Valeria, the Conqueror's Commander comes home to Corinth after ten years at war and falls in love with the young concubine Gabrielle given to her as a gift for her loyal service and soon realises that Xena has other plans for her.
Contains some strong scenes of sex and violence.
This story is based on the Xena timeline set up in the Hercules episode Armageddon Now part 2
I have been in the Conqueror's service for over ten years spilling blood in her name and acquiring new territory. Now it seems she has the known world and is calling me home.
But what life can i have now that my heart is completely hardened and the tears no longer flow like they used to?
What is there truly left for me to do now apart from sit in a tavern and sing like a bard of my glory days when i used to be a warrior?
There has to be more to it than that.
And with the Conqueror there always was....
The mood is triumphant as i ride through Corinth, the Conqueror's capital towards her place in the centre of the city in a procession to rival any ever given by Rome as we bring in countless treasures from across the known world upon the backs of slaves.
Even now my humanity is not truly dead as i still pity them struggling under the weight of things no man should ever carry then as i see the Conqueror regally looking down from the Royal balcony it disappears again.
And i realise the people cheer and line the streets behind the purple armoured royal guard because they have been forced under the pain of death to do so and spur my horse and chariot on a little faster as we round the corner to the gate and slowly pass inside.
Darphus, the commander of the Royal guard salutes me along with the procession of palace slaves, concubines and hired well-wishers and i catch my reflection in his armour.
I am still beautiful. My hair still tumbles down in healthy blonde tendrils past my face and my eyes though weary from countless battles are still as deep and blue as ever.
It was then that i saw her watching me from the window of the slave quarters. The uniform of a rough brown cloth tunic that slaves were acquired to wear did nothing to hide her beauty from me. Her green eyes almost made my heart stop beating and suddenly fill with a longing to run my hands through her long blonde hair.
Then our eyes meet and i see she is afraid but yet still remains unable to tear herself away...
"Commander...are you alright?" Darphus asks sounding almost genuinely concerned.
"Yes, i'm fine. Just a little tired." I answer turning back to him then looking up to find to my dismay that the girl is gone.
"The Empress has had quarters prepared for you in the west wing but wishes an audience with you before you retire." He continued as i returned my gaze to him.
"Thank you." I said going inside after the guards open the door to let me pass.
Determined to change out of my armour and have the pleasure of a hot bath before i go any further i headed straight for the rooms.
It is rare opportunity to unwind even now and as i feel the cool water caress my skin in the sunken bath my warrior instincts refuse to let go as i immediately feel a pair of eyes watching me closely from the vicinity of the bed.
"Who's there?" I call out and watch the blonde girl from the slave quarters slowly step forward.
"I am a gift from the Empress for your loyal service. I will do anything you desire."
"Your a concubine?" I said surprised and she nodded slowly.
"What is your name?" I asked and for a moment she was taken aback then smiled.
"Gabrielle...Commander." She answered her voice never rising above a murmur and looked down at her feet.
"Is it the first time you've done this?" I asked wanting to know as much about her as possible.
"No, my former master Draco instructed me well." She asked with more than a touch of bitterness a single tear running down her cheek.
"I too knew the brutal life of a slave." I admitted turning around so she could see scars made by countless whippings since childhood when my family and i were forced into service by the warlord Cortese.
I heard her gasp but she said nothing so i reached for a towel wrapping it around my body and began to dry myself in earnest until i realized she was still standing there.
"Well, Gabrielle i have no need for a concubine but i do have need of a handmaiden but if anyone asks simply say that you're the former and we'll have no trouble." I said and for a moment could swear she looked a little disappointed but she nodded in agreement and smiled helping me put on the silk blue dress that i'd lain out upon the bed.
As i made my way to the rooms in the center of the palace where the Conqueror met all her guests i felt an involuntary shudder go through me that left visible goosebumps upon my skin and quickly composed myself as the two guards on either side opened the door ready for me to enter.
"Welcome home, Lady Valeria." The Conqueror said sitting upon an elaborate wooden throne carved with her many victories while two nubian slaves fanned her slowly and motioned for me to come forward.
"Empress." I said stopping a few steps away and bowing my head respectfully as the doors suddenly opened again and a dark haired women dressed in the clothes of an amazon walked into the room and stood beside her.
"This is Alti my new high priestess." She explained proudly and i knew i'd found the source of the evil i had felt outside.
"You wished to see me?" I asked unnerved by Alti's gaze upon me.
"Now that we have the known world there are more pressing matters here." The Conqueror explained looking me up and down with undisguised lust.
"What is it you wish for me to do Empress?" I asked fighting the urge to run away like a child from an imaginary monster.
"I'm going to give you my new Empire." She answered turning her gaze from me to Alti and back again.
"I beg your pardon?" I gasped surprised.
"I wish for you to be my Queen, Valeria." She explained with a smile looking down at my bosom straining against the fine fabric of the dress as i breathed.
"That...is a very big decision to make." I answered nervously.
"Is there someone else?" She asked angrily her blue eyes filling with rage.
"No, Empress. You know i have been devoted to you ever since you rescued me from Mezentius." I said soothingly knowing it was the tone that would reach her.
"Are you enjoying my gift?" She then asked besumed.
"Yes, the girl is very...good at her duty. Thank you." I said gratefully.
"Those loyal to me are always very welcome. You may go." She said with a dismissive nod and keeping my stride as noble as possible i got out of there as quickly as i could.
"Commander, are you alright?" Gabrielle asked and i realized i was trembling from head to foot.
"I'm okay Gabrielle and please call me Valeria. I cannot bare that title any longer." I said sitting down upon a loveseat and pouring some wine for my nerves from a jug nearby.
"What did you always want to be?" I asked as i returned slowly to normal.
"A bard." She answered from the window that opened out onto the balcony.
"Are you a good storyteller?" I asked politely finding the strength to walk towards her.
"I used to be but it's been awhile now...besides all my stories are long gone." It immediately occurred to me that she was talking more about her innocence so i placed a hand upon her shoulder to feel her hold it in her own.
"Anytime you feel the urge to write you're very welcome to use my desk. There are quills and ink in the top drawer and unused scrolls in the compartment underneath." I offered knowing it was the least i could do for her.
"Thank you so much." She said gratefully kneeling before me to await further instructions.
"No, Gabrielle i...never take anyone against their will. You don't have to do this to thank me." I said helping her to her feet and walking out onto to the balcony and looking out at the torchlit city then the starlit sky above.
"And what if i want to do this?" She said walking up to me and kissing me tenderly upon the month unknowingly making me weak at the knees and forcing me to hold onto the edge to keep my balance.
"I have loved you since the moment i first saw you." She confessed tearfully pulling back afraid that i would rebuke her but got her response when my mouth found hers and chased all her doubts away.
"And i you." I admitted my eyes blurring with uncried tears as i gently ran a hand down the side of her face knowing full well that i must tell her about the Conquerors will as she took my hand and led me back inside towards the bed.
The blue robe i wore was only held together by a few pins and in an instant fluttered to the ground before my eyes under her skilled fingers and i claimed her lips tenderly and continued kissing my way down her body until my hands found the edge of her uniform and lifted it over her head.
For a moment we stood simply gazing at one another in awe and trembling with desire before coming together in each others arms and falling upon the bed as one.
Gabrielle was nervous as i concentrated myself solely upon giving her the pleasure long denied from others who used her only for their own. Kissing and caressing every inch of her firm young body until she hungered for my touch to release her and tasting the sweet fire within until she shuddered tearfully to completion.
As i got up to go out onto the balcony i felt her slide downwards and her warm lips encircle me. Combined with the rapidness of her movements and my own desire i soon shuddered to completion praising every god and goddess you could name.
Then as we lay in each others arms she was so quiet for such a long time that i knew she was asleep. Putting on my sleeping robe i went out onto the balcony to see the last of the night driven away by the approaching sunlight.
And i realized with a smile that Valeria the Conqueror's Commander was in love for the first time in her life.
Many days past and i heard nothing from the Conqueror so i assumed that i was being given time to come to a decision. I began to wonder if she knew the effect would Gabrielle have upon me and that was why she chose her for me.
Right now i was watching her sleep. She looked so innocent and so peaceful that she reminded me of the statues scattered in temples throughout Greece.
Then i heard a gentle knock upon the door and someone calling my name so covering myself with a sleeping robe i went to answer it.
"The Empress requests that you join her in her bedchamber tonight my lady." A trembling young servant girl i recognised as Xena's personal bodyslave Thalia explained after giving me the imperial salute.
"Alright." I said nervously dismissing her with a wave of my hand and watching her quickly disappeared down the corridor as i slipped on a pair of sandals and made my way in the opposite direction realising that the Conqueror's will had already been done without my knowledge.
The Conqueror's bedchamber was lit by torchlight and for once there were no guards outside her door so fearing something was wrong i entered almost immediately. Only to find her sitting upon the bed in a sheer white sleeping robe that seemed to reveal everything to me as it caught the light.
"You wished to see me Empress?" I managed to say after a few moments standing idly in the doorway taking everything in.
"Do not stand on ceremony here Commander. Come sit beside me." The manner of her words were gently spoken but one could not fault the tone of command that went with them so i did as she asked.
"You are mine tonight." She said in a voice hungry with desire resting her head upon my neck and gently pushing me back upon the bed.
"So beautiful..." She purred lifting my robe up over my thighs kissing what lay beneath tenderly and sending small shudders through me.
She must have known the effect well because i saw her look up and smile as i gripped the pillows behind me tightly knowing that any resistance i had was long gone.
"Who are you?" I asked as she dragged her body up over mine and looked down at me through tearful blue eyes.
"Xena." She murmured placing her hands within my own.
"Valeria." I said raising my head up and kissing her passionately realising that just like the rest of us all the Conqueror needed was to be loved.
Then as we came together in passion i anticipated roughness from her but she was very gentle and our loving very slow and sweet.
"I love you. I've always loved you!" She cried out as we shuddered to completion together and I knew this could never be close to the love i felt for Gabrielle but i would love the Conqueror for as long as she needed me.
The next morning the celebration of our union began as we regally stepped out onto the royal balcony together dressed in our finest robes to the cheers of the populace.
They began to chant my name over and over until Darphus and his men silenced them by banging their spears upon the ground.
"I give you Valeria, the new Queen of the Empire." Xena announced raising my hand towards the heavens and as the people cheered again i realized that my fate had been sealed and that i had abandoned my one true love without a second thought.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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