The Brothers’ Power and Influence Grew, Over Time
The brothers’ power and influence grew, over time, because of their successful farms, mills, breweries, and taverns, to name but a few. Fair-minded and caring, Antonius had earned the love and respect of all. Augustus, driven by his demons, was cruel and aggressive. He believed their success was due to his skill and forcefulness. Whereas, the reality was people worked for and with them out of loyalty to Antonius.
At 37, Augustus was wealthy but alone. He abused people, particularly women for whom he reserved his worst excesses. For a member of the Aquila he was an exceptionally cruel man. Hence, his ex-wife who he married when they were both 18 left him two years later. Antonius at 32 was wealthier and happily married with a 15-year-old daughter. His one great sadness in life, that his terminally ill wife, Adorabella, was not long for this world.
The Brothers Journey North
Antonius hated leaving Adorabella, but he had to travel to Aquila City, and negotiate new trade agreements with the city merchants. If it had been summer, he would have taken her with him, but the winter solstice was only two weeks away. Roads packed with festive travellers, and a week of torrential rain had churned them into mud. Therefore, his daughter Aurora would care for her mother, in his absence.
After Antonius had bid farewell to his family, he rode north with of Augustus and Ascanius. Their company cheered him, and made him feel safer. However, a mile from home, the skies darkened and the heavens opened, turning already slippery roads, into treacherous rivers of mud.
Augustus’ mood darkened, because he did not like Ascanius’ company. He did not appreciate the master-brewers’ talent, nor the benefits it brought the brothers. Nor did Augustus like horses, especially one that kept losing its footing, and threatened to dump him in the mud. The thought of the four-day ride only blackened his mood further, especially when the rain turned to sleet, as the north wind strengthened and cooled. As his steed slid in the mire, Augustus cheered himself by dreaming of the buxom whores he would dip into, at their overnight stops. He had no doubt the faithful Antonius would refrain; mistakenly Augustus believed the only woman Antonius had ever fucked was his beloved wife. The three rode on at a slow but steady pace, in silence, while. Ascanius pondered the brothers’ strained relationship.
By the end of the afternoon, wet and chilled to the bone, they had covered over thirty miles to reach the main road, and their first stop, the Balius Inn. Augustus did not know if he should smile or scowl. The thought of a dry refuge, with good food and ale cheered him. However, he wished it were some other inn, and not this one owned by Abelia and her sister. No doubt, she and his two comrades would huddle to together, to discuss their joint business ventures. He could not forgive Antonius for the betrayal of excluding him from these partnerships
Rowdy drinkers and weary travellers filled the main bar, where the barmaids, all buxom wore low cut dresses. Thus, they spent as much time removing wandering hands as they did serving ale. Nevertheless, customers who saved some of their cash and paid the right price could see and touch more than was currently on display.
Abelia had grown into a buxom wench and wore a barmaid’s uniform. Despite this, she ruled the roost, and no common hands wandered over her plentiful assets. Undoubtedly, only the most discerning customers could play and they paid handsomely for the privilege. Abelia welcomed the three tired travellers, she had set aside a private room for them to dine in later, ordered their horses stabled and warm baths prepared in their rooms, situated away from the noisy bar.
The Brothers’ Conversation
The brothers sat in quiet conversation; until Augustus asked, “Is she for hire?”
“Possibly, you will have to ask her.”
Augustus nodded, “Perhaps she could also organise some interim entertainment for me, does she have any virgins available?”
Antonius smiled “I doubt it but you might be lucky.”
Augustus unsubtle as ever turned to Abelia and loudly enquired, “How much does a whore like you charge to spread your legs and take a deposit?”
“Brother! Show some discretion please. Being a courtesan is an honourable profession, whereas whores stand on street corners.”
Augustus spurred on by the voices in his head retorted, “Why? She’s just a whore by any other name.”
Before Antonius could throttle his brother, Abelia interjected, “I prefer the title courtesan; it conveys the premium price you will have to pay.” With that, Abelia directed the three men to their rooms. There were no virgins, but a young woman attended, bathed and serviced Augustus before the evening meal.
Antonius retired to his room, the best in the inn, where a steaming bath awaited him. He stripped naked and was about to step into it, when a woman appeared, from behind a curtain. “Valeria! What are you doing here?”
“You’re not pleased to see me?”
“Just surprised, I did not expect to see you until we reached Aquila City. Are you in the habit of lurking in a man’s room?”
“Only if the man is you, although I should have waited until you bathed; you are dirty and stink of wet horse. I suggest you get in while the water is hot.”
A knock sounded on the door, and Valeria hid behind it, while Antonius submerged his tired body in the hot water. “Enter.”
Abelia entered the room, and wondered if Valeria had revealed herself yet. “I have come to collect your clothes for laundering.”
“Thank you, but I thought you would send a maid to do that.”
“Do you need a maid to wash and soothe your tired body?”
“There is no need, as you well know.”
Valeria closed the door. “Hello sister, are you here to scrub this weary traveller’s back?”
“No, I’ll leave that pleasure to you.”
For the next ten minutes, they discussed Augustus. In addition, both Antonius and Valeria suggested that Abelia back out of any arrangement she had with Augustus. Abelia believed he would not meet her price; however, Antonius advised that his brother would not care about the money. He would pay whatever, because she was Valeria’s sister. Abelia’s common sense and curiosity fought. Apart from her distrust of Augustus, she was looking forward to educating sweet shy Ascanius who, at 25, was a virgin. Her curiosity suggested she could have both, and sent her to collect Ascanius laundry.
Augustus arrived for dinner; a message that Antonius would be dining alone in his room annoyed him, but he cheered up when Abelia joined him. Furthermore, a smiling Ascanius arrived a minute later and pissed him off. Augustus reacted “What are you grinning at?”
“Can’t a man be happy for the blessings bestowed upon him, fine food, ale and a warm dry bed to sleep in?”
Augustus growled, “Sleep! I can think of better things to do in bed.” To emphasise his point, he stood behind Abelia, shoved his hands down her dress and yanked her out breasts. She winced, as he squeezed her nipples hard and laughed. “Sucking on these beauties for a start, but no doubt a shy virgin like you would run a mile.”
Ascanius’ time with Abelia fuelled his euphoria. He had caressed and kissed her body, from her silky hair, sweet lips, and firm round breasts down to her cute toes. While his continued smile annoyed Augustus, Abelia’s self-control avoided a display of the man’s apoplectic rage. Without doubt, his anger would explode, if he discovered the shy sweet virgin had fucked her first. Bored with his games, Augustus unhanded her breasts, which she tucked back inside her dress. Neither Ascanius, nor Abelia detected the the true nature of the cold malice that drove Augustus.
Meanwhile, Antonius and Valeria enjoyed a pleasant evening together. They discussed the construction of their new ocean-going trader, the largest ever built, before turning to personal issues.
Valeria, “How is Adorabella? She tries to hide her illness from me.””
Antonius, “Comfortable, however Ascanius tells me the end is nigh.”
Tears welled up in Valeria’s eyes, “I am sorry, I truly love her.”
“She has made her peace with the world.”
“I must visit her; it’s been over a year.”
“She would dearly love to see you, before she goes.”
“Would she be upset knowing I’m here with you?”
Antonius shook his head. “As I recall, you seduced her and she then brought you into our marriage bed. Although, hearing about your other lesbian lovers would upset her.”
“And what of your other lovers?”
Antonius smiled, “Whatever rumours you have heard, I have only ever known two women, Adorabella and you.”
Valeria, her face wet with tears, smiled back, “Even though she won’t mind us making love, it is still adultery. It makes me feel guilty and that somehow I should be punished and atone.”
Antonius sighed, “Adultery is not named as a sin on the Creation Tablet; why this sudden desire for punishment and atonement?”
Valeria “I have consulted the stars and the hidden messages of the gods therein, hence I am here. Adorabella has done the same and we agree on the message. She knows you are sceptical, and did not want you dismissing her reading as the ramblings of a sick woman.” Valeria handed Antonius a letter from his wife, confirming she agreed with Valeria’s star reading. “On my travels, I have heard rumours of gods visiting nations in the far south. The stars tell me that those gods will visit Aquila City while we are there, and that ensuing events will be cataclysmic at worst, traumatic at best. Our lives will irrevocably change and we must prepare, in every way, to deal with whatever may befall us. Consequently, I have ordered all our ships from port.” Valeria failed to mention how the forthcoming events would impact on the brothers’ relationship.
Antonius stared at her in disbelief. “I am sceptical, but your star gazing has proved invaluable in the past; however, removing all our ships from port is an extreme action, especially when most are empty.”
“ All are full, with supplies from our stores, because much of Aquila City will burn according to the stars.”
Mentally, Antonius felt too tried to discuss the star reading further. They made passionate love until the early hours of the morning, when Antonius fell into a restless sleep and dreamt of two brothers fighting. Valeria enjoyed a peaceful sleep. She departed before he woke, leaving an instruction for him to join Abelia, Ascanius and Augustus for breakfast. Valeria intended to join them later, appearing to arrive following an overnight journey.