Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Crucifixion of a Slave

Antonia heard the soldier come into the courtyard and speak with her mistress, Cornelia. They stood in the early morning light that flooded the central square of the house. This wasn't unusual, the master of the house was an important man in their town and there were frequently visits from officials of various kinds. It was a little unusual for the soldier to be speaking with her mistress, however.

Antonia was a beautiful girl with long dark hair and smooth olive skin. One of five slaves in the household she served inside the home cleaning and keeping things in order, as well as serving meals and assisting her owner, the mistress of the house, with dressing and the like. She didn't mind the work too much. Her village had been razed by the Romans when she was only seven and she had been sold into slavery, which had actually been a step up in the world. At 19, she was used to her life as a slave and was happy. She had more to eat and better shelter than when she had been in her village.

Her mistresses voice raised and echoed through the courtyard into the room Antonia was sweeping. "But what am I to be compensated! Isn't it enough I lose one, must I lose them all? How can you tell me this!"

Something was wrong. Cornelia sounded upset and was complaining to the guard about something. She caught the guard saying something about "it's the law" and the Emperor, but nothing else. Their voices faded as they left the central courtyard. Antonia finished cleaning the room and then went to collect some water from the nearby well.

As she trudged to the stone circle a few residences away, two roman soldiers approached her. "Are you Antonia, of the household of Hadrian?"

"Yes. What is it?" Antonia began to feel uneasy. She was a good worker and had never been in trouble and this was the first time a soldier had asked specifically for her. When the two soldiers took her arms, quickly shackling her wrists behind her back, the unease spread to fear.

"What are you doing? I am fetching water for the household, this is my mistresses orders, I am doing nothing wrong! Please, don't hurt me, I am a good servant of Cornelia and Hadrian, and I must return there or they will miss me--"

Her increasingly high, tense voice was cut short when one of the guards hit her in the mouth and said perfunctorily, "Shut up. Your mistress is aware. Come with us."

Walking through the streets of the town with her wrists in irons, between two soldiers, Antonia felt as if every eye was on her. She hung her head, crying quietly, not understanding. Her lips and jaw ached from being punched. A little blood trickled down her chin, but she could do nothing as her hands were shackled securely behind her.

The soldiers took her to a barn at the end of the town, opened the doors, and pushed her inside. The door closed behind her with a rattle. She stood for a moment trying to let her eyes adjust to the relative darkness inside.

"Antonia! Is that you?" It was the voice of Marcus, the strong young man of 21 years that she had recently taken as her lover. Marcus was also a slave in Hadrian's house, though he worked more of the outdoor tasks. Antonia gasped and fell against her lover's chest. His arms were secured behind his back, as well.

"Marcus, what is happening? Why are we here?" Now that her eyes had adjusted, she could see that the barn contained herself, Marcus, Hadrian's other house slave Salus (a tall lean woman of about 30), and Teod, an older male slave that dealt with the horses and was the spouse of Salus. These other slaves from her household were sitting on the floor on the far side of the barn, leaning against each other as if they were very afraid. Their fear installed dread in Antonia.

"Marcus. Where is Septimus?" The dread in Antonia's voice made it shake. She pressed her body against her lover's as if they could meld and somehow make the dread dissipate.

"I don't know Antonia. I haven't seen him since yesterday." Marcus intoned the words as if they were somehow terrible news. "None of us have seen him."

"Gone! Gone is where he is! The little bastard. Spawn of jackals!" The sudden vehemence of Teod's outburst shocked Antonia. At first she didn't comprehend. She might not have liked Septimus, the last of the slaves of the house of Hadrian, but what was it about him that had made Teod hate him so?

Then, with a shaking, quiet voice that belied the horrible fear she felt, Salus spoke. "Escaped. Ran away. Gone and taken some of Cornelia's gold with him. Who knows where he is, though I don't suppose he will get far."

"So we are being kept here because they think we will run away as well? That makes no sense. This is silly! Why are we locked up here?" Antonia did not yet understand, and began speaking quickly, trying to explain away the situation.

Marcus kissed her, and with tears in his eyes, explained what she once had known but long forgotten. "When a slave runs away, they don't just track him down and kill him. They kill all the slaves of his household. Whether they catch him or not, I don't expect us to live much longer."

Antonia went numb for a moment, wishing that Marcus could wrap his arms around her and hold her. She now understand the anger and hatred that came from Teod. Tears welled up in her eyes and slowly trickled down her cheeks as she realized that her time was short, as was the time of her fellow slaves, shackled and held in this barn.

The soldiers returned to the barn about noon, when the sun was high and the heat of the day was climbing. The barn doors opened and several of the soldiers entered. Antonia was able to peek outside and saw more soldiers than she had ever seen in her life. A centurion led them, and was giving instructions. Some of the soldiers were working, doing something she didn't understand off to the side of the building.

Four of the soldiers went over to Salus and Teod and grabbed them. Teod struggled suddenly and violently, trying to break free. Salus cried out as the guards rammed the blunt end of their spears into his body, knocking him breathless to the floor. They then picked him up and dragged him out of the barn, the sobbing Salus being led behind them.

Antonia shivered in fear and hid behind Marcus trying to look small. Four more guards entered the barn and took Marcus. Marcus was the youngest and strongest of the slaves, and they took no chances with him. Swords at the ready, the held him tightly as they guided him out of the barn. A few minutes later they returned for Antonia.

When they first took hold of Antonia, the girl automatically tried to struggle and get away. It was an instinctive reaction, but their strong grip on her arms and a squeeze of her neck quickly reminded her that her thin frame was no match for these warriors. They shoved her out into the noon sun and guided her to the side of the barn where they thrust her down to the ground next to Salus and Teod. Righting herself from having fallen on her stomach, she heard Salus quietly crying next to her. Before them Marcus knelt completely naked, his clothes a shredded mess on the ground. The soldiers had a heavy beam and were tying it to Marcus' arms and shoulders, stretched out.

"What are they doing?" Whispered Antonia to Salus. She didn't answer but Teod said "they are forcing us to carry the instrument of our death to the execution place."

"That wood? What? I don't understand, Teod. Will they crush us with wood beams?"

Toed laughed, "No, dear. They will nail us to the wood beams and hang us out on display. We are being crucified, didn't you know?"

Antonia went numb and sat looking at the dirt under her legs as the soldiers grabbed Teod and dragged him out to the place where Marcus knelt, the heavy beam tilted to one side until it touched the ground. She knew of crucifixion, of course. She had never seen it, though, and had never thought of it as a reality in their town. But here it was, and she was about to suffer the cruelest fate that could be imagined in Roman occupied territory.

Teod struggled against the soldiers as they ripped his clothes off. In response, two soldiers held his arms wide as a third took a long, evil looking whip that had knots tied in the strips of leather and began beating the back of the hapless slave. Teod screamed at the first few strokes, struggling helplessly as red lines formed across his flesh, followed by blood trickling down. The beating continued until Teod was no longer struggling, having fallen to his knees.

Once the fight had been beaten out of him, the soldiers dragged another heavy beam over. Lifting Teod's limp arms up, they wrapped the wood beam to his limbs and shoulders. When they were done and let go of the beam, its weight pulled Teod down to the ground.

Salus was next. Sobbing and struggling ineffectively, her clothes were ripped from her body, exposing her breasts which bobbled as she struggled, and then her hips and the soft hair between her legs. The lips of her womanhood could be clearly seen outlined against the bright sun behind her. A few strokes of the whip brought forth some agonized screams from the woman before the rough men tied the beam to her arms and shoulders. It was very heavy for her and she fell to the ground immediately.

Antonia had been looking at this scene with fear that overwhelmed her senses. She could not believe what was happening; she was numb inside, and while tears rolled down her cheeks she did not resist when the soldiers lifted her up and dragged her next to the naked Salus. But, when she felt rough hands grab her clothing and begin tearing it off, she instinctively pulled away. With a rough shove, she was placed over a wooden hitching post and the whip sliced through her clothes to bite into her back. The pain was so sudden, so biting, that she screamed until every bit of air was gone from her lungs. Moments later she felt the cool breeze against her skin, and she knew she was naked.

One soldier held her arms stretched out before her as she was bent over the wooden hitching post; he did not release her. She knew that a beam would soon be tied to her arms like her beloved Marcus, but it wasn't happening... she waited, wondering, crying.

A rough boot kicked the insides of her shins, knocking them farther apart. A soldier stood behind her, she felt him press up against her buttocks and then felt his erection as it probed between her legs. She twisted her hips to try and move away but the heavy boots kicked her legs almost out from under her and she settled her stomach on the hitching post with a loud "ooooooof". The soldiers cock pushed hard, separating the soft flesh of her sex and painfully penetrating her dry vagina. The soldier began thrusting hard, each thrust a pain but as he thrust the pain subsided and Antonia felt her body reacting to the sex. She could not help it, her body lubricated itself and her hips thrust against the probing soldier behind her. Hands grabbed her dangling breasts and held them, squeezing her nipples painfully as they swelled and the soldiers thrusts became more urgent.

It was over fairly quickly, with a jerking spasm and loud moaning grunt, the soldier ejaculated his seed into the slave. She hung her head in shame at having been publicly used this way, and that her body had betrayed her and actually enjoyed it. She had mated with Marcus, of course, but he had been the only one. Until now.

Still the soldier held her arms, forcing her to bend over the hitching post rail. How could this be? Antonia wondered, what more they could do to her before killing her? The answer came as another soldier pressed behind her and as she cried out in desperation, "NO!", entered her now slick and lubricated vagina with a single thrust. This man had a smaller penis than the last, but was more eager and thrust harder; Antonia's hips and stomach were jammed against the wooden rail as the enthusiastic soldier pushed over and over again using deep and hard strokes. He also shuddered and spurt his semen inside of her, and then as he pulled out laughed and joined in a cheer with other soldiers.

And so it went on. After a few more men, the soldier holding her arms became tired and wanted his turn. He reached his hand down to take some of the semen leaking from between her legs and smeared it up to her anus, pushing it in and using it as a lubricant before he thrust his member deep inside her buttocks. Antonia did not react any more other than to continue crying with dry tears; at times grunting from the air being squeezed from her lungs from the violence of the sex that was thrust upon her from behind. The men liked to hear her grunt; they pushed hard on her.

How many times she was raped, by how many men, she didn't know. She was meat now. Defiled and humiliated. She welcomed death and wished they would kill her quickly. When they were done, they let go of her and she slipped off the hitching rail and down to the ground, motionless. Her face hit the ground and her mouth filled with dirt.

Antonia was aware when the soldiers pulled her arms out on either side of her. Then the heavy beam was laid across her shoulders and rope was wound around her wrists and arms, tying her to the wood. It didn't hurt, though it was heavy; the young slave was still trying to understand what was happening to her and her lover, and the other slaves of her household.

"UP! Stand up! Lift yourselves, get up and stand! Push!" The guard that was in charge, a centurion, was yelling at the slaves. Antonia heard the crack of the whip and Salus screamed once again. Marcus and Teod were grunting and moaning. Then a searing pain streaked across Antonia's lower back as the whip sliced her skin open. She screamed again, but could hear the centurion demanding "Up, whore! Stand up. Lift the cross! We march through town now!"

Antonia struggled and tried to lift the heavy wood beam, but could not. After a moments trying, two of the guards lifted the ends of the beam allowing her to stand and get it balanced. They let go, and the weight bore down on her, almost too much to bear. But if she kept it balanced she could remain standing and if she bent slightly she took most of the weight on her shoulders and was able to lift. It was the heaviest thing she had ever had to carry, and it surprised her that she could. The searing pain of the whip inspired her to expend more strength than she ever knew she had.

"March! Forward!" The crack of the whip again, a grunt from Marcus and the four of them began walking, staggering, down the street. Antonia saw Marcus' naked form walking in front of her, his strong legs and back holding up the beam. Even with all that was happening, she could not help but be aroused and think of Marcus making love to her. She loved him so, and felt herself becoming aroused watching him walked naked before her.

Her own nudity did not bother her until they walked through the central square of town. There many people had gathered, especially men, and they were watching and commenting, even calling out to the four slaves on their death walk. The men shouted out lewd comments to her, commenting on her breasts (which dangled before her as she was hunched over carrying the heavy beam on her shoulders), and her buttocks. In fact, it was clear they were observing every part of her body and this made Antonia flush with humiliation. She staggered and could not help but spread her legs as she walked in order to keep the beam stable.

Every once in a while, one of the slaves would slump down, or fall; this always resulted in the whip biting deep into their body. Marcus' back was covered with red stripes, and Antonia felt her ass and legs burning like fire from the repeated kiss of the leather. Each time the whip struck her, a cheer rose from the crowd, which humiliated her even more. Black despair covered her mind and body, and she sank to her knees in the dirt.

Two guards lifted the beam up and the centurion whipped Antonia mercilessly. She screamed and struggled but no matter how she moved her body remained exposed to the hissing leather that wrapped around her, delivering pain worse than she had ever experienced. The crowd was pleased with this show, Antonia's flesh rippled and sweat from her skin spread in a fine mist as the leather struck her. The tip of the whip found her breasts, caressing a nipple. Her helpless, exposed body jerked and exposed itself to the fascinated crowd.

Finally, the whipping stopped. She was dragged forward, the two guards holding the ends of the beam moving along the street until they reached a small hill just outside the town. There, Antonia fell to the ground, exhausted and unable to struggle further.

She lay in the hot sun for some time, hearing the soldiers working nearby. Without warning, there was a scream. Antonia turned her head and lifted it, looking through the straggled hair which hung before her face to see what was happening. Salus was on her back, arms stretched out against the beam, and four or five soldiers were holding her down as she struggled and screamed again. One soldier was lifting a hammer, which descended and struck something, causing Salus to scream. This went on for a while, though Antonia could not see exactly what was happening.

Finally, the soldiers stood and began lifting Salus' wooden beam and Antonia could see what had happened. As Salus was slowly raised, Antonia saw that her arms had been nailed to the wood beneath her, and the heavy beam was now attached to the upright of the cross. The spikes which held Salus spread wide were barely visible, they had been pounded in all the way; there was some blood trickling from the wounds, but not much.

Antonia struggled to go to Salus, not thinking but reacting with instinct to try and help. It was difficult to lift the heavy beam but she got up into a kneeling position just as Salus' cross slipped into a hole that had been dug just below her feet. The sudden drop of about two feet jerked to a stop and Salus' body was jerked down on the cross as well, causing yet another agonized scream from the crucified slave. Her face was contorted in suffering, the weight of her body hung from her outstretched arms and the nails that held her in place. She sobbed and cried out as she hung from the wood.

A yell interrupted her attention from Salus and she turned slightly. A few feet from her was Marcus. There were six soldiers holding him down, and two were pounding spikes into his wrists. She could see this clearly this time; the spikes positioned at the wrists, and the hammer suddenly driving them into the soft flesh. His arms bloated and twisted slightly as Marcus screamed at the horrible pain of the spikes spreading and cracking his wrist bones. He also struggled, but to no avail. His naked body was shiny with sweat, and Antonia could not help but think of when he had lain next to her, and inside her. She wished she could help him now, she would give her life for him, but instead she fell to the ground, unable to keep the heavy wood beam up any longer.

She saw Marcus raised into position, heard his cries mingled with those of Salus. She called out to him, cried for him, begged the soldiers for mercy for him. Instead, the soldiers came to her, untied her from the beam and pulled her over to the upright of another cross. A few well placed nails attached her own crossbeam to the cross's upright and she was dragged, struggling once again, and thrown down on her back on top of the splintered wood of the cross.

Antonia was small and thin, and so only three soldiers attended her nailing. Her left arm was first. Stretched out but not to it's limit, a soldier took her arm and positioned the wrist facing up. He held the wrist in place as he took a spike and pressed the point into a place just above the palm of her hand, at the wrist. Antonia watched this and felt the point of the spike as it was positioned. A wave of panic came over her and she struggled and screamed in fear as she watched the hammer go up and then descend.

Her arm exploded in pain as the spike cut through the flesh, tendons and muscle of her wrist. A second blow of the hammer and the pain increased to a horrible, ghastly level and she saw spots in front of her eyes as the pain gripped her. The third blow and the spike was through and into the wood. With the fourth blow the nail was in, and her left arm was firmly fastened to her cross.

The process was repeated with her right arm. She looked over in panic and tried to struggle. The soldiers held her down, their hands pressing her naked flesh and groping her breasts as they did. The hammer drove the spike in and she nearly fainted from the agony that was spreading across her arms to encompass her shoulders. Her voice was hoarse and worn from constant screaming, but she couldn't stop. Her mind could no longer remember who she was, what she had done, why this was happening; the pain flooded her mind and pushed everything else out.

The sensation of being lifted up brought her awareness back to her surroundings. The pain was horrible, but she was able to understand that she was being lifted into place, to hang from the cross. Her chest heaved and breasts bobbled as she gasped from the pain as her body began sliding down the wood, her back scraped down the upright of the cross, and splinters dug into her, inch after inch. Suddenly, she dropped down and her body descended until it stopped with a jerk that yanked on her arms. The nails held her in place, but the iron tore more muscles and nerves, cracking bone and causing another wave of massive pain as she hung in place, feet dangling, all her weight on her shattered wrists.

Antonia fainted from the pain.

What woke her was another piercing, agonizing pain that originated in her feet. She had little comprehension of what was happening; her legs were bent, her feet pressed against the cross. A horrible pain covered her feet and she tried to look down.

Surprisingly, she was able to see her feet. They had been nailed to the cross with a single spike; her legs were bent at an odd angle that spread her knees apart, exposing herself. She shifted her weight a little to try and ease the pain in her feet and felt a sudden, mind numbing agony from her wrists.

Antonia twisted to the side, trying to relieve the pressure on one of her wrists. Her buttock projected to the side of the cross and her legs twisted in an unnatural manner, causing the nail in her feet to scrape against bone. She screamed, and shifted back, and then screamed again at the nail in her left wrist scraping and pulling apart the shattered bone in her arm. She panted for a moment, trying to get her breath, then tried again, moving carefully in another direction, trying to find a way to minimize the pain. This time, her shoulders and back began cramping terribly and she leaned forward slightly, away from the cross, trying to stretch and relieve the cramps. This caused immediate agony from both wrists and her feet.

In desperation, Antonia thrust herself out, hoping that her weight could dislodge one of her wrists from the spikes. Instead, it just forced her wrists to shred further, with new sensitive tissue tearing and the agony renewing and spreading.

Though she was not aware of it, a crowd had gathered and was watching the four slave's agony on the cross. Antonia was the focus of most of the crowd, partly because she was young and her naked body continued to appear very alluring. It was also because she was writhing on the cross much more actively, twisting and turning, pushing forward and back, all of which excited the crowd. Her breathing, cries and straining caused her chest and breasts, covered with a sheen of sweat, to expand and contract. Her ribs were clearly seen below her flesh, and her breasts bounced from her futile struggles. Her feet were nailed in such a way that her legs spread and all could see her private sex.

The other three slaves were struggling in the same manner, attempting to find some way to lessen the pain. There was no way, of course, the torture of the cross was designed to be relentless, agonizing, and permanent. And yet, there was nothing they could do but try. The pain urged them on, pushing them to struggle, twist and writhe.

When Antonia began to be exhausted and slowed her struggles, she saw that she was positioned directly across from Marcus. Marcus hung from his cross, stretched with flesh taught and muscles pulled so they could be seen clearly. Antonia, in spite of her pain, looked at Marcus with both love and desire. His body looked strong and handsome, even in this terrible position.

And then Antonia saw something else. Her senses were not quite right, but she knew what she was seeing because she had seen it before. Marcus had an erection. His penis was engorged, large and full and hard, sticking straight out and a little up. Antonia wanted Marcus at that moment, though he was several feet away from her and she would never feel his sex again. Antonia lowered her head and hung on the cross in despair.

Marcus was having trouble breathing, and Antonia noticed that she was as well. As she grew exhausted, it became harder to breathe as she hung nailed from the wood. She saw Marcus struggle, and with great pain he lifted himself up on his nailed feet. He cried out in pain, but breathed deeply as he reached a standing position.

As Marcus reached the standing position, Antonia noticed that there was something on Marcus's cross, behind his body. It seemed to be a rod of some sort, just behind his buttocks. He had revealed it when he rose.

Marcus had been given a sedile. But this was not just any sedile, this was a simple rod which extended up and out from the cross, and had been inserted into his anus. Antonia saw that as Marcus rose, the phallic rod slid out of his rectum, almost (but not quite) exiting his anus. When Marcus no longer had the strength to endure the upright position, he sank back down to the hanging position, and the rod sank back inside his bowels.

Antonia struggled to raise herself as well. It was more painful than she had imagined, her feet felt like they were on fire and pain ripped up her legs as she pushed. Pulling on the nails in her wrists, she finally screamed in agony but reached the upright position where she was able to breath a little better. It lasted but a few seconds and she quickly slid back down.

As horrible as the crucifixion dance was for Antonia, it was worse for Marcus. Each time he raised himself up, the sedile slid out; when he slid back down, it impaled him deeply. This motion essentially had Marcus fucking himself, and the subsequent embarrassing sexual arousal could be seen by all. Next to Antonia, Marcus drew the next largest crowd.

The slaves crosses were not tall. Their feet were nailed only a foot or two off the ground, and they hung almost at eye level for the crowd that observed them. The result was an obscene display where the crucified slaves appeared to mingle with the crowd, as if they were a part of the milling excitement themselves. The contrast between two people standing next to each other, one dressed and smiling, the other naked, nailed and in agony was truly vile.

Marcus continued his labored up and down motion, slowly fucking himself until his erection grew larger and harder than Antonia had ever seen it. With a hideous groan of pain and pleasure, his penis jerked and Marcus ejaculated a load of white semen onto the ground below him. The crowd that had been watching almost cheered and seemed extremely excited by this unexpected occurrence.

In the mean time, Antonia's misery had flooded from her wrists down her arms and across her back. Cramps settled into her shoulders and down to her hips. The backs of her legs ached and twitched by themselves while her muscles tried to regain some control and use. She had stopped writhing in place, though she still rose and sank periodically.

Late in the day, Antonia lost all control over her body functions. It started as she peed, a heavy spray squirting out and down. Some of the crowd was actually caught in the urine flow and rapidly moved away. Her loss of bladder control was followed by a loss of bowel control. A sickening flow of feces was expelled from her buttocks and spread down the lower part of the cross. The smell drove many of the crowd away. Antonia's suffering was steadily increasing, the pain surrounding her entire body and now penetrating it. Her insides were burning and cramping as well as her limbs.

Antonia cried out for mercy with all her strength. She did not know what mercy could be shown, whether she could be killed quickly or released from the hideous cross. She simply had to beg, and beg she did. "Please, please... someone... help me. Kill me, stop this pain, stop this horror!" she sobbed.

A few minutes later a soldier appeared with a large, dripping wet sponge attached to a stick. Some small bit of mercy was being offered to her, and Antonia opened her mouth, took in the sponge and sucked hard. She almost vomited when she tasted the liquid; it was vinegar. Her already parched mouth shrank and shriveled and her thirst double, tripled. A laugh from the soldier, as she realized there was no mercy, there was only agony that would go on forever.

There were a number of slaves in the crowd, brought by owners to show them what happened when a slave tried to escape. Torture, exposure, humiliation, and death awaited them if any one of their number should attempt to run away. This was the real reason that the four slaves were being publicly executed in this horrible manner; as an example to drive fear into the rest of the slave population.

During the evening, many men left their homes and came down to see the crucified as they slowly died. Many men had gather around Antonia. She had always been attractive, and now that she was nailed naked in public, she attracted many of those that had secretly lusted after her. Some of the men, now that the wives and women of the village were home, actually exposed themselves in front of her, using her exposure and agony to arouse themselves. Marcus was not the only one who ejaculated his seed at her feet that evening.

As the night proceeded, Antonia realized the pain from the spikes had almost left her; her wrists and hands were numb, as were her feet. If she moved to raise herself, the pain came back as the nails ground down against new bone and nerves, but the pain eventually subsided into a deep ache across her entire body. The cold of the night penetrated her, and for a while, she shivered uncontrollably.

Near dawn, Antonia's owner, Cornelia, came and stood next to her, carefully studying her. She said nothing, but merely studied Antonia's down turned face. Finally, she reached out, caressed one of Antonia's breasts and then left.

In the morning, it became clear that Salus and Teod were dead. The hung unmoving from their crosses, not attempting to breath. Flies gathered around them in swarms. Many of the flies came to Antonia as well, crawling all over her body, making her itch. She could not scratch, and this new torture, as small as it was, seemed to push her over the edge of madness. Antonia began to babble, drooling saliva down over her neck and breasts. Flies crawled over her face and into her open mouth. She made no attempt to get rid of them.

One of the soldiers posted as a guard came over to Antonia and shooed away the flies. He checked to see if Antonia was alive, pressing his hand to her naked breast, chest and stomach. She was. She reacted to his touch. He in turn felt her nipples, pinching them and watching her jerk. The drool dried; there was no more. Antonia was dehydrating quickly.

"A shame," the soldier said, sliding his hands over Antonia's naked body.

He walked over to Marcus, who was barely breathing. The centurion came over and took a spear and plunged it into Marcus's side, near his heart. Marcus barely jerked at this last violation of his body, and blood flooded out of the wound. A few minutes later he was dead.

Antonia was the last to die. She lasted until that afternoon. She saw her lover, Marcus, as he died. She felt the flies swarm her face, and the leer of the lingering men and soldiers. The agony was throughout all of her throughout the day, cramps in every muscle, hunger and thirst eating her from inside. Her humiliation was complete, as her body was touched by the soldiers at will, her legs spread and arms outstretched in a hideous parody of a woman accepting her lover.

Finally, she lapsed into sweet unconsciousness and hung from the cross, oblivious to all around her. Her last breath came as the sun set on that second day. It was so shallow, no one noticed it.

The four slaves remained nailed to their crosses for several days as a reminder to all of the unforgiving nature and absolute obedience demanded by the Romans.