Back when I had a robust Tumblr page and long before Tumblr turned to prudish shite, I posted a short prequel Dominus story that takes place during the Roman festival in early/mid May known as the Lemuria. These private, household rites were designed to exorcise the angry ghosts of dead ancestors from the house. The unwholesome specters of the restless dead were propitiated with offerings of beans.
Today is the last day of the Lemuria, so let’s revisit this wee tale. I wrote this when I was trying to figure out the personality of Marcia Servilia. Unedited and just for fun.
AD 100, Gaius Fabius’ mansion on the Caelian Hill, Rome
Max loosened the arm wrapped tightly around his naked waist and rolled over on his side to face the man who had saved him from the quarries three years past. His master’s thick fan of auburn eyelashes flitted as the plush mattress shifted. Max rubbed his thumb along his owner’s lightly freckled cheekbone and murmured.
“Dominus, wake up.”
Gaius groaned and opened one eye.
“It’s time, Dominus. You said to wake you at the sixth hour, at the mid of night. It’s time.”
“Light the lamps, Maximus.” Gaius rubbed his eyes and sat up. “And retrieve my cloak.”
Across the expanse of the grand bedroom, Max lit one bronze oil lamp and then a second. “Perhaps we’ll appease him this year, Dominus.”
“Perhaps, but I’m an inveterate cynic.” Gaius scoffed as he walked over to stand behind his pleasure slave. “Alas, the Lemuria rites must be performed in any case, sweet pet. Tradition and all that horse shit.”
Gaius kissed Max’s broad shoulder blades, as he ran his hand over the firm curve of his favorite’s bare bum cheek.
“Alive or dead, the Fabii are fucking stubborn pricks, pet. Quintus’ malevolent ghost will haunt me to my tomb.”
Max dropped to his knees and clasped his hands behind his back. “May I ask a question, Dominus?”
“Was your father always an angry man?”
“When he was alive, he was irritable much of the time. I remember him sulking about this mansion many a day, grumbling incoherently. I could never figure out why the old man was so fucking miserable. He hardly spoke to me, except to holler orders or profess his disappointment. I fear I’ll never be rid of Quintus’ wrath and disaffection.”
Gaius tilted Max’s chin up and leaned down, brushing his lips across Max’s strong brow. “When the rites are complete, I want to forget all that and bury my cock deep in that tight, perfect arse of yours. Tonight.”
“My arse is forever yours, Dominus. Tonight and every night, for as long as you’ll allow me to serve you.”
“Are you ready to lead the exorcism, husband?” Shrouded in a long ivory mantle that fell to her toes, Marcia stood in the shadows of the tall doorway. “I’ve brought the beans; the household awaits your direction, Dominus.”
Gaius grabbed the cloak that Max had placed on a stool and wrapped his body in the folds of crisp white cloth. It had been a warm spring, but invariably a chilly bite lingered in the air on the night of the Lemuria. With a gentle smile, Marcia placed her hand in his, as she offered her new husband an ornate sacrificial bowl filled with black beans.
“Another Lemuria, wife. Another chance for relief from his noxious spirit.”
“I’m becoming convinced that Quintus’ specter despises beans, Gaius. Do you think you should try lentils this year?”
“How I am growing to adore you, woman. Come, it’s time for the pointless rituals. Let’s get this over with so I can get back to bed.”
Marcia raised her well-shaped brunette brow. “Back to your muscular Ethiopian beauty, you mean.”
With a soft chuckle and a quick kiss to her rosy lips, Gaius led her out into the corridor of their haunted estate to the large assembly hall where the entire family was waiting, solemn and silent. Unlike most feast days, the Lemuria celebrations lacked song and merriment.
Gaius nodded once to his house manager and began the short stroll towards the dining room on the south side of the house. With every ninth step, he tossed a handful of beans over his shoulder and barked the sacred incantation.
“I offer these; with these beans I redeem me and mine.”
As the slaves banged sacred metal pots together in somber cacophony, Marcia led the chorus. “Ghosts of my fathers and ancestors, be gone.”
Nine times Gaius made the bloodless offering; nine times the family beseeched the dead to depart. When the ritual procession ended back in the atrium, the flames of the many torches fixed to the walls flickered violently three times, until they all extinguished simultaneously. Marcia gasped and one of her slave girls dropped a bronze vessel. It hit the mosaic floor with a clang that echoed throughout the hall. Hushed silence soon filled the spooky and dark cavernous space, until…
“For fuck’s sake, Quintus. This is my damn house, not yours. Get out, you perverse son of a bitch!”
“Shall I send Maximus to fetch that bowl of lentils now, husband?”
And guess who wrote a marvelous Roman ghost story… our dear Pliny the Younger!! If you’d like to read a nice blog post with a translation of Pliny’s tale, try this: https://historyofyesterday.com/an-ancient-ghost-story-by-pliny-the-younger-cbe8011ecbca