How a family came to be
“Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream: a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love.”
Nasir never expected to be freed. His whole life revolved around his Dominus, the man who fed and clothed him, and gave him a place to sleep. The Syrian was part of the lucky lot of slaves, for when he was sold, he was very young and taken under the wings of the previous body slave of his master.
He was trained how to run a house-hold, how to serve his Dominus, how to fulfil his Dominus’ wishes and demands before his Dominus even formulated them out loud. All these little things made him one of the best of slaves right until Spartacus and his men invaded the villa. Freeing all the slaves.
From being in the best position to survive, Nasir, whose Roman name was Tiberius in the villa, lost everything: status, advantages such as the best of the food and water, the comfiest bed as well as the power to command the other slaves of the Villa.
And yes, despite this unfortunate turn of events, Nasir wouldn’t change his situation for anything in the world. Freedom was something he had now acquired the taste, an ambrosia that real and infinite. Something definitely sweeter by the fact that he now had a lover in the form fo the German gladiator, Agron. A lover whom he didn’t even expect to have in this life as a slave.
As their relationship grew over the months of being together, Nasir soon became quite aware that he had found his Heart. As Castus and Pollux, Alexander and Hephastion, Agron was his other self that would never leave him. Even if his life was now full of love and freedom, Nasir felt that something was missing from this, … something that he still did not know what it was.
The temple where they hid held many small altars with various markings. Some Nasir could recognise, blurred symbols from faded memories he could not place. Others he knew from being of Roman faith, while others were completely alien to him. Still, some things couldn’t be shaken off, such as praying to the gods whenever he could.
Ever since he was freed, Nasir would always offer the same prayers with very few variations: protect Spartacus, protect Agron, protect the cause to free as many slaves as possible so that they too could taste the sweet fruit of deliverance, and finally that he and Agron could survive the Romans so that they could live as a family. That last prayer Nasir usually added as an afterthought. So it was quite unusual for this wish to be realised by one of the most unlikely ways, which should have been normal as the Gods worked in mysterious ways.
“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.”
It all started with Ilithyia, wife to Spartacus’ bitter enemy, the legatus Claudius Glaber, may the Gods punish him as soon as possible. Due to the meddling of Lucretia, and a little hand from Hera herself, it soon turned out that Ilithyia was carrying a child from Spartacus’ strong seed. The only reason that they ever found out about such a thing was due to the fact that Gannicus gave her up to the rebels.
(Privately, Nasir believed it to be a sign, as it was on such a night that Nasir and Agron brought their relationship to a more carnal level. Nasir would always remember the strength of Agron’s virility as he pierced him in such a way that Nasir had never felt before, even with his master’s … tastes.)
It was also by pure luck that Nasir, through some gut feeling, decided to take a small group of slaves with him to Bartiatus’ villa. Agron, always trusting Nasir even if their love was still in the beginning of it’s life, talked Spartacus in allowing such a mission. It was good thing too as the villa was ablaze from Lucretia’s madness. The small party of four, built for spying and information gathering, were surprised to see practically the whole household murdered, the villa literally in fires with a bloodied Ilithyia dragging herself towards a smiling Lucretia who was holding the hour-born baby. Ilithyia’s feat was even more impressive as her belly was wide open from which her child came to the world.
They were at the cliffs, the same place where the revolution of the ludus started. Lucretia was posed just at the edge of the cliff, ready to fall to her death. Nasir didn’t know from where his actions came from, maybe from the fact that he couldn’t let a child be killed in front of him even if he was half-Roman or maybe the Gods were the ones to take possession of his body! All that Nasir knew was that all of a sudden he tackled Lucretia to the ground, somehow wrestling the baby gently from the bewitched woman. He then kicked Lucretia over the cliff, her scream echoing all the way down to her THUD on the cold hard ground.
Ilithyia weakly reached out for Nasir, for the precious bundle he was holding in his arms. “Ho-How is … the … the baby?” She rasped weakly.
“Your son lives on strongly. Just like his father, Spartacus.” Nasir’s response shed relief on Ilithyia’s face.
She asked to see him, her body speaking more loudly than her fleeing words. Nasir obliged her last wish, crouching to her level so that she could see the cute dirtied face of her baby boy. She smiled faintly before drawing her last breath, her soul going on to Pluto’s domain. The four men stood there in silence for a small moment, the baby’s cries drawing them out from this respectful act. For a Roman woman, Ilithyia may had represented everything they hated, but she was still a mother that did her very best to protect her son.
It was a solemn party that returned to another battlefield, to a victorious group of slaves that had won a decisive battle. What better way to present Spartacus his son then after such a glorious event. Still, Agron and Nasir were cautious enough to tell Spartacus in the privacy of his tent. They were right to do so as his reaction was far angrier than expected.
Spartacus refused to accept this child, this boy, as his own. This child represented everything that the Romans took from him. The farther he could be away from the child, the better he would feel. So it took very little convincing from both Agron and Nasir that they would keep the child as their own. They knew that their life would be hard, as runaway slaves waiting for Rome to send her attack dogs towards them.
One way or another, Nasir knew that he had to keep the child with him. That he was a gift from the Gods themselves for Nasir, to solidify his link with Agron. The big German warrior was smitten with the child, taking him from Nasir’s arms whenever he could. the baby would be well-cared for between the two of them as well as, funnily enough, from Crixus and Naevia who also wanted to watch over the boy. The baby boy had united both the German and the Gaul in such a way that no harm whatsoever, even the Gods themselves, would not be able to touch the boy’s body.
It was a strange alliance the made many afraid for the days to come. Creating a rumour among the freed and imprisoned slaves, not to mention the Romans themselves, that a demi-god (or god) was gifted to Spartacus’ top men. As long as the boy was in Spartacus’ camp, he would always win. However, the Romans believed that if they could get the boy on their side, then they would gain the Gods’ favour.
“I don't care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching--they are your family.”
Jim Butcher, Proven Guilty
A year passed by, as Nasir and Agron continued to raise their son, Duro, in honor of Agron’s falling brother as Nasir couldn’t remember his own. Little Duro is still that smiling baby boy that charmed all those that met him. All except Spartacus who still kept his distance from his son, preferring to have a second-hand report from Agron who couldn’t stop talking about Duro with Crixus — the Gaul kept encouraging the German whenever he could. Naevia and Nasir had a hard time in reigning in their men when it came to talk about Duro. It was often funny to see those giant warriors being cowered by their smaller other half.
It was also thanks to Duro that Crixus made sure to keep his temper around Spartacus when Marcus Licinius Crassus began to hunt them down. It was long and harrying with so many bad fortunes heaping on the fledgling army especially with that Roman spy Julius Cesar. It was only Duro smiling just before that fateful meeting that allowed Crixus to stay his tongue before he even suggested that the Free Army should attack the Roman Army, even as going as far as splitting it in two. His little Daibheid will not be left vulnerable by halving the Free Army’s strength.
With such a move, it was an easier move to ambush part of the Roman Army and kidnap Tiberius Licinius Crassus, the eldest son of Marcus Crassus, along with that rat-faced traitor Julius Cesar. With two key players as their prisoners, along with many Roman Soldiers, this guaranteed them a safer passage from the much bigger army that would attack them viciously.
The Gods were crueller than anyone thought though. For when the prisoners were exchanged, the Romans proved themselves once more how untrustworthy they could be. Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus came with an army, surrounding Spartacus and his chosen few that guarded the hostages they had. There on those very fields where a mortal battle should have happened, Pompeius put Spartacus’ men on crosses, before carrying the leader of the Free Slave Army to Rome where he should have been beheaded. Instead, Spartacus was found dead in his cell, poisoned by one of the slaves as they could not free Spartacus mortal body. The body spirited away to be buried just after the guards found about the death of this special prisoner.
Fortuna spared the fate of Agron, Nasir, Crixus and Naevia only due to Duro. Spartacus, wanting to believe in Crassus honesty, had persuaded to stay at the camp. One of his final orders before he left was that Crixus and Agron were to lead the free men to a safer shore, regroup before coming back to free more slaves from the Roman grasp.
It would take fifteen more years before a big army, with men and woman from different countries filling it’s ranks, swept Rome away in fire and blood on the stony streets. All those that Rome could have enslaved or did, whose family have been hurt or killed by Roman Soldiers, each and every one had a bone to grind with Rome and her forces.
And the ones leading such an expedition were two boys, barely at manhood: the one they called Zelig, a lad of sixteen who was practically the younger version of Spartacus from so long ago, and Donncha, the Half-Gaul warrior of fifteen that was much larger and fiercer than any man had ever seen. They were the future leaders of the Free Republic, counselled by their parents until they could govern by themselves. Bearers of a much brighter future for those that started it all as Gladiators on the sandy lands of Capua.
But such a future was not to be, as the boy named Duro who would be known as Zelig would never live to see such a thing. As the Fates are fickle sisters indeed, spinning and weaving many things before erasing their hard-work if one thing did not go as plan.
However, who are we mere mortals to truly know what has happened and what should have happened? For the Gods are the only ones to dictate our actions, as well as leaving us to our Free Will.