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 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 09

The noble boy sat his plate on the ground and stood, "I am going to papa's tent. When all of you finish you can join me." He was glaring at Paolo as he spoke. He turned and left them.

Tito put down his plate and followed. Giulio looked at Paolo, "Whatever you said really upset him this time."

"Si, I hurt him bad, but I am not sure exactly what I said to make him upset." Paolo pouted, "Finish up and eat and we will take his plate back. He may get hungry later on."

Lothario went into the tent and dressed. He still put the purple cape back on but he was in his tunic and thong. He looked outside and there were five boys waiting for him. "What is it?" He asked as they stared at him.

Ettore was only two months older than Lothario. He was Roman, cute, and very sure of himself. His father was a Tribune and a well-known magistrate. Although attacking a full-grown man that had a sword was beyond Ettore, he still had a problem with Lothario missing the games. Lothario would have been Ettore's wrestling partner, so Ettore had to sit out for that part of the games. He was fuming mad, and his tiny nostrils were flaring.

Dino frowned, "Some of the boys are upset because you missed the games. I told them you were tired and had to sleep. I have to admit I am not happy with you either, but Ettore is the one that is most upset with you."

Lothario looked at Ettore, "I am sorry. The next games I promise I won't miss."

Ettore stepped forward and pushed Lothario backward, "You promised me this morning you would be there. You are a liar Lothario, and a coward." Ettore had tears running down his face, "I rely on you, and I take care of you. Who is there after every game, win or lose, to hold you and make you smile?" He turned to the others as Tito watched from a few feet way. "Who is the one that stands with you when someone wants to fight?" He turned to Dino, "It sure isn't Dino, and he is always a hundred miles away. It is I Lothario, not your slaves, not your old bodyguard, it is me. You have offended me, Si for some this maybe trivial but to me it was my heart and you have broken it."

"Ettore, don't do this, we are good friends. I let you down, do to my own fault, it will not happen again." Lothario explained.

Ettore would have none of it. He growled, "You still don't understand!" he grabbed Lothario's hand and put it on his chest, "You broke my heart, who else would put your hand on their heart in public? Who else would die for you Lothario? You made me feel like I didn't matter today and you don't see it?"

Lothario was lost, "What are you talking about?"

Ettore grabbed Lothario and they both fell to the ground. Lothario started to say something when Ettore put him in a headlock. Then Ettore worked to turn the other boy on his back so he could pin him to the ground. At that point, the two began wrestling and Lothario who was dazed at first became just as active. After ten minutes of wrestling, the two became still. Ettore was lying on top of Lothario. Lothario looked up to his worn out opponent, "Are you happy now?"

"I don't want to beat you anymore. I feel funny inside." Ettore seemed embarrassed.

Lothario whispered back, "Then you better get off of me because I am not done beating you."

Ettore leaned up, and Lothario felt the harness of Ettore's ding. Lothario was speechless. Ettore frowned, "Give me a minute so I will not look bad, then you can beat me until you are happy."

Dino looked at the two boys on the ground, along with the noble boys, the slaves and Tito. Tito started to move to pick Ettore up and Lothario waved him off. Lothario looked in Ettore's eyes, "You don't want to fight me and you want to love me!" He whispered as the realization hit him.

Ettore turned red, "Si, I was mad because I didn't get to play with you after the games. We always play. Then I found out that those two slaves did more than play with you. I was mad. I don't want to hurt you and I am sorry I lost control."

Dino stood by and when he could not hear what they were saying he moved closer, "Get off him Ettore. You both have had enough; you only won because he wasn't ready for being attacked by you." Dino pulled Ettore roughly to his feet.

Ettore covered, hiding his ding with his cloak as Paolo and Giulio helped Lothario to his feet and started brushing him off. Ettore's slave seeing this went to clean off his master. Lothario did not feel like the fight was over. The unfairness of being hit without warning made him want to go after Ettore again. Tito whispered to Lothario, "You can get even in the next game, leave it for now."

Lothario glared at Ettore but Paolo noticed that the look on Ettore's face was of embarrassment. Paolo looked at Dino who was yapping loudly at Ettore's attack on Lothario. It was apparent that Ettore was not listening. Tito held Lothario back for quite a while before the boy settled down. He looked at the other boys, "You need to get to your fathers and take care of yourselves..."

Dino looked at Ettore, "I should beat the hell out of you for what you did!"

Ettore did hear that. He pulled his cloak off and turned to Dino, "It don't matter if you are bigger than me Dino. I have no problem showing you who your master really is. You are not a coward, and you can fight. Do you really want to fight me? I am a tournament fighter, and you are what exactly? A tag along noble boy, that gets off looking at Lothario's bum. You have no idea what love is. You have the most beautiful slave in all of Rome, but you despise him because he stands up to you and wants you to be better than you are. What does he get in return? Not love, not his freedom. You beat him in public, and he lets you so your father won't kill him. You have no idea what love is." Ettore repeated.

Dino knew he made a mistake by challenging a well-groomed fighter, but he put himself in the predicament, and now there was no way out. Dino quickly pulled his clothes off so he was as naked as Ettore. He made all the threatening gestures that he had seen in the arena. Ettore almost crouched down to the ground. Dino came in for the attack and Ettore stood and ran backward. Dino frowned, "I am not going to hurt you that bad Ettore."

Ettore took his place again as a crowd gathered around the boys and started placing bets. Again Dino charged and Ettore ran backwards to get away from the onslaught. Lothario raised his eyebrows, not believing what he was seeing. Ettore would stand up to a man and not blink an eye but here he is running from a fifteen year old. Ettore walked back into the circle. The men started placing heavy bets on Dino to win. Dino frowned, "I promise I will just knock you on the ground a few times. Now come on and fight me."

"I am not stupid; once you get ahold of me you will beat me like a slave. You are the one that called me out!"

The boys started glancing at each other not believing their eyes or ears. Dino knew he had to get closer to Ettore to grab him and throw him to the ground. He decided to pretend to give up and turned back around to grab the other boy. The problem was Ettore's feet; would Dino have time to stop from getting kicked? He decided to take a chance. Dino raised his arms up as he smiled, "There is nothing I can do it seems!"

With Ettore off guard, he turned to grab the other boy, expecting him to run again. Ettore did not run, his foot hit Dino squarely on the chin. Dino stepped backward out of balance. Then he felt another kick, this time to the stomach. Ettore hit Dino several times in the chest with his hands before Dino fell to the ground, "Get up Dino, I could not hit Lothario but I can take it out on you."

The boys moved back. They knew this Ettore as a fighter this was more like it. At this point Dino did not have a chance. Dino looked up, "I guess I made a huge error in judgment. If I don't continue then I am branded weak, and if I do continue I will be whipped to near death."

"Just get back up, at least I won't kill you like Lothario would."

Lothario smiled and said, "I wouldn't kill any of you."

The other boys knew better in their hearts. It did not take much to know that if you were a true enemy of Lothario he would not blink an eye when he killed you. Emilio grabbed Dino's arm, "He has had enough, he is not a fighter or a wrestler, and he just wants to be friends with everyone. Si, he has a big mouth but it wasn't meant to hurt anyone. He can't hurt any of you. Leave him be, his pride has been crushed."

Dino came to his feet with Emilio's help, "I will continue, maybe I can hit him a few times."

Tito came forward, "No that is enough. You are no match for Ettore and everyone knows it. No one will think bad of you."

Lothario applauded Dino's try at beating one of them. The other boys although congratulating Ettore also applauded for Dino. Lothario looked at Ettore, "Again I promise I will never let you down again, no matter what it is."

Ettore smiled, "I know you won't but I had to make sure you understood it was important to me, everything we do is important to me."

Paolo looked at Dino, Ettore and Lothario. He knew something was not like it should be but could not figure out what it was. There was no way he could get close enough to Ettore to find out. Ettore was a fighter like Lothario, and he would rather be alone than be with anyone... except it seems, with Lothario. They matched at fighting skills and were not afraid to lose. Mostly they gave everything they had to win, even against each other. People loved to see them wrestle because you could tell it was life or death to them, and that made a great show for everyone watching.

Paolo smiled and thought about sex, even though Ettore was only two months older than Lothario he had a huge ding almost like a man but hairless. It was even bigger than Dino's ding. Paolo smiled wondering if he could get to it when Lothario jolted him, "Get me a clean tunic would you Paolo, and what are you smiling about so slyly?"

Paolo looked up and saw Giulio hanging on Lothario. Paolo sighed, "Si master."

Dino and Emilio went back to their tent. Dino fussed the entire way, until they got inside and lay on the pillows. He looked at Emilio, "I have no idea what happened out there, it is like someone gave me a stupid bone and I ate it."

Emilio laid his head on Dino's lap, "It doesn't matter. You are not hurt and that matters to me."

Dino frowned, "I mistreat you more than I thought I guess."

"Maybe, but I guess I deserve it. But he was right, I just want you to be better in so many things."

Dino grimaced, "How did you learn to speak so well anyway? One of the boys asked me about that."

Emilio sat up, "You know I was with Master Lothario for almost two years. He let me sit in when he was taught by that Greek guy. I can read and write in Latin, Roman and Greek. Not as good as Lothario of course, but I tried to learn everything I could."

Dino sighed, "I have even kept you from that. I never thought you would be interested. I thought you only wanted to have sex."

Emilio smiled, "I have a lot of interests. I want a horse, and someday I want to be a citizen. I love Rome, and I have loved you since I first saw you years ago."

"But you are not Roman!"

"No and neither is your family, you are Etruscans that became Romans. Everyone respects your family because they have done so much for Rome. Your grandfather is a Senator and your father is a magistrate. There is no reason a Sabine can't do those things if given a chance." Emilio reasoned.

"Si and I think that has something to do with my fear of rejection. Lothario has said many times you can't trust a Sabine or an Etruscan. I don't know if he sees me as that or a Roman."

"No, Lothario isn't that way. He feels that if you or your family became citizens then you are Roman... well except for Tito. He is having problems with that. Paolo has told me that Tito aggravates Lothario. He does what he is supposed to do, but in unusual ways. Ways that Lothario does not understand. Tito was Greek before he became Roman. So Lothario gets upset, but I think that has to do with Tito killing a Roman officer." Emilio replied as he lay back down in Dino's lap.

Dino put his hand on Emilio's head, "Someday maybe when I can afford it I will free you. You will have to leave because my family does not have the money that Lothario's family has, so I couldn't pay you. But you can become a citizen."

Emilio turned on his back and looked up as Dino patted his hair, "Freedom? What am I to do with freedom? I have been a slave since I was born. I don't know anything else."

Dino shifted a bit, "When I am putting my ding in you, I am not thinking of Lothario. I thought you should know that. I love Lothario Si, but after today, I realized something."

"What was that?" Emilio asked.

"That I am not the only one that has a crush on Lothario. I watched the soldiers look at him. Some in fear and some in adoration, but what I saw Ettore do today was the most loving thing I have ever seen. I could not do that to Lothario ever. Therefore, it occurred to me that although Lothario is sexy, he is beyond my reach. He is a warrior, or at least a fighter, and that is what he respects. Yet I think I am still his best friend, but I don't think I will ever be his lover."

"Well to even have a boy for a lover forever, then it will have to be a free man, and a citizen, and you will still have to get married someday to make it all legal. That is the law isn't it?"

Dino smiled, "It is an unwritten law, but it is the law."

"So now you know what you have to do. But then again master, maybe after you have your ding in a girl, you will not want a boy anymore?"

"I don't know there is something about watching you squirming and moaning under me and watching your ding shoot out all over yourself and me. It is exciting. I am not sure a girl can do that, not in the same way." Dino explained.

Emilio turned his head back to Dino's lap and kissed Dino's ding, "Well it doesn't matter if you love me, but I do love you."

"Si and when I free you the hardest thing to do will be saying goodbye."

 

Lothario lay in his father's tent braiding fresh grass. Paolo and Giulio were playing ball outside. Occasionally you could hear one of them yelp when the ball hit them. The balls were not too hard, but they were hard enough to hurt sometimes when they hit you wrong. Tito sat across the tent watching Lothario. Finally he spoke, "What are you thinking right now?"

Lothario looked up but his fingers did not stop the braiding, "I wasn't really thinking at all I guess."

Tito smiled, "You were thinking about that Ettore boy. You were thinking how strong he was and what a warrior he could be, but most of all you were thinking about his stiff ding on top of you rubbing gently."

Lothario turned red and frowned at Tito, "That is not true. I thought of nothing like that!"

"Well I guess you are not old enough to see how you feel until the last minute. You can't hide your stiff ding Lothario no matter how much you try. It may be growing slower than other boys' maybe, but anyone can see when it is hard and purple even under your thong. And you have been rubbing your legs together for at least half an hour."

Lothario looked down and saw what Tito was saying was true. He pulled a wool blanket over him to hide it, "You shouldn't be looking there. And that doesn't mean I was thinking of Ettore or anyone else."

"Si but you were. You liked him holding you and touching you. At one point I thought the two of you were going to kiss."

Lothario looked back at Tito, "Where do you get these strange ideas?"

Tito smiled, "From watching you master. I bet your mother even knows."

Lothario raised an eyebrow, "Knows what?"

"She knows that you would rather be a girl than a boy of course. Your father probably does too."

Lothario gritted his teeth, "Where do you get crazy ideas like that Tito? And you better not be telling anyone your sick stories."

"Do you really want to know master?"

"Since you make these stories up in your head, Si I would like to know."

Tito got up and got a cup of grape juice and a melon for the boy then sat back down. He smiled, "You promise not to get mad at me?"

"No."

"Then I can't tell you, cause I am not going to have my head cut off because you deny the truth." Tito said in his defense.

Lothario closed one eye and looked at Tito hard, "Alright I won't get mad!"

Tito smiled, "See I knew you would say that."

"Just tell me your lies."

"Fedele says since you were little you wanted to know how to fight. You would spend hours every day to be the best. You took to your lessons from that old man..."

"That is my teacher, not some old man."

"Alright then, your teacher, but when you weren't playing you were fighting, and you fought hard. Being Roman you already had muscles developing, you didn't have to work hard for those, but the fighting was never ending. You were desperate to learn everything, even from the old... your teacher I mean. You were thinking about boys then, but being a true Roman you didn't know who to talk to, who to trust with your secret. Even Fedele, so except for Dino, you stayed away from most boys except for normal games. You never would be alone with them or Dino for that matter. You always had to be in a group."

Lothario sighed, "This is boring."

"Let me tell the whole story."

"Okay tell your boring story, there is nothing else to do around here." Lothario grumbled.

"Then you got your first slave, he was older than you. Most boys pick one younger than they are. You liked the way he looked and he had a big ding, hardly an adult one, but to you it was big. You wanted him around you and touching you all the time as long as he didn't want to talk about sex or touch you in that way. That is when you would get upset at him. I bet on those cold nights he would put you on top of him and you loved his stiffy under you and you let him touch you all over while you wiggled your tiny on his."

Lothario blushed, "Okay that is enough."

"Chicken."

Lothario picked up a plate and threw it at Tito, "I am not a chicken and I can and will take a sword to you and have you on your knees begging for your life."

"Oh you are a warrior, I don't doubt that. You are a chicken because you don't want to hear the truth."

Lothario glared at him, "I am not chicken, and you are just making up stories."

"You know I am not. What about your bath oils master? Most of them are for men but you have some that are for girls. I have smelled them on you. What about your tunics master? You always have your mother order them from Rome instead of going to your own families fabrics, and all those tunics have flowers and other symbols around the neck? You have her order them because the fabric is finer, the stitching is perfect and the embroidery is beautiful." Tito grinned.

Lothario put down his braiding, "You are making things up in your head, but go on."

"I knew I would get your attention. What about the boy that sells his body. You saw that Egyptian silk he was wearing and almost died you thought it was so beautiful and sexy. You wanted it but knew everyone would know what you are. No I don't mean a prostitute, but they would know you liked boys." Tito sighed, "Then this evening Ettore, you didn't push him away, and your threats were halfhearted. You didn't want him off of you, and Dino interfered and you had no choice."

Lothario swallowed hard. "Anything else you have to say?"

"Si, you got rid of the Emilio boy because he got too close. He was tearing your very soul, and you were afraid you would melt and give into him, and you would have let him do anything to you, even though he didn't love you. Now you are just getting old enough to tickle and you are allowing it some but you are still standoffish."

Lothario fidgeted wondering how Tito figured these things out. He frowned, "And you think all these things are true?"

"I don't need to know master, but you need to know, and let your friends help you through it. Most of them are Romans, and they will stand by you no matter what."

Lothario pursed his lips defiantly, "What makes you think all this is true?"

Tito grinned, "First, tell me where you were at when you got so excited down there you actually called the boys in to help the swelling go down between your legs? I bet you saw something in that boy's tent that got you so excited you couldn't stand it anymore."

Lothario swallowed hard. "He had a ding inside him, and it made him squirt milk all over the place, not once but every time a ding tickled him. I knew then that a ding could tickle me."

"Milk?"

"That white stuff that comes out of big guys. Dino told me it was milk."

Tito giggled, "Then milk it is, every generation has their own words for it. Even what boys now call all their ding is different every few years."

Lothario looked at Tito, "So now you will tell everyone?"

"I know you don't think much of me, but what you told me will not be told to anyone. I will keep your secret safe until you want the world to know." Tito replied.

Lothario sighed, "So you think others know?"

"I think that Ettore knows, and I know he loves you."

Lothario squirmed, "How can you tell he loves me?"

"For one he wouldn't hit you. He just wanted you to know he was hurt by what you didn't do. But his touching you made him weak and all he wanted to do was kiss you and love you."

The boy squirmed more, "Well Paolo does that."

"Not really. I have heard him talking. He wants to please you all the time. It is not that he loves you. Some even say Dino loves you, but that is not love, that is desire."

"How can you tell the difference?" Lothario asked.

"Sometimes it is not easy, but in Ettore's case, there is no mistaking it. It doesn't just want to own you or take care of you, he sees you as an equal and he wants to make love, not just have sex with you."

"Make love?" Lothario asked.

Tito frowned, "That is not for me to explain I am afraid. It is something that has to be taught, and that will be for Ettore or someone else to show you. Not some adult that doesn't care either way, although most could go through the motions, someone like Ettore would be a lot sweeter."

Lothario grinned, "You are serious."

"Si, making love is not like what you saw that boy and those men do, that is called screwing. Making love is so much different."

"How do you know about such things?" Lothario asked.

"I was young once too. I had a slave boy. We fell in love. I freed him and he stayed with me. We were together a long time. Then my parents made me get married, but he still was with me. Then we had to go to war. We fought side by side for four years, and then he died in battle. I was only with my wife after that. When I became a slave, they took my property and killed her. Until you, I have had no one to care for and I don't care for you like lust, I care for you like a son. The problem is for some reason I keep letting you down."

Don Nico, Fedele and three Centurions walked into the tent. Don Nico looked at his son, "You should have been asleep hours ago." He turned to Tito, "You get those rascal boys and put them to bed and you get some sleep too." He walked over to Lothario and leaned over him, he kissed the boy's cheek and then his forehead. He pulled the blanket over the boy and told him goodnight.

Lothario closed his eyes, but his hand was in his thong. He rubbed himself to sleep.

 

Lothario slept in. He woke to a quiet but bustling camp. Somewhere he heard his horses and the boys talking to them. Tito was near them whispering loud enough but just out of distance that Lothario could not make out what he was saying. He awoke with his morning stiffy and got the pot to pee in. It must have made a lot of noise because Giulio giggled, "He is awake, you get him dressed and I will get his breakfast."

Paolo grumbled, "We are not finished brushing the horses and they are hungry." Giulio was out of earshot by then.

It was then that the trumpets began their call. Soldiers grabbed their weapons and shields. Officers mounted on horses and running on foot rushed passing the boys. Tito looked at the other bodyguards, "Get them in the big tent. It will be easier to guard them if they are all together."

They almost pushed the boys into the General's tent. The slaves followed, and the guards stood outside. Several of the guards left at the same time to gather their horses and the horses belonging to the boys. When each group came back, another group left. A Capo ran over to the General's tent and yelled, "You are safe, I have one hundred men with me. With your bodyguards, that makes about one hundred and fifty. The Latinos and Etruscans will not get through the lines."

Lothario heard his horses cry out. He stood and ran out of the tent to call them. Tito covered the boy's mouth and looked at the Capo, "They are coming from behind us!"

The Capo acted quickly and had several men climb the rise to see if the enemies were actually there. A man came running back, "About two hundred with torches, it looks like they plan on looting and burning the camp."

The Capo looked at his Lieutenants, "Gather the slaves, the traders and anyone else out there and bring them here. Arm them and send someone to Brutus to tell him what is happening. We will hold them off as long as we can."

Lothario pulled Tito's hand off his mouth, "Capo, ready your men on this side of the rise. When I call my horses, they will break away from the enemy and come to me. The enemy will run right into the trap, and you have them."

The Capo looked at the boy, "Are you insane?"

Tito called out, "No sir, he is telling the truth. Arm everyone; the horses will come, give us a chance to help the boys to escape."

The Capo already had his men moving into formations to protect the camp. It did not dawn on him to actually attack. He smiled, "So be it. Give the slaves and traders enough time to join my soldiers. The bodyguards, although needed here should go with the boys, just in case they get through us. I am betting that they know the boys are here and want them as captives as well as our supplies. That would make their army much richer, especially if they kill several boys in front of their fathers."

Tito grabbed Lothario around the waist, "They will not touch you master."

They waited until the Capo had his men placed in the tall grass leading up to the rise. The Capo turned back and looked at the boys, "Signal for your horses!"

Lothario cupped his hands over his mouth and took a deep breath, "Mars!"

The horse stopped fighting the men. His ears perked, and he rose up on two hooves and stomped anyone holding a rope, killing or hurting them badly. The other two horses did the same, and they took off over the rise and ran the half mile to Lothario. The boy took care of his horses while Paolo and Giulio began saddling them. Several of the enemy went after the horses. In the confusion, most of the enemy soldiers were in disarray when the Roman military, slaves and civilians came over the rise and began the slaughter.

Tito looked toward the main battlefield and then back toward the rise. From his position, he could not see either of the battles. He turned to Lothario, "Mount the horses; we have to get you to safety."

The other men had their boys mount as well. Some of the slaves had no horse and doubled up with men and older boys skilled at riding. "Go south toward home!" Tito yelled, "Try and get to Rome as fast as you can!"

Tito held Lothario's reigns as the others took off. Lothario looked at him in disbelief, "Why are we waiting?"

"Because we need to be in the back just in case things go wrong." Tito half explained. He gave the others a two-minute lead, then let loose of the reigns, "Let's go, it is a long ride home."

Lothario led the way, following the others at an ambling gait. Tito looked at him, "Shouldn't we be going a little faster?"

Lothario frowned, "You can if you want, and a mile down the road your horse will be tired, and we will pass you. I guarantee the others are riding so fast we will pass most of them within two miles, and we will go another three miles before we have to stop. That is five miles away Tito, where they can't catch up to us, but they will the others."

Tito frowned, "They never taught that in the army!"

"The army doesn't have my Greek teacher either." Lothario grinned.

They rode quietly while Tito tried to get his horse to match the gait of Lothario's horses. Lothario and the boys sat comfortable on their horses while Tito was getting the roughest ride he ever had. As they came out of a small tree line, Lothario saw a glint of metal. He stopped them, "Something is wrong ahead of us."

Tito looked ahead and saw nothing, "You must have seen some of the others ahead of us."

"No, the sun shown off shiny metal, our helmets are brass. Someone ahead of us has a silver helmet or armor." He turned to the boys, "Wait in the tree line."

Tito objected, "You all wait in the tree line, I will go ahead and check whatever you saw out to make sure it's safe." Tito said almost demanding.

"Then you will have to go on foot. They will hear the horse."

"Oh you already found us." A man said as several men came out of the tall grass, "Or we found you. Now dismount."

Several men surrounded Tito and pulled him off his horse. On the ground, they beat him and took his weapons off his body and horse. Giulio wet himself and yelled out, "Master?"

Lothario did not think. He did not have time to think. He took off at a gallop and the other two horses followed. They had a chance to escape and he took it. From behind Lothario heard, "Master Giulio has been hit!"

Lothario reigned in the horse and turned it around. He could see the soldiers getting closer to Paolo, and he could see the third horse without a rider. He looked at Paolo who in turn looked at Lothario for direction. Lothario yelled, "Ride, ride for your life!"

Paolo turned the horse and started to ride, then fell off. Lothario could not see the boy in the tall grass, but he saw the spear. He rode back to see Paolo dying on the ground. Lothario jumped off the horse and grabbed the boy up in his arms. As tears filled Lothario's eyes, he knew Paolo would die. Paolo looked up at Lothario. "I love you Master. Make sure Rome lives forever."

Lothario crawled over to Giulio who was on his side. The spear that entered his back had made a larger hole when he fell to the ground. The boy could not talk but his eyes were open and recognized Lothario. Lothario pulled out the spear quickly. He sat on the ground and held Giulio tight. Neither said a word.

Several soldiers surrounded them, with spears, when Lothario cried out. Tito heard the scream and his body shook in fear. He looked at the Lieutenant that captured him, "You don't have to worry about me. You just woke up Hades and Mars both."

The Lieutenant smirked and kicked Tito in the face, "He is as good as dead anyway, or at least he will have wished we killed him with his friends."

The soldiers grabbed Lothario by his tunic and began dragging him back to their compatriots. While he cried in agony, he fought them every step. Then he saw the sword on the soldier, he looked at the three of them, "You have to pay for killing children."

One soldier hit Lothario in the face, "Be happy we were told to bring you back alive so you can be someone's pet."

The other two laughed and Lothario grabbed the sword. The three men did not have time to react, or to call for help. The first and second fell, the second man, still alive was face down and tried to get back up. The last of the three bleeding from a stomach wound looked at Lothario, "How?"

Lothario did not answer; he put the sword to the man's mouth and ran it through the back of his brain. Lothario looked at the second man that fell and put the sword in his back. The boy used all his weight to push the sword into the man. Satisfied they were dead; he went back to the now dead Giulio and Paolo. His tears never stopped as he pulled Giulio over to Paolo and covered them with his cloak. "I will be back for you in a few minutes." Lothario crawled to where he killed the soldiers. There he took their weapons and crawled another five feet away and hid in the tall grass. He waited patiently.

"What is taking them so long to bring back three boys?" The lieutenant asked his two remaining men.

"They killed two of them we saw them fall, so they only have one."

"Go out and help those worthless buzzards, and they better not be raping that boy!" The lieutenant yelled.

The two men left Tito on the ground, he smiled at the Lieutenant "Those horses are worth a lot of money. Can you still see them or did they run off?"

"The men can bring them back once I have that boy." The man yawned, "You have a war horse and that is worth much more." He gazed out into the field expecting to see his men, "Those bastards must be having their way with the boy. I will have them whipped later."

The spear that hit the lieutenant went through his armor, but it did not kill him. In pain, he looked at Tito to make sure he wasn't attacked from the side. The soldier tried to pull the spear out but the pain was too great. He pulled his sword, knowing that the only one close enough was Tito. He stood over Tito and raised his sword. The soldier did not see Lothario run up in time to stop him. Lothario's knife slid in between the man's ribs. Blood ran out of the man's unspeaking mouth. The man turned his head and looked at Lothario and then he crumpled to the ground.

Lothario ran back into the tall grass. Tito ran out into the field calling, "Lothario it is me, tell me where you are at." The man came up to the last two dead soldiers. He swallowed hard and walked to the next group of dead men. From there he could hear Lothario sobbing. Tito made his way to the boy and saw his dead slaves.

He tried to comfort Lothario but the boy pushed him away, "Help me get them on the horses and tie them so they don't fall."

Tito swallowed hard and slowly pulled the spear out of Paolo's chest. He threw the spear aside, picked up the boy carefully, and took him to the horse he always rode. He took the reins off the horse and tied the boy to the saddle. He came back to Giulio. Lothario was still holding the boy. Tito pulled Lothario away and pulled the spear out of the boy's back. Then he did the same with Giulio as he did Paolo. He turned to Lothario, "We must get away Master. Before long the soldiers will come looking for their men."

Lothario looked up with his red tear stained eyes, "No we are not running away. They have about fifty soldiers in the area. There are two of us. Do you know what an assassin is Tito?"

"Of course I do."

"Well, you are now an assassin. Get your clothes off and use a small piece of cloth to cover your ding. That way they cannot hear you going through the brush. We will take all the weapons these soldiers have no need of." Lothario explained.

 "Fifty men against the two of us?"

Lothario looked up again, "I just killed five and my heart is on fire. If yours is not, it is time for you to go. If you go, you better never let me find you. There are only fifty of them. If I can kill half of them, my friends will have a chance. I have to act soon before they find these bodies."

Tito looked puzzled but he undressed, "Do you have a plan?"

"I think they are grouped into about eight men along the road. They have probably captured everyone that came through. That was very smart on their part. I will try to get my horses to find Dino. He will scream and carry on, seeing the dead and me missing. That will cause a distraction." Lothario got up and put his cloak around Paolo, "This will make sure it works, now if only I can get Mars to find Dino."

Tito frowned, "Dino will think that is you on the horse."

"Good! Because that is what we want Dino to think."

Tito looked at the horse, "Don't tell me, he has never left your side, and you want him to walk down that road like a dog and find Dino?"

Lothario sneered and looked up, "I have never killed five men before. He is smart maybe it will work, maybe it won't, but either way we are still going to kill as many as we can."

Tito tore off part of his tunic, wrapped it around his behind, and brought it up through his legs to cover his ding, and then he tied it off. Lothario shrugged, "I guess that will do. We will take the horses to the road then make our way to the first group. The horses will follow. When the commotion starts we attack." He looked at Tito and became very serious, "Whatever happens they will not touch me. If I don't see you again, thank you for all you have done."

Lothario took off toward the road and Tito followed. The horses followed Lothario. At the road Lothario talked quietly to Mars for a few minutes. When he finished Tito frowned, "You think he really understands you?"

Lothario hugged the horse, "We tried, that is all we can do." Lothario went into the tall grass on the right side of the road, and Tito took the left side. They ran as fast as they could to the next group where they were only feet from the soldiers and the captives. Lothario looked down the road, the horses did not follow him, and he only hoped they would stay on the road...if they moved at all."

Tito could see the horses moving at a walk toward the group, he was surprised, but then again once they realized Lothario was there, would they turn to him and ruin the plan? He looked at the eight soldiers, their weapons their stance and ranks. He was sure Lothario was doing the same thing. Their officer was on Lothario's side. The boys they had tied up and so were the bodyguards. Four of the bodyguards were dead. Dino was not in the group. Something Lothario counted on.

Lothario swallowed hard. The officer was at ease, he was not holding a sword. The other three men on his side were prepared to kill anyone that moved. They teased the boys and the bodyguards that survived. Lothario looked at one of his spears; he carefully picked it up and decided to go after the soldier that seemed to be the most agitated. There would only be a few seconds before the other three realized something was wrong. Lothario thought maybe that he could get five or six, but there was no way he could get them all. He hoped Tito was warrior enough to get at least the other two, or keep them busy until Lothario could get to them.

Ettore was mouthing off to his captors, "Let me loose and give me a sword, I'll cut your bowels out and make you laugh about it you pigs!"

Those remarks just made the soldiers laugh and call him names and tease him even more so. Lothario was too angry to laugh but under other circumstances, he would have. Ettore, regardless of his abilities was no coward. With a sword, he would have done his best to kill the men. It was then that Lothario heard the hoofs of his horses drawing near. So did the soldiers and other boys. Ettore saw the three white horses, the purple clock and the bodies tied on the horses, screamed and tied, he stood up and ran to the horses, and before he got there, a soldier used the hilt of his sword on the back of the boy's head. Ettore fell to the ground. The boy rolled over and looked at the soldier, "You fucking coward, you will be the first to die!"

That second changed Lothario's plan. He picked up the spear and threw it into the back of the soldier's chest. The soldier started bleeding from the mouth and Ettore looked at the man in shock as the man fell. Having no idea what just happened, he could only scream, "I told you, you old fuck!" The other three soldiers looked around for the assassin, and then Lothario threw the second spear into the agitated soldier. He got up, ran to the back of the officer, and ran him through with a sword. Then he faced the last one, who immediately knelt on the ground and dropped his weapons. Lothario learned many things from Fedele, and then many other things from his Greek teacher. Both taught one thing, `If you leave the enemy alive today, tomorrow he will kill you.' The boy walked up to the solder and stabbed him through the heart.

He turned to the other side where Tito was in a swordfight with two men left standing. Lothario went back to the grass, picked up the last spear, and threw it into one of the men. The one left looked to see his comrade fall to the ground, which was enough time for Tito to run him through. Immediately they started cutting the ropes, starting with Ettore. Ettore hugged Lothario tight, "I thought you were dead!"

Lothario held him close and whispered, "Let's hope the others do too. Now help us untie everyone."

Ettore looked at the horses, "Then who are those boys?"

Lothario turned away and started untying the others. Ettore began helping him. "What were they waiting for?" Tito asked.

Pictorian frowned, they were all going to meet up and go the long way around to the city. Verii or some name like that. They were to capture anyone on the road while the main party ransacked the camp for supplies and slaves. They said they hit gold when they caught us."

Tito frowned, "Si all of you are worth your weight in gold at a slave market, 30,000 to 100,000 coins easy, in gold."

Ettore was at the horses looking at the two boys. He turned to Lothario, "I am sorry for your loss."

Lothario nodded, "They died like warriors, they will not be forgotten, now come on all of you." The men and boys gathered around Lothario, "Those of you willing to fight grab swords and spears, the rest of you take the horses back to the tree line and stay off the road once you get there. Try to stay quiet. We will be back before night, and if we are not, go southeast to the farmlands. Ask directions to my family's villa. There you will be safe."

Lothario turned to Tito and spoke quietly, "The next time kill them instead of play with them. I did not say we were going to fight them, I said we were going to kill them. You could have got us all killed."

Tito knew at that point that he was the lowest creature on Lothario's list. Lothario caught, his boys dying, and now this. Even he realized it was not a good day for him. "Si master, it will not happen again."

Now there were five boys to fight, and fifteen bodyguards. Lothario laid out the plan to them all. While the bodyguards undressed and prepared, the boys took off their cloaks and put them in the packs on the horses. Lothario went over to the horses, began crying again taking the cold hands of the two boys, and rubbed them on his face. The men and boys behind him watched, but said nothing.

Finally, Lothario turned to them, "You that are taking the horses ride to the tree line now." As soon as they left Lothario turned to the others, "The bodyguards are used to fighting in battle. The rest of us aren't. Therefore, when we get to the next group us boys will have the spears because we are all good with them. The hard part for some of you maybe the fact that I do not want any of them left alive, no matter what they do or say. Do you understand?"

They were quiet but they saw Lothario kill a man on his knees. They nodded. Lothario continued, "If any of you are killed I will make sure you are taken care of. That I promise. Now, let's go."

It was almost two miles to the next group of soldiers and captives. Ettore ran next to Lothario the whole distance. Without looking at Lothario he said, "I am the oldest, and with no disrespect I am the leader of our birth year. Therefore, as soon as this battle is over, I will be in charge. You will not be fighting. You may not know it but you are mine. You may fool everyone else but you know you are mine, in your heart you know it."

Lothario shook his head but did not stop, "I think all of you have gone mad."

Ettore grabbed Lothario's arm, stopping the other boy completely. He grabbed him with both arms and bent him backward some, then kissed him deeply. He ran his free hand over Lothario's behind. He felt Lothario melt into his arms. He stood Lothario up, "As upset and mad as you are, with all the violence in you knowing we could die in a few minutes, you melted in my arms. Si, you are mine, and I am the leader if we survive. You are but just a little boy who needs love and I am your love. You maybe be the greatest fighter among us so people say, but you only do it to prove something. I have nothing to prove except that I love you."

Lothario knew he was shaken up. He looked at Ettore, "We need to go. We can talk about this later when my head is clear. Ettore, right now we need to save the others and keep the Latin's from meeting up with the Etruscans."

Ettore looked cute when he gritted his teeth, "Si we will do that. We will seek vengeance for what they have done. Until then you stay behind me. I will protect you." He turned and ran to catch up with the others.

Lothario sighed, "Everyone has gone mad except for me and I seem to be the only one that is mad."

Then he ran to overtake the other boys and warriors. They surrounded the next group, but the horrors had already begun. With most of the boys tied up, they already killed several slave adults and children. Two soldiers were holding a boy. One pulled back the boy's head by grabbing his hair roughly. A third soldier brought a sword in front of the naked boy and split his skin open allowing his intestines to fall out on the road. The boy screamed in horror as he watched. Many of the other boys screamed but all were crying even before that.

One of the officers laughed, "That is how you will all die after my men grow tired of you!" He kicked what must have been a bodyguard, "You worthless trash! You take money from rich people promising to protect their young and you cower down when something happens hoping you will be freed, at least these boys would die before giving up their filthy Rome."

Tito counted thirty-five soldiers. The group of boys looked like the main group that left the camp first, including Dino and Quintario. A soldier's horse started to move about feeling something was not right. The owner looked around and saw three horses coming toward him. He saw the dead bodies on them and turned to a couple of men, "Be careful, but bring those horses here, let's see what they have on them."

There were no reigns for the two men to grab but one yelled back, "Just two more dead noble boys sir."

Beaten badly and with a knife cut on his leg, Emilio looked up and saw the white horses. He smiled and nudged Dino's leg. Dino was holding his side where a sword entered. Blood was still flowing. Dino looked sleepily at Emilio, "What is it?"

Emilio had a big grin on his face, "It is Lothario, and he is here to save us."

Painstakingly Dino sat up and looked at the three horses. He saw the purple cloak and more tears flowed down his face, "They killed him Emilio, they killed him this time." He lay down and felt the life flowing out of him. He half smiled at Emilio, "If you make it back to my father, tell him I freed you." Dino closed his eyes.

It was at that point Lothario realized the men and boys were too badly beaten, or dead to worry about the horses. He also realized that the soldiers were systematically killing the boys for enjoyment. He looked at Ettore, "I have to do something you won't like, but I have to do it now, without thinking."

 

WC:9,232