Chapter 1: Redemption
Agron looked over the men lined up before Spartacus. These men will never be gladiators, he thought to himself. He knew with one glance that not one of them had ever taken a life, much less wielded a sword. The man closest to him caught his eye though. He was small with dark hair and skin. A slave of position from the fine look of his clothes. While the other men looked at Spartacus with awe and fear, this man had none on his face. His eyes burned with fire as they followed the Thracian, and if he was not mistaken, anger. The man met Spartacus’s eyes as he pulled the collar from his neck. Surprise took the man’s face for a second, his hand rubbing at where the leather had once been. Agron assumed from the pale skin around his neck, that he had worn it for many years. Spartacus turned to Ficus and Sofus. “Weapons,” he ordered, with a nod of his head. Agron shook his head. Was Spartacus fool enough to believe that they could turn house slaves, into gladiators? Men who would not hesitate to take a life? Agron watched at the little man refused to take the sword handed to him. He only glared at for a moment, before the gladiator holding it shoved it towards him, and he took it in hand.
Agron groaned as he was pulled from sleep by Mira. “What is it now?” he asked her.
“Spartacus summons you.”
He groaned again and pulled himself up from his bedroll. He quietly followed Mira further into the villa. “One of the slaves we freed today made attempt on Spartacus’s life a few minutes ago. He wishes for you and Crixus to help him decide the boy’s fate,” she quickly explained.
“Who is fucking fool enough to do such a thing?” he angrily asked.
“See for yourself,” she told him and pointed through the door in front of them. He nodded and stormed through the door, his hand on his sword.
Spartacus was leaning against a table holding a small dagger in his hands, while Crixus paced around the room. He went to stand next to the Thracian and watched as two of the other gladiators shoved the little man against the wall. He grunted as he hit it, and fought to escape their grasp when they grabbed him around his arms, and pulled him back forward to face the three of them. Agron cocked an eyebrow as he looked at him. This little man had made the attempt on Spartacus’s life?
“You yet wish to train this fuck,” Crixus questioned Spartacus.
“The boy deserves opportunity,” Spartacus answered back. Agron’s eyes were on the small man who was still attempting to escape the grasp of the men who held him. Agron noticed the fire in his eyes again.
“He was given such a thing, and made attempt on your life in response.”
Agron sighed. “Gods save me, I find myself in agreement with a Gaul,” he said turning to face Spartacus for a moment. He looked back to glare at the man in front of him, and for the first time he lowered his eyes. Agron wondered why. Was he finally realizing how foolish his attempt was?
“He has known nothing but slavery,” Spartacus said, “the strength of such a tether not easily severed.” Agron was questioning why Spartacus wanted to let the boy live. If the boy had succeeded in taking Spartacus’s life, the rebellion would have failed, and they would all be crucified.
“Perhaps never to be so,” argued Crixus. Fuck, Agron thought. He was agreeing with the Gaul more and more tonight.
“And if we take his life, what message will that send to those that wish to join our cause?” Spartacus demanded.
Agron was quick with a reply, “That they best be agreeable.”
“We’re Romans then?” asked Spartacus. Fuck. Agron rolled his eyes and faced the little man again. “Commanding through fear and threat of death?” Spartacus had an answer for fucking everything now.
Crixus looked at Spartacus. “If he makes attempt again, I will make sure he joins his fucking Dominus,” and struck the man across the face. Agron winced slightly at the blow, not understanding why he did though. He expected the man to keep his face down, but instead he turned back to face Crixus, blood running from his mouth, teeth bared and glared at the Gaul. He could not help but admire the fire within the man. Mightier men would have not dared to have done what he had. Crixus stormed from the room. The man looked up to face them now and Agron leaned against the table next to Spartacus.
“And how do you propose we train this wild little dog?” he asked in a mocking voice, his eyes on the little man in front of him. The comment angered the little man, amusing Agron. Spartacus’s eyes were firmly on the boy.
“As Batiatus and Doctore trained me,” he answered. Agron paused for a moment and turned to face Spartacus.
“And that turned out so well,” he commented. The Thracian turned to look at him, annoyance clearly on his face. Agron grinned and glancing one last time at the little man, left the room.
As he laid back down on his bedroll, all he could think of was the small dark man. The fire he had seen in the man’s eyes, told of a strength he had never seen before, not in any man, not in any gladiator. A fire that if harnessed, could easily turn the little man into a warrior. At least, if he could be turned to their cause.
The next morning Agron found himself training the newly freed slaves. “First position!” he ordered. “Attack!” Steel met steel as the recruits attempted to keep up with his drilling. “Left arm up!” he barked at one of them. “Attack!” As he walked down the line of men, he watched as Spartacus sparred with the little man. He swung his sword, attempting to land a blow, but he was no match for the slayer of Theokoles. Spartacus easily out maneuvered him, hitting him on the back with his sword. A smile tugged at his lips as he heard the man hiss in frustration. He was a fast learner though, blocking several blows from Spartacus with his shield, but pressed advantage to fast, exposing his flank. Spartacus slammed the hilt of his sword into his back, and the man’s sword fell from hand.
“You expose flank,” he heard Spartacus tell the man.
“I’m no fucking soldier,” the man retorted back, the anger in his voice unmistakable. He heard the other gladiators laugh.
“Not yet,” Spartacus told him, handing him back his sword. Agron turned back to the other men, and out of the corner of his eye he could see the little man glaring up at Spartacus.
Agron made his way over to where several of the gladiators had gathered to watch Spartacus and the little man spar. His eyes followed the man’s every move.
“Should have put the boy down,” commented Donar. Agron glanced back at him. “Dog bites once; he will bare fucking teeth again.” Donar was right. The man would have shown great promise among them, if he had not attempted to kill Spartacus.
“Pity,” he answered. He turned back to the others and barked more orders. He fought to keep his eyes on the men he was training, but he could not help but look over to watch the little man and Spartacus every so often. The ferocity of the little man impressed him. He seemed determined to prove that he could fight, and that he would not hesitate to kill. He wondered what the little man’s name was.
The days training came to an end when the sun began to fall from the sky, the freed slaves wandered off to nurse the bruises they had accumulated over the day. Many of the Gauls took to drink, singing loudly. Agron found a jug and poured himself a cup. He saw the little man sitting against a pillar by himself, glaring at Spartacus, who stood across the room. Agron chuckled to himself. Did the little man ever tire of glaring at the Thracian? He poured a second cup, and made his way to where the little man was.
“You press fortune,” he warned him as he approached, “glaring so at the slayer of Theokoles.”
The little man did not look up at him, still watching Spartacus. “His victory but proven even giants fall,” he retorted. Agron grinned and offered one of the cups to him. The little man glanced at Agron and took it, turning back once again to glare at Spartacus.
Agron knelt down next to him, “what name do you go by little man? So I may properly mourn your passing?” He studied the man’s face for a moment, taking in his features.
He turned to face Agron, “I’m called Tiberius.”
Agron noticed how beautiful the man’s eyes were. Dark brown, with the fire still in them. He wondered if it ever left his eyes. “Tiberius?” he questioned. “You are far too dark to have such a fair Roman name.”
The man met his eyes, “I’m more Roman than Syrian,” he explained.
Agron nodded his head and looked over to Spartacus, as did Tiberius. Many house slaves identified themselves as Roman, as they had often been captured as children and knew little of the lands they came from. He thought back to Ashur, the devious little shit had disappeared when they had taken up arms against the Romans. “There was a Syrian at our ludus. Treacherous fuck if ever there breathed,” he told Tiberius. His meaning was clear to the man, as he remained silent. Agron still wondered though, if Tiberius might redeem himself. He was curious to know more about him. “You have family there?” he asked. The Syrian was silent for a moment, as if lost in a memory.
“I only recall a brother,” he answered, a bit of pain in his voice. Agron felt a pang in his chest, as his thoughts turned to Duro. He looked away from Tiberius.
“I to had a brother,” he told the man.
“No longer?” the Syrian asked, looking at him.
He shook his head, letting out a heavy sigh. The memory came back to him, and he watched again at the Roman ran his sword through Duro’s chest, watched the life faded from his eyes. “He was struck down by the Romans,” he explained, his voice strained.
“When you turned swords against them?” the Syrian asked.
He did not care for the man’s tone. He turned to face the Syrian again, “As you shall one day, if you hold any fucking sense.” He saw some guilt in the man’s eyes before he stormed off, his anger besting him.
The voices around him suddenly became too loud; too many people were around him. His feet carried him further into the villa, until he at last found an empty room. He glanced around. It was the room he had been in the night before with the others, while they were deciding Tiberius’ fate. He groaned, and sat down in the chair next to the table. He slowly collected his thoughts, and allowed his anger to fade away. His thoughts turned to the Syrian. He felt some pity for the man. Agron had not realized what a gift it was to have had his brother with him all his life, until Duro had been ripped from it, leaving Agron alone in this world. Duro had been his life, the only person in this world of shit he lived in who he cared about. But to have never known his brother? To have been parted when they were children, to never see each other again? Agron could not imagine a worse punishment. A bit of understanding came to him, of why the Syrian had made attempt on Spartacus. He had known nothing but slavery, and was afraid. Afraid because everything he had ever known, had been ripped away from him.
Agron heard many of the slaves’ running back into the villa. He made his way past them back to the courtyard. Spartacus and Crixus were standing in front of Tiberius, while the others dragged everything from view and disappeared into the villa. “Convince them that all is well. Tell them whatever you must,” Spartacus was telling the Syrian. “They must not doubt you.” Tiberius nodded in understanding.
Crixus looked at Agron and quickly explained, “Torches from the North approach.”
Agron glanced over to the Syrian. Spartacus followed his gaze, “Tiberius will convince them that all is well here, and explain his Dominus’ absence, and keep our movements yet hidden from the Romans.” Agron nodded, gripping his sword. He looked back over to Tiberius. He looked nervous, but determined.
He went to stand just inside one of the rooms, out of sight. Soon the soldiers were banging on the villas doors. He heard the doors creak as he opened them and the crunch of sand underneath as the soldiers entered. He gripped his sword tighter. “I would have words with your Dominus,” demanded one of them, “On orders of Seppius.”
“Apologies,” came Tiberius’ voice, “Business has called him to Picintia.”
“Picintia?” questioned the soldier. “I have never known him to favor the city.”
Agron feared they were undone. The soldier knew Tiberius’ Dominus, but Tiberius did not miss a beat. “He does not,” he quickly said, “He favors its whores.” Agron smiled. The Syrian was good at this. He heard the soldier laugh, and let a wave of relief wash over him. The soldier was buying every word from Tiberius’ mouth.
“You are his body slave, are you not?” the soldier asked.
“Tiberius,” the Syrian answered.
“Tiberius,” sneered the man. “Tell me,” Agron heard the slide of steel, “Why are you not at your Dominus side?” He heard the other soldiers pull their swords out.
Silence took them for the briefest of moments, and Agron strained to hear Tiberius’ reply. “Because there’s no one he trusts more to see his villa attended, while his cock is satisfied,” he answered smoothly.
“You serve your master well,” the soldier told him. Then a pause came, one that lasted far too long. Agron could hear his blood pounding in his ears. Something was wrong. The soldiers’ voice sounded again “Return to your charge.” He heard them begin to depart.
“Wait,” Tiberius said. The soldiers stopped. Agron gritted his teeth. What was the Syrian doing? “You have come a fair distance from Capua. Come, and I will give you something to make the effort worthwhile.” The Syrian would betray them.
He heard the others yell as they left their hiding places and attack the soldiers. He ran from the room and blocked the sword that swung at him, then pushed his attack on the man. His sword was knocked from his hand by the Roman shit, and he quickly pulled out his dagger and stabbed the man in the heart. He ducked under Spartacus’s sword and thrust his dagger at another of the Romans, knocking the sword from his hand and throwing him to the ground. He brought down his dagger into the man’s chest twice, looking up to late to stop one of the soldiers from hitting him across the face with the hilt of a sword. Blood spurted from his mouth as the blow landed, pushing him off the Roman he had just killed. He looked up and saw one of the Romans about to attack Spartacus from behind.
“Spartacus!” he yelled in warning. The Thracian turned around, ready to stop the attack, only to watch as Tiberius stabbed the man through the chest from behind.
The Syrian pulled the sword free of the Roman, and his body hit the ground with a thud. Spartacus gave the boy a small smile. Agron pushed himself to his feet, as Crixus marched over and grabbed the boy around the neck, forcing him back against a pillar. Agron immediately moved closer to them, as Tiberius hands went to Crixus’s wrist, trying to pry himself free. “Why did you stop them from leaving,” the Gaul demanded.
Spartacus jumped forward, “he killed a man!” defending Tiberius.
“When he saw they would not win,” he countered, pointing his sword at Tiberius, ready to run him through.
“His eyes fell to my neck! He saw the absence of my collar!” Tiberius’ hand motioned to his bare neck, “If I had not allowed him in, he would have returned with more men!”
Agron watched as the Gaul slowly released his grip around the Syrians throat and lowered his sword. Agron could felt some pride in what the Syrian had done. He had been quick with his thinking, and because of him, no one would know that the rebels now occupied the villa. Spartacus walked forward, and clapped him hand on Tiberius’ shoulder.
“You did well Tiberius,” he told him, and turned away.
“Nasir,” Tiberius said. Agron looked at Tiberius, wondering what he ment. The Syrians gaze turned to meet his, “My brother called me Nasir.” Agron nodded in acceptance, and could see Nasir sigh in relief. As he did so, Agron saw the Roman in him die. He offered Nasir a small smile, which he returned. Nasir had redeemed himself, both to him and the rest of the rebels. As he watched the other gladiators come forward to commend Nasir for what he had done, Agron felt something in him change. He was finding himself caring more and more for the little man. His heart had been hardened to stone after Duro’s death, but now it was softening. He smiled to himself, as he watched the others embrace Nasir as a brother.
Chapter 2: You Have Proven Yourself
Nasir seeks to further prove his worth to the rebellion.
Nasir walked through the villa, his eyes searching. Finally he saw the unmistakable form of the gladiator. “Agron!” he called out, quickening his pace to catch up with him. Agron turned at the sound of his name, and a small smile formed on his face. Nasir could feel his face flush with heat, but pushed it away for now. “You are to attack one of the slaver carts tomorrow? One destined for the mines?” he asked.
Agron nodded, “We are, soon after the sun rises. Why do you ask?”
Nasir hesitated for a moment, but then quickly asked, “Might I join you on the mission? I would prove my worth to all.” He waited, searching Agrons face.
An amused look took the gladiators face, and Nasir wondered what it ment. “You proved your worth to all last night, when you outwitted the Roman shit,” Agron told him, a subtle but firm no.
Nasir scowled, “I outwitted them with words, not a sword. I will not sit here with the men who refuse to fight, and prove my worth with blood upon my sword.” He met the gladiators gaze above him. He was determined not to be left behind.
Agron was quiet for a moment, thinking from the looks of it, his hand trailing to his sword hilt. A mischievous look came onto his face. “You are determined?” he asked. Nasir nodded his head. “Then follow me,” and Agron walked toward the courtyard with Nasir right behind him. Agron walked over to the wall, and picked up a sword leaning against it. He held it out to the Syrian, and he quickly took it in understanding. If he wished to go tomorrow, he had to prove he could fight. Agron drew his sword and faced him, taking a fighting stance.
“Let us have proper contest then.” Nasir mirrored him, quickly observing the gladiator and looking for anything he might use to advantage. Agron was several inches taller than him and had the advantage of height and weight, but Nasir could turn that to his advantage as he was slim and agile, moving quickly. One advantage he knew he could not overcome was the experience the gladiator had, but he would make attempt.
Nasir swung his sword at Agron, attempting to strike his arm. The gladiator easily blocked the blow, and Nasir barely had enough time to raise his sword again to block the blow he delivered in return, the clash of steel loud. The gladiator pressed his weight down in the move, forcing Nasir to one of his knees as he held his sword above him. He saw an opportunity though, and took it. He stopped pressing back against Agrons sword, and quickly rolled to the side before standing again. The gladiator lost his balance and tumbled to the ground, but he too rolled back onto his feet. A grin was on his face. “Good,” he told him, “find your enemy’s advantage, and use it against him.”
Nasir felt a smile tugging at his lips, and attacked Agron again, this time moving around the gladiator to try and attack him from behind. Agron blocked his blow though, and with a powerful swing, knocked the sword from his hands. “Now what do you do little man?” he teased, a laugh in his voice. Nasir had only one weapon left to him now, and he would use it. He and the gladiator circled each other, each waiting for the other. The sun was to his back, but it gave him the advantage again, as the sun hampered the gladiator’s vision. He hissed, dodging Agrons sword, and landed s blow behind the gladiator’s knee, knocking him off balance once again. The gladiator grunted in frustration as he stood. “Good,” he said once again. He dropped his sword to the ground and raised his fists now, coming at Nasir. Nasir ducked under the gladiators arm, and hit him in the ribs. He smiled in satisfaction when the gladiator grunted again. He pressed his attack on Agron, and received a hit to the chest, stumbling backwards before the gladiator tripped him, and he fell on his back with a loud grunt.
Agron kneeled down next to him, his sword back in hand, and pointing it at his throat. Nasir had been beaten. The gladiator chuckled, “You have proven yourself.” He lowered his sword and stood, offering Nasir his forearm. Nasir wrapped his hand around it, and the gladiator pulled him up. He did not release his hold on the Syrian though, and pulled him slightly closer. Nasir could feel the heat rising in his face again, but met the gladiators gaze. “You will be a welcome addition tomorrow, little man,” Agron told him. Nasir swore he could see something different in the man’s eyes. Pride? Admiration? He did not know. He could not help but grin at the gladiator, who grinned back at him. Agron released his hold on him, and stepped back. “I will tell Spartacus that you are to join us,” he told the Syrian and left the courtyard.
Nasir leaned against a pillar, glad to be in the shade and out of the brutal sun. His thoughts were full of the gladiator. He had sealed off many of his emotions years before, when he became his Dominus’ body slave. He had learned that shutting them off was the only way he could survive. It was the only way he knew how to deal with what his Dominus had demanded of him. The habit had not died with his Dominus; he still kept his emotions to himself, except when he was around Agron. He sighed. Whenever he was near the gladiator, they would begin to show, and it was not something he was accustomed to. He had not embraced them in years, but now he was slowly, but willingly, embracing them. He thought back to Agron, how he had pulled him close to him, closer than he should have.
Nasir pushed the thought from his mind. Why would Agron, a gladiator, feel anything towards him, a mere body slave? Nasir was not blind to the many women who eyed the man, Chadara included. But then, he had never seen Agron place any interest in them. Even if Agron held no favor toward the women, Nasir still doubted Agron would feel anything for him.
He did not notice Spartacus approach him. “You are to join us tomorrow,” the Thracian said. Nasir nodded, “Agron will see you outfitted with proper weapons.” Nasir eyes looked over Spartacus shoulder, and saw him. He swore he heard his blood pump faster. He nodded again, and Spartacus walked over to where Crixus was standing. He looked back at Agron, who was grinning. Did the man ever stop? Not that he minded, he liked the gladiators grin.
“You’ll need more than just a sword tomorrow,” Agron told him. He was standing in front of the pile of weapons they had amassed. He pulled a dagger out of the pile, and handed it to him. “You’ll need to fashion a belt to hold it,” he instructed. Nasir tossed it lightly in his hand, judging its balance. It was a good choice for him. As he tucked it into the belt around his waist, he thought back to the night he killed the Roman. That was the first life he had ever taken, and he knew he would send countless more to the afterlife. He pushed it from his mind; he knew that dwelling on the thought would not help. “If your sword is knocked from your hand that will be your last defense against the Romans, be sure to keep a tight grip on it.”
“You do not have the training that the rest of us have, but you can survive against the Romans. The only advice I can give you is to rely on your instincts. It saved me many times in the arena, and do not hesitate to strike a man down, for he will take advantage of that hesitation, and it will cost you your life.” If Nasir did not know better, Agron was concerned for him. The gladiator wanted to make sure no harm came to him.
He nodded, “I will send them all to the afterlife.”
Agron grinned. “You have fire in you little man.”
The attack on the slaver cart had been successful, all of the Romans had been sent to the afterlife, and they had added more to their cause. Many of the others had seen the attack as successful, but Nasir was not among them. The guilt he felt, for the lie he and Agron had told Crixus, weighed heavily on him. He walked around the corner, as Spartacus left Crixus. Even from where he was, he could see the red in his eyes, a jug of wine next to him. His guilt intensified. Someone walked up behind him, and he knew who it was instantly, before glancing over his shoulder. Agron. He looked back to the grieving Gaul.
“A sword in his chest would be a blow less felt,” he said.
Agron placed his hand on Nasirs arm, drawing his attention back to the German. “We’ve all made sacrifices. Crixus now makes his,” Agron gently told him.
The gladiators words did not ease his guilt though. He would speak to Crixus, and tell him the truth. “I would speak with him,” and made to move away.
Agron hold on his arm tightened on his arm, gently pulling him back. “Your words would only cause greater suffering.” Agrons eyes glanced over to Crixus, “If he knew the truth,” Agrons eyes were focused back on him, and he took Nasirs face in his hand, “I would not have you, and countless others fall I vain attempt.” He reluctantly nodded. “Come,” the gladiators face brightened, “there is much planning yet needed toward Neapolis.” The gladiator walked away, and Nasir looked back at Crixus once last time before following Agron off to ones of the rooms in the abandoned villa.
“What do we seek in Neapolis?” he asked. He knew little of the city, as his Dominus had never favored it, only traveling to Neapolis when he desired a new whore.
“Fighting men. Many slave ships dock at its ports, bringing men who were captured in foreign wars, men who would be easily recruited to our cause.”
Nasir could hear the eagerness in Agrons voice. “Is that how you came to be here?” he asked Agron, and immediately feared he had gone too far. Agron gaze left him, and focused on the wall.
“Apologies, I did not mean to pry,” Nasir quickly said.
Agron shook his head, “None required.” He took a breath, as if to steady himself, and nodded, “My brother and I were captured by the Romans when they laid attack on our village. We were some of the few who stayed behind, holding off the Romans so the others could escape them.” Nasir could hear the pain in Agrons voice and knew Agron was still haunted by his brother’s death. He found himself next to Agron, placing his hand on the gladiators. He offered a small smile when Agron looked at him, one that Agron returned.
“How about you little man? How did you come to these shores?”
Nasir remembered little of his life before he was forced into slavery. Occasionally fragments would come forward, but they were never clear, or pleasant. “I remember little, I was only a child when they took me.” Agron nodded, and did not press him for more. Nasir was grateful for that, as he did not wish to relive those thoughts. Half of him wished he did have those few fleeting memories most of the time, as he had given up on ever seeing his brother again years before. Those memories only worsened that reality. But his other half refused to let them go, as they were all that had of his brother.
“How will we free the men in Neapolis, without giving ourselves away? The brand of Batiatus is surely known there, as well as many of your faces,” he asked.
The German shrugged his shoulders, “We shall figure that out in due time. It should not be too difficult to disguise ourselves in the city, as long as the Gaul’s do not draw attention.” Nasir did not understand Agrons dislike of them.
“The Gaul’s will follow Spartacus,” he said.
Agron shook his head, “No, they follow Crixus and do as he commands. We need Crixus to go to Neapolis, or will lose half our number.”
More understanding came to Nasir, “Is that why we keep the truth from him as well?”
The gladiator sighed, “It is part of the reason. The other you already know.”
“So that we do not all fall in the mines?” Agron looked at him in a way Nasir had never seen before, and shook his head. “I keep this from him, so you do not fall in the mines,” he said quietly. Nasir did not know what to say. Agron did care about him, and that thought drove all others from his mind.
“The boy Nasir. The slaver told not of her death, but of her suffering in the mines!”
Nasir looked away from Agron, unable to meet his eyes. He felt awful for betraying Agron, but he could not watch the Gaul suffer, not after what he had said.
“An equal fate!” Agron spat at Crixus.
“You would bear false tongue, when a life holds in the balance?” Spartacus questioned him.
“What of our lives?” he demanded, pushing Donar off him. “What of our lives?” he cried out, so that everyone could hear him. “Crixus has no thoughts toward any but Naevia, and would have us all meet our end in foolish attempt on the mines!”
“I did what needed to be done Spartacus, you must see this.” Nasir could hear the pleading in Agrons voice.
“A lie for the greater good.” Spartacus was standing between the men. The Thracian swung around, striking Agron across the face, the blow forcing him to the ground. Nasir winced, his guilt intensifying. “Words that never would have passed lips, had it been your brother Duro in her place!”
The Thracian was furious with Agron. “If a single life holds no value, then none are of worth!” The courtyard was completely silent, everyone waiting for what Spartacus would say next. “I stand with Crixus, and will see Naevia from bondage.”
Agron shook his head, “I will not fucking die for this.” He walked toward Nasir, but his eyes ignored the Syrian. “I move for Vesuvius! Those who would live, join me,” and he stormed from the courtyard. The courtyard quickly emptied. Nasir hesitated for a moment, before followed Agron. He was yelling orders at the other gladiators to prepare to leave, while Nasir waited. Eventually the room emptied. Agron would not turn to look at him.
“I had to tell Crixus,” Nasir said quietly.
“You risk us all to ruin by doing so,” he replied, anger in his voice.
Nasir came to stand next to him. “Naevia is his heart and I could no longer watch the man mourn.” He kept his other reasoning to himself, as it still weighed heavily on his mind.
Agron let out a sigh, and then a small laugh escaped his lips. “I suppose this is what separates you from the Syrian from our ludus. You have a heart, while he held none.” Nasir smiled in return, knowing he had been forgiven.
“You will follow me to Vesuvius then?” Nasir nodded in reply. Agron grinned at him, clapping him on the shoulder, “The Mountain will hold much for us.” He nodded again in reply. “I am curious little man, what changed in you, that night in the villa?” Nasir was surprised. No one had asked him for his reasoning before.
It took him a minute to pull his thoughts together, as he was still making sense of it himself. “After you told me of your brother, I was conflicted. Part of me still wanted to cling to the only life I had ever known, but a growing part of me wanted more than that. I wanted to be free. I suppose it was that I thought I had no reason to fight, like the rest of you did. But I did, it just took some time to find it.”
“What do you fight for then?” the gladiator asked him, green eyes firmly focused on him. Nasir hesitated, did the gladiator not already know, or did he simply want to hear the words from Nasir’s lip? “Nasir?” Agron was looking at him, waiting for him to respond.
“You gave me a reason to fight,” he replied quietly. Agron remained silent, and Nasir feared he had gone too far.
“What reason did I give you,” he asked. Was the gladiator playing dumb on purpose, or did he truly not know? Nasir had never been one for games. “Do you ask because you do not already know, or because you wish to hear me say the words?”
Agron gave a small laugh, “a little of both I suppose.”
Nasir smiled, “I fight for you, for what you have given me.”
Agron grinned, and it threatened to spit his face in two. He threw his arm over Nasir’s shoulders and pulled him closer. “We will have to explore that, when we reach Vesuvius.” They both burst into laughter, only to be interrupted by Donar.
“We should be ready to leave within an hour,” he told Agron. His flicked to Nasir, and he could swear the gladiator was holding back a smile.
Agron nodded to Donar, “the sooner we leave these walls the better.” Donar laughed, and departed, leaving the two of them alone once again.
“Let us gather our things, and depart for Vesuvius,” Agron said, tugging Nasir alongside him.
The guilt in Nasir broke through, as he watched Crixus and the others readying themselves to leave for the mines.
“I accompanied my Dominus to the mines once. I may be of some aid.” He thought the Gaul would tell him to get out of his sight, as he had to Agron, and was surprised when Crixus replied to him gratefully.
He turned to look back at Agron, wondering if the gladiator would be angry with him. He could see the worry in those green eyes, but he made no attempt to stop Nasir.
Instead he only let out a heavy sigh, shaking his head. “Fucking Syrians,” and with that he was gone.
He donned the slavers uniform, and buckled his sword over it. Mira looked over him, making sure that he looked convincing. Her eyes took in every detail of him, “Your earring. You should remove it, lest it give you away as a slave.”
His fingers trailed to it. He had had it since he was a child. It had been another way to mark him as a slave, one that he had not thought of for years. It had been a subtle mark, one that he never felt, unlike the collar that he once worn around his neck.
He gently tugged it from his ear, bouncing it in his hand. He had not realized it would bring more relief to him, to remove it. He smiled, and tossed it away.
Mira smiled at him, and nodded in approval. They both turned at the clank of metal behind them. Spartacus was holding several sets of manacles in his hands. Everyone eyed them with malice. Every one of them had felt them, and the memories associated with them were dark and unpleasant. He helped secure them to the gladiator’s wrists, hiding the keys beneath his vest as he finished.
The mines were just as awful as he remembered. The slaves there were little more than skeletons, and the mines became a tomb for many of them. He had been observant though, we he had accompanied his Dominus. His Dominus had sneered, laughing and making cruel jokes at the slaves who passed him. The guards had joined in with him. The men were foul mouthed, and thought with nothing but there cocks.
Those observances served him well now, easily deceiving the head guard. The man was still furious though. When Mira stepped forward, he had no choice but to go along with what she had said. If he defended her, or tried to stop the guard, they would all be undone.
They all anxiously waited for her return. Nasir noticed that one of the guards was eyeing Spartacus too much, pushing the other gladiators out of his way as he stood before the Thracian.
“I have seen you before, somewhere.” Nasir watched Spartacus, waiting for what the Thracian would do. The guards voice was shocked, “The arena!”
Spartacus instantly reacted, throwing the man off balance, and Nasir grabbed him from behind, stopping his cries for help with his hand. He dragged the guard toward the entrance to the mines, away from any eyes that would see. Another pair of hands went around the guards neck, and with a quick twist, the guards neck was snapped.
They fled into the mines, following Mira’s directions to where Naevia was supposed to be. He tried to ignore the faces of the slaves around him. They all looked so hopeless, with no life left in their eyes. They did not even react to the rebels in the mines, just moving out of the way and continuing to pound at the walls.
His eyes scanned every woman he passed, looking for anything that would indicate a former house slave. He feared she would not be there; that the guard had lied and simply told Mira what he believed would save his life. As he turned from yet another woman, his eyes fell to the woman in front of him, a woman with the mark of her Domina. He called out for Crixus, praying that they had at last found her.
There reunion was brief. The Romans had found them. They fled back through the mines, back to the exit. They needed to escape before the gates were closed on them. Nasir did not think about what would happen to them if they were caught.
The gate stood open before them, and he briefly thought they had done it. The gate slammed shut, the guard quickly locking it and turning to run. Spartacus threw a dagger at him, and he fell to the ground, as did his keys. Mira fell to the ground, reaching through the bars and grabbing at them. He turned as he heard the soldiers running towards them, there cries far louder than they should have been. Crixus pushed Naevia into Spartacus’ arms, and ran at the approaching soldiers. Mira frantically unlocked the door, and they all ran through it. Mira locked it behind them, and he could hear Naevia screaming as he and the others continued to run. He thrust his sword through the back of one of the guards, killing him instantly, as Liscus slit the throat of the one standing beside him.
Spartacus appeared, half dragging Naevia from the tunnel.
“Run!” he ordered them. They instantly obeyed, running towards the woods surrounding the mines. Those woods would lead them to Vesuvius. To Agron.
Chapter 3: Fevered Dreams
Nasir fights to stay alive, determined to return to Agron.
Revised 9/10, to add extended scenes from the Spartacus Vengeance Blu Ray discs. More Nagron =D
Nasir and Mira gently eased Naevia down to the ground. The poor girl was exhausted, and barely conscious. She quickly fell to sleep, with Mira sitting beside her. She nodded to Nasir, indicating she would watch over Naevia. He gave a small nod of his own, then threw himself on the ground, quickly falling to sleep.
Green eyes and dimples filled his dreams. A familiar laugh and a grin.
A loud cry instantly woke him from sleep. More Romans were running at them through the trees. He shouted in warning to the others, and they all jumped to their feet. The sword was light in his hand, as he blocked a blow from one of the soldiers. The man had a spear, and he quickly brought his sword down upon it, cleaving it in two. Before the Roman had time to draw his sword, he met his end under Nasir sword.
He tackled one of the soldiers to the ground, preventing the man from striking at Mira, and Naevia who was huddled in her arms. He quickly got back to his feet, pressing his advantage on the soldier while he could. The soldier was bigger than him though, blocking one of his blows, and striking him across the face. The blow forced him to the ground, and he scrambled to his feet.
Their swords met, and the soldier pushed down on him, forcing him to his knees. He once been able to bring this to his advantage, when he sparred with Agron, but he knew it would do no good now. He tried to push back, but the soldier’s strength far exceeded his own. He hissed as the swords were pressed closer to him. Mira cried out, and stabbed the soldier with her dagger, distracting the guard long enough for him to regain his feet.
He slashed his sword across the soldiers back, drawing blood. The soldier turned back to him, attacking him once again. He brought the hilt of his sword down on Nasirs hand, forcing him to drop his sword. He had no other weapon, than his fists now. The soldier swung through the air, attempting to slice his gut open. Nasir just managed to dodge it by jumping back, and raised his fist, ready to deliver a blow to the soldiers face.
He never got the chance.
The Roman thrust his sword forward, into his chest. He could feel it rip open his skin, tearing his muscles. His entire body screamed, one he could not contain as he cried out in pain. The Roman pulled his sword from him chest, bringing with a small relief before the pain intensified. He couldn’t see anything, everything was white hot. He did not realize that the sword was ready to cleave his head from his body, before Spartacus killed the solider. He screamed as he fell to his knees, his hands pressing at the wound. Mira and Spartacus were at his side almost instantly, catching him before he hit the ground.
“He risked life, to save my own.”
“And I am forever in his debt,” Spartacus said, pride in his voice.
He screamed as the pain wracked his body again. “You were right,” he told Spartacus. “My sword becomes lighter –“ It took all his strength to look at Spartacus. “--With each Roman I have taken.”
The pain wracked his body once more, and he lost his balance. Gasping he fell backward, Spartacus and Mira catching him, and gently lowering him to the forest floor. They pressed their hands over his, trying to slow the flow of blood. A small gasp of pain escaped him.
He knew they had to move soon, and he dreaded the moment, and the pain it would bring. Spartacus and Mira were discussing something, but he heard none of what they said. He was trying to block out everything, so that he wouldn’t feel the pain.
“Nasir,” Spartacus said. He looked at the Thracian. “We have to move, now.” He nodded, but could not contain his cry of pain, as Spartacus and Mira lifted him to his feet. The pressure on his wound was gone, as they pulled his arms over their shoulders. A small arm wrapped around his waist, and supporting his weight. They kept the same pace they had before, and his feet often lost purchase beneath him. Soon they had to slow, to keep Nasir balanced between them.
He could feel something warm dripping down his side. He opened his eyes, and could see the dark stain under his vest. In the back of his mind, he realized that dark stain was his own blood, his life. And it was leaving him.
He struggled to stay conscious, fearing that if he succumbed to it, he would never awaken. He thought of Agron, back to his dreams. He focused what little energy he had on them, knowing they would prevent him from falling to eternal slumber.
Spartacus’ and Miras pace picked up for a moment, before he felt the forest floor underneath him again. His hand instantly went to his wound. The fabric was sticky with blood.
“Drink,” the Thracian ordered. He opened his lips, and cool water trickled into this mouth.
“The boy fought well. Were this wine, to send him properly on his way.” It took a long moment, before his mind understood the gladiator’s words. Everything seemed quieter now. Every ones words were faint, and he struggled to catch them.
“We have settled this.”
“Come to reason. There is more blood upon the ground, than yet within him. Even if we carry him, he will not survive.”
“We cannot just leave him.”
“You will not touch him!”
A fire was quietly crackling next to him, the heat warming his skin.
He could feel pressure on his wound again.
He forced his eyes open. Spartacus was holding his sword in the fire.
He groaned, trying to form words. “What are you doing?”
Spartacus’ voice was soft, “we must close your wound.”
Nasir’s mind slowly put the pieces together. The brand of Batiatus came to him, the one that was on Agrons forearm. “I’m to be branded with fire, as a true gladiator would.”
A reassuring smile from Spartacus, “You’ve earned your place amongst the Brotherhood.” He saw movement to the side. Naevia kneeled next to him.
“Hold him down.”
The pressure over his wound was gone, as Mira placed her full weight against his shoulders. Naevia took Nasir’s hands in his, grasping them quickly. A thick stick was in her hands, and she placed it beneath his teeth. She took his hands again, gripping them tightly.
“Do not cry out.” Spartacus lifted the sword from the fire and with one swift movement placed it to his raw skin.
He whimpered, swallowing his scream. The pain was white hot. He could feel his skin blistering under the scorching sword. He tried to arch away from it, but was held firmly in place by Mira and Naevia. All his thoughts were lost; they were so focused on the searing pain. Every second felt like an eternity. One thought fought through the pain though. Agron. He saw a flash of green eyes, before he could no longer take the pain, succumbing to unconsciousness.
Even after Spartacus had sealed his wound with fire, Nasir could still feel a faint trickle of blood streaming down his side. It had ripped back open. He felt himself propped against a tree and could faintly hear others approaching. “Romans” he thought. But the clash of swords never came. A gentle hand cupped his face and lifted it up. His vision was hazy but he recognized Agron’s green eyes. Seeing those eyes gave him the strength to give a weak smile before he could no longer hold up his head and he fell into unconscious.
Someone was yelling his name. He called back yelling for them. He felt the sting of a whip on his back and he cried out. The Romans grabbed him and threw him in line with the others they had taken. They ordered them to march or die.
He was at the Dominus’s villa. He was just a child, having been bought at the market that afternoon. “You will call me Dominus” he ordered. “What is your name?” He remained silent out of fear. The Dominus stopped circling him, “What is your fucking name?” Nasir still remained silent. “Answer me, you little shit” the Dominus demanded and slapped him, sending Nasir sprawling to the ground. He could taste the blood in his mouth. Dominus demanded an answer again and he found his voice. “Nasir”. Dominus sneered, “A barbaric name. You shall answer to Tiberius now, slave”. Before he could protest, a slave came up behind him and placed a leather collar around his small neck. Even as a child, Nasir knew what the collar around his neck ment. That he was now, and forever, a slave.
“Nasir!” he heard a voice call out. He opened his eyes and he found Agrons green ones staring down at him intently, concern in them. “Try to stay awake little man, I do not wish to see you fall into the afterlife.” Nasir managed a smile and a nod. “They will not have me.”
His response drew a small smile from Agron. Agron dipped a cloth into a bowl of water and laid it on his forehead. The coolness felt good on his burning skin. Only then did Nasir become aware of how parched his throat was. “Water” he mumbled. Agron quickly kneeled behind him and gently raised Nasir up enough so he might drink from a jug. After drinking his fill Agron laid Nasirs head in his lap and bathed his forehead with cool water. Nasir fought to stay awake, so he might cherish the touch a little longer, but eventually he succumbed to his fevered dreams.
“And how do you suppose we train this wild little dog?” Agron asked Spartacus. Nasir looked defiantly at them as they decided his fate. The next day he trained in the hot sun with Spartacus and the other gladiators. Accepting every challenge they threw at him, he was determined to prove he was no weakling.
When night approached he sat by himself against a pillar, none of the slaves from the villa dared to approach him. He glared at Spartacus across the room.
“You press fortune, glaring so at the slayer of Theokoles,” said a voice above him.
“His victory but proven that even giants fall.” Agron offered him a cup of wine, which he accepted.
“What name do you go by little man? So I may properly mourn your passing?”
“I’m called Tiberius.”
“Tiberius? You are far too dark to have such a fair Roman name.”
“I’m more Roman than Syrian.”
Agron looked up distantly “There was a Syrian at our ludus. Treacherous fuck if ever there breathed.” Nasir remained silent at that, he knew what Agron was implying. “Do you have family there?” Agron asked.
His question startled Nasir for a moment. No one had ever asked him before. “I only recall a brother”
“I to had a brother,” replied Agron.
“He was struck down by the Romans.”
“When you turned swords against them?” Agron looked at him, anger in his eyes, “as you shall one day, if you hold any fucking sense”, and he stormed away.
Nasir groaned as pain shot up his side. He opened his eyes and found himself being lifted by Agron. “Easy little man” Agron told him. Nasir gritted his teeth and focused on the leather cords hanging around Agrons neck. Agron walked toward a makeshift litter, one of the spare blankets lashed between it. He gently lowered Nasir onto it. The Syrian let out a shaking breath that he had been holding in. Agron noticed and reassured him “We shall arive at the mountain by the time the day is done”. Nasir nodded, his arm circling his side where his wound was. Someone had bandaged his side, Agron he assumed. He doubted Agron would have let anyone else do it. Mira appeared. She gave Nasir a reassuring smile, and then looked at Agron. “Spartacus is ready.” Agron nodded and she left for the front of the group. Agron’s green eyes found Nasir’s brown ones again, brushing the hair away that covered Nasir’s face with a small grin, and was gone. Two of the gladiators lifted the litter and he gritted his teeth again as pain shot up his side. Nasir closed his eyes and returned to his dreams.
“Nasir.” Everyone looked at him, while he only looked at Agron, “My brother called me Nasir.” His gaze was fixed on Agrons, waiting for his reply. It seemed an eternity, but Agron nodded in acceptance.
Nasir avoided Agron’s eyes. He had betrayed there secret and told the Gaul that Naevia still lived. “I move for Vesuvius” Agron said, “those who would live, join me” and he stormed from the courtyard. Nasir followed him. Agron yelled orders at the others to prepare to leave, while Nasir waited. Eventually the room emptied. Agron would not turn to look at him. “I had to tell Crixus” Nasir said quietly. “You risk us all to ruin by doing so” Agron replied, anger in his voice. Nasir came to stand next to him. “Naevia is his heart, and I would not see him parted from it while she still draws breath.” Agron sighed and then a small laugh escaped his lips. “I suppose this is what separates you from the Syrian from our ludus. You have a heart, while he held none.”
Nasir’s eyes fluttered open and took in the room around. Above him was a crumbling ceiling, a few candles burned in the corner. He groaned as he sat up, his side stiff and sore. He looked for Agron, but the he was alone. He could hear faint voices drifting down the hall. He stood, his legs trembling, and followed the voices.
He caught the end of Naevia and Spartacus’s conversation, and immediately called out “Where do we go?”
“Nasir!” His eyes quickly met those of the Germans, who had been standing behind Spartacus. Agron ran forward and took Nasirs face in one of his hands. He smiled before turning back to Spartacus, “Give me a sword, I will join you.”
Spartacus chucked. “I would have you rest yet a while longer.” Nasir was ready to protest, insist that he could go, but Agrons hand turned Nasir’s face to look at him, his green eyes commanding his attention. “This time you stay, and I go.” Nasir nodded.
Suddenly Agron’s lips met his, and any thoughts of arguing were gone. He was lost in the kiss. It was everything he had dreamed it would be. The gladiator’s lips were surprisingly soft against his. The kiss ended all too soon. Agron and Nasir eyes were fixed on each other, and a smile overtook his face.
There reunion was brief, as Spartacus called them to attention. Agron went to stand beside Spartacus, and Naevia quickly came to his side. He leaned heavily on her, his legs were weak and he felt as if he might fall without her there.
Spartacus told the others around them of their plan to liberate Crixus and the others from the arena in Capua. Nasir glanced at Agron. Their mission was dangerous, and he feared they would fail. After, Agron shouldered a pack, and glanced back at Nasir. Agron grinned at him, and Nasir could not help but grin back, despite his fear. He watched as Agron and Spartacus led the others out of the temple, and soon the darkness swallowed them. All Nasir could do now was wait, and hope to see those green eyes once again.