“Caesar? I Hardly Know ‘er!” A Choose-Ye-Owne Adventure

This is one of a couple Choose-Your-Own Adventure stories, sans legitimate choices, I’ve read at Esoterotica. Good thing I don’t write out all the options, because there were an awful lot of people in the audience who had a thing for the manservant in the beginning.

Another one, set in the Edwardian era, can be found in Eso’s second anthology.

Caesar? I Hardly Know ‘er! A Choose-Ye-Owne-Adventure
by Zach B

You are a former Roman centurion named Maximus Legspreadius, and you are not a subtle man.
You awake that morning in your. . . (hut? I don’t know what Romans lived in. . .) you awake in your dwelling at the crack of dawn. You rouse Dane, your boy servant, from his sleep and order him to get you whatever Romans ate for breakfast. (A gyro?)

Anyways, you’re well in to middle-age — thirty two — and it’s been quite a while since your last roll in the hay. Metaphorically, not the pile Dane sleeps in. In your younger days, tales of your military conquests easily led to conquests of a more personal sort, though now that you’ve settled in to a stable gig as a guard at the Colosseum, women aren’t as ready to lend you their ears, let alone other sensitive organs. You’re in a slump. How do you deal with it?

To take your sexual frustrations out on Dane, who for all you know may be of legal age, turn to page 65.

To strap on armour that looks like your chest used to and head to work hoping for the sort of miracle that can only happen in a work of short erotic fiction, turn to page 23.

– – – – – –

Page 23

You know that buggering the servant isn’t going to solve anybody’s problems. And in his case would actually create a couple new ones. You’re hard-up, but not cruel. So you have Dane help you in to your armor, curse your luck for being born before coffee was invented, and head off to work.

On your way through town, you happen upon a group of Christian prisoners being led in the same direction as you, along with a caravan of caged animals — they must be the day’s entertainment. Most of the prisoners look as you’d expect somebody who’d been chained to a wall for a several days would look; ragged, malnourished, and coated in what’s hopefully dirt. Except for one who catches your eye. She has blond hair, shapely legs that go all the way up to the tattered rag she has cinched around her waist, and has somehow managed to not wind up covered in let’s just say it’s dust. Knowing that she’s down for illegal activity only makes her more attractive to you, honestly.

The Colosseum Zookeeper overseeing the caravan, who’s always been an arrogant little prig in his interactions with you, notices your rapt attention and swaggers over to you.

“Now, old man, Lavina there really doesn’t seem to be your type,” he says with a smirk.

“She’s. . . gorgeous,” you stammer, “what are you talking about?”

“Word travels fast around the Colosseum, Maximus,” he holds his arms out to his sides, “‘Is this not why you’re here? Are you not entering Dane?'”

Not expecting such a burn, you’re left trying to come up with a clever response as he leaves, goading the prisoners on towards the Colosseum and the love of your life — or of your life’s last thirty seconds — to certain death.

To run home and write a very sternly-worded scroll to his supervisor, turn to page 40.

To try and save the girl while showing up that no good young punk, turn to page 37.

– – – – – –

Page 37

The Zookeeper’s insult will not stand — you’ll show HIM who’s banging your manservant. Wait, no. . .
Anyways, you arrive at the Colosseum and make a deal with a work friend to help him guard the antechamber where the day’s challengers wait their turn, willing or otherwise. Inside, two lions are held in barred cells along the walls, and there are also few empty and semi-private cells. Two gladiators are sitting in the hallway leading to the arena floor. Along another wall are the prisoners, still attended by the Zookeeper, who looks to be chatting up Lavina in the corner. An excellent opportunity to embarrass him in front of her. You clear your throat.

“No talking to the prisoners, dick!”

The Zookeeper regards you for a moment then and resumes his conversation. You hear some muffled laughter from the gladiators.

Well, fuck. You’d been planning that for minutes.

“A valiant attempt, sir,” says one prisoner standing at the far end of the room, a shabby older man, “but I’m afraid it’ll take more than that to get Lavina’s attention.”

“Next challenger!” a voice calls from down the hall, “one prisoner and two gladiators!” Your fellow guard approaches the prisoner who just spoke, spear in hand.

To ignore the prisoner because he obviously hasn’t gotten laid in longer than you have, turn to page 25.

To spare him and see what he might know, turn to page 11.

– – – – – –

Page 11

You quickly take an adjacent prisoner by the arm and pull him towards the guard, who isn’t paid enough to care who gets killed when, and just takes that guy to the arena instead. Then you sit next to the speaking prisoner.

“And just what might you know about her, mister. . .”

“My name is Androcles,” the prisoner says.

“So how well do you know Lavina, Andy?”

“We’ve spoken quite a bit over the last few days, I know she’s fond of animals. Of Gilbert, in particular.”

“Gilbert?”

“Oh yes, he’s the male lion they’ve brought here with us. I pulled a thorn from his paw some years back, and he’s been as gentle as a lamb to me and my friends ever since. Here-” Andy reaches out and rubs a week’s worth of sweat and. . . dust. . . on your tunic, “if you try to play with Gilbert now, he should know you as a friend. Go ahead!”

You hesitantly approach the cells in which the two lions are held. They didn’t have childrens’ picture books back then — how are you supposed to know which lion is the male?

If your thought process runs, “Long hair? What a total woman,” turn to page 10.

If you have a surprisingly progressive concept of gender norms for that time period, turn to page 52.

– – – – – –

Page 52

I’ve already thrown historical accuracy out the window, so you walk over to the bars of the long-haired lion’s cage. It looks up at you and bares its fangs.

“Careful, old man,” the Zookeeper taunts, “she’s a vicious one.”

You rub your hand on your tunic and extend it through the bars. The lion skulks over to you, sniffs, and. . . licks your hand before allowing you to scratch behind his ear. And you’re quite relieved to do so.

“Good Gilbert,” you say, as he rubs his cheek against your hand then rolls over on to his back.
Lavina looks sidelong at the Zookeeper, then walks over to you.

“It’s good to see someone who knows how to be kind to animals,” she says, “Gilbert isn’t always so friendly with strangers.”

To try to be charming, turn to page 43.

To point towards the semi-private empty cell while raising your eyebrows and going “eh? EH?” turn to page 50.

– – – – – –

Page 43

“I’m not really that strange by Roman standards. I’m just a little odd y’see.”

She laughs. You’re glad you finally got a chance to use that line. She reaches in and scratches Gilbert’s belly with you.

“Next challengers,” a voice from the hallway calls, “prisoner and a lion.”

By the time you look up, the other guard has already grabbed Androcles and begun leading him down the hallway towards the arena.

“Oh, poor dear,” Lavina says, “he’s never hurt a fly. He doesn’t deserve to have his death made a spectacle of.”

In addition to trying to win Lavina’s affections, you can’t deny that Androcles just did you a solid. The other guard returns, moving in the direction of the animal cages. Thinking quickly, thanks to the blood pumping through both of your heads, you unlock Gilbert’s cage and take hold of his collar.

“I’ve got this one,” you say, and lead the lion out to the arena.

On your way back, the Zookeeper confronts you. He may be the first man in recorded history with frosted tips.

“Step off, grandpa; I’ve been loosening her up since early this morning, and once I lure her in to that empty cell, she’ll be eating out of the palm of my hand.”

To haul off and clock him (or maybe sundial him,) turn to page 20.

To try just calling him a dick again, turn to page 5.

To try saying something snappy about his dick, turn to page 33.

– – – – – –

Page 33

“Well, you’re probably right about that. I hear that when it comes to knowing the palm of your hand, you’re pretty in-phallus-able.”

Not bad; you’re no Oscarus Wildeus, but it’s clever enough to catch the guy flat-footed and leave him searching for something to say. Which is just enough time for the Colosseum’s announcer to come running in from the arena, guard at his side, pointing furiously at the Zookeeper.

“That pathetic lion you’ve brought us is DANCING with the prisoner!” he shouts. “The audience is getting bored and will start asking for refunds if we go another minute with everybody’s throats in tact out there! Go and whip it a few times! Order it to fight! Go!”

The guard and announcer lead the Zookeeper, without the color from his face, out to the arena. You proceed back to the cells where it’s just you and Lavina.

“That was a wonderful thing you did, saving Andy like that,” she says.

That empty cell seems like a trashy approach to things now that you know the Zookeeper had the same idea. And besides, it’s covered in ‘dust.’ Hardly a romantic venue.

“Look,” you say, “I think there’s a way that I can-”

You’re cut short by a roar of applause from outside, accompanied by Andy darting back in to the room.

“What’s going on out there?” Lavina asks Andy.

“Once the Zookeeper arrived and started provoking Gilbert. . . well, he didn’t smell like a friend. But least the crowd’s happy.”

“They won’t be the only ones,” you say, “put your chains back on. I’ve an idea.”

They do so, and you lead them to the door, which opens on to. . . your friend the other guard.

“There’s been a mistake on the delivery forms — you know how those new scribes are, right? These two are a novelty act who’re actually supposed to go to the Caligulasseum instead. Mind if I escort them?”

The guard looks at you, looks at the prisoners, then shrugs and goes back to watching the arena through a small window.

“If you really want to miss this dancing lion, hey, your loss.”

– – – – – –

When you’ve made it a few blocks from the Colosseum with Lavina hanging off your arm, Androcles tugs nervously on your tunic.

“Are you really just going to deliver us to the Caligulasseum? What sort of brutal contest goes on there?”

“Well, they treat Christians slightly differently,” you say with a wink. “Don’t worry, friend; I’ll make sure that they throw you to the cougars.”

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