The slave auction was a chaotic event as thousands of people came to sell and purchase animals, livestock, and people. People were bustling about--and bids on the living goods were shouted out into the forum. Many people gathered, not only to buy slaves and livestock, but they also came to watch as people from various parts of the world; kidnapped from their homes and taken to a foreign land--they spoke in various languages--some understanding others were yelling to the others. While others like the women and children stood silently, watching the Roman crowd with large fearful eyes. Some were even crying.
The dust swirled as another carriage full of slaves came tumbling down the dirt road. As the next batch of slaves was dragged out of their wooden crate--they were pushed up onto the stage of the forum where the auctioneer in a loud booming voice began the auction. In a long line, all the slaves were being examined by a sea of eyes. It was unnerving and unsettling as the slaves were being physically picked apart and looked at for their physicality. They were being analyzed for what use they could serve to their new masters.
Among this batch of slaves was an 11-year-old boy with short blonde hair and violet eyes. He was scrawny and incredibly dirty. His brown clothes were torn and tattered. There was a large purple bruise on the side of his cheek. He looked out into the crowd, his gaze locking onto crowd members here and there--trying to ask them for their help with a silent look. But it seemed as the gazes he did meet were full of malicious and cruelty. The crowd was like a bunch piranha and he was going to be their food. He felt his heart tighten in fear and hatred. He didn’t want to be here.
Suddenly he was pulled out of his thoughts as a hand clapped his shoulder hard. He jumped and looked up hatefully at the auctioneer who was now shouting at the crowd--asking for their bidding price.
The boy could hear a roar as the crowd and people shouted over each other to try to get their bid in. The auctioneer laughed. Their bids were high.
“Come on!” The auctioneer shouted. “Who wants this kid! Don’t you know who his father was?”
The crowd went wild. Some of the richer men were sending their slaves upfront to claim their bid. The boy gulped. He was beyond nervous and scared. The auctioneer sneered at the crowd’s offers. He thought they could go higher in their price.
“Come on, I need a decent price for this boy! Who is going to pay for the pretty blonde hairs on his head?” The auctioneer challenged. He was intentionally working the crowd into a frenzy.
From somewhere in the crowd, the boy could hear a roar of laughter. He saw suddenly a big ox of a man stride forward among the crowd, pushing his way to the front. People who saw him coming eyed him with fear and resentment. They knew who he was. He wore a plain tunic, sandals and had a sword at his side. He had thick black hair, a thick muscular neck, and the blackest eyes that the boy had ever seen. They were like obsidian. And they pierced the crowd with disdain and hatred. The ox man scowled. The auctioneer saw the big man and shouted down to him. His eyes twinkling in excitement.
“Durus! Long time no see! How may I help you today?” The auctioneer said, his voice oozing with honey. The ox man Durus looked at the auctioneer with his large black eyes, then gazed at the boy beside him. The boy was suddenly struck with an overwhelming feeling of trust and security. Whoever this person was, he was going to be his ticket out of this hell. The auctioneer smirked and tightened the hand already on the boy’s shoulders making him yelp.
“Ahh, Durus. My old friend. You want this prize. And I can see why. He is a beauty and if he makes it to being a man, he might be as strong as his father.” The auctioneer jibbed. He was toying with the ox man.
“Commodius, I wish to purchase the boy. How much is he?” Durus asked. His voice was a deep bass. It sounded like rolling thunder.
The crowd was still in a frenzy, one owned slave came up to the front and angrily demanded the auctioneer, “My lord Publius wished to buy the boy as well. He says he will pay whatever price you wish.”
The auctioneer smirked and looked at the slave. “Well,” he said, “that is a good question. What is your master going to do with the boy?”
The slave responded quickly, “That is my master’s business.”
The auctioneer smiled. He was like a grinning cat.
“You see, sir, I know your master Publius. I seem to sell him the most exquisite boys from all around the world. If I am not mistaken, if I sold this boy to him, he would be taken to your master’s bathhouses and used there?” The auctioneer asked innocently.
The slave glared at the auctioneer but stood his ground. “ I was told not to leave until I purchased this boy. So what is your price?”
The auctioneer laughed. The crowd was confused as to what was going on. They were beginning to quiet down and murmur amongst themselves.
“And what will you do with the boy, Durus? I know your master as well.” The auctioneer said. He was enjoying the competition.
Durus looked the auctioneer in the eyes. His black eyes gleaming with determination.“He will be put into the arena. And prove his worth.” The ox man said.
The auctioneer laughed loudly. He looked back at Durus, his eyes smiling. “Sold.” He said.
The auctioneer looked back up into the crowd and declared the boy sold. With a roar, the crowd began to disperse. The boy was the last one to be sold for the day.
The young boy watched everything unfold with his violet eyes. They were as big as the moon. He felt his heartbeat wildly against his chest. He couldn’t believe what he had just heard.
The arena. He was going to be trained for the arena.
He looked at Durus who had moved off quickly to pay for him. He watched the big man hand a bag of money to another auctioneer. Durus turned back and headed for him. The ox man wasn’t looking at him but the stage. The boy gulped. He was nervous but not scared of the big gladiator.
The boy stepped off the stage and a third auctioneer handed his chains to Durus. Durus took the boy’s chains in his hand. The boy was now looking up at the big ox man. The man was a complete giant. A mere swipe with his hand would cause the young to go flying.
Durus looked down at the young boy. His big black eyes swallowing the boy whole. Up close, the boy could see that the man had scars crisscrossing his body. He even had one on the side of his face. The boy tried to be brave and meet the gaze of the ox man. But his eyes got lost in the black pit of Durus’ eyes. Durus smirked.
“Just like your father.” He said quietly. Then he turned suddenly and gave a great tug on the boy’s chains wrenching him painfully forward. And with that, they pushed passed the auction crowd and left.