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One of the characters we meet in Gladiator is the giant Greek medico Adrastos, a Roman deserter who helps them escape Britannia. When the Greek first meets the brother and sister Thane is escorting through the island, his response is a little less cordial than Thane expects…
THE GLADIATOR PRINCE
By Minnette Meador
CHAPTER XII EXCERPT
He did not know how this little slip of a girl could cut through thirty years of self-discipline and rigorous training as if he was some love-addled pup. She had to be a witch; it was the only explanation he would accept. Somehow, at some point, she had vexed him with a spell, a charm or a potion. That had to be it.
The idea made him feel better; after all, the alternative was unthinkable. He could not possibly be in love with the little vixen; he was too strong for that. The soaking pine needles under his sandals released the indolent smell of decay and he breathed it in deeply to appease the conflict. When he heard a cry, he turned and rushed back through the woods.
What greeted him forced a smile to his face. Standing upright, seriously bewildered, stood Adrastos leaning on a crooked staff, squinting at Phaedra and Bahar as if they were illusions. One hand to his heart, he was screaming, “So it is you, wood nymphs, who have stolen my wine and cursed my wagon!” He lifted the staff and swung it several times over his head, lost his footing then fell on his rear, cursing furiously between Latin and Greek. “Be gone, witch! Οὐρανίωνες οὐρανός! Per barba of Zeus filiolus vomica vos! Merda!”
He had himself so worked up he did not see Thane coming behind him, choosing instead to swing the staff from his sitting position wildly over his head. The ox was braying loudly, and both Phaedra and Bahar added their own shouts into the confusion.
Thane barreled into the melee and raised both hands. “Quiet!” he bellowed and every sound came to a crashing halt. The Greek turned quickly, the staff still twirling haphazardly above his head. Without warning the heavy end caught Thane squarely on the scrotum.
The world faded instantly into a blackened fit of torture. Thane could feel his knees sinking irresistibly to the road, could hear the groaning exclaimed, “Ooo…” from Adrastos. He had not thought to put on the balteus he always wore in the ludus and in the arena. He had endured worse pain, but just.
In the midst of his anguish, Phaedra’s soothing warm hands touched his face, taking his mind off the throbbing misery in his groin. When he opened his eyes to slits, wondering if the pain would ever go away, her deep gaze framed by a knitted brow cut into his pride.
He pushed her hands away, taking a deep breath and forced himself to rise. It took him a while to get to full stance. Squeezing his hips with his hands, he stared down at the road, willing the tears back into his eyes. Heat suffused his face from the strain. As the pain subsided, he glared at the Greek who was still sitting. The strange fat man with the farcical face had put the staff behind his back. It was scarcely hidden.
Something came over Thane then that he had not experienced since before his portentous journey to Boudiga’s battlefield four years before. Laughter crawled up his throat, as foreign to his body as freedom was to his mind. He fought the desire, but it bested him.
A great blasting sound came out of his mouth and they all jumped, which only added fire to the volley. Another laugh joined the first, giving it depth and desire, then more tumbled out into the pre-dawn Roman road until Thane double over in mirth. Contagious, the others began to laugh as well. He had never passed from pain to pleasure so quickly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Somewhere between thirty and dust...red hair, blue eyes...six kids, one slightly used husband, and any number of pets from time to time... wanttabe hippy... wanttheirmoney yuppie...pro musician and actress for 20 Years... native Oregonian... lover of music, beauty, and all things green. Willing slave to the venerable muse. Minnette currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, having replaced the children with one dog. The dog, Pierre, pretty much runs the show.