Iphicles paced angrily, albeit lopsidedly given his almost healed leg. His hands were clenched at his sides as he tried to control the slow anger which drove him . He’d finally farewelled his brother and Iolaus. Herk had insisted on staying around during the weeks it took to turn his hasty promise to Ajax’s men in reality, not from any doubts about his brother, oh no, never that. Iphicles knew he’d been in the wrong. But dammit, it didn’t make the humiliation any easier to bear. He’d been ambushed in his own palace. His highly trained guard had been completely useless. Only the intervention of Iolaus and Hercules had kept him alive, like some fainting maiden waiting to be rescued from a monster’s clutches. Why did he always have to rely on his brother? He was king for Zeus’ sake, king of Corinth no less. How could he expect his subjects and enemies to respect him when he couldn’t even respect himself?
He found himself up against the wall and glared at it as if it had purposefully gotten in his way. Snarling, he raised a fist and slammed it into the plaster, showering flakes over the immaculate floor. The pain speared through his arm but he did it again, over and over again, venting his frustration.
He tensed but didn’t turn, angry at the interruption. "I told Androtion I wasn’t to be disturbed ! Get the fuck out of here." Arrogantly, he ignored the newcomer, expecting instant obedience.
"Of course, your Majesty." The sardonic humour and unfamiliar voice failed to register.
Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t react to the footsteps behind him until too late. A heavy blow struck the side of his head and he lost consciousness.
He woke to the creaking and swaying motion of a ship at sea. He was in a small but luxuriously furnished cabin, decorated with the spoils of a score of raids. No windows. Gorgeously elaborate tapestries draped over rough wooden walls. Silver goblets sat on a table carved by a master craftsman. Where the hell was he? And more to the point, why was he here?
As if in answer to his question, the door to the cabin opened. A short, leanly built man with the clothes of a sailor but the indefinable air of a soldier peered in at him, grunted and closed the door again behind him before the king could question him. Iphicles sat up and swung his feet down to the floor. Moving as quietly as he could, he walked over to the door and listened carefully. The door was thick enough to muffle most sounds but the cough he heard was unmistakable. So, he was under guard. Iphicles shook his head in disbelief, wincing at the pain as he did so. Running his fingers through his tangled hair, he found a lump the size of Mt Olympus. He probed it gingerly even as he considered his situation.
"Must be kidnap Iphicles month," he muttered to himself. "No other way of explaining this crap."
He glanced around the cabin, seeking some clue as to the identity of his captors. His eye fell once more upon the silver cups on the table. Picking it up, he turned it over to study the craftsman’s mark. Sostratos of Corinth. Iphicles scowled. Anybody who could pay his exorbitant prices just to waste them on a prisoner wouldn’t bother with the small change they could pick up as ransom on his sorry carcass. No, chances were there was some other motive here, one he was sure he wasn’t going to like.
A clatter outside his door made him swing round abruptly. The one who entered was clearly a man of wealth and power. He was dressed Roman style, his insignia proclaiming him an officer. Iphicles didn’t know enough to decipher which legion he was from. The Romans had established an unwelcome presence on the peninsula, he knew that but there’d been many more tempting targets closer at hand. Iphicles and his council had been through this months ago. And anyway, why kidnap him?
"Follow me." The officer was expressionless, his no-nonsense demeanour discouraging conversation.
Iphicles did as he ordered, glad to escape the claustrophobic wealth of the cabin. Emerging onto the main deck of the gallery, he took a deep breath of the fresh sea air and stared around, taking in the orderliness of the ship and the large number of soldiers posted on guard. He was escorted to a canopy erected near the stern of the galley, sheltering the ship’s commander from the heat of the midday sun.
Part of Iphicles’ mind noted that he’d been unconscious for many hours given the position of the sun high overhead even as he realised who his captor was. He’d seen that unmistakably arrogant profile on coins.
Julius Caesar, scourge of the Roman Empire and beyond. Caesar, the man responsible for the Roman Empire’s inexorable expansion. His exploits started with the horrific and ended with atrocities. Iphicles felt his stomach twist with nausea and stood a little straighter to hide his discomfort. He was a dead man.
The man seated beneath the canopy looked at his prisoner, his eyes devoid of human expression. He smiled humourlessly.
"Welcome," he said cordially.
Iphicles inclined his head, not trusting himself to speak.
Caesar studied him for a moment, then gestured with his left hand. "Time to say your last goodbye."
"Wha..." Iphicles couldn’t believe that he’d been captured purely to be put to death. Did Caesar get some kind of kick out of this?
The Roman gestured again, more impatiently. "Say good bye before it all burns down and there’s nothing to which you *can* say goodbye, Iphicles."
Uncomprehendingly, Iphicles looked in the direction indicated. A thick, black column of smoke rose from a distant shore. No details could be made out but fact that the smoke was visible at this distance mean that whatever was burning was extremely large. He looked back to the monster sitting before him and looked back at the smoke column as he realised what he meant.
Caesar inclined his head, slowly. "Corinth," he confirmed. He stared assessingly at the shocked king, his cool green eyes registering every expression. "Burned to its foundations as lesson to those who doubt my determination."
The days and nights that followed were sheer hell for Iphicles. Denied access to Caesar, or indeed anything outside of the wooden walls of the cabin which confined him, he paced endlessly, restlessly, going over and over the events which had led him to this confinement. The food provided for him sat untouched upon the table, the olives, fruit and bread, undoubtedly spoils from the pillage of his city, fresh reminders of what he had lost.
Why Corinth? Why had Caesar chosen his city for his ‘lesson’? What could he have done differently to prevent it?
Eventually, exhausted, he slept.
Iphicles came to slowly. The first thing he noticed was his hands bound securely in front of him, at the wrist. The second that somebody had bathed him, removing the rank sweat from his body and then dressed him in a loose fitting robe of softly woven linen. He ran the back of one bound hand across his freshly shaven face, confused. Was he prisoner or guest? He definitely wasn’t at sea anymore. The room seemed more Roman in design and furnishing, not that that meant much. They had a habit of remaking countries they conquered in their own image. The sound of soldiers marching in the corridor drew his attention to the open archway. Iphicles rose from the couch he’d woken on, rising first to a sitting position, then gingerly levering himself to his feet.
Caesar entered, his guards arranging themselves on either side of the entrance. They stared blankly ahead, making themselves blind to the room’s occupants.
"Iphicles, you’re looking better than the last time we...met."
Caesar might have been discussing the weather for concern he managed to convey. He seated himself on a backless chair, his powerful forearms resting on its gold embellished arms. He didn’t look his captive in the eye.
"What do you want from me?"
Caesar’s dark head swivelled and he regarded Iphicles for a long time.
"Something you don’t want to give," he murmured cryptically. He smiled lazily. It never reached his eyes. "No threats? No pleas? You exceed my expectations."
"I can’t threaten you. And I’m not stupid enough to expect mercy." Iphicles stood, walked closer to where Caesar sat rigidly upright. The guards tensed, their attention still focused in mid-air, yet ready to defend their commander at the first sign of trouble.
"Why am I still alive? Isn’t crucifixion more your style?"
"It can be arranged, little king. It’s a very painful way to die, but it’s what you desire...."
Iphicles paused. He shook his head tightly.
"As for why you’re still alive...let’s just say it’s a small favour to a friend of mine." Caesar watched Iphicles intently as he spoke, but the king was completely bewildered.
"A friend who wants me alive?"
"Not exactly." Caesar paused thoughtfully as if trying to remember the exact wording. "Not alive, that’s not what he said. No, he said he didn’t want you dead."
He leaned forwarded and spoke in a soft, husky voice. "And that gives me so much to play with." The anticipation in his face gave Iphicles pause. He backed slowly away from the madman in the chair, his eyes darting to the guards who stood unmoving until a flick of the wrist from Caesar sent them to retrieve him.
Iphicles struggled against their grip but his bound hands and generally weakened condition made him no match for them.
"Fasten him to the pillars."
The guards dragged the struggling king between two classically elegant pillars and fastened the chains first to one wrist, then the other. Once secure, they cut the ropes binding him and pulled the manacles tight, forcing him to stand with arms outstretched, displayed for Caesar’s pleasure. One guard retreated back to his post by the door but the other stood behind Iphicles, awaiting the next order.
The soldier drew his dagger, reached up and slit the soft woven cloth along the shoulder seams. It parted easily, slipping down the broad chest to pool around Iphicles’ ankles. Sheathing his knife, the soldier looked to Caesar.
"Flog him. Twenty lashes for disrespect."
The soldier walked behind Iphicles, bent and retrieved something Iphicles couldn’t quite see from behind the column. He knew he’d find out soon enough.
Crack. Iphicles winced, his back opened by the slice of the whip against his bare skin. He shuddered, but managed not to cry out.
"That’s one," remarked Caesar conversationally.
Iphicles lifted his head and glared at him, but held his tongue. He gritted his teeth against the bite of the next lash, and the next, and the next. He could feel the blood trickling, slowly, agonising down his back.
"Pass out and we’ll start again from one," warned Caesar. "This is for your benefit as well as my entertainment." He watched avidly, eyes flickering between the fall of the whip and the expression of agony on Iphicles’ face. "A little lesson on the rewards of insolence to your betters."
Iphicles endured mutely, hanging against his chains, desperately trying not give him any satisfaction. When at last the ordeal was over, he straightened slowly, trying to ignore the pain in his back.
Caesar rose from his chair. "Well done". For one crazy moment Iphicles thought he was being complimented but the Roman’s next order soon dispelled that illusion.
"Now fuck him."
Iphicles’ head jerked up, unable to believe what he’d heard. The man behind him grunted his satisfaction at the command, running a possessive hand over Iphicles’ ass, probing one finger inside. Iphicles clenched his cheeks together reflexively.
"Don’t ruin him for me, just teach him his place." Caesar resumed his seat gracefully and sipped from a goblet presented to him by a kneeling slave boy. The youngster slid bonelessly down beside the chair, awaiting further commands.
Iphicles heard the man behind him break open a jar and tried to look over his shoulder to see what was occurring.
"Eyes front, little king, or I’ll tell him to use the spear instead."
Iphicles complied. Unable to use his eyes, he felt an oil-soaked finger inserted slowly into his ass, despite the contractions of his muscles.
"You’re tighter than a moneylender, Greek," whispered his rapist. "You’ll have a damn sight more than my finger in you in a moment." His other hand kneaded Iphicles’ buttocks in the same way that Iphicles might have caressed a woman’s breasts.
His breathing heavy and loud in Iphicles’ ear, the guard pushed his well-oiled cock into the king’s tight ass, grasping his hips for leverage and grunting rhythmically as he fucked harder and harder. As he neared his climax, he murmured obscenities into Iphicles’ ear, telling him what a good whore he was. He came hard, spurting semen into that virgin ass and biting him hard on the neck, marking him.
The guard stood there for a moment as Caesar stared Iphicles in the eye, then pulled his cock reluctantly from the king’s ass at a gesture from his commander. Wiping himself of the remains of the robe, he pulled his tunic back into place and returned to his original position by the door.
Semen dripped down the back of Iphicles’ thighs and the humiliation of it hit him, and his head drooped. It’d been more uncomfortable than painful, particularly compared to his back, but still it was degrading. Worse, there was probably more to come. Caesar wasn’t the kind of man to be pleased that easily.
"You still don’t look very respectful, Iphicles. Perhaps I’m being too soft with you."
Iphicles lifted his head with a dull resignation to see the other guard approaching. Pausing to bow his head respectfully to his commander, he then assumed the same position behind the chained Iphicles. Both men looked over to Caesar, awaiting his order, one with anticipation, the other trying hard to hid his fear.
Caesar prolonged the tension, cocking his head thoughtfully as he surveyed them. A single finger tapped the arm of his chair as he considered the next move.
"Rape him. Then make him enjoy it."
Without warning, the guard’s cock plunged deep into Iphicles’ ass, making him cry out. Already aroused from his comrade’s performance, he rutted fast and furiously, pushing deeper and deeper.
The pain was incredible. Despite the semen still leaking from his abused ass, the size and sheer enthusiasm of his new attacker made Iphicles cry out in pain. He twisted in his chains, desperate to escape. It was useless. Eventually he stopped moving, simply willing it to be over.
"You’re losing him, Flavius. Get his attention."
Iphicles screamed as the guard punched him in the kidneys, reopening the clotting scabs from the earlier punishment. His amber eyes opened wide and he focused his hatred on the motionless figure seated before him.
"Better. Now, seduce him back."
Iphicles snarled in anger and frustration as the man’s hand encircled his groin and roughly fondled his limp cock. He struggled against that practised hand, twisting and contorting his body, not caring what his movements were doing to his tortured back. He succeeded in dislodging his attacker from his ass but the guard hung onto his cock with a grip of death. Not unless he heard Caesar’s mocking laugh did he realise that despite the fight (or because of it?), his cock was now rock hard in the other man’s grip, pre-cum glistening wetly on the tip. The harder he fought, the harder the other man stroked him, driving all thoughts but the need to come from his mind.
"Yes," hissed Caesar. "You like it, don’t you?"
Breathing heavily, he slowed, then ceased fighting, concentrating on the feel of his organ slipping through the other man’s sword-callused palm, rolling his hips forward and back as he fucked the hand slippery with his own juices. Felt a cock push into his ass again, moving in tandem with the strong fist which gripped his shaft. This time the soldier pulled him back on his cock at a particular angle and Iphicles was hit by a wave of pleasure, not intense enough to make him come but powerful enough to make him whimper at the sensation.
"Finish it now. Don’t let him come." There was urgency in Caesar’s voice, but Iphicles couldn’t focus on him. Nothing existed but the cock pounding his ass and the sensation of his cock gripped tightly in a stranger’s hand.
The hand stroking his cock released it suddenly, moving to grip and finger his balls as its owner grunted his orgasm and his hot seed filled Iphicles’ ass.
"No!" he yelped. Iphicles growled frustratedly as the guard pulled out and left him without a backward glance. His cock stood proud, red, angry, engorged.
"All yours." The trace of deference in Caesar’s voice surprised him until he saw the new arrival.
Once seen, never forgotten. Iphicles had seen the dark war god at a dedication ceremony many years before, but he didn’t remember him being quite this tall, this dark, this fuckable. He twisted in his chains, desperate for relief from his raging hard-on and wondered crazily what the god’s full, luscious lips would feel like wrapped about his aching cock.
"All mine," echoed Ares. He stared at Iphicles’ sweat and blood stained body as the king stood panting, desperate for relief. He liked what he saw. "You do good work, Caesar."
Iphicles’ eyes followed his leatherclad form as the god walked behind him. Standing behind the manacled king, Ares ran a caressing hand over the body displayed before him. He stooped, licked blood from one of the whip cuts and felt Iphicles shudder at his touch. Not bothering to undress fully, he bared his groin and stroked himself to full erection, then shoved his cock in hard, deep into the king’s abused ass.
The feeling of the god’s leather abrading the cuts on his back, the god-cock stretching his ass even more than the previous men, the god’s nails gouging new wounds on his chest, all of these combined with Ares’ strong right hand massaging his cock to bring Iphicles to orgasm. He twisted helplessly in the throes of the most gut-wrenching orgasm he’d ever experienced, hot semen gushing on to the marbled floor as he yelled out his pleasure, finally blacking out as he felt the god pour his creamy liquid into his violated body.
Fighting his way back to consciousness, Iphicles forced himself to focus on the activity in front of him.
"Put him there, gently," snapped Ares. "Give him a drink. No, lay him face down, you fool."
The soft bed the servants had placed him on creaked as Ares sat on the edge. No sign of Caesar, thought Iphicles gratefully. He winced as the stiffening muscles of his back protested. A deft hand sponged away the blood and semen from his body, a carefully expressionless servant lifted his head and helped him to drink. He coughed but managed to keep a small amount of the liquid down.
"Where’s that physician," demanded Ares.
"Here, my lord."
"Then treat him."
Iphicles balled his fist against the pain as the doctor cleaned the whip cuts and made no sound. He looked up to find the god watching him. He stared back, studying the god to take his mind off the pain. Was Ares part of this whole charade? Iphicles’ inherent reverence for the gods was taking something of a beating, find the god twisted up in Caesar’s machinations. Or was it the other way round? Was Caesar simply a tool here? It was too much of an effort to think about.
Iphicles closed his eyes and fell into the dark, comforting embrace of unconsciousness.
"You know you’d be dead if it wasn’t for me."
Ares stood behind him, his entry as silent as a ghost. Cleaned, bandaged, dressed and with a good night’s sleep behind him, Iphicles was ready to deal with life again. Not quite up to dealing with the guards posted outside his room, but ready for something a little less physical.
"Are you looking for gratitude here?" asked Iphicles slowly, uncertainly. "My city is ruined, my people murdered or enslaved." He shook his head in disbelief. "I am grateful to you personally, my Lord Ares, but…. "
"Grateful. Grateful is good," said Ares. "You know, I’ve been thinking about what to do with you, Iphicles."
Iphicles stared at the god from his position on the edge of the bed. Ares strolled around the bedroom as he spoke, picking up objects, turning them over his hands briefly and then discarding them.
"What to do with me?" he echoed.
"Yeah. Can’t really leave you here, can I? Caesar seems to like you a little more than I’d anticipated." The god turned to look at Iphicles, a sly grin pasted on his handsome features. Iphicles didn’t know which way to look. He felt very uncomfortable with any reference to the previous day’s event, avoiding even thinking about it.
He couldn’t deny his response to the god - yet Iphicles wasn’t comfortable with desiring him. It seemed sacrilegious. So he ignored it. It was a familiar method of dealing with things that made him uncomfortable and anything familiar was welcome in this maze of uncertainty. If he ignored the sexual references, perhaps the god would cease making them. He realised Ares was waiting for a response.
"Are you asking me what I want?" he said cautiously.
The sheer arrogance of that reply threw Iphicles for a moment. He smothered the expletive which was his first response, biting his bottom lip in anger.
"I didn’t save you from the goodness of my heart. There’s something I want you to do for me."
All the levity disappeared from his face as his mood changed abruptly, showing the steel beneath the playful facade. "Time to show me how grateful you are. Either you do as I ask; or Caesar gets to play with you again."
"I do believe he can be very hard on his toys. " Ares lowered his voice for emphasis. "If you’re unlucky, you won’t die quickly. He likes to drag it out, inch by inch, until you’re ready to beg him for death."
He sighed, a matyred expression on his face. "I’m not asking for much, Iphicles, just one little task and you can have it all back. Your city, your people, your crown." He leaned forward and asked earnestly, "Is it so much to ask?"
"You can do that?" Iphicles was stunned. "You can turn back everything that’s happened?"
"Are you doubting me?" asked Ares silkily.
The god glared at him.
"Won’t the other gods be....I don’t know, disturbed by this?"
Ares smiled broadly and shrugged. "Quick tip on godly protocol for ya.... Corinth, Pylos, whatever ......makes little difference to them as long as I don’t chose somebody’s favourite city. Another day, another sacked city. No big deal."
Unable to comprehend such callousness, Iphicles nodded, dazed. Ares returned to the attack.
"Is that what you want, Iphicles? Do you want it all back? Cos I can give it to you. I just need you to do something for me." He paused in front of Iphicles, touching his chin lightly with one hand. He had his full attention.
"It’s quite simple. You kill someone for me and I’ll return everything to the way it was." Ares walked away and dropped lightly onto a chair as Iphicles paced nervously about the room.
Iphicles couldn’t believe his ears, stunned by Ares’ offer. "I’m no murderer," he said hotly.
Ares looked at him, a small smile dancing on his lips. "Murder, battle, war, what’s the difference? You’re still dead at the end of it, no matter how noble the motives."
"It can’t be that simple. There’s something you’re not telling me here," said Iphicles. "You have warlords, ready to jump at your slightest command. What can I do that they can’t?"
"Of course I’m not telling you everything. I’m a god; I don’t have to explain myself to you." Ares’ face lost its smile and he glowered blackly at the perceived insolence. Iphicles swallowed, suddenly reminded of his own mortality and reliance on the god’s goodwill. "You have to make a decision; everything or nothing."
With one last scowl, Ares was gone. Iphicles relaxed back onto the bed, yelping as he put pressure on his tender back. He had a lot to think about.
The god was back. He materialised in the chair he’d disappeared from a few hours previously, as if only minutes had passed.
"Well?" he demanded.
Iphicles’ face was troubled. "I can’t do it."
"Can’t ? Fuck, I so do not need this shit." The god rose to his feet and paced. "Look, Iphicles, have you really thought about what’s at stake here. About all the lives that depend on you. About what’s ahead of you if you stay here with Caesar? Have you?"
Iphicles stared at the god. "I don’t understand you, Ares. First you help that madman burn my city, then you take turns with him raping me, now you want me to believe you really have my best interests at heart." He stood abruptly, unable to remain still a moment longer, his lips compressed tightly. "You’re full of shit."
The god pretended to be shocked by the sentiment, his eyes going wide as he pointed at his own chest. He did a very bad job. "You’re still pissed about the whole Caesar thing, aren’t you?"
He shrugged. "Hey, I asked him not to kill you. And is it my fault that he had you trussed up like a present for me? I don’t remember you asking me not to fuck you." The god was either truly getting angry now or his acting skills were improving. "In fact, I seem to remember you coming so hard you passed out!"
"So would you if you’d just been whipped within an inch of your life! It hurt!"
"It hurt! It hurt!" parroted the god. He curled a lip, sneering contemptuously. "Get over it, Iphicles. Shit happens."
"Just happens, eh?" asked Iphicles, somewhat heatedly. He was rapidly losing all his fear of Ares and his deferential attitude certainly hadn’t lasted more than a few hours of the god’s company. "And you didn’t tell him that Corinth was the perfect place for him to make an example to the rest of Greece?"
"You wound me, Iphicles." Was there sincerity in the god’s expression? Iphicles couldn’t tell. "Caesar was always going to wipe your city off the map, you know between you and me, he’s not that controllable. I just asked him to ....get me a souvenir along the way."
He grinned lopsidedly at the former king. "Call me an old softy but I couldn’t bear to see somebody with your potential going to waste."
"But I can change his mind. If you’re willing to do what I asked." Ares sighed. Patience was not his strong suit. He smiled engagingly, baring his white teeth at Iphicles. "Time to put things in perspective, Iph. I can call you that, can’t I?"
Every trace of smile disappeared from his face, leaving it remote and forbidding. He spoke precisely.
"You are dead if you stay here. Your people are already dead. You have no future. You have no chance of rescue. Baby brother isn’t going to come striding over the hill to save you. Right now he’s mourning the loss of the good people of Corinth, including yourself. I dare say he’ll even erect some sort of touching monument to your memory...once he finds the time." The last part of the sentence was drawled in a vicious whisper.
There was silence for a few seconds.
"I’ll do it. May the gods forgive me, but I’ll do it."
"You made the right choice. I’ll be back."
The god was gone.
Iphicles settled down to wait. He walked over to the window and sat on the ledge, wondering how badly he’d hurt himself if he jumped. Anything for some fresh air. Give his luck of late, he’d probably end up breaking both legs.
He heard the guards outside crash to attention. Uh oh, that sounded like trouble.
"You look well, Iphicles." There wasn’t even a hint of a smirk on Caesar’s face. The cold green eyes bored into him, looking for weakness or fear.
Iphicles nodded. The depth of hatred he felt towards the Roman surprised him with its intensity. If he had a chance of succeeding, he’d happily have throttled the bastard where he stood. He rose to his feet, giving himself room to manoeuvre.
"I’m grateful for your…..hospitality," he replied.
Caesar looked thoughtful. "Do tell me if there’s anything you need," he said graciously. He reached out and cupped Iphicles’ face in his hand, stroking his thumb over his stubble. "I want you to feel at home here."
Iphicles shuddered and took a step backwards, pushing his hair away from his eyes as he moved, eyes fixed on the Roman.
"Thank you," he said formally. No way was he going to be accused of disrespect again.
Caesar stared at him for a few more seconds, then smiled at him. He was even more terrifying when he smiled, thought Iphicles.
"Until later, then." He left the room as silently as he’d entered.
It was full night by the time the god returned. Still shaken from his encounter with Caesar, Iphicles stood as he materialised, waiting respectfully for the god to tell him what he had to do.
Ares produced a slim dagger from thin air and tossed it in a high arc to Iphicles. He caught by the hilt, staring at the gleaming blade as if he’d never seen a weapon before.
"Ready?" The god didn’t waste any time.
"Then we’re outta here."
A sudden wrench, a feeling of falling and Iphicles found himself in a torchlit corridor with the god beside him. The god strode forward and Iphicles followed.
"You know, it’s kinda strange relying on a mortal for this stuff." Ares glanced at Iphicles. Iphicles said nothing. Small talk before assassinations was not his forte.
"Right, he’s through there. " Ares indicated a curtain, keeping his voice. "His guards will be on the other side of the room. Cut his throat quickly and then back out here. You need to be out of sight before I can get you out of here….nobody’s to think I or any other god is involved."
Iphicles grasped the dagger firmly in his hand, doubts threatening to overwhelm him. Ares pushed him. "Do it. Do it now."
Iphicles closed his eyes briefly and then pushed through the drapery, almost falling over his target. All he could see was the back off his head. Short dark hair cropped Roman style, a well built man wearing clothing that Iphicles had seen before, only that afternoon. Caesar! Ares did have mercy, after all. If one man needed killing, this was him
He jumped forward, pulled his victim’s head back by the hair and slit his throat from left to right, snarling with enjoyment at the thought of killing the monster who’d done so much evil to so many people. As the blood gushed from the wound, he dropped him, leaving him to writhe on the ground in his death agonies. A moment or so later and he was still, dead.
Unable to stop himself, wanting to see the last look on that monster’s face, Iphicles reached down and rolled the body onto its back.
It wasn’t Caesar.
He turned and fled even as the guards finally reacted, stunned by the sudden brutality of the act. Pushed back through the curtain and into the hallway, sprinting down the corridor despite his lame leg, and into a convenient doorway.
"Ares!" he half-whispered, half-sobbed.
"ARES!" Iphicles was shaking as the reaction to what he had done hit him. The doubts that he had felt earlier returned in full force. Was it a set up? Was he going to be left here for the guards to find, perhaps paraded as criminal. His legs gave way beneath him and he sank to the floor, staring at the knife stained with the life-blood of a complete stranger.
"Please," he whispered, almost to himself. "Please don’t leave me here."
The room dissolved around him.
Iphicles took a deep breath, struggling to control his churning stomach. He felt like spilling his guts on the tiles under his feet as a combination of relief, guilt and adrenaline hit him. After a few minutes he glanced around, looking for the war god, his ticket back to a sane universe.
"Ares? Ares, it’s done." He looked around him, taking in the surroundings. Still marble, columns and frescos; still somewhere Roman influenced then.
"Yes," said Ares. He didn’t offer congratulations on a job well done; Iphicles was grateful for that small mercy.
"Can I go home now? Is everything the way it was?" Iphicles hoped the note of desperation in his voice wasn’t as obvious as it sounded. He was almost at the end of his tether, existing solely on nervous energy.
"Everything is the way it was...Corinth still stands, though Kyllene isn’t so lucky. "
Iphicles tried to digest that information. Relief at his city’s safety transmuted into guilt. Had he killed the inhabitants of Kyllene by his choice? True, it was smaller than his city but he’d killed them just the same as if he had stabbed them himself. Quickly, he shoved that thought to the back of his mind. He could worry about it later. He couldn’t deal with the repercussion of his actions now. Focus on the present, Iphicles.
"How soon can I get back there?"
Ares was silent.
"Ares? When can I leave here?"
"When I say."
"I completed my part of the bargain, my lord Ares."
"So formal, Iphicles." The god laughed. "I’ll send you soon enough." He eyed the bloodstained knife in Iphicles’ hand. "I’m just going to let you show how grateful you are for this opportunity first."
"Grateful?" Iphicles was wary.
"Yeah, grateful. Get on your knees." Ares walked closer, stroking his cock through the black leather of his pants, his lips curving in a grin at the look of horror on Iphicles’ face. As he came closer. Iphicles could smell the combination of blood and musk he was beginning to associate with male sex.
Iphicles shook his head. "I can’t."
"You can. You will."
Iphicles had had enough. He lunged for the god, knife in hand, desperately aiming for his cold, black heart. The god caught his knife-arm by the wrist and twisted it up behind his back, then forced him down to his knees. He tightened his inhuman grip until Iphicles fell to his knees with a grunt and the knife dropped from his numbed fingers to clatter onto the ground. Ares kicked it sideways gracefully with one booted foot.
"There are two ways of doing anything….and you always choose the hard way. It’s so satisfying," purred Ares. He straightened, releasing Iphicles’ arm. "Now unless you want to entertain Caesar and his soldiers again, suck my cock."
He folded his arms and looked at Iphicles, pointedly tapping one foot. "You’ve already killed for me. You’ve been fucked by me. Get on with it."
Ares snapped his fingers, undressing himself with a thought. He stretched, displaying his well-muscled torso to the man kneeling before him. Placing his hand on the back of Iphicles’ head, he guided his mouth onto his swollen cock, feeling the wet heat envelope it and the tongue swirl tentatively around the organ as Ares pushed in and out, slowly fucking his mouth.
"Oh, that’s sooo good. You’re a good little cocksucker."
The god thrust in and out as Iphicles closed his eyes, trying to block out the reality of what he was doing.
"But there’s something missing…" The god snapped his fingers again and the figure of a man appeared at the edge of Iphicles’ vision. "Glad you could join us, Caesar."
Iphicles choked and attempted to pull back, but Ares had anticipated him and had wound a hand tightly into the king’s copper-coloured hair, restricting his movement. "Keep your mind on the job, cocksucker."
He addressed the new arrival. "Jump in when you’re ready."
Caesar smiled an acknowledgment at him, divesting himself of clothing. He positioned himself behind the god. His oil smeared fingers touched the god’s ass, preparing the way, making him shiver and thrust harder into Iphicles’ mouth.
"Bend over, and take it up the ass, Ares." The god did as he was told, bracing his hands on his thighs, forcing Iphicles to lean further back as the Roman pushed his glistening cock all the way into the god’s ass. Iphicles heard a sharp slap and the god’s salty cum filled his mouth, choking him. He tried to swallow around the cock filling his mouth, throat working frantically even as some of the god’s cream ran down his chin. Eventually the god’s spasms subsided and his grip loosened, allowing Iphicles to pull away, wiping the cum off his face with the back of one trembling hand.
He watched as Caesar plowed the god, pounding his cock into the god’s eager ass. Oddly, despite himself, despite everything that had happened to him, he found himself aroused by watching them, listening to the god’s moans, watching Caesar’s expression of furious pleasure as he rode the god, fingers digging into his broad shoulders. He even wished he could see the god’s face behind the curtain of black hair that shielded it. Blood flooded into his cock. He freed it from his clothing and stroked himself, never taking his eyes from the two men fucking in front of him.
"Not so arrogant now, is he?" remarked Caesar. Iphicles realised with a start that he was being addressed. "Anyone turns into a slut with a nice, thick cock up their ass." He pulled slowly out of Ares’ ass and slapped him lightly on the buttocks. "Your turn now. Fuck the slut."
Emboldened by Ares’ silence and by the almost painful throb of his engorged cock, Iphicles took position behind him even as Caesar moved a short distance away to recline on a couch and watch. He reached out, grasped one firm buttock and squeezed it, not gently. Stroking his cock, he guided into the god’s waiting ass, amazed at the heat and tightness. Not waiting for the god to adjust, he fucked in and out fast and furious, turning the emotional turmoil of the past few days into a desire to hurt the god as much as he himself had been hurt.
"Fuck!" exclaimed Ares. "Oh fuck."
Iphicles drove harder, sublimating all his aggression into the penetration, grunting with the effort. He grabbed hold of Ares’ hips, pulling the god back against him with bruising force, then snaked a hand around to catch his swollen cock. He milked the god’s erection as hard as he fucked his ass, enjoying the feeling of the god submissive for his pleasure, Iphicles expected an outcry of pain at the rough treatment, wanted it even. He needed to hear that he was hurting him, but the god denied him that pleasure, biting into his bottom lip to hold back his cries.
It couldn’t last. Ares howled as he came hard, shooting his sperm over Iphicles’ hand and onto the ground, shocking Iphicles with the intensity of the sensation as his ass clamped down on his cock. He spurted his semen inside the god’s tight ass, enjoying the contractions of his muscles as he thrust a few more times before pulling out, panting.
"That was *good*."
Iphicles’ hair was captured once more in a grip of steel. "Not that I gave you permission to fuck me." The god kissed him, tongue aggressively pushing his lips apart and slipping inside. Despite his tiredness, Iphicles responded, kissing and biting back at the god. From the corner of his eye, he could see Caesar still watching, one hand idly stroking his erection. Then the god demanded all his attention and he gave it completely.
"How do you think he’s going to take it, Ares - when he finds out I never did burn Corinth."
"Hey, one burning city looks the same as any other inferno from a distance." Ares laughed at his own joke. Caesar smiled politely.
"Or we could say you got confused. You know, took a left when we should have steered right." The god shrugged lazily. "With luck, he’ll think that I changed the time-line for him. Gotta admire the ego of a man who thinks gods are willing to break Zeus’ laws about time travel just to save some mortals. Then again, maybe he will discover the truth. What’s he gonna do about it? Spank me for it? Trash a temple or two? Invade Rome?"
"Well, he could kill another Roman senator, if he felt so inclined," said Caesar dryly. "There are a few who’ve been less than supportive of the need for a strong Empire recently. Not as annoying as Aurelius, true, but Iphicles seems to have the right approach." He mimicked a cut throat and the former senator's dying fall as he spoke.
Ares laughed at the action, gazing lustfully at Caesar’s naked body, even as he in turn watched two young slaves brought in to perform for his pleasure. Sometimes the Roman’s penchant for voyeurism annoyed him, particularly when it interfered with his plans for serious fucking. It was something of a blow to the god’s ego. Probably why he did it. Then again, variety did make things interesting. He turned his mind back to Iphicles.
"Maybe I’ll visit him in a few months, just to see if he’s figured it out. " The god smiled and licked his lips. "Oh yeah, I can see it now. Either he’ll know and be so pissed that he’ll be a great fuck, or I can have the fun of telling him. Can’t lose."
"A few months? That’s unusually patient for you, Ares."
Ares gave him a filthy look, knowing that Caesar was having a not-so-subtle dig at his need for instant gratification of any desire he experienced. He’d ignore it for now, but later he would remember.
"You gotta give these things time to mature, you know. Right now he’s probably just glad to have everything back the way it was. Give him a few weeks and he’ll start worrying about the choices he made, who he murdered, whether he did the right thing. And he can obsess about enjoying fucking another man. Start wondering if he was sick getting off on the domination, maybe even try a little experimentation ….." The god licked his lips. "Oh I can see it so clearly. I’ll just give him a chance to get used to the idea and then turn up, play with his head a while, fuck him senseless …"
"You can even watch if you like," he added snidely.
"Oh I like. I like it a lot." Caesar raised his goblet in a toast to the absent Iphicles. "Til we met again."