THE CONQUEROR’S CAMPAIGN
By CJ Wells
Disclaimers: For full disclaimers‚ see Part 1. In addition to the aforementioned fabrications of TPTB‚ "Sex Toy" Anokin (and I don’t mean Skywalker) belongs to that happy-go-lucky bunch as well. Sertorius Quintus (121 B.C.-72 B.C.) was a Roman General and Quaestor. Archilochos and Sappho were both Greek lyrical poets who lived in the 7th Century B.C.
IX. THE CONQUEROR’S LOG
For a very long time‚ there has been an intense passion between Gabrielle and me. Even in those days when she feared me‚ when we were together in bed‚ I would look into her eyes and sometimes‚ I believed‚ I would see something; a deep desire‚ a raw hunger. I was often alone in the days when Gabrielle was the slave of my reality and the lover of my dreams. I would be off somewhere‚ by myself‚ and I would think about her and wonder what she would do with that hunger if she were allowed to explore it. Oftentimes I would dismiss my musings as wishful thinking. How could someone as loving as Gabrielle feel any passion for a being like me? I would ask myself. By the Gods‚ those days were often so miserable.
Since declaring our love‚ thankfully‚ our collective passions have only gotten stronger. I anticipate each opportunity to make love with her as if it was the first time. I enjoy every inch of Gabrielle. I love it when we embrace while standing. I can plant my nose in her honey hair and smell the jasmine water that she uses to wash it. I love it when she wraps her arms around me and massages the muscles of my back. I love to kiss her toes. I love to fondle her ears. I love the sound of her laugh. I love the feel of her hardened nipples as I glide my tongue against them. I love to listen to the soft moans that come from her when I pleasure her and watch as her tongue brushes against her teeth when she is about to climax. I love to lick her fingers after they’ve been inside of me. I love to lick my fingers after they’ve been inside of her. I love it when we’re bathing together and she slithers up behind me‚ wrapping her legs around my hips as she peppers my back with tender kisses. And I could go on for days about Gabrielle’s lips. Their silky feel‚ their earnest touch. I have captured many lands and killed many men‚ and yet this one woman has the power to reduce me to a gushing lovesick girl one moment and a lust-filled lioness the next.
We were on our journey to Rome when we came upon the Gaulish village of Eyde. The village is the most diverse of any in the Po Valley and beyond. Many of the Eydeans are Gauls‚ of course. But in the years after the Roman Quaestor Sertorius Quintus left the valley to serve as General under the old Republic‚ many settlers from other lands were attracted to the unique wealth that the village had to offer. It wasn’t a wealth of gems and coins‚ but a wealth of horses‚ cattle and fish‚ of oats‚ olives and rye and of grapes‚ apples and cherries that attracted these people. Many Suevi‚ a German clan from an area north of the Danube River migrated to Eyde‚ bringing with them their fascinating Runic writings and uniquely brewed ale. A few Sabine and Etruscan families from outer Rome settled there as well‚ as did some Illyrians and Thracians. Eyde also has a Diaspora‚ a settlement of dispossessed Judeans from Mesopotamia. With this array of peoples‚ no one religion or way of thinking dominates because most villagers are willing to embrace the varied ideals of their adopted brethren.
When we entered Eyde‚ the village was celebrating its yearly Rites of Spring or the welcoming of the Vernal Equinox. Practically everyone in the village‚ from the most aged elders down to crawling infants‚ took part in the festivities. It didn’t take Gabrielle long to become absorbed in what surrounded us all‚ and it didn’t take me long to absorb Gabrielle.
We danced to Celtic and Etruscan music‚ ate exotic dishes and drank German ale in abundance before retiring for the night. Gabrielle also gave me a beautiful gift that evening. While in the village tavern‚ she retold the story that I had commanded her to write some years ago when she was my slave. I had wanted her to write a fiction about her and me in another incarnation. The story that the slave Gabrielle wrote was that of a warrior woman who saves a small village from a menacing warlord and then falls for one of the villagers‚ a man named "Albertus." Her "role" in the fiction was that of a village maiden who remained in the background of the story. The story hurt me back then because I desperately wanted her to write about us being together as friends or lovers‚ which was a preposterous notion on my part given our situation at the time.
My consort Gabrielle retold the story that evening‚ but this time the woman warrior was initially a healer who defeats a warlord that Gabrielle named "Albertus." After defeating him‚ the healer is proclaimed a warrior who is then captivated by the maiden. In her revised story‚ Gabrielle and I do become friends and lovers. She was comfortably perched on my lap as she told her tale to our traveling companions‚ and when she had completed her story‚ I wanted at that moment to lift her up‚ carry her back to our bedchamber and thank her with passionate touches. Apparently‚ similar thoughts were on her mind.
"Thank you‚" I whispered to her after she completed her story.
"You’re welcome‚" she responded. "Are you ready to retire for the night‚ Xena? I am."
"I am too."
Gabrielle stood up and grabbing both of my hands‚ helped lift me to my feet. I believed that she had assumed that I was drunk‚ since I had had several mugs of ale over the course of the evening and four whole mugs in the tavern alone. I was somewhat inebriated‚ I admit‚ but she was more the source of my intoxication than the ale. We bade goodnight to our companions and walked arm and arm back to the village Magistrate’s manor‚ which served as our lodging for the night.
Entering our bedchamber‚ Gabrielle began taking off her cloak. "Let me do that‚" I said as I came up behind her and began pulling the cloak down off her shoulders. Remaining behind her‚ I reached around and untied the belt that held her tunic to her body. I gave her neck soft kisses as I did this. I then removed the tunic in the same fashion as the cloak‚ sliding it slowly down her creamy shoulders. I longed to kiss those shoulders as well‚ but held my desire at bay as I lifted her up and carried her over to the bed. After removing her shoes and undergarments‚ I retrieved a small jug from my satchel before returning to her on the bed.
Pulling off the cork to the jug‚ I began pouring its contents onto Gabrielle’s belly button. She jerked at the initial feel of the cold oozing liquid. "What are you doing‚ Xena?" she asked.
"Dessert time‚ Gabrielle‚" I simply answered.
Gabrielle dipped her finger into the cold liquid covering part of her belly and brought it to her mouth. "Honey‚" she said. "Am I not sweet enough for you?"
"Oh‚ you’re sweet enough‚" I said before dipping my tongue through the honey and into her belly button. I swirled my tongue around‚ licking her soft but firm belly before taking the jug and pouring more honey on her; a few drops on her right nipple and a few drops on her left. I ran my tongue up to her breasts and sucked the honey off both nipples‚ slowly‚ seductively. Gabrielle’s moans were vibrating directly down to my sex. I could feel it saturating my undergarment.
"This isn’t fair‚" she said as I lifted my head and poured some honey on my tongue. "You’re still completely dressed."
"Don’t fret‚ my dear‚" was all I would say before bringing my lips to hers. Her tongue immediately went for the honey and we savored the sweet taste together for many moments. After breaking our wonderfully honeyed kiss‚ I lifted up and‚ in one long stroke‚ removed my clothing. Gabrielle’s hands immediately went for my breasts‚ but I gently grabbed her wrists before she could claim them. "Not yet‚ my love‚" I said as I again grabbed the jug and scooted down to where her inviting sex was calling for me. Pouring honey on the patch of hair that surrounded her core; I slowly‚ teasingly ran my tongue around her before going inside. The combination of Gabrielle’s taste and the sweetness of the honey was a delight to my palate. As I pleasured her‚ I covered her sticky breasts with my hands and began kneading them. Her knees rose as her excitement heightened. I so love the thrill of pleasuring Gabrielle this way. I could remain there‚ firmly tucked between her succulent legs‚ licking her all night. Alas‚ moments later her climax came in several short bursts of pleasure. I lifted my head and immediately returned my lips to hers as she was still quivering from release. Then removing my lips from hers‚ I touched them to her ear. "You taste so good‚" I whispered.
"I want you‚ Xena‚" she responded in a whisper as she took me by my shoulders and forced me back supine on the bed.
"I’m yours‚" I said as Gabrielle pressed her soft body on top of mine. Bringing her lips to mine‚ we shared a deeply intimate kiss. I was becoming more and more excited as she tenderly ran her fingers down my cheeks. I ran my fingers through her hair and then down her back to her sweet ass. I squeezed and massaged it as our lips and tongues continued in their blissful connection.
Gabrielle eventually broke the kiss. "By the gods‚ you are beautiful‚" she whispered as she took the jug and poured a line of honey from my neck to my sex. The liquid was indeed cold‚ but the heat of my body from my passion for her could have easily ignited that honey as if it was Greek Fire. Gabrielle took her tongue and ran it down my body‚ lapping up the honey. She wasted no time in positioning herself between my legs. Pouring honey on her tongue‚ she cupped it and then entered me. I felt a strange sensation of heat and cold inside of me. She swirled her tongue in and out and all around me as her delicate hands massaged my thighs. I lay there experiencing the greatest pleasure of my life‚ being loved by Gabrielle. I couldn’t control the moans that came from within me. I couldn’t control my hands that gripped the posts of the bed and held on for dear life. The climax that raced through my body felt very much like Gabrielle’s initial penetration with the honey. It was a simultaneous heat and cold‚ and it was maddeningly wonderful.
As the jolts of release were still coursing through my body‚ Gabrielle returned her lips to mine. I tasted honey. I tasted her and I tasted me. She seemed to be wild in her excitement. "I could do this with you all night‚" she whispered.
"So could I."
And we did.
* * * *
I woke the next day to the sound of hard knocking on our chamber door. The sound startled Gabrielle as well.
"Who is it!?!" I yelled.
"It’s me‚ my Liege‚" Commander Palaemon replied from the other side of that thick door. "Pardon me‚ Majesty‚ but it is past noon. Our entourage has been awake for several candlemarks and are ready to continue the journey."
I was about to rise‚ but Gabrielle grabbed me by my shoulders and forced me back again. "No‚ Xena‚" she said. "I’m not ready for you to get up yet."
I looked into her beautiful jade eyes. "Have the group assemble at the carriages in two hours‚ Palaemon‚" I said. "Until then‚ relax and enjoy Eyde… and don’t disturb us again!"
"By your will‚ Conqueror‚" came his rather muffled reply.
I looked at Gabrielle. "So‚ you’re giving me orders now‚ are you?"
"Yes‚ I am‚" she said. "I want to lie here with you for a while. Is there anything wrong with that?"
We lay in each other’s embrace for a while. We didn’t speak words‚ but our lips occasionally met in sweet kisses. Unfortunately‚ it wasn’t long before all of that ale that I drank the night before was summoning me to the chamber pot.
"I need to go…"
Gabrielle sighed. "Go."
After we both answered the call‚ we returned to our comfortable embrace in bed for a few moments before Gabrielle leaned up on her arm and began running the backs of her fingers down my cheeks. "Can I ask you something‚ Xena?"
"That Shamaness who talked you into killing Queen Cyane‚" she began‚ "was she your lover?"
"Why do you want to know?" I asked.
"Why do I always want to know‚ Xena‚" Gabrielle replied. "I just do."
"No‚ she wasn’t."
"How was she able to seduce you into annihilating the Northern Amazons?"
I leaned up. "Despite what you might think‚ Gabrielle‚" I said‚ "it was much easier back then to seduce me with the promises of power than to seduce me with the pleasures of sex."
"Oh‚" Gabrielle said as she lay back down.
I lay down as well. "Alti did know somehow‚" I whispered under my breath.
"That I had a… that I… that I preferred women."
"How do you know that she knew‚ if you two were never lovers?"
"She used a girl to bait me‚ Gabrielle‚" I confessed. "I was fucking Borias and carrying his child at the time‚ but she knew somehow that I would drop him like a hot plate for the right sort of girl."
"Who was this girl‚ Xena?"
"She was Alti’s apprentice‚" I replied. "She was a lot like you. Small‚ sexy‚ spirited‚ and beautiful. Alti knew what I liked. But the girl didn’t have your light‚ Gabrielle. She was following Alti’s path of evil."
"Alti presented her to me as a ‘gift‚’" I said‚ reflectively. "Right there in front of Borias. Of course‚ he was totally clueless. We were in our command hut‚ so I told Borias to check on the state of our men while Alti‚ her apprentice and I talked. After Borias left the tent‚ Alti conveniently left the tent. The girl grabbed me and ripped open my cloak‚ exposing my slightly growing belly. Moments later‚ I was in Borias’ bedroll with her. It still smelled from the stench of his sex‚ but she didn’t seem to care."
"Did you love her‚ Xena?" Gabrielle asked.
"She didn’t live long enough for me to fall in love with her‚" I responded‚ "although I doubt that I ever would have. She was murdered later that night when we raiding Otere’s village.
"Who murdered her?"
"I suspect that Alti did it herself‚" I said. "She was just a piece of bait to trap me in Alti’s evil web. Once I was trapped‚ the girl was no longer needed."
"What was the girl’s name‚ Xena?"
"So in the end‚" Gabrielle remarked‚ "Alti did seduce you with the pleasure of sex so that she could then seduce you with the promises of power."
I could do nothing else but smile. "You know me all to well‚ Gabrielle‚" I said as I shifted to my side and scooped her body into an embrace. "Can I ask you something‚ Gabrielle?"
"Sure‚" she said after placing a soft kiss on my bosom.
"Do you prefer women?" I asked.
"I prefer you‚" she answered.
* * * *
It was almost difficult leaving energetic Eyde. For some bizarre reason‚ that village had always been a favorite of mine. During the time that I took to conquer Gaul and Rome‚ my army and I often passed through the town. The people there were frightened of me. Still are‚ but their fear was probably based more on a notion that I might disrupt the harmony that existed there. It made no sense‚ but even in my most evil state‚ while I should have considered such a village to be a major threat to my overall scheme‚ I couldn’t bring myself to do any damage to a place where so many different peoples coexisted‚ and did it so amicably.
Because we got such a late start on our journey that day‚ we weren’t able to cover a lot of ground. We did make it into outer Rome‚ but barely. Riding into the city of Bononia‚ our entourage immediately went to the large manor of the city’s Magistrate‚ Lucius Sabinus Cocles.
Cocles was a disgusting toad of a man with very hairy arms and a hairy chest that he apparently loved to show off under his loosely worn toga. He had a red mustache‚ a receding hairline and his forehead always seemed to be covered in beads of sweat. Cocles was Magistrate of Bononia before I came into power. I allowed him to remain in that capacity after he offered me the wealth of the city‚ personal ownership over all of the city’s vineyards. I would have claimed them as mine anyway‚ but only after having to defeat his local militia. By offering the wealth rather than forcing me to take it‚ he saved my army about one afternoon of fighting.
We were taken down a long corridor to a row of guest bedchambers. The three Amazons were to occupy one together‚ the two couples‚ Bahri and Charicleia and Stanislas and Hadiya‚ would occupy one bedchamber for each couple‚ and the two Commanders‚ Palaemon and Marius‚ were each given a personal chamber lodging. For Gabrielle and me‚ Cocles offered his own bedchamber.
"I’m sure that a Manor this size has additional guest chambers‚" I said.
"It would be my greatest honor to have you as a guest in my personal bedchamber‚ Conqueror‚" he replied. "Every amenity is at your disposal and I will dispatch as many slaves as necessary to ensure your comfort."
Gabrielle looked at me. "Slaves aren’t necessary‚" I said. "Besides‚ you should have received word of my decree to emancipate all slaves of Illyrian heritage."
"I did‚ Majesty‚" Cocles stated. "I’ve never personally kept Illyrian slaves."
"Very well‚ then‚" I said. "If it’s so important to have us sleep in your bedchamber‚ we’ll take you up on the offer."
"Excellent!" he exclaimed a little too happily. "I will make sure that the softest silks are spread across the bed and that the baths are drawn and warmed. For now‚ if you will‚ Conqueror‚ please join me in evening meal."
Our entire group ate in the large atrium of Cocles’ manor. He had female musicians perform for us while we dined. Afterwards‚ we were escorted to a small theater within the manor. "For your evening entertainment‚" he announced‚ "a reading."
A very attractive young man‚ dressed in a tight-fitting tunic that seemed to intentionally accentuate his physique‚ walked up on the tiny stage and began reciting several verses of poetry. All of it was sexually suggestive.
"Like the men
Of Thrace or Phrygia
She could get her wine down
At a go‚
Without taking a breath‚
While the flute
Played a certain little tune‚
And like those foreigners
She permitted herself
To be buggered."
Gabrielle leaned over to me as the boy finished his recitation. "Is someone trying to tell us something?" she asked.
"You tell me‚" I whispered. "Wasn’t Archilochos known for his satire?"
"That‚ and other things‚" she replied.
At that moment‚ the boy was dismissed and Cocles took the small stage. "That was all the entertainment that I have for the evening‚ honored guests. Please enjoy your respective retirements."
We were escorted to our respective guest chambers. Cocles’ chamber was quite decorative. Several beautiful tapestries hung from the walls and a very unique mosaic was painted on the ceiling. Fresh floral arrangements were placed around the room. The bed was round and had several cushions on it. Fine silk sheets were also draped across it. Gabrielle and I removed our clothing and stepped over to the bath. I rested my back against the side of it while she rested her back against me. I wrapped my arms around her waist. "I didn’t like Cocles’ choices of poetry‚" she said.
"Neither did I‚" I agreed.
"When we’re done bathing‚ I want to read something to you that I think you’ll like‚ Xena."
We relaxed in the bath for quite some time‚ devoting equal amounts of time to bathing and kissing. Once we were done in the bath‚ we dried off and climbed into that round bed. Gabrielle leaned over and grabbed a scroll out of her satchel. She began reading:
"Aphrodite dressed in an embroidery of flowers‚
Never to die‚ the daughter of God‚
Untangle from longing and perplexities‚
O Lady‚ my heart.
But come down to me‚ as you came before‚
For if ever I cried‚ and you heard and came‚
Come now‚ of all times‚ leaving
Your father’s golden house
In a chariot pulled by sparrows reined and bitted‚
Swift in their flying‚ a quick blur aquiver‚
Beautiful‚ high. They drew you across steep air
Down to the black earth."
She read several lovely pieces before putting the scroll away. "Did you like my selections‚ Xena?"
"I did‚ Gabrielle‚" I said. "I’ve always been partial to Sappho."
We both lay back and embraced. It didn’t take long for our kissing to resume. And of course‚ it didn’t take long for the kissing to become more passionate. Gabrielle began kissing my cheeks and eyelids‚ which are sensations that I truly love. I sucked her earlobe and the skin under her chin before returning my lips to hers. Temporarily breaking the kiss‚ I looked into her eyes. "Would you like an encore performance of last night‚ my love?"
"Will you be using honey again?" Gabrielle asked.
"We could try sweet cream or even wine perhaps‚" I responded.
"You can be so creative‚ Warrior Princess‚" she said in jest before grabbing the back of my neck and bringing my lips back to hers. As we kissed‚ our hands began exploring our bodies. She was massaging my shoulders and running her fingers through my hair. I was rubbing her back‚ her hips and her ass. Her skin is so soft and I felt as if I was floating on a sea of bliss. I was lying there‚ touching her vigorously and desiring to enter her when all of a sudden‚ I felt a sharp chill razor down my spine. I broke the kiss.
"Something is wrong‚" I whispered very quietly.
"What?" Gabrielle whispered back.
"Wait here‚" I whispered before rising from the bed. I looked back at her and brought my finger to my lips in a plea for her to remain quiet. Throwing on a robe and then grabbing a nearby illuminated candle‚ I walked over to a table located near one of the tapestries. I was following whatever force was drawing me to it. We were being watched‚ and I needed to find out where‚ how and who.
Pretending as if I desired a goblet of wine; I slowly surveyed the darkened room as I poured the liquid. I looked closely at that tapestry. It was an unusually long and wide tapestry‚ the single largest tapestry in the room. It hung almost from the ceiling and went all the way to the floor. Leaving the candle on the table‚ I picked up the goblet and walked over to the side of the tapestry. It was flush with the wall‚ too flush. I stepped over in front of it.
"Nice tapestry‚" I said before kicking it. On the other side of it‚ a door crashed open and a heavy object was heard hitting the floor. I barely noticed Gabrielle run up beside me as I ripped the tapestry down to reveal the concealed‚ and now broken‚ door. Pushing aside what fragments were left of the door‚ I entered the space.
Gabrielle‚ stepping beside me‚ gasped at the half-dressed figure on the ground. "By the gods! It’s Cocles!" she yelled.
CONTINUED IN PART TEN
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