Idris kicked up the dirt of the arena with his bare feet. The sand coated the skin of his soles the way the fat lines of ochre painted the rest of his body in a mockery of war paint. All of the symbolism was gone, the whorls instead used to complement each ridge of muscle and to lead the eye to the bulge of his crotch. He wore only a small loincloth. The paint was stark against the expanse of his bared, dark skin and made his eyes look more amber than brown.
The gathered nobles of the Holy Circle cheered to see him. He was painted up like one of the fetishes made by the feral tribes that inhabited the jungles of the far South. Decorated with gold braid in his hair. The Graecian obsession that everything they looked upon should be beautiful. They drank their honey wine and laughed their shrill laughs. They were pasty, limbs protected from the sun by pale powders.
Idris grinned as the gates on the far side of the arena lifted. His opponent stumbled out: a satyr. His huge, bonelike horns protruded from his head in a spiral. He was boyish about the face, but the body was all man. He was weaponless, like Idris. Painted up and prettified, like Idris. Wearing only a scrap of material, like Idris.
The arbiter rang his silver bells until the crowd hushed enough for the sound to carry.
The satyr bent forward and charged like a bull, the point of his horns first. Idris held his ground. The satyr gained momentum, feet kicking up a sandstorm as they hammered at the ground. Idris waited until the horns pricked his skin, and then he stepped aside. The satyr continued, carried by his momentum. Idris shoved him with a firm hand to his ass, adding the extra force that sent him into the barriers that ringed the arena. The wooden barriers. He was stuck, his horns buried an inch deep.
The crowd laughed at his struggle. He pressed his hands against the barrier, both palms flat. He jerked his neck in small, convulsive motions. Idris waited for the laughs to reach their crescendo, and then tore the loincloth from the satyr's body. The laughs stilted, turned to 'ahh's and catcalls. The satyr redoubled his efforts to escape at that, his great cock bouncing against his thighs. Idris examined him. He could almost hear the necks craning as the crowd did the same. There was a wiry power in the cords of the satyr's muscles, but he wasn't a warrior. He'd be bigger, harder, not prone to make such a silly mistake. A pleasure slave who had outlived his usefulness then, or one that had proven too much trouble.
Idris stroked the satyr's lower back. There was tension, and then a snap of release. The satyr pulled free. He left two deep pock marks in the wood, but his horns were unscathed.
Idris sidestepped one laughable attempt at a grab, and then another. The satyr hissed. His face was red. Idris held up the torn loincloth. The satyr grabbed that. His eyes widened when Idris yanked him forward by it. There was a sharp slap as his naked skin hit Idris' chest. The satyr released the cloth, and Idris grabbed his wrist instead. The satyr punched him in the jaw, and Idris let it land. It was as bothersome as a fly landing on his cheek.
"You're not a warrior," Idris said, low, so the crowd wouldn't hear.
The satyr struggled, reared, kicked, and braced himself against Idris. He bobbed and dropped his head, all of his body in motion all the time, as if he was having a seizure or trying desperately to get enough leverage to gore Idris with his horns. Idris wrapped his hands around the satyr's neck. His fingers covered the entire column of his throat. Idris squeezed and the struggles stopped. He lifted the satyr off his feet. The color, even the flush of shame, drained from his face as he batted at Idris' grip.
Idris grabbed the satyr's buttock, still holding him by the throat, and spread him. He turned in a slow circle, exposing the satyr to the crowd. Tears of humiliation sprang into the satyr's eyes. Idris steeled himself to it.
-- from "The Spoils" by Anna Hedley