Copyright 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Chapter 25 – Obenedes

In ancient Sparta the Gymnopaedia was a yearly celebration during which naked youths displayed their athletic and martial skills through the medium of dancing. The custom was introduced early in the seventh century BC, concurrently with the introduction of naked athletics, oiling the body for exercise so as to highlight its beauty, and the formalization of pederastic pedagogy. - Wikipedia

He found them sitting alone on the balcony. “Oracle, Abij-hah,” Judah said, bowing to each.

The Oracle waved Judah into a seat that had been placed close to theirs. “I told Jeet to send for you,” the Oracle said. “He needs your counsel.”

Judah sat down, and Jeet slid forward on his seat toward the old man. Judah smiled. He took a mentor’s delight in the boy’s development over the previous several months. That included Jeet’s physical development as well. The boy may have been cheated out of puberty by the priests’ castrating knife, but he was nevertheless maturing; growing taller, willowy. Though no one was sure of Jeet’s age, if it was the same as the Oracle’s, he would be fifteen soon.

Jeet’s pale blue, almost silver, eyes met Judah’s and had the effect they always did when the old man was this close to the boy; an almost visceral effect, even in Judah’s old gut. It wasn’t sexual. It was simply a reaction to the boy’s great beauty.

It had struck Judah before that Jeet’s affect on people was not simply the result of a pleasant arrangement of the boy’s features – though they were pleasant, indeed. Nor did it result from a perfection of every little detail, like the boy’s eyebrows… long, beautifully-arched… or his impossibly thick, long eyelashes. Judah found his eyes were lingering there… and he let them. Everything about the boy was a delight to the eye. Truly, if Judah’s god had decided to fashion the ‘perfect boy’, it could be this boy.

But Judah had often reflected that what made this boy’s beauty so utterly striking was behind Jeet’s eyes; the boy was intelligent, very intelligent, and yet openly friendly… Jeet had a strong, honest soul… and whenever his eyes met Judah’s, the old man was as struck by them as anyone.

A stray thought, and a cold shudder along with it, ran through Judah’s mind; what would Jeet’s beauty look like in death with the light gone out of those eyes? Would it be even more unearthly? Judah banished the thought. God forbid!

Jeet reached out and took Judah’s hand into both of his. “Judah,” he said, “I need your help.”

The old man smiled and leaned toward the boy. “How may I help you, Abij-hah?”

The boy’s perfect brow furrowed. Judah’s eyes, for moment, rose to the boy’s hairline… such thick hair. Judah resisted the impulse to touch it. It came home to the old man, once more, how fond he had grown of the boy. He smiled encouragingly.

“I am worried about the king,” Jeet said, “because of Antiochus.”

“Where is Antiochus, by the way?” Judah asked.

“He’s back at the citadel for the day,” Jeet said.

“He’s bringing the twins back here,” the Oracle said with a frown.

“The three of them will be here two more nights,” Jeet added.

“And you’re afraid that because of Antiochus being here, the king will be angry?” Judah asked.

The boy shifted, cocking his head as if he had not thought of that. “Perhaps, but… well, not exactly.” The boy looked up, his eyes meeting Judah’s. “I was afraid the king would be hurt.” He quickly held up a hand while retaining Judah’s hand in his other one. “I know, I know; kings don’t get hurt feelings, but,” he leaned forward again. “He loves me Judah, and he has treated me well. He’s even agreed that he will keep us all together… Anda, Rem, and the other eunuchs and me. I’m grateful to him, and Judah, I do love him. I… I feel for the king like…”

“Like a son would for a father?” Judah completed.

“That sound presumptuous, I know,” Jeet said, dropping his head and shaking it.

He loves you like he would a son,” Judah said. “He has said as much to me.” The old man squeezed Jeet’s hands and shook his head kindly. “Greeks,” he said softly, “and the way they mix sex with love. It could be so much better if… ”

“Judah,” Jeet interrupted, “I like pleasing him that way.”

Judah glanced at the Oracle. “And it does not complicate things? That you have sex with him when you and the Oracle consider yourselves to be married?”

The Oracle glanced at Jeet, and Judah thought he saw a little hardness in her gaze.

Jeet’s jaw was working as he dropped his eyes from Judah’s. “It complicates things,” the boy admitted. “But the life I have been given to live is complicated, Judah.” He lifted his eyes once more to the old man’s. “Antiochus complicates things. What can I do? I want the king to understand. I want him to know that we had little choice in this, especially since we wanted to honor the king by honoring his brother.”

“You should write the King,” Judah said, decisively. “The governor’s weekly packet of dispatches leaves for the capital in the morning. Write something now, and I will make sure it is included.”

“Me? Write to the king?” Jeet asked incredulously.

Judah nodded. “You are the Abij-hah of the Oracle of Kaleh. And the king has called you his eromenos. Certainly you can write him. I will help you. I will write to him as well.” The old man looked thoughtfully, off, over the balcony. “We must be careful of the wording… not something formal,” he said. “Maybe something more like… ” Judah hesitated to say it because it sounded so wrong to his Jewish sensibilities, and yet it seemed like the right thing. “Maybe something more intimate.”

+ + + + +

Later that afternoon, Anda hugged Jeet from behind as they stared at the distant hills from her balcony. The sun had passed its zenith and water glinted on the river. Jeet leaned back against her as a puff of cool breeze came up from below.

“Maybe they won’t come back,” Anda said hopefully.

“You know they’ll be back,” Jeet said. “Though it wouldn’t bother any of us if Obenedes didn’t come back with them.”

Anda pressed her naked breasts to his bare back. They had made love together for the first time in days. Antiochus had been keeping Jeet to himself as though he would never return him, and Anda had her fill of it. She was male as well as female, and the male part of her spirit was ready to battle Antiochus for her beloved.

She rubbed her hands on Jeet’s belly and kissed the back of his hair. Had it only been a year and a half; not quite a year and a half since they became one? He was taller now, and so was she. She slipped her arm around his narrow waist and pulled his small butt back against her phallus and small pubic patch.

“When they’re really gone,” she said, “let’s take a holiday; just us.” She rubbed her cheek behind Jeet’s ear and gazed down at the river, unworried that they would be seen. Even if they were seen, the balcony balustrade shielded them below the waist. “We can take the barge,” she said, “but invite no one else; not even Jarus and Eustace. We’ll make a day of it. Swim, float on the river. If we could maneuver the barge ourselves, we wouldn’t even need oarsmen.”

“Perhaps we can get them to leave us,” Jeet suggested. “Just let us tie up along the riverbank somewhere and come back for us later.”

“You can’t imagine the priests would trust us to be out on our own, unguarded.”

“Why not?” Jeet asked. “They’ve been trusting us more and more, and besides, they know we can’t handle the barge on our own. Where would we go?”

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could?” she asked. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could simply sail on down the river, all the way down to the sea?”

Jeet turned inside her arms. “Would you really like to be away from here, Anda?” he asked. “You’re the Oracle of Kaleh. You’re rich and famous.”

She placed her hands on either side of his face and smiled. “We could go somewhere where you don’t have to sleep with other people, where I don’t have to worry about men trying to take you from me.”

He slid his hands down onto her bare bottom. “No one will take me from you, Anda. Who but the king could do that? And he promised to keep us together.”

She frowned and slid her hands up onto the backs of his shoulders, leaning the side of her head against his. “How about your dreams?” she asked. “Have you had any dreams about Antiochus?”

Jeet frowned. “Only of him leaving, but I’m not sure it was a ‘special’ dream.”

She rubbed the side of her face against his and hugged his neck. “I love you,” she whispered.

He slipped his hands behind her waist and pulled her belly against his. “I love you, Anda. I am your Abij-hah. I will never let anybody separate us. Ever. I would die first.”

“No dying,” she said softly. “Just stay with me… always stay with me.” She leaned back from their waists and smiled. She stroked the side of his hair. “When Antiochus and the twins come back, Jeet-hah, do you have to go to them?”

Jeet nodded. “It would be wise.”

“You will enjoy it.”

Jeet shrugged slightly. “I am ready for them to be gone.”

“Even Letradoisan?”

Jeet smiled sadly. “I like him, Anda. I’ll be sorry to see him go after spending so little time with him.”

She leaned back in and hugged his neck once more, resting the side of her head against his. “Then take pleasure with him, Jeet; if Antiochus will let you. Enjoy your new friend.”

+ + + + +

Rufus sent word to Jeet as soon as he saw Antiochus and the twins coming from the main gate. The twins were once again nude except for their chlamys and sandals.

Jeet came out and met them on the portico. Antiochus and Obenedes stopped on the top step but Letradoisan kept coming, right up to an embrace of the Abij-hah, and a firm kiss.

Their bare bellies pressed together. Jeet smiled and rubbed Letradoisan’s shoulders while the twin held their bellies together. “Welcome back,” Jeet said.

Antiochus came forward, frowning at Letradoisan. The twin stepped aside, but took Jeet’s hand and held it.

“Take us to the Oracle, Jeet,“ Antiochus said. “Obenedes has something to say to her.”

Jeet glanced at the other twin, but Obenedes looked away.

+ + + + +

“If Obenedes has something to say to Aruli,” the Oracle said, “he can say it in front of all of us.”

Every eye in the Oracle’s quarters turned to Obenedes – the Oracle, her eunuchs including Rem, Antiochus, and Letradoisan.

Obenedes, standing next to Letradoisan, glared at Antiochus who was standing beside the Oracle and Jeet. He felt betrayed.

“Go on,” Letradoisan encouraged in a soft voice. “Just do it.” He gave Obenedes a shove toward Aruli.

Obenedes resisted. Letradoisan gave another shove. Reluctantly, Obenedes stepped over to where Aruli stood beside Jin. He glanced back, nervously, at the others and turned his back to as many of them as he could.

He swallowed, head down. “I’m sorry,” he said very softly, “that I accidentally hurt you.”

“What did he say?” Tazaar asked out loud.

“He said he’s sorry that he accidentally hurt Aruli,” Jin repeated loud enough for all to hear.

No one, including Aruli, said anything.

“They all know it wasn’t accidental,” Letradoisan said from several feet away.

Obenedes had been trained to be tough, stoic. But he was thirteen years old and far from home. He was alone in a room full of boys, who, he believed, hated his guts; and he felt betrayed by his brother, the only person he loved other than his mother.

Obenedes’ eyes rose to meet Aruli’s for a brief second before the twin quickly lowered them again, but in that second, Aruli saw the pain and frustration of a boy who was cornered and alone. Instinctively, because Aruli was a compassionate boy, he took the twin’s hand and held it. Obenedes had been about to react angrily, defensively… but Aruli took his hand.

His head hung lower. Obenedes said nothing, but did not withdraw his hand. And then… a tear fell from his eye to the floor, followed by a second and third.

Instantly, Aruli’s eyes filled with tears as well. Stepping forward, he wrapped his arms around Obenedes.

“I’m sorry,” Obenedes said to Aruli in a choking voice. Everyone in the room heard.

Jin had been furious with Obenedes. Obenedes had hurt his beloved Aruli. It had been so unjust – Aruli was the gentlest eunuch of them all. Jin was still angry. But fourteen-year-old boys can have soft hearts. Boy eunuchs can have hearts softer still. Watching Aruli, who was so precious to him, weep for the boy who had deliberately hurt him, moved Jin, and his own eyes suddenly brimmed – not out of compassion for Obenedes, but because of the beauty of Aruli’s grace. In that moment, his love for Aruli swelled his heart.

Jin stepped up beside his Aruli, tears now running onto his own cheeks. He laid a hand on Aruli’s back and kissed Aruli’s soft cheek. Then, with a sigh, he extended his other arm around Obenedes’ shoulders and embraced them both.

“We liked you,” he whispered to Obenedes. “Remember that first night and the next morning, Obenedes? Aruli and I really liked you… until you hurt him.”

Obenedes stifled a sob. He had liked them, too.

“We forgive you,” Aruli said gently. “We will be friends again.”

Obenedes slid his arms behind the backs of both boys and buried his forehead on their shoulders, between their two heads. He felt an unfamiliar mixture of relief and gratitude, but also acute embarrassment that his brother and Antiochus saw him like this. He wanted to hide between Aruli and Jin; he wanted them to hide him in their embrace. As if they knew that, Jin and Aruli tightened their arms around him.

Rem, standing beside Jeet, looked up at him and frowned. He wasn’t ready to forgive Obenedes.

Letradoisan, standing on Jeet’s other side, watched his brother with a small bit of wonder. The guarding of their hearts, which they had been trained for so long to do, had included guarding them from each other. He had never seen his brother vulnerable like this, and, unexpectedly, Letradoisan felt a sudden urge to hold his brother. But he would wait, until later, when they were alone.

Antiochus frowned, a Greek emotion at seeing weakness in the boy. He was glad, though, that Obenedes wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

Jeet, always observant, saw these emotions pass over their faces. He also saw the Oracle’s countenance soften. Aruli’s injury had been hard for her. Just as Rem was dearest to Jeet after the Oracle, Aruli was dearest to the Oracle after Jeet.

“Aruli,” Jeet said, turning back to the three-boy embrace, “Why don’t you and Jin take Obenedes to the bath house? Let us bathe our guests before we dine tonight.”

Aruli nodded. He and Jin stepped back from Obenedes, and the twin wiped his eyes. Then Aruli and Jin each took one of his hands, and Aruli kissed the twin’s cheek. They led him from the room, but as they reached the doorway, they moved closer together to pass through it, and the three boys looped their arms behind one another’s waist.

Jeet stepped from between Letradoisan and Rem, and kissed the Oracle. “I love you,” he whispered, before stepping back. Without waiting for Antiochus to intervene, he took Letradoisan’s hand and led him from the room. He stopped though, at the doorway, and turning back, he extended his other hand to Rem. “Help me bathe Letradoisan, Rem,” he said.

The boy frowned, but Jeet waved him forward and Rem came, taking Jeet’s offered hand. Outside the door, Letradoisan stopped them a second time. He pressed Jeet back against the wall, kissing him. Jeet kissed back, but held Rem’s hand tightly when the younger eunuch started to pull away. Jeet pulled Rem between their bodies, and wrapping both arms around the younger boy, Jeet pulled Rem back to his chest, facing Letradoisan.

Letradoisan laid a hand on the eleven-year-old’s shoulder; Rem was almost as tall as him. “Peace, Rem?” he asked. “Jeet says you are dearest to him of his brothers. Will you be my friend too?”

Rem almost smiled at being recognized as Jeet’s ‘dearest’. Instead, he looked away and shrugged.

Letradoisan took Rem’s chin in his hand and turned the boy’s face to his own. He kissed him. “I like you, Rem. I have from the beginning. Like me, too. The three of us can have fun together,” he suggested in a whisper.

Antiochus didn’t particularly like the Oracle; she was, after all, his rival for Jeet. Nevertheless, it was the correct thing to do, politically, to pause and thank her. “You have been gracious, Oracle,” he said with a slight bow.

The Oracle glanced at him as if her graciousness was reaching a limit.

Too bad if it was, Antiochus thought, he would still take two more days. “May you have a good evening, Oracle,” he said with another incline of the head. Then he took Tazaar by the hand and waved for Bantu and Ptolemy to follow.


Aruli and Jin were already bathing Obenedes when Antiochus reached the bathhouse with his three eunuchs in tow. Aruli, Jin and Obenedes all had erections.

A few feet away on the top step, Letradoisan had pulled both Jeet and Rem against himself, one on each side, and he was running a hand up and down the breechcloths wedged in each of their butt cracks while the three kissed.

“Come on,” Antiochus said to the remaining eunuchs as he tossed aside his cloak and reached for his belt. “Let’s get in the water and play bear and hounds first, and I’ll be the bear.”

The three eunuchs looked back at the two groups with the twins. Antiochus grinned. “Only for a while, and then we’ll play like they are.”

+ + + + +

Antiochus liked watching boys fuck almost as much as he liked fucking boys. That evening, after they dined in his quarters on game that had once again been provided by his huntsmen, and after the table had been cleared, he had the eunuchs bring in pallets for the floor and then gathered them all around the great bed. Still naked from their baths, they did not need to strip.

He tried ordering Obenedes up onto the bed with Bantu, wanting to see the tightly built redhead with a well-muscled blond twin, but Obenedes wanted to stay with Aruli and Jin, so Antiochus had those three boys climb onto the bed while he sat on a corner and pulled Jeet into his lap. “Suck Obenedes’ cock and get him hard,” he ordered Jin and Aruli.

The three boys, kneeling on the bed, glanced at each other. Jin shrugged and pushed Obenedes onto his back, and the two eunuchs dove for his middle.

Antiochus grinned at Aruili’s and Jin’s high, bare butts. Running his hands over the silky-smooth skin of Jeet’s legs, he turned from the three on the bed to the other five who were now sitting in a circle on the pallets on the floor… talking!

“Oh, no,” he said. “It’s not the time for resting. I still want to see Bantu with a blond twin. Letradoisan, let him suck your cock. I want to see you fuck him.”

Letradoisan frowned. “We all just made love when we bathed, Antiochus.”

“And came only once or twice,” the man said with a chastising frown. “At your age, I could come every hour. Shit, I can still come almost that often.”

None of the five moved.

“You can’t tell me that he doesn’t excite you, Letradoisan. Look at that creamy skin, that tight definition, that beautiful face… those legs… that butt… you haven’t fucked him yet, have you?”

Letradoisan looked at Bantu. Bantu grinned. Letradoisan grinned back. They had fucked, that first night, and both remembered it. A second later, they were lying in each other’s arms, and Antiochus was sprouting an erection which he pulled up from between his body and Jeet’s. He pulled Jeet back by the hips, wedging his upturned cock in the boy’s butt crack. “I knew they’d be beautiful together,” he said. He pressed his lips behind Jeet’s ear. “Almost as beautiful as you with Letradoisan.”

Antiochus reached into Jeet’s lap, finding the boy’s flaccid cock. It felt cool to the touch. The boy wasn’t even excited yet.

“Tazaar,” Antiochus said, “come, get Jeet hard for me.”

Tazaar stood up and smiled. Putting his hands behind his head, he spread his feet and swiveled his hips, coming toward Jeet seductively. “Can I get you hard, Jeet-hah?” he asked. “What would you like? You want me to suck you, or you to suck me?”

Jeet grinned, cocked an eyebrow, licked his lips, and beckoned Tazaar forward with a finger.

Tazaar came closer, swinging his hips so that his cock flopped right and left. He knew how he could excite Jeet. They each knew the things that every other eunuch liked about them; they knew the unique ways they could excite each brother eunuch. Tazaar knew that Jeet loved his compact hips and the way the long muscles in his golden legs flexed when he danced for the Abij-hah. And he knew that Jeet loved it when he flopped his cock left and right.

Antiochus knew it, too. He had seen Jeet’s reaction when Tazaar danced for them, and he could feel Jeet’s reaction now as the boy’s cock began to thicken in his fingers.

Tazaar was close enough now for Jeet to grab him by the hips. He did. He held Tazaar still and then took the older eunuch’s cock into one hand. He began licking over it with the combination of lust and affection that often blended when they were together. He closed his mouth over the end of Tazaar’s cock as it grew rigid. Antiochus smiled. Jeet’s cock had grown hard in his hand.

Jeet slurped audibly, joining his sounds to those of the other love making around him, Antiochus eyed Rem and Ptolemy, who were still sitting idle; the tallest of the eunuchs with the shortest. Both were sprouting erections; Rem’s long and thin, but proportionally to his size, no less impressive than the other eunuchs. Antiochus caught their eyes and nodded. “Well?”

They glanced at each other. Ptolemy was leaning back against cushions. Rem stood up and climbed astride Ptolemy’s lap, facing the taller boy. Ptolemy smiled and held his cock pointing straight up for Rem to lower himself onto. Antiochus watched as Rem’s little butt impaled itself on the long shaft.

Rem looped his arms around Ptolemy’s neck, and Ptolemy pulled the smaller boy into an embrace. Their differences in size made it look almost like Ptolemy was holding a child. But Rem moved for him, and rubbed his cock on the lean eunuch’s stomach; not moving like a child at all.

Antiochus turned back to the bed. Obenedes was lying on top of Aruli, who was on his back with his knees out to the sides. They were face to face; Obenedes’ cock was buried in the young eunuch. Jin was on top of Obenedes and his cock was buried in the twin. The three were talking softly as they moved. Occasionally, Aruli giggled.

On the floor, Letradoisan was on top of Bantu; face to face in a love knot. Bantu’s lean-muscled legs were out to the sides with Letradoisan’s knees forward under them. The blond twin’s butt was hard-pumping at Bantu’s bottom, jiggling the eunuch with each thrust. The two boys clung to each other’s shoulders, cheek to cheek, blond head next to red, and Antiochus could hear Bantu’s soft, rhythmic grunting.

Close to them, Rem had his arms around Ptolemy’s chest and he was riding Ptolemy like a child on a toy horse. Ptolemy held one cheek of the smaller boy’s butt in one hand and was stroking the boy’s back with his other.

Antiochus looked up. Tazaar’s head was back. His eyes were closed. His neck was thick. He held Jeet’s bobbing head in both hands, and his shoulders and chest glistened slightly with sweat. As Antiochus watched, the tall boy’s mouth fell open and his head fell farther back.

Antiochus took a deep breath of Jeet’s hair. Then taking the boy by his hips, he lifted him a few inches from his lap. Holding him there with one hand, Antiochus pointed his cock upward with the other.

He judged that Jeet still had enough oil at his opening from their earlier bathing. His own cock still had an oily sheen. He placed his crown at Jeet’s opening and sat the boy down on it, and his mouth fell open as Jeet’s tightness slid down his shaft.

+ + + + +

A single lamp burned in a back corner of the chamber. Antiochus, fatigued by the long nights and by the events of the week, had taken Jeet to bed with him early. But as soon as Jeet was sure that Antiochus was asleep, he got up from the bed. Letradoisan sat up and followed him. They sat together against the wall, and Letradoisan took Jeet’s hand. Rem got up and followed them over. He took a seat between Jeet’s legs and lay back against the Abij-hah’s chest. Jeet wrapped his free arm around Rem’s belly.

Ptolemy got up from the bed and came to sit against the wall on Letradoisan’s other side. Bantu followed him over and sat back between Ptolemy’s legs the way Rem had between Jeet’s. Obenedes moved up to the edge of the bed, but shook his head when Letradoisan waved him over. Aruli and Jin moved up to the edge of the bed on either side of Obenedes.

Tazaar slid off the bed to the floor, laying on his side to face the boys sitting with their backs against the wall.

Letradoisan lifted the hand of Jeet’s that he was holding, and interlaced his fingers with Jeet’s. Then he kissed the back of Jeet’s hand. “We should have been here,” he whispered. “We should have been here all week.”

“Don’t start blaming me,” Obenedes said.

“Shssh,” Letradoisan cautioned.

Jin squeezed Obenedes’ shoulder, encouragingly, and whispered something in his ear.

“The king is returning here in the fall,” Jeet murmured softly to Letradoisan. “When he does, can you come with him?”

Letradoisan grinned, then frowned. “Would he let us? He’ll want you for himself.”

Jeet bit his lip, thinking.

Bantu shifted on Letradoisan’s other side and laid a hand on the twin’s thigh. “You didn’t teach us much gymnastic dancing. You were going to and I was really looking forward to it.”

“Too bad you have to go back with Antiochus,” Ptolemy said.

Letradoisan turned to him in surprise. “You don’t want us to leave?”

Rem shifted between Jeet’s legs and pulled the Abij-hah’s arm more snugly around him. “If you stay,” he said, “you can’t have Jeet unless we say. He belongs to the Oracle and me… ”

“And us,” Bantu interjected.

“Hey,” Jeet said, giving the skin of Rem’s belly a pinch. “I’m not your possession.”

“Letradoisan has Obenedes,” Rem protested. “He can sleep with him.”

Letradoisan took the hand of Jeet’s, which he was holding, and rapped Rem’s ribs. “What can I do to get you to like me, Rem?” he asked.

Rem frowned. “It’s just… it’s just that you two are so arrogant.”

“Or you were until Jeet flipped you on your butt, wrestling,” Tazaar said with a grin.

“Yeah, well if we had a few more days,” Letradoisan promised with a grin, “I’d be the one flipping him.”

“By the gods,” Bantu observed with a grin. “They’re still arrogant.”

Bantu’s thigh was alongside Letradoisan’s, and the twin grabbed it, giving it a hard squeeze. Bantu yelped before Ptolemy quickly covered his mouth with a hand from behind.

“What will happen when the king comes?” Obenedes asked from the bed.

“What do you mean?” Jeet asked him.

“What do you do?” Obenedes clarified. “Do you stay in his quarters and fuck the whole time, like with Antiochus?”

“No,” said Jeet with a quick shake of his head. “Last year, we spent a day on the Oracle’s barge, and we danced for him. Another day, we rode up into the mountains.”

Obenedes climbed off the bed and moved closer, spooning up behind Tazaar and leaning over him to talk. Aruli and Jin followed him down from the bed and pressed in from behind.

“I had an idea,” Obenedes said. He nodded at Bantu. “When you were talking about gymnastic dancing. Have you ever heard of a gymnopaedia?” he asked, looking from Tazaar to the others.

They all shook their heads.

“Back in Greece, they used to have them all the time.”

“Naked dancing?” Aruli asked, because that is what the word meant in Greek.

Obenedes nodded. “Depending on the polis, they’d have them, oh, maybe once a year. All the boys up to their late teens would perform and all their erastoi and fathers and uncles would come to watch. All the boys would dance for them – gymnastic dances. And there would be prizes for the best dancers and beauty contests for the boys.” He leaned closer. “What if… what if we organized a gymnopaedia, here in Kaleh. We could organize it for the coming of the king and invite all the boys at the gymnasium – there are some very good looking athletes there.”

“Because they sleep with us,” Bantu interjected, and his fellow eunuchs all chuckled until Ptolemy shushed them to be quiet.

“We could invite boys and their erastoi from Varashed and other cities to come,” Jin suggested. “Like they do for the games.”

“We could have games, too,” Tazaar suggested. “The King’s games at Kaleh.”

“Or the Phrygian games for the King,” Jeet countered, “and invite the entire province.”

“That could cost money,” Ptolemy pointed out, “at least for prizes. And where would you hold it for that many boys?”

“What if the Oracle was the sponsor?” Jeet asked, unconsciously rubbing Rem’s belly. “I mean, the shrine is already becoming famous among athletes. I bet old Jarus would be glad to put up temple money to have the Oracle become even more famous.”

“The Oracle’s gymnopaedia,” Rem suggested.

“Could she come?” Letradoisan asked doubtfully. “Girls were never allowed at gymnopaedia, just like they aren’t allowed at games.

“She’s got a cock,” Jeet said, simply. “If she’s the sponsor, she can come.”

Letradoisan grinned. “True.”

Obenedes leaned even closer over Tazaar. “And we could stay here to help,” he whispered. “Letradoisan and I could train you and the boys in Kaleh in gymnastic dance and we could help organize the gymnopaedia.”

They all looked around at each other, and began grinning.

“Antiochus will shit,” Letradoisan said flatly.

They grew quiet a moment.

“Let’s wait to tell him until the last minute,” Obenedes suggested.

Letradoisan nodded, and then he smiled again. He was glad that Obenedes had been forgiven. He was glad they were all becoming friends.

He squeezed Jeet’s hand. “I have an idea, too,” Letradoisan said.

Everyone turned to him.

“We are all friends now, right?”

They nodded.

“And Obenedes is forgiven, and I’m forgiven for being an arrogant asshole?”

“I didn’t say ‘asshole’,” Rem objected.

“Not out loud,” Bantu said with a grin.

Letradoisan held up his free hand; the one that wasn’t holding Jeet’s. The others turned to see what he had to say. “Obenedes and I are unaccustomed to the way you all love each other and make love to each other. You act like you’re in love with each other… all of you.” He looked around the circle of boys. “You have freely loved us, even when we weren’t nice to you.” He turned toward Jeet and lifted Jeet’s hand, kissing the back of it. He looked directly into Jeet’s eyes. “You have not made love with my brother, Jeet-hah. It is all that is lacking to heal and complete our friendships, all of our friendships.” He turned to look at Obenedes. “Brother, you have not opened your heart to Jeet, who is my friend.” He extended his free hand toward Obenedes.

Obenedes eyes darted to Jeet’s. Letradoisan’s words and sentiments were somewhat melodramatic, but in that way that appeals to young boys whose hearts so easily plunge into friendship and love.

Letradoisan leaned forward, his extended hand even closer to Obenedes’. Slowly, Obenedes took it. Then Letradoisan brought his two hands together; the one holding Obenedes’ hand to the one holding Jeet’s. “Please,” he said to them.

Jeet and Obenedes were still looking at each other. Jeet nodded slightly, then Obenedes nodded. Jeet shifted and Rem got up from his lap. Obenedes came forward over Tazaar, and the others cleared out a space on the joined pallets.

The two boys knelt, facing each other. They leaned in at the same time, taking each other by the shoulders, and they kissed lightly. Then they kissed again, and moved forward until their bellies pressed together.

And while Antiochus slept, the final reconciliation of the twins to the eunuchs was consummated.

+ + + + +

When Antiochus woke, he was spooned behind Jeet, but on the opposite side from the one when Antiochus fell asleep. The boy probably got up in the night to relieve himself, Antiochus reasoned. Normally, the boy woke earlier than him, but he was still sleeping. He decided the boy had needed the sleep, and no wonder, Antiochus had been keeping the boy up every night. He was delighted to find Jeet still sleeping beside him, though, for whatever reason. For once, the boy was in his arms when he had a morning erection. Antiochus was often aroused in the morning, and Jeet’s usual absence had been slightly annoying.

But not this morning.

Confident that the boy was still well-oiled from the night before, he backed up his hips and probed with his cock between Jeet’s firm, little buttocks. He found the boy’s opening and eased in. Jeet barely stirred.

+ + + + +

It annoyed Antiochus that the twins and eunuchs all seemed to be getting along perfectly now. When the others had finally awakened that morning, it was as if the boys were all old friends. The acrimony from earlier in the week might have never been.

A little antipathy between the boys would have served him better. It was downright grating that even Obenedes and Jeet seemed happy together.

He watched them at the morning meal, and at their games that afternoon. Jeet was so involved with the other boys, and with the occasional demands of the shrine, that Antiochus felt like a tag-along, and it vexed him.

Finally, as the others returned inside from their afternoon workout, he pulled the boy aside, and laying the flat of his hand on the boy’s slender back, he pulled Jeet’s chest to his and whispered in the boy’s ear. “It’s my last afternoon and evening with you, Jeet-hah.” After a week of making love to the boy, the nearness of Jeet’s body was more intoxicating than ever. He kissed the nape of Jeet’s neck. “Come away with me to bathe, just us. We’ll eat alone in my quarters and let the others eat and sleep downstairs.”

Jeet tried to hide his disappointment by taking the man’s biceps in his hand and laying his face against the side of Antiochus’ as the man nibbled on the side of his neck. “Wouldn’t we have more fun with the others? Didn’t you enjoy last night?”

Antiochus slid his hands down to Jeet’s bare bottom and pulled the boy’s middle to his. “Only one night, Jeet. You’ll have the Oracle and the other eunuchs after we leave,” he said, kneading the boy’s buttocks, feeling his own cock lengthen.

Jeet tried to think of another argument.

Antiochus held the boy’s butt firmly and ground his stiffening cock against the boy. “Give me this afternoon and evening to remember in the coming days when I think I will go mad without you.”

As disappointed as Jeet was to not be able to be with the others, he reminded himself that it was only one more night with Antiochus, and that the twins would be around afterward. He smiled at the thought, and allowed himself to respond to the caresses of the handsome man, and the exciting erection he felt pressed against his groin. He would grant Antiochus’ wish, with all his skill.

+ + + + +

“We have told the servants to leave our things,” Letradoisan said as the twins stood before Antiochus in his quarters the next morning. Antiochus’ servants were busy loading out his belongings.

The king’s brother looked at the twin, sharply. “What?” he asked in a menacing voice.

“We’re staying,” Letradoisan said, slipping an arm behind Obenedes’ waist, to strengthen his own resolve as much as to show Antiochus solidarity. “We’re going to stay and help Jeet and the others organize a great gymnopaedia for when King Seleucus comes this fall. And then we’ll return to Antioch with him.”

“Like hell you will,” Antiochus said, dismissively. “You’re going back with me. I promised your father and uncle.”

“You promised to take good care of us, and you have,” Obenedes said with a smile. “We’ll be safe here, or at the citadel when there is no room for us at the shrine.”

“Don’t argue,” Antiochus said, gesturing for a servant to pack a small silver bowl that belonged to the shrine. “Your father and uncle expect you to return with me.”

“We won’t argue,” Letradoisan agreed. “We’re staying. Despite our youth, we are free Greeks, Antiochus. Our father did not order us to return with you, and we are staying. Here,” he extended a sealed parchment, “I’ve written a note to our father explaining. He will be pleased, I think, that we are doing this for the king.”

“For the king!” Antiochus growled, ignoring the note, hands on his hips. “I know exactly what you are trying to do. Now quit being stupid. You are my eromenoi, and my responsibility. You are coming with me.”

“Are you trying to force us?” Letradoisan asked with a cocked eyebrow.

Antiochus felt his face grow hot.

“Didn’t you say that our uncle wanted us to make Jeet an ally?” Obenedes asked.

Rage boiled up in Antiochus’ gut like a sudden fire. The twins had him and he tried desperately to think of a counter. They were free Greeks. And yes, their father and uncle – powerful men, important allies – undoubtedly would approve of them staying on a purely political basis, at the least. Even Seleucus might have no objection. But he did; Antiochus did! He fought the rage. He fought the urge to strike the boys; strike them down.

He picked up a chair and threw it hard against the stone walls, shattering it. He stepped toward them, fists clenched. “You want Jeet for yourselves. That’s why you want to stay.”

The twins took a step back. They had never seen blind jealousy in the raw. It was frightening.

“Antiochus,” Letradoisan said softly. “He is our friend, and he’s already told us that he will return to sleeping with the Oracle and the other eunuchs.”

“You expect me to believe you will not make love to him?”

They said nothing.

But what they had said was enough to take the edge off Antiochus’ rage. Jeet would return to the Oracle and the other eunuchs as before. He might fuck with the twins, but perhaps they were not the rivals he thought they were. No, the real rivals remained. They were the Oracle and the King.

He turned and walked out on the balcony, trying to breathe, trying to think. It was maddening. Maddening that a deformed, fourteen-year-old hermaphrodite could keep Jeet for herself; maddening that his own brother could claim Jeet instead of Antiochus, only because, by accident of birth, Seleucus was king; maddening that Letradoisan and Obenedes would be close to Jeet, for months, and he could not be. By the Gods! With the King’s own son in Rome, Antiochus was second in the kingdom; he should be able to reach out and take Jeet. Now! Not years from now when his brother might be finished with him. Not sharing him with others.

He came back into the room. The twins were gone. “Get me the Abij-hah,” he told one of the servants. “The rest of you leave.”

“Great One?” Jeet called, when he came into the room a few minutes later.

Antiochus came in from the balcony. He came to the boy and pulled him into a tight embrace. “I love you, Jeet,” he said fiercely, “and I mean to have you.” He squeezed the boy hard, wanting to crush the boy into his own heart.

“Ah!” Jeet cried out, trying to bend out from under Antiochus’ arms. “You’re hurting me, Antiochus.”

The boy’s cry brought him up short. Antiochus relaxed his embrace and dropped his forehead to the boy’s. “It is not fair,” he murmured. “None of the others would love you the way I would.”

He lifted his head and looked into the boy’s eyes. “If I must share you with half the kingdom, so be it, Jeet, but keep me here,” he said, tapping the middle of Jeet’s chest, “with the others you love.” He pulled the boy back into a tight embrace and pressed the side of his face to the boy’s. “And someday, I shall be able to love you as I want, and it will be such a love… ”

He stroked the boy’s hair. He struggled with his composure. He didn’t want to frighten the boy. He kissed the boy’s lips and gentled his embrace.

+ + + + +

The priest waited, wearing a cloak, in an alcove outside the agora, just as Antiochus’ servant had instructed him. The mounted party approached and he stepped from the alcove’s recess.

They quickly surrounded him, screening him from outside view while Antiochus dismounted and came to him. “You are the priest, Stycus?” the king’s brother asked.

The priest nodded. “Yes, Great One.”

Antiochus glanced back in the direction of the temple. “The twins I brought to Kaleh with me… ” he turned back to the priest. “They are staying. I want reports. I want regular reports on all that happens at the shrine.” He grabbed the priest’s cloak at the neck and jerked the man toward him, inches from his face. “No harm is to come to Jeet – none! You understand?”

The priest nodded, swallowing hard.

Still gripping the priest by his cloak, Antiochus glanced back toward the temple once again. “But report to me. Let me know if there is talk about Jeet and one of the twins being close.” When he turned back to the priest, his eyes were fierce. “Let me know if Jeet falls in love with one of the twins and be prepared to act against the twin if I order it.”

The priest swallowed, his eyes were wide.

“Do you understand?” Antiochus demanded.

The priest nodded.

Antiochus released him, walked back to his horse, and climbed on. He led out and the other horsemen followed.

The priest adjusted his cloak as he watched them leave. And then a faint smile crossed his lips. The boy was going to get himself killed, yet.

If you are enjoying the story, please let me know. Reader emails are the only pay/compensation that we online writers ask for or get...