75 B.C. Greek Islands
Young Julius is tied to the mast of a ship...
“So Julius, worth even more silver are ya?,” asks a sarcastic captain, “Well jolly ho!” He pauses, looks about his ship and shouts, “Is he mighty?”
“NO!” exclaims a crew in unison, buffeting arms to the sky and stomping on the deck.
Caesar remained tied to the mast with thick weathered hemp ropes. Each fray was a sharp needle into his red-raw wrists. Mediterranean winds, salty and cool blasted his swollen tongue. The sails rattle in the winds like cavalry charging into battle. Thin linens have replaced his Roman-issued armor. Suddenly, another fist jumbles his adolescent pink face, the callus knuckles bruise his skin. Each punch beat into his skull, leaving him dizzy, throbbing in pain. His blurry vision could still see the crazed green eyes, cracked yellow teeth, and chapped lips of his captor.
“Pompey... will... reward you. I swear... upon my life.” Julius mutters repeatedly and deliriously from punishment.
“Pompey is a problem on our seas,” complains the captain. Grinding his teeth and popping his knuckles the pirate paces about.
Julius watches as blurry boot steps eventually thunk away across the ship. He is undisturbed until another pirate navigates and stands behind him. Caesar hears a slow trickle of liquid spill into a cup, then taunting vocals from one of the shipmates.
“What... Kind... of... Reward...?! Or, pour a cup of me piss over your bloody face!!”
“Leave him!” Demands an authoritative voice from across the bow. Boot steps at the pace of war drums clack back across the planks toward Julius.
“Spartacus, you are no kraken. You are but a wanker rowing my ship,” insults the Captain. “But,” he leans in and murmurs a hushing, “I like you.” Then captain yells to his crew, “Any who defy my orders, swim with sharks... or worse... I’ll landlock you to gladiator pits in southern Italy!”
The ship grows silent void of even a single toothless smirk. Each pirate is motionless and captivated by the glare and stare of their captain.
The captain yells again, “We are!...” and looks across his crew making eye contact with several mates.
“Free upon the sea,” cries the crew.
“We are!...” the Captain booms his voice off the masts.
“Free upon the sea!” again the crew in unison repeating the banter back and forth once more.
“Think I’m saving you from him?” says the captain as he looks back at Caesar. Another pirate fist made life fade into black. There was tingling, ringing, then nothingness for Julius.
Later that same night...
Infinite stars wash over a charcoal night. Caesar shivers and shakes in the cold crows nest. He sways like a broken sexton on writhing waters. No noise of seagulls or the pirate crew fill the night. Every motion intensifies his pain and intoxicates his mind. His heart starts to beat rapidly. He looks about wildly in many sudden directions. Still tied to the mast his body seizes rigid, pauses then continues to seizure. He thrashes about, yet is secure to the mast. Eyes roll back in his head and saliva foams out the corner of his mouth. Jolting chaotically, this wasn’t his first secret battle with epilepsy. His captive body continues to quake until each impulse recedes. Julius again black’s out and loses memory of his surroundings. High on the ship’s mast, with each lap and impact against waves, his limp head flops back and forth.
After his ransom is paid to the pirates...
Pompey always had adoptable thoughts as if Julius was his son. ”...Minor political power in the priesthood... military leadership... sixteen with a dead father who challenged Sulla for power... in Rome’s constant uncivil wars... He was unique, He worth saving... "
“Caesar are you awake yet?” pondered Pompey out loud between tasks.
The eyes of Julius restfully flicker and slowly remain open. Once Pompey sees this he pours water into a brass goblet embedded with a golden eagle. Handing it carefully to Caesar he unites with his grasp, holding it for a moment.
“Pirates shaved you with rusty razors,” says Pompey. “By the furies your awake, out cold for a day at sea.”
Julius in a dry-mouthed whisper asks, “Where am I?” He looks around confused.
“Thank you, Pompey. Aquila!” Julius toasts with gratitude and humility still in shock from being a hostage.
“My ship. Drink Caesar and rest. Not following orders will cost you. No priesthood. No dowry. But... you are alive,” utters the thankful voice of Pompey. “Your rival Crassus, he is now Praetor. We sail to Rome.”
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