EXCERPT FROM CENTURION
Inspired by this picture.
Trembling with tension and uncertainty about his fate, Salicar huddled on the floor of the tent. A few warm wool blankets helped ward off the chill of the earth. Still he shivered in the evening air, cold and naked. Though he could smell woodsmoke and hear the crackling of a fire outside, inside there was no flame to warm him. His muscles ached from hours of unaccustomed walking that left his feet blistered and torn.
He’d been separated from the other villagers almost as soon as they’d set up camp, and brought to this place where he’d been handed a cloth and flagons of olive oil and water and instructed in feeble, halting Greek to bath himself. His tattered dusty tunic had been taken away, and he’d been left there alone for hours. If it hadn’t been for the constant stream of voices outside, frequently punctuated by the centurion’s deep, honey dark authoritative tones, he’d have risked slipping out and escaping.
His hands were bound by a thin but strong metal chain, but he wasn’t tethered to any object. He had just enough fortitude to know that his life was at risk, and not enough to take himself out of the situation. He should have preferred death to slavery, but he couldn’t bring himself to take advantage of his solitude to find something to make it happen. A dagger, an herb, even a stout rope could achieve his end, if he only had the courage.
Though this tent was hardly luxurious, it was larger and more opulent than the others, and he had the impression it belonged to the centurion who’d eyed him with such intent interest earlier. He’d been so stunned by the man’s pure masculine presence that he’d forgotten to speak in the man’s language when he answered his query.
It was possible, he supposed, that he was here because the centurion understood Greek and was in need of a healer, but he had a suspicion from the heated gleam in the man’s eye that he was more interested in a catamite than a doctor. Would he rather die than be the centurion’s pleasure slave?
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