Chapter I: Defeat
Rome, 1176 B.C.
Nearly ten years had passed since the fall of Troy. The battle was over but never forgotten. The people of Troy, if not scattered to the four corners of the earth, taken prisoner for continued uprising, or forced to live under Greek authority, formed smalls groups that rallied themselves against their conquerors from time to time, defeat always being the assured outcome. Still, the Trojans did not lose hope.
From a small family that was killed in the taking of Troy, a young warrior emerged with a sword and strove to unite the random resistance groups, to form an army with which he planned to fight in vengeance for the lives of those lost, and to reclaim the land of Troy, his home.
He was a passionate young man in his early twenties, proud and sure of himself, with thick, unruly hair like the darkest of nights and eyes like the sky on a clear day. Those eyes had seen many things, but never defeat. They saw it today.
Though he fought well and with the skill of many years of training, some of his best soldiers had been lost, soldiers like he. And as general of this army, he had led them against an opponent that was far smaller and should have guaranteed and easy victory… but for the first time, he knew defeat. In one fell swoop, months of planning and all his efforts to form a strong and unmoving military were wiped out by a small faction of skilled fighters and their tactical, efficient leader.
The young man had been told to fight with his heart, that that was where his greatest strength lay. But his spirit was wounded from the loss of his many comrades, thus he fought blindly in sorrow and rage, and that was where he made his error. His emotions and vast heart had clouded his better judgment, and he fell to his enemies. He would have been killed had not he been the general, alas, he would find that there were certain customs that must be arranged with the victor.
The victor, whom he would soon never forget.
The victorious army marched home through the gates of the city, greeted by cheers and laurel leaves filling the air that spoke of how glad the people were to have its sturdy army back and safe with minimal casualties.
Young Ryo Sanadus was marched, bound with his hands behind his back, down the streets with the rest of his captive army. He wished for a merciful and swift end but was not to be so easily spared; flanking him were two large and well-armed guards who were not too forgiving to rough him up a bit and put quite a few bruises on his rather smaller and younger frame. Their crude, loud bantering over his head was beginning to drive him mad as they generously talked of what was to become of him with little regards for leaving out the gory details. Ryo never knew there were so many methods of killing a person, something lent to him by inexperienced naivety. The battles he had fought were few and far between; he had finally seen what real war was like.
"Perhaps the general will disembowel him," one guard laughed.
"Only if he's alive," the other replied. "I wonder if the tannery wouldn't like the hide of this child, it's fair enough. Look how easily he bruises." And he gave a rough tweak to a light purple spot on the dark haired boy's face.
"Nah," said the first guard. "His skin is much too soft. It wouldn't last for a pair of boots. A lady's purse, perhaps, but this little scamp has no calluses! He's like a newborn babe!"
"Must be why he lost so miserably! He can't have been a warrior!"
The two sentries roared with laughter and Ryo endured them with mounting shame on his shoulders. They were right; he was not the person to be leading an army. He let his emotions get the better of him and now he would pay the ultimate price. Oh, if only the gods would have mercy on him. He just wanted vengeance for his dead family, his father, his mother and the child she would have soon birthed… and in his quest for justice had he stumbled into the play of his own demise. He hung his head in utter hopelessness.
It was folly to think that the gods would even consider sparing an orphaned boy as reckless and weak as he.
Ryo was dragged before the king in shackles and chains. He looked a great mess: his tunic torn and bloodied, his face a canvas smudged with dirt and painted with bruises, his hair tousled and disheveled. He was forced upon his knees before the king's throne by the guards who walked him in, two spears ready to skewer him clean through should he so much as glare at the king, whom they respectfully addressed as King Rowenium.
"And what manner of creature is this?" the king inquired haughtily, gazing down at the young boy.
The sentry put his spear to the boy's throat and snarled, "Answer the king, whelp."
Ryo looked up and saw to his amazement that the ruler was not as old as he thought; his strangely coloured hair had an almost blue hue to it and eyes that were and even darker blue. They scrutinised Ryo with a profound look of deep thought, and Ryo imagined that the king must be very wise if he were so young a ruler over such a powerful land.
"Sanadus," Ryo murmured, and the guard kicked him hard in the side. "Y-your Majesty!" He gasped for having the breath knocked from him and grimaced in pain.
"You're a very stupid boy, young Sanadus," Rowenium stated loudly for the whole palace to hear. "Troy was defeated eight years ago and still you foolish rebels think that you can assemble and overtake us with your pathetically lacking and poorly equipped little brigands. Now hear you this: the Trojans have settled in among us and are happy living under our rule, better than they ever could have in Troy. Dogs like you are a threat to society, up-starters of revolution, an endangerment to the very peace your own people have weaved under our superiour command.
"To show my infinite mercy, I shall detain your soldiers, "general", and allow them to live amongst us and experience what real life should be like, not living cast away on the desolate outskirts of a gutted and pillaged city, but in a peaceable environment of that which the gods themselves smile upon. Your men are hereby essentially freed, Sanadus. You, on the other hand-" He narrowed his eyes at Ryo. "You await a different fate, as you are undoubtedly the very thorn of Troy which has imbedded itself in my foot and cost me the lives of some of my men today."
"Your men!?" Ryo cried desperately. "My men died today as well!" He was soundly buffeted with the butt ends of the spears as the guards assailed him for speaking rudely against their king.
"And they might not have died today had it not been for your foolish incompetence!" Rowenium bellowed mightily, silencing the entire throne room. When his echo had stopped ringing and the horrible feeling of despair and found its way into Ryo's heart, the king added, "Your life, or what remains of it, I leave in the hands of one of my best generals. Morinum!"
The tall and dignified young general with reddish tinted locks appeared at his king's side with a breathy murmur of, "My liege?"
Ryo was shocked. The general was young as well! Were there no seasoned old men with which he might retain a little of his dignity? Being chastised by men no older than he, it was unbearable!
King Rowenium gave a flip of his wrist, as if indicating of something of very little worth. "He is yours to do with and dispose of. Remove him from my sight, won't you?"
Morinum smiled and bowed. "Certainly, your Majesty." Then he turned and gave Ryo a cold, knowing glare and nodded to the two guards, who chuckled lewdly and followed the fluttering cloak of their general.
He hit the dirt floor of the pavilion with a thud, landing stomach first and kicking up a plume of dust.
"I assume that despite your age and defeat that you've had some training," Morinum commented as he stood over Ryo's prone body as it recovered from the blow. "Am I correct?"
Ryo coughed the dirt from his lungs and nodded faintly, choking again on the bits and pieces of sand that coated his tongue.
"Very well then," Morinum said stoically, stepping over him like one would a wounded dog. "We shall duel here in this pavilion. If you win you will be freed, but if you lose…" He turned around and said with an acidic tone, "Then you shall be another casualty of war."
"Then…" Ryo crawled to his knees. "I shall die?"
"Who said I was going to kill you? There are many ways of wringing the life out of a man while his body continues to live."
Ryo stared at the tall general in horrified silence. His voice, his words, his very presence filled him with a sense of dread and impending doom. Morinum nodded to the guards standing off to the side and they hauled Ryo to his feet and held him by the arms. Morinum approached and stood face to face with Ryo, a good seven inches taller than the dark haired boy. He stared down into those sky blue eyes and without breaking his gaze, extended his arm towards one of the guards, where they placed something in his hand-- Morinum held it out to Ryo.
"Your sword, Sanadus."
Ryo looked down and saw that it was his very own sword, crafted by the most well-known swordsmith in Troy and without any apparent damage, and he carefully retrieved it from his enemy's hand. The familiar weight of his prized weapon in his palm filled him with confidence and security, and when he looked back up, Morinum was on the other side of the pavilion, taking a long weapon from the hands of another guard. He approached, and Ryo saw that it was a kind of metal staff with two short blades centring a longer blade, resembling a sort of trident. Still, the blades were small and not at all intimidating, or maybe it was the effect of the sword that Ryo held that so boosted his esteem.
"Are you ready to fight for your freedom, Sanadus?" the general asked.
The guards released Ryo and stepped back, and the two generals began to circle each other in the centre of the pavilion. They stared each other down like wolves with their hackles raised over a fresh kill. Morinum allowed Ryo to draw closer and lunge at him with his sword; he merely stepped aside easily and struck his opponent in the back with the end of his staff, sending Ryo sprawling into the dirt. Ryo rolled over quickly just as the blades of Morinum's weapon came down and buried into the spot where once his body was. Ryo thrust upward with his sword and Morinum dodged right, placing his foot on Ryo's chest and uprooting his weapon from the dirt. Ryo deftly struck the foot with the hilt of his sword and it lifted; he rolled to his feet and the two warriors began to circle each other again.
This time, it was Morinum who attacked first and completely without warning. He acted so swiftly and with such amazing agility that Ryo barely had time to prepare himself for the blow of the staff, which stuck him in his unprotected abdomen. Before he had time to recover and counter-strike, a second blow took his feet out from underneath him as Morinum's staff swept around and smashed against the back of his knees, forcing him to fall flat onto his back. And before he could open his eyes, a third strike occurred: the staff rapping against the knuckles of Ryo's sword hand with enough force to break the skin and draw blood. He yelped and instinctively let go, flung his sword into the air where it spun laterally and came down in Morinum's right hand as if it wanted to be there. And just as soon as it was in his hand, Morinum had the sword pressed to the flesh of Ryo's neck.
Ryo froze, eyes wide and paralysed. It had been so fast… so fast. Just when he thought he had the upper hand, five seconds later and he was looking at his own sword pointed at him and poised centimetres from the throbbing vein of life in his throat. He stared up at the young general with a lost, terrified look and whispered, "It… you can't."
The blade raised and Ryo flinched as it swiped across his left cheekbone and then the other, leaving thin trails of blood to wander down his face like red tears. I'm going to die. Twice the same man has defeated me and now my life is doomed. I'm dead. I died as soon as I hit the ground… Real tears began to mix with the blood and he lowered his head, black locks falling into his eyes.
"I… acknowledge defeat," he rasped throatily. The flat of the blade found his chin and lifted it upward to meet the face of its victor, almost smiling down at him in vague amusement. "I am p-prepared to die," Ryo tried to say bravely from behind his face of blood and tears.
The sword in Morinum's hand travelled down to Ryo's collar, where it slowly traced the folds of his tunic before deftly slicing through them with the sound of tearing fabric. The tunic slid off of Ryo's bare shoulders and settled around his waist. He blinked, perplexed, and attempted to inch backward a little. Morinum planted his foot firmly onto Ryo's ankle, pinning him to the spot. His sword barely hovered above the flesh of Ryo's chest, slowly moving down, silently, assuredly, as if looking for a weak spot.
Ryo made a soft growl in his throat and the blade came down, slicing across his left breast and leaving a slit that oozed blood. He was panting with panic now, certain that Morinum was going to cut him to pieces and leave him for the vultures. Before he could dwell on this further, his belt was sliced in half and slipped to the ground; his tunic parted and revealed a tan, muscular thigh, slowly paling where it met his hip.
"Wh-what are you doing?" Ryo begged and was silenced by a cut to his ribs, deeper this time. He felt hot liquid begin to slowly flow from the stinging wound and into the dust, clumping it together. The dust. The dust.
Ryo's fist clenched a handful of the dirt and he thought that maybe, just possibly, if he could toss it into Morinum's eyes then that would give him enough time to get up, grab his sword and knock the general over, then he could run out, kill the advancing guards and then hide somewhere, wait until nightfall to make his escape-
"I wouldn't think about it if I were you," Morinum's even, calm tone brought Ryo back from his thoughts, as well as the heavy feeling of the sharp sword resting against his lower abdomen. "You've already admitted defeat, and although tossing dust into my eyes may seem like a good plan, I can assure you that this blade is well prepared to shed some light on your entrails should you so much as twitch."
Ryo's face drained of colour and Morinum smiled slightly. "Good boy. You may be stupid, but at least you're not deaf." The bloody tip of Ryo's own sword came up to stroke his face smoothly, smearing crimson streaks onto his cheek. "Hm. You look very nice in red, Sanadus." The brunette warrior cocked his head to the side. "What is your first name?"
"Ryo," came the nervous reply.
"Ryo," he repeated in a velvet murmur. "A fine name." The sword made its way down to his navel, hovering for a moment before slipping underneath his limp tunic and casually unfolding it from his body, fully revealing Ryo's nudity to the light of the setting sun. Ryo gasped in shock as Morinum grinned, looking up at him craftily. "For a fine lad."
Ryo cried out and struggled before the blade of his sword came down and laid open a swath of crimson across his thigh. Ryo sucked in a sob and lay still as the sword for a long while gently caressed his inner thighs, his hips, just barely brushed against his flaccid sex. His muscles twitched and fresh tears filled his eyes. This was humiliating: naked and exposed, being molested by his enemy with his own sword after having lost two battles, the last one being his final.
He suddenly recalled the tales of defeated warriors as told by the old men down at the local tavern. How once proud, noble soldiers were taken prisoner and returned as shamed, broken spirits never bound to set foot into another battle. As a child, Ryo had never known what happened to those brave warriors to make them so jaded. Now he knew. This was what happened. Defeat in battle was not enough; enemies desired total defeat, spiritually, mentally, and physically.
It was the totality of defeat.
Ryo heard the guards standing to the side laugh lowly at his predicament, at his youthful, boyish body, and felt fire ignite his face. Oh gods, please let me die now. Please don't let me live to see what will happen next. Please, just send me into the darkest depths of the Underworld, I will gladly take it over this.
Morinum knelt down and placed his staff to the side, pulling a short length of thin rope from the folds of his tunic. The young general leaned over Ryo and grabbed his wrists roughly, binding them tightly together . All Ryo could do was submit helplessly for fear of his opponent's wrath. He felt the warmth of Morinum's body as it hovered over his own: warm cloth, warm blood. It felt good against his bare and chilled flesh, but nothing on the gods' mount could make him get closer to it.
Once his hands were tied, Ryo stared up into Morinum's expressionless face with a pitiful look. It must have moved the general somewhat, for the young brunette said in a softer voice, "Poor child. You've never known this kind of terror, have you?"
Ryo shook his head and blinked, tears running down the sides of his head.
"You've never lost a battle. Never seen killing and bloodshed of hundreds. Never felt your heart-" He placed his hand upon Ryo's breast. "-pounding and thumping like it wants to flee from your chest."
Ryo sobbed as Morinum crouched over him, left hand running down Ryo's thigh and clutching his flesh with greed. He poised the sword above Ryo's rapidly rising and falling chest.
"I could free your heart for you," he murmured eerily. "Let it beat its way off into that setting sun." He gazed up into the orange rays that saturated the sky. "But then you would never know what it's like to be the spoils of war." He grasped Ryo's shoulders and pulled him upright roughly, throwing the sword to the side and taking him with both hands, rolling him over so that Ryo was on his knees with his back to the general and his hands bound in front of him.
Morinum buried his fist into the dark locks of Ryo's hair and pulled, craning Ryo's neck back so that it met with his hot, moist breath. "This is what we do to defeated rebels like you, to insure that they're too shamed to ever set foot in a battle again."
A knee was between Ryo's legs, parting them wide while the hand knotted in his hair pulled harder, forcing his head upward so that he was staring at the silver, shimmering clouds in an orange and yellow sky. Tears flowed from his eyes like a fountain as he thought that it was the most beautiful sunset, his last sunset, that he had ever seen in his life.
Pain suddenly ripped through his body as he felt something hot and hard force its way into his passage, much too small for something so large. He keened and clenched his teeth as his hair was pulled harder still, forcing him to arch up to keep his neck from being snapped. He never shut his eyes, wondering as he stared at the clouds if the gods were sitting by and watching him be raped in front of them. In front of the earth, in front of the sky, in front of the world. The passing clouds that had witnessed this terrible act, this horrible sodomy of a simple warrior for an act that he could not help committing. Blue eyes burned in desperation as he felt the hard erection of the unforgiving general penetrate him again and again and again and again.
Clouds. I am not here. I died today, and I am flying in the clouds...
Ryo sobbed, trembled and wept. He felt Morinum's chest as it pressed into his back, felt himself tear with each thrust and push; it drove such nails of humiliation and shame into his soul that he would never be able to look his mother in the face if she were still alive. He heard the sick laughter of the guards as they watched, amused by this sight, finding the rape of a young man as something humourous. He heard the grunts of the general in his ear, felt himself die slowly in the poisoned embrace of a false lover, felt the final river of hot release spill into his virgin body and pollute what innocence left that the battle of Troy had not taken.
Ryo continued to stare at the sky long after Morinum had finished with him.
Nihil hinc... mori hodie habere. Nunc volare a aer...