Very short ficlet. I've been wondering: why bury the figurines in the arena, instead of placing them with Maximus's dead body?
Please review! Flames, praise (if I deserve it), just tell me what you think. This is my first Gladiator fic, so I want to see if there's anyone else out there who shares my Cicero-obsession.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Gladiator. If I did, trust me, it would be a whole different story.
He stood and watched as his master went before him.
He would have cried, if he could. He had failed in so many ways. If it had not been for him, perhaps his master would still be alive.
But, there is no sense in weeping for the past. And he had one last duty to do, before he could follow his master.
He watched the men leave the arena. He'd been watching them all, and one in particular seemed closest to his master. He followed him, noiselessly, invisibly, as they took the body of his master away. He didn't pay attention to the body. It was unimportant, now that it no longer housed the soul.
It was a long time before he could approach the man he'd singled out. When he did, he knew he would have to be careful. It was tiring, to communicate this way. He would only get one chance.
He slipped into the man's dreams. They were peaceful, content. There had been an end, and it was a good one. He felt almost cruel, creating a single point of rough waves in the calm sea of dreams. A single knot in the straight and true rope. A single thing still left to be done.
Take the figurines, he said. Bury them in the arena, where he fell. Bury them where he fell.
And, exhausted, he withdrew, and crawled back to the arena, to wait.
Rome was so very dark at night. Torches gave flickering light to the street corners, but darkness pressed against them, flowing from the alleyways and pooling in the plazas and forums. He allowed it to carry him, weightless as he was, along the twisting streets of the city. He paused for a moment by the river, observing how night had swallowed it whole, transforming it. The Tiber had gone to bed. The Styx had come out to play.
He made his way like this, slowly, down to the great causeways of the inner city. He could still hear the voices of the screaming crowd that had gathered only days ago to see the great gladiator. He could see the soldiers holding back the mobs. See the great man himself appear. See the crowds go wild. See the single, pale man, trying desperately to attract the attention of his master . . .
The memories faded away as a single figure approached the silent arena. He smiled and followed, thanking all the gods as they stepped out onto the sand.
He didn't hear the words that the man murmured to the dusky air, as dawn crept over the hills and spilled a faint, pale light into the air. He simply knelt down to the upturned earth and reached his hands into the ground.
When he pulled his hands out, they held the essences of what were now tiny broken shards of clay. He very carefully wiped them clean of the dust of death that lingered in the arena sands. Then, the tiny figures tucked securely into a pouch at his belt, he felt a sense of finality. The last duty had been done.
He found the door quite easily. His master had been very distracted at the time, and had left it open. He closed it gently behind him, and turned to the endless fields of wheat that stretched out before him.
There was a slight angle to the grass where his master had passed through it. Smiling, he followed the trail, walking swiftly to catch up.
It wouldn't do well to lag behind.
Thanks for reading!