Disclaimers: See Part 1
Additional Note (Please Read): This story is tied in with, Xena & Gabrielle: A Turn of Fate. If you haven't read the chapters of both stories preceding this one, you should do so now.
Feedback is always welcomed at Alexjanos612@Yahoo.com
The Conqueror and Ri,
A Twist of Destiny,
Chapter 8: Confirmation
Shadow galloped down the trail leading to the Corinthian Gulf, transporting his mistress and battle equipment to her ship. The Conqueror was wearing a simple grey tunic that fell below her knees, with her chakram clipped to a black belt around her waist and dark boots on her feet.
The Lord of the Realm was looking forward getting an early start to set sail for her voyage as the vessel came into view. After she had spoken to the Chancellor last night about her decision to travel to Crete, she'd summoned her General of the Sixth Army to assemble one hundred-fifty of the finest warriors and prepare a ship for embarkation at first light.
Pulling on Shadow's reins, the Conqueror brought the ebony warhorse to a stop in front of the gangplank connected to the moderate sized vessel. The azure eyed ruler turned her head to look in the direction from which she had came, thinking about the petite strawberry blonde that she left behind in the castle without saying good-bye. She then thought of the chaste kiss they shared in the temple and it made the Conqueror smile slightly at the memory.
'I should have told Ri, I love her.' she ruminated.
Out the corner of her vision, the Conqueror saw her General standing atop the deck, adorned in purple armor, equipped with a sword sheathed on her back and daggers surrounding her waist.
"Morning, my Lord." the voice called out while descending the bridge.
"Good morning to you, General Glaphyra."
Next, the woman who's long blonde hair was tied to the back of her head stood beside the steed and its owner. With her right fist over her emblem chest plate, she bowed.
"Everything is in order, my Liege. We are ready to embark at your command." Glaphyra announced.
"Excellent." the Conqueror replied. "Have a couple of your men ferry my saddle bags on board as well as one to stay behind and take Shadow back to the Corinthian stables."
"Turel, Oris and Gagius!" the General yelled. "Come aid our Lord Conqueror!"
The three purple armored men rushed to carry out the request. They all did their customary salute when Glaphyra gave them each their task.
"Turel and Gagius, bring our Lord's bags up to her quarters. Oris, you will not be travelling with us. You are to return the Conqueror's warhorse to the stables at the castle, and then report to, Lieutenant Dex."
"Yes, General." they said in unison.
The two soldiers began lifting the saddle bags and lugged them to the ship.
The Conqueror dismounted and spoke quietly to Shadow while stroking his black mane. "Sorry boy, but you can't come with me on this expedition."
Shadow neighed in protest.
"At least you'll get to spend cronus with that palomino I know you like."
That statement got a whinny out of him.
The Conqueror finished coaxing him. "Now be on your best behavior and don't do anything I wouldn't."
After that, the Conqueror turned away as Oris mounted the dark steed and sped off.
Walking up the ramp, Glaphyra said. "Now, there is only one hundred-forty-nine soldiers."
"It is of no consequence." the Conqueror grinned. "I'll be an addition to your short fall."
The General of the Sixth Army smiled too.
On the deck, the Conqueror was met with salutes from the troops that was graced being in her path.
"How did your husband take your charge?" the Conqueror asked.
"He was kinda disappointed. Not because he'll miss me." Glaphyra smirked. "But only because he didn't get the opportunity to be in my stead."
"I hope he wasn't too upset."
"Darnelle will be alright, my Lord. He'd already had his fun. He couldn't wait to tell me what happened in the Throne room with the Envoys, that he abandoned me on the training field for. So likewise, I rubbed his face in it that I was selected to go on a mission with you. And if he's angry when I get back, I'm sure it's nothing a little makeup sex can't cure." Glaphyra responded.
The Conqueror laughed as they made their way below deck to her cabin. When they entered inside, the older woman sat down in her chair behind the desk. Her body was tired from barely sleeping last night as she laid down and thought about, Ri.
She had a mind to lay down on the bed in the next aperture over to her left in the spacious cabin.
Glaphyra watched the Conqueror relax in the seat, closing her eyes.
"Yes?" she still kept her eyelids shut.
"Are you sure we should be going to Crete?" the blonde voiced her concern. "What if, Brutus attacks us? You were hostile to the men he sent."
"I doubt, Brutus will be irate over the death of a slave and personally, I don't think he's dumb. He needs me and I intend to expose that fact." the Conqueror answered.
"What if you're wrong?"
Cobalt orbs shot open, rooting the General in place. "I'm usually not incorrect about these Romans now, but if I am, it'll prove, Brutus is a couple of things and it will be terrible for him, not us."
"What is those two things, my Lord?" Glaphyra inquired.
The Conqueror eyes narrowed. "One, Brutus is an idiot, it'll cause the destruction of his army in the end. Two, he'll lose any chance of securing an alliance with me, which will leave him isolated in the war with, Marcus Antonious and Octavian."
"Are you certain that, Octavian and Antonious will unite together against, Brutus?" Glaphyra questioned.
"I'm counting on it." the Conqueror said.
Glaphyra was confused. "But surely, Marcus and Octavian hate each other. They are the most prominent contenders to fill in the power vacuum in Rome."
"And, Brutus is the wildcard I'll be using. The whole goal is to keep this conflict off Greek soil. With, Brutus, along with, Cassius hiding themselves and their armies in Dia, they are making the Realm a target for warfare. I won't allow that, so I need them gone. We may have contention when we confront them. I am not dogmatic to not consider that possibility, but when it is over, Brutus and Cassius will be departing Crete." the Conqueror elucidated.
"I wish you would have told me this last night." the General began to jest. "I would've brought less soldiers."
"We'll be fine, General Glaphyra. That is why I required the greatest of your fighters. The Sixth Army are supreme when it comes to a phalanx formation, thanks to you." the mixed raven and silver haired woman extolled.
The purple armored General beamed at the praise, contented that her cronus spent in Sparta away from her husband and daughter paid off. "Thank you, my Lord."
"No, the thanks go to you, Glaphyra." the Conqueror responded, closing her tired eyes again. "Lower my banner from the mast, then tell the captain to set sail. We will first tour our borders to make sure we don't have any un-suspected surprises, before heading for the island of Dia in Crete. Please do not disturb me unless there is some sort of trouble."
"As you command, Lord Conqueror."
Glaphyra did her salute and exit the cabin, while the sleepy Conqueror fell in the land of Hypnos.
Tessa sat in the tavern drinking her ale in delight. She was dressed in a plain tunic with brown boots in the only establishment of its kind to open early in the morning. She decided to get herself a strong drink after a raunchy night with a handsome guy, who's name she didn't bother to ask. However, the sex was really good, causing Tessa to fall asleep in his arms, before waking up to extract her naked body from his embrace and taking her leave back to her own residence in the barracks with the Fifth Army.
"Isn't it early to indulge?"
Tessa recognized the voice. "General Darnelle, I-"
"At ease, Lieutenant." Darnelle cut her off and took a seat across from her at the table. "I came for some ale as well."
Tessa collected herself while gazing at her General, who was donned in a light brown tunic with a dark brown vest covering it and black leather trousers. His long brown hair, the same color as her's, fell back as he was taking a swig from his tankard.
"What brings you here, General?"
"Need to wash away the thoughts of bad news." he muttered.
"Personal, or professional?" she questioned.
"A mission we were passed up on."
"Well." Tessa started, concealing her dismay. "Peace can be."
"Boring." they said in sync.
"Hey, keep these coming for both of us." Darnelle called out once his cup was empty.
The barmaid came over and placed two more tankards down on their table.
"Thanks." he said.
"Thank you also, sweetheart." Tessa winked at her.
"You both are welcomed." the maid blushed and walked away.
"She's cute." the brown haired Lieutenant commented.
"I wouldn't know. I only have fondness for one woman in my life." Darnelle admitted.
"Two women, if you count, Iona."
"Nope. She's my pride and joy. There's a difference." he responded.
With the mentioning of his daughter's name, the General was reminded of her recount of the events in her class. "Iona told us about your demonstration."
Taking a sip from her single handle cup, Tessa questioned. "Did she like it?"
"She was incited by it so much that now she wants to become a warrior." Darnelle answered.
"Like mother, like daughter." Tessa replied.
"Glaphyra doesn't think kindly of the idea." Darnelle told her, in advance of grinning. "You missed out on a vigorous training session, Lieutenant. So, how are your feelings on instructing the class?"
"It was okay, but kids aren't my cup of tea. You have to be mindful of the words that comes out of your mouth around them and shit like that. I couldn't wait to get out of there." Tessa confessed.
Darnelle chuckled. "If you always felt that way, why did you volunteer your services?"
A widen smile formed on her lips. "I got the chance to meet the Conqueror's hand-maiden and let me tell you. She is incredible."
"Before the Conqueror won the Battle of Corinth and conquered it, Ri use to stay with me and my family sporadically when the Chancellor was on progress with our Lord." Darnelle smiled knowingly. "Ri is quite the storyteller isn't she. She use to tell them to Iona when-"
"Yeah, Ri's truly talented." Tessa interrupted. "But, I'm not speaking about that. I am talking of her beauty. She is also somewhat flirtatious."
The General of the Fifth Army began laughing at his Lieutenant's expense. "Calm your libido, Tessa. You don't know, Ri and her ways. She's really benign, that's all."
Tessa was getting irritated at Darnelle's laughter. "I can ascertain when someone is being a flirt, or not. Mark my words, General, I am going to be the first to fuck-"
"Lieutenant!" Darnelle slammed his tankard onto the table hard, his amusement vanishing. "Ri is a friend of my family, especially my daughter. Don't disrespect her, or you'll find yourself demoted and cleaning stalls for the rest of your life."
Tessa was sternly castigated, making her realize the bounds she had overstep. "My sincere apologies, General. I do fancy, Ri, but I will never say anything lewd about her again."
"Apology accepted, Lieutenant Tessa. I'll chuck it up as drunken talk. As long as you can refrain from being that outspoken again, let us finish our drinks and be merry." he said drowning his ale and saying. "Another."
When the barmaid's footsteps was moving towards them, Tessa whispered in good humor. "I bet you, I'll fuck the bar wench though."
"Tessa, she is a friend of my family also." Darnelle joked.
"Oh, come on." she said unbelieving.
They both laughed while the un-suspicious woman gave them their third round of drinks.
Three candle-marks later, Ri was putting on her gold colored sandals. Her attire for today consisted of a green chiton that covered her knees, with a bronze belt encircling the waistline.
She had a late breakfast and was grateful that the Prince of the Realm had not came to her room this morning. Ri was still upset with him for betraying her trust and wasn't ready to see him. With her foot ware on she walked over to her closet and was looking at the turquoise dress that she wore yesterday, hanging inside.
It was wrinkled below the waist after being hiked up her legs doing the ride with the Conqueror to Minerva's temple. The pilgrimage was bumpy at points, causing Ri's hands to rise and incidentally graze her Lord's chest. The same thing took place when she first rode with the blue eyed ruler to the temple when she was younger, before her Lord conquered Corinth and wasn't yet known as the Lord Conqueror of the Realm.
"Hold on, Ri, we're almost there." the taller lady said while holding me.
I am too frighten to say any words and I do not want her to hear the quiver in my voice. I nod against her chest, which feels soft and comfy to the back of my head, but with the big scary horse moving so fast, it makes my head bump on something hard directly in the center of her breast, I think.
I wish the jerky ride would be over soon, cause I don't like this horse we are riding on. He's the reason of my fear, but I want be brave for my savior. I haven't seen her in so long since she left for a castle somewhere in Corinth. I have fun with Meleager, who calls me niece and Lyceus, but when they leave, I stay with another family. They are nice to me and I love telling stories to their young daughter, Iona. She really likes them too. Still, I miss the raven haired woman I'm with right now.
I have no idea where we are going, nor do I care as we travel past homes, taverns and people. I'm just happy she decided to take me with her, because being with her brings me comfort. Finally the horse comes to a halt.
She whispers in my ear. "We are here." making me joyful that the bumpy journey is over.
Milady jumps off the enormous horse and then she casually picks me up as if I'm nothing but air, setting me on the ground.
She began to stroke the mane of the scary four legged beast. "We will be right back, Nightmare. Don't wander away, okay boy?"
He emits a loud neigh and it freaks me out.
"Do as you told." she finish, before tuning to me. "Are you ready, Ri?"
"Yes, Milady." I reply.
Taking my hand, we begin to walk forward to a stone temple atop a layer of stairs. The horse let loose a snort and his owner yells back.
"Stay there, Nightmare, or no apples!"
"Will he leave?" I inquire.
"Naw. He knows better. Nightmare love his treats."
As we start our ascent, I ask. "Where are we, Milady?"
"We are in Corinth. I must seek Minerva's blessing."
So this is Corinth.
"For what?" I was curious.
"Something that will change our lives forever." she answers with a huge smile on her face.
I like when she smiles, so I'll cease my game of catechism with her, because I don't want it to fade. She opens the mahogany door and we step inside.
The temple must not have many worshippers from the appearance of it. Derelict comes to mind as I look at the worn out wooden altar and the cracked discolor walls. The only thing that looks nice is the gold statue, that I am positive resembles the patron diety of this temple.
A woman wearing a ragged grey robe, with brown shoulder length hair and amber eyes walks over to us.
"Hello, again stranger." she greeted my guardian.
"How are you, Nemina?"
"With the Purge war still ravaging our country, things could be better, but I can't complain when Minerva continues to make a way for us and others to worship as well as honor her." Nemina answered.
Her gaze falls on me. "Who is this? She wasn't with you when you first came, is she your child?"
Mine's and Milady's eyes met each other for a split moment. I do not know what I hope for her to say, but I could never see her as my mother. I wonder does she see me as a daughter figure.
"No." Milady said. "She is not my child. Her name is, Ri, she's ten years old and special to me."
"Hello, Ri." Nemina say to me.
"Hi. Are you a Priestess?" I blurt out.
"Yes, I am the High Priestess of this temple." she reply, before asking, Milady. "Speaking of names. What is your's? We would like to show our appreciation to you for the offering you gave after your last visit."
I wanted to know her name too a little bit, although I am accustomed to just calling her what I do.
Milady began to look uncomfortable. "No thanks is needed, really."
Nemina realized no name was forthcoming. "And humble. I will leave you two alone to pray. May the goddess bless and keep you both always."
Then, the High Priestess turned and strolled off.
Milady grab my hand and we trek toward the altar. Next, the raven haired woman kneeled, bringing me down with her and closed her eyes in orison. I couldn't help but watch her, wishing that I could pry into her mind and learn what her prayers consist of.
I shut my orbs also after a while, to thank the goddess for bringing me into the life of the woman beside me. For allowing her to rescue me in Cirra from the slavers that wanted to use me for ill purposes. I was concentrating so thoroughly on my own thankfulness that my eyes began to squint tight until the woman next to me spoke.
I open my eyes to look at her.
Her facial expression was quizzical. "What were you doing?"
"Thanking the goddess."
"Well be careful." she grins. "We don't want you to burst a blood vessel from such a simple act."
Her sense of humor is dry, but I still smile at it. I can tell now, she is one way with me and another with others. Nemina can attest to that. Milady's features hadn't changed doing their interaction, except for when she inquired about her name, which only caused her discomfort. Milady is a warrior foremost and choose to be serious probably around everyone she meet. I am glad she shed some of that stoicism for my benefit and maybe her's as well.
She takes my hand and place a small piece of gold in it. I glance at her questionably.
"That is to be set on the pedestal once your prayer is done."
Quickly comprehending, I close my eyes and ask, Minerva for what I honestly want more than anything else on Gaia. Then I put the gold piece on the altar.
"That was fast." she said bemused slightly. "Go outside and wait by my horse, Ri. I'll join you shortly."
I rise to my feet and exit the temple. Why did she make me leave her side? Have I upset her in some way? Did I do the prayer wrong? I look down the flight of the steps and see the black steed, his brown eyes glaring at me. It's no way I'm standing by that horse. It wants to eat me, I know it.
A little while later, my beautiful savior comes out of the temple and I notice a bandage is wrapped around her left hand.
I run to her, grasping the injured appendage in mine's. "Milady, what happened?"
"Nothing to worry about." she dismiss my question. "Why aren't you with-"
"I wanted to wait right here for you." I interject.
She expels a breath, before saying. "This is relatively a small matter, Ri, but when I ask you to do something, it's for a reason and I expect for you to do it."
I don't understand what is the problem between waiting for her by the door, or beside the horse.
Still gripping her hand, I lock eyes with her. "Forgive me. I'll follow every direction you give me from now on. Don't be mad at me."
She caress my face, moving my long strawberry blonde tresses behind my ear. "I'm not mad at you, Ri. I don't want anything harmful to befall you. Look at my warhorse."
I do as she says, seeing that the giant steed's orbs was on us.
"Nightmare is acutely aware and protective of what belongs to me." Milady tells me.
So that is why he was staring at me.
"I told you to stand next to him, because he will protect you from danger. By you being so far away from him, all Nightmare can do is neigh wildly in order to alert me and what if-" she stops speaking abruptly and bend to my level, face to face.
"I lost a friend named, Iolaus, because he didn't listen to my instructions. What if someone had hurt you and I didn't make it to you quick enough? You are too important to me and I'll be consumed by grief. Can you ken that?"
I accede the severity of her tone and my fingers automatically touch her jaw, wanting to mold it into that smile I like. "Yes, Milady."
She is delighted by my answer. It's not the look I was going for, but it'll do as she stands to her full stature. After that, we descend the stairs to her horsey. I'm still afraid of his height, but it's good that he knows who I belong to.
"Good boy, Nightmare." she pats his nose. "I have a tasty treat for you when we return to, King Glaucus' castle."
"Will I be going to the King's castle also?" I inquire hopeful. I don't want to go back to Tegea without her.
She settles herself on the horse and shakes her head in the negative.
I become sadden by her response, even when powerful hands stretch out and I raise my arms to be lifted onto the horse in front of her.
"Not yet. However soon, goddess willing, you'll have your own chamber and wardrobe in the castle with me." she murmurs in my ear, causing my nose to crinkle at the confirmation.
"Can you guide your horse while I hold onto you from the front?" I ask timidly.
"Yes, but you have to hold on tight. Is that what you want to do?"
I nod, suddenly my petite frame is once more picked up and turned facing her. I wrap my legs around her waist, clinging my arms to her tunic.
"Minerva is answering my prayers." I stated, snuggling into her breast like pillows. There (is) something in the middle of them.
"And what was that you prayed for?"
I gaze up at her. "We'll be together forever."
That's the smile I was looking for as, Milady kiss my forehead.
"Remember to hold on tight." she repeat again.
The horsey begins walking in a trot and a question enters my brain. "Milady, what did you pray for?"
"For our future, Little One." her cerulean orbs light up. "To change our lives forever."
Their lives did change and it seems to be altering even more now that Ri was going to be courted by, her Lord.
The strawberry blonde didn't know what she was rubbing against all those years ago, but now that she was older, Ri knew what she had touched. It was circular rings of some kind on her breast, piercing her nipples.
The dream from last night was fresh, and Ri could call forth the sex scene, but she realized that the younger Conqueror in her fantasy didn't have pierced breast. The room they were in was a bit darken, but Ri could still see the dark nipples, the sapphire irises and the muscular body of her Lord.
Next, she begun focusing more on the details of herself with the cropped hair, firm abs and something else on her back. It looked like a tattoo and the appearance was of some sort of animal, or a creature with wings, but it was too dark to make out.
'I wouldn't ever decide to get anything ugly like that on me.' Ri mused.
Closing her closet, she said aloud. "It is just a dream. I don't have to take it so seriously."
A tap on her chamber door ended whatever rumination she would've had about the lucid vision.
'It's probably the Prince.' Ri assumed.
Walking to the door, Ri answered it. "Who is it?"
Opening the door, Ri let the young girl who was wearing a yellow tunic and a black sash over her shoulders, cross the threshold.
"Good morning, Ri." Iona greeted.
"Morning to you as well, Iona. I like the new look."
Iona's blonde hair was loose, and fell down the sides of her face, instead of the normal tied to the back fashion.
"Thanks." she responded. "I came by last evening, but I got no answer."
"The Lord of the Realm summoned me and I had to be with her." Ri answered tactfully.
"Understandable. When duty calls, you have to answer it. My mother is-" Iona's words faltered as she glimpsed the sparkling necklace on her friend's neck.
"By Vulcan, where did you get that?" she inquired, mesmerized by it's glimmer.
"It was a gift." Ri said.
Iona's hands traced the outline of the platinum chain. "An expensive gift, I see."
'You have no idea.' the strawberry blonde thought.
She still couldn't believe the outlandish price of the Conqueror's symbol to her.
"Who gave it to you?"
Iona's question almost made, Ri stumble. "A special person that is dear to me."
"Does this, person, have a name?" Iona smirked.
"When is your next class?" Ri countered.
"In a half candle-mark. Why?" she replied.
"I have a lunch appointment with the Chancellor and I need to ask, Minya to make some accommodations. So if you come with me to the kitchen, I'll tell you what you want to know." Ri offered.
"Of course, I'll go with you." Iona was excited. "You have to tell me everything."
"Hang on, don't you have a session with, Master Eramus?" Iona became puzzled.
Ri grinned. "Let's just say, it's handy to know people in high places."
To Be Continued
Return to the Academy