18.The Proconsul’s Palace, Pompeii.
“I’m such a slut!” Buffy’s hand trembled as it raised the goblet of wine to her lips, “I had sex for money…repeatedly!”
“Hey, don’t sweat it, kid,” Faith came and sat down on the couch next to Buffy, she put her arm around Buffy’s shoulder, “we’ve all done it at some time.”
“You?” Buffy turned her head to look at Faith, “You had sex for money?”
“Couple of times, yeah,” Faith sipped her own wine, “it’s nothin’ I did like, everyday y’know?” Faith frowned; the sex for cash incident had not been one of her brightest moments. “And I got paid more than a few sestertius for it!”
“Oh my god!” Buffy gasped as she realised the full impact of her actions, she’d had sex for a few coins, pocket money really. “And all the times I sucked…” Buffy couldn’t bring herself to say the words, “…for free!”
“Like I say,” Faith gave the teenager a sympathetic look, the girl was really upset about this and Faith left she needed to say something comforting to make Buffy feel better about herself, “don’t sweat it, Trix it wasn’t ya fault.”
“Not my fault?” Buffy asked hopefully.
“Nah,” Faith shook her head, “it was that spell that Marcus Licinius Crassus…”
“May he rot in Hades,” Buffy added automatically.
“…put on ya and,” Faith gave a deep sigh, “I shoulda never have left ya with Ammonia.” Faith shook her head, “Ammonia’s nice an’ all but she’s from now, she didn’t look out for you the way I would have if I’d seen what was happening.”
Cursing herself for not realising what was happening to Buffy earlier; Faith regretted not keeping a closer check on her. The obedience spell had made Buffy want to obey any order she was given by the holder of the ring. But as time pasted and the spell had taken a firmer grip on Buffy’s mind, it had made her more and more susceptible to suggestion. Eventually she’d have acted like a willing slave whose only object in life was to please her master or mistress. In fact doing what people told her to do had started to become Buffy’s default setting.
“Not your fault,” Buffy put her own arm around Faith’s waist and gave her a gentle squeeze, “you weren’t to know, even Willow never guessed what might happen.”
“Yeah, well,” Faith shook her head again, “I shoulda know better.”
“Don’t beat yourself up,” Buffy rested her head on Faith’s shoulder, “it wasn’t as if I didn’t enjoy doing it and I did get paid.”
“Yeah that reminds me,” Faith let go of Buffy for a moment and became business woman Faith for a moment, “you’re a rich woman Buffitrix Aestatis.”
“I am?” Buffy looked at Faith expectantly, she’d not thought much recently about the money she’d earnt in the arena.
“Not mega rich like me,” Faith pointed out, “but there’s more than enough to set up ya own household and give ya an income if ya careful.” Faith advised, “Ya won’t be able to give up the gladiatrix gig completely.”
“Oh, that’s cool,” Buffy replied, “I don’t mind executing criminals or fighting monsters…”
“Ya what!?” Faith looked at Buffy in shock, the girl must be seriously twisted; when Faith had fought in the arena she’d got out of the gladiatrix business as fast as she could.
“What?” Buffy watched the shocked look on Faith’s face in alarm, “Look, the criminals deserve to die and the monsters, well I’d have killed them anyway, in the arena I get paid for it.”
“Yeah,” Faith agreed, not one-hundred percent convinced, “I suppose ya do.” Deciding to change the subject, Faith asked, “What’s it like to have a sister?”
“Weird,” Buffy sipped her wine again, “like, she feels like my sister y’know, but I also know she’s not.”
“Seems like a nice girl,” Faith shrugged, “and that friend of hers, y’know, whats-her-name…”
“Cordelia?” Buffy nodded her head to herself, “That’s weird too,” Buffy continued, “I knew Cordelia or at least a version of her back home, we weren’t exactly bosom buddies if y’know what I mean?”
“But now?” Faith asked.
“Now…” Buffy hesitated for a moment, “…now I think we could be friends.”
The two women lapsed into silence as they remembered all that had happened to them since they’d arrived in the past.
“So,” Buffy broke the silence, “you got paid for sex, who did you sleep with?”
“Okay,” Faith smiled as she remembered, “first there was Brutus…”
“Brutus?” Buffy asked as she poured them more wine.
“Yeah,” Faith nodded her thanks, “the guy who killed Julius Caesar…”
“No way!” Buffy’s face split into a wide grin, “You slept with ‘et tu Bruti’?”
“Who?” Faith frowned not understanding the reference.
“Never mind,” Buffy laughed, “who else?”
“The man we’re about to go an’ see,” Faith examined her finger nails in a display of nonchalance.
“You screwed the First Citizen!?” Buffy gasped impressed, “When? Tell me more!”
“Oh it was years ago,” Faith explained, “about when I was your age I’ll tell you all about it later, but…”
“But?” Buffy asked quietly.
“Thing is,” Faith brought her head down next to Buffy’s so they could talk without fear of being over heard, “the First Citizen an’ me we’re sorta buds, okay? An' he owes me one…well maybe two, if ya see what I mean.”
“No,” Buffy replied in a whisper.
“Look,” Faith sat up again, “this trial thing we’re goin’ to, we and especially you, should come outta it smelling of roses!”
“We should?” Buffy hadn’t actually considered that she might have done something wrong, but if she had it’d be good to have the judge on her side.
“Yeah,” Faith put down her goblet and stood up, “time we were going.”
“Is it?” Buffy took one more mouthful of wine, just to give her courage; she stood next to Faith and asked, “What should I call this First Citizen guy?”
“Caesar, should be fine,” Faith led the way towards the door her silk dress swishing as she walked, “come on.”0=0=0=0
After Faith’s men had captured Lecherous and all the bodies and blood had been cleaned up, the Pompeian senate had held an inquiry into Ludricus Sextus’ claims of a plot against the First Citizen. Citizens were questioned, slaves were tortured and the scroll with the list of co-conspirators turned up again like a bad dupondius. This sealed Lecherous’ and Crixus’ guilt and they were brought before the First Citizen once he’d arrived the next day. On the day after that there was a short trial, as Lecherous had admitted his guilt and implicated Crixus there really wasn’t much left to say. Octavian Caesar considered the two plotters punishment, he even asked advice of the Pompeian senate as to what would be the most fitting death for the two plotters.
Very quickly it had been decided that as Lecherous had admitted his guilt and Tribune Crixus had at one time been a brave soldier of Rome; the two men where to be condemned to the arena where they could at least die with a little honour. Everyone said how merciful the First Citizen had been, Buffy was just glad she’d not had to give evidence. As she’d been a slave when all this had happened there was some question whether she could give evidence as a freedwoman or a slave. If she had to give evidence as a slave she could only do it under torture. No way was she going to let that happen and she really didn’t want to get blood on the pretty dress Faith had lent her.
After the two condemned men were led away to await their fate in the arena, the First Citizen’s advisor and scribe asked if there was anymore business. There followed a short pause, but just as everyone was about to leave the audience chamber a short, rotund man with a beard and dressed in an expensive toga stepped forward.
“Just and mighty Caesar!” Called the man, “I crave justice!”
“And you are?” Caesar leaned forward in his chair and speared the man with a hard look.”
“Lentulus Batiatus,” the man replied, “one time owner of the Batiatus Gladiatorial School near Rome, perhaps you’ve heard of it?”
Looking slightly puzzled, Caesar turned to Posca his chief advisor, the man whispered in the First Citizen’s ear for a moment or two before Caesar nodded his head.
“I remember you, Lentulus Batiatus,” Caesar admitted, “what do you want?”
Taking a deep breath Lentulus explained; some months previously he’d been forced to sell a very expensive gladiatrix to Marcus Licinius Crassus (may he rot in Hades). Lentulus went on to explain that a contract entered into under duress (that is, being threatened by an entire century of Roman soldiers) was no contract at all. As Marcus Licinius Crassus (may he rot in Hades) was now dead, killed by persons unknown in Rome, the ownership of the slave in question should revert to him.
“And the name of this slave?” Caesar asked impatiently.
“Buffitrix, your Honour,” Lentulus announced, “sometimes known as ‘The Barbarian Queen’.”
Frowning Caesar turned to his advisor again, it seemed to him that he knew the name from somewhere. Luckily his aide, Posca, had an almost perfect memory for names; quickly he explained how Caesar had seen the girl fight in the Arena Maximus in Rome.
“Yes, I remember now,” Caesar admitted, “a pretty blonde haired girl, exceptional fighter.”
Octavian Caesar didn’t like the games so only turned up when he absolutely couldn’t get out of it. Now his mind had been jogged he remembered the girl quite clearly, she’d impressed him as an unusual distraction from the general tedium of the games.
In the crowd Buffy shifted uncomfortably as her past came back to haunt her. Lentulus had been her first owner, it was he who’d had her trained as a gladiatrix. While he wasn’t such a bad master as masters went she had no wish to be owned again now she was free. Turning to Faith she looked for support.
“Don’t worry kid,” Faith whispered, “I’ll deal with this.”
“So, Lentulus Batiatus,” Caesar asked wearily, “what do you want me to do?”
“Simply to return my property to me,” Lentulus explained, “if your honour wishes I can show him proof of purchase.”
“And,” Caesar gave Lentulus one of his most frosty smiles, “how am I supposed to do that?”
“Simple,” Lentulus gestured to the crowd, “the slave in question is standing over there.”
“Where?” Caesar looked into the crowd of senator’s wives and other women, “Which one is Buffitrix?”
“That one,” Lentulus pointed, the First Citizen still couldn’t see who he meant.
“Who’s Buffitrix?” Caesar demanded.
“I’m Buffitrix!” Buffy stepped from the crowd.
In the silence that followed Octavian Caesar studied the girl for a moment; today she was clothed in an expensive dress, but he remembered her covered in blood shaking her bared breasts at the mob as she celebrated her victory in her latest fight. There was no mistaking it, this was Buffitrix. However before he could speak something unusual happened, a brown haired pregnant woman stepped out of the crowd and went to stand next to the gladiatrix.
“No, I’m totally Buffitrix!” Dawn called.
“What the Hades,” Cordelia stepped out of the crowd to join Dawn and announced, “Hey look, I’m sooo Buffitrix!”
Before anyone had a chance to say anything a whole bevy of dancing girls stepped forward and claimed, “We’re Buffitrix!”
“I’m Buffitrix as well!” Eos pushed herself out of the crowd and came to stand before the First Citizen.
Several other women, including Ammonia Sextus stepped forward one after another all claiming to be Buffitrix.
Caesar placed his hand in front of his mouth to hide his smile as yet another woman stepped out of the crowd.
“I’m Buffitrix,” Faith announced with just a hint of menace as she glanced at Lentulus.
“No!” Caesar cried as he looked down at this latest claimant to the Buffitrix name, “I happen to know, Fidelia Arsenius that you are not Buffitrix and it’s no good claiming you are!” Turning to Lentulus, Caesar couldn’t help but smile, “My dear Lentulus Batiatus there appears to be some confusion as to who exactly this Buffitrix girl is,” he nodded towards Faith, “I suggest you go with the Lady Fidelia and come to some sort of agreement with her as she seems to be an interested party.”
Getting to his feet, Caesar looked out over the crowd of Buffitrixes; “This court is adjourned.”0=0=0=0A small antechamber in the Proconsuls Palace.
“Okay fat boy,” Faith grabbed hold of Lentulus by the throat and pushed him up against the wall, “I’m willing to make you a one time deal, accept it an’ I won’t open ya belly here an’ now.”
A knife magically appeared in Faith’s free hand, she waved it in front of Lentulus’ eyes, he gulped and tried to speak but no words came.
“I’ll give you fifty-thousand sestertius if you renounce all claims to ownership of Buffitrix,” Faith released the pressure on Lentulus’ throat, “you hand over all documents with her name on and you get to walk out of here richer and alive, what d’ya say?”
“I must say,” Lentulus licked his lips nervously, “Lady Fidelia that you are a most astute business woman…of course I accept, do I have any real alternative?”
“No,” Faith smiled as she released her hold on Lentulus, a thought came to her, “hey, d’ya want a job?”
“What?” Lentulus was obviously shocked by the offer, a moment ago this harridan was trying to kill him and now she was offering him a job.
“Hey,” Faith shrugged, “it took balls to stand up in front of the First Citizen like that.” Faith’s knife vanished as quickly as it had appeared, “An’ Trix told me a little about ya, she said you weren’t too bad a boss, so,” Faith smiled, “what d’ya say?”0=0=0=0The Amphitheatre, Pompeii about a week later.
“Ya don’t have to do this, Trix,” Faith said as she sat with Buffy in the waiting area behind the Gate of Life, “You’re a proper freedwoman now, you can pick an’ choose who ya kill.”
“It’s something I need to do, Fidelia,” Buffy still couldn’t bring herself to call Faith by her up time name; it didn’t seem right to her, she’d never know her in the future and could only imagine her as ‘Fidelia’. “and,” Buffy grinned, “I’m getting a good purse for this and the chance to perform in front of the first citizen…what girl could resist!?”
“Ha!” Faith laughed, “Ya know when I knew you up time I thought you were a real, tight, ass bitch,” she informed the gladiatrix, “I think I like this version way more,” Faith stood up, “Luck, Trix.”
“Thanks,” Buffy stood up and gave her friend a hug.
“You slay ‘em, kid,” Faith passed Buffy her helmet after she’d slipped her arm through the straps of her shield.
“Hey,” Buffy grinned, “I’m Buffitrix, I kill them all!”0=0=0=0
Walking down the short passageway to the vestibule behind the Gate of Life, Buffy prepared herself for going out to fight again. Calming the butterflies in her tummy she controlled her stage fright. It didn’t seem to matter how often she fought, the butterflies were always there. Standing between the golden rods of sunlight that pierced the dusty air like lances, Buffy checked her gear one last time. Sword, knife, shield, arm guard, grieves, nipples; she smiled at the sight of her pinkie-red nipples standing proud from her breasts, she’d need to ask Eos for more of the paste soon.
Placing her eye to a knot hole in the gate she watched as the arena slaves dragged away the bodies of the common criminals killed during the interval between the more important bouts. The crowd murmured like some sleeping beast waiting for the next entertainment to begin. Knowing it was nearly time; Buffy placed her helmet firmly on her head, hefted her sword in her hand and shifted the weight of her shield on her arm. Any moment now she’d be going on to meet her public just like she had dozens of times before. With a rumbling, scraping sound the Gate of Life was pulled up, squinting a little as the bright sunlight hit her eyes, Buffy waited a moment before starting her walk to the centre of the arena.
Stepping into view of the crowd Buffy was greeted by a great cheer as nearly twenty-thousand throats called to her. Lifting her sword and shield above her head she acknowledged the adulation of the crowd. Slowly the chant began, starting somewhere in the summa cavea it slowly spread throughout the amphitheatre lead by the cheerleaders who danced and capered opposite the VIP box as they spelt out her name.
“Buffitrix! BUFFITRIX! BUFFITRIX!
After pausing to acknowledge the cheers of the mob once more, Buffy walked on to the centre of the arena where she halted and turned to face the First Citizen. Slowly the crowd settled down and became quiet, Buffy lifted her sword in salute.
“Ave Caesar!” she called her voice echoing around the arena, “Morituri te salutamus!”
As the crowd roared its approval, Buffy felt no need to add anything to make her feel better about fighting for the entertainment of others, today she’d become a true Roman.
Turning to face the Gate of Death, Buffy waited for her opponents to appear, behind her the cheerleaders chanted, ‘Go! Buffitrix go!’ over and over; slowly the mob joined in with the chant. With a squeal of protesting wood and metal the Gate of Death opened to reveal two naked men, they were pushed into the arena by the arena slaves where another slave threw two swords at their feet. Lecherous and Crixus shielded their eyes from the sun as they bent to pick up their weapons. They both knew there was no escape, yes there was a very
slim chance that they might kill their executioner, but it would only give them a short reprieve. Other gladiators would be sent to finish them off, their crime had been against Caesar himself and there would be no escape. Swords in hand, Lecherous and Crixus walked slowly towards where Buffy stood. They ignored the boos and jeers of the crowd, they stopped half a dozen paces short of where Buffitrix stood.
“So they sent you to kill us,” Crixus called bitterly, his right arm was still useless where Buffy had crushed it in the forum.
“Looks like,” Buffy shrugged before adding, “Look, if you fight bravely and give the crowd a show I’ll try and kill you quick, I won’t cut you up first, okay?”
“Do your worst, whore!” Raising his sword in his left hand Crixus rushed at Buffy.
His first few blows were heavy and forced even Buffy to retreat a couple of steps, but a week or more spent in the city prison had robbed him of his strength and he soon tired. Stepping forward, Buffy parried his last weak blows with her shield before plunging her sword into his body. True to her word she stabbed him up under his ribs aiming for his heart, he died quickly and with the minimum of pain. Pulling her sword from Crixus’ body she turned to face Lecherous.
“What about you?” Buffy asked readying her sword and shield.
“I’m no swordsman,” Lecherous admitted.
“You’ve got to try,” Buffy explained.
“One thing before I die,” Lecherous pleaded, “my wife…”
“I’ll make sure she’s alright,” Buffy reassured him, “now fight!”
Moving forward, Buffy allowed Lecherous to attack her, she actually made it look as if he was a better fighter than he actually was. However, after a few moments she knew it was time to finish it and slit his throat with a blindingly fast cut of her sword. Wide eyed and with his hands clutching at his throat, Lecherous fell to the ground and bled out onto the sand. After checking that both of her victims were dead she walked back to the centre of the arena and saluted the First Citizen again. Letting the cheers of the mob wash over her, Buffy acknowledged their approval, saluted the cheerleaders (which had become her custom) and walked slowly from the arena. Her work was done for now; she was Buffitrix and she’d killed them all.0=0=0=0The Epilogue.The House of Buffitrix Aestatis, several years later.
Sitting in the shade of her garden, Buffitrix thanked the Lady Fortuna for all her good fortune over the previous few years. Her eyes drifted over to where Laetitia played with her doll and a slight frown came to Trix’s face; the little girl had been an accident. The one time she’s forgotten to put on the contraceptive bracelet during her days (and nights) of sexual experimentation with Nausius Sextus, she’d fallen pregnant. At the time Trix had been just a little annoyed with herself and with life in general, now she couldn’t imagine life without her little girl.
Living in her own house with Eos and her husband Ennius plus all their kids, Trix was quite happy to let things go on as they were. At night she hunted, often with the help of the Peculiaris Extraordinarii which not only made her life easier it also made it so much safer. About once a month she’d make an appearance at the Amphitheatre to kill off some monster and maybe chop up a few criminals, although she didn’t kill convicts these days as much as she had in the past. The mob still loved her and the money she got from her appearances helped out with the household finances. Yes, Trix sighed contentedly, life was pretty good.
About seven weeks after Trix had killed Lecherous and Crixus in the Amphitheatre, her sister Aurora had given birth to a healthy baby boy whom she named Varro Postumus Aestatis in memory of his father. About a year after the birth of her son she married Nausius Prodigus Sextus, the famous poet and playwright (and Trix’s sometime lover). Trix had long suspected that her old master’s recent successes were mainly due to Aurora’s influence. The previous week Trix had gone to see Nausius’ latest play, it reminded her very much of the film ‘The Magnificent Seven’ that she’d seen on television long, long ago.
Six months after Aurora had made Trix an Auntie, Lady Fidelia gave birth to a boy that she and her husband Marius called Augustus; he was to be her last child. Marius the Younger went off to Military School and was now serving as a Tribune out east somewhere.
Ammonia Sextus still acted as Trix’s ‘Watcher’, but Trix believed this was mainly to give her something to do now her husband Ludricus Hyginus Sextus was Proconsul. Things in the Sextus household hadn’t changed that much, true Erotica had been married off to one of Ludricus’ political rivals; Scrubba still carried a lamp for Lurcio while he at least pretended to ignore her advances.
True to her word, Trix had checked that Daili, the widow of Lecherous Maximus, was well cared for. Trix found that Lady Daili had opened what was to become one of the most successful brothels and casinos in Pompeii.
The cheerleaders were still popular at the games and at private parties, Cordelia was still in charge and now that Aurora was a married woman, Cordy shared her bed with Harmonia her lead dancer. All the girls in the troupe were free now but they’d stayed together and had no plans to break up the team.0=0=0=0
Some times when she was sitting by the fire at night with her daughter asleep in her lap, Trix wondered what her life would have been like had she never come to this world of the past. Would she be rich and famous? Would she have a daughter and any lover she wanted? Would all her friends and family be as happy as her friends and family here? She suspected the answer to all these questions would be ‘no’.
At times like this the only thing she missed about the future was her mom. The thought that her mother believed she was dead broke her heart at times, she wished she knew if her mother was alright all alone in the future. Perhaps, Trix smiled slowly, perhaps Giles and her mom had got together. Maybe her death in the future had forced the two adults in her life to form a bond; Trix hoped and prayed that her mom and Giles were as happy there as she was here.
“Oh well,” Trix sighed as she stood up, “the die has been cast and we can’t change the result.”
Picking up her daughter; Buffitrix Aestatis, who had once been called Buffy Summers, walked slowly back to her house, she was content.0=0=0=0Acta est fabula, plaudite!-The play is over, applaud!THE END.Author’s Note.
This is the last planned
story in the ‘Back in the SPQR’ series. There’s lots of ‘Rome’ based films and TV out there to supply xover material, but I’ve no plans on using any of it for the foreseeable future.
Thanks for all your support for this series,
All the best,