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Ties That Bind
By
bad_mann_ers

Ties That Bind

Sometimes history isn't as ancient as you think.
Marcus Avilius looked up from the scroll he was deciphering when the woman walked into the room. It was tedious work pulling the hidden messages from the benign looking scrolls, and the fact that the messages were routine status reports made it all the more droll. He probably should have taken a break hours ago, but duty pushed him to finish the work. He certainly did not need the distraction that the woman would likely cause.

The woman walked to him without a word. With a knowing smile, her body shifted and her robes fell to the floor. As it always had, the sight of her naked body took his breath away. Her eyes held his as she forced him to turn from the desk. She settled to the floor between his legs. Marcus wanted to tell her to stop, but as she opened his toga and slipped the knot of his loin cloth, his protest went unspoken.

So many times she had determined his needs before he had considered them himself. She had obviously made arrangements with the household staff to ensure they were not disturbed. He surrendered to the luxury that her status afforded them. It had not always been this way.

---

Marcus had been a youth living in a coastal town well north of Rome when Emperor Nero died. His father was a retired Centurion who cared deeply about the Empire. Marcus and his brothers had been placed in rigorous training at an early age to have both the education and training needed to join the ranks of the elite.

Two of his brothers had died in the civil unrest that followed the death of Nero. As the Empire found stability again, his remaining brother had taken to politics while Marcus pursued a military career. Marcus had quickly risen in rank, and had become a Centurion like his father.

Events had turned against Marcus shortly after achieving that rank. His father and brother had arranged for his marriage to a senator's lesser daughter. She had allowed him to father two children, but her political aspirations required that he find a way to distinguish himself above his peers.

To meet her expectations, he had managed to get promoted as a junior Tribune in a force that was attending the needs in the northern reaches of the Empire. He suspected that the promotion did not please her as much as the fact that he would be gone for three to five years, and that there was a chance he might suffer a glorious death for the Empire. She almost got her wish, a couple of times.

---

The woman before him paused for a moment. With the lightest of touch, she traced a faint white line on his skin above his hip. In an act that had nearly become a ritual between them, she whispered a quiet prayer, and then gently pressed her lips to the scar. She had not always been so good to him.

---

Even as a Tribune, the life of a soldier was hectic. He had been stationed in a port city in Gaul, with trade routes to Britain. He was one of six men responsible for six thousand soldiers that kept the peace within the province. Most of his time was spent in charge of the operations of the port.

Marcus had been summoned to the port late one evening because a trader had been caught trying to smuggle slaves through the port. Marcus never understood why traders would risk so much to save a few golds in tariffs. The trader had been summarily executed. The slaves became property of the Legate and were to be catalogued and sent to Rome.

Perhaps Marcus had been reading too many works of the Stoics in Greece. They taught that all life had value. Marcus applied this teaching to the way he handled subordinates and the populous. He felt it should apply in the way that people treated slaves as well.

These slaves were bound in heavy chains and were obviously poorly fed. Marcus ordered that the chains be removed, and that proper food and wash facilities be found for the slaves. Most of the slaves were surprised at his orders. A small group saw this action as weakness and attempted an escape.

One of the men called out something in a language that Marcus did not understand. That man and two others tried to attack the soldiers that were removing the chains. A woman said something harsh to the men in their own language. The words replied from the men were even more harsh. The men tried to grab the woman and flee, even as soldiers moved to intercept them. The woman resisted.

Marcus stepped forward and killed the man that was holding the woman's wrist. In utter surprise and fright, the woman turned towards Marcus. Somehow, she held a small crafting knife and the blade found its way through armor and padding to bite into his hip. She was more shocked than he was, but she simply fell to her knees to wait for the killing stroke of his sword.

A man does not achieve higher ranks unless he can control his emotions. Marcus checked his anger.

"Why do you wait?" the woman demanded. "We all know the punishment for attacking soldiers." Her accept was thick, but understandable.

"You speak our language," he said calmly, "and you spoke to those men in a language I did not recognize. How many tongues do you speak?"

Her eyes grew wide, but she did not look up at him. Her eyes cast around as if the stones on the ground might guide her words.

"I know some of your language, but I am better versed in the words of Britain," she answered softly. "I have some skill with the words of Gaul, but I was raised in the lands of Norse."

"I have need of your skills," he pronounced. "You will remain here as a slave in my retinue. You will attend me every day to help in the port."

A subordinate led the woman away while Marcus turned his attention to dealing with the rest of the slaves and the trader's goods.

Several hours later, Marcus had returned to the small private residence he maintained as a Tribune. He found the woman waiting for him in his bedroom.

"Why are you here?" he asked tersely. He was not looking forward to tending the wound she had given him. He knew simple scratches could be deadly, but he had carefully hidden the pain and injury from his subordinates so they would not judge him weak.

The woman moved to stand before him. "I know why you have taken me into your household," she said softly. "I beg that you be gentle, and that you not force me or make me lie with others. If you allow this, I will submit to you when you please. If not, I promise you I will not see the sun rise again."

With an exaggerated shrug, her loose tunic fell to the floor. Marcus gasped at her nakedness. Her skin was hideously mottled with unnatural discoloration. The trader's chains had cut the skin of her neck. The thought of touching the woman repulsed him.

Marcus was too exhausted and in too much pain to deal with her. Knowing that she would keep silent about the injury, he ordered her to put the tunic back on and to attend his wounds. She gasped as he peeled open his leather armor to reveal the blood stained cloth beneath.

---

The woman between his legs carefully wrapped her hands around his growing shaft. The warmth of her breath teased across the skin. Her lips pressed to the heated flesh, and her tongue teased out to taste him. She caressed his cock with such passion that he wondered for the thousandth time if she worshipped it. She had not always made him feel this way.

---

The woman had understood his need to conceal any weakness. She personally tended to the wound at his hip until it healed. As he had ordered, she also attended him as a translator as he dealt with the Empire's business in the port. Thankfully, she did not repeat her offer from that first night.

Several weeks had passed before he noticed that something had changed with her. He was pleased that she had quickly picked up the routine of inspecting the ships and talking with the shipmasters about their cargo. He noticed that her presence made negotiations easier, even with the toughest captains.

A ship of Norse traders arrived one day, and he couldn't help but compare their fair hair to her coarse mousey brown hair. He was rather surprised when he turned to her and saw that her hair looked nothing at all as he had recalled it. It was a pleasing hue of dark honey, with dark traces of autumn leaves in its depths. Rather than looking coarse and unrefined, it looked smooth and silky. He almost wanted to run his fingers through it, and he struggled to push his mind back to the business at hand.

He almost succeeded. His eyes betrayed him as he noticed another detail. At first, she had worn high collared shirts to hide the scars from the chains at her neck. The collar of her shirt that day was loose, and he could see that the scars had just been chaffed skin. The line from her collar to her chin looked impossibly smooth. He tore his eyes away and steeled himself to the business at hand.

That evening, she unexpectedly came to his room.

Before he could speak, she said, "I saw how you looked at me today. I am pleased that you have employed me as you promised, but I know I will be required to attend to this as well. I expect that you recall my terms."

As she spoke, she unfastened her tunic and it fell to the floor. Once again, Marcus gasped at her nakedness. By some means of magic, her skin was pale and flawless. Raw desire shot through his veins, as the need to touch and take pleasure from this woman filled his body.

"How is this possible?" he asked with trembling voice. He was almost afraid to touch her.

"Have I done something wrong?" she asked in quiet fear.

"Your skin is so beautiful now," he marveled.

"The trader wanted it stained before," she said. "He hoped to keep my northern lineage secret and get a better price closer to Rome."

With the lightest of touch, Marcus caressed from her ear to her shoulder.

"You will see the sun again," was the promise he gave her.

---

Marcus teased his fingers through the hair of the woman between his legs. Sometimes the sun brought out lighter honey tones in it, but it remained as soft as it had been that first time. She moaned her pleasure at his touch and the sound reverberated around his cock. He could hear the sound of her fingers as she strummed to find her own pleasure at the same time.

Suddenly he was filled with the desire to give her pleasure equal to the pleasure she was giving him. He knew that she was happy enough to finish his pleasure with her mouth, but this time he wanted more. He gently pushed her away and leaned down to kiss her. As they kissed, he gathered her in his arms and pulled her body up to his.

She knew what he wanted, and she quickly straddled his body. With a deft touch, she guided his sword into her sheath and settled onto it. A tremor of pleasure teased through her body at the thrill of having him fill her so completely.

She let her attention fall on a scar across his collar bone. She traced her thumb across it but then quickly pressed her lips to his. As their lips parted, and the kiss deepened, she began to roll her hips. She had not always been so eager to be with him.

---

Marcus was not unfamiliar with sex. There were women who practically threw themselves at young soldiers, and he was neither the first nor the last soldier to take advantage of them. His wife had allowed enough couplings to beget two children. In this remote part of the empire, he tried to set a good example to his subordinates, so he used prostitutes sparingly and showed them respect.

Never had he felt the desire that he felt with her. Her skin, her hair, her lips, all of her beckoned to him, begging him to be gentle. Though his body demanded that he ravage her, his lust demanded that he take his time and touch and taste every bit of her.

She stiffly submitted to his touch, perhaps fearing what he would take. His hands and lips touched every inch of her. Her body was trembling with desire long before he entered her. She had gasped aloud as he pressed in deep, and he felt her body tense up and release just as he filled her with his own release. Afterwards, he wanted to keep touching her, to hold her, to run his fingers through her hair. She had stiffly waited beside him and endured his attentions.

After a long while, she had quietly asked permission to clean up. She had returned to clean him as well, which she had done tenderly, but with a cool separation. He could not put words to a request or demand that she stay with him that night, and she had returned to the slave quarters as she always did.

In the weeks and months that followed, he knew that he could have ordered her to do anything, and she would have complied. He never found the words to make that demand. Instead, she would come to him every so often, and submit to his touch.

She would not submit to his every desire. She seemed overly concerned about the nearly invisible marks the chains had left on her neck. She always wore a scarf or a strip of leather under her collar to cover them up. He felt that she was subconsciously marking her slave status, and asked her to stop. She said she would stop only if he ordered her to do so. He could not say the words.

He found a new desire in his life. He found something magical and inspiring in using the gentlest of touches to push her body until she lost control. On the nights that she came to him, he would tease her body to a trembling completion several times before he pressed his flesh inside of hers. He found great pleasure in pacing himself and making her tremble over and over until he could no longer hold back. She would always submit to allow his touch, but she always returned to the slave quarters afterwards.

---

Time passed, as it always does, and before long, he received orders to return to Rome. He was not sure how he would make it happen, but the woman, who was technically property of the Magistrate, was going to go with him. He did not discuss this with her, or really anyone, as he looked for a way to make it happen. He had less than a week to find a solution, with nothing in sight, when one was handed to him.

She had come to him, as she often did. She had coolly bared her skin, and sprawled on the bed to accept his attention. He had not yet entered her body when the door to the room had been kicked open. The senior tribune had strutted in with three armed soldiers.

"So, this is the fair skinned treasure the men had talked of," the other tribune sneered. "I will transfer her to my retinue tonight. She comes to me now," he commanded.

"I will not allow that," Marcus had replied. "Her skills with language and her knowledge of the ways of other cultures will be better employed in Rome."

"Your desire for her skills in bed has made you blind," the other tribune laughed. "I will have her tonight." To the soldiers he said, "Take her to my quarters."

"She remains here under my protection," Marcus insisted. "I will not allow you to take her anywhere."

"She has made you blind," the other tribune stated. Drawing his own sword, he said, "We are four sharp swords to your limp dagger. We are taking her, now."

Marcus seemed to stand frozen in fury as two of the soldiers pushed past him to take her. It was a ruse. As the soldiers passed, he lunged, grappled, and turned. With a soldier's sword in hand, he turned half way to the other tribune.

"Take your men and leave," he commanded.

"You are a dead man," the other sneered.

The way that human perception of time can change had never ceased to amaze Marcus. He knew that he had to disable the armed man behind him before he could face the two swords before him. It seemed to take forever to dispatch the soldier. It only took two cuts before his skill outmatched the other blade. Marcus feared that he had taken one cut too many as he pulled the blade free and turned.

He was actually saved by the man whose sword he was using. That man had chosen to tackle Marcus as he turned, but Marcus had sensed his attack and had turned the man's body onto the other Tribune's sword. As the Tribune had struggled to pull his sword free, Marcus had dispatched the remaining soldier.

"Drop that sword, and I will ensure that she only serves me," the Tribune offered.

"She resides under my protection," Marcus replied. "No man shall harm her while I live."

"As you wish," the other man sneered as he attacked.

Although the Tribune had more skill with the sword than the three dead soldiers, he was no match for Marcus. On the other hand, his skin was well protected behind leather armor, while Marcus's skin was bare. Marcus also knew that he was going to have to end the fight before other soldiers arrived to assist the senior Tribune. With a dangerous attack, Marcus ran his sword through the other man. Without a word, the other man pulled out a dagger, thrust it into Marcus' shoulder, and died.

---

A deep sense of well-being filled Marcus as he moved with the woman on his lap. He loved the moment that her motive changed. She had come to distract him with pleasure, to ease his tension. He had accepted the distraction, but had turned it against her. With two kisses, he had turned her to lustfully and greedily seeking her own pleasure.

He still had good strength in his right arm. He let her feel the strength in his hand as he palmed her ass and forced her down onto his shaft. His weaker left hand pinched her nipple, and she cried out as her body raced out of control. He knew he had her right where he wanted her. He was going to tease her and please her over and over until she could take no more.

She growled and caught his eyes with her own. The fires of lust were burning brightly as she started to swivel her hips in a new direction. With a mischievous smile, she took control. Marcus surrendered to the fires, and suddenly he was filling her with his seed. She threw her head back as waves of pleasure carried her to completion as well. Her lips found his, and they both surrendered to the pleasures they had created.

---

Mors is a cruel god, bringing the coldness of death. Marcus had seen men die from the tiniest of scratches. His life's blood poured from the wound on his shoulder, and his arm hung lifeless at his side. He knew his time had come. Too late, soldiers from his own command arrived.

"The chief tribune has attacked me in my own apartments, and I fear I have not long to live. Bring me a witness," he commanded.

"Bring the physician," the soldiers yelled.

Time raced by as no one appeared, and the darkness crept in closer. Marcus wondered if he would manage to live long enough to give his dying orders.

The magistrate's witness appeared with the medic on his heels.

"Listen," Marcus called to the witness. The medic pushed forward to attend his shoulder.

"I know my time has ended," Marcus stated. "It is my will that this slave woman be made free. I grant her this freedom not for the pleasures I have taken from her, but for the service she has given the Empire. Her ability to speak to the traders in their own language has greatly benefited the Empire, and she is now free."

Marcus made one last effort to see that the witness had marked his words. He wished he could see her face one last time, but the darkness swallowed him, and he let out his final breath.

---

Mors is a cruel god, sparing some while others must die. Marcus never realized how cruel Death could be until he opened his eyes in the afterlife, and saw that she was there with him. He struggled to voice his objection. She gently kissed his brow, and told him he needed to rest. She gave him a cool drink, and the darkness took him again.

Several times, Marcus woke in the afterlife, and she sent him back into the darkness. It took him far too long to realize that Pluto, the god of the underworld, had turned him away.

Living is its own challenge. It does not come without rewards.

Marcus was made senior Tribune. He was cleared of any charges because he had been attacked in his own rooms. With no one to replace him, it was likely he would remain in the northern province for an additional ten years.

Upon hearing reports of his death, Marcus' wife had divorced him and married his brother. After hearing the tragic news of his recovery, she had petitioned the Emperor Domitian to allow the divorce. She argued that it would be a hardship for any woman to be married to a man who had faced death. The Emperor agreed.

The slave woman did not seem to care. She had stayed with him as he healed, often seeming to stand guard over him as he dealt with the business of the province. Every night, after tending his wound, she slept at his side.

That wound had barely begun to heal, and his arm was almost too weak to move, the first time that she made love to him. She had changed the dressings on the wound, and had slid into bed beside him when she noticed that he was not falling asleep as he should have. She quickly discovered that her presence beside him had had the opposite effect of relaxing him. Her hand gently caressed his hardened member.

"You are a free woman now," he said softly. "I cannot ask this of you."

"You nearly gave your life to defend me," she answered. "I will have no other."

"My body burns with need, but I am weak," he barely whispered.

"You have given me so much," she replied. "Let me give to you."

She had taken him slowly, gently. Afterwards, she had slept beside him, and then she took him again before the sun came up.

In the years that followed, she remained with him. She gave herself to him freely, any time they wished, often for her own pleasure. Though she was afraid the first time it happened, she eventually gave him three children.

Her mastery of languages served the Empire well, and her reputation of honesty was widely known . When Marcus finally retired from military service, the Emperor himself petitioned to have her come to Rome to be an honored teacher and translator. Marcus took a position decoding military messages.

---

Marcus could not help smiling at the woman proudly sitting on his lap. He loved the way they fit together. He knew the ritual she would follow next, and he loved how true it felt in his heart.

Around her neck, she wore a beautiful silver necklace. It had two loops. One loop fit tight around her neck, while the other loop rested low on her bosom. She reached up and unhooked one end of the lower loop. She carefully pulled his hand up and pressed the leash across his palm.

"You have set me free," she whispered, "but always I am yours. I belong to you."

He gently took the chain, and pulled the slack from the collar. Holding it firm, he took her hand and pressed her palm over his own heart.

"The gods of the underworld would not take me from you," he whispered back. "For so long as my heart beats, I am yours."

He offered her his lips, and she took them without hesitation.

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