The Romans called him Pugnator; the Fighter, but he remembered a different name given by the druids deep in the forest on the solstice of his nineteenth summer. He was called Glamdring- the Foe Hammer; sealed by a fortnight of ceremonial chant and countless spells; dedicated to the Thunder God, wielder of the Great Hammer forged in white sky fire. Second son of the king, he was given at birth to the god; a thimble full of blood pricked from an infant’s wrist as surety for the initiation agony bound naked to the Sacred Tree nineteen years later. Somehow he survived the giving, was accepted by the god, and when they cut him loose four days later he fell to his knees, heavy with Thor’s magic. His fate seemed fixed; right arm of his brother the future king, invincible First Warrior, living embodiment of the bone crushing Hammer.
They came in numberless columns, unreasoning and brutal, fires fueled by the hewn wood of sacred oaks. The Great Tree fell with a mighty crash echoing the thunderous lament of a shattered people. Glamdring woke from a ringing darkness to the Twilight Time of the world’s unraveling. Two heads snarled silently at pecking crows, impaled before the smoking skeleton of the ruined great hall. His shattered heart, unused to irony, recoiled at the thought that he was now king of an annihilated tribe. The young warrior would have taken his life and joined his father and brother in the company of the gods, but his arms were bound. Hot tears watered the barren ground as he crouched like an animal in a rolling cage; ever south through a desolate landscape of smoldering ash.
Glamdring was crushed by a double sorrow. Defeat in war and the eradication of his nation seemed a burden past bearing, but his soul knew an even greater agony. The favor of the god deserted him as the magic coursing through muscled limbs ebbed; leaving a barren shore of lassitude and despair. Blue-gray eyes glazed inward as his young nakedness was probed and examined in the impossibly large stone village of the foreign conquerors. Though Glamdring was oblivious, he was spared the indignity of the auction block having been claimed on the battle field by the dux milites who, watching the young warrior in action, conceived a plan that he hoped would make him rich. Probus had witnessed the divine prowess of the hopeless warrior and marked him as a prize. On arrival in Rome Glamdring was evaluated and sent to the famous gladiatorial school in Capua where he labored for eighteen long months, honing skills already sharp, his leaden heart uncaring, wishing for his own death. Instead, he dealt mock death to others, scything down opponents with the blunted edge of his sword as easily as if he were a child sparing with dead branches in a leafy glade. Probus smiled, deeming the time right, and made preparations for Glamdring’s debut in the newly completed Flavian amphitheater.
One thousand deaths later, the Roman captain was rich beyond his dreams, living in easy retirement among the villas of his betters. Glamdring was a free man by edict of an astonished emperor. A few hundred deaths more and the liberated barbarian was rich as well. For all of that, he lived in relative simplicity on a farming estate just north of the capital. Five years had passed since the severed heads of his father and brother bid their leering farewell in far away Germania and Glamdring now counted twenty six summers. The handsome gladiator married a woman of his own race; hair the color of ripe wheat and eyes blue as the lupine that carpeted the springtime hills. He found her in the house of a cruel matron and paid four times the already inflated price. She graced the sprawling estate like sunshine and Glamdring smiled easily in her presence. He smiled in a different way when he entered the stables. It was there that he kept his prized bucks; all local prime stock. The barbarian was ambidextrous in the arena and bisexual at home. He enjoyed time spent in the stables, lulled by the music of rattling chains punctuated by the whistling whip and the deep bass of masculine groans. Glamdring’s fame as a gladiator was so great that he could name his price...and his terms. He was not adverse to killing his foes and often did. If, however, an opponent struck his fancy and met the right qualifications (handsome, strong and, above all, Roman) the always-victorious gladiator reserved the right to claim him. His stables housed the finest man-flesh in Latium.
Glamdring whipped the horses of his chariot to a frenzy heading toward the city and a very lucrative appointment. Self-employed, the gladiator rarely fought in the arena anymore except when taken by the occasional fit of nostalgia. Instead, he was a fixture on the party circuit, working the palazzos and villas of Rome’s wealthy elite. This evening he was engaged for a torchlight soiree on the palatine estate of a senator; scion of an ancient family, decadent, and fabulously rich. The price, if he won, was 200,000 gold solidi. Glamdring surprised his attendant servant with a rare laugh, reflecting on one of his most cherished memories. He traveled back in his mind’s eye to his first real fight in the great Amphitheater; not frightened but despondent, wishing for death but too proud to simply lie down on the sand. The handsome barbarian was marked by the bored crowd for a brilliant but very short career. It was then, in a moment of nearly unbearable ecstasy that the god’s magic returned. The young barbarian felt an explosion rip through his chest as the flaming Hammer split him open, merging once again with the Raven-ka that was his soul. He fell on his face to the disgusted derision of the crowd, and was hoisted to his feet a different man. The fight lasted two minutes. Unused to the etiquette of the arena, Glamdring loped off the heads of three opponents without waiting for the thumbs down. The shrieking mob easily forgave him.
Flavius Metellus’ palatine villa boasted sprawling gardens. This evening flaming torches lit the grounds, held by immobile slaves. The guests reclined around laden tables, already drunk, lusting for entertainment. Pugnator, the famous gladiator would be the main attraction and, in order to spice up the show, he would not fight slaves or other gladiators, but soldiers. Two young legionnaires were recruited, lured to the fight by the odds (two against one) and the prize- 100,000 gold solidi each if, at the end, Pugnator bled his life out on the grass. The complacency of the two handsome military bucks was augmented by the arrogance of youth and the knowledge that they were soldiers of Rome; world conquerors. How could they fail against an ignorant barbarian? Pugnator’s luck would end tonight as he gasped his life out under the stars. Wide grins creased their boyish faces as each waited impatiently for the appearance of the gladiator. Glamdring stood stripped naked savoring the gliding motion of his attendant’s hands as aromatic oil was slathered over the chiseled ridges of rock hard muscle. A born showman, he arrogantly fought in the nude without armor of any kind except a simple helmet crowned with a red jewel. He tingled with pleasure as his pendulous balls were gently oiled and observed his grinning opponents. They would do nicely; not more than twenty five summers old, clear eyed and muscular with the sun kissed duskiness of pure Latin blood...begging for exploitation. Glamdring, ever the optimist, had already prepared two fresh stalls in his stable.
The three combatants faced each other in a stone circle drawn on the grass. The guests were quiet, most eyes riveted on the glistening groin of the famous gladiator. The young soldiers, dressed in battle gear and armed with short swords and another weapon of personal choice, stared condescendingly at the naked barbarian. Glamdring gazed back impassively, adjusting a dry grip on his two weapons; a short sword and curved Arabian scimitar. Personal wagers were exchanged in a flurry and a single note from a silver horn signaled the beginning of the fight. They danced to clashing steel and many a Roman pecker stiffened under tented togas at the sight of the northerner’s rippling oil slick muscles as moving flesh refracted the light of flickering torches. Glamdring was content. His earnest young opponents fought well and he honored them by prolonging the fight for several minutes. Finally, obeying the insistent thrum of the Hammer within, he joyfully commenced the end game. Glamdring disarmed the taller soldier in a fast double feint ritually laying his blade in a feather touch across the man’s throat. Burly slaves hustled the stunned buck to the edge of the stone circle and Glamdring cracked his first smile at the look of horrified disbelief on the face of the defeated man. The reverie lasted mere seconds as his partner renewed the skirmish, driven by a new sense of desperation but handicapped by paralyzing tendrils of doubt. He lasted three agonizing minutes before his last weapon was wrenched from a sweaty grip and went flying through the air clattering uselessly against the marble leg of a statue. Glamdring moved behind his panting victim and with a swift kick drove the young Roman to his knees.
With a single besotted voice, the revelers shouted, ‘PUGNATOR!’ Glamdring stood like a god in the center of the stone circle, his naked flesh painted with the ruddy hues of glowing fire, and tipped his jeweled helmet to the glassy eyed senator. Flavius Metellus acknowledged the signal and motioned for the defeated soldiers to be brought forward. Glamdring stripped the taller one first; tossing body armor, ripped tunic and finally the man’s linen loincloth in a careless pile, savoring the exquisite motions of slow humiliation. The once proud legionnaire blushed in shame at the whistling hoots of the guests as he stood helpless and naked, manacles snapped on hairy forearms and the appraising hand of the conqueror groping the sweat slick contours of his pumped young physique. Glamdring laid an iron grip on the man’s neck and forced him, belly down, onto the dark grass at his feet. The second legionnaire was pushed forward, struggling, into the stone circle. Shorter than the first but heavily muscled, he was also fairer with smooth skin the color of old ivory, dark sweat spiked hair, and a wide, boyishly handsome face. His brown eyes shimmered with terror and defiance as he was stripped, replaced soon enough by stark mortification as the loincloth was ceremoniously ripped from his narrow hips revealing the stud’s mighty cock- six inches flaccid riding between his muscular thighs. His glistening body was smooth, but for the downy thatch of jet black pubic hair framing the prize at his groin. Clenching manacled hands, the soldier was turned to face the revelers; catcalls split the velvety night and Glamdring played to the perverted crowd’s twisted desire, theatrically fondling the helpless buck’s manhood before forcing him onto one knee- the better to display that great dangling dick.
The two handsome soldiers, their Roman pride discarded like the dented pile of armor on the ground, waited for the verdict. Helplessly manacled, naked trembling muscles betrayed their fear as each awaited his fate; one resigned, head bent, on his knees, the other struggling to rise from his humiliating posture belly down on the grass. Glamdring stood like a nightmare colossus above them, a sword in each hand poised to strike. Two synchronized downward strokes and heads would fly in a bloody crescendo of violence worthy of Flavius Metellus’ sense of quality entertainment. The guests held their collective breath hoping for the crimson denouement. Perhaps they can be forgiven their lack of perception; the evening was far advanced and the eddying flow of lusty adrenaline mixed with the heady stoned miasma of drugs and alcohol had taken a toll. A perceptive guest would have easily ascertained the verdict as Glamdring stood impassively, swords dramatically raised, milking the crowd’s tense expectations. His hammer-like barbarian cock perceptibly stiffened, ruddy head poking eagerly from the tight foreskin, as he dreamily considered a very special stable with two empty stalls...