteen, you must stop reading and leave this site immediately. Copyright 2012 Remmy Meggs I reserve all rights. This file may not be uploaded to any site unless I have uploaded it myself.

Remmy Meggs



Grapes of Italy Chapter 04

The building was only four walls with no roof. As you walked up to it, you could see smoke from several fires burning inside. The sword makers store was inside the city but at the outskirts. When the group walked in the owner was yelling at someone. He turned and saw the five standing in front of him, "A new sword for you Centurion?" He asked Fedele.

"That was a long time ago; no I need to outfit a militia for Senator Praetorio."  

The shopkeeper frowned, "How many of these swords do you need?"

"One hundred should cover it." Fedele answered.

"Maybe you should go to one of the other shops. We make special swords here." The man motioned for them to leave.

Fedele and Andio began to leave, however Lothario looked at the man, "I am sure my father will not be pleased by your rudeness."

The shopkeeper looked down at Lothario. "I suppose Senator Praetorio is your father? Outside of Rome your father is just another wealthy noble at the rank of a Don, it means nothing to me."

Andio and Fedele drew their swords, "You have insulted my men, you have insulted me, and you have insulted my father. Being a sword maker, I challenge you to a fight to the death, right here right now, with my friend Captain Andio or you lick my feet clean and give us one hundred swords with the Praetorio mark on the hilts at 25 coins each."

Fedele grabbed the man's tunic and pulled him outside, "Here use my sword since you made it long ago."

This time Lothario could call the man out. You do not insult anyone without expecting a fight, even in Rome. What Lothario did was legal, and even if it was not, the boy was ready to stab the man himself if he were allowed to carry a weapon at least. They did not gather a crowd, they were too far out to the edge of the city, but they did get a few onlookers. Paolo grabbed a chair from inside for Lothario to sit on. The man Andio had to fight was not old and bald but he was not in his prime either, he was a tough looking man, and did not seem to fear Andio in the least bit.

Lothario shouted, "Start because you are boring me and it is hot out!"

The shopkeeper looked at Andio, "You realize I am one of old guard Centurions."

Andio raised his sword and step closer to the man with sword raised, "You realize you will be dead in just a few moments. The master has no time for this."

Lothario, full of himself, turned to Fedele, "Go ahead and order the swords from the new owner."

The shopkeeper looked at the boy, then back at Andio. Now fear set in. Of course, fear set into Lothario too. He turned so not to witness the fight. He had the younger boys turn away too although Paolo still looked out of the corner of his eye.  Someone had summoned the military and a Capo rode up with three others. They saw what was transpiring, but made no move to stop it. The older man's stance was that of the old guard, with sword above the head with his full body showing. Andio stood sideways with his sword, arm close to his body, and pulled back. The man came down with the sword to slice Andio's head in two. Andio easily side stepped it. Then the man began a full charge, running into Andio.

Andio felt his sword enter the man's stomach. The shopkeeper dropped his weapon in the street. Andio turned to see Lothario looking away, "Lothario do I finish it?"

Lothario nodded. Andio pulled out the sword and the man fell to his knees. Andio brought his sword up and cut the man's head off. Paolo saw the man's head roll toward them and he turned and puked. The Capo rode up to Andio, "Good to see you again old friend. Did you lose your uniform?"

"No, I am assigned to help Senator Praetorio."

"This was a matter of honor?" The Capo asked.

Andio pointed to the boy, "The shop keeper basically told the boy his father was worthless, I had no choice."

"That is Senator Praetorio's son?"

Andio nodded, "All we did is come to buy swords, and the man became upset. The boy did give the shop keeper a way to get out of the fight."

"Very noble of a noble." The capo stated slid off his horse, "Would you mind if I spoke with the boy? I would be honored to meet him."

The workers and boys came out from the blacksmiths shop, and saw the man lying dead. "What is to become of us?" One asked.

The Capo answered, "Is there a citizen among you?"

A man stepped forward, "Si."

"Then you are now the owner unless he had an heir. If he has an heir then it will be up to him to decide."

Fedele frowned and turned to the workers, "I don't care who is in charge, I just want those swords made within two weeks and delivered!"

The Capo looked at the boy, "Son of Senator Praetorio, it is an honor to meet you."

Lothario looked at the puking Paolo. Then he stood and looked at the Capo, "The honor is mine." Lothario saw the head of the man right behind the Capo's foot. He began to turn green. Then the color left his face. Fedele grabbed the boy and picked him up. Lothario had fainted.

"Well I am sure he won't remember meeting me." The capo laughed. Behind him, one of his men tied a rope to the dead man's leg, another grabbed his head and put it in a bag, and they rode off dragging the body. The capo wanted to shake Don Fedele's arm, but it was impossible with Fedele holding the boy, "It is an honor to meet you general Fedele."

"And you as well Capo Atticus. May I use your horse to carry the boy back? We have a distance to cover to the inn. I am sure he will wake up long before then, but little boys can be unpredictable. " Fedele smiled as he spoke.

"It would be an honor to walk with you."

Andio placed Paolo on the horse. Fedele placed Lothario on the horse in front of Paolo, "You just keep your arms around Lothario and don't let him fall, and do not vomit on him! Giulio you lead the horse." 

The men walked in front of the boys and the horse... Since they were not traveling fast, it gave the boys a chance to watch others and now how others were watching them. This time however they came across some boys and girls from freeborn and citizens playing together. As they walked by one of the boys looked at them, "Look at that slaves riding on a horse while their master's walk!"

Immediately Paolo pulled down Lothario's tunic, politely pointing out the markings of a noble. The last that Paolo saw of the boys their mouths were wide open. Then the two boys heard Fedele and Andio parting ways with the Capo. Fedele picked up Lothario and Andio put Paolo on the ground. The Capo took his horse, mounted and rode away. Lothario opened his eyes and looked around. "Where are we?"

"Not far from the Inn, let's get something to eat before it gets any later." Fedele said.

Lothario seemed to be all right, but he did not talk about the fight. He felt sick inside and never expected it to go as far as it did. Most of the talking happened between the three soldiers while Lothario was unconscious for the fifteen-minute ride. The boys of course were taking in the sights and sounds of the city; neither Giulio nor Paolo thought about the restaurant. Fedele ordered bread, cheese and wine for the boys to eat later if their hunger came back, this was a time when grape juice would not be enough.

The two boys were thirsty however, and Andio let them drink the wine from the wine skin... as much as they wanted. The boys were not talking but sooner than expected, the two started giggling for no apparent reason. Giulio thought they had lost their minds. Fedele and Andio just grinned at them often while making their way through the streets and the people. Outside the Inn, the two boys decided to relive themselves on the wall, not an uncommon practice, but for the passersby to see a noble's son peeing on a wall next to a slave boy doing the same thing was unthinkable, but it had not been the first time it had been done. It was just the first time the passersby had seen it done. The act, in seconds drew some boy citizens' attention. Andio and Fedele tried to block the view from the public but with little success. Finally, the two boys finished and walked into the Inn.

Giulio was saddled with the carrying of the large package and fought his way up the stairs, while Lothario and Paolo laughed even more. Andio sat on the floor and began cleaning his sword. Giulio set up the food so that Paolo and Lothario could eat. When he turned around and saw them passed out. He frowned he did not want to be alone on his first night in the big city, and the only ones he could talk to at all had passed out. Fedele looked at the boy, "Giulio you can go outside, just don't go far in case Lothario wake up. I know he has a ball or something to play with in his pack. He wouldn't mind.

The boy looked at Lothario's pack. The very idea of touching it scared him, much more so looking inside it. With Fedele's prompting, he opened it, looking at Lothario the whole time then he stopped, "He will think I am stealing from him and I will be whipped!"

"Giulio he is not going to have you whipped for playing with a ball. There is no reason you should be bored while he sleeps. And if he does want you whipped I will use my hand on your bottom and he will cry a lot more than you would." Fedele laughed.

The boy left the pack and sat down, "I do not know him well enough to do such a thing. I will leave it and take a nap with them."

Fedele smiled, "Very well, suit yourself; Andio and I are going out to drink and womanize. We will probably be back late, and have the boys' use the pot of they need to use the bathroom."

The boy lay down on his blanket and fell asleep watching the other two. He did not wake up until morning and he saw Fedele and Andio asleep and heard them snoring. Lothario and Paolo were sleeping and it looked like they had not moved all night. He stood, peed in the brass container and then took it outside to dump it. He came back in to see Lothario waking up from his deep sleep. Lothario took off his thong and reached for the jar. When he finished his business, he redressed and put on his tunic.

Giulio smiled, "I think you had too much wine maybe?"

"I am a little off balance, but I will be alright." He said and then turned to Paolo and yelled loud enough for Fedele and Andio to hear him, "Wake up you lazy boy and take care of me! It's after dawn and I am hungry!"

  Giulio giggled and laughed as the other three jumped out of their blankets. Giulio dressed and put his sandals on, waiting for the others to relieve themselves. Paolo started to hand the jar to Giulio, but Lothario caught him "You are going to take it out just for sleeping so late. I don't even have a water basin to wash my face and hands, what is going on here?"

"Stop yelling Lothario!" Fedele said, "We get the message."

Laughing Lothario turned to Fedele, "You two are carousing the streets all night looking for cows and fillies! Moreover, as drunk as you must have been you probably couldn't tell the difference! I am hungry and need a bath!" Giulio and his master continued laughing as the other three packed their possessions. Lothario turned to Giulio, "Go get the horses I am not walking around this town anymore it is huge. At least if I get lost the horse can find its way home."

As Giulio passed Andio smacked his bum, "That's for not waking us when you got up!"

Giulio laughed all the way down the stairs and to the stable. Fedele looked at Lothario as sternly as he could, "You need to watch your place, we are your elders, and I wouldn't hesitate to smack your ass three or four times just for pleasure."

Lothario laughed and prepared to run out the door, "you wouldn't dare hit me!'

Fedele grabbed his head, "I think I drank too much." He turned to the boy, "Well today you are safe I couldn't catch you if I wanted, but someday I will get you when you least expect it!"

"You have said that since I was seven." He answered as Paolo came back in. Lothario grinned, "Giulio went to get the horses, you get the bedding together and get the package, take them downstairs so Giulio can help you load the horses."

Paolo faked a smile and started working. Lothario ran down the stairs and sat at a table, "Innkeeper, if you please, do you have any fruit and water that I could have?"

The man in his thirties smiled, "Well no, I don't. But my wife can make you something people seem to like around here."

"I would like to try that very much." Lothario smiled.

"They are like round cakes made in a pan. You put fresh butter on them and some jam and they are wonderful." The man said as he left for the kitchen.

Paolo came down the stairs and went outside with their belongings, barely able to carry the load. Fedele and Andio followed him. They sat with Lothario. Fedele frowned, "I know Paolo belongs to you, but aren't you treating him a little rough this morning?"

Lothario tilted his head, "He is leaving his work to Giulio every time I look. Besides you whip slaves, something I deplore, but I am in the wrong if I want one to do a little work?"

Fedele frowned, "I don't whip little boys!"

"No but you swat their bare bottoms until they cry. Anyway when we get home and settled in I will let him milk the nanny he will be happy again." Lothario smiled knowingly.

Fedele brushed back his hair as the innkeeper brought breakfast for Lothario. Lothario smiled, "They will have the same thing, and some for the boys as well if you will."

The inn keep smiled broadly, "We would love to take care of you. Give her a few minutes to make that many." He said putting fresh butter and grape jam on the table in bowls.

When Giulio and Pablo finished with the horses they came in and saw the others sitting. They did not have cushions, but they sat on the bare floor, which happened to be dirt. The innkeeper brought out breakfast for the two men, and looked at the boys on the floor. He turned to Lothario, "Must they sit in here to eat? What if someone were to come in?"

Lothario did not look up. He began reasoning. The boys did not eat with him at home, but they always ate first before he woke up. That way they could take care of all his needs without interruption. Since the proprietor did not feed them first, the formula his father made did not fit the scenario. Lothario looked up, "Normally I would say they should be outside, however in this case we will allow it, since they can't take care of me either way. That way we can be out of your hair sooner."

"That is an excellent idea master!" Then the innkeeper took off for more food and water.

Lothario giggled, "Do you think he wants us out of here?"

Fedele smiled, "It seems so. You have learned a lot about diplomacy for one so young; you take after your father. Now tell me what this `nanny goat' thing about?"

Lothario, who was happy to be compared to his father, blushed, "It is a game that Dino came up with and the boys seem to like it."

"I see, and you are the goat?"

"Well yes, father wouldn't like it if I was a milker!" Lothario frowned, "What do you think he would say about that?"

Fedele shrugged, "I am not sure how he would think about you being a goat."

Andio laughed. Fedele turned to the slave boys, "So tell me about this nanny goat game that you like to play?"

Paolo's eyes lit up, "Oh yes. Master Lothario is the goat but he doesn't have teats like a real goat. So Dino says he has to stretch out further so we can get to his pretend teat, it is different from a goats. Then we put olive oil on our hands and milk it. Nothing comes out but it is fun. Then when we are done Giulio and I do it to each other."

Lothario hid his face in his hands. "How do you know when Lothario is done?" Andio asked.

Giulio smiled and blurted out, "Because his head ends up on the ground, or he shakes a lot and falls asleep!"

The two men laughed and Andio rubbed Lothario's arm, "It is okay Lothario. Games are fun, especially if everyone gets to play."

Lothario turned his head to the two boys on the floor and gave them a menacing look just as the innkeeper came out with their food, "You are both lucky I ordered the food before you opened your mouths!"

Giulio did not seem bothered by the statement and began getting his food ready. Paolo on the other hand was shaken up, "Sorry master, I just think it is wonderful you let us have fun with you."

"And it is!" Andio smiled, "It is just kind of personal and Lothario just did not want others to know." He turned to Fedele, "There is a more open bath house down the road. We should take the boys there. After the two boys have their bath, then they can join Lothario and see what all of us see."

"That is a good idea Andio! I am sure they would rather be with Lothario than standing outside." Fedele answered as he finished his water.

Even though the boys were happy about the idea, Lothario was not so sure. It seems that everyone always wanted to embarrass him. With the two adults and the slave boys it could be disastrous for his mental state. They rode about a mile, the five horses cutting a path through the crowd. The people on foot looked at the soldier in front and the one in back, the noble boy and his two slaves. Oh yes the crowds had seen this many time before, it was not new to them. From behind Andio was saying, "You embarrass too easily Lothario, your boys have had much worse happen to them than to be your personal bathers. The boys were trained in the baths and want to please you. Don't you understand?"

"See I understand all of you laughing at me all the time. No one seems to care how I feel about such things." Lothario answered as Andio stopped his horse and told the others.

Andio smiled and looked at Lothario "This is Grapes of Italy." He dismounted. Lothario saw boys and men all over the area, either coming or going from the building. Andio smiled, "This is the ultimate bathhouse for men, and boys such as you Lothario."

Fedele looked around, and indeed, it was, but he was not so sure Lothario should see what went on in a place like this. However not to usurp Andio's authority, he would reserve his feelings. The building itself was beautiful, the boys and young men going to and fro was unbelievable. Most of the men were in their prime, and those that were not wore their long well beards in place. One man turned to Lothario's group and said to Andio, "What on earth would you come here for? You have two beautiful slaves that could serve the three of you for free?"

Lothario looked behind him at Giulio and Paolo. They seemed to be hiding behind him and Lothario took note of it, "Do the two of you know this place?"

Fedele and Andio turned to see what they said. Giulio nodded, "This is where we were trained."

Paolo shakily offered, "We can show you where everything is."

Andio frowned realizing the boys were upset, "The two of you do not worry about this place. You belong to Lothario now, and no one will bother you. If they do, just point us out to them. They will fear you then."

With that in mind, each of them took one of Lothario's hands and led the group into the giant building. The group received several smiles of acknowledgement. Several boys even knelt shortly to Lothario as the group walked in. They led the group to the changing room. Andio patted Lothario's shoulder from behind, "A few men that come here are from the Legions, most are Citizens, but there are a few freeborn wealthy enough to endulge, that is why you caused a stir."

The boys undressed and Paolo spoke, "We will take you to the baths first, then to the hot tub. Master some boys, and more likely men may say things to you. Things we would not like them to say. So if we seem agitated or rude to them, please do not punish us."

"Well, you shouldn't be rude to anyone; they will look at me to say something to you. Since I have not been here before I will allow it unless you get out of control." Lothario answered.

Fedele frowned, "Lothario they may be right. Let them lead the way. There will not be any trouble. The three of you just enjoy the beauty that surrounds us; the building is immaculate and beautiful. The king ordered this built before Targ became king. Yet it can be a pretty wild place, similar to your father's parties Lothario, but this is all men and boys."

"I see." Said Lothario as the two boys led him away. They took him to an open area where they helped Lothario into the baths.

A man came up and knelt at the side, "Yes I thought so. I trained the two of you. I see you have a young master, all the better for you. I am pleased that you have been so lucky." He turned to Lothario, "If they hesitate at all to take care of you in anyway, there would be many boys here that would jump at the chance to even be near you son of Praetorio."

Lothario nodded, "Thank you from my heart, but they service me well."

The bearded man stood and smiled, "Yes they know their duties well although sometimes hesitantly." The man walked away.

A boy of not more than nineteen saw Lothario, "These boys are too young to fill you up. If you need me, I will stop whatever I am doing, and service you. You are beautiful." He said walking away.

Lothario looked at the two boys, "What did he mean fill me up?"

"He meant to put his milk into you Master." Giulio frowned, "You would not want anything like that right master? Your father would do bad things to all of us."

Lothario smiled, "Ah I understand now. I think, and no Giulio, Paolo that will not be happening."

When they were finished washing Lothario until he had a protrusion, the two boys giggled and walked him over the hot tub. Lothario sunk into almost up to his hair before he found a seat. He looked at the two slaves, "You are not coming in?"

"No master." Paolo whispered, "We are not allowed in this one. Slaves have their own place. We will sit by your side until you are ready to so something else. If you want to play, `milk the nanny', or anything else just say so. If you want to do anything that you see, just say so. We may belong to you, but we need to feel needed as well."

Lothario raised an eyebrow trying to figure out what that meant. Therefore, he started looking around, trying to get a grip on what was happening around him. His mouth did not drop open, but he was not sure what he was seeing at first. He saw men fondling boys. He asked Paolo what they were doing. Paolo frowned, "They are checking their grapes to see if they are ripe and can make milk. Some men do not want ripe grapes, and others do."

"If they do not want ripe grapes, then what happens?"

Paolo sighed, "They will play nanny with the boys. Then when the boy is relaxed they put their milk in the boy's behind Master."

Lothario noticed that the men and boys regardless of age spoke to each other. He could not hear them but it was obvious. Many of the boys went from man to man feeding customers fruits and wine. Then he noticed a boy sitting on an older man's lap. The older man's hips were pumping and the boy looked like he was about to pass out from ecstasy "Those two over there, what is going on?" Lothario nodded in the direction of the two.

Pablo sighed, "He is getting ready to put milk into the boy. Several others are doing the same thing, mostly in different positions. In the back area, they are having a party, which you are welcome to attend if you wish. The boys would be all over a noble. The word has spread, that's why they keep looking this way."

Lothario laughed, "Well I can't make milk so why would other boys look at me?"

Giulio leaned over Lothario's shoulder, "They are hoping you want their milk in your bottom master. They don't understand you having boys with little thingies around your age."

Lothario saw men giving boys massages and boys giving men massages. He saw men with little boys in their mouths and little boys stretching to get men in their mouths. He saw others finished and go to the baths, then back out again for more. He saw so much pleasure around him; he did not even realize his own member was deep red and throbbing for attention. He leaned his head back and looked at the boys, "I know what they are doing now. They taught you to do all these things?"

"Si. The slave master brought me here for training so he could get more money out of whoever bought us. I was too small for anyone to buy me. I was costing him money. He had to get rid of me as fast as he could." Paolo whimpered and looked at Lothario, then turned away when realized he looked at Lothario's face.

"I was brought here to learn, and I did learn, but the trainers were so mean sometimes. I cried a lot and other boys would laugh at me for being a baby." Giulio stated.  "I have to admit there were a lot of fun things too."

Paolo giggled, "Si I think so too, I bet you loved it."

Giulio stuck out his tongue, "You would like it Master, if you ever gave us a chance." He said to Lothario.

"What they are doing is hardly milking a goat. Now I see what everyone was doing. I was silly to play a nanny. It was too late and I couldn't back down. It did feel good though." He looked at the two boys smiling like they won a trophy, "We will talk about this when we get home." In the meantime, Lothario did his best not to think about what he was seeing, even though he could not stop looking. He was just hoping no one would see anything sticking out of his body.

Fedele walked over to the boys "Are you about ready to leave Lothario? I notice you didn't let Giulio and Palo take care of the problem you have."

The three boys were relaxed jumped. Lothario looked up, "You can't see what is underwater!" as he blushed.

"Come on let's go, it will fall asleep again once you are out of here." Fedele laughed. Giulio and Paolo stood up ready to go and get dressed. Fedele looked back at Lothario, "See it doesn't bother them if anyone sees them stickup."

Lothario turned away. "Alright Lothario," Fedele stepped into the water and put Lothario on his shoulders, "just like when you were little. No one can see it, and we can get you to the locker without embarrassment."

Giulio helped to put Lothario's thong on. Paolo was standing in front of Lothario, "Master I don't even know why you wear those things." He reached over and touched Lothario's almost hidden protrusion. Lothario jumped back, "Master you can see right through the material."

After the initial shock Lothario smiled, "You just had to do that. Please Pablo not in public."

They finished dressing and went out to the horses. They went slowly through the growing city, then they turned down a main street which was much wider than most. There were a few soldiers leaning against a building. Fedele saw them and stopped to talk with them. Fedele moved on, this time two of the soldiers left their group and walked briskly alongside of Lothario. Lothario looked at the men, "What are you doing?"

"We will protect you while you are at the market. Thieves and pickpockets are all over, even kidnappers would like to get your hands on you. We will be by your side there and watch out for you." The bearded one stated.

Lothario turned and smiled at his slaves then back at the men, "Fedele and Andio will take care of us!"

"They will be busy master, and although you can watch from the top of your horse they will not be next to you." The man smiled.

Lothario yelled ahead to Fedele, "Where are we going?"

"We are going to the slave market!" Fedele yelled back.

 "Why are we going there?" Lothario shouted back.

"You said you wanted a gift for your parents!"

Lothario frowned, "I meant an urn for father's big butt to fit on not a slave!"

The boys behind Lothario began laughing. He turned in his horse, "Don't you ever repeat that!"

Fedele stopped his horse and waited for Lothario, "Esta needs help. She is getting quite old. Didn't you notice how tired she was when Andio came and then the slaves? She needs help, and a younger girl for your mother and father would be a great gift. Then we can go get your urn for your father and a jeweled necklace for your mother. Although I think you should pick out a different gift for your father, I don't think he would appreciate you indirectly calling him a fat ass."

"I didn't mean it like that and you know it." Lothario growled.

"I know, but what would you think if someone did that to you?"

The boy sighed, "Alright I will have to think about something nice."

"Make it something really nice Lothario. Esta has told me her plan for your slaves, and to accomplish that he will have to be in a good mood." Fedele laughed.

"We do not have a horse for a girl, not that she could ride one anyway. Are you going to put her on the back of your horse?" Lothario asked as they started riding again.

"We can tie her to a donkey for now."

Lothario looked around, "We do not have any donkey!"

"You will need at least that for your cattle herders, which will be a good investment."

Lothario thought for several minutes. Fedele paid for the food, for the swords, and for the inn and baths. Lothario was paying for everything else. Now a donkey, a slave, and other gifts he was not prepared for. He kept quiet but as soon as he could get Don Fedele alone they would have a good talk.

The market was crowded, it always was. Most of the people came to see the show, and not to buy, but they could not get near the slaves. Fedele dismounted leaving Andio, the soldiers and the three boys behind. He went to auctioneer and pointed to Lothario. The man smiled and waved. Lothario could see Fedele pay the man. Fedele came back to the group, "They will be bringing out the girls then the shepherds and those familiar with cattle. We will have our hands full on the way home."

Lothario started to ask a question but Fedele walked off. He turned to Andio, "What is he doing?"

"If you want cattle and more than two sheep you need people to care for them. If you hire freeborn then you will lose money the first few years. This is the way it is done Lothario." Andio said as he watched the female slaves come out. The men in the audience began whistling and carrying on as if they were teenagers. The actual buyers were on the stage checking over the `meat' as they called the women. Fifteen minutes later the buyers all left the stage and the bidding began. As the women and girls were auctioned, they were taken to holding cells. Fedele waited for one in particular, and after the first five bids for her, he began bidding. Lothario was discouraged because he could not hear how much the bids were.

Then a fight broke out between two bidders. Fedele was not involved, but Andio rode forward and yelled for peace. The bidding resumed while Andio reasoned with the two men that were fighting. The auctioneer stopped and awarded the slave to Fedele on behalf of Lothario. Lothario, distracted by the fight, and what Andio was doing, missed the final amount for the slave. When the auctioneer finished with the women, they brought out the girls. Some were the age of Lothario. He watched with interest as the inspections continued. He turned and looked at the boys but both were missing. Andio rode back and saw the boys gone as well. He frowned, "How are you going to explain this to your father?"

The two soldiers guarding Lothario turned to look. The bearded one spoke, "Stay here, they can't have gone far without the horses."

While he was gone, the two boys returned with a man, "Master, this man has grapes and grape juice, we brought him because we had nothing to give you but water."

Andio started yelling at the boys for taking off without saying a word. "On top of that, someone could have kidnapped you and Lothario would have had to buy you back!"

Their eyes widened during the verbal abuse. While Andio chastised the boys, Lothario bought seven goatskins of grape juice and a large bowl of grapes. He turned to the boys, "When he is done with you pass these to Fedele and Andio and the soldiers, and thank you for thinking of me."

He gave some small coins to Paolo to give to the vendor, and then turned his attention back to the auction. Without warning Lothario raised his hand, "Twenty."

The auctioneer stumbled on seeing that the boy was bidding. He looked at Fedele. Fedele immediately pushed through the crowd and walked up to Lothario, "Are you insane Lothario? What are you going to do with a girl?"

"She looks like a boy to me!" He yelped, as the crowd looked on at the yelling Fedele. Lothario shot back, "I don't care if she is missing something and I am going to be really upset because you are embarrassing me in front of people."

Exasperated, Lothario pulled away from Don Fedele and rode up to the front of the line. Fedele followed him. Several members of the aristocracy were on that front row, including at least three senators. While everyone was distracting him, the bidding went on. For whatever reason, Lothario kept bidding. A senator walked over to Lothario and put his hands on the boys horse, "Lothario, you do not want to bid on these particular girls. If you do win, you will pay a heavy price. These are the girls the old men will want, and they are willing to pay a heavy price for them."

Lothario looked at the Senator, "She is cute."

The Senator reached under Lotharios tunic and rubbed him between the legs, "You need a couple of years, and then you can bid on such things."

Lothario frowned, "I really wish everyone would stop doing that to me." The bidding was already at one thousand. Lothario sighed, "All right, they have gone higher than what I can afford. I can buy twenty goats and ten sheep for that much."

The crowd around him stifled laughs. He immediately knew what they are laughing about, "Very funny, all of you!" He thought to himself that he had slaves that had been worth twenty times that. He shook hands with the Senator and rode back to the others. Fedele stood there with his mouth open wondering what had possessed the boy to do that. Once everyone was back in place, Lothario drank from the goatskin and settled down. The main event was about to come out, the warriors, the house slaves, field workers and others. Most would have to train for their new duties, but that was normal.

For the most part the bidding would be very low. However, some with talents, or multiple talents could go for a very handsome price. Lothario was paying more attention to the crowd than anything else. The multitude of people, so close together, was staggering to him. Some of the people were well off and some were poor. Others looked like villains and even others looked like they could be gods. Many of the people wore robes, others wore togas and some wore rags. He presumed those in rags were freeborn and had no income. From behind Giulio spoke, "Look master!"

Lothario looked up at the stage as Fedele stepped away from a man. The boy turned to Giulio, "What?"

"Don Fedele was talking to that man." Giulio frowned, "Like he knew him."

The noble boy actually did not see whom Fedele was talking to, he just saw him walk away. The slaves moved off the stage as usual, and then brought out one by one for auctioning. There was another brawl going on near the back of the crowd, several soldiers went in to break it up. Lothario looked at Andio, "Is it always like this?

"That is why you have two guards next to you so no one involves you in one, or tries to start one with you. It is this bad or worse usually. It is hot out, they do not have anything to drink or eat, and they start arguing about who the best slaves will be even though they can't buy them themselves. Fedele cares about you so much, you are the only thing he talks about when he isn't training or fighting. I have been meaning to ask you Master Lothario, why did you pick me to fight that sword maker instead of Fedele?"

Lothario shrugged, "I am not sure. I believe I was thinking `how good is this guy?' but I really can't say that is the reason."

"It would make sense, you have seen Don Fedele fight, but not me. I hoped I have proven myself." Andio smiled.

Lothario frowned, "I think you proved yourself more than enough. You killed that man without question. I think you are someone the family can trust."

Andio hit his chest, "My sword belongs to your family and the King without hesitation."

It was at that time a boy of twelve summers came running up to Lothario. The bearded guard pushed the boy on the ground, "Stay back!"

Lothario looked at the boy, "Were you just about to attack me?"

Andio dismounted his horse. He then grabbed the boy by his tunic and pulled him off the ground, "Why on earth did you do that?"

"He has my brother Giulio as a slave. Friends in town saw him and now I see it with my own eyes. I will kill the noble and take my brother home where he belongs." The boy spat out.

Lothario turned and looked at Giulio, "Is this true?"

"Yes Master, please don't kill him." Giulio jumped down from his horse and hugged his brother.

The brother pushed Giulio back, "He is not a slave he is freeborn and doesn't deserve how you treat him. I will kill you here in front of witnesses!"

No one expected what Lothario did. He slid off his horse to the ground, pulled off his tunic and handed it to Paolo. Giulio tried to reason with his older brother. Lothario stood with just a thong on. Andio yelled, "You can't be serious Lothario, this boy is a thug!"

Lothario shrugged and spoke to the boy, "Do you want to kill me with a knife a sword or a spear?"

"A knife." The boy yelled.

Lothario took the knife from the clean faced guard and threw it on the ground in front of the boy. Then he spoke, "I have never been in a real fight. I have practiced for this a long time. I guess it is time to see if my training worked." The bearded guard offered Lothario a knife. The boy pushed it away, "I am not a coward. Andio please release the boy."

The noble felt his heart beating fast. He was afraid, and he knew it. However, finally he could prove to many people that he was a man, not a coward or a spoiled noble's child. It was at the point Fedele reached them with about twenty slaves behind him in chains. He looked over the situation and smiled, "Andio let him be. Release the boy so they can fight."

Andio let loose of the ruffian and stood back waiting for Fedele to give an explanation. Fedele walked up to Lothario, "Only three things to remember, do not lose your balance, be very afraid, and lastly, when he is down give no quarter. He means to kill you, and he will if given the chance. Keep that in mind my young friend."

Lothario did not take his eyes off the boy, but nodded to Fedele. Fedele stepped back away from the boys and pushed the horse and slaves away. Andio made his way to Fedele, "The other boy is armed, have you lost your mind?"

"If Lothario dies today, he died in combat. That is something his father would respect and mourn even more. It could mean my head, but this is worth it."

The ruffian was confused as to why Lothario would not take a weapon. Even more confused as to why he stood before him almost naked. Lothario stepped forward, "Let's get this over, my grape juice is getting hot and my grapes are turning into raisins."

Lothario's haughtiness unnerved the boy even more. He attacked Lothario, with his knife in the air. Lothario did not even attempt to get out of the way. At the last second Lothario rolled into the boy's body, and brought up one elbow into the boy's solar plexus. The boy now off balance and out of breath was easy prey. Lothario grabbed the boy's arm and twisted it until the knife fell to the ground. Lothario then used the palm of his hand to hit the boy's nose. He fell like a rock on the ground bleeding.

Lothario picked up the knife, and handed it to the soldier and then turned back to the boy as the ruffian stood. He ran up and kicked at Lothario but the noble boy grabbed the leg and twisted it throwing the boy to the ground again. The crowd was cheering the boy on, which was frustrating to Lothario, but he would prove them wrong. Lothario put a knee on the ruffian's chest and put all his weight on it. Then he grabbed the boys throat and squeezed his voice box hard, "Now," Lothario started, "I can kill you right here, or you can come and work for me as a slave. You have a brother already in my service. With the two of you working, then you can work off the debt in half the time."

Lothario looked around at the crowd, "Well, do you want him to live or die?" The thumbs slowly went down. Lothario looked at the ruffian, "They see you as a coward. You used a knife on someone smaller than you. You are nothing but street trash. You have a chance to come with me and make a man of yourself someday. You are freeborn, but I will not pay you until the debt is paid. Do you understand?"

Giulio walked up behind Lothario. Lothario sensed it, and told him to get back. The ruffian boy put his thumb down. Lothario sighed, "Bring me a sword; I will kill him quick so he suffers no pain."

Giulio yelled, "Please no master. Take my life instead!"

Pablo ran up and pulled Giulio back to the horses. A soldier handed Lothario a sword. Lothario put the sword on the chest where his heart would be. He pressed down and then let loose of the boy's throat. He stood up, "I will ask again, what is your name?"

Giulio shouted, "His name is Romano master, please take me instead of him!"

Lothario thought out the situation, "Very well Giulio. You have much love, and you are brave to offer yourself up. Let it be known that little Giulio bravely and courageously offered his own life for his brother's cowardly action against me. His brother will finish Giulio's term of indenture." Lothario nodded to the soldier to take charge of the ruffian. He turned to Giulio, "Of your own free will you give your life for your brother's. Giulio kneel down and lower your head, I will take your life quickly."

Giulio immediately knelt, "Thank you master for sparing my brother."

Lothario motioned for Andio to come over, "Andio, I have never done this before. I do not want him to feel pain, so please you take his head."

Andio frowned, but took the sword and stood above Giulio. Romano tried to pull away from the soldier, "No! Please, I will do anything!"

Lothario looked at Romano, "You attack me as a coward, refuse my offer to live. Then your brother begs for your life. Really what use are you?"

"Anything, I will do anything!"

Lothario walked back to the boy, "If you do not, your brother will die." Lothario looked at the soldier; "Chain him with the other slaves." He turned to Giulio, "Stand and come here."

Giulio with tear stained eyes ran to Lothario and hugged him, "Master would you really have killed me?"

Lothario hugged the boy back, "No! But your nasty brother didn't know that, now did he?"

"Really he is a good brother." Giulio said.

"We will see about that Giulio. We will see. Whatever you do, don't offer your life for him ever again, because the next time you may force me to do something I will regret." Lothario instructed, "Now mount your horse. Paolo please bring me my tunic."

It would be a five-day journey back with all the supplies and slaves. That did not even take into consideration the animals they would buy outside of the city. Lothario shaken to the bone yet he had won his first fight due to the teaching of Fedele. He mounted his horse, and they began to leave Rome. Behind him, he heard Paolo comforting Giulio. Every few minutes Fedele and Andio would turn and Look at Lothario. It was then Lothario realized if you win, there is no fanfare, if you lose, you are dead.


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