Out Of The Lion's MouthbyMaxSebastian©
When they came to the limits of the City of the Seven Hills, she came to a halt by the side of the Via Appia. The others in the group stopped as well, drawing together in a small huddle behind her. Anthony, the oldest of them, was quietly explaining to them why she had stopped, why she looked upon the Eternal City with such trepidation.
"Before she was with us, you see," he was saying to them, "Lydia was in the Colosseum. She was a Christian before it was allowed in the Empire. They put her in a prison in the bowels of the Colosseum and they were going to feed her to the lions. That is why she has stopped, I've no doubt. She has some long-standing fears about the place."
But he was wrong, Anthony was wrong. She was not afraid, she had no reason to be afraid now. Christianity was no longer considered a threat to the power of Rome, it was tolerated by the authorities. There were deep-seated memories within her, though, revulsion mixing with horror, and the memories of fear. Just the memories. The strong feeling within her now was that of guilt.
Because she had survived.
Many Romans believed in Fate, they believed that life had already been pre-ordained, that no matter what you did or where you went, it was already written in the stars. Now that she was looking upon his face again, it was tempting to believe that. But there was no Fate. God granted Adam and Eve free will, to do as they wished, to go as they pleased, unrestricted by the boundaries of Fate.
But the Lord God Almighty did influence life from time to time.
"We're a group of travelling actors," Anthony was saying to him, the grey-haired manager of the guesthouse. "We're in Rome for only a couple of weeks."
When she had paused at the edge of the city, looking upon it for the very first time since her escape, had she sensed him then? She had certainly remembered him - ever since she'd last seen him, she'd never stopped thinking about him. But how in Heaven's name had they now come to be in this guesthouse, out of all of them in Rome, how were they here?
"You can have the first floor," he was saying back to Anthony, and merely the sound of his voice sent shivers down her spine. "Though one of you will have to take a room on the ground floor, I'm afraid."
What chance that they come to be here? Why had the Lord brought her to this place? Was it a reward or a punishment? Was she supposed to be here to regain what she'd lost or to remember the pain and feel guilt?
He did not notice her - why should he? It was ten years on, and she was almost completely covered in her shawl. But also, he did not look at his guests. He looked briefly at Anthony while he paid and announced the group's plans that we obviously of no interest to the handsome, aging guesthouse manager.
Marcus. The years had not flushed out his striking looks, though they had greyed his hair slightly and lined his face here and there. It had only been ten years, mark you, but though ten years seemed to have been kind to his appearance, it had not been kind to his career.
"Who is going on the ground floor?" he asked.
"I will," she said, for no other reason than to test him, to see if he recognised her voice.
He didn't. It had been ten years. "Go through there, miss, and turn right. You'll see the room at the end of the corridor - number seven."
She looked at him, her body torn by confusion - did she want him to recognise her or not? Because blended in with the good memories, there was much pain. She had joined this troupe of wandering actors as a way to get away from it all - the acting of all the wild and wonderful bible stories allowed her to escape the past. But now it had brought her back here, back to him.
The pang of guilt was strong inside her, but also now, as she looked upon his face, she felt the clear tingle of desire flowing through her veins and aching deep within her vagina.
"Good night," Anthony said, and the others wished her a pleasant evening as well, their smiles kindly yet full of pity, for none of them had ever really been persecuted for their faith, they did not know what it had been like.
"Good night," she said back to them, a fragile smile trying to reassure them that she would be all right.
Marcus didn't notice her. Or at least, he didn't seem to notice her. Ten years ago he'd noticed her.
It had been dark when they'd been brought to the enormous round building at the heart of the city, night fall kept the show closed until the morning. But still, somehow, the smell of death hung heavy in the air.
There were twenty of them in that group, all of them captured from the other side of the Tiber when their secret church had been raided by the authorities because the landlord had grown tired of receiving his rent late. Why was it that the odious man had turned a blind eye to their gatherings only so long as their money was free-flowing? But they would not hate him for it: they would pray for him, pray for his soul. That was what the Lord Jesus would have done.
"Strip," that had been the first word she'd heard from his mouth.
Their chains were removed, but none of them even thought about escaping. There were just too many guards around. Besides, they were all to be martyrs. They knew when they were captured that it would be this way. It was the risk they had taken in pledging allegiance to the true faith.
"Put all your things over there in a pile."
She'd been with these people for five years or so now, praising God in secret since she had slipped out of her father's house when she was fifteen with a boyfriend who had seen the light. The boyfriend was now long-gone, but she was still with this group. It seemed odd to be stripping in front of them, though. They had never been that intimate, these Christians. They had always preached modesty and self-control. Leave the orgies to the heathens, let them burn in hell.
But now they were under the yoke, they had to do as they were told. She pulled off her clothes as the others did, and stood there in the darkened hallways, the flickering orange light of the torches coating her naked skin as she stood there among the others.
There were six guards, standing around the edge of the room, and all of their eyes were ogling their nude prisoners, lust and amusement dancing through their faces. The Chief of the Guards, though, he walked among them, casting his eyes over the various naked forms, over breasts and stomachs, bottoms and thighs, cocks and mounds.
He stopped in front of Flavia - a girl a couple of years younger even than her - and his hand ran his hand delicately over her small breasts and down to the triangle of dark hairs between her thighs. There was no lust in his eyes: they were the picture of reserve and self-control. There was some degree of cruelty there, though, she thought. But then, was it him or the job that was cruel?
"What is your name?" he asked.
"Fl...Fl-Flavia," the poor girl answered, and Lydia saw the thin trickle of gold running down her thigh. Poor Flavia. Like a frightened rabbit.
The Head of the Guards took a step back from the pool of her urine, a slight frown on his face from the reaction of his prisoner to the overriding fear of what was to happen to them.
"Go and stand over there," he said to her, apparently unmoved by her accident.
He wondered along the lines of naked Christians once again, and they were all wondering why Flavia had been separated from the group. Lydia suspected it was because she was young, pretty and female. Perhaps there was a special program for feeding pretty girls to the lions. Perhaps they were saved until the Emperor himself was in attendance.
Lions. That was one thing she should not be thinking of. For someone climbing a steep-sided mountain, they should not look down. For a Christian waiting to be martyred by their Roman captors, they should not think of the jaws of a lion.
If it was young, pretty and female, as Lydia suspected, he would shortly be telling her to head over to where Flavia was standing, for Lydia herself had only just passed the two-decade mark.
He passed by, and did not stop, and Lydia wondered what he was doing. He had seen her, she had seen his eye admiring her slender figure, but he moved to the back of the group, now, where the two twins were standing.
"Go over there," he said to them, "with her."
The guards around the room were chuckling quietly, their heathen grins so full of lust. Perhaps the guards would rape them before throwing them to the lions. Perhaps that was why they were being creamed off the top.
Two more young ones - boys, this time - had also leaked onto the floor through fear. It seemed inhuman that these monsters should throw young ones to the lions. But then they saw Christians as being sub-human.
There were no more girls under the age of thirty left except Lydia now. He came to stand in front of her again, and she flinched as he put a hand to her cheek - but he did not hit her. He caressed her cheek. Then she felt his soft fingers trailing down her neck and over to sweep through the valley between her breasts, then down past her stomach to her pubic mound.
"What is your name?" he asked, one of his fingers touching her now, between her legs.
She did not answer, but now blushed as she realised that her vagina was moist as he gently dipped his finger inside her.
"What is your name?" he asked her again, an inch of his finger now within her body.
She spat in his face, showing her contempt for him and his allegiance to the corrupt heathen power. Her body trembled with fear - why had she done that? All he had asked was her name. What was she trying to prove? Was she trying to show herself that she wasn't frightened? Well, she was frightened. She had never been more frightened in her life. She was a Roman citizen, the daughter of a prominent doctor. And she was going to be executed like a common murderer.
Polonius, who had often led their services in the secret church gave her a look that warned her not to be angry, a look that reminded her that they were taught to turn the other cheek, whatever was being done to them. They had to stand up for what they believed, but violence and anger was not to be in their arsenal.
The Head of the Guards wiped his face calmly with a sleeve. She thought he might hit her, now, but he didn't.
"Tell me your name," he asked again, and she was surprised by his patience.
"Lydia," she answered this time, looking into his eyes. Nice eyes. The eyes of a loving husband. How could he throw human beings to the lions?
"Lydia," he said, nodding slightly. He withdrew his finger from between her legs - she felt it sliding out of her, and to her horror, she felt a strong need for him to put it back, to go on touching her, to fill her vagina completely. The Devil took many forms, even the Lord Jesus faced temptation. She had to resist.
He held his finger up, and it glistened with her juices. She blushed, though the orange light hid the new shade of her cheeks. Now he put the finger to his lips, and tasted her.
"You have spirit," he said, withdrawing it from his mouth after savouring her flavour. "I like that."
"Lydia - are you all right?" It was Anthony, his voice coming through the door of her room.
She found that she had tears running down her face - tears from remembering how the rest of her church group had been led away leaving the four desirable girls there naked and afraid. Tears from remembering that that had been the last any of those girls had seen of the rest of their church group. They had been eaten alive by wild animals in front of an audience of thousands of blood-thirsty heathens.
He was knocking on her door, but she didn't want him to come in. Didn't want him to see the tears. What could he know? He had always practised his faith at the far edge of the Empire, where it had always been comparatively safe to harbour non-Roman beliefs.
She had to let him in, though, she knew that. She wiped her tears away gently, trying not to redden her eyes any more than they were already, and she went to the door.
"We can leave," he was saying as he sat on her bed. "We can leave tomorrow if you want. I thought it might be a mistake coming here. We can go somewhere else. There are other cities, other places where we can put on our plays."
"No, Anthony," she said, pacing slowly around the small room. "I said we should come here, and I wasn't wrong. It is painful to me, but I have to face this."
"None of us have been through what you've been through," he said, "we can't imagine what it must have been like waiting to die."
"No," she said. Inside, she was remembering what had happened, though. When the four of them had been taken away to the guardhouse, Lydia had felt deep inside herself that she would not be dying any time soon. No, she had never really been waiting to die after she'd been taken to the guardhouse. Or if she had, she had not thought of it that way. She couldn't tell Anthony that, though. The guilt within her was so strong, but she could not tell him. It would be like confessing to treachery.
"And when that guard raped you..." Anthony was finding it hard to talk about - that was clear. "...We can't know how horrible..."
But he didn't rape me, she wanted to say but couldn't. I wanted him to touch me, I wanted him to take me. That was the worst thing. That was what taunted her soul.
Flavia and the twins were taken to another part of the guardhouse by those six lustful guards. But she was not. Lydia went with the Head of the Guards, to a section of the guardhouse cut off from the rest like a small apartment.
The rags she'd been given to cover herself now her finery had been stripped away chafed against her skin so that as she walked, she kept having to pull it away from the sore parts of her body. But that wasn't the only reason why she wanted to rip the garment off herself.
Was this temptation she was feeling? How cruel the Devil was that he should tempt her in this way. How cruel. What was this man going to tell her to do, now she was in his private sanctuary? Because if he forced her... that wasn't temptation, surely? The Devil could not do that, surely? When Jesus was in the desert, the Devil offered Him sustenance, but did not force food down His throat.
"I am Marcus," he said as they came to his bedroom and he sat down in front of her on the bed.
"What are you going to do with me?" she asked.
"I can do whatever I like with you," he answered, but she did not see the rigid self-control relax in his face. "You are dead," he said, chilling her to the bone. "You have already been passed into the gut of a lion like your friends."
She felt sick.
"I merely follow orders, you understand," he said, "it isn't me that has decided this fate for Christians like you. It is the law, and I am paid to carry out the law."
She said nothing. If he was going to force her, at least she would attempt to show him that she found no pleasure with him. She would do her best not to take pleasure from it, too, and to deny him as much pleasure as she could. Perhaps she could bite him...
"But here we both are - you are dead, and I am not. So..." he said. "The end of a long day. Much work to do tomorrow."
She remembered the look Polonius had given her that last time before he'd been led away to the cells. Her stomach was wrenched within her as she realised that that had been the last time she would ever see the man, that he was going to be released into an arena and left to wonder over the bloody sand until the teeth of a mighty beast tore into him. That look he had given her, though. Love Thy Neighbour. The most important of all the Lord Jesus' teachings.
She would not be biting Marcus. But it was so confusing now. How could she resist the temptation and yet love him as he forced himself upon her?
"Strip," he said again, and she did so, stepping out of the garment yet leaving it on the floor. "Mmm..." he said, "you are a beautiful girl, Lydia. Dance for me."
She did as he demanded, moving her body to some imaginary music, twirling around to do her best to please him. After the sheer concentrated terror that had flowed through her veins not so long ago, the relieve of knowing that she was not to be killed immediately was like some blissful drug. Her senses seemed to be heightened now, as though the reprieve had made her value what she was sensing that much more.
And being naked in front of him excited her. Bending and stretching before him, she felt that exquisite tickle inside her, knowing that his eyes were feasting on her body, and as she danced, her nipples stiffened and her vagina moistened.
"Enough," he said after a long while, once Lydia began to feel her juices trickling down her thigh. "I have my final round to do."
He stood up next to her motionless body, and she felt his hand enclose one of her breasts. The heat of connection was wonderful, and made her tremble quite helplessly. Then she felt him sweep that hand down her body again, and at last, his finger dipped inside her once more. But he did not keep it there long. She could feel his breath upon her now, and she resisted the need to launch herself upon him, to kiss him and pull both his hands to her body.
He brought his finger back to his lips and tasted her for a second time.
"Later," he said before he slipped out of the door. Just one word, but it made her tingle all over.
Anthony was gone now, thankfully. He was a good man, but he knew nothing. He was so naive about life, despite his many years. A nice person to work with, but a little annoying to be around when she was feeling down.
Why was she feeling down? She was free now - she'd been free for years now. Christians were no longer rounded up and put to death. She felt guilt, of course, but she'd become used to that over the years.
It was him. It was seeing him again after all these years. Marcus, beautiful Marcus. His face so stern yet the kindness showing through. How he had got into the most cruel vocation imaginable was beyond her, but now here he was again - only this time, a guesthouse manager, not an organiser of executions.
It wasn't that the memories of being under threat of death were painful to her - they were, but that pain had passed with time. What pained her had been leaving him. What pained her was the ten years it had now been since she had been with him. Ten years since he had given her a smile, ten years since he had laid a hand on her, ten years since he had kissed her and pressed his hot mouth between her thighs. Ten years since he had filled her with his powerful cock.
Ten years, she had left Rome, ignored the family that now assumed she was dead, fled to the far corners of the Empire to stumble upon a career on the road, travelling from place to place to bring The Word to the unenlightened. She'd seen so many different places, had such wonderful times. But ever since she had left his side, the world seemed paler and less vibrant. The colours were somehow duller, the sounds quieter, the smells fainter, the food blander, the sensations tedious and unmemorable.
She lay back now in the bed, watching the shadows flickering on the walls from the pale light of the candle on her bedside table. Now he was there again, under the very same roof with her. What incredible chance. Had he recognised her? Did he even remember her? Was he still unmarried? Was this God rewarding her for the efforts she had gone through to spread The Word - or was it him punishing her for escaping martyrdom. Was He teasing her by keeping heavenly Marcus close to her yet forever out of reach?
That first night, when he had come back, she had fought with her inner voices. Half of her was telling her to resist. The other half of her was telling her to be kind to him, to Love Thy Neighbour. Which was the more Christian? To resist him totally would mean to hurt him. To love him meant giving into temptation. Even after five years, her faith was still so confusing.