A late afternoon storm was on the horizon and the first wispy clouds rolled overhead. A few light drops of rain fell on his face: its coldness soothed him, the drops cool on his fevered cheeks. Iphicles knew he should feel something other than what he was but try as he might, he couldn't shake the confusing mix of grief and arousal that surged through him. He looked out over the plain at the battle's smoldering ruins - most of the fires had burned themselves out and now a dark smudge hovered over the field from which he and the others had just emerged. Iolaus was waiting at the edge of the field. His young face was flushed and he was smiling.
"Come on, Iph," Iolaus said, his voice sounding so far away to Iphicles, it seemed to be coming from another world. "Jason wants you to come have a drink. You've earned it."
Iphicles turned and looked into the bluest-blue eyes of his younger brother's friend and shook his head. They'd likely sit around and demand he tell them of the battle, expecting him to boast, brag and recount tales of his prowess on the battlefield. They'd drink themselves into oblivion and then Herc would probably show up and go on about heroism and war. It just didn't feel right somehow, not to Iphicles, not at this time. He needed to do something, but it wasn't sitting around with Jason and Iolaus.
"I'm going for a walk."
"You were great today, Iph," Iolaus said, grabbing Iphicles' arm and squeezing it. "I watched you. You're a natural swordsman. The way you used that knife…" Iolaus grinned and made an annoying gesture with his hand across his throat, and even though Iphicles knew it was supposed to be a compliment, it hurt. He looked down at the blood that stained his leather vest - it sprayed over him when he'd slit the enemy soldier's throat.
He pulled away more roughly than he'd intended. Iolaus was right - Iphicles had done very well, startlingly well considering this was his first real battle. The first time he'd actually killed a man, men, many men, all of them dying in agony on the point of his sword or with a quick flick of his dagger's blade. He felt both nausea and an incredible ache in his groin that wouldn't go away no matter how many scenes of death he replayed in his mind's eye. Blood and gore - these weren't supposed to arouse, but they did. Killing wasn't supposed to feel good, but damn it, Iphicles felt as if he was finally where he belonged. He felt disgusted; self-loathing filled him but at the same time he felt excited. A mixture of pride and shame. He was a soldier. A killer.
"Well, whatever," Iolaus replied, patting Iphicles on the back affectionately. "Join us when you get back. We'll be at the palace. Herc's joining us - he'll be really proud of you, Iph. You were great."
Yeah, right. Hercules would be proud of his big brother's prowess on the battlefield. Hercules the hero. Iphicles the killer.
"Have fun. Don't know if I'll come or not. I… I need to get away."
Iphicles walked back towards the battlefield, in search of who knows what. Iphicles didn't know - maybe he'd find it along the way. He picked his way across the bloodied plain, stepping gingerly over bodies of the slain. The scent of death - it was an odd combination: the sickly smell of burnt flesh, the sweet scent of freshly spilled blood. It hung in the still air and clung to his skin, his hair and leather clothing. Not even the light rain seemed to wash it off.
On the ground in front of him, an enemy soldier moaned. Not quite dead, the man was in pain and looked up at Iphicles with wide eyes, his pupils dilated. Iphicles drew his sword and for a moment and saw a flash of fear in the fallen soldier's eyes, but it soon passed, replaced by resignation. He slid the sharp point of his blade between the soldier's ribs, sending him to Hades where he belonged.
Iphicles moved on, in search of others to dispatch. It was an act of mercy to kill the soldiers so they didn't lie in agony, their guts spilled, their blood a crimson stain on the earth beneath his feet. Atonement - that's what this was. A way to make it right, to forget and forgive himself for the horrors he'd seen and done, and ease the guilt he felt for loving it so much -- killing in hot-blood. Killing didn't feel quite so good now when his blood had cooled and the enemy was reduced to a convulsing body on the blood-soaked ground. When Iphicles' blade punctured leather and slid through flesh, when he heard the grunt as the soldier's life ended, he felt no pleasure. The ache in his groin persisted. Even this atonement seemed unable to dull his arousal.
He pulled the blade out of the dead man and looked up at the sky. The wind had picked up and low clouds scudded past. The rain alternated from light to heavy and at times, the gusts of wind were quite strong and the rain stung the skin on his face and bare arms. Iphicles was now drenched, his hair plastered on his forehead and cheeks, rain dripped into his eyes, mixing with the sweat and tears, making him blink.
It was then he saw the dark figure moving across the battlefield towards him. The man was tall, taller than Iphicles by a couple of inches and was massively built but still defined. His muscles rippled with each movement. Dressed all in black, his battle leather was stained with caked-on blood mixed with dirt. He was fearsome in the fading light of late afternoon. The rain had begun to wash the stains away and liquid trails of wine and brown flowed down the man's powerful thighs. Wet, the leather appeared to caress his body and Iphicles couldn't stop imagining what it would feel like to strip the clothes off the dark man's body.
He was startled back to reality when the dark figure drew his sword and killed a soldier with a quick thrust to his chest. Iphicles nodded. Here was another who felt the need to take stock of the battle, to dispatch the dying. He wondered if this man felt it - the guilt and lust. He felt a powerful urge to go to the man, to join him in this task, but something, some aura the man possessed prevented him from moving. Iphicles stood still and watched the man step over debris and dead bodies. Iphicles didn't go to the man; the man came to him.
"Iphicles, son of Alcmene, half-brother to the "mighty" Hercules."
"You know who I am, but I have no idea who you are."
"It's my role to know the names of all soldiers with potential." Iphicles felt pride surge through him. He looked the man over.
"Are you one of the King's generals?" After he said it, Iphicles decided the man likely wasn't. He wasn't wearing regulation battledress nor did his shield bear the King's insignia. The man smiled and shrugged.
"Something like that."
Iphicles persisted, irritated that the man knew him but seemed unwilling to introduce himself. Was he a friend of his mothers' watching the performance of her oldest son?
"Well, do you have a name or are you one of the King's spies?"
A chuckle from full lips circled by a sleek goatee. The dark man smiled, and his eyes seemed to flash.
"Something like that."
Dark eyes swept over Iphicles' body from his head to his feet and he felt the gaze to be arousing. It didn't feel like a general sizing up a soldier.
"How old are you, anyway? You must be twenty, twenty-one, tops?"
"You're ready then, aren't you? Ready to be a real soldier, to kill the enemy, protect the King, to serve the God of War." Iphicles nodded.
"I'm old enough, but my brother is younger and he's already fought…"
"Your 'brother' is a demi-god," the dark man interjected. "Don't compare yourself to him."
//Don't compare yourself to him! Yeah, right. Easy to say, not so easy to do…//
The man turned back to the battlefield and motioned to it, his strong arm waving the heavy sword in an arc as if it were a mere butter-knife.
"There's more to do here." He turned to Iphicles once again and looked more serious now, but those dark eyes… they seemed to penetrate Iphicles, seeing right inside of him. Did the man sense Iphicles' admiration? Did he feel the same arousal from being on the battlefield? "Join me. Someone's got to put them out of their misery."
Iphicles followed the nameless man and felt an incredible desire to please him, to prove to him that he, Iphicles, was a good soldier, a real man, that he was up to it. Together, they walked among the dead and dying, pausing now and then to end a man's life, spill his blood, and remove his agony. Iphicles watched the dark man as he worked. He addressed each soldier by name, and stooped to close the eyes of one - a soldier Iphicles knew had been renowned for his skill with the sword.
After about an hour of this, they finished and stood at the top of the plain next to a small grove of trees. The dark man removed his sword and drove it into the ground with a powerful thrust of his arm. He rubbed his hands together and looked Iphicles over once again as if sizing him up. Iphicles couldn't suppress a shiver as the man's eyes lingered over his body and then locked onto his own.
"This was quite a day for you, wasn't it? First time you killed a man."
"How'd you know?" Iphicles couldn't control his voice and it came out sounding like a boy. He wished he'd said nothing at all.
"I make it my business to know. War's my thing."
"Was it that obvious?" Iphicles felt disappointment rush through him at the thought. The dark man shook his head and brushed his dark curls away from his face.
"No, actually, I was impressed. You're good. In fact," he said, pulling loose one of the ties to Iphicles' vest. "You're 'very' good. I see your years at the Academy weren't wasted."
"Chiron's a good teacher," Iphicles replied, his voice low, arousal at the man's intimate touch making his heart beat more rapidly. He felt a stirring in his groin when the man began untying his vest in earnest.
"Don't be modest. A man should know both his weaknesses and strengths. You're a soldier. A natural. Who knows what you might become one day…" The man smiled as he said this and continued undressing Iphicles as if it was the most natural thing in the world for him to do. Iphicles didn't resist.
"I've some advice for you, Iphicles, and I generally don't give out advice. I prefer to let people rise or fall on their own merit."
The dark man removed his own vest completely and let it fall to the ground at their feet. Iphicles couldn't help but stare at the washboard stomach leading down to a dark thatch of hair.
"Don't feel that you'll always live in your brother's shadow."
The man pulled Iphicles roughly against him and grabbed hold of him by the scruff of his neck.
"Or you will."
A moan escaped Iphicles' lips as he felt the dark man's mouth cover his own, and the warm wetness of the man's tongue pushing into his mouth. A thick cock ground against his own erection.
It was a day of firsts.
Iphicles lay on his side admiring the man’s body. Golden skin covered the well-muscled frame. The man was sprawled out on his stomach; his head was turned the other way so that Iphicles could stare as much as he liked. The night had been a long blur of mouths and hands and cocks and tongues.
They’d taken a room at the local Inn and now lay on a bed which was far too small for such big men. There wasn’t much room, so Iphicles could feel the heat coming off the man’s body. The scent of sex – it filled him and aroused him even now, after all the pleasure. He reached out, longing to run his hand over the man’s back, and down to his ass, but he hesitated. The man turned his head and looked at Iphicles before closing his eyes.
"Go ahead, I won’t break."
Iphicles pulled his hand back when he saw the man turn, but then placed it on the man’s back. The skin was so warm, almost hot and so smooth. He let his hand slide down the curve to the twin mounds of flesh, then trailed his fingers between the crack.
"I want to fuck you," Iphicles whispered as he straddled the man’s thighs and ran his hands down and over the delicious body beneath him. He lay on top of the man, and rubbed his now-hard cock between the man’s ass cheeks.
The man rolled over and almost laughed, but held it in, smothering it into a chuckle.
He pulled Iphicles down onto him and broad arms circled Iphicles, hands exploring, tugging, squeezing.
"You’ve never fucked a man before have you?"
Iphicles couldn’t talk. Instead, he kissed the man again and tried to turn him back over so he could push his aching cock into the man’s ass the way the man had done earlier to him.
"No, no, no. Not so fast. You have to ask nicely."
"Fuck," Iphicles replied, turning the man over with a great heave of his arms. The man landed on all fours, his thighs spread, his hands supporting himself.
"Whoah! Hey, lover – one step at a time. Use this."
The man passed him a flask of oil and Iphicles took it with shaking hands and poured it into his palm. He stroked his cock and ran his fingers over the man’s tight asshole, slipping one finger in to ease the way as the man had done to him.
"Oh, yeah…" The man arched his back and pushed when he felt Iphicles’ cock stroke his entrance. "That’s right. Now, ask me for permission."
Iphicles said nothing for a moment, just rubbed the head of his cock over the puckered hole, his hand stroking himself.
"No," Iphicles said, pushing a bit harder at the man’s asshole. "YOU ask ME to fuck you."
The man turned slightly and looked back at Iphicles from over his shoulder. His eyes were half-shut and his face red with lust.
"You want to fuck me, you ask. I give orders. I don’t beg."
Iphicles reached under the man’s body and grabbed hold of his thick cock, so hard and long. It was massive, unlike any cock he’d ever seen before.
"All right, don’t ASK, ORDER me to fuck you, then."
Iphicles’ heart was pounding so rapidly, he felt faint, but he couldn’t suppress a smile.
"Zeus, you’re stubborn."
With one move, the man turned and flipped Iphicles over so that he was pinned on his stomach beneath the man’s powerful thighs. Iphicles felt leather straps tighten around his wrists and then he was lifted and turned over onto his back. The man leaned over him, a jewel-encrusted dagger thrust at Iphicles’ throat just beneath his ear. The man was smiling, a sheen of sweat on his brow, but there was a look in his eyes… a look that told Iphicles he’d gone too far. That, and the dagger…
"Let’s just get one thing straight. I don’t ask permission and I don’t beg. I take what I want. I want you. You’re mine."
Iphicles struggled against the man’s weight but it was hopeless. With his arms restrained and pinned beneath him, he was unable to budge.
"I don’t belong to anyone. I don’t even know ‘your’ name."
The man shook his head and laughed softly. He raised up and put the dagger aside.
"I’m actually enjoying this. It’s a nice change. You have to be taught a few lessons, Iphicles. Put in your place. Les-son Num-ber One:"
The man lifted Iphicles’ legs up and positioned one foot on each of his shoulders.
"I fuck YOU. I MIGHT let you fuck me, if you ask me ‘very’ nicely. Maybe even beg."
He took his cock and pushed it roughly against Iphicles’ ass. No lubrication, just the wetness that oozed from the slit.
"Les-son Num-ber Two:" The man pushed his cock past the tight ring of flesh. With no oil or adequate saliva to lubricate him, the head of the man’s cock almost ripped Iphicles open. An intense sensation of pain shot through Iphicles, and he bit his lip to stop from crying out. The pain was unbearable. Nothing from last night was even close, and Iphicles realized how careful the man had been. It was unbelievable how much pain he was feeling, and how much pleasure he’d felt, both from the same act.
"I’m your… superior," the man said. "Remember that. You do as I say, you come to me when I want you, and you DON’T deny me what I want."
"Oh, fuck. STOP!" Iphicles groaned as the man shoved his cock deeper. The pain reached an incredible height and Iphicles felt as if he’d pass out from it. It was worse than the cut he’d received on the battlefield.
The man leaned over Iphicles; his cock buried deep inside Iphicles’ ass. Iphicles blinked, trying to see through the pain. Sweat dripped off the man’s brow onto Iphicles’ chest. The man began thrusting, and the pain made Iphicles nauseous. He closed his eyes, certain he was going to throw up.
When the man grabbed hold of Iphicles’ withered cock and started to pump, Iphicles’ eyes flew open. How the fuck could he even think Iphicles’ would respond?
"Come on, lover. I want us to cum together."
Iphicles tried one last time to raise up and throw the man off him, but it was useless. The man was bigger and stronger, and he barely moved from the force of Iphicles’ thrust. The man DID smile though, and the smile was dark and made Iphicles break out into a sweat.
"You’re fucking HURTING ME!"
"Come on, Iphicles… Take it like a man! I promise you, you’re gonna love it."
The incessant tugging on his cock seemed to be working, for soon, the pleasure started to emerge through the pain. A pleasant ache spread through his cock, and the pain subsided in his ass – it was never completely gone but now Iphicles couldn’t tell pain from pleasure. Soon, he was moving just slightly in time with the man as he thrust inside Iphicles’ ass. In no time at all, Iphicles was meeting the man thrust for thrust.
"Les-son Num-ber Three," the man said as he leaned down and kissed Iphicles deeply, his hand stroking and pumping Iphicles’ shaft, his cock deep in Iphicles’ ass.
"I could kill you in a moment, Iphicles. You disobey me? Don’t EVER doubt I’ll kill you. I know EXACTLY what you want. What you need. You think you know all about war now that you’ve killed a few men? You know nothing."
Iphicles was so close to orgasm, he could barely breathe. The sensations were building, increasing, the ache spreading in his balls, down his thighs. He was almost blinded by the pleasure.
"You think that because of today, you’re a soldier? Lover, you’ve never seen a soldier like me."
Iphicles’ breath caught in his throat as the waves of pleasure burned through him. His cock sprayed thick hot cum all over the man’s belly and chest.
"Oh, yeah…" the man groaned, his hips thrusting deeply. "OH YEAH!!!"
The man tensed, his face a mask of pain, teeth gritted. He pulled his cock out of Iphicles’ ass and stroked the massive shaft. His own cum shot out, spraying on Iphicles body, on his cock, his ass, his thighs.
The man collapsed on top of him, his breath hot on Iphicles’ neck. Iphicles turned his face away and closed his eyes. He knew his ass was bleeding, that this man had raped him, had forced him, and had made him feel more pleasure than he’d ever imagined possible.
He never wanted to see the man again in his life.
Time: the same amount can stretch out interminably or feel all too fleeting. A week was a long time to Iphicles before that night, but when a week was all the time he had to arrange his escape, it seemed much too short.
He was able to enlist the help of a friend of Amphytrion – a man who swore to keep things silent about his departure and plans until he was out of Athens on the sea. Iphicles would travel to Athens to board a ship to Rome, where he would present himself to one of the trainers in the Imperial Horse Guard -- the custodes corporis – one of the few units in the Roman Military that would accept non-citizens into its ranks. The Imperial Horse guards would be travelling with the fleet to Gaul, where Julius Caesar was preparing to mount an offensive. It was a stroke of luck that Iphicles contacted Catullus, for he had ties in the Roman Praetorian Guards and could, through a letter of recommendation bearing his seal, assure Iphicles of a place in the guard.
Iphicles would be a mercenary -- one of a number of men from nations outside of Rome who joined the Roman army. It would allow Iphicles to be independent and escape Corinth. The dark man, calling himself only Aeneas, expected Iphicles to be at his beck and call. Finally, when Iphicles had been bruised enough for Alcmene to mention it, he realized he had to get away. Aeneas was expecting him for another night of "play" later that week, and Iphicles had no intention of being made the man’s "plaything".
Iphicles had planned to stay in Corinth, start a career as a member of the regular army protecting the King, but now, he felt leaving was the only way he could escape Aeneas and perhaps protect his very life. Aeneas made it quite clear that Iphicles was in mortal danger should he disobey Aeneas’ wishes. Iphicles wasn’t going to give Aeneas the opportunity to make good on that threat.
If Alcmene had noticed Iphicles’ distraction that last week, his broodyness, she said nothing to him, nor asked what was the matter. It was just as well - -she was upset enough to learn of her oldest son’s unexpected departure the night before his ship was set to sail, and spent a teary evening trying to convince him to stay.
"I DEMAND to know WHY you have to leave!" she insisted, wringing her hands, her eyes red from crying. "If there’s trouble, tell me. Maybe Hercules can help."
Yeah, right. THAT’S the very LAST thing Iphicles needed – his little brother stepping in and saving him from harm. Sure, mother.
Luckily, Hercules, Iolaus and Jason were off on survival training with other members of the Academy, and Iphicles was spared that ignominy. He packed his bags in peace and then at the last minute, sat Alcmene down to tell her the news.
"I have to go, Mother. You just have to trust me… This is the only way. My only option. I’m joining up with the Imperial Horse Guard in Rome, and will be at sea for a while, maybe several years."
His mother collapsed on a chair and clutched a kerchief to her eyes.
"You’re in trouble, I knew it. You’ve been so quiet this week, but I thought it was just your moodiness. Tell me what happened. You did so well on the battlefield, Iphicles. I heard about it, everyone told me how proud they were of you. You have a future here as a member of the King’s guard. What happened?"
She came to him and grabbed him from behind.
"Was it some girl? Did you get her pregnant? Oh, Iphicles! It’s happened before. We can deal with it quietly so no one will know."
"Mother! It’s NOT a girl! There’s no girl."
He almost choked when he said that. OF course, there was no girl. There was a man.
"I just have to get out on my own, to get away."
"It’s because of Hercules, isn’t it? You’ve always been jealous. Iphicles – you can’t always compare yourself to him. When Leucus said you fought with skill fit for the brother of Hercules, he was praising you! Don’t leave because of this."
Iphicles turned back to his mother and embraced her. Her genuine concern for him, her grief at the thought he was leaving warmed him. For the first time in a long time, her focus was on him and not the fate of her demi-god son. Dealing with Hercules’ status had been consuming concern for her, and Iphicles felt both distant from her and small for feeling jealous, even if it was justified.
"Mother! This ISN’T about Hercules! Not everything is about Hercules. This is about me, what I need. And right now, I need to get away, to be on my own for a while."
She only wept into his shoulder in response.
"Try to understand."
Iphicles stood at the top of a hill that overlooked Athens' port. Down beneath him were the shipyards and docks alongside of which a number of ships were moored. There at the end of one of the larger docks was the ship that would take him to Rome, away from his family and home, perhaps for years. He knew he might never return. As the sun began its trek across the sky, Iphicles felt relief and sadness at his departure. Still, although he’d miss his family, he felt a measure of excitement at the prospect of the trip to Rome and of training in the Horse Guard and the subsequent trip to Gaul. He knew if he did return to Corinth, he’d return a different man. He felt bad that he’d not said good-bye to his brother and friends, but it was better this way.
He walked down to the shipyards along the narrow streets, down through the market, following a twisted path to the ship. As he passed between the two buildings, he was grabbed from behind and spun around roughly so that his face was pressed into the rough wall. He felt a sharp point press into his neck. The man who held him pinned against the wall said nothing but conducted a rather crude body search, looking for his purse and the money which he’d brought with him for his trip.
"In the left pocket. I have gold. Take it. Let me go, I’ve got to board a ship."
Iphicles felt his pocket being searched and then heard the clink of gold pieces. He cursed himself inwardly for not taking a safer route: now he’d have no extra money with which to purchase favors or fruit along the way. It would mean he’d be a lot less comfortable. Still, if the man let him go…
"If you board that ship, you won’t make it to the Inn tonight on time, and I’ll be very upset."
Iphicles felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise at the sound of the man’s voice. It was Aeneas.
Aeneas spun Iphicles around and pinned his hands behind his back in a move so swift and fluid, Iphicles could barely believe it had happened. Now Aeneas smiled at him, but the smile made Iphicles’ blood turn to ice. There was murder in those eyes.
"I… I was leaving…"
"So I see. Decided on a career change, did you, Iphicles?" He shook Iphicles roughly, and pressed the point of his blade once again into Iphicles’ neck. "Rumor has it you wanted to be part of the Palace Guard in Corinth. An Imperial Horse Guard in Rome…quite a change, don’t you think?"
"I hadn’t completely decided which…"
"I talked to your father’s friend. Iphicles – one thing you should know about me. I know everyone. EVERYONE. Nothing that happens regarding the people I take an interest in escapes me. You didn’t know that. Now you do."
Aeneas stared at Iphicles for a long while. He then released Iphicles and put the knife away into a sheath at his side. Aeneas was wearing the same black leather clothing, but it was now polished and appeared to be completely new as if he’d never worn it in battle. That body – even now Iphicles couldn’t help but admire it, respond even a little to the man’s presence. He could feel the heat flowing off Aeneas’ body even in the cool of the morning. His cock stiffened as fear flowed through him, making his knees weak.
"Let’s go. It’s a long ride back to Corinth."
"I’m going to Rome. It’s all been arranged, I can’t go back now."
"You can and you will."
Iphicles shook his head. Even though he knew the man could kill him with little effort, Iphicles just couldn’t go back, not now. He’d left a letter to his mother -- a letter to be delivered to the head of the Palace Guard tendering his resignation. He’d look like a scared boy afraid to leave home.
"Aeneas – I can’t go back. I’ve notified Silenus at the Palace. Withdrew my commission. I’ll look like a fool."
Aeneas stood silently and looked at Iphicles as if weighing what he had said. He nodded.
"You really want to join the Imperial Horse Guard? To go to Gaul and fight the barbarians?"
Iphicles nodded, even though he knew that a large part of him merely wanted to escape Aeneas. Still, the idea of joining the Roman Army and travelling to Gaul… it was an adventure of a lifetime. Even Hercules hadn’t done anything quite as exciting.
"I was expecting the pleasures of your company in just a couple of hours, Iphicles. I’m going to be very disappointed. What will I do with myself? Perhaps," he said, pressing Iphicles back against the wall, his hands on either side of Iphicles’ neck. The wall felt cold against his buttocks and back, and Aeneas’ body was hot where it touched him; his groin, his thighs, his chest. "Perhaps you could give me a farewell… kiss."
At that, Aeneas leaned in closer to Iphicles -- so close that he could feel the man’s hot breath on his lips. Aeneas didn’t kiss him, just stayed poised just out of reach, expecting Iphicles to start the kiss. Iphicles felt his cock thicken under the pressure of the man’s embrace. Damn! What was wrong with him? How could he be responding to this… this madman? This tyrant?
Aeneas smiled and ground his hips against Iphicles.
"Kiss me," he demanded in a husky voice. Iphicles looked into Aeneas’ eyes, so dark and deep, filled now with such desire that it inflamed Iphicles’ own lust. Iphicles pressed his lips against Aeneas and heard the soft inhale of the man’s breath and then Aeneas’ arms circled Iphicles and pulled him even more tightly into his embrace. They kissed; their tongues exploring each other with a hunger that seemed more powerful than anything Iphicles had ever imagined possible.
Iphicles finally pulled away and looked into Aeneas’ eyes. Those eyes… they were so … deep. Dark brown with golden flecks, the thick black lashes more beautiful than any he had seen on a woman. The cheeks sharp, the skin so smooth, the lips full and moist from their kiss. He felt lost, fighting the desire for the man, yet knowing that somehow, if he stayed, he’d become no more than this man’s toy.
"I have to go…"
"I don’t want you to go."
The look in those eyes was almost pleading, it seemed to say, "Choose to stay with me."
"I have to go NOW if I want to board the ship for Rome…"
Aeneas pulled back abruptly and Iphicles couldn’t help but gasp at the suddenness of the move. He felt oddly disappointed that Aeneas hadn’t pushed a little harder.
//What a fool I am…//
"Well, then GO. Leave. Go on your little adventure, Iphicles. But don’t think you can escape me."
Aeneas looked away, his hands resting on his hips. He seemed to be resigned to Iphicles’ departure, but his face was red, betraying his anger. Iphicles was afraid that when he turned to leave, Aeneas would just grab the dagger and slit his throat from behind.
Iphicles turned and walked away.
The horse was such a beauty, and Iphicles felt sick as he knelt beside it and examined the wounds. The battle had been hard-fought, and the sweat was still damp on the small of his back and on his brow. He’d escaped with nothing but a few bruises and cuts when the other rider knocked his horse over and wounded the animal, and once on the ground without his horse, Iphicles had to fight in hand-to-hand combat.
Now that the battle was over, he’d returned to his horse, expecting the animal to be dead, but it lived still, the blood from the gaping wound in its flank pooling on the earth beneath it.
"Steady, boy, steady…" Iphicles drew his sword and sent it deep into the animal's broad chest, killing it to end its misery.
He stood up and looked out over the battlefield. They’d engaged the Germans in a battle on the outskirts of a small town, and were scheduled to move on, with a legion remaining to garrison the town, hold it for Caesar and Rome. Iphicles would need a replacement for his horse and so made his way across the battlefield to where his Commander and officers were gathered. Iphicles stood on the edge of the makeshift command center and waited for a moment to speak to the leader of his Brigade.
Lucian, one of his fellow Horse Guardsmen, joined him and they talked quietly about the battle as they waited for a break in the discussions. The Commander and his officers started to walk off the battlefield to the encampment. Lucian and Iphicles followed.
They were discussing the success of the day when Lucian grabbed Iphicles and stopped him. He pointed ahead – the commander and the officers had stopped and knelt down on bended knee. Iphicles turned to look at Lucian who was going down on his own knees as well.
Lucian pointed but kept his eyes lowered.
"Get down on your knees, you fool! It’s the God of War! He’ll burn your ass if you don’t bow down to him!"
Iphicles remained standing and looked across the field. A dark figure walked towards them, dressed in black leather, a mighty sword in his hand, his dark curls dripping with sweat. He was tall, taller than Iphicles by a couple of inches and massively built but defined.
"Don’t look in his eyes! He’ll kill anyone with the insolence to look him directly in the eye! Don’t you know ANYTHING?"
Iphicles felt himself pulled down to the damp ground, his knees striking the dirt, his sword clanking against a rock. He didn’t avert his eyes – they were riveted on the dark figure as it came closer to them.
The God stopped in front of Iphicles and chuckled, his face flushed from the battle. Dirt and blood caked his leather battledress.
"Iphicles, son of Alcmene, brother of the ‘mighty’ Hercules."
Iphicles lowered his eyes, barely able to breathe as he realized who his dark lover really was. The God of War.
The god laughed, and took the point of his sword, using it to raise Iphicles’ face so that he had to look in the God’s eyes.
"I told you that you couldn’t escape me, Iphicles."
Iphicles swallowed, waiting for the sword to slice through his neck and end his life. The god’s beautiful eyes burned into him; anger and passion seemingly equal in them.
Then, to Iphicles’ amazement, the god withdrew his sword and walked on, passing through their group without stopping, back to the battlefield.
"He knew your name! How… how’d he know your name?" Lucian said, his voice filled with awe.
"He’s the God of War," Iphicles said quietly, his heart still racing with fear.
"War’s his thing."