Though excited to continue the night's activities, Cesare takes a moment to reflect on his first conquest.

The Papal Bull - Part 2 (Page 2)
by C.S White
Art by Cavelo
Series: The Papal Bull
View this page with a white background and black text!

The General scanned the parchment sheets; so many names intrigued him, so many handsome men he desired to see humbled before him. He downed another goblet of wine, at last selecting a few names of the more virile bucks in his stable.

"Squillo?" Borgia called.


"This one?" he asked, pointing to a name.

"The tall French marble cutter, lord. You may remember him from his rather broad shoulders. You saw him and his compatriots bathing in the river as we passed."

"Ah, yes, I do remember him.!" He widened his eyes. "He might do nicely for tonight." He traced his finger down the list. "And this one?"

"A Castillian, lord, a galley slave. He was a gift to your father from the king of Spain. A finely-hewn man with raven hair and..."

The two finished the sentence together. "...and blue eyes." It was a combination Borgia found irresistible.

Cesare shivered in delight. The man was memorable, indeed. While the pope had no need of galley slaves, Cesare offered to take the man, and others like him, off of his father"s hands. In actuality, Cesare had intended to deal with the man long before now, but his military duties precluded it.

"Be honest, Squillo," Borgia demanded. "How does he look? Have the rigors of our prison been too harsh?"

The torturer beamed a sly smile. "Signore, I knew you would be particularly interested in him upon your return, and made it my duty to keep him well fed and healthy. You will not be disappointed."

Cesare clapped his friend's shoulder. "Ah, Squillo," he said, "you spoil me!"

"Shall I fetch him, lord?"

"With all haste, my friend!"

The man disappeared into the dark corridors. Cesare strolled about the chamber, watching Carlo's sweat drenched and bloodied body struggle for breath. From outside there was a muffled scream; close enough to be of interest for the general to investigate. Wandering across the hallway, Borgia peeked through the eye slit of a heavy iron door and followed the progress of a handsome youth being prepared for water torture. The boy couldn't have been more than sixteen or so, probably some petty thief being tortured for the names of other street hoods. The young man struggled well...

Cesare's familiar demons, those beautiful angels of pain and joy that forever surrounded the papal son, were upon him, urging him to do their bidding, aiding him with energy beyond the scope of twenty, fifty', a hundred men. The creatures were ever wakeful, offering Cesare the sweetest joys of agony and dominion in place of sleep and rest. Days turned to nights, and the lord was in their thrall, always urged onward, though his mind reeled with the possibilities the creatures offered.

Bori a's exalted position and official military duties often limited him to more immediate forms of torture, the one's that wrung cries from the victims almost from the very first moment. Though these were satisfying to a point, as a connoisseur, Cesare required something more, something with substance and artfulness, such as the sufferings of the young cutpurse he watched. "Such a wonderfully inventive thing, water torture," Borgia mumbled to himself, and to his demon angels. "So very, very beautiful!"

Cesare's mind wandered back to the first time he understood what extraordinary powers his noblesse afforded him. He was barely 20 years old then, handsome, brash, the pride of Europe, the darling of the Christian world, sought after by royalty, and not only because his grandfather had been and his father was pope. Cesare had a charm about him, a dark and sinuous thing that few could resist.

Even before she could walk, Cesare's younger sister, Lucrezia, had been betrothed to Alfonso, Duke of Ferrara, in order to forge an advantageous link to the Italian non-Papal aristocracy. At the earliest opportunity - when Lucrezia turned 13 - the wedding was held amid the greatest pomp the great city of Rome had ever seen. No expense was spared and the ecclesiastical coffers were flung wide to fund three full weeks of celebrations.

Chief among the delights of this carnival-like frivolity were huge masques, where thousands of participants dressed as historical or mythical figures paraded before the honored guests to present short tableaux or to deliver specially composed verses in homage to the esteemed couple.

Though Lucrezia and her handsome new husband were ostensibly the guests of honor at the celebration, all eyes were on Cesare. He strode through the convivial throng, confident and charming, as if he were the pope himself. Even great princes, the chief powers of Europe, made obeisance to him as he passed, eager to catch his eye and be seen in his company.

When at last the huge pageant began, Cesare and his entourage -the young and spirited sons of the oldest Roman families - settled in their places on the portico of the vast Palazzo Borghese, overlooking a scene ablaze with torches. Europe had never witnessed such a display, as hundreds of specially designed theatrical carriages pulled by horses and humans alike paraded by, laden with costumes and finery unparalleled in history. The first half of the spectacle portrayed the ancient Roman gods, Apollo and Venus chief among them, significantly bowing and bestowing lauds upon the newlyweds.

But it was toward the end of the mythical portrayals that Cesare's attention was captured. As a finale prior to the sumptuous 40-course feast to be held within the palazzo, the largest of the engines appeared, drawn by one hundred of the Papal guards clad in ancient dress. Riding atop a savage mountaintop upon which wild animals had been stationed was a vision so stunning that it took Borgia's blase breath away.

Dressed in little more than a rugged loincloth, with a lion skin thrown over his shoulder was a towering figure personifying Hercules. Swinging a club with one hand, he stood over a dozen costumed figures representing the city-states vanquished by the pope. With the other hand, he dispensed actual gold medallions bearing the images of Lucrezia and her husband on one side, with the pope on the other, flinging them into the frenzied crowd with vigor and abandon. The man's body was huge and muscular, far larger than any man Cesare had seen, and as he tossed the trinkets to the crowd, his sinews flexed and moved in a way that sent the young Borgia's blood churning, his manhood pressing into his exaggerated codpiece. The carriage passed by in a flash, but Cesare had seen enough to make him hungry for the man. Trumpets blared and drum flourished in unison, drawing the spectacle to a joyous conclusion.

Hercules was so stunning a figure that Cesare could think of little else as he made his way to the immense dining room. The feeling was so intense, Cesare knew he couldn't rest until he had seen the man up close. Not only that, his desire for Hercules and the craving to see him dealt with in his own Borgian fashion was potent enough for Cesare to test the limits of his patrician blood; just how far could he go? The young duke felt confident in his decision; after all, who was there to stop him? Pulling aside his personal adjutant, Cesare demanded to see the man privately.

"Very good, Signore," said the adjutant. "Will this be a distinctive audience?"

The adjutant used the special phrase Cesare had coined for treating a "guest" to his singularly individual tastes.

"Indeed it will!" replied the young duke. "And hurry!"

The adjutant wasted no time in making his way to the staging area where the hordes of actors and participants were chattering away at the success of the first half of the display and were busily changing into their costumes for the next portion. Using his status as Cesare's personal secretary to its fullest, he was quickly directed to where Hercules was about to exchange his attire for that of his next incarnation, an Italian general at the battle of Cascina. Informed of his required attendance before Cesare Borgia himself, the man was speechless, as were those around him. It was a great and singular honor.

"What shall I wear?" asked the man, indicating his bare chest, assuming he must dress for the occasion.

The adjutant calmly replied that Borgia was so taken with his performance that he should remain in the lion skin and wig, for dramatic effect, of course.

As the men hurried through the dense crush of animals and people, the adjutant took the opportunity to learn what he could about the man. Hercules' real name was Antonio and originally hailed from Florence, hence his last name, Fiorentino. Romans had a long-standing distrust of Florentines, their historic mortal enemies, Antonio had moved to Rome to take advantage of the excellent opportunities available to young men with strong backs, finding ample and reliable employment on the docks as a laborer. "The work is hard," he told the adjutant, "but it's honest and pays well. Besides, I love this city There's no place in the world like Rome!"

"Indeed," replied the adjutant. He silently wondered what the Florentine's opinion of Rome would be in a few hours.

The two made their way through the crowd, at last reaching a sentried archway leading into the private residence. Once inside the mammoth anterooms, ahead of them lay the brilliantly lit dining salons, swirling with music, laughter and resplendent colors. But instead of entering the papal chambers, the adjutant led Hercules into a small closet adjoining the vestibule. There he picked up a single candle and the two continued down a rickety staircase.

Understandably, the man was confused. as they reached foot of the stairs, Hercules inquired, "Pardon, Signore, but where are we going?"

The adjutant turned to the man and nodded, a signal to those waiting in the black shadows. Before he knew what was happening, Hercules found himself struggling beneath a course net thrown over him. Several men fell upon the demigod, pummeling him, working hard to subdue the giant, which proved no easy task. At last, a lucky blow to the forehead stunned the man and he staggered backwards, now easy prey for the papal guards.

The Florentine was trussed tightly and tossed into the back of an iron prison cart. From the palazzo it was a quick ride across the Tiber to the Castel Sant'Angelo. Within a half hour after his moment of glory, every highborn eye of Europe taking in his magnificent build, Hercules found himself Cesare's prisoner in the torture chambers of the pope's fortress.

Dragged into the high ceilinged stone chamber, still encased in the hempen net, Hercules was tossed at Cesare's booted feet. Borgia shed his stiff, elaborate velvet tunic and stood with his linen shirt hanging open, exposing his own honed physique.

"Finalmente!" he exclaimed. "At last! Well done, men!" He tossed each kidnapper a golden coin and motioned for the castel's torturers - each a member of the Inquisition - to prepare the victim, who was only then regaining consciousness. His Borgia juices were up, eager to begin the specialized treatment he had in mind. His groin pulsed and tingled. It was a wonderful sensation.

But where to begin?...

With the papacy as the basis of his family's power, Cesare never fretted over a lack of torture techniques. The Holy See - the dreaded Office of the Inquisition - was amply equipped with men whose every thought was to concoct the most impeccable devices for causing pain, and they were staggeringly effective in doing so.

So, with the entire papal arsenal of tortures and torturers at his disposal, Cesare was supremely positioned to indulge his passions. One of his favorites had been the first actual torture he witnessed as a boy. Accompanying his grandfather into the bowels of Castel Sant'Angelo, the pope made him watch the interrogation of a rebellious army officer. Known as the Chinese water torture, it was one of the oldest agonies known, traveling via the silk route from the vastness of ancient Cathay.

Concerned that the boy would faint from the brutalities he would witness, and eager to harden his grandson's heart against the traitors he would certainly one day face, the pope stroked Cesare's long hair and said, "Ad mala patrata haec sunt atra theatra parata."

But he need not have worried. Little Cesare nodded, understanding all, devouring all, eager for the day when he would be able to participate in such an enterprise. Cesare never forgot the papal justification:

"Dark theaters are perfect for dark deeds". Indeed, it became his creed.

Now he watched as the Florentine Hercules was stripped, exposing his beautiful, bulky form, thick and round with hard-won muscles. a bruise crept across his jaw, a reward from having struggled to escape the guards en route to the dungeon. His countenance was characteristically Florentine, with a proud head bearing finely wrought features. A small, perfectly proportioned nose perched solidly above his wide mouth, the lips a dark and sumptuous pink. His eyes were almond-shaped, like so many of the handsome men of that northern city, closely set and sensitive, sheltering seductively beneath a heavy, contoured brow. His sharp jaw and bold chin lent him that singularly chiseled aspect so revered and sought-after by the artists of the time. Once the theatrical Greek wig had been removed, a leonine mane of light chestnut hair framed Hercules' face.


1 Comment

  1. 31118azti - June 18, 2020, 9:46 am

    A great story, thanks!

Leave a Reply