SABELLIUS GOES EAST Series IV

About two hours later after every one had turned in, someone pounded on Sabellius’ door. Both he and Hecate were in bed and already asleep.

“Open up!” A male voice demanded angrily. Sabellius sat up, wondering what this was all about. He reached over and clumsily lit the lamp beside the bed. Hecate sat up in bed, looking at him.

“Just a moment” Sabellius said, as he made his way to the door. He opened it up. Several men forced their way into the room, pushing Sabellius back. He was caught off guard.

“What do you men want?” Sabellius asked. He was surprised at the intrusion.

“Where is Apollodorus? I want my brother!” It was Abaris, and three other young men. One of them held a torch in his hands. Sabellius wondered how he got that up the stairs without the innkeeper protesting.

“Apollodorus isn’t here” Sabellius said. He looked Abaris in the eye.

“He was here. I know that. Where is he?”

“We don’t know where he is. He and his friend left earlier. What are you doing coming in here like this?”

“I have come for my brother. You Christians have kidnapped him.”

“We did no such thing!” Hecate interjected. Abaris looked at her.

“Seize her, men! She was the one they used to entice my brother! We’ll just hold on to her until these Christians return my brother.” The three men quickly moved over to the bed where Hecate was sitting. She saw what they were trying to do. She screamed, and tried to get out of bed. Strong arms took ahold of her. One large hand was quickly clapped over her mouth, muffling her screams.

Sabellius lunged toward the three men. Abaris suddenly swung a club, which he had been holding at his side. Sabellius slumped to the ground unconscious.

“Gag her quickly, and bring her downstairs!” Abaris ordered. The men struggled with Hecate as she tried to kick them, and wrench free from their grip. One of them held his hand over her mouth as the other tied a gag around it. They quickly bound her.

Hecate looked down at her unconscious husband. Her eyes rolled wildly back. She struggled in vain to free herself. Abaris looked down at the young man lying on the floor.

“We’ll teach you to take away my brother! Apollo showed me something was wrong!” he said. He kicked the unconscious Sabellius. “Take her downstairs and put her in the cart. Hurry up!” He ordered. The young men picked up the girl, who was still trying to struggle even in her bonds.

“I should kill him” Abaris sneered, as he looked down upon the unconscious Sabellius. Hecate struggled even more, and tried to speak through her gag. Abaris turned to her.

“I have even better things planned for you, my dear!” He spoke in a low voice. Then he turned to the men with him.

“Take her downstairs. Hold on to her tightly, now! Make sure that gag stays on her!”

In their room next door, Andromache stirred and sat up. She shook her husband.

“Euporus! What was that awful noise? Did you hear it? It sounded like a scream coming through the wall.” Euporus opened his eyes. He had been sleeping soundly.

“What are you talking about?” He propped himself up on one elbow, looking at his wife.

“Didn’t you hear that? It sounded like a scream to me.”

“Come on, Andromache! Don’t you know there are people in this inn who like to party at night? It was probably someone who was drunk. Go back to sleep!”

“Don’t you think one of us should get up and check on it?”

“Go ahead, dear. I’m tired.” Euporus yawned sleepily. He layed back down and puffed up his pillow. Andromache didn’t want to get out of bed and go out into the dark hallway by herself. She shook her head, and turned over.

Hecate lay in the back of the pitching cart as it rolled across the city of Antioch. One of the men was kneeling by her in the back of the cart. He looked at her menacingly every time she tried to raise her head and look around. She tried to look up over the sideboards to see if she could ascertain some landmark, but she was unfamiliar with Antioch, and it was too dark to really see where she was. She felt that they were probably taking her to either the Daphne Park or to Abaris’ villa. She didn’t really know where his villa was. She was worried about Sabellius. Maybe Andromache or Euporus had heard her scream. She hoped so. She wondered why Apollodorus had not returned home. Perhaps he was there by now, and Abaris would relent when he found that out. Surely, Apollodorus would help her. He liked her.

In less than an hour, the cart pulled up to the back of the Temple of Apollo among the trees in the park of Daphne. The three men jumped off the cart, and pulled Hecate out. They carried her like a sack of vegetables into the rear entrance of the Temple.

Carrying the torch, Abaris followed the men down a large side hall to a room in the rear of the Temple. Abaris unlocked the door, and motioned for them to carry Hecate into the room.

“Untie her!” Abaris said gruffly. “Take off her gag! I want to hear her plead with me.” The men untied the ropes which had bound Hecate. One of them undid the tight gag. Abaris pushed her into a chair.

“Sit down, wench!” He ordered. Hecate looked up at him in the dim torchlight. She had gotten over some of her initial shock and fear. Abaris went over to a large brazier with the torch. He lit the brazier, which brightened up the huge room. Hecate could see that it was probably a storage room. The walls were stone. She knew they were thick.

“I want to see your pretty face better. You can scream all you want back here. You can even call on your god” Abaris said. “These walls are so thick no one will ever hear you. One of the men will bring you some food in the morning. There are private facililties over there in that corner. There is running water.”

Hecate layed back in the chair and watched the tall, thin priest as he talked to her. She did not reply. Finally, she looked at him with a slight smile. Her smile startled him.

“Do you think you can get away with this, Abaris? I am a Roman citizen of Roman blood. I was born in Rome. My husband is also a Roman citizen…and, in case you don’t know it, he is related to Lucius Septimius Severus, the Emperor of Rome. You are treading on dangerous ground by kidnapping a Roman like me.”

“You’re a cute little liar, aren’t you? Do you think I believe such deceptive talk? You’re nothing but a filthy Christian trying to destroy the old ways of the gods. Related to the emperor indeed! Hah! You are no more related to the emperor than I am!” Abaris grinned. He looked her up and down, in a way that made her momentarily cringe. But her eyes flashed as she replied.

“You will find out the hard way, Abaris. When my husband…” Abaris reached down and smacked Hecate with the flat of his hand. She winced, but looked up at him defiantly with a slight smile.
“That will teach you to smart off to a priest of Apollo. I will kill your husband if he dares to set foot in the sacred Temple of the Lord Apollo! I could have killed him tonight.”

“Even if he existed, I don’t believe your Apollo would treat women like you are doing” Hecate said. Her eyes were still defiant. A smile played upon her lips tremulously.

“Shut up. I didn’t ask you what your opinion was! Apollo has killed women before, although he usually leaves that to Artemis.” Abaris slapped her again. Her cheek even shone red in the light of the brazier and the torch. It stung. Hecate flinched, but she never dropped her gaze. She continued to smile.

“Keep up your defiance, Christian wench. I was thinking about merely selling you privately in the slave market, but…I may change my mind and do something even worse. Just keep talking!”

This time Hecate did not reply. She just looked up at Abaris. She became conscious that she was still in her yellow night tunic. It was rather short. She almost unconsciously tried to pull the hem down over her mid thighs. The other three men were watching her, but they said nothing. Hecate suddenly felt a little sick. Abaris turned to the men with him.

“Leave us” he said abruptly. The men bowed, and left the room. Abaris continued standing there, quietly regarding Hecate. She began to feel a little more uncomfortable after the men left. She sensed that they did not entirely approve of what Abaris was doing. She felt evil emanating from the man. He turned slightly to make sure that the men had shut the door. Hecate watched him almost like an animal would watch a predator.

Abaris turned back to Hecate. He looked her up and down. His eyes rested upon the rather short tunic. Hecate’s cheeks burned. She shifted uncomfortably on the chair.

“You know” he said, smiling at her, “You are rather pretty. I thought most Christians were rather dowdy looking. You seem to be an exception. That is why you are so deceptive…and beguiling.” Hecate did not answer.
“Oh? Now you do not speak? Don’t you know that I have complete power over you? I can turn you into a slave. I can even sacrifice you to Apollo…I can do anything I want to. You are my property now.”

“The emperor does not approve of human sacrifices” Hecate said quietly.

“The emperor? Who cares what the Roman emperor likes or dislikes! What can he do? You are on the Lord Apollo’s territory now. Whatever Apollo says is law here. And whatever I say on his behalf is law. You’d better be nice to me.”

“You said that whatever you say is law?” Hecate replied. “What about Antigonus? Is he just a figurehead…or is he the high priest of Apollo?” She clearly said the words to taunt him. She couldn’t help it.

“Antigonus doesn’t care what I do! He’s my brother! If I tell him that you are a slave, I can do whatever I want to do…especially if I tell him you are a pretty Christian wench. He feels the same way I do about you stinking Christians!” Abaris continued looking at her. His eyes were boring through her.

“But I am not a slave. My husband will come with the authorities and you will find yourself in hot water. You will go to prison” Hecate said quietly.

“Do you want me to kill your husband? I just told you that I could have done it this evening, but I had mercy on him…and on you. You are insignificant visitors. The authorities do not even know you are in the city. Even the Roman authorities do not bother the Temple of Apollo. They know better. There would be a popular uprising if they invaded the Lord Apollo’s sacred grounds.” Abaris looked at Hecate. A sardonic smile played upon his lips.

Abaris suddenly pulled up a chair. He sat in front of her. He looked into her eyes.

“Look, Hecate. Let’s be reasonable. It is in my power to kill you. No one will ever know that it was done here in the Temple. They would never suspect the respected priests of Apollo of doing such a thing. We have ways of…disposing of those that we sacrifice to Apollo. Oh, we don’t do it very often…but when Apollo desires a human sacrifice, we give him one. He would especially enjoy a pretty victim like you. Your hair is lovely. Your eyes are so…expressive. Your lips are so red…your…” Abaris placed his hand on her leg. Fear gripped Hecate. She tried to disguise it. She looked at him almost entranced, like a small animal watching a hooded cobra weaving before it. She was trying not very successfully to hide her fear. He took her hand to pull her towards him. She let out a little cry, and tried to squirm away from him.

Suddenly Abaris let go of her hand, and stood up. “But I cannot be contaminated by a pretty Christian. Apollo would be displeased.” He seemed to be agitated. He shoved her down, and he sat back down again in front of her. He looked her up and down again. His face was flushed. He was breathing heavily. He smiled. He seemed to be unable to decide what to do.

Hecate was breathing heavily from fear. She lay back on the seat where Abaris had caused her to fall. “You would be wise to release me, Abaris” she said, breathing heavily. “I have told you that my husband is a relative of the emperor. He will not…” Suddenly Abaris viciously slapped her again. This time he grabbed her violently by the shoulders and tried to kiss her. Hecate wrenched her mouth away. She screamed, and shoved him away. He lost his balance and tumbled sideways, landing with a thump on the stone floor. He began to curse. He struggled to his feet.

“You will regret that! You should have cooperated with me! I am a priest! I was showing you favor! To be with me is like being with Apollo in person! I represent him! You ungrateful wench!” It almost looked like a sudden fear had overcome him. He turned abruptly and walked out the room, locking the door. Hecate’s cheek still burned from the slap she had received. But she quickly jumped up and looked around the room, trying to see if there were any way out. Actually, there were no windows. There were only two doors: the one that Abaris had used, and another door on the west. Hecate tried both doors, but they were soundly locked. She began to pray. She went into the little adjacent room, and splashed some water on her face. She felt dirty and she was afraid.

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