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The Innocent

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“Up!”

A horn blasted, and as my bleary eyes struggled with the torchlight and shadow, my mind slowly recognized the voice of my centurion ordering us to wake. It was night. Deep night, with no hint of the dawn on the starry horizon.

I followed orders - I couldn’t remember what they were after I had obeyed, but I remember we surrounded the praetorium in the dark, and that later I was sent to occupy one of the slave-quarters. We rushed in, waking the two dozen slaves in that room with our commotion. They blinked at us, bewildered, and we blinked back, with just enough energy to project our authority over the situation. An hour or two later, when the generals were satisfied and all the slaves had been accounted for, we were allowed to sleep in shifts, and I remember nothing else until morning.

In the morning, my centurion told us the prefect and his wife had both been murdered in the night by a disgruntled slave. Our work for the day, by order of the acting prefect, would therefore be to crucify the late prefect’s slaves. All of them.

Many of the younger soldiers groaned; mass executions are tedious. For my part, I began to think of the slaves we would be crucifying - these were the slave families who served us every day as well as the prefect. They were members of the prefect’s household, just as we were. I knew several by name, and many more by face. I would not enjoy putting them to death.

We formed into ten squads of four each. I was assigned to lead my squad. As each slave was brought to the courtyard, a squad would assume responsibility for seeing to it that he or she was beaten, marched to the east gate of the city, and crucified. This being accomplished, the squad would return to the courtyard to be assigned another slave while standing guards kept watch at the execution ground.
 

Marcella

Spectator
“Up!”

A horn blasted, and as my bleary eyes struggled with the torchlight and shadow, my mind slowly recognized the voice of my centurion ordering us to wake. It was night. Deep night, with no hint of the dawn on the starry horizon.

I followed orders - I couldn’t remember what they were after I had obeyed, but I remember we surrounded the praetorium in the dark, and that later I was sent to occupy one of the slave-quarters. We rushed in, waking the two dozen slaves in that room with our commotion. They blinked at us, bewildered, and we blinked back, with just enough energy to project our authority over the situation. An hour or two later, when the generals were satisfied and all the slaves had been accounted for, we were allowed to sleep in shifts, and I remember nothing else until morning.

In the morning, my centurion told us the prefect and his wife had both been murdered in the night by a disgruntled slave. Our work for the day, by order of the acting prefect, would therefore be to crucify the late prefect’s slaves. All of them.

Many of the younger soldiers groaned; mass executions are tedious. For my part, I began to think of the slaves we would be crucifying - these were the slave families who served us every day as well as the prefect. They were members of the prefect’s household, just as we were. I knew several by name, and many more by face. I would not enjoy putting them to death.

We formed into ten squads of four each. I was assigned to lead my squad. As each slave was brought to the courtyard, a squad would assume responsibility for seeing to it that he or she was beaten, marched to the east gate of the city, and crucified. This being accomplished, the squad would return to the courtyard to be assigned another slave while standing guards kept watch at the execution ground.
A great start. Looking forward for more.
 

Juan1234

Governor
At the start, all forty of us stood and slouched around the courtyard, waiting for the first slave to be brought. I knew him. We all did - it was Alexander, an old, leather-skinned Greek slave who had always fed our horses and changed their straw. He had an endearingly subservient sense of humor, and all the soldiers liked him. Now he entered the courtyard between two guards, head bowed a little, as usual, but eyes wide with real fear, and a hint of question, as if he wondered, without much hope, whether we would really do it.

Antonius’ squad was up first, as he stepped forward. (My squad had drawn third.) Most of us averted our eyes. Antonius swallowed and ordered the old man to undress. He obeyed and handed the soldier his tunic. He was thin, and a little gaunt, but his muscles were still strong and sinewy under his aging skin. The tunic was set by the wall - the centurion had ordered that all the slaves’ clothing go to a common pile and be distributed at the end of the day - and the naked Alexander was bound to the low whipping post.

He grunted as the first two strokes fell on his back. Antonius was swinging lightly.

“Strike hard, Antonius,” the centurion ordered. “The less he bleeds at the post, the longer he hangs on the cross.”

Antonius obeyed, and Alexander cried out pitifully with each lash. Soon he was weeping between strokes. Alexander. Good old Alexander, hands shaking, blood trickling from his back down his gamy legs, face a broken agony I thought looked nothing like the pleasant little man I had known. And yet if it had not looked like him at all, it would not have grieved me as it did. Somewhere in that horrific portrait there was the man I had known, and the juxtaposition was tragic.

At twenty, Antonius looked to the centurion for the order to stop, but it didn’t not come. The beating continued until thirty-five, when the centurion finally gave the order to crucify him. The titulus was set around his neck, declaring him to the world as an assassin, and the beam was set over his mangled shoulders. Then he marched out naked into the streets.

(To be continued...)
 

Juan1234

Governor
Next came a young man I recognized, who had mostly served the prefect personally. I didn’t know his name. Somehow it was easier to watch his young, muscular physique taking the lash than it had been watching Alexander. A waste, to be sure, but somehow he almost looked like he could take it. Besides, I didn’t really know him. I hoped when it came to my turn, I would get a strong man whose name I couldn’t recall. Better yet, someone I didn’t even recognize.

And so it was with a sinking heart that, as the young man was marched out carrying the beam, I looked to see a shy young woman, barely 18 years old - more of a girl than a woman. We all knew her, though oddly I don't think I ever learned her name. She was the favorite of the prefect’s wife - an Egyptian girl left orphaned by war and enslaved at an early age. The domina had bought her and treated her like her own daughter for the last year and a half. Though she was very shy and never talked to the soldiers, we all knew her as the constant companion of the prefect’s wife. Now it fell to me to crucify her because those she considered her adoptive parents had been murdered.

“Well, good thing we’re splitting the clothes communally!” It was Galius, one of my barracks-mates. The girl was wearing fine clothes.

“Shut up,” someone said, and others muttered in agreement.

I stepped forward. “Please take off your clothes,” I said, officially, unsure how to be kind. She looked up at me with sad, dark eyes for a moment, then obeyed, untying her garments and handing me layer by layer. Less than two years ago, the calamity of her life had taken a welcome turn with the kindness of the prefect and his wife. Now they were dead. And her short life was about to end in the worst way because of it.

She tried to keep an arm over her breasts and a hand over her womanhood as I led her gently to the post. Then I tied her there, and she could no longer cover herself. She stood bent over the post, her vulva showing a little under her bare bottom, her smallish breasts hanging forward a bit between her arms, naked and tightly secured, so that she could be beaten without interference.

“Well, if you’re not going to fuck her, I will!” Galius started shouldering his way toward the girl, but someone punched him in the face. When he got up, livid and shocked, he saw that the whole century was against him, and he sulked back to where he had come from without further altercation. I had never seen a group of soldiers behave this way around such a beautiful young woman.

It was now my task to beat this beautiful nude figure, scourging her bare back with all my might. This I did. I whipped her hard. She screamed. I didn’t wait for her to finish before lashing her again. After five strokes she could hardly breathe, and she began panting desperately for breath, barely able to stop screaming long enough to gulp air. She was bleeding from the second lash, and when I saw the blood, I aimed to hit her in the same place again. I wanted to kill her. “The more she bleeds at the post, the shorter she’ll hang on the cross,” I told myself.

By the tenth stroke, she was hoarse. I tried to whip her harder. At twelve, she passed out, her bare legs sprawled behind her, her bloody back arched up toward the top of the short post. I went immediately for a bucket of water from the stables and dumped it over her frizzy black hair, reviving her. I resumed the beating, hoping each blow would do her to death. But even as I began to see bits of her flesh flying off her back as I struck her, she kept screaming, and gave no sign of dying. By nineteen, the centurion stopped me.

“That’s enough - you’ll kill her before she gets to the gate!”

For a moment I looked at what I had done. It had taken barely more than a minute. The post wasn’t quite waste-high, but she was hanging from it, her back, which just moments before had been the winsome bare back of a lovely young woman, was now mangled and bleeding. She was sobbing. This is what I had done to the domina’s favorite slavegirl. Now I had to finish what I had started. I had to take her to the gate and execute her in the most painful, humiliating way. This girl who had gone to bed as a princess last night.
 

crassuswild

Assistant executioner
At the start, all forty of us stood and slouched around the courtyard, waiting for the first slave to be brought. I knew him. We all did - it was Alexander, an old, leather-skinned Greek slave who had always fed our horses and changed their straw. He had an endearingly subservient sense of humor, and all the soldiers liked him. Now he entered the courtyard between two guards, head bowed a little, as usual, but eyes wide with real fear, and a hint of question, as if he wondered, without much hope, whether we would really do it.

Antonius’ squad was up first, as he stepped forward. (My squad had drawn third.) Most of us averted our eyes. Antonius swallowed and ordered the old man to undress. He obeyed and handed the soldier his tunic. He was thin, and a little gaunt, but his muscles were still strong and sinewy under his aging skin. The tunic was set by the wall - the centurion had ordered that all the slaves’ clothing go to a common pile and be distributed at the end of the day - and the naked Alexander was bound to the low whipping post.

He grunted as the first two strokes fell on his back. Antonius was swinging lightly.

“Strike hard, Antonius,” the centurion ordered. “The less he bleeds at the post, the longer he hangs on the cross.”

Antonius obeyed, and Alexander cried out pitifully with each lash. Soon he was weeping between strokes. Alexander. Good old Alexander, hands shaking, blood trickling from his back down his gamy legs, face a broken agony I thought looked nothing like the pleasant little man I had known. And yet if it had not looked like him at all, it would not have grieved me as it did. Somewhere in that horrific portrait there was the man I had known, and the juxtaposition was tragic.

At twenty, Antonius looked to the centurion for the order to stop, but it didn’t not come. The beating continued until thirty-five, when the centurion finally gave the order to crucify him. The titulus was set around his neck, declaring him to the world as an assassin, and the beam was set over his mangled shoulders. Then he marched out naked into the streets.

(To be continued...)
Excellent
 
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