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 differently than they did.

IF the laws in your country make it illegal to or read fantasy stories about minors, or if you are under the 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. You may not upload this file to any site.

AS THE AUTHOR, I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE MY HISTORICAL FACTS AS IN ANY HISTORICAL FICTION. IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION THAT WOULD MAKE THIS STORY MORE REALISTIC, FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME, AND I WILL TRY TO MAKE CORRECTIONS. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU GIVE ME YOUR SOURCE OF INFORMATION SO I CAN READ IT MYSELF.

Remmy Meggs 

Grapes of Italy Chapter 07

Lothario went to his father's tent and began moving things around to find the armor for the horses. It did not take much to find the armor with the help of Tito and the boys. Paolo looked at the mass, "It's all made of gold!"

Tito laughed, "No, it is made of brass, and I bet the two of you will end up polishing it every day so it doesn't stain."

The four took that armor out to the horses. Tito explained where each piece went. The horses who at one time wore armor more often, seemed to be pleased and actually pushed Lothario to get it mounted correctly. Lothario looked at Tito, "Was there armor for your horse?"

"Si Master, left over from my war days. I kept it, and my horse is ready."

Lothario stepped back and looked at the horses, "They are beautiful. That armor will not hurt them?"

"The blankets are under the armor and tied down, they will be just fine." Tito smiled. He turned to see a rider come from behind them. It was a youth dressed similar to Lothario with armor and a helmet. Tito put his hand on his sword just to be sure.

The rider stopped and looked at Tito, "Peace, I wish to speak with Lothario. I have no weapons."

Lothario looked at the young man. The helmet, the shin guards, the cloak and the gold trimming on the uniform. The young man smiled, "Lothario, you do not recognize me?"

Lothario eyes squinted for a better look. The voice sounded familiar but he did not recognize the boy. The boy took off his helmet and threw it at Giulio, who caught it. Then Lothario's eyes lit up and he ran to the boy. Dino grabbed up Lothario and swung him around. "I would never forget you, how could you forget me?"

"You are taller, and I could not see your face with that helmet on. I sure didn't expect you to be wearing armor. What are you doing here?"

Dino smiled, "Father is a Centurion, so I was allowed to come with him. I didn't expect to see you here, but I was hoping. I went by your father's tent and Tomassino told me where you were. With those white horses it wasn't hard to find you."

Lothario turned to Tito, "Tito this is my best friend Dino. You may not see a lot of him, but he is always welcome."

Tito nodded toward Dino, "At your service Master Dino."

Emilio came running up and stood next to Dino. Lothario smiled, "Why Emilio are you on foot?"

Dino frowned and spoke harshly, "Because he mouthed off last night, so I have him chasing me around."

Giulio and Paolo laughed. Dino turned to them, "The two of you have grown since the last I saw you." He turned to Lothario, "You are not much taller, but I bet you tickle a lot more!"

Lothario blushed and ignored the statement. Emilio was in enough trouble and bit his lip to keep from laughing. "So if you haven't heard Lothario we are to dress fancy, stay at the edge of the embankment and look like soldiers. Of course, from that distance they can't see we are boys. It is just an illusion. With slaves and guards around us, they will think all the leaders are here. You do need to get your armor on. They can tell the difference between a little boy and a soldier."

"I don't have any. Besides, if they break the lines they are not going to ask us if we are children or not." Lothario frowned.

Dino scratched his head, "It is just our little bit to help Lothario."

"If they wanted help they would take father's troops to that opening in the tree line and fight off their heavy cavalry, we have no cavalry at all. Well we do, but nothing like what they have." Lothario fumed, "What good will we do sitting up here with slaves that are unarmed while men are dying out on that field. Look at the size of it. We can't mount a proper phalanx, much less a battle."

"But the Etruscans would be ready for a phalanx, they have used it before." Tito threw in, "Master our army has one thing they do not have."

Dino and Lothario looked at the man, "What is that?" Dino asked.

"We have heart, we have Rome, and we do not stop. That is what makes a citizen soldier. Something the Etruscans and Latin's have no use for." Tito answered. Then he looked at the two slave boys, "Go to his father's tent and see if you can find Master's armor. He will do what is right as he does every time."

Lothario frowned, "Then I want a sword. I do not plan on dying as a soldier if I can't protect myself."

Dino smiled, "If you can find one. On the other hand, you can ride out on that field in an hour and pick one up from someone that can't use it anymore. Now quit pouting, finish dressing."

The boys came out with armor, but had no idea what to do with it. Tito smiled, "Well I guess I am good for something around here." He taught the two boys how to put on the armor and tie it. Then he handed Lothario the helmet, "If something bad happens, get out of your clothes as fast as you can and keep on riding until you get home. I will stop anyone that comes near you."

Lothario looked at the helmet and then to Dino, "This is silly, I am not a warrior, and I am not important. I will do it, but I don't like it." He put the helmet on and jumped on his horse.

He waited for Tito to help the two little boys on the horses. Tito and Dino mounted and Dino led the way to the field at the edge of the hill where they and the other boys of military officers waited. Lothario looked for his father and his father's troops. When he found them he became upset, "They are in a regular formation, not a Phalanx!" He took off riding to his father. Paolo and Giulio were not ready for the move and almost fell off their horses in a comical way as they rode to the General.

Lothario stopped and looked at his father, "Papa, you are not using the Phalanx?"

The General glanced at Lothario and turned back to the battle that was taking shape, "Lothario is that you under that helmet?"

"Papa, why have you changed plans?"

Don Nico took off his helmet and looked at Lothario, "We are using it."

Lothario looked confused, "Papa tell me what is going on."

The General sighed, "The Etruscans use the phalanx and they are successful with it. Your knowledge of it gave us enough information so that we believe we can break through it. Your warning about the heavy cavalry, which we already knew about, gave us a second look at that area, and we have set slingers and archers there to stop them. There is a cohort of infantry to make sure none of them escapes. I know you are disappointed, but you will see what happens very soon. Now take yourself and the boys back to safety. Lothario, watch and learn." Nico looked at Tito, "You keep him there no matter what happens, even if you have to tie him up. Do not let him come past the ridge again." He turned to Lothario, "Do you understand?"

Lothario frowned, "But..."

"There are no buts; he can throw you in a cage as far as I am concerned. You stay on the ridge or face the consequences." Nico yelled at the boy.

Hurt, Lothario turned his horse and went around the formation of troops back up the hill. When he arrived, Dino and Emilio were gone. He turned the horse to watch the battle below. The Etruscans did not seem like they were ready for a battle. Their lines had not formed. The Roman units under Brutus, three men deep, in a checkerboard pattern were standing at the ready. The formation was the standard Roman battle plan.

General Felisimo's troops began one hundred meters behind Brutus's army. Between the two were about six hundred archers. The light Cavalry, if you could call them that, was behind Felisimo's troops, looking as if they were lost. Not even the horses stayed in position for but a few minutes at a time. The best warriors his father had were behind the cavalry under General Fedele. At the base of the hill, four other major units waited, along with more archers and countless slingers.

Except for the horses, the Roman units seemed to be transfixed in time. If there was movement in the ranks, it was imperceptible. As the Etruscans began to form their lines to the sides of the Phalanx, Brutus ordered his troops to move. The drumming on the shields sounded like thunder in the distance. Lothario thought it must sound like death if the noise was directly in front of you.

Lothario watched as both sides met. Men would fall and the remainder would stand on top of them and fight, pressing forward. Romans in the center front of the Etruscan phalanx were falling like flies. Roman archers were not aiming at the phalanx; instead, they were aiming behind it and to the sides of it. Tito and Lothario both were beside themselves. This tactic was unheard of. Lothario had studied war tactics with his teacher for years and he had heard nothing of such a plan.

To the left and right you could see the Etruscan heavy cavalry beginning to move quickly. They would be attacking the sides of the Roman columns, to break the line and push them back. A maneuver if successful would end the fighting for the day. Lothario watched in fear as he saw the cavalry enter the three lines on both sides.

Tito pointed to the center of the battlefield where horses were dragging a large tree with the diameter of a large tent. The tree placed on a wheelbase seemed to have no purpose. Men tied the horses to the base and the forty horses stood, waiting. Brutus was going to have the tree pulled into the fight. Tito watched as other men poured oil on the tree. Then it dawned on him that they were going to use the heavy tree as a catapult right down the center of the phalanx. He pointed it out to Lothario.

Lothario turned his attention back to the enemy's heavy cavalry. They had vanished. Not one trace of them came onto the battlefield. His attention went back to his father's troops. They had begun moving. General Fedele's troops began moving. Fedele's troops to the left and General Nico's troops to the right almost off the battlefield completely.

The men on horses tied to the tree began moving, slowly at first, then picking up speed, enough speed that nothing could stop that tree from killing anyone standing in front of it. The centerline of Brutus' forced separated. Someone lit the oil on the tree, and the soldiers cut the ropes letting the speed of the tree ram into the Etruscan phalanx breaking it in half. General Felisimo's troops rallied and as fast as they could they followed the tree, which broke the ranks of the phalanx. The Etruscans began falling like flies. The two light cavalry units went to the left and right of the Etruscans and attacked, while archers and slingers moved in for a closer, more directed kill.

Lothario heard men, surprised and wounded scream as they fell and killed by the ranks coming up from behind. Lothario turned his attention back to his father's troops then turned to Fedele's troops. "Where are they?" Lothario shouted.

Tito looked at the boy, "Who?"

"Where are papa and Fedele?"

Both armies had disappeared. Two more Roman auxiliary units went to the field. Their job was to make sure not one enemy soldier escaped through the lines or to the left and right. It was a slaughter. The Etruscan army was broken. In the distance, one could see burning camps of the Latins and Etruscans. Tito pointed to the fires in the distance, "Your father and Fedele came around the sides to pin down the Latins. The armies have surrounded them. What are left of the Etruscans will be the women, children and slaves. Let's hope their General's sue for peace, before their women and children are killed."

"The war is over?" Lothario asked.

Giulio and Paolo listened closely. Tito answered, "No, but we have broken their back. I am guessing that we have doubled our land holdings from the Etruscans. Veii is not far away. The Etruscans may have learned a lesson. We will, in all likelihood go after the smaller Latin tribes. I know we will push back the Sabine's and form a new border. This battle today is only the beginning of some expansion Brutus and your father have cooked up. The Dons to the south want to get rid of that Di Francisco, the Spaniard that is causing them grief. I think your father will take care of that as soon as he can. He has two legions with General Fedele, which is more than enough to take care of the South. I am only guessing, but he will probably take out some of the Latins to the south as well." Tito sighed, "Except for Veii, this about ends the Etruscan occupation of the Southern part of the continent."

Lothario watched as wagons and men began to enter the battlefield, "What are they doing?"

"They are collecting, coins, metals, weapons from the dead and papers from our soldiers to take back to Rome. The second group will pick up the dead Romans. The Etruscan and Latin slaves will bury their own dead, once they have cleared the field of roman dead."

"What about the families of the dead?" Lothario asked.

"The papers and money found on Roman soldiers will go back to their families. That man down there is writing everything down. As for the others, that will be part of the spoils of war. Half will go to Rome and the other half is split among the soldiers, based on rank." Tito explained.

Lothario turned to the boys, "Get us food and drink, it is almost dinner and none of us have had anything. If you see Dino please tell him I miss him."

Lothario slipped off his horse and took off his helmet. He put it on the saddle, "Do you think father is well?"

Tito smiled, "Of course he is. He will be back before dinner, with hundreds of slaves."

Lothario frowned, "Will all of them be slaves?"

Tito titled his head, "The sons of the nobility will be sold back to the families for ransom. Those that are not paid for are slaves at that point. Those that are left that are over ten summers will go into a training program for slaves. Those under ten will go to the baths, some will stay there and others sold, such as Paolo was. You already know what happens to the women and girls. The soldiers sold to the slave auctions or to farms. All that money over the next two months will go to the soldiers that participated."

Lothario shook, "What if there are boys like me?"

Tito thought on how to say it to Lothario, "To be honest I do not know. You are too cute for your own good, you have many features of a girl, but you are more than strong enough to hold you own. Then again you are smart, and they might use you as a teacher."

"So you are saying that they would just use me as a sex object or they would have me teach?"

Tito turned to face Lothario, "Personally in all honestly Lothario I believe you would not make it to a slave auction. One of their high-ranking officers would take you for themselves for sex. If they had children and he found out how smart you were then he may also use you as a teacher. Keep this in mind Lothario. I will never allow that to happen."

"What do you mean?" Lothario asked.

Tito cringed, "I would save you by killing you myself before I let them take you."

The bodyguard waited for Lothario to strike at him, but the boy did not budge. Instead Lothario smiled, "Make sure you do."

Tito smiled, "Of course you may like sex by then... so I better ask you first, right?"

Lothario made a fist and hit Tito in the shoulder, "Shut up Tito!"

 

Capo Andio rode his horse around the circle of soldiers. The soldiers stood at ease, watching the center of the circle. None of the soldiers had a sword drawn or a knife, and the spears they were carrying were not threatening anyone. In the center of that circle standing, kneeling or sitting fourteen noble boys, each with one slave and apparently ten bodyguards with swords drawn surrounding the boys. One of the boys was yelling about how the barbarian Romans killed his father in cold blood. Several of the boys were crying and being comforted by their slaves. The others were holding their slaves as if to protect them.

Archers could have easily cut the bodyguards down, and the boys would be captive regardless. Andio thought differently. What would Lothario and his friends face if the situation reversed? He stopped his horse and turned to his slave, "Ask General Nico to join me here. Then fetch Lothario to me."

Lothario rode off looking for Giulio, Paolo and Dino who seemed to have disappeared. Tito followed still laughing inside. It took twenty minutes for Lothario to find his two slaves. They were peeping inside a wall tent, and having fun with whatever they were seeing. Lothario said nothing he just watched the pair. Soldiers passed by and grinned when they heard the sounds of sex inside the tent. Lothario heard the sounds as well but to him it sounded like someone was in pain. Finally Lothario broke, "I sent you for food and to find Dino. Is there a problem?"

Giulio turned and grinned; instead of being upset at their obvious mischievousness, he motioned for Lothario to join them quietly. Lothario, puzzled, slid off his horse and walked over to the tent. Giulio moved to the side so Lothario could peep in. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the light but there on a case was a naked Emilio with his legs wrapped around Dino's behind. Dino was pumping his hips into Emillio. Both boys were moaning and whimpering. The two stiffened and Emilio shot milk out of his boy part. "That's nine times now!" Paolo whispered, "You should have seen some of the things they were doing!"

Lothario stood and sighed. He heard Dino talking, "That is over ten times Emilio aren't you satisfied yet?"

"Of course Master but that does not mean I want you to stop or get out of me." The other boy whimpered.

Lothario went to the doorway of the tent and entered, "Well we are fighting a war, and I find the two of you playing little boy games. Because of you, I haven't had my afternoon fruit and bread, nor have I had a bath. The two of you need not worry about getting dressed; you smell like over milked cows, you need a bath before you put on good clothes."

Emilio sighed. Dino rose up and pulled out of Emilio, "Don't be so upset Lothario, we were having fun. The battle will go on all day."

Lothario yelled, maybe out of jealousy or just frustration, "You left me hours ago it is four in the afternoon! And stop pointing that monster at me Dino it is leaking all over the place."

"He was just milking it Lothario it was full." Dino grinned, "And there is no need to yell. I am sorry I ruined your day." He turned to Emilio, "All day? How am I supposed to explain that to Lothario, much less my father?" Then Dino spotted Giulio and Paolo laughing outside the tent. He picked up his helmet and threw it against the tent wall where the boys were standing, "Spies both of you!"

Lothario cocked his head and laughed, "You two are so guilty and funny looking right now. Emilio get yourself together and get baths for yourself and Dino, and maybe some food. Giulio get me some food, Paolo get us a bath going."

Giulio stepped inside the tent, "Master the baths are ready. There are twelve tubs the slaves have been working on, and it is clean water each time a person leaves."

"Good Giulio. As soon as these two get their clothes you can show us where they are at."

Giulio smiled, knowing Paolo had not been around the camp to see where everything was at. "Paolo can get the food and he can find us." Giulio hoped out loud.

"Yes, Paolo you get us some food. Emilio can get their own. Meet us at the bath and have fresh clothes for me." Lothario ordered.

Paolo sighed and looked at Giulio, "Okay I deserved that." Then he ran off to the cooking area.

After several minutes, Dino and Emilio went back to almost normal, although their protruding members were visibly swollen and red. Emilio picked up their clothes and they followed Giulio, Tito and Lothario to the bathing area. Quintario and two other boys were already there with their slaves. They smiled at Lothario and bade him welcome and then they stared at the two fanatics, which was very apparent to everyone that took notice. Emilio still had milk running down his body, and the swollen but not stiff members were a dead giveaway.

Giulio helped Lothario undress, got in the tub after him and began washing his master. Emilio looked at the tub and realized he and Dino were not both going to fit in it, another indication that they were not at home. All of them were in different stages of washing when the rider came up to them, "Capo Andio says it is urgent and requests your presence." He said to Lothario.

Dino grumbled, "Why do they do that every time we have a bath together?" He looked at Emilio, "I will dry myself, you get in and at least wash your juices off." Dino turned to Lothario, "It would serve them right if we showed up naked so they realize how their urgent behavior messes with us.

Quintario smiled and stood up. His slave jumped out of the tub and started drying him, "That is a grand idea Dino. Capes and helmets! That will teach them!"

Lothario looked at the two of them, "It was only me that was summoned!"

One of the other boys in the bath stood up, "We are warriors together. If you must go on the battlefield, we all need to go. And we need to go naked to make an impression."

Praetorio's son felt as if he were in a trap, "I doubt our fathers would like us to parade around naked in front of the enemy."

Quintario smiled, "That is the point. They like to see us at the Greek games naked, they like to see us in the gym naked, so why not on the battlefield? Isn't that how gods are portrayed? Naked killing machines, ready for war at any moment?"

The courier frowned, "It does not matter to me how you go, but we need to go now. There are bodyguards protecting some boys. Capo Andio wants you and your father to see it."

Resigned to his fate Lothario put on the cloak and had Giulio tie it. Then he put on his helmet. He whistled for his horse and the three horses came bolting through the encampment.

Paolo showed up with food at the point, and the horses almost ran him over. "Dino you take one horse and Quintario the other, but hurry. You other two get your mounts and follow us. You slaves stay behind and prepare the tents and our belongings for the day. Paolo kicked the dirt and handed Lothario food and juice, "But master we are always with you!"

Tito spoke up, "You heard Master Lothario. Don't get yourselves in trouble."

The boys mounted and the courier led them away with Tito following close behind. They did not travel fast, giving time for Lothario to share the bread, fruit and grape juice with his comrades. Within a few minutes, six other boys joined them, making a total of nine. Sevario nodded to Lothario, "There will be more of us. They needed a little more time."

The courier looked behind and saw the group growing. He shook his head and the naked boys trying to prove something, whatever it may have been. Two enemy soldiers ran across the path. They were running for their lives. The courier stopped and Tito yelled at Lothario, "I should stop them master!"

Just then, six Roman soldiers came out of the tree line pursuing the two fleeing men. They paused when they saw the boys. Lothario smiled, "Go on but try not to hurt them." The men nodded and continued their pursuit. Tito was upset, since he was on horseback and could have overtaken them easily. Lothario almost read his mind, "And if I released you, they would be dead instead of slaves."

They continued traveling down the path. Dino looked at Lothario, "Why didn't you let Tito go after them?"

"Because he is not to leave my side and you know it. Anyway I left Giulio and Paolo behind; don't think they won't get even for that somehow." Lothario laughed.

Dino had no idea what Tito had to do with the two younger slaves but left it be, "This soldier is avoiding the battlefield on purpose."

"It is probably best. Something tells me we will still see plenty of dead where we are going, are you ready for that? I am not ready to see it." Lothario answered then finished off the grape juice.

When the group entered the village, they had with them fifty naked boys from ages eleven through almost sixteen. On the ground dead were Roman, Etruscan and Latin soldiers. Hundreds of Roman children and women, as well as men were dead from the attack of the invaders. Lothario yelled out, "Stop!" and the group stopped. Lothario spotted the purple edging of a boy dead on the ground. He slid off his horse and knelt next to the boy. He lifted the boys back and held him close. He openly cried, tears running down his face, "Crispus, little Crispus why did they do this to you?"

Four soldiers stopped and looked at the group of boys, then at Lothario. They spoke to each other and two of them gently pulled Lothario away. The other boys did not know Crispus, but they felt for one of their own. Their tempers began to flare. The two soldiers put the brokenhearted Lothario back on his horse. One said to the boy, "We will bring the little boy to your family."

Dino, whose lips were trembling spoke, "Please have the men bring all the dead children, if you can."

Several of the boys were nauseated and had to slide of their horses to vomit. The blood and the horrors of war began to sink in to their frail minds. Dino noticed a large group of enemy soldiers guarded by Roman troops. Consul Brutus noticed all the purple-cloaked boys. He told the Centurion to follow him. Brutus rode slowly toward the boys with his entourage and neared the boys who were now facing the enemy officers. The bodies of Roman children followed them. The men laid the bodies down a few feet in front of Lotharios horse. The ground of soldiers around them, the captives, and those in awe of the sight of the boys, stood like statues.

Lothario slid of his horse, followed by the other boys. He did not even bother to wipe his face. He walked up within ten feet of the captives, "Look and look hard." He shouted at the top of his lungs.

Capo Andio, Generals Nico and Fedele heard the boy. They turned away and everyone's eyes followed them. "My god, how did they get here?" Nico asked.

"Look at what you have done!" He cried out. "You killed unarmed children!" He walked back and pulled Crispus' hand up, "He was playing ball!" Tears rolled down his face, "This is how you treat an enemy who has not lifted a hand against you?"

A general spit on the ground in front of Lothario. He looked at the boy, "I would have killed all of you if I had the chance!"

Tito drew his sword but Dino stayed his arm, "Watch and learn what fear really is."

Brutus bit his lip. He wondered if General Nico would allow this to continue. The boy was extremely agitated and wild. He turned and looked at General Fedele who was smiling and pointing at the boy. Brutus took his helmet off and watched the scene play out. Don Nico looked at Fedele, "You are a dead man if he gets killed."

"Then I will have no worries. Whatever he is up to he has planned it out in his head a hundred times while you and I have talked." Fedele answered.

Lothario yelled, "Romans these men are cowards! They are not even men! They are an abomination of the earth! It is one thing to kill a boy brave enough to lift a knife or sword. You respect that boy as a warrior, even if you take his life. Children, would a Roman kill a child? Would you?" He yelled louder.

Lothario turned his back and began to walk away. The General called to him, "Take up a sword and I will kill you where you stand!"

Dino ran forward and grabbed Lothario, "Everyone knows he is a coward, just walk away, Capo Andio called for you and is waiting."

Brutus slid off his horse and worked his way through the crowd of soldiers to stop the madness. From another direction, General Nico did the same. Lothario turned back to the captive General. He walked directly in front of the man and began hitting him. The man did not budge, and began laughing.

Lothario walked over to the line of soldiers and grabbed a sword and knife. He walked back to the General and handed him the sword. The General smiled, "They will kill me anyway, but at least I get to take a boy with me."

The General swung the sword to cut Lothario in half. As before, the boy rolled into the sword arm of the man. He then cut the tendons of the arm and looked the General in the eye, "Now you die the coward that you are." With those words, Lothario took the knife and struck deep into the man's stomach. The General's arms began to flail. Lothario moved in front of the man and pulled the knife up higher, "Animal." And then again, "Coward." And once again, "Barbarian." Lothario yelled at the top of his lungs.

Lothario stood back and let the man fall to his knees. As the man faltered and stared at the boy, Lothario took the sword out of the man's hand. He raised it above the man's head and the down force was so strong that the General's head rolled twenty feet. Lothario's sword was now bloodied and pointing down. He walked over, picked up the head, and held is so everyone could see it, "This is the enemy that will kill unarmed women and children. They do not even deserve to be slaves. When you go into battle tomorrow, remember what they have done to our people. Do not kill the women, the children and the unarmed slaves; welcome them to the Roman Republic!"

The mass of military and their leaders went into a frenzied uproar of approval. Lothario threw the head to the ground. Nico ran out and grabbed his son holding him tight, "Don't you ever do anything like that again!"

Brutus broke through the crowd and ran over to the boy. Brutus nodded to Nico, "Let us make the most of this, he may not go down in history, but the morale boost he has created will stay with us through this war!" With that, the two men picked up the bloodied boy and carried him around the encampment and the forty-nine boys told everyone what happened. Lothario never became famous himself, but the statues of the boy god Mars of war from that day forward were in the likeness of Lothario and no other.

They took him all the way back to the village where fourteen boys still waited with the ten bodyguards. His father and Brutus set Lothario on the ground. Nico looked at his son, "Andio called you here to witness this. After what you have told everyone I ask you what should we do with them. There are around twenty noble boys, but these are the ones that had bodyguards."

"Bring them all together I guess."

Nico nodded, "Bring the other noble children."

A few minutes later, more boys came into the circle. Lothario had a good idea of what was going on by that time. Lothario turned to Consul Brutus, "You will back everything I ask? Is that what you told me?"

Brutus nodded, "You have the Spaniards property as soon as your father can take control of it."

"And what about here and now, whether I kill them or free them, will you honor it?"

"I will Lothario."

Lothario turned to Tito, "If the Etruscans told you that no harm would come to me would you believe them?"

"Never." Tito almost spat out.

"Would you lay down your sword knowing you would never be paid or released if father was dead?"

Tito looked hurt, "I would die before they touched you."

Lothario walked over to Dino and took his hand. He pulled him toward the bodyguards, "If I tell you that we will not harm these boys, I guess you would not believe me?"

No one answered, but a captured boy yelled out, "Kill them like they will do to us!"

"I understand your fear. If I would have been captured by your army I would be afraid too, if I would have even been given the chance to live that long. Therefore, you have stood here for hours in your little circle and not one man has lifted a sword, knife or spear to you. Can't you see if they wanted to harm you or the boys you would have been dead already?"

The bodyguards began looking at each other. Lothario continued, "I have two Generals here and our Consul Brutus, they will attest to my words. Drop your weapons. The boys as dignitaries will be treated as such; you can accompany them anywhere, but without arms. Tomorrow with a cohort of Romans, you will return the boys to their homes. You will tell their loved ones to move out of Roman occupied territory to Versii, or further away, taking all the possessions they can carry. Consul Brutus will have a writ guaranteeing safe passage. In return you will tell the entire stories of what happened here today to everyone you meet."

"If we refuse?" The deadliest asked.

"If you refuse you will be cut down. If one of those boys is hurt because of your actions, you will be drawn and quartered. You have a few minutes to decide your fate."

"What of the other children?" A boy asked.

"They will be ours. In time they can earn their freedom, they can return home or become citizens of Rome." Lothario answered honestly.

"You are mad if you think we would believe you or any of your filthy officers." The one bodyguard spat out. He raised his sword to the child he was protecting. General Fedele stopped him dead with a sword, pushing him away from the others. Lothario knelt down next to the boy and held him, "I will keep my word. Tomorrow you will be on your way home."

The bodyguards looked at the boys. The looks on the boy's faces told them everything they needed to know. They dropped their swords. Lothario smiled and looked at the boys, "You come with us we are sons of nobles as well. We will see to your needs and make sure you have a good night's rest." He turned to the nine bodyguards, "You follow behind us, stay with the soldiers. You will be within a few feet of your charges at all times. Lothario and the others mounted their horses. Lothario cried the entire ride to his father's tent and late into the night for those who had died that day.

***

Dawn broke and Lothario woke to Giulio and Paolo with fresh meat, fruit and water for him. Once Lothario sat up Giulio handed him a washbowl for his hands and face, "Master you are a mess this morning. The baths are ready when you are, and you need one bad."

"The captive boys?" Lothario asked.

"They have been bathed, clothed and fed Master." Paolo answered, "They are preparing an open ox cart for them to travel together in."

Lothario ate in silence with the boys. Tears still rolled down his face even as he tried to hold them back. Then Lothario spoke but what came out was unexpected, "I had a chance to take the field yesterday. If I had not backed down, we could have lost that battle. I took the field in the evening by pure chance. I killed a man. He deserved it, but it was me that killed him." Lothario started bawling.

General Nico walked into the tent and heard the last part of what his son said. Nico knew his son did not see himself as a warrior, or a hero. He picked up Lothario, cuddled him, kissed on the boy, and loved him. He said nothing to the slave boys that were in his tent eating. Instead, he sat on some cushions and cared for his son.

When the two slaves finished they cleaned up the mess and went outside with the plates. Paolo looked at the guards, "I wouldn't let anyone in there right now." Then he saw Tomasino, "Well except for the servants anyway."

Tomasino went in the tent and came back out immediately, "Paolo, Master Nico... he asks that the two of you prepare a bath for Master Lothario in the tent. Then he wants to prepare for the morning sacrifice."

The boys pulled on Tito and two guards to help move the family tub to the tent. Then the two boys ran around to the different fires gathering hot water for the bath. They argued the entire time about who would wash Lothario. Giulio won using past mistakes Paolo had made to get the other boy to agree. Giulio knew it was not a happy time for Lothario. Paolo was not the kind to let things be, this was a job for Giulio and Paolo knew it.

Giulio tested the water several times before it was just right. He slipped into the tub and looked toward Don Nico. Nico helped his son up and lifted him into the tub with the other boy. Giulio was gentle and caring. He took his time. Capo Andio came to the tent to fetch Lothario, "Lothario wanted to see the boys off. They are ready to go."

Don Nico shrugged his shoulders, "He is bathing. He will be there when he gets there." A surprised Andio saluted and left.

As Giulio washed Lothario he asked, "Are you going to be okay?"

"Yes I am just tired and honestly I do not feel good about yesterday."

"I don't think you made a mistake Master, but maybe you pushed yourself too much. We are supposed to have fun; sometimes you act like an adult and scare everyone."

Lothario squinted when Giulio began washing his hair, "You are getting soap in my eyes and your ding is in my face!"

"Well if your eyes are burning close them, and you won't see my ding!" Giulio used all his weight and pushed Lothario's body and head under the water.

Lothario came up spitting water, "I wasn't ready for that."

"Whine whine whine. You sound like one of those girls around camp that fetch water." Giulio laughed.

"I do not." Lothario grabbed a towel and wiped his face off. "Are you done?"

"No you have to stand up so I can get your stinky parts clean." Giulio answered.

Lothario stood and let Giulio wash him. Giulio took his time saying the parts were very stinky. Then he worked his way down Lothario's legs. "You can sit now so I can do your feet."

Giulio finished and Lothario stood up and exited the tub while Giulio finished washing himself. Giulio stepped out of the tub and opened the vase of oil. "Yummy, this one smells like fish oil."

"It does not."

"Then what does it smell like?"

Lothario sniffed, "Something mamma would wear."

Giulio said nothing. He glanced over at General Nico who gave him a warning look. Lothario frowned, "Did you just say my mother smells like fish oil?"

Giulio whimpered, "I didn't know she wore this!"

"It smells like flowers. Someone packed the wrong bottle." Lothario decided.

Giulio thought back. He was the one that packed things that day. "I only packed what was in your room. Now you will smell like a girl all day. They will be following you around trying to pick you. Are you going to dress today or go out naked again?"

"Does it matter to you?" Lothario asked.

"Not at all. If you go out naked, it is less work though. That is probably how those noble boys expect to see you, without all the blood though. You looked scary when we saw you last night."

"I don't want to think about it."

"Yes master, so dressed or naked?"

"Naked I guess at least until after the sacrifices."

"Paolo went to find a fine ram for it this morning. It was our families turn to provide." Giulio stood up and made sure he did not miss any parts. Then he got to the front of Lothario who had a projectile ready. Giulio giggled, "I didn't do that!" Then he proceeded to rub more oil there.

Lothario frowned, "It got cold. Shut up!"

Giulio giggled more and grabbed Lothario's cape. Then he put it down and had Lothario sit, "I have to brush your hair." He was almost finished brushing and he stopped, looked over Lothario's shoulder and said, "Will you tell your ding to stop staring at me master?"

General Nico who had been quiet the entire time broke out laughing. Lothario turned red and stood up, "That was not funny. Now get my cloak."

"It was funny master." Giulio pulled the cloak around Lothario. He grabbed the heavy clasp and hooked it, "If you sit down I can put your sandals on."

Lothario sat and Giulio almost pulled him out of the chair. He began putting the first sandal on. He did not look up and said, "It is still staring at me!"

Lothario looked down and readjusted himself, "It's because you almost pulled me out of the chair. Just stop talking about it and it will settle down."

Giulio was half finished with the second sandal and said, "Now your ding is in my face staring right at me and don't say it isn't master cause anyone can see that it is. Master your ding is turning red!"

"Shut up it is not!"

Giulio stood, put his tunic on and sat on the ground to put his sandals on. He looked up at Lothario, "Well I see he has settled down. Guess what? He is still looking at me."

Don Nico looked over at the two, and saw Lothario's soft member hanging down right over Giulio's face. He began laughing, "You have to admit one thing out of the two Giulio is the funniest."

Giulio stood and kissed Lothario on the cheek. He grabbed the helmet and ran out the tent, "I'll be with the horses."

Don Nico smiled, "Do you feel any better now?"

"Much better papa, although my heart is still sad, and I want to hurt them and love them at the same time." He answered referring to the enemy.

"War is not easy son. Terrible things happen on both sides. Even Romans have committed horrible acts, whether by duty, madness or revenge." Don Nico smiled, stood and hugged the boy tight.

"What about what they did to the village?"

Don Nico hugged his son tighter, "Listen to me and don't hate me. When I was a young officer, the commander ordered me to attack a villa and kill the entire family, and their slaves. I did so without question, but to this day, it cuts into my soul. What they did when they attacked a peaceful unarmed village was wrong. I think though that someone ordered them to do it. Did you notice that when you slew that general the others were pleased about it?"

"No papa I was too upset."

"I think he gave the order, but I can't be sure. You will be all right; it may take a few days to work this out in your head. I want you to promise me not to interfere again."

"I won't ever again papa."

The General smiled, "Of course you will regardless, but not during this war, but when you are older. You are a courageous and great warrior, you may not see it but others do. I heard men say they would be afraid to get you upset, Fedele praises you constantly. You make him and me proud, but I would prefer you be my little boy instead of doing the work of men. That General would have died soon enough anyway, probably in the arena."

"I understand papa."

"Good." He looked at his son closely, "Today we will move past the village and meet the enemy tomorrow on the other side of the river. No one will question you running around with just a cloak. Actually, they need to see you dressed this way for morale but do me a favor."

"Of course papa, anything you want."

"Tell your ding to stop staring at people!"

"Papa!" Lothario blushed and started out the door.

Don Nico slapped his son's bare bottom, "Be good today!"

As Lothario walked to the horses, soldiers would stand up and nod to him. One called out to him, "Master Lothario a moment?"

Lothario stopped as the man came up to him and kissed Lothario's hand, "Master Lothario, yesterday afternoon I was ready to run from Rome. I was so afraid for my life. I did not want to die in the next battle. Then I heard what a boy did to a General. I heard how many he saved and he was not even a soldier. Not only was I ashamed of my thoughts I am struck with your beauty. Now hearing your deeds, I will go out to that battlefield ready to die for Rome, for you." The man knelt, kissed Lothario's hand and then stood.

Lothario smiled, "I do not want you to go out on the battlefield and die. I want you to go out on that battlefield and fight a good fight for Rome, and come home to your family. That doesn't make you a coward if you fight and live, it makes you smarter than the enemy."

The man taken aback with others heard the words of the boy as they stood around. Lothario got to his horses, the armor and saddles were already in place. Lothario looked at his two slaves, "The two of you readied them without me?"

"Did we do it wrong Master?" Giulio asked.

"No, I am just surprised. Maybe they are used to you being around. Did you groom them first?"

"Yes Master." Paolo grinned from ear to ear.

Lothario's eyebrows rose, "Well it seems they liked it. I know the two of you want to take care of me, but at least one day a week let me take care of my own horses, lest they forget me."

Paolo grinned, "Look Master!" He said as he jumped without help on the back of the horse, "I can do it on my own now. Giulio is near there too he has been practicing."

"It takes muscles to do that. Giulio you will have many muscles. I guarantee it. It will just take time." Lothario rubbed the boy's hair. "Now let's go see the noble boys off."

Tito helped Giulio into the saddle and then mounted his own horse. As the four rode off Lothario noticed something else that was different. He stopped and turned around looking at the horses. "I don't know if I like this or not."

The three others looked at each other wondering what Lothario was talking about, "Tito is riding next to me. My own horses gave him room; the two of you are grooming them and riding them as if they were your own. Why didn't I see this coming?" He laughed. He continued and saw Capo Andio in the distance.

Lothario rode up to the cart. The boys stood and applauded. The ten remaining bodyguards knelt shortly. When they stood one said, "Our lives are in your hands. We will tell everyone what has happened, and that it was Rome itself that spared us. Many of us have been talking, and would someday like to be citizens of Rome so we can spread the good will you have given to us and to the Latins."

"Rome will welcome all of you. When that day comes, go to my father and tell him your story. He will take care of you. Now go, and peace be with you always."

The Centurion came over and shook Lothario's hand, "I guarantee their safety Master Lothario."

Lothario and his group watched the wagon and the soldiers move out. Capo Andio rode up to Lothario, "You look a little lost Lothario. Is something bothering you?"

"They are breaking camp this morning. We are moving across the river I guess. That is like twenty miles from here. I feel lost, out of place, and this cloak keeps choking me every time I turn."

"There will not be a battle today, well maybe a few small skirmishes, but this may be a good time to go to the consul and ask their permission to have the games."

Lothario grinned, "That is a great idea Andio. Come travel with us, if you do not have other duties this morning. We will approach Brutus."

"Yes that would be great and we can help!" Paolo chirped.

"Yes, as long as Master's ding doesn't stare at the Consul." Giulio giggled allowed. Except for Lothario, the others had no idea what that meant. It was enough however that when Lothario blushed, they knew Giulio had something on their master. They would find out as soon as they got the youngest boy alone.

Emilio was outside the tent. He looked at Lothario, "I just got him dressed!"

Dino yelled from inside, "What is it Emilio?"

"Master Lothario is here, naked of course. I could never get him out of his clothes now no one can keep him in them!" Emilio yelled back.

"Well help me undress then. No, I will get undressed, get our horses ready." Dino ordered.

Emilio grinned, "Yes master." He turned to Lothario and pulled up his tunic, "See Master Lothario, I am starting to grow hair there just like Master Dino."

Lothario rolled his eyes, "It is too far away, wait until we dismount, then I will look."

"It is very important Master Lothario, you know it is. You know how long it took me to get even those two little hairs?" Emilio frowned.

"It took you almost fourteen years, like just about everyone else." Lothario grinned.

Emilio sighed. Dino yelled out, "Quit showing off to the little ones and get our horses."

Emilio grumbled, "I wasn't showing off Master, I was just showing Lothario I will be a man soon."

"Emilio now!"

Emilio pulled his tunic down and ran off. Dino came out of the tent naked except for his cloak and sandals, "Sorry about him Lothario, he is just excited, he has been acting like that since last night. He was even showing two of the soldiers earlier."

"It means a lot to him Dino, I understand. We are gathering up everyone and we want to go to Consul Brutus and ask permission to have the games today after the camp is moved." Lothario explained.

Dino looked around, "No one is moving the camp or it would have been packed already. Besides Quintario is the oldest of us and the leader, he is the one that needs to ask."

"We were going to get him too, but your tent was closest." Lothario frowned.

Dino pointed to the road, "Look there is a cohort moving the captives to Rome. I bet a lot of slave traders will meet them on the way to get first picks. Did your noble boys start their journey?"

"Yes, I don't understand why they needed so many soldiers with them, but they left about half an hour ago."

"That was what that was about. I saw them but I didn't see you so I thought they were just regular troop movements." Dino smiled, "Now we can get all oiled up and play boy games in between showing off for the soldiers."

Paolo and Giulio giggled. Dino frowned, "That will be up to Lothario if you get to play the boy games. But I am letting Emilio play in case you are wondering."

"The teachers and trainers said not to do that stuff for three days before a competition and you have been doing it all week. You probably won't have the energy to take down Giulio much less any matches." Lothario laughed.

Dino grimaced, "I will do just fine."

Emilio came back with the horses and he and Dino mounted them. Together the group rode off to get the other boys together. Lothario knew that Consul Brutus was going to allow the games because of yesterday's victory. He was not so sure about Dino's plans. If they did not get carried away, a little tickling would not hurt anyone. Lothario tried not to grin, and he was confused about his feelings, but he sort of did like the idea.

 

 

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