Copyright 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Chapter 24 – Banished

Wrestling to the Greeks was not only part of a soldier’s training regimen, but also a part of everyday life. Youth did not only learn grammar, rhetoric, and mathematics, but young men also went through physical training which consisted of dancing and the art of wrestling. Boys were paired up and learned the art of wrestling in their master's palaestra, or private exercise court built onto the house of a schoolemaster, under the supervision of their instructor. The Greek recognized wrestling as a means of development of grace and symmetry in a vigorous activity that demands a high degree of skill and physical fitness.

Among the wealthy and aristocratic few of Antioch, most collected fine horses. A few collected fine gems. Several prized statuary. Almost all of them liked boys, but only Antiochus, and a couple of others, collected them.

Like many Greeks, Antiochus preferred boys at the cusp of puberty, when their genitals had grown and they were getting their first pubic hairs. Unlike most Greeks, though, he did not form life-long bonds with his eromenoi. He was genuinely fond of his eromenoi. He savored each one separately and uniquely; even twins. He would enjoy a boy for a time, sometimes a long time, but then, when Antiochus tired of the boy, or he found a new boy, or the boy he currently had developed body or facial hair, Antiochus released him. He never thought of it as discarding the boy. It was simply time to let the boy go.

He used the erastes-eromenos paradigm, with a few twists of his own, to great advantage, and had planned to continue to do so, indefinitely; long after he passed the age of thirty, when Greek men were expected to turn their attention to wives and family. Antiochus did perform his duty toward his young wife. He suspected that one or two of their three children was actually his own. And his wife was happy enough, especially since he had passed on two of his former boys to her.

But now Antiochus’ heart was stirred with new emotions.

He rolled up on his side and studied the young eunuch sleeping on his back beside him. Last night, his second in the shrine, he sent Tazaar away and kept only Jeet in his bed. The boy had pleased him. The boy had pleased him greatly. But then, Jeet owed it to him.

Earlier that afternoon, when Cyndur and the eunuchs were to have an athletic workout with the twins, Letradoisan wanted Jeet to coach him at wrestling. The twin was foolish enough to strip with Jeet and face off against him without asking Antiochus’ permission first. Antiochus forbade it, of course. He wasn’t about to compete with either twin for Jeet’s affections, and he was still angry at Letradoisan for sneaking off with Jeet earlier that morning. “Let Jeet coach Obenedes,” Antiochus ordered.

But Letradoisan pulled Jeet to his side with an arm behind the eunuch’s waist. “It is not for you to say, Antiochus,” Letradoisan said defiantly.

The boy’s stance was combative, but Antiochus noticed that the twin’s cock had begun to thicken as he stood holding Jeet’s naked body to the side of his own. Before Antiochus could frame a rebuke, though, young Jeet did something surprising; something Letradoisan would never have thought to do on behalf of his new friend. Jeet dropped to his knees and bowed his head to the ground at Antiochus’ feet. “Please, Great One, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me work with Letradoisan.” And then, more quietly, the boy said, “It is still your bed that I will be coming to, tonight.”

Antiochus might have remained displeased if it hadn’t been for Jeet’s final sentence, and if it hadn’t been for a twinge of satisfaction over Obenedes’ obvious unhappiness at the turn of events. Antiochus glanced at Letradoisan’s brother and wondered if the twin’s displeasure was because Jeet would rather wrestle Letradoisan, or because of Letradoisan’s obvious attachment to the eunuch.

Looking at Jeet’s butt-high prostration, Letradoisan’s cock grew even thicker. That stirred Antiochus’ own loins, and he almost grabbed the eunuch to take to his chamber right then. But he could wait, especially if it meant watching naked boys wrestle. “You will come to my bed tonight, Abij-hah,” Antiochus said, “and I will show you things about love making, just as you are about to show Letradoisan things about wrestling.” He smiled then, when he saw the displeasure on Letradoisan’s face because he would not have Jeet that night. Part of the pleasure for Antiochus in owning a boy, was the envy he saw in other men’s faces. With Jeet, there would be envy in many men’s faces.

And he did want to own Jeet. He wanted to posses him, not just for a night or a week. Antiochus rolled onto the boy’s side now, pressing his erection to the boy’s hipbone. Jeet’s pale eyes opened and his lips parted just as Antiochus’ lips pressed to them.

The boy was sleepy, lethargic, but after a moment, he responded, and that excited Antiochus more. The night before, the boy had responded, over and over.

Antiochus had been insatiable. He’d never had a night like it. And though somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew that the boy was trained to respond as he had, it was still easy to believe that the boy responded willingly, with his own passion. After all, the boy had retained an erection almost the entire time. Antiochus made sure of it. He had done things with this boy that he rarely did. He had sucked this boy and licked between his legs, and Antiochus enjoyed it… a lot.

He would do it again. He would do it again, now. He sucked Jeet’s neck while fondling him. He licked in the hollow of the boy’s throat and dragged his tongue in a straight line down between the boy’s pectorals, down to his sternum before Antiochus detoured to kiss and suck on the boy’s nipples; and the boy responded; his cock growing erect under Antiochus’ fondling hand.

For a eunuch, the boy had excellent stamina; for any boy that age, he had excellent stamina. But Jeet was not any boy. Antiochus drew his tongue down the mid seam of the boy’s stomach and watched it tighten. Everything about the boy was perfection. Even his imperfections added to the boy’s perfection – imperfections like the scar on Jeet’s belly, which Antiochus was about to trace down with his tongue .

A collector of horses might never find the perfect horse. A collector of gems may never find the perfect gem. Yet if they did, they might sacrifice everything to own that perfection.

Antiochus spread the boy’s slender, hairless legs and bent between them. He spread them wide and licked up from the boy’s perineum. He licked up and over the boy’s empty scrotum, and finally up Jeet’s long, slender shaft.

+ + + + +

Obenedes frowned and sat up. He looked down at Tazaar’s sleeping form and frowned again. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Tazaar. It was everything else. Since the previous morning, it had been as though Letradoisan completely forgot him. Then last night, when Antiochus led Jeet away by the hand to his own chamber, and Obenedes thought that his disappointed brother might return to his normal self, those two eunuchs messed everything up. The one with the large dark eyes, Aruli, and the albino boy, Jin, each took one of Letradoisan’s hands and pressed their bodies to his sides. Obenedes heard Aruli whisper, “we will comfort you tonight, young Lord Letradoisan,” and they took Letradoisan off to one of their booths. Letradoisan had even smiled.

Angrily, Obenedes took Tazaar by the hand and asked which booth was Tazaar’s. With a smile, Tazaar led him there.

Obenedes had been in no mood for smiles. They stripped, and Obenedes ordered the eunuch to suck his cock. And then he ordered him onto all-fours and he knelt behind Tazaar. He fucked him hard, and cried out his triumph when he came. He cried out loud enough for Letradoisan to hear, and he hoped, loud enough for Antiochus and Jeet to hear. Then he lay down and went to sleep.

After the course way he treated Tazaar, Obenedes was somewhat surprised to see Tazaar still sleeping in the same bed this morning. As he glanced at the sleeping eunuch, he felt a slight pang of regret for using him so harshly. It crossed his mind that he could pick Tazaar to be a good friend the way Letradoisan had picked Jeet. His face clouded again as he thought of Jeet and his brother.

To Obenedes’ mind, Letradoisan only got Jeet because he woke up first, the morning before. Even so, it wouldn’t matter so much if Letradoisan had simply gloated over fucking Jeet first. The fact that his brother didn’t even care to gloat made it all the more bitter.

+ + + + +

Antiochus kept Jeet close beside him that morning, but Letradoisan stayed close to Jeet, even at the midday table. That afternoon, Antiochus, Letradoisan, and Obenedes stood to one side as Jeet blessed children. Letradoisan watched Jeet. Obenedes watched Letradoisan. Antiochus watched both twins. It amused him that Obenedes was unhappy.

When Letradoisan started to follow Jeet and the eunuchs to visit the sick children in the ward set aside for them – a ward now supervised continually by Ono – Antiochus held him back. He didn’t want to follow Jeet into a sick room, and he wasn’t about to let Letradoisan follow Jeet anywhere he himself was not going. They stood and waited on the portico, and said not a word to each other.

+ + + + +

No one asked if he would like to wrestle the Abij-hah. Instead, Obenedes watched for the second day in a row as his brother and Jeet stepped naked into a wrestling circle together; this time without so much as a glance at Antiochus for approval.

Obenedes tossed his chlamys aside and motioned Aruli to join him in a wrestling circle. Obenedes knew better than to pick the shortest eunuch. Bantu was strong, and had bested him easily and repeatedly the day before. And then, to make matters worse, Bantu tried to give Obenedes instruction. It was humiliating that a slave boy, and a eunuch at that, tried to teach him how to wrestle. Obenedes had been taught by the best masters in Antioch.

He squared off against Aruli, and in seconds, the eunuch moved behind him, lifted him from his feet, and dumped him into a painful hold. Obenedes yielded, and then stood up angrily, brushing grass from his butt.

He didn’t see Cyndur motion for Aruli to let the twin win the next face off, but when Aruli moved slowly, Obenedes took advantage. He wrapped Aruli into a hold, forbidden in Antioch. I’ll teach them something they don’t know, he thought, and applying pressure, Obenedes forced Aruli’s shoulder from its socket.

Aruli cried out in pain.

Cyndur saw it coming, but he wasn’t fast enough. He grabbed the twin by the neck and an arm, applying pain of his own. He pulled the twin off Aruli and tossed him violently aside.

“Fetch Ono,” Jeet ordered Rem, yelling to be heard over Aruli’s cries. “And fetch Avankur.”

The boy took off running.

Jin knelt beside his wounded bedmate, clutching his hand, at a loss how to comfort Aruli. Jeet knelt beside them, looked at Aruli’s misshapen shoulder, and then glanced with a scowl at Obenedes, who had gotten to his feet and stood apart.

Jeet’s scowl was fierce and Obenedes turned away. Part of Obenedes’ jealousy was because he wanted to be with Jeet himself. Jeet’s scowl convinced him in a second that that would never happen. Frustrated even more, Obenedes took a seat on his chlamys.

“I’ve seen a shoulder put back before,” Cyndur said with a frown as the rest of them stood over Aruli, Jin, and Jeet, “but I’m afraid to try doing it.”

“I’ve seen it, too,” Antiochus said, “but I haven’t done it myself.” He glanced over at Obenedes.

They all glanced over at Obenedes… angrily. Letradoisan looked angriest of all.

“It was an accident,” Obenedes said, and he looked away in a pout. He really didn’t care if they believed the lie.

It seemed like a long time before Ono arrived, though it was only minutes. A moment later, Avankur arrived. The older servant knew how to reset a shoulder, and with one last, long howl from Aruli, it was done while Jin cradled his lover’s head.

“Let’s take him to the Oracle’s chamber,” Jeet said as they gingerly helped Aruli to his feet. “We can look after him best there.”

Aruli was still in tears. With an arm around Aruli’s back, Jin bestowed a final, angry glare on Obenedes before turning Aruli toward the shrine.

“We’ll wait here,” Antiochus said, holding Letradoisan back by the arm.

Jeet glanced back, started to say something, but didn’t. Then he caught Letradoisan’s eye. “We may be a while.”

Obenedes got to his feet and came over to Antiochus. The man turned to him, and gave Obenedes the back of his hand. The twin went sprawling. Letradoisan stepped immediately between Antiochus and his twin, his fists balled, his stance combative. “Don’t you ever strike my brother again,” he said through clenched teeth.

Antiochus looked from Letradoisan to Obenedes who lay weeping on the ground. “Get up, Obenedes,” Antiochus ordered. “I’m sending both of you to stay at the citadel until I’m ready to return to Antioch.”

Letradoisan’s eyes flared. His fists clenched and his gut tightened. His and the man’s eyes met angrily and held for a long moment. Finally, Letradoisan turned, and silently helped his brother to his feet.

+ + + + +

“Ptolemy and Bantu will attend you tonight,” the Oracle told Antiochus. It was not a request. She had come into the shrine hall, flanked by her serving girls and the two eunuchs. None of the others were with her.

“I prefer Jeet,” Antiochus told her.

“Jeet is unavailable.”

“Oracle,” Antiochus said in a subdued voice, “remember who I am.”

Anda nodded. “Antiochus,” she said with the same tone, “remember who I am.”

The man frowned. “I had nothing to do with what happened to Aruli. I’ve sent the twins back to the citadel.”

Anda nodded again. “Jeet is Abij-hah,” she said. “He is our warrior and our leader. What happened to Aruli has disturbed and upset us, and we need him with us tonight. Aruli wants him close tonight. Besides,” she said, her eyes meeting Antiochus, “he is my consort. I require him tonight, in my bed. Perhaps he will attend you again tomorrow night.”

Antiochus’ face darkened, but before he could say anything, Ptolemy stepped forward, bowing deeply. “Great One,” he said, “Bantu and I remember the pleasure we shared on our nights with you last fall. Please let us share your bed tonight.”

The man took his eyes from the Oracle’s and glanced at Ptolemy. Bantu also came forward and bowed. Antiochus looked from the sturdily built redhead to tall, dark Ptolemy, and his look softened. They were good in bed. He remembered that. “Very well,” he said. His eyes met the Oracle’s once again. “Aruli will be alright,” he assured her. “A dislocated shoulder heals.”

She nodded. “His shoulder was not the only injury,” she said. “There was a deeper hurt.”

“He’s a boy,” Antiochus assured her. “He can shake it off.”

“He’s a eunuch,” Anda corrected. “He’s been robbed of what it takes to ‘shake it off’.”

Antiochus paused a moment, considering. Eunuchs might not have the toughness or resilient spirits of other boys. He made note of that. He might need to remember that with Jeet. “Please tell Aruli that I look forward to his quick recovery,” Antiochus said with a deferential bow.

The Oracle nodded and turned away, followed by her servant girls. Antiochus made one other mental note. The Oracle would have to be dealt with if he was ever to be close to Jeet.

+ + + + +

“No more visitors for Aruli,” the Oracle told the guard after Lenore and two other priestesses left. Judah, the other tutors, every servant in the shrine, and several from the temple had come by to see the young eunuch. Aruli was well loved.

He had received them all, reclining with his head in Jin’s lap. The Oracle suspected that Aruli had even begun to enjoy the attention.

Servants brought food and set it on the table before the Oracle, Cyndur, and her eunuchs, except for Bantu and Ptolemy – they would eat in the prince’s quarters. Jin helped Aruli to the table, and once seated there, provided his chest as a backrest for Aruli.

“You’re going to spoil him,” the Oracle told Jin as she reclined back against Jeet.

Jin smiled, and wrapped an arm around Aruli from his uninjured side. He kissed Aruli behind the ear. “Why not? I like spoiling him.”

Aruli smiled and turned his head back to exchange a kiss with Jin.

“I wish they were gone,” Rem said, taking a seat on Jeet’s side opposite the Oracle. “I wish they’d just go back to Antioch and leave us alone.”

“Antiochus sent the twins back to the citadel,” Cyndur told him.

“Yeah, but Antiochus is the worst of all,” Rem replied.

“Letradoisan is alright,” Jeet said.

Tazaar frowned. “Don’t fall in love with him, Jeet-hah,” Tazaar warned. “You belong to the Oracle and to us.”

Jeet glanced up at him in surprise, but then noticed that the others around the table were just as unsmilingly. “Why do you look at me that way?” Jeet asked them all. “Surely, I can have a friend outside our group.”

“You already have friends,” Tazaar pointed out. He had always considered himself to be Jeet’s closest friend, other than the Oracle and Rem, who counted as bedmates. Best friends is how he thought of Jeet and himself.

“And you’ve got the King for an erastes,” Rem reminded him. “And Amnon… that’s already too many people.”

“He’s a friend,” Jeet repeated with growing frustration.

“You weren’t treating Letradoisan like a friend,” the Oracle said. “You were treating him like a lover. I heard that you prostrated yourself before Antiochus to be allowed to wrestle with him.”

Frowning, Jeet looked around the table. “I don’t understand,” he said. He looped an arm over the Oracle’s shoulder and pulled her back to himself, possessively. “Anda is my mate, and you all know that. You are all my brothers; you know that as well. Have I not pledged my life and my heart to you? Have I not proved myself to you? You have not objected before when I’ve had to sleep with others.”

“But you did not have to sleep with Letradoisan,” Rem pointed out.

“Yes he did,” Aruli corrected. “Sooner or later, we were all supposed to lay with them.” He looked around the table. “When they first came, and we didn’t know what they were like, we all wanted to fuck with them.”

“Yeah, but now we do know what they are like,” Tazaar pointed out.

“But Letradoisan isn’t like his brother,” Jeet protested.

“Yes,” Cyndur said. “He is. But he’s fallen for you, Jeet-hah, and he’s behaving himself.”

Jeet frowned and, if Anda hadn’t been reclining against him, he would have gotten up from the table. “He is my friend now,” Jeet said unhappily. “And I am sad that you resent him.”

The Oracle sat up and turned to face him, taking his hand in hers. “Jeet-hah,” she softly said, “Antiochus and the twins would take you from us if they could. You must know that.”

“Antiochus would,” Jeet agreed. “But not Letradoisan.”

“And not Obenedes,” Jin pointed out with a lopsided grin. “Not now. I don’t think he likes Jeet.”

“No one is taking me from all of you,” Jeet told them. “I promised to do whatever it took for us to stay together, and I will. If the King comes for us, he said he’ll keep us together.”

Anda smiled and kissed Jeet’s hand. “And we will stay with you.” She rubbed the back of his hand against her cheek. “I love you, husband,” she whispered. “I have missed you.”

“So have I,” Rem spoke up from beside them. He gave the Oracle a plaintive look, obviously hoping to share their bed that night.

Anda sighed and smiled. “Tonight, Jeet-hah,” she said, stroking his jaw with her fingertips, “you will sleep with Rem-hah and me.”

+ + + + +

They lay on him, one on either side, kissing and fondling him. Jeet murmured contentedly and grew hard under their ministrations. Rem covered Jeet’s mouth with his and tugged at him, wanting Jeet to roll onto him and make a love knot.

Jeet rolled up onto the smaller boy. Rem quickly pulled his thin legs up and out to the sides, and Jeet entered him, laying down on Rem, belly to belly. As the Oracle moved behind Jeet to make their joining complete, Rem wrapped his arms tightly around Jeet’s shoulders and whispered in the Abij-hah’s ear. “Don’t love Letradoisan, Jeet-hah, if that means that you will love me less. Don’t let him take my place.”

Jeet scooted his knees forward under the back of Rem’s thighs and waited to feel Anda’s crown at his exposed opening. “Rem-hah,” he whispered. “You are and will always be my only little brother.”

“And mine,” Anda said as she pressed her oiled glans to Jeet’s sphincter and leaned forward over him.

“And ours,” Tazaar said in a thick voice from where he lay under Cyndur close by on the bed.

“Ours too,” Jin agreed from beyond them, lifting his head from Aruli’s cock. Under him, Aruli murmured agreement as best he could with Jin’s cock in his mouth.

Rem smiled, and Jeet covered the boy’s smiling mouth with his own.

+ + + + +

Antiochus leaned back in the chair, stroking his erect cock as he watched Bantu and Ptolemy in each other’s arms. They rolled and Bantu was on top, smiling down at his partner. Their affection for each other was obvious. Antiochus tried to remember if anyone ever looked at him quite the way Bantu looked down at his lover.

“Fuck him, Bantu,” he instructed. Antiochus stood and moved closer to the bed to watch as the tall eunuch pulled up his legs for Bantu.

Antiochus watched the redhead’s white butt settle between Ptolemy’s long, dark legs. He thought about Jeet. If only he could steal the boy into the mountains for a few days; long enough to win the boy’s heart. He could do it. He was sure. He was an excellent lover, and better looking than his brother, the king. Jeet liked his brother; he would like Antiochus more. If he could only get the boy away by himself.

It would be difficult. No, it would be madness. He couldn’t just throw the boy over his horse and ride off with him. The priests, the Oracle, and their guards wouldn’t let him. Seleucus would be livid if he even tried. Of course… once he was on the road back to Antioch, he could send back a couple of men to sneak in, maybe from the river, and kidnap the boy. They could bring him to Antiochus someplace, secretly.

He frowned. There was no way it could work. He couldn’t keep Jeet a secret. Hell, he wouldn’t want to.

Antiochus’ brow furrowed deeply, even as he watched the two eunuchs making love. It wasn’t fair. Seleucus preferred women. For him to make Jeet the only exception when he knew that Antiochus loved boys – and he had to know that Antiochus wanted the boy for himself – it seemed almost like spite.

Bantu’s narrow hips were working now, his small, white butt pumping fast. Their slender forms, white and dark, were entwined and moving; but mostly it was that little white butt that was moving. Antiochus stroked himself, studying them. Then he came around to their heads, and lifted Bantu’s upper body slightly from his lover’s arms. Kneeling onto the bedding, Antiochus scooted forward facing Bantu until his balls hung over Ptolemy’s face, and his knees were planted on either side. Ptolemy knew what Antiochus wanted and pressed his mouth in behind the man’s balls. Bantu also knew what Antiochus wanted, and took the man’s thick cock into his mouth.

Antiochus slipped his fingers into Bantu’s red hair, clutching the boy’s head. It was a shame, he reflected as he began to pump his hips slightly, that he couldn’t simply stay here at the shrine.

+ + + + +

Letradoisan was unsympathetic. “You deserved it,” he told his twin.

Obenedes tenderly rubbed the bruise Antiochus had given him on his jaw line.

It was late. Letradoisan stretched out on his back, settling into the bed, intending to sleep. But when Obenedes knelt beside his brother’s hips and bent to suck Letradoisan’s flaccid cock into his mouth, Letradoisan didn’t stop him.

After Obenedes had sucked Letradoisan to an erection, and lay up alongside his brother to stroke and kiss him, Letradoisan accepted him. Their bodies entwined as they had since long before they even had sex together – and they had started sex together when they were very young.

Letradoisan took hold of his brother’s cock the way Obenedes had taken his, and they stroked each other. Obenedes kissed his brother, but Letradoisan did not respond. Their faces were close though, and the breath from their nostrils was hot on each other’s lips.

Letradoisan rolled Obenedes to his back, lifted his legs, and entered his brother with only spit for lubricant. He rode him hard and angrily at first, the way Obenedes had done to Tazaar. But then Obenedes pulled Letradoisan down onto his body, the way the eunuchs made their love knots, and he held his brother in his arms as Letradoisan pumped more gently between his legs. He held his brother’s familiar body and filled his nostrils with Letradoisan’s scent, and Obenedes was content.

Letradoisan’s eyes closed as he imagined it was Jeet beneath him.


He couldn’t stay indefinitely. Antiochus knew that. He decided to make the best of what time he could. As soon as he had the opportunity the next day, he swept Jeet up in his arms and carried the boy up to his chamber, determined to keep him there until he won the boy’s heart.

At least, that was his intention. The boy was restless by the next morning. That afternoon, Antiochus allowed Jeet out of the chamber to bless children and visit the sick ones. But then he took the boy back to his chamber, becoming uncomfortable at the feeling he had, tagging along behind the Abij-hah.

Moonlight flooded the balcony that night. Antiochus held the boy’s slender form, belly-to-belly against his own body. He would be hard again soon. That was part of the magic with Jeet. No matter how often Antiochus came, holding the boy’s naked body against his always brought new erections. He kissed the boy’s firm lips and stroked Jeet’s long, silky hair.

Jeet was unique. Not just in beauty. Unlike Antiochus’ other boys, Jeet would never grow body hair, or even pubic hair. His voice would never change. He would grow taller, but that thought strangely excited Antiochus – a tall boy, forever a boy, endlessly exciting. He could keep Jeet many years. He could grow old with Jeet.

“Jeet,” he whispered, pulling the boy’s belly more tightly to his own, “what must I do to win your heart?”

Jeet was silent a moment. “I am the Abij-hah, Great One. My heart already belongs to others,” he said. “It is not my own to give.”

“Nonsense,” Antiochus said, rolling the boy onto his back. He gazed down into Jeet’s eyes. They glittered in the moonlight. “You give your heart away all the time, Jeet; to everyone, it seems. A few days ago, you gave it to Letradoisan.”

Jeet returned the man’s gaze. Antiochus was a handsome man, and not unkind. Jeet smiled and stroked the side of Antiochus’ short, soft beard. “Have I not pleased you, Great One?” he asked.

“Jeet, Jeet,” Antiochus said, pressing his forehead to the boy’s. “You have beguiled me.” He closed his eyes and sighed, the warmth of his breath washing over Jeet’s face. “I would take you from here if I could. Every day, I would give you gifts of gold and silver. I would give you a fine horse, a great horse, the greatest in the kingdom.” He pressed his lips to the boy’s smooth cheek. “I would make love to you every night, and in our bed, I would do whatever you desired.” He laid his large hand over the boy’s genitals, fondling them. “I would make love to you as no man has made love to a boy.”

“Great One,” Jeet said uncomfortably, and Antiochus could feel the boy’s brow furrow against his own forehead, “I cannot leave the Oracle.”

“Not even if my brother takes you?”

Jeet laid the long fingers of each hand on the back of the man’s strong shoulders. “If the King takes me, he has promised to take the Oracle and my brother eunuchs as well. We are bound together.”

Antiochus’ stomach knotted. Possession of this boy was proving so damned impossible, and yet, he desired nothing less. He rubbed the side of his face against the boy’s. “When he brings you to Antioch, I will go mad with you so close if I am unable to have you.”

“Perhaps the King will allow me to come to you from time to time,” Jeet suggested.

Antiochus groaned. “He will not loan you out, but even if he did, I would grow even more desperate if I had to survive on only small tastes of you from time to time.” He pulled up the boy’s long, flaccid cock and rubbed the underside with the heel of his hand. “But if I had you beside me; if you lived with me, day in and day out, I would be content, Jeet. I would be content, all of my days.”

Jeet shifted again, his hand grasped Antiochus’ bicep to slow the man’s hand between his legs. “I belong to the Oracle,” Jeet whispered. “I will always belong to her, Great One; even if the King takes us from this place.”

Antiochus groaned again and paused. He took a deep breath, but then began rubbing again with the heel of his hand. “Tonight belong to me,” Antiochus whispered. “For tonight and the nights I am here, pretend you belong to me.”

Jeet did not answer.

“Then let me pretend it,” Antiochus whispered, brushing Jeet’s lips with his own. “In this bed, let me pretend that you belong to me.”

To a slender, young eunuch – one who had been required to sleep with many people – the handsome, virile man laying on him, the thick cock pressing his thigh, and the large hand fondling between his legs… were all exciting. Whatever else, in that moment, they were exciting. Jeet lifted his hips, pressing his growing erection up against the man’s hand.

Antiochus smiled before pressing his lips once more to the boy’s.

At only fourteen years of age, and trained to please men, it did not occur to Jeet to be less responsive to the man. He did not realize that it would be better if the man desired him less.

+ + + + +

“For six nights, Jeet has slept in your bed,” the Oracle pointed out. “And you had both Jeet and Tazaar for two nights before that. The Abij-hah must return to his duties, and to his own bed.”

Antiochus frowned. He knew damn well that it was her bed she wanted Jeet in. A dinner was not the place for confrontation, though. Especially not a dinner he had provided. “And for nine nights,” he countered, “you have enjoyed game provided by my huntsmen. Have you not enjoyed it?”

Only Jeet, the Oracle, and Antiochus sat at the table. Jeet sat next to the Oracle. The other eunuchs stood behind them to serve. None had been as friendly of late.

Antiochus had been considering his situation. He was loath to leave Jeet and the shrine with all its riches. It was a perfectly comfortable place to be… or rather, had been perfectly comfortable. The Oracle was becoming almost hostile. Antiochus had been there only a short time – he had stayed for weeks at palaces or citadels when visiting in the provinces, but then, of course, he hadn’t run off with his host’s lover.

And then there was Seleucus to consider – his brother the King. Old Judah was right; word would get back to Seleucus one way or another, and may already have. The longer he stayed now, the greater his brother’s anger was likely to be when Antiochus returned to Antioch.

There were also the twins to reckon with. After all the build up he had given the shrine and bringing them all this way to see it, for Antiochus to banish them after two days was undoubtedly a mistake. The twins were undoubtedly angry, especially Letradoisan because of his connection with Jeet. Antiochus already knew what he needed to do concerning them; he had simply been reluctant to do it.

“I would like to bring the twins back tomorrow, for two nights,” he said. “Then we will leave.”

The Oracle frowned. “None of my eunuchs will sleep with Obenedes,” she said.

Antiochus’ eyes flashed. “You forbid it?” he asked, menacingly. He’d had enough of this girls obstinacy. Obenedes would be incensed if she denied him rights with her eunuchs, but let Letradoisan sleep with them. Antiochus did not want to take back to Antioch a thoroughly outraged, teenage aristocrat. Obenedes’ family was far too powerful.

Jeet had caught the menace in the man’s tone and glanced at Anda with concern.

She had noticed it as well, along with Jeet’s warning glance. The Oracle looked from eunuch to eunuch, and her eyes stopped on Aruli. “If Obenedes wishes to return here,” she said, “he must apologize to me and promise no further harm to my attendants. And neither Aruli nor Jin will be required to sleep with him.”

Antiochus’ jaw worked, as if he were coming to the end of his patience. “I intend to keep all of us together,” he said quietly. “The twins with me. I will make sure that none of your eunuchs come to harm.”

“Will Obenedes apologize?” the Oracle challenged.

Antiochus glared at her from under his eyebrows, but then remembered that Jeet was watching. He glanced at the boy, and softened his look. For love of the boy, he would try to placate the Oracle. “Obenedes comes from a strong and proud family,” Antiochus pointed out. “He will not humble himself easily, especially regarding an unintended injury to a slave.”

“Then he may not return,” the Oracle said.

Antiochus balled a fist under the table, but slowly, deliberately calmed himself. “I shall present your terms to him, Oracle.”

+ + + + +

“The twins are not here,” the governor told Antiochus. “They are out riding with my son, Jason. The three of them have hit it off quite well.”

Antiochus cocked his head in surprise. “The twins and your son? They like each other?”

Hector chuckled. It had surprised him as well. “I’ll admit, Antiochus, that I was not impressed with those two when they first arrived, but they seem a little different after their short stay at the shrine.” The governor grinned. “Maybe a little humbler? I heard they got their butts whipped, wrestling. They’ll probably return soon. In the meantime, you must join us for a meal.”

The three boys returned while Antiochus was still at table with the governor, the governor’s pregnant wife, and his very-pregnant daughter-in-law. The twins, dressed in leather breechcloths for riding, saw Antiochus, and both frowned.

“Come, join us,” Hector called in invitation. “Antiochus has come to fetch you two back to the shrine.”

The twins sat down opposite Antiochus and both stared at him unpleasantly. He had been so involved with Jeet that he had actually forgotten how beautiful the twins were, in their own right.

“I thought you might want to return to the shrine for your last couple of nights in Kaleh,” Antiochus told them. “I didn’t know that you were having such a good time here.”

“Will I get to be with Jeet?” Letradoisan asked bluntly.

Antiochus frowned. “We can discus private matters later,” he said.

Eyes dropped around the table. The governor and his family already knew most of the ‘private matter’, albeit, mainly from Obenedes’ point of view.

Watching Antiochus steadily, Letradoisan picked up a chunk of fresh bread. “You didn’t tell us that Jeet was also a twin,” He nodded down the table toward Weela. “Or did you not know?”

Antiochus glanced down the table at Weela. The resemblance was obvious. “I simply didn’t think to tell you,” he told the twin.

“Why doesn’t Jason come with us?” Obenedes asked, glancing at Jason with a grin.

The governor’s family exchanged looks.

“Well, every other youth in town has visited the shrine,” Obenedes pointed out. “Why not Jason?” He turned to Antiochus. “That hardly seems fair to me. Jason might want to be just as fertile or athletic as every other youth in Kaleh who sleeps at the shrine for those things.”

“Jason’s fertility is not in question,” the governor said, nonplussed. “The midwives who care for Weela believe she is bearing twins.”

Letradoisan and Antiochus glanced down the table at Weela. They smiled at her, and she bowed her head. Obenedes turned to Jason and grinned. “Well done, Jason. May they both be sons! Like my brother and me.”

The gods forbid, Hector thought to himself.

“I have no need to go to the shrine,” Jason told them with a glance at his wife.

“Are you sure?” Obenedes asked with a sly grin.

Jason shook his head. “You see my wife. What need do I have for the shrine?”

“We can discuss it later,” Obenedes said, leaning toward Jason, “when the women are out of the room.”

The room grew quiet.

“Where did you ride today, Jason?” Hector asked.

Antiochus pulled the twins aside after the meal, and he explained the Oracle’s terms to Obenedes. “I won’t do it,” the twin said simply. “We’ll stay here.”

“I’m not staying here,” Letradoisan said. “I’m going back to the shrine with Antiochus.”

Obenedes glared at his brother.

“Don’t look at me that way,” Letradoisan said. “You should apologize. You hurt Aruli on purpose. In fact, you should apologize to him directly.”

Obenedes face turned scarlet. “I’m not apologizing to a slave,” he said.

“Your choice,” Letradoisan said with a shrug. But then grabbed Obenedes’ shoulder and gave it a squeeze. The last few night with his brother had done much to clear the air between them. “Brother,” Letradoisan said, facing Obenedes. “Come with us, and make friends again with them all. Make friends with Jeet, too. We can share him as a friend.”

“Friends?” Obenedes asked with a cocked eye. “They hate me.”

Letradoisan leaned close and kissed his brother’s lips. He pulled him into a gentle embrace. “Come with us brother; Jeet will accept you. I will make sure of it.”

Obenedes returned his brother’s gaze uncertainly, then looked up sharply at Antiochus. “What if I talk to Aruli in private?”

“Will you ask his forgiveness?” Antiochus asked.

“If I can do it in private, and not have to ask the Oracle’s forgiveness in front of all of them.”

“In front of Jeet you mean?” Letradoisan asked, leaning back from his brother with a frown.

“Yes,” Obenedes said, meeting his brother’s frown with his own. “Not in front of Jeet.”

Outside the room, Weela kissed her fifteen-year-old husband, Jason, and looked into his eyes. “You have never said that you would wish to,” she told him, “but if you want to go to the shrine; if you want to sleep with Jeet… ” She pressed her forehead to the inside of Jason’s neck. “I love you both, Jason. I would not object.” She pressed her body to his, wrapping her arms around his chest. “But do not go there with Antiochus and the twins. Go later, alone.”

Jason wrapped his arms around her. “I will think about it, Weela,” he said.

“You have never thought of it before?” Weela asked.

Jason paused a moment, and then nodded against the side of her head. “I have,” he admitted. “I will go to the shrine. But later.”

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