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.

THE HISTORICAL ACCURACY OF THIS STORY MAY BE INCORRECT. HOWEVER, AS AUTHOR I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE MY FANTASY STORY. IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION THAT WOULD MAKE THIS STORY BETTER EMAIL ME, AND I WILL TRY TO MAKE CORRECTIONS, EVEN IF IT INVOLVES CHANGING SEVERAL CHAPTERS. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU GIVE ME YOUR SOURCE OF INFORMATION SO I CAN READ IT MYSELF.

Remmy Meggs 

Grapes of Italy Chapter 05

The trip home was taking forever. The slaves in chains did not help the speed of the trip. Except for the slaves of course, everyone seemed to have a good time. Paolo and Giulio took care of Lothario, but they also watered and fed the slaves from the provisions Fedele put on the horses. Lothario was tired by the time Andio decided to make camp, but Fedele gave the man his orders, which was to meet a shepherding family at that location.

Lothario took the saddle off his horse and instructed Paolo and Giulio to do the same thing. The saddles did not consist of much and the blankets were tiny compared to other countries. The three horses belonged to Lothario, while the men owned their own horses. Once the horses freed, they joined Lothario and began picking on him, out of love. Pushing him, looking for attention, which he gave them, and finally feeding them. The boy slaves were fascinated and amused by the antics of the horses. They were even more astounded at how Lothario who they say as a spoiled brat got so much love from animals. While the horses fed, Lothario told the boys to take care of the slaves while he groomed the horses.

The well-built slave that Fedele spoke to before buying took notice too. He watched Lothario groom and talk to the horses. Fedele and Andio walked up to the sitting man. Andio took off the man's chains. He stood and hugged Fedele. Fedele returned the hug and gave him a tunic, "Remember Tito, he will ask questions. Be honest with him as you would be to me. He will take care of you, but only if he trusts you. If he does not trust you, then he will send you away. I have seen him do this. You qualify to be the bodyguard of a King, but this little boy needs to be assured of that."

Tito thanked Fedele for the tunic and Fedele continued, "He is almost at the age where he wants his freedom and privacy, so you should still stay close but not too close. You shouldn't interfere, but you need to look for his safety as well. Don't be the one to tell him he can't climb a tree. He is not like your soldiers, and unless an order comes from his father or mother, he will ignore you. It is best to think before you say something. Tell him why he should not do something. He listens to that kind of treatment. He treats his slaves the same way. He gives them space and only bothers them if he needs something. I will introduce his friends to you when they arrive. He only has a few, but their bond is as solid as a legionnaire's. You do not want to interfere with their playtime, but again stay close by. Tito, pay attention, this boy is a thinker, he takes after his father, he comes to a conclusion and acts on it very diplomatically. You saw what he did today. He is not someone that is powerful, he is a boy that wants to learn and be a part of something bigger. His dream is to build a villa, raise crops and animals and be happy. The second part is, as I learned myself today, he will stand up for himself when it is a fair fight. Most of all, I believe he would have had the little boy killed to prove his point, regardless of what he has said."

"I can deal with that Don Fedele." Tito smiled.

"Let's hope so Tito, because if you don't you will probably end up in a granary crushing grain the rest of your life." Fedele emphasized. "It is time you met him."

Fedele and Andio walked with Tito to meet Lothario. "Lothario I want you to meet an old friend."

"I saw you talking to the slave Don Fedele." Lothario answered before turning around. "What is his name and why did I buy him?" Lothario stopped brushing the horse and put the brush into his pack. He turned and looked at the bearded slave, "He looks like a monkey and will have to shave."

Fedele ignored the comment, "Lothario this is Tito. He was one of my Capo's during the war."

"Yes but why did I buy him?" The boy asked again.

"I have my own family to deal with besides your mother and father. I think you need your own protector. Today you had Andio take care of those duties but you need someone for yourself. Like me, Andio has business with the King and your father." Fedele began to wonder if this would work or not.

Lothario looked at Andio, who nodded his head, then at Fedele who was in suspended animation. Lastly, he looked at Tito, "If you were a Capo that means you were a citizen. How did you end up a slave?"

"Another officer and I were wrestling. We were having fun. At some point, I hurt him and he pulled his sword. I tried to protect myself, but ended up killing him." Tito explained.

Lothario frowned, "So if you are playing with me and I get upset you will kill me?" Lothario glared at Fedele, "I thought we were friends Don Fedele!"

Fedele's face turned to hurt, "Lothario, I trust this man with my life, I trust him with the Kings life. What more can you ask for?"

"I don't have time for this Don Fedele. You should have told me and we could pick a personal guard together. What I see is I paid for one of your friends to get out of slavery." Lothario stated loudly.

Everyone's eyes opened wide. Fedele nodded and got on one knee and looked at Lothario face to face, "What you say is true Lothario, but I did it with the best intentions for your protection."

"I knew it! Now why should I care what happens with him? Where does his allegiance lie, with you, the King, or some other master?"

Tito spoke, "Master, When I was sold into slavery I lost all allegiance to Rome and to the King, yes I still have friends, but if you will give me a chance..."

"Then kneel, swear your allegiance to me, and stop looking at me, you are a slave and have no business looking directly at me." Lothario said angrily.

The man hesitated and back off a step. Fedele looked at Tito as if he was insane. The move did not go unnoticed by Lothario either, "Put him in chains, I will sell him the first chance I get. The Dons will be meeting soon, I am sure they can use a laborer."

Andio smiled and scratched his chin, "This isn't going very well." He pulled his sword and pointed it at Tito, "Get on your knees."

Tito could tell the soldier would kill him just by the way Andio spoke. He knelt down. Lothario had already gone back to grooming his horses. "Master Lothario, please." Andio said trying to get Lothario's attention.

Paolo and Giulio ran up to Lothario giggling, "We have an excellent idea Master. We can go around to the slaves and decide who is best."

"Who is best?" Lothario asked.

Andio frowned, "I was talking to Master Lothario and you know it, can't you wait a few minutes?"

Paolo turned and saw the man kneeling, "Giulio another head chopping. I am going to watch it this time. You better go hide."

Lothario turned quickly to see Tito on the ground kneeling and Andio with his sword ready to strike, "Now what?" The boy asked.

"He wanted to swear his allegiance, he was awe struck by your presence and tone of voice. You are so commanding sometimes, it unnerves an adult." Andio explained.

"Well if that is the case, then why are you holding a sword above his head?" The boy asked.

"Lothario, he was a citizen. Give him a chance or let me end his misery now." Andio begged.

Tito did not raise his head, "Take my life I beg you, or sell me to someone else, or give me a chance. I swear by the gods I will protect you and watch over you for the rest of my days, as a slave, or a citizen, I will be there for you."

Paolo frowned, "Well I was hoping to see it roll."

Lothario smiled at the boy and then turned to Tito. "Get up. That is all I wanted to hear. Actually, it was more than was needed. I do not have a horse for you. Fedele has extra swords. I have belts but they won't fit you, you are the biggest man I have ever seen. Since we bought slaves after we bought supplies I have nothing to offer for clothing until someone goes back into Rome, so you are stuck with that tunic. Until then you stay with Don Fedele, he can teach you what I will accept. I let a slave get out of hand and I had to sell him. It broke my heart. I do not want to go through that again. Therefore, if you are going to be my friend and protector, you need to know how I do things. Don Fedele can teach you that. Then once we get home, I will give you a chance. Serve me six years, and I will reinstate you as a citizen, then you are on your own."

Tito looked confused, "Master I just offered my life."

"Then in six years, you can serve as a citizen or go on your way." Lothario frowned, "Now go release that woman, help set up the camp and make sure everyone is fed and watered." He turned to the boys, "Now tell me what you are up to?"

Tito brought the woman to Lothario, but he waited until the boys finished talking. Lothario was laughing hard, "Then go do it before I have their chains taken off. I will be watching so do not be cruel."

The two boys ran off and Tito stepped forward with the woman. Lothario looked at her, "You can cook?"

"Si master, I can do anything you need."

"I will take the chains off the slaves in a little while. I want you to have them build you an oven and bake enough bread to feed them for at least three days. I bought you to help in the household. I personally don't think Esta will be happy about this, but I will tell you about her so you will have a better chance. I have no clothing for you until we get home. I hope you can take that for a few days journey."

The woman bowed, "My name is Augustina, and I will serve you well."

"Actually you are a gift to my parents. So be sure to serve them well."

"In that case, I will do my best to make your life better."

Lothario smiled, "Release her and let her get on with her business. The boys are harassing the slaves. Once they have tired of their game, release all of them. Have them help the woman, then set up the camp."

"What if they run away?" Tito asked.

"They won't. Just do what I tell you."

Lothario walked away towards the slaves to join the other boys. "Which one has the longest dick?" Paolo asked Giulio.

"I don't know. They look tiny. Maybe they should play with them and then we can measure them." Giulio laughed, especially since they were all bigger than he was.

The horses followed Lothario to the slaves. When the boys saw them they puffed up and spoke to the new slaves, "This is Master Lothario, he is the one that bought you. We love him and if you get to know him you will see how well he takes care of you." Paolo smiled and then turned and kissed Lothario on the cheek.

Lothario sighed and looked at the slaves, "You will be released in just a few minutes. Some of you may try to escape, however if you stay and do the work you will be trained for, things will be good for you."

Tito brought the keys and started unshackling the slaves. Lothario continued, "Unless you prove me wrong, you will not be shackled again. Run and you will be shackled for a long time."

Lothario turned to the horses, "Go play until it gets dark then come and stay with me."

The three horses took off running. Everyone watched amazed at how they listened to the boy's voice. Lothario turned to Paolo and Giulio, "If everyone has been watered we have better things to do."

Tito knew what he was doing, although having a boy for a master was a little too much for him to take in at first, he would do his job and do it well. He unshackled the slaves and had four of them help to set up the tents and the rest to help Augustina build a temporary bakery. He smiled watching the three little boys trying to set up Lothario's big tent. At the rate they were going, the whole caravan would be home before the tent was up. He would not offer help though, it was a boy thing they wanted to do on their own. Lothario pitched in with his two boys and the three worked together.

To Tito, Lothario was impressive for eleven summers of age. He felt that Lothario was strong, witty smart and brave, but most of all caring. That would not help things, the boy would be good to his slaves, but maybe too good. He saw the only new boy slave, the one that Lothario fought with earlier, leave the other workers and head toward Lothario. Tito who was closer ran up beside Lothario. Lothario jumped and looked at the man, "Will you hold this rope so I can go inside and help them put up the pole?"

Tito grabbed the rope but nodded in the direction of the approaching boy. Lothario watched Romano approach and stop a few feet away with his head down, "Master, I thank you for sparing my life and my brother's life."

On hearing Romano's voice, Giulio and Paolo came out from inside the tent. Giulio immediately hugged Romano and whispered, "Don't do anything stupid, Master loves us and takes care of us. Don't you ruin it, I will not stop him a second time."

Romano let loose of Giulio and turned to Lothario, keeping his eyes down, "Master I apologize for misunderstanding your position. You had every right to kill me and you didn't. I want to thank you for that. You have bested me in every way, and I am humbled. I will do the work you ask of me without question."

Lothario sighed, "Right now you are supposed to be setting up camp. You will be a sheepherder, and we will teach you well. Just do your job and let me have time to forget this."

Paolo smiled, "He is to be a shepherd, then he will need to learn how to milk them right?" Paolo laughed, joined by Giulio and Lothario who had the inside secret.

"Yes, he will have to learn to milk them, and I am sure the two of you can teach him that part. We will have a lot of cheese and milk. Maybe he can milk the goats as well." Lothario laughed.

The two boys pulled on Romano's flaccid member and ran off into the tent giggling. Lothario turned to the boy, "You will probably get a lot more of that." Referring to the pulling of his member, "Now set up the camp or whatever you are supposed to be doing... no better yet help us get this stupid tent up!"

The boy grabbed a rope opposite of Tito while the young ones put up the center pole. Finally, one end of the large tent stood up. Lothario applauded them. Tito sighed, "Master, the ropes have to tie to something, and we still have the back of the tent to do. Lothario grumbled, and then yelled, "Don Fedele I need help with this tent please!"

It took a few minutes for Fedele and Andio to get to the tent. Andio started laughing. Fedele looked at the tent and started laughing as well, "You the naked boy, go get twenty four strong sticks about a foot long." He looked inside the tent, "The two of you come out here before you get hurt." He turned to Tito, "Why didn't you do more than just hold the rope?"

"I didn't want to upset him!" Tito laughed.

Lothario grimaced, "Well the next time I am doing something wrong let me know how to do it!"

Tito nodded but he was still giggling. Lothario walked off, "You can do it yourselves!"

Andio looked at Tito, "He hates to look stupid. This is his first time out of his home. We have to be much gentler. We have at least three days of travel, maybe more."

The men laughed but the two boys frowned at them and ran off to Lothario. The noble boy was not in the mood, and sent the two back to learn how to put up the tent. Paolo spoke to Don Fedele, "He is pretty upset at this."

"It would not be the first time he became angry with me. He will get over it. Lothario's problem is he does not know how to take a joke." Fedele and the others laughed again.

Lothario watched them put the tent up from a distance. They put his things in the tent, including the few possessions of the two boys and they made a makeshift set up for Tito at the front of the tent. Of course, Tito would move inside the tent if the weather were bad. The tent was Lothario's father's high walled tent, made of cowhides and sewn by hand. The hides dyed red but due to weathering, they looked orange. The poles were heavy and the leather was heavy, it was a very large tent. He was mistaken to presume he and the two little boys could erect it without help. It took men to do it, and boys could help. He was more annoyed at the teasing especially when he was trying so hard. They treated him like a baby when he was trying to be a part of the community and do his share of the work.

Then it occurred to him how many horses and mules it would take to carry so much equipment. They did not bring anything but their own horses and supplies. Shortly his thoughts traversed by the sounds of sheep in the distance. Two boys, well dressed, came running up to him, out of breath the oldest one asked, "Would you be so kind Master to point out Master Praetorio? "

"You probably mean Don Fedele. He is up there with the others putting up a tent." Lothario answered.

"No, we were told to see Master Praetorio." The boy replied.

Lothario shrugged, "Well I am the only one in the Praetorio family here at this time."

The two boys looked at each other curiously and knelt briefly in front of Lothario, "We and our brothers have brought forty sheep and two rams. The two of us will stay with you three months to teach your people to take care of them. They are the best of over one thousand. It took us days to separate them."

Lothario raised his eyebrows, "Where are you going to keep them for the trip?"

"We will follow behind your caravan, they are slow, and that way we can catch up to you after you stop for the night."

"I know nothing about sheep, so don't think me stupid if I ask questions." Lothario smiled. "There is a watering hole over there." Lothario pointed, "Get cleaned up, rest, and dinner will be ready soon. Have your brothers do the same when they arrive."

"Si Master Praetorio." The youngest said.

Lothario sighed, "You will be citizens when you are old enough, just call me Lothario. It is not like you are slaves."

The two boys smiled and shook arms with Lothario, "It will be an honor to work with you Lothario." The boys answered and took off toward the stream.

When Don Fedele walked near Lothario the boy called him, "Don Fedele, the sheep have arrived."

"Yes Lothario, I can hear them."

"Tell me Don Fedele, where did the tents and equipment come from?"

"Your father of course... Oh, that is why you were trying to put up the big tent. You thought it was for you alone?" Lothario became excited and started jumping up and down, "Why didn't you tell me papa would be here?" He asked.

"Because you would get too excited and have me wore out before he arrived." Fedele said as Lothario mounted his horse.

"I will go meet him on the road!"

The boy took off before Fedele could catch him. Lothario could ride bareback without reigns, something that had always bothered Fedele. "Tito!" He called out, "Get my horse and follow Lothario, and be quick! He is riding out to meet his father!" The other two of Lothario's horses followed. It was just another thing that Don Fedele never understood. Why did the horses always stay with the boy during the day? Others could ride the two horses, but they had to be with Lothario or they would not move.

The roads were dangerous with a caravan, much more dangerous for a lone rider, especially a boy. Tito ran to the horse and took off after Lothario, not to bring him back, but to make sure he was safe. He smiled and said to himself, "Now this is what I had in mind."

Paolo and Giulo ran out of the tent and saw Lothario riding off. They both looked at each other with a puzzled expression. Fedele walked up to them, "Don't worry he will be back. He went to meet his father on the road. You take care of things, as he would want you to. Make him proud." They nodded and went back to work.

The man in charge of the tents was eating a fruit when the boys came up to him. He smiled, "I have heard about the two of you. What can I help you with?"

"We need Master Lothario's bath, so we can have it ready when he gets back." Giulio answered.

"I have twenty-five horses and mules; you will have to look for it yourself. When you find it come and tell me and I will help you get it off the animal.

As the boys looked Paolo yelled to the man, "These horses are not as nice as Master Lothario's horses."

The man stood and looked at him, "That's because Master Lothario has well trained war horses, some of the best one could have. They are bred for fighting and loyalty. They are not simple working horses like these are. Watch yourself with his horses. You don't want to try and ride them if he is not around. He probably won't get you your own horses, but then again he just might if he takes a liking to you. It is his way to make sure you can't run off I think. Those damn horses are a pain in the ass to work with. They will eat their food, but won't let anyone else groom them or take them out to the fields, except at night when they are passive."

Giulio found the tub, "Here it is!"

The man walked up to the mule and started untying the ropes as he continued, "So the two of you have taken a liking to Master Lothario?"

"Of course we have!" Paolo yelped.

The man smiled, "That is good. I have only seen him in the distance, but everyone tells me he is a sweet boy. Are you sweet boys?"

Giulio frowned, "I guess so. He buys us things we haven't expected."

"Actually things we would not have dreamed of." Paolo smiled showing off his tunic.

The man laughed, "Yes I noticed that, most of the slaves don't receive much more than crop bags to wear. Even those are worn out before they are passed on. I was a slave like the two of you years ago. Don Nico let me have my freedom and made me a citizen."

Paolo smiled, "Then why are you still here?"

The man shrugged as he helped the boys take the heavy tub to the tent, "I started out working here in the stables. I worked my way up as the horse master. My boss died suddenly, and that put me in charge of all the horses the Praetorio's own. What else would I do now? I am paid well and have a nice house a wife and two sons, who are soldiers. If Master Lothario is like his father, then he will do the same with you."

"We don't have an important job like you do." Pablo smiled.

The old man guffawed, "So says you? You could end up as head of his household staff, or maybe head of all the slaves. You could even end up being in charge of supplies. The gods know they need one. There are many impressive positions for good boys to look forward to." He helped the boys set the tub where they wanted it. "Did you know Esta was only a slave for two years? It is true and then she became head of household. That is why everything on the hill is spotless. One word from her and someone is sold off." He looked at the sad expression on the boy's faces, "Understand boys, you belong to Master Lothario, and he is not old enough to need a head of household, but she does have his ear when it comes to his life. So does his mother and father, but he is the only one allowed buying or selling on his own. He kept that troublemaker he had for over a year before he sold him and got the two of you... exactly how did he end up with two boys anyway?"

"We don't know." Giulio answered. "There were a few words said about it from his father, but they did not fight. Then Master told everyone he bought two."

The man smiled, "That truly is unusual. He usually doesn't get his way much at the house. He gets up early takes care of his animals, has his studies. Fedele and he are always fighting... Fedele is teaching Master Lothario how to fight."

The boys grinned, "Well Master is good at that. He had a fight in town. The other boy was older and didn't have a chance. Don Fedele didn't even try and stop it." Paolo grinned.

Giulio pursed his lips then said, "The older boy was my brother, he was going to kill Master Lothario. Now instead of killing him, Master turned him into a slave for six years before he gets his freedom."

The man tilted his head, "What of you? You are a freeborn?"

"Yes. My parents owed money so they sold me to pay it off. I had a good Master but for some reason he said he didn't have a choice, so I was sold to Master Lothario. It doesn't matter. With or without my brother I am free in twelve years."

The man smiled, "I am sure the both of you will do fine. Here comes Don Fedele, you don't want to mess with him. He can't over ride Master Lothario, but he can sure make you miserable! I have to go before he yells at me for something I forgot."

Fedele watched the man leave the boys as he neared, "The sheepherders are here. You can take care of them. Make sure they have a chance to clean up at the stream and be sure they are fed well."

Paolo did not look up but asked, "Master Fedele, we have so much to do before Master Lothario gets back. Is it wrong for me to ask if someone else can do it?"

Fedele rubbed his chin and thought, "Actually it is wrong for you to ask that. However since you belong to Lothario it is hard for me to take you away from your duties, especially since you are trying to make an impression. There are eight of those boys; get them fed. That shouldn't take long, then come back and continue. Is that fair?"

Paolo grinned, "Yes Master." Then the two of them took off to where the sheepherders were keeping the flock together. On the way they stopped where the naked woman was baking and announced, "We need eight loaves of bread, cheese and eight cups of grape juice please."

"Why do two little slave boys need so much?" She stood and glared at them.

"Aren't you supposed to do what we say?" Giulio asked.

She raised an eyebrow, "I should beat you for not showing respect!"

The boys looked at her, "We don't think so. Just give us the things we need, we do not have a lot of time."

The woman gave them two satchels and loaded them, "You maybe high and mighty now as slaves go, just remember we belong to the same household."

They started to run off and Giulio stopped and went back, "We did not mean to be rude, we are just in a hurry. Master Lothario expects things in order when he returns, so you can help us make things good, or you don't have to. We know Esta, she thinks Master Lothario is everything, so just be nice to us, and we will be nice to you. That I promise." Then he ran to catch up to Paolo.

The boys they fed were twelve to twenty summers old. They thanked the two slaves for the food. The youngest asked Paolo, "Is Master Lothario nice?"

"You are free born maybe some of you are citizens already, it shouldn't bother you. Just don't upset him, and you will get along fine... Oh and don't tease him, that is the fastest way to get him upset."

"Four of us will be staying with him for three months. We probably won't see him. We just wanted to know." The fifteen year old said.

Giulio smiled, "Just be nice and you will get along fine. He hasn't beaten anyone yet that we know of... but he did have a man's head cut off this week for mouthing off."

They ran off giggling at the shocked faces of the boys.

**+

When Lothario stopped riding so hard, Tito caught up to him, "Where do you think you are going without me?" Tito asked.

"Not that it matters, but I am going to meet my father on the road. I didn't need a bodyguard." Lothario said.

Tito smiled, "You really don't care for me do you?"

Lothario did not even look at him, "It is not that. I always thought I would get to pick whom I wanted, and you are not exactly Roman now are you?"

"I am a part of Rome as much as you are!" Tito almost shouted.

"But nevertheless you are not Roman. You have hair all over; you look like a Persian or a Greek with all that hair on your face and you killed your commander. How would that make you feel?" Lothario frowned.

"I have sworn my allegiance to protect you and die for you!" Tito exclaimed.

Lothario shot back, "Yes you did, and I believe you, but you swore your allegiance to Rome and killed one of your own! It will take time for me to get used to you. This is not what I expected." Lothario stopped his horse and slid off the animal, he yelled, "Papa!" and started running to the oncoming caravan.

Again, Tito noticed the three horses follow the boy, keeping the boy's pace. He followed as close as the other horses would let him get to Lothario. He stopped about two hundred paces from the caravan at the same time they did. A man in full General's uniform climbed off his horse and picked up Lothario in his arms, they were kissing each other and Lothario was giggling and wiggling. "Why are you here papa and why are you in your uniform?"

"Your mother was worried about you so I came to make sure everything was okay." Don Nico smiled.

Lothario frowned, "You missed me and came to see me!"

Don Nico held is son tight. He had a tear flow down his face, "Yes Lothario, it seemed to me you were gone for so long. I thought I would ride with you."

"I knew it. You couldn't take me being away from home." Lothario giggled.

"You are something else. Now who is this slave with you? Where is Don Fedele? And why is the slave on Don Fedele's horse?" Don Nico asked.

Tito dismounted, "I can explain Senator Praetorio."

Don Nico raised a hand, "Do not ever interrupt me and my son again. The question was to him, not to you, and the next time you look at either of us again, I will have you whipped and chained."

Lothario sighed and looked at his father, "I know he is rough, but Don Fedele bought him for me as an um... bodyguard, and since I paid so much for him I thought I would give him a chance."

Don Nico frowned, "A slave for a bodyguard? Has Fedele lost his mind?"

"They knew each other in the last war papa." The boy tried to smile.

Don Nico walked to the man, "You know Don Fedele from the war?"

"Yes Master. I was a Capo."

Don Nico became furious and turned to Lothario, "Fedele is an idiot, and do you have any idea what this man did?"

Lothario said nothing, but his eyes grew wide. Fumbling for words he finally muttered, "He swore his allegiance to me, and said he would die before I would be harmed."

Don Nico stormed around for about five minutes. He came back, grabbed Tito around the neck, and got in his face, "Three times I have let my son have his own way. Two of those times, he has had a broken heart. I will say this only once. You are a slave now. He is my only son. I have never done anything to any of his slaves before, but if anything happens to make him unhappy, or one hair of his hair is bent, or his commands are not carried out, he will not control me. My fury will not be quelled by his sympathy for you. Do you understand me?"

"Papa please if he displeases you so much, I can sell him at the next meeting!" Lothario whined.

Don Nico turned to his son and grabbed him, "I am sorry I frightened you. This Tito is a great soldier; he can make the best bodyguard I could wish for you. He was not born a slave, and I am afraid his ego will get in the way. No, you keep him for now, but I will be watching him close. If he shows any disrespect, he will regret it."

"Yes papa I understand."

Don Nico turned back to Tito, "Do you understand?"

"Yes Master, I realize there will be no middle ground." Tito answered.

Don Nico brushed the horsehair off Lothario's legs and then turned to a soldier, "Get a blanket for his horse, he is making a mess of himself." When he started to look up Tito ran over and grabbed the boy putting him behind his horse. Don Nico yelled, "Now what?"

Tito whispered to Lothario, "Stay put!" Then Nico took out his sword from his belt and stood next to Don Nico.

Don Nico followed Tito's gaze to the twelve men standing in front of them with swords. The soldiers behind Don Nico dismounted and drew swords on both sides of the road. Don Nico looked the other direction, then to the front and behind of the caravan. At least twenty men surrounded them, "A few of you against seven of Rome's best? And you are spread out all over, you don't have a chance." Don Nico yelled.

"Just give us your supplies and horses and we will leave you be." One of the men said, "If you don't we will kill the men and take everything else."

Don Nico smiled, "There is nothing here for any of you to gain from, and there is definitely nothing to die for. Even if you were to win, how many of you think you would survive?" He yelled.

Suddenly the robbers started running off two and three at a time. When they had all left, Don Nico turned to the soldiers, "Bring me back three or four of them, we can find out who the others are and put them in irons."

Lothario watched the soldiers leave hurriedly. They were not playing games. For the boy it had already been an exciting week. Now on his first trip to the outside world he was actually seeing what it was like. It took about a half hour for the soldiers to return, with five prisoners. Don Nico was not pleased at all. He had the prisoners tied to the back of the wagon, where they had to keep up or dragged along. Don Nico turned to Tito, "That does not qualify for freedom." He said referring to putting Lothario behind the horses.

Don Nico put Lothario on his own horse and mounted behind the boy. The caravan started moving once again. Tito rode near to the side of Don Nico, keeping his distance. Lothario's horses followed then the caravan. This time two soldiers were behind the wagon to watch the prisoners. Don Nico however was furious, not only were highwaymen running loose in his district they actually attacked his caravan. The mere act of robbing people riled him further; he just had to keep his thoughts from his son at the time. Don Nico was a warrior; he became a Centurion, and later the commander of a Cohort. It is true that in those days a Cohort really was not made of many trained men, most with barely a sword or a spear, or even a sling. Then he found himself as a General, with a promotion from the King. Not much had changed since then, but he had his own ideas on how to build an Army with the Kings permission. Don Nico was a fair man to most people, and he did want power, but the kind of power no one could see until it was too late. Don Romano could be a key to Don Nico's success.

Don Nico listened to the escapades in Rome that his son was excited about, not leaving out the beheading or his own personal fight. He talked about that slaves that he bought, even though he protested it. He spoke of the baths and the things he saw. Occasionally Don Nico would ask a question or make a comment. When they arrived at the camp Don Nico rode around slowly looking things over. The soldiers and the rest of his caravan moved off the road and dismounted, then started unloading the wagons calling for the slaves to help.

The General rode to the sheepherders, "Greetings young men. Lothario has saved a long time for you to be here and to have sheep. Thank you very much for your time. He will pay you well, and if everything goes how it should, I will pay you a bonus."

The boys reached up and shook arms with Don Nico. Then he and Lothario rode off. Lothario smiled, "Father I had them set up your tent, and there is enough room for twelve people. So I thought my boys and Tito could sleep in it too."

"They won't be sleeping in it Lothario that is where you and I live. That is where I have my meetings. I want you to be at those meetings and they are private. They can stay near our tent in case you need them."

Lothario did not expect that, "What about your man?"

"He will sleep with your boys and Tito." Don Nico changed the subject, "Lothario I am not upset, but I see your boys are wearing fancy clothes for slaves, and they also have very nice sandals. I don't mind that, but you cannot outfit every slave you will have like that, they have to blend in with the others. Those boys of yours are going to think they are special because of the treatment you give them. Do you understand?"

"Yes, what about Tito?"

"That is different, he will be around you all the time, you want him to look good but I don't want him looking like a soldier either. Work with your mother on that and she can send for clothing for him. As for the others, they only get sackcloth. If someone does something out of the ordinary you can get them sandals or a belt as a reward, but that is all."

Lothario frowned, "The boys will be around me all the time and father, Tito will need a horse!"

Don Nico laughed and whispered in his son's ear, "You have three horses, let him use one of them."

"Oh you are teasing me! Those are for my boys. He needs something special."

Don Nico lost his smile, "Yes I was teasing you. But why is he so important that he needs a war horse?"

"He has to keep up with me" Lothario looked upside down and his father's face.

"You know baby, sometimes you push me to the limits. Very well, have him choose a horse from the stable, but not the family horses. Use the third stable. Lothario don't push your luck with me today. I am tired, dirty and upset that those bandits actually thought they could attack us." Don Nico stopped the horse and looked at the naked slaves running around, "Why aren't they wearing anything?"

"I didn't know I was buying slaves papa. As soon as Don Fedele was finished, he wanted to leave Rome. I did not have a chance to buy anything." Lothario explained.

Don Nico stopped at their tent and dismounted. He picked up Lothario and looked around, "Lothario aren't those your two boys over there naked with that other boy?"

Lothario looked and saw Paolo and Giulio playing the milking game with Romano. Lothario turned red, "Si papa."

"What on earth are they doing?"

"They are teaching him how to milk sheep." Lothario swallowed hard.

Don Nico began laughing hard, "If you say so. Have them get dressed and find the sack cloth and hand one out to all the slaves."

Lothario walked over to the boys, and watched them. He started growing in his thong. "The tent next to papas will be for the two of you and Tito. He wants the big tent just for him and me." Lothario heard Romano groaning happily, "When you guys do that stuff do it in the tent where no one can see you, or away from the camp. Papa saw you and I became embarrassed, he knew exactly what you were doing."

Giulio and Paolo immediately stopped, leaving Romano still humping the air. They grabbed their tunics and put them on. Giulio asked Lothario, "Are you upset with us?"

Lothario smiled, "No I just got embarrassed," He smiled at Romano, "Once you are settled down, go help the others. I have a job for Giulio and Paolo."

The younger boys skipped behind Lothario as he walked toward the wagons, "Can we practice milking you after the camp is settled?" Pablo asked.

Lothario was too embarrassed to look back at him, "Maybe if you are good. I think you are more interested in milking each other."

The two boys looked at each other. Giulio spoke, "Oh no Master you are more fun to milk!"

When they arrived at the wagon, Lothario told them to find the satchel with sackcloth tunics and hand them out to the other slaves. Lothario took his horses to groom them. In those days, horses had saddles but no stirrups and what modern people would call hackamores to put over the horses snout to hold the reigns. Only the most athletic people could mount a horse, all the others would need stairs or a landing to mount them. Lothario was athletic and could mount his horses, but he needed steps to groom them, and next to the steps is where he kept his grooming equipment.

Before he finished the third horse the boys came back, "Everyone is dressed now Master. We brought you some grape juice if you are thirsty."

Lothario gladly drank the juice, stopped looked at the boys, and spat it back out and started to gag. The boys looked at each other and then back, "Are you alright?"

Lothario stepped down to the ground, "This is that nasty wine, where did you get it?"

"We got it from your tent!" Paolo yelped.

He poured out the cup and handed it back to Giulio, "That is papa's wine. At least you got the sweet wine." He laughed. "Let's go get something to drink."

The boys went to the big tent and found the right amphora jar and they drank the grape juice. Soon enough Don Nico, Fedele and Capo Andio walked in behind them. Don Nico looked at the boys drinking the grape juice. Don Nico sighed, "When the two of you are finished drinking Lothario's grape juice, get your things and move them to your own tent, and make it fast!"

The boys dropped the cups, gathered their bedding and ran out of the tent as fast as they could. Tito walked up to the tent as the boys ran out, "I wouldn't go near there right now Tito, Don Nico is really mad and has Don Fedele, Capo Andio and Master Lothario in there, and he isn't being too quiet." Giulio warned.

"Get blankets out of the wagons and get your bed made up, you will be sleeping in our tent with us and Don Nico's man Tomasino." Paolo said hurriedly as they ran off.

The boys made up their beds and saw that Tomasino had already made his. Paolo frowned, "I don't think we are going to play the milking game with Master Lothario as long as we are in the same tent as the adults."

"Maybe it is just as well for the trip. When we get home we can stay in his room and have as much fun as he will allow us." Giulio answered.

"You are too little to understand." Paolo frowned.

"Well you are just a baby too, and maybe he just wants us to stay babies for a while. Maybe he is not ready for what they taught us. Didn't you notice just about everything makes him embarrassed?" Giulio shot back, "And what is there to understand?"

"What are we supposed to do if we are not doing that?"

Giulio sighed, "Take care of him! That's all he wanted is someone to take care of him. He hasn't asked for anything else. Maybe that will change soon, but that is all he wants now. Feel lucky we get to sleep in the same room and have good food and clothing. Feel lucky that he wants us around him all the time."

Tito came into the tent with his bedding, "Are you boys alright? It sounded like you were arguing."

"Si." Paolo answered, "We were having a loud discussion."

"Are they still in a meeting?" Giulio asked.

"Yes but they became really quiet. Now they have soldiers around the tent. I am guessing they will be there all night. I am very tired boys, for me and the other slaves it has been a long day." Tito explained, "Maybe if you have time in the morning you can help me remove my beard?"

"It would hurt if we pull them out one by one and we don't have that special wax they use at the baths." Paolo answered.

Tito sighed as he lay down on his blankets, "Maybe a soldier will give us a sharp knife to trim it at least. Master Lothario does not seem to mind if one has a beard, he just doesn't want it to be like mine."

Giulio grinned, "You do look like an unkempt Persian, not that I have seen one. I have seen Greeks and they look better than you."

Tito grumbled, "We have a big day tomorrow you better get some sleep."

Tomasino came into the tent. He looked at the boys and at Tito. He said nothing, covered in his blankets and fell asleep. Paolo and Giulio frowned, "Not very friendly is he?" Giulio asked.

Paolo lay behind Giulio, and wrapped an arm around him and whispered, "I am still going to try. You know he liked it a lot."

They fell into a deep sleep dreaming about their futures.

 

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