16.

He was roughly awakened from his sleep by a splash of cold water that hit his body. Instinctively, he scrambled away from the cold wet mess. When he opened his eyes, he saw Simon and Micranus looming over him.

"Drag this piece of horseshit out of here!" Simon ordered, leaving the work to his servant.

"What's happening?" Marcellus's senses were still dulled by sleep but nonetheless he was alarmed and frightened. Micranus did not speak, but grabbed him violently by the neck and pulled him out of bed. Marcellus fell on the floor, managed to avoid two malicious blows till the third one hit him full in the stomach. He was still nursing the vicious pain when the Moor picked him up again like a rag doll and threw him out of the chamber.

More kicks and blows followed, and Marcellus had to crawl, dodge and scuttle while the Moor chased him into the back alley. He finally ended up huddled against the wall, the huge Moor standing in front of him like a solid rock, blocking any possible ways to escape.

Simon stood next to the wooden beam that leaned against the lupanare, holding something in his hands.

"All right, where is it?" He snapped, his eyes twitched with anger.

Marcellus gazed up to his patron, confused and frightened.

Simon showed him the object that he was carrying, it was the merchant's treasury chest that Marcellus had seen only once before. The lid of the box was forced open, and when Simon held it upside down, the hinges broke and the heavy wooden top fell off and clattered on the stones.

He crouched down beside Marcellus, his voice was low and dangerous.

"Where is the money that you stole from me?"

Marcellus blinked his eyes, quickly realizing the predicament he was in.

"I didn't steal from you dominus. I swear!" He looked at the trashed remains of Simon's moneybox. His heart jumped like a startled rabbit. "I didn't even know where you kept that thing."

Simon remained silent but gestured with his head, and Micranus booted the slave in his crotch, making him howl out in pain.

"Now let me ask you again." Simon yelled over the slave's cries. "Where is the money that you stole from me?"

"I don't-I didn't-" The slave stuttered.

Another kick followed, once again in the groin region, the pain brought tears in the slave's eyes and he curled up to a ball. In front of him, golden coin pieces fell out of the sky and scattered all over the cobblestones.

"13 pieces of gold in total." Simon said, holding the last coin in his hand. "We found it in the latrine, you stinking little cunt, exactly where you hid it! Now tell me where you hid the rest of my money before I lose my bloody patience!"

"I didn't steal it sir! Please, believe me!" He watched how Micranus started picking up the pieces of the small fortune that the good senator had given him, the coins that he would have used to buy his freedom, and all the hope that he had cherished in his heart like a small spot of light in the darkness just vanished.

"Those coins – they are mine." He managed to whisper. "Senator Cealus Hortalus gave them to me. Please, don't take them." But he spoke so softly that no one could have heard him.

Simon had enough of it. He grabbed the Denaries out of Micranus hands. "Get this cunt to talk!" He hissed, his eyes spitting fire, and marched back inside.

Marcellus was once again tied to the wooden beam. He quivered in fear as he recalled the vicious pain that he had previously had suffered when he was burned with a hot iron, but the Moor had something else for him in mind. He had been ordered by his master to extract information, and he resorted to the most painful device that he could lay his hands on to perform the task. Micranus took from the stables a long and slender whip made of bull's skin, and added more weight to the tip by tying several knobs in it. The servant had once whipped a wound into the back of Simon's horse which took over a month to heal, he could only imagine what damage it would do on the more delicate human skin.

He cracked the whip on Marcellus back, causing a red line to rise across the skin. He hit him again and again, sweat soon dripped down his brow, his ears were deaf for the cries of the suffering slave, while his eyes remained fixed on his victim. The welts that rose at the sides of impact burst open like ripe fruit as the sharp tip of the whip cut through them like a knife. The knots that he had made caused vicious bruises that went from red to purple.

When Micranus finally stopped, Marcellus's back looked like a horrific patch blanket, with strips of skin ripped from the flesh on several places, while small streams of blood ran down his shivering legs. The Moor pulled up the slave's head to face him.

"Now, you tell me where you hid the rest of Simon's money, and I will spare you from more suffering." Micranus told the tortured slave.

"Please. I really don't – I don't know." Marcellus's voice was ruined after screaming and pleading for so long. "Please, no more of this. I beg you."

Micranus let go and the slave dropped his head.

Marcellus didn't scream anymore when the whip started hitting his buttocks and legs.

17.

The place was deserted, the Doctor had at least expected the captain to be there, but everyone had gone out, fighting the monster of the week presumably. He paced quickly through the empty headquarters into the direction of Jack's office.

He tried the door, but it was locked.

The Doctor hesitated. He could of course hop back into the Tardis and come back a few hours later. Or he could just go find the kitchen, make himself a nice cup of tea, and sit down and wait for them to come back.

Or-

He dug his sonic screwdriver out of his pocket and used it to force open the lock. It gave in with a little click. If he closed the door when he left, no-one would notice that he had broken into the room. The Doctor felt a bit guilty about this, but it was simply impossibly for him to resist. He promised himself that he would only take a peek into the database of the bioconverter. If he didn't spot the machine immediately in the captain's office, he would turn around and leave.

Luckily for the Doctor, the bioconverter still sat on top of the captain's desk with the writing module connected to it.

"Okay, only a short peek, no more." He muttered to himself. He turned on the module, his hands suddenly damp with sweat. He typed in the password and the system started to boot up noisily. He shortly considered doing something about the ventilation of the processor, as it sounded as if a helicopter was taking off. But his mind was quickly distracted when the first data streamed in. The information was coded in numbers, and he had trouble deciphering it at the pace that it was flying across the screen. He started up the translation program, and since it was not very quick, read the information sentence by sentence as it appeared in the right lower corner.

First the Doctor was amused, but then his mood quickly darkened as he absorbed the lines from the screen. The mechanical buzz of the machine fell away into the background. The captain's office dissolved around him till he was completely alone with the words while a vein pulsed remorsefully and angrily in his neck.

18.

It was early in the evening, the time when the bars and lupanares in the neighbourhood were becoming crammed with men who were eager to squander their earnings to get their minds off the worries of daily life. Simon's place was buzzing with the sound of laughter and talking of costumers inside who were getting pleasantly drunk while they enjoyed the company of their selected slaves. The patron himself however, was not be found at his usual spot behind the counter, but was standing outside with his servant Micranus, observing the shivering, whimpering mess that hung from the wooden beam in the back of the esthablishment.

"So." Simon said to his black servant, disappointment and anger written clearly on his face. "You hit him with the horsewhip-" He looked disgusted at the crusted bloodstains on the leather. The blood made dark smears on his hands that attracted flies. "You burned his soles with hot coals from the kitchen-" He hit the back of the slave's feet with the hard end of the whip, causing him to howl pitifully. "And you rubbed in his wounds with sand." He brushed over the slave's ruined backside with the whip's delicate tip, extracting another whimper from his victim.

Micranus nodded solemnly. "Yes dominus, I've really tried everything."

"And still- NOT A BLOODY SINGLE WORD OF WHERE MY MONEY WENT!" Simon cracked the whip on the slave's buttocks, sending a horde of flies into the sky, aiming maliciously at one large horrific looking wound on the ruined skin. He was furious. The whole afternoon he had mourned about his losses; a total sum of 143 Denaries that had been stolen from him, the entire profit of a year. He had hoped that he would be able to retrieve it by torturing this thieving ingrate to an inch of his miserable life, convinced that nobody could stand that long against Micranus's brutalities. But as the day proceeded and all of the Moor's efforts yielded no information at all, he started to dread that he would never to see his stolen money again. The slave was obviously a retard, being either too stubborn to tell where he had hidden the rest of the loot, or he could have dropped the coins down the latrine into the sewers by accident. Simon actually considered the latter as the most realistic scenario, as it would explain why the slave persisted to keep his mouth shut even under these severe tortures. The very idea flared up Simon's anger like oil would fuel a torch, and he drove down the whip onto the poor Marcellus with such brute force that soon his arm started to tire and he had difficulty catching his breath out of exhaustion. Finally, he threw the whip on the ground, cursing loudly at the damned slave, and managed to afford one more clumsy kick in the side before he had to lean against the beam for support. He eyed spitefully at the small number of guests who had gathered around the back-entrance to observe the spectacle like the audience of an arena would observe the slaughter of criminals by seasoned gladiators.

"Dominus." Micranus spoke, noticing the large amount of blood that Marcellus had lost. Puddles of it had formed underneath the slave's dangling feet. "Perhaps it would be wiser to stop for today. I don't think he can take much more."

Marcellus did not perceive any of this. His senses were dulled, as if a curtain was pulled over his eyelids and the rest of the world shifted behind it. His tormenters were translucent ghosts outside of his own existence. The only thing that did reach him was the mad humming of flies that that swirled around his putrid wounds and buzzed by ears.

Simon sighed, and felt the heavy reality of the loss of the substantial sum sink onto his shoulders. Coming to peace with it, some of the anger disappeared, but not all. He eyed at Marcellus, his features blank, but his mind slowly turning like a serpent rolling into a coil. He was above all, a merchant, and calculations of losses and profits were his second nature. However much he hated Marcellus, he remained an asset that could be used to retrieve some of the money that was lost. Although at this moment, he relished the idea of slitting the thieving slave's throat, and dumping its rotten cadaver into the Tiber.

"Cut him lose." He ordered instead. "And drag this piece of donkey shit inside the kitchen. I don't want the stench of him bothering the customers."

As soon as the rope was cut, the slave sank through his legs and collapsed on the street like some gruesome red puppet cut from its strings. He was dragged into the kitchen. The heat of the open cooking fires hit his face as they entered. Marcellus was propped up with his back against the wall that was as warm as an oven.

Simon crouched down next him, grabbed his chin and spoke in voice that was both a soft and threatening.

"Listen slave. I will have Micranus to tend your wounds and feed you properly for you to regain your strength. You get better now for I need you to earn back every single Denary that you took from me with your greedy little hands. I don't care to whom you have to prostitute yourself to get it done. You thought you had it bad before, tell me if you thought right after you have experienced the clients of –shall I say- the lower end of the market."

Simon let go of him and rose back up to his feet. Before he left, he sneered;

"By the way, if you fail to recover, I won't hesitate to get rid of you and throw you out in the streets. You will find company there, the stray dogs around here have acquired a taste for rotting human flesh."

TBC