'I will not buy boys,' Xanthos said with a dismissive wave of his hand, although the gleam in his eyes suggested otherwise. 'They are unreliable and too inexperienced, and they break the crockery while playing their childish games.'
'These are no boys, excellency,' the slave master simpered. 'These are all past their playing stage and have been trained in service, in special service to a nobleman such as you. Besides, I was told - '
'You did tell me, Xanthos, that you liked your servants lithe and blond and graceful and small enough not to overturn the furniture,' General Lykaios said with a smile. 'Come, select one of these and be done with it. You have done us a great honor by breaking with Morini and coming to us. We can surely take Morini with your help. Accept our gift of your own serving man; you must be tired of calling upon Senator Lykaios's servants after he has done with them.'
Within, Lykaios was less patient. 'Get on with it, you treasonous sea slug,' he was thinking, and he was not fooled for a second that it was a kitchen servant they were shopping for here.
'Well, I don't know,' Xanthos replied as he reached over for his wine cup. As soon as he set it down, Senator Ixsandr's own serving man stepped forward to refill his cup.
Xanthos bounded off his couch. 'Well perhaps if I saw them in the light, and without those loincloths. Come, bring them out on the terrace.'
Xanthos pranced out onto the terrace, and the slave master fell in step behind him, tugging on the chains of the three small blond men struggling along behind him and hissing at them to strip down while they were moving to the terrace.
'How can we be sure he'll pick the right one?' Ixsandr whispered to the general as he watched Xanthos clucking and prodding the bodies of the young men out on the terrace, spending as long as he thought the slave master would tolerate in narrowing his choice to one - in the process getting some pleasure out of all three.
'They are all the right one,' Lykaios muttered back, and then he laughed. 'Our best-trained spies. Whoever he picks will keep us apprised of his activities here in Brixia. It was indeed a small victory when he deserted from the Morini and came over to us - he was one of their best military minds, despite his stupidity in other matters. But I don't trust a traitor.'
'And look at the fool out there,' Lykaios continued, changing the subject. 'Who does he think he's fooling? He's not picking out a servant. He's picking out someone for his bed. But that's fine. We want him besotted with whoever he selects. He will be more ours with a Brixian catamite than otherwise. Ah, there you are, dear brother Xanthos, back with us again. Boy, refill the flagon of wine for our hero brother. Have you selected? Yes you have, and a very good choice it is too. Nyke, is it not?'
Xanthos's selection was standing in the center of the room now, demur, his hands at his sides and his face looking shyly at the floor. He was small, as they knew Xanthos really liked, and with blond curls falling down into his face. His body was lithe, that of a graceful dancer, and he was perfectly muscled for the role - not anything either overdone or underdeveloped. He had the cock and balls of a boy, which was particularly in demand this season. His lips were full and sensual and his eyes hazel and sultry, as Lykaios knew without the young man having to raise his head. Of the three, he gave the greatest impression of being innocent and virginal - although Lykaios knew full well this was just a trained pose. He knew this because Lykaios was a master of diplomacy through the art of subterfuge and spying and also because he had very intense and personal experience that belied any claim Nyke might make to being either innocent or, the god's laugh, virginal.
And Lykaios was supremely pleased that Xanthos had chosen Nyke, because Nyke was his best sweetmeat spy. If Nyke could not get the armies of Brixia inside the walls of Morini, no one was likely to.
Ixsandr turned to a nearly trembling Xanthos, who was barely able to contain his excitement at the gift of a blond beauty in service to his every need. And Xanthos was aching to have his needs serviced at this point. Ixsandr easily discerned just how aroused Xanthos was. Togas were not built for modesty.
'I regret we cannot indulge ourselves in small talk and wine when your coming to us opens so many possibilities for moving at last against Morini, Xanthos,' Ixsandr said in his most magisterial voice. 'I must be off to the Senate to arrange the resources General Lykaios and you will, I'm sure, make brilliant use of. And there is much preparation for General Lykaios to complete before you will be needed in counsel. Perhaps you would like to take your new servant back to your apartments and show him how he can best serve you.' Ixsandr could hardly keep a straight face at the hidden meanings in his last sentence. He and Lykaios, the functional dictators of Brixia, wanted Xanthos under their complete power as soon as possible.
'Well, I suppose that might be something I could take a few minutes from more important matters to do,' Xanthos said dubiously. But he was already shuffling toward the passageway to his quarters and herding the shy Nyke before him, his hand on the servant's naked buttocks.
'Silly dolt,' Lykaios muttered under his breath as he smiled his happy farewells at Xanthos's departure - happy principally at the departure. Then he turned to Ixsandr and said, 'I wonder how much flimflamming I need do in war counsel before managing to convince that ass that it's his idea that he is going to return to the court of Morini.'
When Ixsandr had all of his plans in order and his minions in tow, he moved down the corridor toward his scheduled meeting of the Senate. As he passed the door into Xanthos's apartments, he saw that Nyke was already at work. Xanthos was lying on his back in the mountain of pillows, and Nyke was astride his pelvis riding his cock like a ship upon the Ionian sea the day after a tempest. From the sounds Xanthos was making, he was quite content with the service his man was providing him.
* * * *
'I will not do it; they cannot expect it; what were they thinking?'
Nyke raised his head up from the task at hand and asked, 'What, noble sire, what do they expect of you and who is they?' Nyke knew damn well what this was all about. His assignment was to make Xanthos fall for the plan.
Xanthos was laying on his couch just beyond the line of sunshine flowing in from the terrace of his apartment. Nyke knelt between his thighs at the end of the chaise, Xanthos's legs raised and resting on Nyke's shoulders, and Nyke was working Xanthos's cock in his mouth. Sucking on the bulb and flicking the piss slit with his tongue and then taking the whole shaft in with one long slide, listening for the sigh from his master, and then slowly pulling his mouth back. Down again and listening for the sigh. Feeling Xanthos's body go tense and his hips start to jerk, grabbing Nyke's golden curls in his hands and emitting little chirps of pleasure. Nyke taking him down to the root and applying pressure to the root with his teeth while gently squeezing Xanthos's balls in his hand. And then swallowing the spurted semen as quickly as he was able, trying not to gag or to spoil the moment in any other way for his master. Then sitting up and looking down into eyes glazed with the satisfied remembrance.
Eyes that quickly cleared and set into an expression of the spoiled pout.
'Wine, Nyke. Must I tell you whenever my glass nears empty? And it's long past time for my massage. The games this morning were grueling.'
'Grueling for your adversaries,' Nyke voiced in honeycombed praise as he scrambled off the couch and trotted off for the wine pitcher and the oil, sponge, and marble phallus. That was one thing Xanthos was, though, Nyke had to admit. Prissy and self-possessed as he was, Xanthos was master at the games, and, Nyke assumed, therefore also a champion on the field of battle. Nyke had watched in the stadium and had slowly and involuntarily taken on Xanthos as his champion. His muscled body was beautiful to Nyke as he watched Xanthos win one throw after the other, and when they had returned to the coolness of the senator's villa in the heat of the day, Nyke hadn't minded at all sponging water over Xanthos's body in the bath as Xanthos sat back in the water and lapped Nyke and raised his hole up and down on a strong, firm cock. That was another thing Xanthos was. Young and virile and quick to recover and ever ready for the fuck.
His strength was also his weakness, though. Xanthos became ever more controllable as Nyke spun a web of lust and want around him.
'You did not tell me what was troubling you,' Nyke whispered in Xanthos's ear as he had him laid belly down on the couch and was massaging his neck muscles. Nyke had his own agenda to work to.
'The fools want me to return to Morini and be their spy inside the court - to undermine the Morini from within. Do they have any idea what that would take, what the dangers are?'
'They must, master,' Nyke spoke in a soothing voice. 'They have devised this as their best stratagem, laying it all, the future of Brixia, on your shoulders. They must trust you very much and must see the great talent that is within you.'
'Humph,' was Xanthos's reply, and then, in a huskier voice, 'Yes, that is good, deeper there. Oh yes, and there too.'
Nyke had moved his oiled fists down to the small of Xanthos's tiny waist and then down to roll and knead his meaty buttocks. Nyke pulled the cheeks apart as he was working them and bent down and blew on Xanthos's hole, which puckered right up, the action earning a sigh from Xanthos. And then Xanthos was grunting and slowly churning his hips as Nyke's tongue went to the opening.
'Enough,' Xanthos growled huskily, and then he turned onto his back, saluting Nyke at three-quarters' staff. 'The marble phallus,' he murmured.
Nyke oiled up the marble phallus as Xanthos watched with slitted eyes and licked his lips, and then Xanthos, his legs bent, hips rolled up, and a hand encasing Nyke's cock, moaned, as Nyke moved the bulb of the oiled phallus around the rim of Xanthos's opening, slowly worked it inside his channel, and rubbed the smooth tip on Xanthos's prostate. Xanthos was slowly working Nyke's small, thin cock and his pert little balls while Nyke worked both Xanthos's hole with the phallus and his staff with an oiled fist - at first - and then with his mouth, until Xanthos had ejaculated once more and Nyke had swallowed his essence again.
While Nyke was massaging Xanthos's legs and chest then, he endeavored to complete his essential assignment.
'Who but you could bring off such a feat, master? Isn't it, upon reflection, a brilliant plan? And aren't you the perfect man to bring it off? Your story and name will be sung down through the ages.'
'I suppose you are right,' Xanthos said in a faraway voice, already composing his own song to his glory. 'But you have had enough rest, you lazy slave. Here, I want you.'
As Xanthos sat up, picked the small servant up from the floor with hands encasing his waist, and seated him on the couch in front of him and facing him, Nyke worked in the last, burning question he'd been told to have answered. Xanthos was here, but no one in Brixia could tell the senator and general how he had gotten here, how he had gotten out of Morini unnoticed - which may just be the key for getting the army of Brixia inside Morini.
'But it may all be just dream, you cannot return to Morini. It is too heavily guarded. You cannot get back in. Oh, sire!'
Xanthos had pushed Nyke onto his back below him and barked, 'Spread your legs and grab your ankles,' and Nyke was groaning at the invasion of his hole by oiled, thick fingers.
'That is no problem for such as I,' Xanthos boasted, as he straddled the couch with his legs and grabbed Nyke's hips with his hands. 'I will just go back in the way I came out. And speaking of getting in - '
'Oh, sire, oh, SIRE, OHHHH!' Nyke cried out as Xanthos pulled the youthful torso of the blond servant toward him along the now-slippery couch surface, and his long, thick cock slowly disappeared into a tight ass channel.
Later in the night, when Xanthos was finished cocking Nyke again, they were laid, stretched out on the sleeping divan, bringing their breath back to calm.
'But, what about me, my lord?' Nyke whispered in a small voice. 'I don't know how I would live - '
'Hush, hush, my sweet one,' Xanthos murmured as he brushed the sex-wet blond curls out of Nyke's face and embraced him closely. 'This cock has not had its fill of you either. I will take you with me.'
Nyke cooed and snuggled closer into Xanthos's embrace. This part of the mission accomplished.
* * * *
'Master, why are you leading me this way?' Nyke asked in a whisper. 'Morini is on the west slope of Mount Fotia. You are leading us to the east.'
The night was dark and they had placed sacking on the hooves of the horses and were moving as silently as possible. It was a moonless night, and the only illumination other than the stars was the glow from atop Mount Fotia, which had been smoldering and sending up clouds of ash and noxious fumes since before Nyke was birthed.
'Yes,' Xanthos answered with a low laugh. 'And why is it that your searchers from Brixia have never found our secret entrance into our city? It's because you look on the wrong side of the mountain.'
Hours later, standing on a shelf of rocks outside the yawning entrance to a cavern on the east slope of Mount Fotia, Nyke held back in fear when Xanthos would have plunged right into the mouth of the cavern.
'This is the Labyrinth of the Underworld, isn't it?' Nyke muttered in awe. 'I've never been here, but I have heard of it. Our foretellers came here for signs until they all died of mysterious illnesses. I've heard that to enter here now is to die.'
'Yes, it is, and it indeed is a home of the dead,' Xanthos answered. 'But if you follow me, very close behind me, we will soon be inside Morini. You must trust me, Nyke.'
'Yes, yes, I must,' Nyke answered. And indeed he had to. His mission was to get inside Morini and return to serve as guide or not return at all.
They walked into the dark, and Xanthos lit a torch. Nyke saw that it was a maze of many choices, many decisions to be made. There were far too many passages leading off from the entrance cavern for him to have any idea which to follow. And it was not in total darkness here, any more than it had been on the trail around the base of the mountain from Brixia. There was a soft glow down some of the passageways and trails of vapors wafting out of the entrances to these shafts as well as others.
Xanthos was doing something strange with the torch. He was not holding it high; he was holding its tip close to the ground and was training his own gaze there as well.
Nyke instinctively moved to his left, assuming that passage they sought was the one farthest away from the ones with the glowing interiors. But as he moved to the entrance, Xanthos grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
'Not that one, little one.' He skipped a rock into the dark of the entrance to that passage, and Nyke's stomach turned over as he heard the hollow sound of the rock tumbling down into a hole.
'As I said, stay close to me,' Xanthos said. 'And watch along the base of the rock walls.'
Nyke looked down and then he saw them - painted symbols, small and noticeable only if you were watching closer. But they were there, and by following them through the many winding passages and across crystal-columned caverns, at last they came out into the rear room of a small, unoccupied house in the mountainside wall of Morini at the start of a busy and noisy market day.
Nyke was completely surprised as they led their horses through the bustling streets of the city state toward the consul's villa. He had been led to believe that the three-year-long siege of the town by the forces of Brixia had reduced it to a starving cesspool, but, as much as the smell of the place - indeed of any healthy city state in the world - was that of a dung heap, the town looked prosperous and the inhabitants appeared to be perfectly pleased with their living conditions. And they seemed pleased with Xanthos too, which was the most shocking to Nyke. He was not seized upon as a deserting traitor but was hailed by the more prosperous-looking citizens, who no doubt knew him, and was given way to with bows and admiring looks by all others, who seemed to know of him.
But then the truth dawned on Nyke. Xanthos was held in such esteem in Morini that the citizens had not been told he had deserted lest this imperil the false sense of security they had all taken upon themselves.
'We shall see what we shall see when we get to the consul's villa, though,' Nyke thought.
And when they did, Nyke was not all that surprised that as soon as they strode into the reception hall, four hefty guards formed up beside Xanthos, with one of them prodding Nyke off to the side as inconsequential. A tall, straight-limbed and imposingly toggaed man of many years appeared in the doorway opposite to the entrance to the villa.
'Hail, Consul Aeneas,' Xanthos boomed out in a voice dripping with affection and totally absent of fear. Nyke admired his courage at this moment.
'So, you return to us, do you, General Xanthos? Enjoy your little excursion, did you? Perhaps you will join me within for a little meeting of the minds.'
The consul turned and disappeared from the doorway, and Xanthos followed him, hemmed in closely by four burly, straight-legged, empty-expressioned military guards.
This was what Nyke knew would be one of the trickiest times for him. The plan had never been for Xanthos to regain his place in Morini and serve the interests of Brixia. The functional leaders of Brixia, the senator Ixsandr and general Lykaios never had any use for Xanthos. All that they wanted from him was to show Nyke how to get into and out of Morini. And all Nyke wanted to do at this point was to get safely out of the villa and back to the Labyrinth of the Underworld while he still had the route of the maze in his mind.
'I wouldn't wait around here, if I were you - not unless you want to share the punishment that is being meted out to our traitorous Xanthos.' Nyke turned and found he was looking up into the eyes of a handsome, well-built man with auburn hair and laughing hazel eyes, dressed as a servant, older, taller, and more solid than Nyke was and obviously very comfortable in his environment.
'If you come with me and would like to have food in your mouth and a place to sleep in the lap of luxury, I'll perhaps make a position for you here,' the young man said. 'My name is Cirillo, and I serve the consul Aeneas. But unless you want to be here to explain yourself when the guards reappear, you'd best come with me.'
Nyke blindly followed Cirillo into a passageway that led beside a garden atrium and into the bowels of the villa, which was some sort of labyrinth of a century of haphazard expansion. They stopped and then walked more gingerly at the sound of lashing and a man crying out. Cirillo paused at the corner of a doorway and motioned Nyke to peek inside.
Xanthos, naked, was on his knees at the foot of a couch, with his lower belly on the edge of a low divan's surface and his torso stretched up to where his arms v'd out above his hanging head and were bound to posts at either side of the couch. The consul, also naked, and superbly fit for his many years, was crouched over Xanthos's hips and fucking him while half-heartedly lashing at Xanthos's back and buttocks with a many-thonged whip.
After only a glimpse of this, Cirillo took Nyke's hand and led him quickly back into the back labyrinth of the villa, where the furnishings became coarser and the rooms smaller and with less access to the sun. When they reached a small room off a side corridor, with a single narrow couch in it, Cirillo pushed Nyke down in a seated position on the couch and turned to him.
'I serve Aeneas in every way. Am I to surmise that you have served Xanthos in the same way?'
'Yes,' Nyke said. It was no shame and he saw no reason to deny it.
'And are you pleased with Xanthos?'
'What do you mean?'
'I don't mean politically. Hades may have the lot of them for their politics. I serve no man but myself. And if I could leave this hell hole of a city pretending that life is just as it should be as it quietly starves and creeps to its enslavement, I would do so.'
'You would go over to Brixia?' Nyke said, trying to fill the tone of his voice with disbelief and censure.
'In a moment's time, yes. They are the ones who live free on the plains as we grovel here inside our trapping walls. But that's not what I meant. I meant does Xanthos have a cock as good as this one?' Cirillo pulled his tunic over his head and stood there in the nude. His body was beautiful, but neither his body nor his cock were any more beautiful than Xanthos's were. Nyke saw no reason to disappoint or alienate this young man who had rescued him from a quite possibly very sticky situation at the entrance to the villa. And, besides, the young man was very nice and Nyke did need a place to hide until he could return to the labyrinth. And, Nyke did like to be fucked; otherwise he would not be in Ixsandr's special service.
'No, you are beautiful and manly, and superbly manned,' Nyke answered.
Cirillo seemed pleased. 'I told you back at the entrance that perhaps I could give you a place here. The perhaps is if you will serve me as well as you have served Xanthos. I know you are no simple wine holder. I know a catamite when I see one. Do you service well?'
'As well as you may wish, sire,' Nyke said, as he reached out for the cock Cirillo had been stroking. As Nyke opened his mouth to Cirillo's cock, he was thinking, 'My good fortune that you take me for a mere catamite and not for a spy.'
When Cirillo lifted Nyke's tunic over his head and pushed his back down onto the couch, Nyke spread and lifted his legs and rolled up his hips, and then gasped and cried out and moaned as Cirillo thrust inside him and made him feel that, indeed, the cock of the consul's man was longer, thicker, and more vigorous than that of Xanthos.
Not fully trusting him, Cirillo kept Nyke bound and imprisoned in his room for several days, appearing occasionally and fucking the beautiful small blond with the curly golden hair until, after purposely letting Nyke go for two days without sex, Nyke begged him for the fuck. Then, deeming Nyke completely within his control, Cirillo released him and let him work in the kitchens during the day and come back to his bed in the evening.
For Nyke's part, he played Cirillo's game, always looking for the opportunity to leave, but being totally lost in the maze of the villa. He would not have been impatient about the time it was taking except that the longer this game went on, the less sure he was that he could renegotiate the Labyrinth of the Underworld.
Cirillo solved that problem for him.
One night while they were languidly fucking, Nyke asked, as innocently as he could, 'Were you speaking truthfully that first day when you said you had no allegiance to Morini.'
'Truthfully,' Cirillo answered, and then he let loose with a long litany of all of the ills that Morini had done to him and those he had lost.
'Would that I could leave, I would take you with me,' Nyke whispered, worried lest the walls have ears. 'But I have no idea how to leave.'
'I do,' Cirillo answered. 'There is a way through the Labyrinth of the Underworld. I know it well.'
* * * *
Weeks later, Cirillo was standing on the terrace of the Senator Ixsandr's villa in Brixia, waving to the vanguard of the army of Brixia as it was departing the city for the eastern side of Mount Fotia. At the head of the army was General Lykaios, and beside him rode the servant Nyke, put in the front of the column as guide through the Labyrinth of the Underworld.
Cirillo waited until dark, giving Brixia's army time to enter the maw of the labyrinth. Then he stole along the corridor of the senator's villa, meeting no one to challenge him, as Ixsandr had assured him would be the case. Cirillo had spent considerable effort cultivating the senator since he and Nyke had escaped from Morini. Cirillo had become Ixsandr's favorite, which was why Cirillo had not accompanied the forces of General Lykaios as auxiliary guide - there had been quite a row over that between the senator and the general, but the senator simply would not part with his new lover.
As Cirillo massaged Ixsandr's back, his mind wandered to the image of the forces of Morini entering the maw of the labyrinth and following the signs at the base of the wall, the signs that Morini's consul, Aeneas, had caused to be reset after he and Nyke had passed through, the reset signs that would pull the Morinis ever deeper, ever more confusingly into the heart of the volcano and the welcoming arms of its noxious fumes.
Ixsandr raised his hips, which was a sign for Cirillo to pull his cock through and stroke it as his lips went to Ixsandr's hole, opening it up for the last cocking. Once Ixsandr was moaning and begging for the thrust, Cirillo reached under the couch and then crawled over Ixsandr and mounted his hips and thrust inside him. Ixsandr yelped and cried out and clawed at the sides of the couch as Cirillo's cock thrust inside his channel and, with each of those thrusts, Cirillo's dagger thrust into Ixsandr's back.
Across the plain, on the western slope of the glowing Mount Fotia, the Brixia consul, Aeneas, had just finished fucking and whipping his lover, Xanthos, the two now exhausted after a coupling that brought out the depths of passion in both of them. Aeneas unbound Xanthos, and they stretched out on the sleeping couch in each other's arms, as Aeneas kissed the welts on his lover's torso.
'There has been no alarm from the street,' Xanthos murmured. 'That is a good sign. None of them have made it through the labyrinth and to the wall. We have men in force there just in case, but there seems nothing for them to do. Cirillo has done well. He sent word that he would take care of Senator Ixsandr personally. Brixia decapitated in one blow. We can open the gates of the city again.'
'Yes, but it is a big price for Cirillo to pay,' the consul murmured. 'I did so enjoy Cirillo. And he was the best of my special spies.'
'No, master,' Xanthos answered. 'Cirillo should be safe if he's kept his wits about him and the gods are favorable. I told him to steal out of Brixia in the confusion and to remain in the wilderness at a town called Theron for a week. By then we will have remarked the passage through labyrinth. We have it marked by cuttings as well as the painted symbols, so we can easily restore the route. Cirillo will be back in your arms soon and with many an interesting secret to tell us about Brixia.'
As the two cooed and kissed and ran their hands over each other's bodies in anticipation of the return of Aeneas's man strength and desire to be moving deep inside Xanthos, a figure felt safe at last to move from the shadows near at hand into the deeper shadows of the chamber and beyond. As he silently glided out of the chamber, the consul's night steward, Dymas, kept going over the phrase in his mind so that he would not forget it, 'Cirillo in the village of Theron.' He would go directly to his messenger who would then contact the men of Cenopolis who lingered outside of the city to the north of Mount Fotia. The time was ripe for his city. Not only was Brixia crippled by the loss of its army and of its functional rulers, but Morini also was ripe for the picking in its false sense of security. And the spy Cirillo was the key. There was so much he could tell the men of Cenopolis with a bit of persuading. Not only the secrets of Brixia but the way into Morini as well.