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The Lurid Sea

By Tom Cardamone

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2018 Tom Cardamone

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The Lurid Sea

A steamy bacchanal bending through time and space, replete with the occasional God, mythic creatures, and oh-so-many men. For centuries the godling Nerites luxuriated in a shifting sexual paradise, hopping from one bathhouse to another—from disco-era Manhattan to Feudal Japan and back to where it all started: ancient Rome. When the dark shadow of his half-brother, the sinister Obsidio, descends, his deadly kiss leaves bodies cooling in steam room corners. Nerites must adopt a new role: as defender of these hidden havens, his eternal orgy becomes a race across history itself.

The Lurid Sea

© 2018 By Tom Cardamone. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN 13:978-1-62639-912-9

This Electronic Book is published by

Bold Strokes Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 249

Valley Falls, NY 12185

First Edition: March 2018

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.


Editor: Jerry L. Wheeler

Production Design: Stacia Seaman

Cover Image, Youth and the Dolphin, by Félix Frédéric d’Eon

Cover Design by Melody Pond

By the Author

Night Sweats: Tales of Homosexual Wonder and Woe

The Lurid Sea


Special thanks to my love, my light: Leo, and especially to Len Barot, Cindy Cresap, Craig Gidney, Michael Graves, Trebor Healey, Wayne Hoffman, Sandy Lowe, Melody Pond, Stacia Seaman, Carsen Taite, Ian Titus, Jerry L. Wheeler, and all of the folks at Bold Strokes Books.

Deepest gratitude to Félix Frédéric d’Eon for the use of his fantastic artwork for the cover of this book.

To Boyd McDonald

No rays from the holy heaven come down

On the long night-time of that town:

But light from out the lurid sea

Streams up the turrets silently—

The City in the Sea

Edgar Allan Poe

Chapter One

A Chariot in the Rain

The hot tub was a frothy mix of foam flecked with miniscule bits of fecal matter, white ribbons of semen and filmy sweat. I basked in this heady broth of hunger and lassitude. Curious feet found mine, quickly recoiled, and returned to tentatively test the ever-so-slight webbing between my toes. All faces were blank. Perspiration coated red brows. A large man edged closer. Dark complexion, black eyes, his thick temple strung with aqueous pearls. Knee to knee, his fingers parted the water toward my erection. I leaned back, head against the slick concrete ledge; I let him trace my silky shaft with the puckered ridges of his waterlogged fingertips. He squeezed and grunted as I exhaled. I dipped my face into the swirling water and thought of the dark currents between the Pillars of Hercules, of the mermen and porpoises cavorting within the deep whorls of the Aegean. I wasn’t ready yet to spend my seed, for my hunger bends in a different direction, so I gently backed out of the man’s grip. He relented without a word and turned his attention to the young, shallow-chested boy pressed between two older gentlemen. I pivoted, made tiny waves, and rose slowly so that all eyes would be on my supple buttocks as water poured down my back and funneled like a spigot off the curlicue of matted black hair between my legs.

I grabbed one of the damp towels from the nearby rack, wrapped it loosely around my waist, and sauntered down the dim hall. I was in no hurry to discern my whereabouts. What town, what country, even what era, meant little to me. After all, what would I converse with these men about, politics? Here, in the bathhouses across the world, men spoke with their eyes and then their hands, following with silent mouths and other points of entry and egress. And I’m not looking for exits. I live to suck the salt from as many men as possible, giving only a little, to submerge again, in whatever body of water that particular palace holds. Sometimes I part thick cords of pulsing vapor to emerge in another place, as naked as the day I was born. Or at least as naked as the day Neptune cursed me to travel down this road of excess within the aquatic underworld of men who sup on men.

* * *

I opened my mouth wantonly and let the towel drop just a bit for a large man within the shadow of a cavernous brick archway. His gaze drilled my form. He beckoned with his chin and turned; I let the towel fall and follow. His shoulders were tense from the hunt, the crevices of his back rolled into a dark gorge of distressed muscle. The threadbare towel cupped his hard buttocks and slapped his thighs. My hunger was a wolf that burrowed into the cave of my throat and dropped a moist litter into my bowels. I must feed these squirming pups. His towel dropped. Hands on my shoulders guided me down. His cock wavered before my mouth and, kneeling, my fingers combed the wide swath of pubic hair that swarms his pelvis. My tongue hung out of my mouth in unquestioning gratitude, and he rubbed the head of his cock across my lips. I whimpered with delight, a godling that grovels at the bony feet of men, one who sucks stringy loops of ambrosia from their warm laps and rolls in ecstasy on cold semen-stained cement floors. Invert Mount Olympus into heavenly basements of captured clouds of white roiling steam, disembodied sounds of panting, rough hands and dark corners, and you will find me on the ground, wet pinions of delight smeared across my cheeks. Heaven in Hades, I feasted on his length. I placed his palm on the back of my neck, the better for him to know he was my driver. I was a chariot in the rain, his to ride. I held him in my mouth and throat with an applied rhythm. The man widened his stance. The weak light still somehow reached his blanched toenails. I liked how his toes reflexively pulled at the slimy ground as I increased my speed.

“You’re pretty good at this.”

I nodded vigorously and disengaged for a moment, cradling the wet cock in one hand, steadying myself with my other hand on the cold concrete floor.

“I’ve sucked miles of cock.”

My momentary partner chortled and, thumb on the glistening head of his dick, impatiently pushed it back down toward my parted lips.

“Well, c’mon now. You’ve got a million miles to go before you get home.”

I could only nod in agreement at this bewilderingly ironic statement, and I dove back onto the shaft. The cock in my mouth was now the single most important organ within my own body. As this second cylindrical heart lay heavy on my tongue, I closed my eyes tight, arms back as if I were about to dive, and dive I did, plunging over and over toward the cliff of muscled crotch—granite against my nose, pubic hair up into my nostrils, and the penis in my mouth exploded, and I fed and swallowed and licked the life-giving testicles in abject gratitude. Bliss and more, as by now other men had gathered around us. Towels dropped and I fed like a blind beggar let out of an infernal prison into the daylight for the first time in eons. These men were my collective sun, each strand of semen deposited into my eager mouth a ray of light. With my every gasp, hands holding calves steady, nodding to the next one, each movement and sound conveyed the same message: paint my tongue white.

This went on forever.

Eventually, the last man shivered and withdrew to spew ropey strands of cum on my cheeks, grunts and shudders as I groveled, and then he exhaled and leaned back against the wall as I licked myself clean. The whimpering wolves caged within my gut curled and stretched with satiated glee.

Chapter Two

This Grateful Serpent

Let’s talk about my throat. Once you move past my hospitable lips, that performance called a tongue, there is the throat. I eschew vaginal descriptions. For the most part we are men here, a few glorious creatures are something between a man and a woman and I befriend them, finding their difference a blessing, a relief, proof that we are a flourishing garden and not opposing sides of a duly carved chess board, but I digress. Let’s talk about my brother, Obsidio. My brother was the first to discover the congress of my throat. He was big for his age. His feet came in first, huge, always black-soled for he liked to prowl outside our mansion gates at night, as was his nature, his being sired by the God of Death and all that that entails. Black hair, raven-winged but greased for trickery, not flight. He was as stern and stealthy as our mother, enabling him to sneak up on me whenever he liked which, as he was a few years older and matured early, was often. Those sinewy feet looked as if they were formed to climb walls, to hang from the looming branch of a dead tree over some crumbling tomb beside a barren stretch of the Appian Way.

Our house was situated in the heart of Viminal Hill, one of the oldest, wealthiest neighborhoods of Rome. Such illustrious households were centered around an open courtyard with a life-giving fountain. I studied my Grecian scrolls here. See? I was always drawn to water. Whenever Mother went out shopping or banqueted at a friend’s mansion, my brother knew where to find me.

Mother. Obsidio inherited all of her darkness, her mercurial moods. We split her ample carnal desire. I took her small frame, my brother her distant eyes. Her desires were endless, exhausting slaves, gods, senators, centurions, priest and priestess, merchants, and assorted freedmen of dubious trades. She took them all in her chambers, some on the library divan, others on the cool marble floor of the vestibule, our ancestral masks staring straight ahead, stoic, eyelessly censorious over the moaning below. Often in full view of us when we were infants. As we grew she became more circumspect, though it’s more likely her tastes developed intricacies that required more private ministrations. Either way, we were often alone.

* * *

Back to Obsidio.

Just saying his name causes my throat to tighten in the grip of that most wanton of lusts, the familial.


His name is ash on my tongue. A gray ash smoothed and molded into a paste by the very saliva he summons—a new unguent I apply to every cock I fellate that is not his. No matter the man, he is always in my mouth.


He came upon me silently, as always. A flutter of starlings announced his presence as he batted the scroll out of my small hands and pushed me down into the raked pebbles. His knuckles protruded like pulleys working fine, long fingers. Soon after his penis lengthened and the blackest hair slithered out of his pores and gathered around its root, he figured out how to mount my young, hairless body from behind one night in an Athenian graveyard while on family holiday. At home, he used his taloned toes like a second pair of hands to better hold me down. He stuffed his balled tunic in my mouth to silence me, the broth of his odor and sweat arousing my initial appetite, as if the cloth were a cork so my dormant skill could ferment as he worked my backside.

I marveled at the length and girth of his penis as mine had yet to sprout. Obsidio grimly charted its emerging growth within the crack of my ass, commenting that soon he would be able to root out my internal organs and I would become an empty vessel, that when he was finished pumping me with semen, he would stand me on my head, plant purple amaranths in my cavity and present me as the centerpiece for our next family banquet. Being ignorant of anatomy, such talk terrorized and thrilled me. I cherished the image of my body as a mere unadorned vase to be filled with random things.

* * *

A slave stood solemnly on a ladder trimming the date palms above us as Obsidio was slamming his piece into me one afternoon. At some point, my cries and whinnies proved a distraction to my brother, so he hollered in exasperation, “I’ve got an idea on how to shut you up.”

He flipped me over and spun me round as if I were but a pup, and slapped his steaming cock, greasy from my internal oils, across my lips. Loosening the rag from my mouth, he plunged in.

You would think there would have been at least a moment’s resistance to this alien act, a new violation of my immature body. Not at all. I pivoted, and, on all fours, I assumed my intended vocation—no, my reason to exist. Mine was a life of eternal supplication.

Finally, I understood the physical act of prayer.

He gasped as I swallowed his length, tasting his glans as it passed, swabbing the underbelly of his engorged cock as it rode over my tongue and down the fitted funnel of my throat. I reflexively swallowed to pull him in, nose bent upward on his still-bald stomach. His pubic hair was jackal thick, so coarse my gums bled the first few times I sucked his penis, until I adjusted. He swiftly ejaculated. His semen clung to my tongue like gasping fish to a net. I hooked a globule with my finger and held it aloft. It glistened like highly polished onyx.

This was the only physical evidence he was the son of Pluto.

I let the sticky substance swing from my fingertip like a black pendulum. We knew then we were done with the foolish business he was conducting within my ass. My mouth, my throat, was a perfect fit for his cock. It’s where it belonged; a living sheath for his scarab.

From then on, until we were separated the night my father cursed me with immortality, we shared his bed. And while he slept, I was nestled between his legs, nursing this grateful serpent.

Chapter Three

The Echo of My Delirium

The ocean of my birth was the secret basement within the marble and brick bowels of the Baths of Caracalla. After my brother both divined and elicited my true nature, my hunger grew insatiable. Yet when he was in one of his increasingly sullen moods, I began to frequent the baths to seek additional succor. This was a natural excursion for a bookish lad, as the baths housed one of the most well-stocked libraries in the city of Rome. Our slave, the incongruously named Perseus, was a shy, silly eunuch whose main duty was the care of my mother’s hair, though he was additionally charged with accompanying me whenever I left the house. He enjoyed my trips to the baths, and since he was singularly nearsighted, it was easy to give him the slip.

Once we had settled in at the baths, I liked to wallow, nearly submerged, in one of the heated pools, eyes level with the water, and observe the size and shape of the various organs floating between the legs of the assorted men lounging in the water. I would tuck my own erection between my thighs and set my sights on the tastiest cock. If the owner was interested, I soon learned, he would give the slightest, nearly imperceptible nod and depart for more private quarters, such as an empty massage room or one of the darkened resting areas. All were circumspect, for such escapades with freeborn youth such as myself were taboo, and thus that much more titillating. After several visits to the baths, I worked up the nerve to follow and learned to hone the skills I practiced daily on my brother. Age, girth, nationality, disposition—all meant nothing to me. What I craved hung between their legs and belonged in my mouth. Some patted my head in approval, but others pushed me away once they were spent. The bitter salt of their disdain did not bother me in the least. I was already peering past their thighs toward the next slippery banquette. That was when I became aware of the competition. Other boys and men forded the same ravenous waters. At first, my thirst seemed so singular, so obsessive, that I did not imagine others could possibly share my predilection, did not notice similar assignations within the steam, couplings in the corners, and so on.

* * *

Late one evening, after Mother had departed for a fortnight to join in the bacchanalian banquets of a disgraced senator recently exiled to his Tuscan vineyard, I lingered at the baths. Concerning the senator—faint punishment for a notorious drunk, imprisoned within acres of succulent vice. Perseus slept on a bench while I sucked on a centurion for the third time. He had caught my eye in the frigidarium and I followed him to the toilet, where I took him in my mouth while he squatted to release his bowels. His thickness was a challenge, though the fact that the rankness of his pubes could not be scrubbed away no matter how many soaks compelled me forward. After I swallowed his globular seed for the first time, he claimed me like a pet and had me follow him from pool to pool, his massive hand always on my neck. The second feeding took place in one of the dark resting chambers, where he jammed a large, calloused toe in my mouth while massaging himself back into full, towering length. Our third session ended in one of the steam rooms. The breadth of him stretched my lips and worked my throat, my own little divining rod pert and quivering as my knees slid slightly on the tile floor. I steadied myself by gripping his burly calves and realized that what I thought was the echo of my delirium was actually an oral chorus. As the swirling steam momentarily subsided, I saw every man seated on the bench to either side of my centurion had his legs spread with the silhouette of a bobbing, servile head between his knees. I marveled. My sense of specialness and singularity wilted, but rebounded with the thought that I was not alone in my taste, that I was among a brotherhood of service, a priesthood swallowing secret sacrifice. The centurion grunted as he again flooded my mouth. I felt his whole body go lax while his member softened between my lips. I slowed my suction as the boy working a tall, lanky bald man beside me fell away in exhaustion. The initial flurry of a snore emanated from the listing warrior above as I gingerly pivoted to catch the tall man’s flagging erection. He greedily fed me back into his full length. I stopped only to lap his pendulous balls, and then an impatient finger would tap my shoulder, insistent I return to the main task.

The rotund young man recovered and squatted nearby, his mouth open, offering my tall man a choice. He pulled both our heads together and we lapped at his shaft in unison. This dual action brought him to climax as we competed to devour every drop of semen. The young man signaled his eagerness to suck me as well, but I waved him away. He nodded in complete understanding and moved on to help himself to a new arrival. However, the steam was on the wane, and snoring redoubled throughout the room. Time for me to take my reluctant leave.

* * *

Perseus handed me my toga in the changing room. As I dressed, the young man from before came in naked, wet and shivering from a dip in the frigidarium. As he toweled himself off, I noticed he kept glancing over at me. Not knowing what to do, I smiled, curious about someone who shared my rapacious predilections. He styled his hair in the oddly endearingly though very outdated Cesarean fashion, though he had no impending baldness to disguise, as far as I could tell.

He shuffled on his sandals next to me and blurted out, “I am studying law.”

I could not think of an appropriate response, so I said, “I study anatomy.”

Cheeks blossoming, he smiled and tilted his head back toward the steam room. “Then I’ll see you in class.”

After that, my perspective of the baths changed. No longer did I view myself as a magical nymph afloat within a sea of men. I had competition, friendly or otherwise. Some of my fellow pathicus knew each other and some were coldly cordial, while others were fiercely competitive, blocking one another’s view of the finer specimens. I discovered a tantalizing range of tastes: men who stole glances at other men’s feet, youths who stared at men old enough to be their grandfathers, pert pink erections breaking the surface of green water. Sodomy was a strong thirst for many, one that was more prevalent among certain nationalities, or they were just less circumspect, judging from how friends and colleagues would openly assess the bodies of young athletes while getting massaged or sharing wine. The less discreet cocksuckers, however, were quite a school of sharks. One dandy cruelly tripped another as he rushed out of the swimming pool in a frenzy, hypnotized by the long member wagging between a giant Gaul’s legs. This was a world within a world, a cunning, quite secret society of looks, gestures, and asides. A language of glances and silent understanding. So I started paying attention to the graffiti scrawled in the toilet stalls, sheepishly looking for my name, for public praise, banners proclaiming my abilities. There I was surprised to learn that “The slave Perseus, ass no longer tight, sucks and sucks with all his might.” A rival, and so close to home! Well, the Baths of Caracalla held men by the hundreds, so there was enough to go around. Every time we visited, I saw the plump student, Publius. By then we had introduced ourselves, him wryly stating that when his parents had named him, little did they know how his mouth would indeed be “public” property someday. I left my heritage unstated. The webbing between my toes tended to recede whenever a large number of mortals were present. We acknowledged each other, briefly chatting, but both of us were focused on our duty—nay, our purpose.

* * *

One sultry afternoon, hot and rainy, the baths had yet to fill up, though within the first hour, I gleefully consumed the cum of two strapping young blond brothers, who were eager to feed me at the same time. I was cherishing the memory of their dueling swords pushing against my cheeks while soaking in one of the hotter tubs when Publius slipped into the tepidarium I occupied.

“So you’ve had the brothers Califrax. Tasty morsels each. Hard to tell them apart, though I think one of them grunts where the other groans.”

At first, I was annoyed he had interrupted my respite, much less with the announcement that I had just eaten from a dish the lawyer-in-training had already licked clean.

“How many times have you had them?” I whispered conspiratorially.

“Only once.” He shimmied closer.

“They only ever take to someone once, though I think they bugger each other when they can’t find fresh relief. Imagine that, brothers…” I immediately thought of Obsidio, how of every cock I had thus far tasted, his was the one that fit my mouth just so, like a muscle removed from my own body and achingly returned. I blushed and submerged my head under water to wash the thought away. I rose and shook droplets from my hair. Publius was close enough that I could smell watered-down wine on his breath. He glanced down into the pool and stared at the fleshy minnow bouncing between my legs.

“So. Do men do this anywhere else in Rome?” I said, redirecting his eyes to my face.

He blinked and looked back up.

“Yes, all over the place. I went to the Coliseum once, late at night. I heard that willing gladiators would lean against a column if they were interested, but all of the ones I approached wanted money.”


“So I paid for it!” He laughed and dunked his head under water.

I thought he was going to make another move on me, so I crossed my legs, but he rose instead, spurting water out of his mouth.

“But I like coming here instead. Here if there’s no action, at least I get in a good swim.”

With that he launched into a leisurely backstroke and I didn’t see him again until we were both on our knees in the steam room, side by side, in fraternal cadence.

* * *

Publius and I grew closer over the months. One afternoon, Mother held Perseus back to attend to her before a particularly significant banquet on the Palatine Hill, so I was able to go to the baths unaccompanied. Obsidio never went, as he despised people and found the large, open-air swimming pool especially repellent, as it was a place of sun and exercise. He preferred to watch wrestling or stand in the shadows during slave auctions. At the Baths of Caracalla, while my friend and I were both getting our skin scraped and oiled by masseuses, he casually asked if I was going to attend one of the many festivities held during the evening of Lupercalia. I thought he meant the circuses set up near the open-air markets and told him I had long ago outgrown any interest in trained animals or acrobats. He guffawed.

“I’m talking about a different kind of acrobatics. Surely you’ve heard of the Fellatiolympics.”

I shook my head. My eyelids were heavy with sleep. My face had been pummeled beforehand by quite the variety of cock, so I was ready for a nap.

He shot up and waved the masseuses away.

“By the gods above and below, you don’t know what I am talking about, do you? This is the event, here, in the chambers beneath the caldarium. A contest for all of the best cocksuckers in Rome! Real beauties offer themselves up, the best meat in the city, swinging enormous serpents between their legs and the like, all administered and judged by the high priests of Priapus. The winner is awarded a crown of pearls, naturally.”

He looked around conspiratorially and lowered his voice.

“Look, I’ve never been before, but I’m told the competition is so intense that the heat pouring off the bodies of the participants condenses on the roof and drips down on everyone’s heads.”

His voice dropped to a whisper.

“It’s said that at that point, even the gods cum.”

I rolled back over on my stomach, to better conceal my fledgling erection.

* * *

After Publius’s tale, I left the baths restless, and I ordered my litter to swing by the Coliseum. I hadn’t been to the games since I was a young child. My mother despised the rabble and I loved my scrolls, so it had been quite some time since I had stood within its damning shadow. I was impressed and a bit intimidated by the massive structure, made all the more ominous by torchlight in the night.

The panting slaves gladly set the palanquin down, and I alighted onto the dusty road. I could already make out figures lingering between the thick columns. Men are always men, lust a permanent, driving force. A variety of males, including impatient members of the Praetorian Guard, off duty and drunk, all stood beneath the arches, outnumbered by the stooped men groveling for their sex. This cadre came in a variety of ages, sizes, and stations, yet all were equal in their desire to serve. I wove between graffitied columns, marble adorned with etched proclamations of love and curses cast on enemies long dead in every language of the empire. The sweaty shoulders and backs of these soldiers worked quietly to erase said claims of immortality as men moaned beneath them. The sounds of so much sucking and fucking wafted through the Coliseum’s antechambers like steady waves lapping the walls of a brackish grotto. Enraptured, I loosened my toga, nearly intent to run naked through the columns, drunk on the noise, the smells of sexual congress, so different from the baths, yet so similar.

Here men gathered in pools of shadow and made their own steam.

A large, broad-shouldered man marched slowly toward me. I could tell he was from the provinces by his bad haircut and oafish sandals. His flat nose betrayed the occupation of a wrestler. His tunic was short. He pulled at the barely concealed bulge beneath it and gave me a hard, cold look, silently commandingly my complete and utter servitude. I demonstratively swallowed, hoping to appear more fearful than I felt, having learned in the baths that some men scoff at the willing while hungry for the demure. I nodded consent with a feigned hesitancy. He turned to the darkness, and I followed. His calves were like melons, his haunches those of a well-worked stallion. I raced after him as he swiveled his head back and forth, searching for a corner to call our own. He stopped beneath a low archway, spread his legs, and lifted his tunic over a wide leather belt. Even in the darkness, I could see his sneer of pride. His cock was that magnificent, an expansive muscle that opened like a giving hand, holding an orb of the most precious, veined porphyry marble, pink and polished. My lips parted involuntarily as I sank to my knees and breathed in his animal musk, nestling my cheek against the lush pubic forest that burst forth around his now-quivering totem. He sighed and relaxed against the wall as I grasped the large, rough big toe of each foot, the better to steady myself. He filled my mouth fully. I choked down his length while teething on the perfect, plump head, a salty effluence already leaking from the puckered tip. His large hand rested atop my skull. Flat, simian fingertips dug into my brow comfortably as he regulated my speed of service. Occasionally, he would pop his penis out of my mouth and slap away the excess saliva across my cheeks. I used such reprieves to gasp for air, correct my position, and swallow hard to better clear the path for re-entry. At one point, his considerable thumb began to stroke my eyebrow as his breathing turned quick and shallow, and I correctly interpreted this to mean he was near release. Just as this thought entered my head, he flooded my mouth with a charge of salty, milky cream, a continuing, forceful surge. I gulped it down as my own little soldier spurted involuntarily on the sand between his legs. He collapsed onto the ground, exhausted. His weight pulled me down and forced my face into the dirty sand, my semen smearing into my closed eyes as I coughed.

He reached out and pulled my toga up across my torso and lightly massaged my ass as cum continued to issue forth from his flagging cock. Sated, he exhaled deeply and sank farther to the ground, his legs extending to either side of my body. A snore issued from out the thick pout of his mouth. I stood, dusted myself off, and left him there to be robbed of whatever paltry coins weighted down his purse.

* * *

My body, drunk on sperm and emancipated by sexual exertion, hummed its own song as I made my way through the columns, wondering where my litter had been parked. My slight nipples were erect, my palms sweaty. The sand beneath my feet felt as if it were about to give way, as if I danced within a swirling hourglass, the ground about to open up to exciting escapades. The air was intoxicating, so different from the atmosphere of the baths, with its impounded smells of men and oils, the din of conversation resounding throughout. This was a new playground. One of many. I wondered what other erotic arenas existed throughout the city. Torchlight flickered off the archways above as two drunken youths hung off one another, their disheveled togas soiled with spilt wine, laughing and kissing as they sought deeper shadows. What other alleys and avenues attracted such activities throughout the city? What other locations and erotic secrets had Publius yet to reveal? Better yet, what did he not yet know? I realized this was happening all over the empire. Everywhere men congregated, men fucked, men sucked, men grunted, men sighed. If I ever happened to fancy a certain race, I needed only travel to that corner of the world to satisfy my tastes. What books had been written about my particular practice? Were entire libraries dedicated to vice? A sense of adventure brimmed within. I would branch out, explore, spread my budding wings and make the world mine.

Light-footed, I was practically skipping, I felt so blissful and carefree, when I tripped over the prone body at my feet. I landed forcefully and wrong, knocking the wind out my lungs. I gulped air and flipped over on my back to push myself away from the cold, inert form. I had touched enough clammy, cold flesh to know this wasn’t an unconscious drunk or freshly mugged tourist.

This was a dead body.

The lifeless eyes staring back at me belonged to our servant, Perseus.

His blue, parted lips were smeared with a clotting black wax only I could recognize: the mark of Obsidio. What would, at some sad, future point, be called Pluto’s Kiss.

Chapter Four

Magic Happens

The locker room was empty. A dank citrine of fog, the lingering stench of bleach and cum assailed my nostrils as I stepped out of the sauna. Two older men in saggy underwear chatted in low voices among the dimpled and oft-painted lockers, their body hair in electric cameo from the red light of the Exit sign. They did every subtle maneuver imaginable to look me over without appearing to look me over. Otherwise, the bathhouse appeared to be nearly deserted.

Full, empty, the midnight frenzy of men and the boys-who-are-just-now-only-men, their furtive steps into the locker room, the loudly dropped keys and embarrassingly hard cocks poking out of fearfully gripped towels low on lanky hips, trapping the sweaty aroma of poorly wiped asses, or the calculating bathhouse veterans, stationed near the door at five o’clock to assess the latest numbers as the after-work crowd streams in. The attendant staff circulates. Tanned and bored shirtless towel boys in tight red shorts with perfect hair stand beside an empty bin, comparing biceps, coveting the fact that they are being coveted. They tell their girlfriends when they get home just how sick and perverted some of these men are, how much they miss their girlfriends while they commit drudgery. The boys neglect to inform their girlfriends about how their former high school swim team coach comes to the baths every Saturday. Their version of overtime entails taking turns with ankles in the air, cold whistle grazing hot chest, sly laughter and deep, probing kisses, as if his tongue were trying to reach back into time and reclaim the first time he saw them raise their arms to dive—I value any and all scenarios.

Just as happy to ford vacant halls for a change, I strode naked and sweaty, stretching as I walked, breathing in the stillness. I absorbed the quietude of an abandoned barracks, a place for men absent of men, but their essence remained. Smells, impressions, shadows, all hung like malevolent, rain-soaked capes from invisible hooks.

Walking through the cement halls was like performing a silent ballet. I wanted to skip and launch into a light run, to remain alive and vibrant until the men I require arrived. To run until I danced, danced until I dove off a cliff, returning to the dark ocean of my lineage. Instead, I chose to take a nap. Finding an unlocked cabin with a heap of damp towels, I made a nest. And of course, while I slept, I sucked my thumb.

And dreamt.

Oh, how I dream. Dreams so different from childhood: Those landscapes were traced by fear and literature. The fingerprints of mighty myths, stories told by tutors and slaves, were pressed into my nighttime imagination. The terror of looming adults, thunder and thwarted need informed the nightmares that bubbled up into cries my wet nurse tried to stop with a tired tit. Now my dreams are so much like my waking world that more than once I laughed aloud, disturbing the owner of the cock placed between my sleeping lips. Even when I take a rest, men come to me. I am often woken by the needy caress of a hefty erection nudging about my face. I recall how I had to apply myself with even more zeal than usual to appease that particular fellow, as if my amusement were directed toward him when really, it was the realization that he was a conscious being and not the imaginary feeder of my permanent lust. The surrounding sweaty delirium was so delicious as to seem unreal. Many times, I had to reassert tongue to cock and tighten my hold on the calves before me to reassure these dreamy paramours. And to reassure myself. Conversely, I have woken teething at the very air, lips parted and tongue out, the vivid dream of a scarred and muscled centurion unloading in my throat so real, so physically believable, that I rose mid-swallow to better engulf the imaginary penis stabbing my wanton mouth. Now, though, a silent, assertive licking between my thighs caused me to stir. Some old goat had slipped into my cabin and knelt quietly, lifting the skirt of my towel to sup at my divine cock.

My penis is neither tiny nor impressive. It is an adequate aqueduct of urine should my bowels process the occasional water I accidentally imbibe from the pools and showers. I reach orgasm only rarely, through the culmination of an intensely hot scene, when I have returned to a favorite bathhouse in Japan or Turkey, for instance. It is always hard for me not to cum at the Continental Baths in New York City. The glittering music there is maddeningly arousing, the men somehow different, their collective energy the zeitgeist of lust. Music! The silver bells of automated human hearts beat throughout the dance floor. Plus, the Continental is one of the few saunas with rooftop access, affording me a most infrequent view of that oceanic tapestry, the sky. I miss the stars, though the constellations are something of a painful reminder of my family tree. But the city. Oh, that city. New York City. Of course it is “new.” It vanquishes Rome with its size, the teeming masses. From above I see that chariots have been automated, with glowing eyes and strange blares of lament whenever they gather in large numbers, which is often. A diadem of light seen from Olympus, no doubt.

So I work up from my sundry dreams and patted the top of the old goat lapping away between my legs, unsurprised to find the familiar dull nubs of worn horns. Zotikos. An actual satyr. We had crossed paths before. I had long known I was not the only mythological creature who haunted the baths. Though they were exceptionally rare, particularly when my travels took me forward in time, I found their occasional presence reassuring. Magic happens. Nothing was routine in the couplings of men. I had seen Zotikos throughout the eons, usually wintering in the warm confines of European bathhouses. No doubt, he summered outside, in sylvan plains. Wherever I discovered him, he was bounding about, his long, speckled brown and pink penis erupting from the goatish white hair that plaited his thighs and hind legs. Only I could tell he possessed a tail he had neatly trimmed into a nub, so he could traverse the human world without notice.

I shifted, and the old goat shot me a toothless grin and went back to work, the purplish knobs of his spine rolling with the ministrations of his mouth. I leaned back on my elbows and concentrated on the rare treat of pleasure given. The tongue that swabbed my tip might be gray but it was masterful, knowing, possessing a philosophical grip and a soulful surrender.

I intuited that the randy beast dutifully wished to swallow. The taste of my semen induces madness, however, blinding mortals and even the mythic with an ecstasy that melts their suspicious minds with its lightning sincerity. I had to deny him. I had only made the mistake of allowing a partner to sup from my rod once before, back in a Grecian bathhouse, when I was new to my travels and this divine aspect of my sex was unknown to me. My stricken patron was kept by the bathhouse in question, a fool on a golden chain staked to the floor in the middle of a low-ceilinged basement. Patrons fed him and cooed after this lost soul while they gently fucked him, for he was granted a certain amount of my allure. On occasion, I would find myself back there. My presence would always elicit a frenzy of orgiastic behavior from him—drooling, shitting, and animalistic groveling—reminding me that humans are, above all else, fragile.

With orgasm mounting, I gently pushed the satyr away with my blackened foot. The old goat was disappointed, but his mouth was still agape, hoping for a stray drop of semen. I wanted to both spare him madness and reward such a faithful servant. I stood above him, arching my back while working my member with lithe fingers. Head back and lips parted, with a swivel of my hips, I ejaculated a vigorous torrent of golden doves up into the air and when they plummeted back down caught the molten flock in my mouth.

I swallowed with a dramatic gulp, smiled, and did a slight curtsy. The old goat literally fell over and struggled to right himself, blinking, unbelieving but knowing. He offered rowdy applause and the slow, polite bow one master gives to another maybe once or twice in a lifetime.

Chapter Five

Surrender Complete

The sounds of Rome at night: the gallop of horses, the anxious and whispering feet of speeding messengers. The retching of drunks and the occasional, distant sob of an exhausted whore and her doorway paramour.

My brother’s confident footsteps coming down the hall. I curled beneath my sheets into an even tighter ball, knowing he would mistake my position as that of ready plaything rather than fearful recoil. Until that night, I had thought his brusque brutality that of all boys entering manhood and about to don the toga virillus, not indicative of darker tastes. However, as we grew, I noticed more of our individual father’s attributes emerging from within us. I could hold my breath in the bath for quite a long time. For Obsidio, the occasional black sparrow would drop dead from his unwavering gaze.

A bath previously drawn by Perseus, a hint of lavender in the cooling water to please me.

The bumpy ride home in the palanquin had been a journey toward terror. I was unsure if I had left him behind or if my brother would somehow beat me home. I thought briefly of telling our mother but then recalled that she was out, that Perseus was in charge of the household and, absent him, my lethal brother. I shook as I cried. Silent slaves let the palanquin down softly. They probably assumed my whimpering was over some immature love affair or a paltry comeuppance between me and my brother. They stood quietly at attention while I remained frozen among the pillows within what amounted to a silken casket, for I had been carried to my doom. Surely, Obsidio would silence me to keep me from telling Mother about his deadly secret. That’s when I realized how valuable I was to him. Our shared maternal blood and immortal seed made me immune to his deadly semen. I was the only being on earth whose service he could enjoy more than once. I was the only one who knew how to please him. Everyone else was an inevitable victim, a roll of the dice in terms of whether he actually enjoyed the encounter, and if he did, it was never to be repeated. The guards opened the doors to our mansion, fortress-like in the torchlight. I entered, grimly aware of the role I must play.

* * *

His footsteps came to a stop, but he did not enter my room.

I shivered to think he had moved on to additional prey in my absence. The entrance to the basement slave quarters was just down the hall.

Never once had I thanked Perseus for the lavender.

I let out a slight whimper, to tempt him, giving out the impression my sleep was troubled, that he could enter my dreams as easily as he could part my lips. If I could take enough of his seed, he would be too spent to visit others. I rolled and stretched in the bed as if stricken with nightmares, knowing my perceived terror would draw him in. The door opened. I could hear him circle my supine form. He pulled my sweat-soaked sheet away, and I gasped as he raked my chest with sharp nails. Pretending to be startled awake, I kicked against the mattress and ran my hands over my goose-fleshed skin, so sure was I his uncut nails had turned into ebony talons and that he had cut me, that I was bleeding.

“Not yet, little one,” he whispered. “But I could make you bleed, if you’d like that.”

The moonlight filtering through the window bounced off his slice of a smile. My room was Spartan, a few scrolls. In one corner a simple pedestal held an erotic amphora I had spied in the market one day and cried until Mother had purchased it for me, but not before she examined the gladiators entwined across its baked clay. With a finger, Obsidio tickled the bottom of my exposed feet.

“What’s this? Sandy soles after a visit to the baths? Usually only your knees get dirty.” He chortled drily. His laughter always had this slight echo, as if reverberating in an unseen cave, a low place of cruel rites and panicked sacrifice.

His toga dropped, and he arched his back, awaiting service. His body was icy marble in the darkness. An emerging tumescence beckoned. I flipped onto my stomach and swiveled to catch his cock in my mouth. Better to serve him than answer questions. I instinctively found his erection. Its stony hardness battered at my lips as I pretended to hesitate, to better provide him the mastery he craved. He sighed as I parted my lips and found his root with my tongue. He had not bathed since his visit to the Coliseum, and I tasted the sweat of other men, his own dried spore. And perhaps Perseus’s last breath.

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