Disclaimers: See Chapter 1
Additional Note (Please read): This story is tied in with, Xena and Gabrielle, A Turn of Fate. If you have not read the chapters of both stories prior to this 4th one here, you should do so. That way you can keep up with the plot better than Keeping up with the Kardashians. Small joke there. Enjoy.
Feedback, or comments welcomed at, Martinkendell19@yahoo.com
The Conqueror and Ri,
A Twist of Destiny,
Chapter 4: Derivation
"Ahh, yes. That was delicious." Meleager let loose a sigh, relaxing on the divan.
Finishing the rest of their breakfast, the Conqueror had to agree. "Very well seasoned, too. I have to let Minya know she has outdone herself."
"I don't think I'll ever move from this spot here on your sofa, my Liege."
"Oh, you'll be moving." The Conqueror replied. "You have the Agora to run."
Meleager sat up. "Okay, okay. How about making a deal?"
The Chancellor was happy to get his foot in the door for negotiations. "If you succor an older gentleman who has traveled long and far by adjudging the Agora today, I swear by the hammer of Vulcan, I will have the blacksmith craft out new horseshoes for Shadow."
The Lord Conqueror thought nothing of Meleager's terrible offer, but she did think about going for a ride on the enormous black warhorse later when the evening god, Hesperus, took Helios down a bit.
Shadow has been with the Conqueror since her conquest of Athens after she lost her first warhorse, Nightmare, who was mortally injured during the Battle for Corinth. Shadow was somewhat smaller than its predecessor, but much more agile.
"Age has made you a horrible deal maker. I anticipated on hearing you would at least take care of the Agora cases for several days if not a fortnight, or a moon. I can always have the blacksmith make horseshoes for me whenever I want, Old man." The Conqueror pointed out.
"No wonder you said this was the beginning of punishment. I'll never give up another vacation again." Meleager lamented. "Fine. Six days."
"Deal." The dark and silver-haired ruler accepted.
Joining hands in concurrence, the Conqueror got up off her end of the sable couch.
"The Realm never sleeps. Unlike some people, I have to work." She teased. "Not only do I have to be at the Agora, but I also have to keep the confabulation with Brutus' Envoys."
Meleager arose to his feet as well. "Do you want me to accompany you during the conference?"
"That won't be necessary." She embraced her Chancellor. "You go get some sleep. Meet back with me before nightfall."
"Yes, Conqueror." Meleager looked at the mess that was on the table and it beckon him to think of a little strawberry blonde he favored as a niece. "Will Ri be along to put everything neatly in order?"
Not wanting to get into a subject that would consume more of her day, the Lord of the Realm lied, "I gave her a few days off so she could work on her studies."
"Well, if you see her before I do, tell her I said hello." Meleager responded.
The Conqueror inclined her head in acceptance of the request and the Chancellor of the Realm smiled, taking his leave. The forty-three-year-old, blue-eyed beauty made her way inside her bed chamber to add to her apparel. Deciding not to wear any chain mail, she buckled the greyish armor over her silver-colored tunic. Even though she no longer went by the moniker: Lion of Amphipolis, she still loved the design of the lion's claws on the shoulder pads of it. Next, she fastened two silver bracers on her upper arms and a couple of gauntlets on her wrists.
Strapping the double-sheathes around her waist, she filled one of them with a regular long sword and the second with her newly upgraded Lion blade. However, she stopped from doing so to admire it. The sword was re-forged from the platinum orbs that were being mined in Laconia. The Conqueror stared at the gold lion headed hilt of the sword with rubies to resemble its eyes. Though the blade was changed from regular steel to platinum, the lion hilt was still original since the day the people of Amphipolis had asked the blacksmith, Camus, to create it.
When she'd first received it, the Conqueror was eighteen winters. She could never forget holding the blade up straight, pointing to the heavens while the whole crowd cheered her name repeatedly.
'Xena, Lion of Amphipolis!'
'And they all had doubted me being a decent swords woman, even my mother.' The Conqueror smirked, remembering the first day she ever swung a blade.
"Mother! Toris is playing with swords again!" I shout, watching my older brother practice with the weapon alongside the other boys of the village.
They were being taught by an older man with brown hair. I want to learn, but my mother forbids it, which was fine when me and Toris couldn't pick up a sword after she caught us playing with our father's. We didn't even get a chance to swing it. Mother would always go on saying people with swords became a target. Whatever that means. I guess it has a lot to do with our father.
He was a warrior too, until one day, four summers ago, he left to partake in a neighboring village's problem with bandits. He never returned home. I had surmised she'd feared that would happen to us, but that's probably a load of crap, because I'm seeing my elder brother with a sword in his hand with my own two eyes.
"Xena, what are you on about, girl?" My mother finally answers.
"Look." I gesture out the tiny kitchen window.
"Yes. Meleager is teaching the bigger boys how to use a sword." She replies.
"Toris is among them."
"But you told us we couldn't." I whine.
I hate it when I do that, but this was highly unfair.
"Sweetheart, come sit here." She brings me to the chair in the living room and begin proclaiming, "Xena, Toris is a grown boy now and that makes him a man."
Toris is a man? A grown up?
"He's free to make his own choices and, though I am against it, he chose to learn how to use a sword. To fight if need be."
"I want to, too."
"No, Xena." She rejects quickly. "Why don't you focus on other things that fourteen-year-olds do? I hear that nice boy, Petracles, likes you. I'm sure you'll like him as well if-"
"No!" Interrupting her could cause me a spanking, but I don't care as I protest, "I don't want a boyfriend!"
"Xena of Amphipolis, you calm that tone down with me." My mother rebuke. "You may not want a boyfriend now, nonetheless, in the long run, you will."
"No, I won't. I never want a boyfriend." I announce proudly.
My mother looks apprehensive. "Surely you don't want a female for a lover."
What? Is that even possible?
"No. I want neither a boyfriend or a girlfriend, nor any kind of lover." My mother's face goes back to her normal appearance until I state, "I want a sword."
"I had enough, Xena. You will stay in this house and clean the dishes. When I come back from the market it all better be cleaned or your butt is going to be in such a world of pain, you'll be begging for Pluto to come take you. Do you hear me?"
"Yes." I obey.
"Now get to it." She tells me in advance of going out the door.
I watch her speak to Toris, then to the old man named Meleague or something like that... I don't remember. While soaking the plates and ceramic cups, I sullenly glare at Toris wielding his sword clumsily.
"What an idiot." I scoff.
I love him dearly, but it should be me out there. If not with him, at least taking his place. My eyes leave my inapt brother to gaze at the other trainees, realizing most of them are around my age.
"Unfair!" I yell, accidentally dropping and breaking one of the ceramic cups.
My mother is going to tan my hide browner than what it already is. I decide to leave it there on the floor, I'm too pissed off to care. Almost done my chore, I espy Toris setting his weapon down on the ground and come inside the house.
"Hey, Xena, I'm parched, can you... What did you do?" He ask me, looking downward at the cup I broke. "Mother's gonna whip you for sure."
"It was a mistake." I pout.
I hate it when I do that.
"You better get it up. Mother is going to be back soon."
"I'll get it up when I'm ready." I told him, retorting, "Aren't you going to pick your sword up off the ground? Better yet, you should leave it there; Terra keeps it more steady than your own hands."
I laugh, running cold water into one of the clean cups for him. Toris' gets dejected, but to my dismay, he pep up. "You're only jealous of me, Xena. I get to use a sword while you get to watch and dream."
Quicker than the fastest god, I splash him with the full cup of cold water. "Drink that you jerk."
"Urg! You stupid girl. Now I'll have to change. You best believe I'm telling mother." He threaten, going up the stairs.
"So what!" I scream.
I'm in for it now. I've not only broke one of our cups, but I know Toris is going to make like I doused him before he started teasing me, and the floor's wet also. I'm getting a whipping for sure and mother won't ever let me near a blade. Why can't I use a sword as well? It's unfair! This isn't how it is supposed to be. Minerva told me when I was just six winters, how I'm destined for more than greatness. That I would unite kingdoms. Build an empire. It's all a little vague now though, and perhaps I'm mistaken. No way the goddess of war and wisdom visited me. Maybe it was all a silly dream brought on by a silly girl.
I glance outside again, noticing all the other pupils had set their swords on the ground to take a break. The old man was alone. For how long, I didn't know, but something in the back of my brain is screaming at me to take this opportunity before I lose it.
I let the plate fall into the soapy water, then hesitate opening the door. I'll be in trouble if mother catches me, but recalling the wrongs I have already done, I'll live for the moment. I am going to get it anyway when she comes back. How much worse could it be?
I run out the door, calling the guy who's teaching the younger males of the village, "Old man!"
He looks around and points to himself.
I nod my head. "Yea, you."
"Hey, little girl, I'm not an old man." He disputes.
I trek in front of him and note, he's only a few inches taller than me. "I'm not a little girl. I am a young lady."
"Of course you are." He grins. "How old are you, young lady?"
"Younger than you are." I elude answering.
"Well, you are tall. I mean really tall."
I feel he is teasing me like the other villagers do.
"Don't make fun of me." I cried.
I hate it when I do that.
"I'm not. You're unique. I haven't ever met a girl as tall as you are." The older man clarified.
"Me either. Nor has anyone else in Amphipolis. I get teased a lot." I confess.
"People only make fun of others because of their own misunderstandings."
Immediately I am comfortable with the old man. "Thanks. That made me feel better."
"You are welcome." He smiles, sipping his drink.
I need to hurry. It's only a matter of Cronus before my mother returns.
"May I use one of your swords?" I inquire nicely.
"Um, I'm not positive that's a good-"
"Please." I plead.
His expression shows cogitation. "No, no. I'm sorry."
"Is it because I'm a girl?"
He sobers up. "What make you think that?"
"There's no other girls out here with you. Only my brother and other males." I justify my question.
"I'm not a sexist if that's what you mean. Most girls don't like to learn about weaponry. They prefer dolls and boys over a sword. You are one of a kind." Professing that, he start to look thoughtful. "You're Toris' sister and Cyrene's daughter, Xani."
"It's Xena, Old man." I correct him.
"My apologies, Xena. I still can't. Your mother made it crystal clear I'm to only train your brother and to not let her fourteen-year-old daughter anywhere near these swords."
I knew mother would cover all her bases when she'd spoken to him. I turn around crestfallen, choosing to try one more card.
The guilt trip.
In my saddest tone I could muster, I confide my biggest secret, "When I was six... I don't know, perhaps it was a dream. Goddess Minerva came to me. She averred I was going to do incredible things in this life. That I would unite kingdoms during my quest of building an empire, whilst seeing wonders; not all good nor all bad."
Somehow I started to remember Minerva's visit more clearly, and my voice lost the sad play acting as I went on.
"The goddess told me most mortals will see me as a savior. Others will fear me and try to destroy my life. I will be faced with obstruction, making it my goal to persevere. I will be met with heartache, but I'll find happiness as well; for pain and joy goes hand in hand." Spinning to look at him, I finish, "She ordained my greatest weapon won't be a sword, although I will have amazing expertise over it, along with other numerous weapons. Instead, my heart and soul together will be the strongest weapon I'll ever wield. Mightier than anything formed from derivation."
With my monologue over, I take a couple of steps towards my home, no longer caring.
"Hey, young lady."
A hand is on my shoulder. Turning my head, I see the old man.
"You had me going for a moment there, but your words caught me off guard. There's no way a teen of fourteen, who doesn't fully know the world yet, could speak such truths about pain, joy, and most of all, life. I believe you were touched by the gods." He elucidates.
"It was the last part you revealed that made me accept your words to be veracious. If you just wanted to utilize the sword, which I know you do, you wouldn't have thrown the part in about your heart and soul being your mightiest weapon." He asserts. "Come on. Let me show you some things while my other students are taking a break."
I enthusiastically stroll beside him, lifting one of the swords. I've forgotten how heavy it is, no wonder Toris was having trouble.
"Get use to the weight first. Once you do, we shall begin. I won't be able to teach you much today, but I promise to finish your training." My new teacher swore.
I push myself to accept the weight. Soon enough, me and the older man are swinging our blades almost at the same instant. I'm a bit behind, but I am getting the hang of it as I follow his three step instructions of thrust, block, and swing.
"When in battle against your opponent, make sure your confidence is higher than theirs." My teacher explains.
Trying not to puff air, I brag, "Oh, I'll have no problem there."
"Don't be a braggart, young lady." He reprimand me. "Know inside yourself you are a stronger force to be reckon with, but never tease or underestimate your challenger. Let them do that. The mind of a true warrior stays focused at all moments."
I take what he says to heart and redouble my efforts.
A quarter of a candle-mark later, I am sweating and panting. Still, my hands are steady as I follow along with my new mentor in perfect sync now.
"Hey, you're doing pretty good. A lot better than all my students today, including your brother." My teacher acknowledge.
I bloom with pride, staying on task. The older man moves swiftly behind me.
Back-to-back, he convey, "In battle with allies, be aware of them, but don't be aware of them."
"What? I don't get that one." I admit, remaining doing the three tedious steps.
He chuckles. "Be mindful of your ally, but keep your instincts on the fight. Have faith your partner can handle themselves while watching out for them also."
"You mean... Stay connected to the battle and be aware of everyone; my allies and enemies." I reply.
"Exactly. You're a bright young lady. Always remember Xena, keep your friends close and your enemies far away from you."
"That sounds like the opposite of what you have just told me." I huff.
He affirms, "You'll get it when you are older. Let's take a break now."
I am relieved when he announces that. Holding onto the borrowed sword, I sit down on the ground, looking up at the old man drinking from his cup. Next, he offers it to me. I take it from him and curiously sniff the clear liquid.
"It's only water. I left the hard stuff alone when I was in my late teens."
"That must have been a long Cronus ago." I jest.
He sits down, too. "I'm twenty-seven. That hardly qualify me as being old."
"Says the old man."
We both smile and laugh.
Afterwards, I start to drink the proffered water when my mentor proclaim, "Xena, in a real battle, know that only one thing is real and it's not fear. That's a choice. Danger is real. The danger of dying, but don't ever fear it cause once you do, it's over. Your life will automatically be forfeited by it. Remember that."
Another lesson I'll keep in mind. Then, all too soon, the older man's students come back staring at me.
I hear one of them query, "What's she doing here? Girls can't use swords."
I assumed it was Toris making the wisecrack, however, he's not in sight. It was the village idiot, Elius, coaxing the others to laugh at me. I hate being laughed at.
I'll show him.
My hand tightens around the handle of the blade when my teacher tell them, "Y'all may chortle and joke all you want, but she'll put you all to shame."
He gives me a certain look and I interpret it as a signal to show off. Getting to my feet, I give the blade in my hand several twirls, watching the males gaze in awe. I can't believe I did it right without breaking my wrist or mishandling the sword. Minerva must be blessing me. I cease the twirls and prove I can take the weight of the weapon by thrusting it skyward. Holding it for what I feel is a generous amount of moments, I end my display with a downward strike onto the ground and make a defensive pose. I feel like a warrior, until i catch a glimpse of my mentor.
His visage is mystified and he's shaking his head. I realize I've already failed one of the warrior rules by boasting my skills. Out of nowhere, my arm is seized and I'm glancing into the most angriest blue eyes.
"Mother." I gasp, releasing the sword.
"Don't 'mother' me. I've seen you already. I was standing here throughout the whole show you put on." She responds with rage.
I'm a simpleton.
I was terribly mistaken. My teacher wasn't giving me a signal to broadcast my skillfulness, he was trying to warn me.
"What is this I hear about you breaking dishes and throwing water on Toris? You know he ran to get me, telling me everything. Good thing I met him halfway back from the market to see you holding that sword in your hand with my own eyes. So you can't deny it." She carried on.
That's why Toris hadn't come out the house to resume his practice. It doesn't take long to change clothes. Big snitch went and told on me.
"And you, Meleager..." My mother turned her irate attentions on him. "I'd informed you to not let my daughter become a part of your training group. To keep her away from your weapons, but you let her do it anyway. What were you thinking?"
"Forgive me Cyrene, but your daughter has been touched by-"
"Greatness." I cut him off mid-sentence. "I'm really great."
I give him a look to let him know what I had divulged earlier was our secret, hoping he don't misinterpret me the way I did him. Unlike me, he understood.
"Really, really great." He followed up.
"It doesn't make a difference. She's never touching anything again. Come on, Xena. In the house you go." She dragged me along while the male students snicker at me until our mentor hush them.
I'm about to get the beating that no young life should endure, but somehow I manage to smile... I have a mentor!
As my mother drags me farther away, I cheer, "Thank you!"
"You're welcome, young lady! And the name's Meleager!" He shouts.
Before my mother slams the door, I blare, "Okay, Old man!"
The young fourteen-winters-old female would go from being a teased backwards girl to an unimaginable warrior that the whole town village relied on and revered enough to call her the Lion of Amphipolis. The Conqueror pulled herself from the reverie. She didn't deserve that title anymore. She had failed her hometown, becoming a monster in her thirst for revenge.
Sheathing the Lion blade, the Conqueror grasped another weapon she had considered herself unworthy of; the round disc her lover from Chin had given to her. The chakram that was created from an unknown alloy of silver and gold with nine emeralds embedded in a circular fashion around the edges.
Amongst the many other gifts she was bestowed, the chakram and the practice of meditation from using the Sacred Book of Life to boost her already immense skills, were the two mostly cherished from Lao 'Ma. The Lord of the Realm placed a gentle kiss on the chakram in advance of clipping it on her right hip alongside the Lion blade.
A knock came from the outside of her Chambermaid's door.
"Enter." The Conqueror gave the command.
Akemi opened the door and walked through. She'd changed from her nightly attire into a smooth grey chiton that had one strap over her shoulder and its length stopped below her knees with black sandals on her feet. She also wore a Grecian hairstyle. Her dark tresses were divided by two braids formed from both sides of her head to unite in the back, and held in place by an ebony clasp that was shaped like a grasshopper.
"I have finished my meal. I came to fulfill the remainder of my tasks, my Lord."
The Conqueror had another idea for her Chambermaid and the Agora. "You can resume those later. First I need for you to bring me the Prince of the Realm.""As you wish, Lord Conqueror." Akemi bowed before exiting her chambers.
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