DISCLAIMER: Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, etc. are ©copyright MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. I don't own them, I just play with them for a while and, like the good girl I am, I put them back when I'm done…okay, they get a little worn, but hey…I play hard! Absolutely no Copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fiction. It's intended as flattery toward the creators, writers, and actors of the characters. All other characters that appear are ©copyright Devlin@xenafan.com. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies may be made for private use only and I'd appreciate if you included all copyright notices and this disclaimer.


VIOLENCE WARNING: There is violence (come on it's the Conqueror). The nature of the story is not nearly as dark as some Conqueror fiction, but it's essence is still the slave / master relationship that exists between Xena & Gabrielle.


TIMELINE: My own making. Xena is the Lord, Conqueror of Greece, but she is almost forty-five years old when she meets the slave, Gabrielle. Many of Xena's evil ways have been sedated, but not all. I call this Xena the "thinking woman's" Conqueror. She is a woman who wants to try to do the right thing, but doesn't always know how.


SEX: Yes, I'll have some, thank you. Ooops! I mean, yes there is. It is our favorite two Soulmates, after all. It's not gratuitous, but it is quite explicit when it gets going. This story shows consensual as well as non-consenting love (master/slave), sex and yes, even some light bdsm between two adult females.


HIGH ANGST WARNING: I was threatened within an inch of my life if I didn't start putting this disclaimer on some (all?) of my work. I will henceforth rate the angst content with sad faces, one being the lowest and four being the highest. This story earns: L L (2 sad faces for those without TT Fonts)


UNDERAGE WARNING: Hey, the Supreme Court said in Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union (1997) that laws against making available, online, certain "indecent" materials for those under 18 was unconstitutional…look it up! Besides, this is perfectly "decent." J


I only know how others feel about my stories from feedback. Let me know what you think...homophobes need not apply, however. I'm at: Devlin@xenafan.com



**Special thanks to Jim Kuntz for his permission in using any Lion of Amphipolis references.

The Conqueror Series


Tale One: Journey's End


By LJ Maas




Chapter 10: Devouring Time, Blunt Thou the Lion's Paws


We both sat on my bed, Gabrielle behind me, combing the snarls out of my hair. A strange thing for her to enjoy, but she apparently did. She took her time and I endured the tender attentions, careful not to let my natural impatience come through.




"Yes, My Lord?"


"These stories you want to write down on parchment, do you also tell them aloud? I mean…are you a bard, Gabrielle?" I asked the young woman. Her hands stopped moving and I felt as if I offended her or caused her to stop and think.


"I have never been trained in the ways of the bard, My Lord." She answered, resuming her previous activity.


"But…do you tell stories?" I prodded.


"Yes, My Lord, I do."


I smiled. "Good." I answered, folding my legs up and leaning my elbows on my knees. "Tell, me a story, Gabrielle." There was a moment's silence. "Please?" I added softly.


I couldn't see it, but if Gabrielle was acting true to form, she was now looking at me with a confused smile. When she began to speak, it was as if the voice belonged to someone else. There was a power and a charisma in that voice, and I've spent most of my life inciting soldiers on the battlefield with rousing speeches, so I know good oratory skills when I hear them. I closed my eyes and I could have been in a tavern, listening to a traveling bard, or even at a banquet listening to Sappho or Euripides.


There once lived a great and strong Lion who ruled a certain forest, protecting his forest from all that would do it harm. One day, the mighty beast was hunting for his dinner and a small brown rabbit jumped up and raced across the Lion's path. Once the tiny creature saw the massive beast, he could go no further. His fear froze him in place. Even the small bunny had heard of the Great Lion. He was known as the king of the beasts and he ruled over everything in this forest.


The Lion wondered why the small creature did not continue running. It was the first time the Lion ever thought of himself as being frightening to others. You see; the Lion wore a fierce scowl on his face most of the time, due to the constant pain he was in. The pain was from a large thorn embedded very deeply into his hind paw. It rested there for many seasons, but no matter what he tried, the beast could not remove the thorn. Therefore, he settled for a life, filled with a constant reminder of a foolish act committed when he was a much younger Lion.


So, the beast approached the rabbit, who was still shaking and shivering, unwilling to run. The Lion shook his great mane back and forth, pawed at the ground, and even released a roar that was heard throughout the woods. Undaunted, the rabbit remained.


"You will be my dinner if you don't run." The Lion said, limping over to sit in front of the rabbit.


"But, you would catch me anyway, your Highness, so what will it benefit me to run?" the rabbit answered.


"So, you prefer to be eaten, without even defending yourself?"


"I could offer you a trade, your Highness." The rabbit quickly answered.


The rabbit was not a stupid animal, but he was indeed one of the smallest creatures in the forest. His size and his position, in the animal world, put him at a constant disadvantage. He learned, however, to use his wit to survive.


"What could you offer me, little rabbit, that I could not merely take from you?" the Lion questioned.


"Friendship," the small creature answered at once. "If you would but promise never to eat me, then I would offer you my friendship in return."


"And what good can this friendship of yours be to me?" the Lion asked, a warm puff of breath blowing across the small creature.


"If I was your friend, I could end your pain by removing the thorn in your paw. You see; my teeth are made for tasks such as that, while yours are not."


The Lion thought about that for a moment. He was rather hungry, but this tiny thing wasn't going to make much of a meal for him. He lived with the bothersome thorn for so long, however, that he nearly forgot what it would be like, to walk around without the constant pain. So, the great King nodded his large head and rolled to his side, allowing the small creature to crawl up next to him. The great Lion watched as the small rabbit did as he promised and removed the imbedded thorn, grasping it in his strong teeth and pulling with all his might. The large beast sat rather silent afterward, amazed at the trust that the smaller creature displayed.


I sat very still, my eyes still closed, lost in the story that my slave told. I knew that Gabrielle wasn't old enough to be acquainted with the period in my life when I was known as the Lion of Amphipolis, yet I felt the story was an analogy of the lives that she and I led together. Perhaps I was giving my small slave too much credit. Gabrielle knew how to read and it was always possible she came upon the reference in a scroll at one time or another. I suddenly realized that Gabrielle was no longer brushing my hair, but I felt the story wasn't over yet. Maybe she thought I fell asleep.


"Then what happened? The Lion ate him, didn't he?" I asked, always the cynic.


"Oh no, My Lord," Gabrielle answered quickly.


The Lion kept to the agreement and released the small rabbit, never really understanding how the small creature wove its way past the Lion's hard exterior. Many seasons later, when the Lion was old and frail, near starvation because he hadn't the strength to hunt anymore, he again met the rabbit.


The rabbit was larger and fatter, but still much smaller than the large Lion. The large beast caught up with the slow, small animal and knew that this meal would keep him alive until he could find a proper meal. Just as the Lion was about to devour the smaller creature, the rabbit looked up and pleaded.


"But, you promised you would never eat me," the rabbit begged.


The Lion searched his memory, which had always been very good, and he remembered the tiny creature that offered up friendship that summer day so long ago. The Lion kept his word and placed the rabbit back on the ground, not out of obligation, but out of friendship.


"You are right, old friend. I must say goodbye, however, for without a meal, I will surely perish on this night."


The rabbit looked at the Lion, lying down on his side. The large beast's ribs were visible under his skin and the rabbit felt a sharp stab of empathy for his old friend.


"I have changed my mind. I think that you should eat me." The rabbit stated emphatically.


"Why have you changed your mind?" The Lion questioned weakly.


"Because without food, you will die, and I have lived a long and happy life thanks to the day you released me." The rabbit answered.


"Ahhh, but so have I. Once the thorn was removed from my paw, I felt ten seasons younger. I feel as if I have lived two lifetimes." The Lion responded.


The rabbit saw that they were at an impasse and hopped away as quickly as it's old bones could manage. The once fearsome Lion laid his head down and sighed. He surprised himself, for it hadn't been difficult to release the rabbit before it became a meal. He truly began to think of the selfless little rabbit as a friend.


Moments later the small creature returned, hopping around in excitement.


"I have found your meal, my friend. Just past that copse of trees is a small antelope. The poor thing is deformed so that he cannot walk and will surely suffer before he eventually dies. He has said that if you would but end his agony quickly, he would gladly give his all to nourish you."


The Lion did indeed find the strength to make his way to the pitifully crippled creature, and the antelope bravely gave up his life for the King. Later, as the rabbit and the satiated Lion sat side by side, the Lion asked his small friend why he was willing to give up his life, when it had been so many seasons since either of them had any contact with the other. The rabbit looked up at his large companion and answered most simply.


"Because you are my friend." The rabbit said.


I heard the last sentence, yet I didn't have the strength, me, Xena the Conqueror, to respond verbally to the story. I was in a pathetic state, my eyes filling with tears. I couldn't remember the last time I cried, when anything moved me to such a degree. At first, I wasn't sure if Gabrielle was relating an analogy to parallel my life, or not. Now, I feel in what is left of my dark heart, that she told me this story for exactly those reasons.


I lowered my head and felt the tears that were on the edge of my eyes, spill out, and slide down across my cheeks. It's been such a long time. Why haven't I cried like this until now? What is it about this small slave that reaches in and makes a mockery of all the barriers that I have so carefully constructed around my heart?


I couldn't bear to display this ultimate weakness to Gabrielle. Instead of turning to look at her, I moved toward the hand she had resting on the bed. I lifted it upward and placed a gentle kiss in the palm, continuing to then hold it within my own, in my lap. A long, yet not completely uncomfortable silence hung in the air, and suddenly, I felt her hand against my back, rubbing gently as if to soothe me. So much existed unsaid between the two of us. I unable, and Gabrielle not allowed. I wondered if it would always be this way and knew that if I wanted it to be different, it would be I who had to work the hardest. It was I alone who held the freedom to either give my heart away to this girl, or to simply keep her as my slave. I feared both prospects and felt that perhaps I was up to the challenge of neither. I brushed the tears from my face and turned to my young slave.


"I'm hungry, Gabrielle. Are you hungry?"


Gabrielle's face flooded with relief and it dawned on me that she might have thought my silence indicated my anger. She quickly nodded her head.


"Yes, My Lord. Shall I visit the cook and bring you something?" Gabrielle started to rise.


"No," I chuckled, looking at her attired only in one of my white silk shirts. I rose and tossed off my robe, putting on a fresh pair of trousers and a shirt. "I will go downstairs, you go to your room and get a robe. If I have to look across the dining table at you wearing only that, I'll never finish my dinner. Don't daydream in the halls, I don't want my soldiers seeing you in only that." I nodded, indicating her garment.


As I pulled on my boots, she looked down at the shirt she wore and I could see a pink color rise to her cheeks that caused her to look absolutely enchanting.


"Yes, My Lord." I heard her answer with a small smile just as I left the room.




"Good evening, Lord Conqueror."


"Delia, what in Hades are you doing in the kitchens now?" I answered the older woman. She was stirring a pot that was emitting a heavenly smell.


"What else have I to do with my time?" she answered matter of factly.


I leaned over her shoulder and dipped a finger into the pot she was mixing. It tasted like a venison stew with thick wine based gravy. When I went back for more the reached out with a hand, and before I knew it, rapped the top of a spoon across my knuckles.


"Ow!" I cried out, rubbing the top of my hand.


She shushed me and pushed me back out of her way, until I was sitting on a high stool. She continued to glare at me and now that her head was above mine, I felt like a child being sent to the corner.


"I do own all this you know." I added weakly, feeling I had the beginnings of a pout going.


She folded her arms and arched an eyebrow at me, my own move I might add. "When I try to stick my fingers in your pot…then you can slap me back."


She finally grinned and I couldn't keep from smiling myself. "You're worse than me." I sat there, shaking my head at the double entendre of her words.


"Dinner for you and your Gabrielle, then?" she asked, knowing why I was there.


"Yes, if you would be so kind." I teased.


Her phrase, my Gabrielle, sounded pleasant to my ears. I wondered how many others already knew how I felt about my young slave.


As Delia set about placing our dinner on a tray, I milled about the kitchen. This small alcove was Delia's domain. The other cooks knew better than to disturb anything in this private area of hers. I noticed she had a small desk and writing utensils tucked in one corner of the room. Suddenly I had a plan.


"Delia…I need your help."


"Yes, Lord Conqueror?" She turned to me, a quizzical expression pulling her brows together.


"I'll need you to arrange something, if you can, this evening. I want a desk like this one placed in Gabrielle's rooms, plus parchment and writing supplies. You know," I said in answer to her puzzled look, "ink and quills and such."


She stared at me for a long moment, and then she turned back to the tray she was filling. I saw her eyes before she turned her back to me, however, and I could see I finally made a move that even Delia hadn't anticipated. Suddenly, I had the need to explain.


"She can read and write and is quite a good storyteller. I think she would enjoy writing them down."


"You take very good care of this young woman, Xena." Delia stated.


It sounded so odd, hearing my name. No one ever used it, yet every once in a while, Delia's voice softened, and she looked at me as a mother might, using the familiarity with kindness.


"She deserves someone to care." I answered, thanking the older woman, and extracting a promise that she would see that some men installed the necessary furniture tonight. When I walked out the kitchen's main door, I could have swore that I heard the old woman chuckling to herself.




Sometimes it only takes a heartbeat in time to undo so much good. I silently walked up the last set of stone steps to my chambers and when I rounded the corner, I saw them on the landing above. Gabrielle changed into a robe of her own, but holding her in a firm grasp was a young lieutenant from my army. He was pawing at her and had his hand squeezing her backside. This was certainly enough to cause my blood to begin a slow simmer. What set it boiling was the fact that Gabrielle stood there and let him. She squirmed a little as his iron grip, but she wasn't even fighting him off.


Their backs were facing the stairs by the time I reached the landing and I quietly laid the tray on the top step. The terror in his eyes when I grabbed him by the throat wasn't near enough to assuage me. I cocked my fist back and broke his nose with the first strike. The table he backed into tilted, and it and the vase atop it crashed down the stairs noisily. The sound brought, not only guards running, but Atrius as well. I would wonder later what he was doing on this floor, but would only discover the truth much later.


By the time I saw Atrius at the bottom of the stairs, I was pulling back for a final blow. When my fist came forward and made contact with the young man's jaw, I released the neck of his tunic. I felt his jaw break under the impact and I heard his scream heart beats later. I tossed him down the stairs as Atrius and two of the palace guard caught him. His face was a bloody mess, my hand cut, and bleeding as well.


"Get him out of my site before I have his legs broken!" I hissed from the top of the stairs.


I was breathing rapidly, the rush of adrenaline still surging through me. I turned and stood in front of Gabrielle, all my anger now focused on her. My muscles fairly quivered from the restraint, as I held myself back from striking out at her, but couldn't stop the words that might as well have been dealt as blows.


"Don't you know how to fight back!?" I shouted angrily. I turned, without waiting for an answer, and walked into my rooms, slamming the door shut behind me. Just before the door closed, my uncanny hearing picked up Gabrielle's small reply.


"No." she said softly.




Tears coursed down the young slave's eyes as she leaned against the wall, sliding down it to sit on the top stair. She hugged her legs to her chest, looking like a small, frightened child.


Atrius knew the Conqueror, knew her tempers and tantrums, when to stay out of her way, and when to intercede. He left the foolish lieutenant with the guards to bring the boy to the infirmary, and then slowly climbed the stairs to bend down and speak to the girl. He wondered at this one. Mostly he wondered what there was about her that had so bewitched the Conqueror. For over twenty seasons he watched the worst behavior, that one human could lower herself to. Now, lately, he thought he was seeing the best. The Conqueror began to change, but recently, since the girl came to be with her, she was damn near benevolent.


"She loses her temper, but she's always sorry afterwards." Atrius said to the small slave.


The girl wiped her face of her tears, but didn't look up at the Captain.


"You have to develop a thicker skin to be with her, girl. Besides, she's probably in there right now, trying to figure how to get you back in there without looking like a fool. I'll bet you anything she already feels worse about shouting at you, than you feel."


Gabrielle smiled at that. From what she'd come to know so far about her new master, she knew that hurting Gabrielle never seemed to be her intention.


"Here…take the tray of food in and I guarantee you, she will be the first to speak."


Atrius lifted the tray as the girl rose and placed it in her arms. He walked over and held the door open that the Conqueror so recently slammed shut. When Gabrielle walked into the room, the tall Captain gently closed the door behind her. He shook his head in wonder and returned to his own quarters.




I heard the door in the outer room open and saw out of the corner of my eye as Gabrielle set the tray down on the table. I sat in my chair, a high backed wooden chair that was made for my fit and was the one piece of furniture I cherished. It faced the open window that was now covered by a heavy tapestry for the evening. The chair was situated so that I could watch the sunrise, which I developed a fondness for of late. Gabrielle continued to stand there silently.


I didn't know how to express why I was so upset with the girl back there. Was I just supposed to tell her that she had permission to fight off attackers, no matter who they were? Was I supposed to apologize…could I even apologize? How does one go about it?


I flexed my hand painfully and for the first time saw the bleeding and bruised knuckles. Gods, my body was taking a beating today. I heard Gabrielle moving around, and suddenly she was standing before me, with a bowl of water and a rag in her hands. She kneeled to the floor, and without saying a word, wet the cloth and took my injured hand in hers. She wiped at the cuts and cleaned them thoroughly, neither of us saying a word. I noticed, for the first time in a long time, the tiny white lines that crisscrossed my knuckles on that hand. They were small, thin scars, from years of holding a sword in that hand, that, and punching men like I had tonight.


"You don't have to do that, Gabrielle." I finally addressed her.


"I wanted to apologize, My Lord. I'm sorry for angering you." She said, never raising her eyes to me.


"I'm not angry with you, Gabrielle." I reached out with my free hand and stroked her cheek, running my fingers through the golden hair. I rose to my feet. "Stand up, Gabrielle."


I crossed the room to the window and drew the tapestry back. "Gabrielle, look out there, do you see that?" I commanded and questioned at the same time. Night had fallen, but something of dusk remained, you could see across the palace walls, and the villages, situated far out onto the rolling hills.


"Gabrielle, all that, as far as your eye can see, for leagues and leagues, beyond even that, belongs to me." I motioned with my hand.


I then dropped the curtain and walked to the center of the room. "All around you, the palace and its inhabitants…all of it belongs to me. And, because it belongs to me, it means something to me. It has a place inside of me and I'll let no one take what is mine. What of you, Gabrielle? Do you know what place you have among all of this?" I gestured with both of my hands.


Gabrielle watched me and with that last question, I could see the light of understanding flicker hopefully in her eyes.


"I belong to you?" she asked rather than answered.


"That's right, Gabrielle," I smiled at last. I pulled her to me and kissed the top of that blonde head. "You belong to me."


I saw the change in her eyes immediately and I could tell that she understood my choice of words. I didn't say that I owned her, which would have instantly relegated our relationship to that of master and slave. I told her that she belonged to me. I didn't mean as simply a prized possession, and I think she understood that. I was telling her that her heart was mine, just as I felt mine had become hers.


"But, am I not still a slave, My Lord?"


Well, she had me with that one. How could I ever tell Gabrielle that I desired for nothing better than to free her. How could I explain the terror I felt, knowing that the first thing she would do, would be to leave? Therefore, I kept my silence about that, trying to build a relationship when even I knew I had an unfair advantage. I couldn't release that last bit of control.


"Gabrielle, you have a station and a rank in this palace, whether you are aware of it or not. You are a slave, yes, but being my personal slave, you rank above all others in this palace. For when it comes to trust, I place more in you, than I would in all my advisors combined."


Her eyes showed their surprise as I continued. "Because of this, Gabrielle, you have the right to protect yourself from any who would try to touch what is mine. You need to know that no man will ever punish you for obeying me, little one. The next time someone…anyone makes advances…touches you in any way, I want you to scream, kick, fight, anything you need to do to get my attention. Then I'll deal with the situation. Do you understand, Gabrielle?"


Her head was lowered and I tilted her chin to look into her face. Her green eyes did that usual trick of looking anywhere but within my own.


"Do you understand, little one?" I asked again, more gently this time.


"I--I believe so, My Lord, but I--" Gabrielle stammered.


"But what, Gabrielle?"


"I--I don't know how, My Lord." She answered in a voice so low, it was barely a whisper.


I saw her eyes filling with tears and as usual, they tore at my heart. I could feel each one that fell from her eyes as a dagger piercing into my chest. I pulled her into an embrace and brushed the tears away, holding her in my arms for a few heartbeats before speaking again.


"Gabrielle, I know there are things that are difficult for you because of the life that you've been forced to lead, but there are things that you must learn if you are to be my--if you are to be with me."


I quickly changed direction with that last bit. I didn't want to say slave, yet I couldn't really say consort now, could I? I held her against me for a few moments more and released her.


"Would you like me to teach you what I expect from you, should an episode like tonight's happen again?"


She nodded her head quickly. "Yes, My Lord."


"Let's begin, then." I said with a smile, our dinner forgotten.




"Okay, are you ready to test all this out for real?" I asked Gabrielle.


Three candlemarks sped by as I taught my young slave what aggression was. I came to realize that it wasn't simply the fact that Gabrielle lived as a submissive slave for so long, that caused her to be so unwilling to shove back when pushed. I found that passivity seemed to be in the girl's very nature. She always wanted to see the good side of the people who would do her wrong. I finally had to tell her, to let Hades do his job and evaluate people's lives at the end of their mortal journey, her job was to think about herself.


We walked outside and I purposely went out by the practice field where rows of tents had already been erected for the soldiers to live in, while their barracks were commandeered for the villagers. I explained to Gabrielle that I would be in the shadows and that if I felt it was going badly, I would intervene. She smiled bravely, but I could see her lower lip quivering slightly.


"You can do this, Gabrielle."


She gave me a weak smile and walked onto the path. It wasn't long before a soldier walked by and whistled at her as he passed. When she showed no interest and bowed her head, he thought he had an easy mark. Why must all men be so full of themselves? I asked myself. He turned and came back to her and the next thing I knew Gabrielle was in his hold, but it seemed she just forgot everything I taught her. It took two heartbeats for me to get to her side and have my fist connect with the soldier's temple. He laid on the ground unmoving and I checked to make sure he was still breathing…I hadn't meant to hit him that hard, but seeing him lay a hand on Gabrielle, Gods, I lost my composure completely.


"Gabrielle." It was all I could say, but when I looked up at the girl, she looked terrified. I was just beginning to think I should simply scrap all of this and let the girl be whatever way she felt most comfortable. I felt no better than the soldier, lying on the grass, for making her do this. That's when she spoke.


"I--I'm so afraid, My Lord."


"Gabrielle," I said again, pulling her into my arms. She was trembling and I squeezed her tightly against me, stroking her hair until she calmed somewhat.


"Little one, don't you know that everyone feels fear?" I questioned.


"Not you, My Lord." She replied and I couldn't keep from smiling slightly.


"Everyone, Gabrielle, even me. Only fools and children feel no fear. They have the Gods to watch out for them, but us ordinary mortals need fear, it protects us from ourselves. It tells you when not to enter an impossible situation. There are times, however, when you have to push yourself beyond that fear, when you need to test its limits to see what really is possible." I explained.


"And you, My Lord?" Gabrielle asked.


"Do you think that when I rush into battle, I feel no fear? Like I said before, everyone feels it, especially me. Perhaps that's what makes me a better warrior than most, because I feel it enough for ten men. It's that fear that causes me to try harder, to be stronger, and smarter. It's my fear of losing what I have that spurs me on to do the things I do."


"But you never look afraid." Gabrielle commented, pondering what I was telling her.


"That is the key, the very secret of my life, Gabrielle, and I share it with you alone." I replied, watching as a small smile fell upon her lips. She understood what it meant to learn of an adversary's vulnerability, she also knew the amount of trust required to reveal such vulnerabilities willingly.


"Fear is a good thing, always remember that, little one, yet the secret behind it, is to embrace the fear, and to never let your opponent see that it exists within you. If you can do that, you've already won. I can guarantee that if you give a look as cold as ice to a man, then use the little move I taught you, while screaming your pretty head off…he'll likely drop in his tracks. Or at least be stunned until I can reach you." I smiled.


"Now, want to try this again?" I asked.


"Yes, My Lord," Gabrielle nodded her head and I saw her teeth clench together as she steeled herself against the fear. Gods, the girl was going to be something someday.


Once again, we walked along the path that led to the stables, me in the shadows and Gabrielle in the light from the waning moon, waiting for what seemed like eternity, and once more, a young soldier met up with the beautiful young slave. Only problem was this one was polite. Gods, what's wrong with the man? I asked myself as he politely left Gabrielle with an admonishment not to be out without an escort.


I stepped from the darkness and surprised the young man and Gabrielle both. I grabbed him by the neck and drug him back in front of Gabrielle.


"Kiss her." I ordered.


The soldier looked at me as if I'd lost my mind and then he thought about who I was. I was sure he was remembering some soldier's story about my odd public displays of sex, so he decided to be brave and gently reached over to kiss my young slave.


I batted him away and grabbed him by the neck again. "Not like that man, who do you think she is, my sister? She's a wench, so get over there and take it from her like you've got a pair!" I bellowed.


That seemed to get him going. I prepared myself to yank him away from Gabrielle, but to my pleasure and great surprise, the small blonde took every lesson I taught her to heart. Once the man laid a hand on her arm, Gabrielle shouted at the top of her lungs.


"NO! She cried out.


The soldier wasn't prepared for that and loosened his hold enough for Gabrielle to bring her knee up hard between the man's legs. I groaned in sympathy for the poor boy, as Gabrielle pushed him away and he sunk easily to the ground, clutching what was left of his manhood.


I was already on my way into the fray as the soldier fell to the ground. I pulled Gabrielle away and held her against me, feeling the rapid beat of her heart and watching as her chest rose and fell, as she took deep breaths of air. When she looked up at me, I kissed her.


"Brilliant!" I smiled. That's when I saw it.


Her eyes were lit with a fire that had never been there before, at least not in my presence. They looked like two glowing emeralds and I felt a rush of arousal at the thought that this young woman might someday bring that look into our bed. I kissed her again and bent down to attend to the young man who was just beginning to feel the ground underneath him again. I helped him to his feet and slapped him on the back.


"Good man, dismissed. Can you walk okay?" I asked.


"Yes, Lord Conqueror." He groaned in reply, limping away, but not before I saw the look on his face that told me, he indeed thought the Conqueror had finally lost her mind.




"You had best eat something." I said, looking down at the now cold stew. "Here, at least have a little of the bread and cheese."


"I think…I feel more tired, than hungry, My Lord." Gabrielle answered softly.


"Me too," I grinned. "We've had an exciting day." I add, opening my arms to allow the young woman to step into my embrace. "But I think right now I would like nothing more than a good night's sleep."


"Do you wish me to leave you for the night, My Lord?" Gabrielle murmured against my chest. I was encouraged because it didn't sound like she relished the idea any more than I did.


"No, little one. We talked of this already, do you remember? Your rooms are your own for your personal time and possessions, but I wish for you to spend your nights here. Why, do you find it hard to sleep in my bed?" I added quickly, a touch of my own insecurity showing through.


"No, My Lord. I sleep very well in your bed. I--I'm only fearful that…I sleep so sound when you are near to me. I fear that I will not--I will not awaken easily when you have a need for me.


I smiled slightly at Gabrielle's unfounded fear. "Have no fear, Gabrielle. If I have need of you in the middle of the night, trust me, I won't let you sleep through it." I let a crooked smile indicate that I was teasing and that her fear was unnecessary.


"I think it is security." I said after a few moments, when I really wanted to say that it was about trust. I felt just as safe and slept soundly only after I knew Gabrielle was lying by my side at night.


We settled ourselves for sleep and I encouraged my young slave to lie by me so I might wrap my arms around her. Another habit I was developing. Whether it was a bad habit or not, I knew only time would tell. I could tell Gabrielle was tired, her breathing growing deep and steady in a matter of moments, her face tucked snugly under my chin, her soft cheek resting against my chest.


"Gabrielle?" I questioned softly.


"Yes, My Lord?" A tired voice answered back.


"Do you feel…safe when you are here with me?" I asked.


"Yes, My Lord, very much so."


I reached down slightly to place a light kiss on the top of the soft blonde hair. "I hope that will always be so, little one." I answered, unsure if Gabrielle heard me, or if she already succumbed to Morpheus' call.




I rose before the sun, as was my custom, and I left Gabrielle sleeping soundly in our bed. When I extricated myself from her arms, I moved a pillow into the warm spot my body vacated. The young woman wrapped her arms around the softness and I thought I heard a contented sigh escape her lips.


I crossed the hall to Gabrielle's rooms, to see if Delia was able to complete the requested task. I should have known the older woman would not have failed me. The small sitting couch was gone, but in it's place, next to the window, was a small ornate desk, the kind that one might find in a lady's sitting room. Beside the desk was a large shelf filled with scrolls and atop the shelf were some wooden, hinged boxes. Taking a peek, I found out they held quills and ink.


I left the room with a smile on my face, wondering how my slave would feel about her dream becoming a reality.


"Good morning, Gabrielle," Sylla called to the small blonde.


I could see through the partially open door of my bathing area, that Gabrielle's eyes immediately searched for me. She rose from the bed, slipping into her robe, and bid my maid a good morning. I cleared my throat and walked from my bath to the small room that contained my clothing. Finally taking in my presence, the young slave assisted Sylla in setting up breakfast on the table.


We ate our meal in relative quiet and I related my plans for the morning to Gabrielle.


"I have to meet with my advisors this morning, Gabrielle." I said, rising from the table to begin dressing. "I will be in my study most of the morning, but if you need me, you are to wait here, you are not to interrupt me. Do you understand?"


"Yes, My Lord."


"Perhaps you should go get dressed yourself, eh?" I touched her cheek as she rose from her chair; she smiled at me, and slipped away quietly.


I smiled to myself at the surprise that awaited Gabrielle. Suddenly I was worried. What if she didn't like it? I was almost finished dressing, when I heard the gentle tapping at the entrance that Gabrielle used to my room. I tried to wipe the grin off my face and look innocent.




Gabrielle rushed into the room and stopped. I had my back to her as I tucked my shirt into my trousers and when I turned, I was greeted by the largest smile Gabrielle ever displayed.


"Gabrielle, you're not even dressed yet." I chided as more of a tease than anything else.


"My Lord, I--I mean, It's--I've never--"


"Gabrielle, if you want to be a bard, you're going to have to be able to finish a complete sentence, you do know that, don't you?"


My young slave rushed over to me and dropped to her knees at my feet, taking my hand and pressing her lips to my fingers. I don't even know if I can describe how I felt at that action


"Gabrielle, don't do that." I admonished the young woman quietly, pulling her prostrate form up to her feet.


Gabrielle looked up at me and for the first time, she looked up into my eyes, directly into my eyes. It was a powerful moment, this small woman gazing up at me, so forceful in fact, that I backed up half a step at the intensity and the fire that flew at me from her stare. When she stepped forward and reached up on her toes to close the distance between us, that's when I should have known what was coming. The blonde moved closer, then she kissed me.


At first, my eyes closed at the pleasurable sensation, then I felt the pressure of her mouth against mine change, and my eyes flew open at the lightning bolt of desire that struck, deep in my groin. Still, Gabrielle did not release my lips, and now her tongue was demanding, and receiving, entrance to my mouth. There was no war for dominance, Gabrielle had all the power, and she was certainly using it. Realizing what the pressure on my upper arms was, I was immediately caught up in a sweeping wave of arousal. Gabrielle had my arms pinned to my sides. Pressing the full length of her body against me, I was pushed backwards, until by backside rested against the edge of the table.


A hundred different emotions attacked my brain and my body at once. The passion and the desire were evident from my moans, as Gabrielle swallowed them up with her own mouth. I was beyond excited at her control over me, yet terrified at the same prospect. She was taking me!


I finally freed my arms enough to pull away for a much needed breath. That didn't stop Gabrielle as her lips and tongue found my neck, pulling at the laces of my silk shirt.


"Gabrielle…Oh, Gods…Gabrielle," I got her attention, holding her at arms length.


I took some deep breaths and was almost undone when I looked into her face. "You don't have to do this." I said. "That's not why I gave--"


The explanation was frozen in my throat as Gabrielle began to softly suck on the skin at my throat, her hand sliding up my body and capturing a very erect nipple within her finger's grasp.


"Oh, Gods…" I groaned.


My knees instantly turned to liquid at that touch and I had to either sink down, and sit on the table, or slide to the floor. Now that I was sitting, my legs parted and Gabrielle stood between them, her head level with my own. She moved both her hands into my hair and pulled me into another breath stealing kiss.


"Gabrielle," I gasped, breaking away for air. "I don't expect you to repay me for the gift, not this way."


Gabrielle slowed the intensity of her assault, but continued to flick her tongue across my lips, trailing kisses along my neck, and teasing my nipples thru the smooth fabric of my shirt. When she spoke, I could scarcely believe this was the woman that I'd been living with for the last cycle of the moon. Were the Gods using some sort of trickery against me?


"But, My Lord…don't you enjoy my kiss?" she reached up and captured my lower lip, sucking the flesh gently, placing a small nip to the skin as she pulled away.


"Oh…" I moaned.


"The way my body feels, pressed against you?" Gabrielle ground herself into my mound, and I could feel how wet I was getting, merely from the sound of her voice.


"My…" I groaned a second time.


"My touch?" her final maneuver in this game of seduction was to bring her fingers up to run the fingertips across the smooth silk of my shirt, brushing back and forth across very sensitive nipples.


"Gods!" I finally let this last word out with a long release of breath that told me I had been holding it in too long.


"Gabrielle…oh, yes…I--I...oh yea, right there…I have men in my study, Gabrielle, waiting…ungh…for me." I slipped and stammered, but Gabrielle was relentless and I guess I could have pretended that this wasn't exactly what I wanted, that Gabrielle's aggressive behavior wasn't exactly what I dreamed of, but I would have been lying and my physical body was betraying the truth of the situation.


"You've given me my dream, My Lord…I want to give you yours." Gabrielle whispered, seriously.


With the last measure of self-control I was capable of, I pushed the small woman away slightly, confusion apparent in my gaze. I felt myself moan out of need when I saw those emerald eyes staring back up at me, full of heat and unwavering. A wave of acute arousal broke over me and I could feel the heat, along with the incredible wetness, trapped between my legs.


"Dream?" I asked in confusion."


"That day, My Lord, you asked my what my dream was." Gabrielle tenderly pulled my shirt open and kissed my collarbone. "Then, you told me your dream. You made my dream come true, My Lord, today…in my heart I feel I can make your dream come true."


I continued to look at her in confusion, replaying that afternoon, when we both barely knew one another.


"You told me your greatest wish was that someday, I would touch you because I wanted to, and not because you commanded me to do so."


Gabrielle answered and then stood there, her hands unconsciously stroking my hips, my back, and my shoulders, apparently willing to wait forever for my reaction.


"And, do you?" I asked, hesitantly, holding my own out-of-control breath, while waiting for the answer.


"Yes, My Lord…oh yes." Gabrielle answered quickly and I was struck nearly dumb by the passionate glaze covering her eyes.


She pressed her mouth against my chest and began to tease and tongue a dark nipple through the smoothness of the shirt. She wrapped her lips around the hardened nub, sucked, and pulled, at last tugging the sensitive flesh with her teeth.


"Gods, woman!"


I arched my back, unable to hold back any longer, not really sure why I wanted to in the first place. I wove my fingers into the thick golden hair, pulling her firmly against my chest. I rocked my hips in keeping with the rhythm she was using, suckling at my breast. When she at last pulled back to see the effects of her handiwork, the wet shirt clung to my breast, causing me to shiver, the nipple extending even further in its excitement.


I watched as the smaller woman licked her lips, all the while staring at my chest.


"Off, please." Gabrielle pleaded in a husky voice, tugging my shirt from my pants.


I saw this as my opportunity and decided that fighting this was a very stupid thing and I did not consider myself an idiotic woman. I briefly wondered at what the men in my study were doing or thinking, when it was quite clear that there was some very serious pleasuring going on in the next room.


I lifted my arms and Gabrielle helped me pull the lightweight shirt over my head. "Come here." I commanded and pulled her into a fierce kiss, one that she equaled in intensity. I pushed her robe from her shoulders, letting it fall to the ground, and ran my hands down the smooth back, grabbing her backside and pulling her into me.


I felt her small hands at the laces to my trousers and when they were halfway untied, she slipped her hand inside, and those incredible fingers slid through drenched folds.


"Gods, you're so…so wet." Gabrielle rasped, not waiting for a response, but leaning in to envelope a nipple within very warm, soft lips.


I'm not sure if it was the physical pleasure, the words, or the fact that the very arousing words were coming from Gabrielle. I only know that I was trying to peel my trousers down my legs so I could spread them wider, all the while, she teased me until I was on the verge of an orgasm, only to slow her movements. Once I caught my breath, she resumed the mercilessly, exquisite torture.


Gabrielle slid down my body, pulling my trousers further down my legs. I could feel her breasts, pressing against my overheated skin, feel the tightness of her own excitement as the tips elongated and hardened at the contact. For the third time, Gabrielle backed off and I could sense my climax building within me, even though I was being repeatedly denied my release. Wet didn't begin to describe the state my sex was in; drenched…sopping, those were the only terms I could equate with my condition at this moment. I have never in my life begged for sex, not even in a romantic fashion, but Gods, my senses were telling me that if I didn't come soon, I would simply die. The next thing they were telling me is that Gabrielle was the only one who could bring about that release. It didn't matter if the thought were true or not, it's what I believed.


"Gabrielle." I panted.


The blonde was now kneeling between my legs, the flat of her tongue licking along the inside of my thighs, capturing the wetness that flowed from me. She placed a gently kiss on the dark patch of hair, allowing only the tip of her tongue to graze the outer lips of my sex, no matter how strongly I thrust my hips toward her.


"Gabrielle…please, Gods, please." I moaned, finally begging, as I thought I would. I knew what that tongue would feel like, I knew what skill she possessed in using it, and all I could do was half-stand, half-sit there and whimper and plead.


"Tell me. Tell me what you would like. Anything at all and I'll do it, Xena." Gabrielle murmured against my skin.


I felt my eyes go wide and my stomach muscles clenched down hard as an orgasm ripped through me, caused by mere words. It was the sound of Gabrielle's voice, seductively asking my pleasure, then finally the catalyst that sent me careening over passion's precipice. The sound of my own name. It both shocked and pleasured me, seeing those green eyes, dark with passion, looking up at me and whispering my name. For a brief moment, I saw fear in Gabrielle's eyes, but as I still trembled from the effects of my climax, I grinned down at her and her forward behavior. Barely having my breathing yet under control, I felt my need rising insistently once more.


"Gods, woman…don't stop." I struggled to say.


Relief flooded her face. There was no tender seduction, Gabrielle knew what I needed and went about giving it to me. Oh and she did give it to me. Even in my wildest days, I don't ever remember a tongue lashing the likes of the one I now received. It didn't take long and once again, I threw back my head and howled out my release.


I needed to feel her and so I pulled Gabrielle to her feet and kissed her, tasting myself on her lips and in her mouth. The kisses were passionate, but no longer tender. It was rough and raw, and what excited me the most was that Gabrielle was the instigator in it all.


"Sweet Athena!" I cried out, feeling Gabrielle's hand press into me. I let go of the blonde and grabbed onto the edge of the table as the young slave eased her fingers, then eventually her whole hand inside me, repeatedly pulling back to lubricate the small hand with my own juices, then easing in some more. I crossed that invisible line between pleasure and pain, now feeling only the gratification of the physical act. I tilted my hips and Gabrielle pressed her hand in the rest of the way. She stayed like that for a moment until I became accustomed to the incredible fullness inside of me. She leaned into my body, pressing my back flat against the table, my legs still dangling over the edges. Her hand shifted within me and I released a groan of delight. Then, leaning over my prone figure, she feasted on my breasts and my brain was close to its shutdown point. Her lips, teeth, tongue caused a renewed wetness that coated the small hand inside me, and my hips began to rock against it.


"Xena…" the small slave whispered.


Gabrielle moved away from my chest and I could hear distinct whimpers coming from my throat. I wasn't sure if it was because of the loss of her mouth, sucking me, or the way she whispered my name.


"Please…please, Gabrielle," I implored her hand to pick up the pace, pressing my hips up repeatedly.


"Xena…" she tormented me again by flicking my clit with her tongue. Without any notice, she began sucking on the engorged nub, swirling her tongue out to run along its length.


"Oh Gods, yes…that's it…unghh." I encouraged.


Finally, the hand moved and I cried out as the tongue disappeared, but I was soon delirious, lost to the ecstasy of Gabrielle's hand pumping in and out of me.


"Yes…Gods, oh, yes, fuck me harder…deeper…" I cried out.


I was in a place where there was no thought, only feeling. I didn't have to be the Conqueror, didn't have to be in control, all I had to do was exist in this pleasure. The sensory delight was making its way to me and all I had to do was lie here and let this beautiful woman make a gift of it to me. My hips worked in a furious fashion and when I opened my eyes, I could see the sweat that plastered Gabrielle's hair to her face. When our eyes met, Gabrielle leaned down and put her lips close to my ear.


"Come for me, Xena." Then she bit down on my earlobe as she sucked the tender flesh in, I felt it all the way to the hand pounding into me.


I did as she bid me. I came for her…over and over again.




I tied off the leather laces on the flaps along my trousers. Gabrielle sat watching me, suspiciously quiet, and now I cursed myself for giving in. I should have remained stronger, because now the girl felt used.




My Lord--"


We both said in unison, then we both smiled hesitantly.


"Gabrielle, are you all right?" I asked.


"Forgive me My Lord, I don't know what…I've never…"


I realized the problem and a welcome relief spread through me. Gods, at least it wasn't me.


"Gabrielle," I said gently, pulling her up from the chair she sat upon. "It was wonderful." I said, murmuring the words into the soft blonde hair. I shivered slightly as her body came into contact with mine. Perhaps it was remembering the exceptionally gratifying experience of a few moments ago. "I've never felt anything quite as wonderful in my entire life."


"But, I--"


"You acted with a passion that was very welcome and that I hope to see more of. Only not too soon." My smile turned into a grimace as I took a step away. I had a feeling I was going to walk funny for a couple of days after this morning's pleasure.


"I've never felt this way before, My Lord." Gabrielle responded, as if pondering her own thoughts.


"It's probably my own fault anyway," I pulled my young slave back into my arms, loath to give up this feeling just yet. "Probably all that adrenaline still in you after last night."


A dark cloud of what I interpreted as fear suddenly crossed Gabrielle's features. I knew instantly, what she feared, and I reassured her, as I expected to do many times, until she was comfortable with the fact.


"Gabrielle, you have no reason to fear reprisal for these actions. I will never punish you for bringing this ardor to our bed, or for doing what you must to physically protect yourself. Do you understand?"


"Yes, My Lord." This time, she answered with a smile.




I walked into my study and every man that I counseled with, was seated there. Gods, does it actually get any more embarrassing than this? Ten men sat before me and as I walked, somewhat delicately, I might add, to the large desk that was my own, I could see the amusement in their eyes. One or two of them even had the beginnings of a smile.


I couldn't very well hide it, now could I? All ten of them just finished listening to my verbal cries of lustful delight, as my small slave brought me to Elysium and back. They heard, quite well, I am sure; me begging like my life was on the line. There was nothing to do, but to suck it up, glare like Hades, and intimidate the Tartarus out of them.


I opened the scrolls and pieces of parchment I would need for this meeting. Never raising my eyes from the papers before me, I slipped my ever-present dagger from my belt and laid it on the desk, in full view of everyone.


"The first man to laugh leaves here, one member short of a threesome." I commented in a menacing, low voice.


Every man in the room suddenly lost his need to smile, yet had an incredible urge to cross his legs. I smiled in triumph; I cleared my throat and started the meeting.


Chapter 11: Little Lamb, Who Made Thee?

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