The man cowered in the back of the dark catacomb cell.
“Do you want to spend your last night with an angel?” Domitian asked the human.
“Kill me and be done with it, monster!” the captive swore.
The vampire curled his lip and snarled. “That is certain, my dear mortal. I only ask because the boy has a fancy for you.”
Dreux stepped into the light. “Hello, Livillus,” he said.
“Drusus!” The man scrambled to his feet, rushing for the barred door. The chain around his ankle stopped him two feet short. “Get that vile child away from me,” he spat. “Put him in here and I shall snap his neck.”
Domitian turned the key in the latch. The door swung wide. He turned to Dreux. “Remember what I have taught you,” he said. “Feel the point here,” he touched the boy’s solar plexus. “Feel the power gather. Relax your mind and your body, then begin.”
Dreux nodded. He fixed Livillus with his gaze, but did not see the big man. Instead, he felt the swell of force within him. His arms and legs prickled with energy. His fingertips quivered as he emptied his mind of everything but the life-force in him. At last he opened his vision to his open eyes and saw Livillus. He was aglow with the strength of a powerful man. Anger and lust streamed forth in Dreux’s direction. Dreux stepped into the cell.
“You want to fuck me before you kill me, don’t you?” he said seductively. “It would be such a wasted opportunity to just break my neck. After all, Domitian will make you suffer, shouldn’t you do the same to me?”
As Dreux spoke, fear skirted the edge of his consciousness. He knew that the big man was more than capable of killing him before Domitian could intervene. He had to provoke, then control Livillus’ anger, but if it could not be controlled … .
He stepped within reach and ran his smooth hand over the fevered flesh of Livillus’ arm. “Come to me,” he purred. He released the hold he had on the man’s mind.
Livillus sprung to life, noticing the boy beside him. He wrapped his hand around the delicate throat and squeezed. Dreux made a choked sound and Livillus pushed him away.
Dreux fell to the floor, his arms and legs askew. He recovered quickly and turned onto his back. He spread his arms wide and beckoned. “Here, Livillus.”
Making an animal growl, Livillus loosed his undergarment and brandished his weapon. He knelt, grabbing Dreux’s leg to turn him over.
“No. Look me in the eye. If you’ve the courage to rape me, I want you to see what you do,” he challenged.
Livillus roared obscenities, pushing Dreux’s legs back and plunging into him.
Dreux saw the pain as a swirling black pool, which threatened to draw him in and destroy his concentration. He screamed aloud and that release sent the fear and pain away. He reached up and grabbed Livillus’ head. The big man tore into him, and he felt himself becoming aroused, but instead, he stared deep into the hard, dark eyes of his former friend and lover. He held back his own sensations, for to give them release would spend the strength he drew from the man.
“Yes, my giant,” he urged. With each thrust he felt the power of Livillus’ hurt and anger enter him. The man’s arms began to quiver as he weakened and his breathing became even faster and shallower than normal for sex. “Give it to me, Livillus. Give me your hate. I betrayed you. I had your friend, the Jew, killed. I made you betray your patron, Vodalus.”
Livillus arched and groaned as he spent in Dreux. He fell backwards into unconsciousness.
Dreux cried out, and pushed himself across the floor. He sat against the wall, and wrapped his arms around himself. He stared ahead. He was shaking.
Domitian came over and knelt beside him. “Drusus,” he said, lightly touching the boy’s shoulder.
Dreux jumped and looked up at his teacher. “Is he … ?”
Domitian shook his head. “No. It takes a powerful witch to kill with the mind.” He walked over to Livillus’ prone body. “I have taught you to be a vampire, of sorts. When I have finished here, I will show you what can be done with the power you have stolen from this mortal.” He picked up the unconscious man and held him close.
“Can I watch?” Dreux asked, his eyes wide.
“Of course, Child. You’ll need to know these things. But you are still living and it might disturb you.”
Dreux shook his head. “I’ve watched before, when no one knew I was looking.”
Domitian smiled, the sharp points of his teeth drawn down by the proximity of the kill. He bent Livillus’ head back, exposing the slowly pulsing vein. “Come here, Drusus,” he said seductively.
Dreux was beside the older man before he realized he’d stood. Quickly, Domitian closed his mouth around Livillus’ throat. He bit and swallowed deeply, then released the neck. Bright red blood arched in the air, spattering Dreux’s white tunic. Domitian returned to his feast.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“I have made my decision, father,” the old man said, standing.
“Gaius, please sit,” Vodalus urged. “Can’t we discuss this?”
“We have been discussing it for nearly twenty years.” The frail, white-haired man sat.
“You’re my son, my first-born,” Vodalus pleaded. “I don’t want to bury you.”
“Father, I have always known what my decision would be. I am content with the time the gods have allotted me.”
“Do you find me that evil?” he asked.
Gaius crossed to sit on his father’s couch beside him. He held his hand. “Of course not,” he reassured. “You are the most honorable Roman I have known. I have tried to live my life in your image.” He let the senator’s hand go. “It is the Family that you and mother belong to.”
“They are your family as well.”
“No,” Gaius said vehemently. “I am of the Petronii, your family, not hers, not the Gelminicii.”
“There is no changing your mind?” Vodalus asked again.
“None. I respect that you never forced the issue. You could have poisoned me with the blood and made the question moot,” he said. “In fact, I am not certain mother did not.”
“Of course. She never cared for us to begin with, why would she wish us about in her eternity.”
“Julia loved you as best she could,” Vodalus defended his wife. “You know ours was not a marriage of love.”
“But we were her children,” he objected.
“But not her brother’s,” Vodalus answered. “To her, her only true offspring would have been hers and Julian’s.”
“They are as bad as Caligula!” he swore. “I have no desire to live forever among murderers and madmen. I welcome my death.”
“Marcus will follow your example?” Vodalus asked. The youngest of his sons was almost a decade younger and had always followed his oldest brother’s lead
Gaius nodded. “We’ve discussed it. He has his family to care for; and since Lucas died, his as well.”
Vodalus nodded. The loss of his second son in battle in Germania five years ago had hit him hard. Marcus and his wife had taken in Lucas’ widow and three children and cared for them without objection. “Then I shall lose you both to Death,” he said sadly.
“Father,” Gaius said kindly, “you will have the joy of seeing your grandchildren grow to manhood, and their grandchildren as well. You will not be alone.”
He smiled wanly. “I shall miss you, Gaius. I never wanted to bury my children.”
“I am not dead yet! Do not fall prey to your regrets. You were a good father to us.” He kissed his cheek. “I love you, and I trust you to give me a fine funeral.”