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My Livia

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Bh5

Assistant executioner
I would like to extend a special thanks to Phlebas for helping me craft this next installment. I continue to be floored by all positive feedback I've received on this project. I hope you all enjoy this longer installment; the end is drawing closer...

Goodbyes

Livia remained motionless for some time, sunk on her haunches and breathing raggedly. She tried to push herself up but soon collapsed again. Livia’s slender figure hung forward on the cross with her legs spread lewdly to reveal her sex. Her body glistened with sweat and strands of hair stuck awkwardly to her drenched shoulders, neck and face. Several thin trails of blood from her nailed wrists snaked down her arms and along her torso.

Ariminum had begun to stir and soon the daily travelers and merchants began to pass by on the road. Few paid attention to the crucified, and most shuffled past Titus disinterestedly as he stood transfixed by the scene. A young man was arguing with one of the guards near the gatehouse, and Aulus left the carnifex by Livia’s side to see what the commotion was about.

Titus had begun to approach Livia when he heard his wife exclaim, “oh there they are.”. The palanquins made their way through the foot traffic and set down where Titus had been standing on the road opposite Livia’s cross. Agrippina and Lucia emerged from the first litter, and Licinia stepped out of the second; Servina and Alec followed behind the palanquins and stood off to the side with the litter bearers.

Agrippina embraced her husband in the middle of the road. “I’m glad you’re here. Oh, I hope she suffered.”, she said warmly, “I want you to give me the details when we get back to the villa.”. Titus looked at her sadly before his wife broke away with, “Come Lucia, follow me.”. Lucia stared meekly at the ground, and apprehensively took her mother’s hand. Titus quickly extended his left arm to catch Lucia’s shoulder as she passed; he quickly spun the girl so she faced the palanquins. Agrippina looked quizzically at him as he held Lucia’s shoulders tightly. Agrippina shrugged incredulously, then continued towards the crosses.

Licinia slowly approached her father. “Where’s Appius?” he addressed her coldly. “Oh he’s in the litter, he felt queasy”, she said dryly.

Titus looked down at Lucia, and calmly said, “Lucia, go see if your Uncle Appius is feeling better.”. Lucia eagerly obeyed and disappeared within the draped palanquin. Licinia reached out her hand and Titus took it as the two turned to join Agrippina in front of Livia’s cross.

Titus and Licinia stood slightly behind Agrippina as she watched Livia try to push herself up again. Agrippina muttered softly to herself, “Look at this whore rot”. Livia’s face was twisted in agony as she squirmed on the cross hoping to find some relief to her torment. Livia grunted and exhaled loudly as she fell back on her haunches; Titus felt Licinia’s grip on his hand tighten. A stream of urine came from Livia’s crotch and splattered at the base of the cross. Livia blushed at the humiliation, and turned her face away from her masters. “Disgusting whore”, his wife commented angrily.

As the family watched Livia’s suffering, the carnifex stood idly nearby. The stoic man usually would have attached the titulus and been on his way, he had no obligation to watch the suffering of his charges, but this morning he found himself entertained as Aulus argued intently with a young man nearest the old woman’s cross. “That boy better not get too worked up, or he’ll end up next to her”, the carnifex thought to himself. The carnifex began to muse over the man’s relation to the woman, but was interrupted by Agrippina:

“How much would it cost for me to whip this whore.” Agrippina asked bluntly.

The carnifex looked over his shoulder. The argument was getting increasingly heated, and several guards had congregated around the young man. “5 denarii”, he said coyly.

“Very well”, Agrippina said hastily, “Alec, bring me the coin purse!”. She waited with her palm upturned to receive the purse. Titus turned to see Alec frozen in place. The old man looked paler than usual and held the purse tightly in his hand. “Come on, old man.”, Agrippina demanded over her shoulder, “we haven’t got all day!”. Alec remained perfectly still. Alec flinched as Servina latched onto the coin purse, and the two slaves glared at each other until Servina pulled the purse out of the old man’s grasp. Servina brusquely moved to Agrippina and presented the coin purse, “Here you are domina.”. Agrippina quickly counted the coins and handed them to the carnifex.

The carnifex counted the coins slowly then ushered one of the guards and took the short flagellum attached to the guard’s belt. “All yours”, he said sarcastically with a small bow as he held the whip out in front of him.

Agrippina took it and unleashed upon Livia. A flurry of stokes hit her helpless victim. Agrippina aimed indiscriminately striking the sensitive inner thighs, nipples and forearms. Livia didn’t plead for mercy as she absorbed the strokes, but let out whimpers or a short cry when the lash tore at her skin. Agrippina stood back to admire her work. Both women were soaked in sweat.

Agrippina breathed deeply as she wound the whip again. The heavy stroke landed on Livia’s vagina so the whole length of Livia’s slit and butt received the sting of the whip. Livia’s eyes shot open and she pushed herself up and wailed. Titus felt Licinia’s grip tighten again as she gagged; Agrippina and Servina chuckled as Livia looked down at her beaten body.

“Stop it”, Titus said softly.

The next stroke slashed across Livia’s breasts.

“Stop it!”, Titus said audibly this time as Licinia and Servina looked at him wide eyed.

The next blow slashed at the shoulders, and caught Livia’s chin in the upswing. Livia’s head hung limply on her chest and her breathing was shallow. Agrippina raised the whip above her head as if poised to bring it down up the neck and head of her helpless victim.

“I said that’s enough!”, Titus shouted at his wife as he clutched her wrist in his own hand. She turned and looked at him for a moment, her eyes filled with rage. Agrippina seemed to struggle to hold her tongue then said bitingly, “fine, let’s leave this place. “. She dropped the whip and it fell with a dull thud. Titus released Agrippina’s wrist, and the pair stared at each other. Agrippina turned sharply towards Livia and grabbed a handful of the brown hair and raised Livia’s head to meet her gaze. Livia’s eyes were barely open as Agrippina spat in the girl’s face before letting the head drop down again. Agrippina pushed past Titus as she headed towards the palanquin; in the background Titus saw Alec wiping the tears away from his eyes with his toga.

The family remounted the palanquins. Titus let Alec ride the horse to the villa as he walked alongside his wife’s palanquin. He turned one last time to look at Livia as the family set back down the road. Servina stood at Livia’s cross whispering into her ear. Titus stopped at yelled “Servina, get back here now!”. Servina smiled and kissed Livia on the cheek before running to rejoin the caravan as it trundled to the villa.
 

Wragg

Chronicler of Crux
Staff member
At least college taught me how to write a good crux story!
Which course was that? I want to enrol!

Fallenmystic said it all, really, the way you build up the characters so that we really care about them; the way you gently but inexorably paint the picture of Titus' love for Livia, and then the agony of his betrayal of her... this requires talent that you learn in no college, that comes from the depth of your soul.
 

Bh5

Assistant executioner
Unfortunately Livia's time has come to an end.

Remorse

The family returned to the villa to find the midday meal already set. They ate in silence, and Licinia made an excuse to leave for Rome early. Agrippina retired to the bath shortly after. Servina followed obediently, ready to wipe away the stains and stench of the morning’s affair. Titus tried to find distraction in a game of Latruncul with Alec, but both men found their minds elsewhere and abandoned the game shortly after starting. Titus paced anxiously until he made an excuse to go into Ariminum a few hours later.

As he rode towards the gatehouse, Titus could tell the older woman had died. The young man from the morning sat in front of the cross with his head in his hands. The bodies were usually left to hang unless the space was needed.

Livia sat on her haunches, head resting on her chest. But still breathing. The carnifex had hung the titulus around her neck. The small wooden placard that rested just above her navel simply read, “homicidia” in bold brushstrokes. Her once pale skin was reddened from the sun’s harsh rays and the lashes that crisscrossed her slender figure. Flies buzzed noisily around her wrists, ankles, and at the base of the cross where excrement had begun to pile. Titus could barely recognize the woman that had grown up before his eyes. He rode into Ariminum and got drunk.

The sun was starting to set when he began the ride back to the villa. As he passed the gatehouse, Titus saw a guard giving Livia and the crucified man water from a ladle. He slowed the horse until it stopped in front of Livia’s cross, and watched Livia greedily lap at the water. The guard refilled his ladle and poured it over Livia’s head, neck and shoulders; she closed her eyes and let out as a relieved sigh as the cool water coursed over her wounds.

“Your daughter?” the gruff voice of the guard caught Titus off guard. The grizzled guard looked up at Titus.

“Yes”, Titus replied meekly. The guard nodded indifferently.

The guard looked down the deserted road quickly, then motioned for Titus to approach Livia’s cross. Titus dismounted, and the guard turned to watch the road. Titus’s legs felt weak as he slowly approached the cross. With trembling fingers, Titus placed his hands on Livia’s dirtied cheeks. Her eyes were dazed, but came alive when she registered his presence. “Oh dominus” she said faintly.

“No…Titus.” He said softly as he tried to hold back the lump in his throat.

“Oh Titus, I’m sorry.” She said as tears cut through the dirt and blood caked on her cheeks. Titus tried to wipe away the tears but only smeared the grime further.

“No I’m sorry. I don’t understand why Marcus…” Titus stammered and stopped.

"Have you come to take me home?", Livia asked sadly.

Titus looked deeply into her sad hazel eyes and saw that she knew the answer already. He turned his face away briefly before looking back at her. “Is there anything I can do?” he asked finally through his own tears.

“Make the pain go away…please.”, she let out weakly.

Titus urgently hailed the guard to bring more water. Livia drank thirstily from the ladle. Titus pleaded for more water to be given but there was none left. Livia settled back down on her haunches again and let her head droop to her chest. Titus felt the urge to run his fingers through her disheveled hair one last time, but stopped himself. The guard cast a glance between the Titus and Livia, then said “I think it’s time for you to go sir.”. Titus rode home in the growing dark. Occasionally an owl signified its presence in the still night.

Titus rode to Ariminum the next day as well. Livia was still alive but her breathing had become irregular as her strength drained away in the summer heat. The morning after she barely clung to life. Titus didn’t visit Ariminum again until a few weeks later when the crosses were empty once more.
 

phlebas

PRIMUS POENUS
Staff member
Is that the last chapter? I somehow thought Titus would do something about her and apparently I was wrong.

That was the saddest story I've read on CF so far, and I love it for that :)

It was the right ending. Titus' "Yes" is so simple, so profound, so tragic in his powerlessness to save Livia. He has lost a son, a daughter, and in some way a wife as well. Livia's fall is swift and bloody. The justice of Rome can be harsh.

Beautiful story Bh5.
 

malins

Stumbling Seeker
“Your daughter?” the gruff voice of the guard caught Titus off guard. The grizzled guard looked up at Titus.
“Yes”, Titus replied meekly. The guard nodded indifferently.
That is incredibly powerful. Bravo.
slave thinks she is part of the family, owner treats her as daughter, then they are both confronted with the stark legal reality of their respective positions.
No good deed goes unpunished, and cruel fate always wins ...

... if Livia had already been accustomed to being used as a slave, she wouldn't have resisted, and both Marcus and her would still be alive ... kindness cannot flourish in this world...
 

Bh5

Assistant executioner
I had contemplated ending the story with the last installment, but I like the idea of an optimistic ending. Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback and for supporting this project.

Epilogue

8 years later

The old centurion sat and drank his posca alone in the darkened foyer. Titus had finally sold out to a wealthy estate holder: he had found himself increasingly unable to compete against the large estates that now dominated Italy, and the last few years of failed harvests had left Titus nearly destitute. Now, Titus waited as Nonus collected the last of his things to load onto the cart. Titus was glad that neither Alec or Agrippina had lived long enough to see this day.

Alec had passed peacefully in his sleep within a year of Livia and Marcus. Titus collected the old man’s ashes and scattered them into the Adriatic. Titus hoped that Alec would find his way back home. Although Titus felt joy as he watched Lucia grow into a confident young woman, something inside him seemed to have been irrevocably lost. Titus’s inner dismay manifested itself externally as his marriage began to falter. Agrippina never emotionally recovered from Marcus. She became reclusive and even forsook the excesses that she once reveled in. Lucia seemed aloof to the collapse of her family dynamic, but seemed relieved when Titus released her to join the cult of the Magna Mater. Agrippina died of a sudden fever a short while later, and was cremated with the all the ceremony a patrician woman. Licinia tried to visit Titus regularly, but when Appius was appointed to praetor the visits became more and more infrequent. Aulus continued to visit until a drunken vagrant smashed his skull with a brick.

Titus had experienced loss before. In the legions, he had seen comrades slaughtered wholesale far from the comfort of their loved ones. Yet, their deaths held the semblance of meaning. What had been accomplished from the deaths of Aulus, Alec, Marcus, Livia and Agrippina? He agonized over the question for many nights. But the gods had seen fit to keep him alive. The years had not been kind to Titus’s body either: his knees had weaken so now he walked with a cane, and the pains in his side raged constantly. Even his own touch couldn’t assuage the pain.

Titus finished his posca and set the cup down; the sound of the cup connecting with the marble echoed through the empty halls of the villa. Only Titus and the Nonus remained. Titus had sold most of his slaves to other estates by the time he finally sold his land. He sold Servina last. Despite his age and finances, Titus had traveled the entire length of Italy that summer under the pretense of visiting an old friend who had settled in Syracuse. Servina accompanied Titus, and the pair leisurely traveled through the picturesque Italian countryside. Titus met his “friend” near a pit mine outside of Syracuse. Coins were exchanged, and Servina was braced by several men. She struggled fiercely, but was soon overwhelmed. Titus got a perverse sense of satisfaction thinking of her being worked to death in the stifling conditions of the mines, and had smiled as she was dragged away in chains.

Nonus, recently emancipated, returned to the foyer and carried an old chest between his ebony arms. He set the chest a little ways in front of Titus, and said, “I found this in the old slave quarters. It looks like it hasn’t been opened in many years dominus.”

Titus interrupted, “Not dominus anymore. Remember, you are free my friend. I will look through this and meet you by the cart”.

“Thank you sir.”, the Nubian grinned widely. Nonus turned and left Titus alone with the chest. Titus looked at it for a while then pushed himself onto his feet. He hobbled to the chest and flipped it open with his cane. Titus rummaged through piles of old scrolls with the end of the beech cane until he uncovered a strand of faded yellow cloth. Titus eyed it curiously, and skillfully hooked the strand so it hung limply at the end of the cane. Titus pulled to reveal a full yellow linen tunic, dusty and chewed by moths. Tucked neatly underneath was a blue tunic and underneath that a red tunic. Titus lowered himself carefully to the floor and took the yellow tunic in his hands. He ran his fingers carefully along the fabric so not to tear it anymore; dust fell as he caressed the tunic. He looked at it tenderly, his mouth slightly agape. He closed his eyes and the memories came back:

First, he saw his father lecturing in a grand villa in Rome.

Then he heard the sound of the turbicon, and marching feet in a foreign land.

He saw himself and Alec sitting under the stars talking about the upcoming harvest.

Finally, he found himself at Marcus’s coming of age ceremony. He saw Marcus stand tall in his toga virillis; full of self-assuredness and youthful vigor. He heard Lucia tell a joke and Licinia and Appius laugh. He looked over and saw his wife smiling at him from across the room. Then he turned and saw Livia. She stood playing a cheerful melody on the Tibia in the yellow linen tunic he had bought her. When she finished, she looked into his eyes and smiled. Titus opened his eyes as the pain in his side abated. He knew he would alright.

The End
 

fallenmystic

Governor
I had contemplated ending the story with the last installment, but I like the idea of an optimistic ending. Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback and for supporting this project.

Thanks much for providing such an ending which my brain and heart can happily agree with :) If it turned out that Livia was saved by some implausible miracle, it would have been a turn for my brain to disagree. It was such a perfect bitter sweet ending which I suppose could satisfy people from the both sides.

Titus met his “friend” near a pit mine outside of Syracuse. Coins were exchanged, and Servina was braced by several men. She struggled fiercely, but was soon overwhelmed. Titus got a perverse sense of satisfaction thinking of her being worked to death in the stifling conditions of the mines, and had smiled as she was dragged away in chains.
Ah... here comes my specialty :)
 

Jollyrei

Angelus Mortis
Staff member
This story was just right. I can't really add much to the comments already made. The tragedy of the situation, the hopeless situation of Livia, Titus' simple affirmation that he felt she was his daughter. Magnificent writing.
 

fallenmystic

Governor
This story deserves some decent illustrations. Madi is obviously a bit busy at the moment. I'd like to do one, but it's not going to happen any time soon.
That's true! Please do the illustration soon, maybe for the cover.
I really wish I had sufficient time to take a stab at this, for this became my favourite story on CF so far. I know a bit of 3d rendering, but I use Blender instead of Daz/Poser, so it would take me inordinate amount of time to create all the necessary assets, if I try.

As such, I can only hope some more capable than me could volunteer for the task. And I wish he or she may depict this final scene for the cover of the story, as I feel it so perfectly conveys such a unique aspect of this outstanding story:
Finally, he found himself at Marcus’s coming of age ceremony. He saw Marcus stand tall in his toga virillis; full of self-assuredness and youthful vigor. He heard Lucia tell a joke and Licinia and Appius laugh. He looked over and saw his wife smiling at him from across the room. Then he turned and saw Livia. She stood playing a cheerful melody on the Tibia in the yellow linen tunic he had bought her. When she finished, she looked into his eyes and smiled.

Personally, I'd prefer this scene to any crucifixion illustration that may be created based on this story as a cover art, at least. To me, there's something different in this story that makes me care for the characters which also makes the bittersweet ending all too more powerful. A crucifixion cover art may fail to convey this unique aspect of this story, I'm afraid, and probably would give it an impression that it was just another one of many Roman crucifixion stories we can read on CF (not that they aren't great, but they are not as unique in this particular aspect).
 

Madiosi

Depictor of Dreams
Staff member
Memories

The old centurion sat and watched his fields. He sipped his posca slowly in the shade of an old beech tree as he looked out at the property he had built. In the distance he could see the outlines of two burly slaves, and he watched as they tilled the soil in the heat of the late afternoon. Further away, he could barely make out the aqueduct that ran into the city of Ariminum, and beyond that the great expanse of the Adriatic Sea.
Madiosi-2020-034-livia01.jpg
 

Madiosi

Depictor of Dreams
Staff member
Expansion

Titus made his way up the path to the villa. Nestled amongst low hills in the northwest corner of property, the sheen of villa’s white marble had begun to dim as the evening shadows grew. The villa had cost Titus a small fortune, and always seemed to be under construction. His wife was the primary driver behind the expansion of the villa; she strove to make their rural life mirror the resplendence she had seen in Rome. Her desires and Titus’s coins had shaped and reshaped the land until it barely resembled the plot Titus had first come into.
Madiosi-2020-035-livia02.jpg
 

Madiosi

Depictor of Dreams
Staff member
Livia

During his wife’s first pregnancy, Titus had suggested purchasing a wet nurse. Agrippina fervently refused, but agreed that the child would eventually need a body slave. Titus purchased Livia, a name given by Titus, from a market outside Rome while on a trip to visit Agrippina’s family. She was barely in her teens, but spoke some latin and was healthy. His wife was incredulous when he brought the quivering girl home, and demanded he return her for an older woman.
Madiosi-2020-036-livia03.jpg
 
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