Dinner at Caligula's

by Bongo Bear

Usual product disclaimers regarding XWP, the Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, and Eve apply. The other characters belong to history or to me.

Note: Watching Hannibal on an empty stomach has its consequences.

9 Feb 2001

Delicacies from throughout the vast Roman empire adorned the hors d'oeuvre trays: tender cubes of lamb braised in a sweet plum sauce, green oysters sauteed in white wine, butter, and garlic, layers of raw beef so thinly sliced they curled immediately when slid onto a hot skillet, garnishes of fresh mint, cilantro, sun dried tomatoes and sweet yellow peppers. Servants struggled to carry in the main course, a large roast dotted with peppercorns sat surrounded by a phalanx of potatoes, carrots, and onions stewed in the meat's natural juices and a touch of sea salt. No matter what else the critics said, all agreed the mad emperor knew how to set a most sumptuous table.

His companions, only recently ensconced in the palace's dungeon, sat staring at their plates, their eyes round with desire, yet none dared taste a single morsel. Caligula eased their suffering as he speared a bit of lamb from the common platter and stuffed the cube into his mouth. A thin stream of the dark sauce escaped his lips. He wiped it away with the back of his hand. Then he drained his golden goblet of its blood red liquor. Assured the feast hid no taint of poison, the guests devoured their portions under the emperor's amused glare.

The Warrior Princess initially ate as sparingly as she could manage. But the gnawing hunger born of nearly a month on nothing but stale bread and water was not sated until she leaned back in her chair and licked the rich sauces from her fingertips. Gabrielle fared no better. She ate so quickly, she barely suppressed a burp as she loosened her waistband. Before her, bones lay broken open where she sucked out the marrow. Ares already piled his plate high with a second helping and he shook the last drops of wine from the carafe. Only Aphrodite delicately teased a few leaves from the sprigs of mint. She would not touch the meat. Her lingering immortality, diminished as it was, still gave her respite from mortal hunger.

The goddess eyed the roasted flesh suspiciously. What at first appeared to be oysters took on a glassy gaze. The shellfish stared back at her in alarming pairs of brown, blue, and green. Unadorned with a heavy sauce like the other dishes, the roast's rough shape cast a familiar outline. Aphrodite shivered.

"Where is Eve?" she asked, "What became of the other Eligians?"

"My dear lady," Caligula said, "They are the honored guests."


alt fic index <> homepage