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
The soldiers began to march out by the time I said my farewells to Telamon. I made my way down the stone steps, enjoying the coolness of the spring breeze. It was chilly enough to wear a cloak during the day, which would precipitate the need for a tent at night. The wagons that held the supplies, food, and tents for our caravan came last. I saw Gabrielle standing quietly beside Sylla and my healer, Kuros.
Kuros was an odd little man, another of my hired workers as opposed to slave. He was an Etruscan from a land far to the north of Greece. In my pirate days, before I was even known as the Destroyer of Nations, I defeated a band of Etruscan pirates near Corsica. The healer on board the ship was adept in a number of healing arts that I was not familiar with. In exchange for his freedom, Kuros taught me the seemingly magical healing techniques he knew. Once faced with freedom, the small man promptly turned around and asked to be my private healer.
Sylla said something to Gabrielle and the blonde nodded as my maid climbed into the wagon beside Kuros. I walked up to Gabrielle and indicated that she should follow me. I had to slow my naturally long stride considerably and as it was, Gabrielle was still nearly running to keep up.
"Lord Conqueror," Atrius said, handing me the reins to my horse.
Tenorio was a midnight black Stallion that had the power of a bull and the grace of a butterfly. He was a warhorse unlike any other and I considered his worth beyond all the gold in Greece. The proud animal never felt anyone's seat on his back but my own, but I had faith that the animal would accept the small additional load that I had in mind.
"This is my new…personal slave," I said to Atrius, not really knowing why I refused to use the words, body slave. "Her name is Gabrielle." I finished and Atrius nodded his head in the girl's direction.
"Gabrielle, this is Atrius, he is the Captain of my armies. If I ever become separated from you, then his is the face you are to look for. Do you understand?" It seemed as though I had to ask Gabrielle specifically whether she understood me or I would never hear her utter a word.
"Yes, My Lord."
I vaulted onto the stallion's muscled back and held out my hand to Gabrielle. I could see her swallow and when she reached for my hand, I noticed that she was shaking. I leaned back into my saddle.
"What are you afraid of?" I asked in confusion.
She looked up and it was the first time her eyes met mine, without me forcing the issue. She looked at the beast again and said softly, "He is very large, My Lord."
I laughed and those around us turned to watch. It was a rare sight indeed to see me laughing, but the small girl's fear seemed to make perfect sense. She was at least two heads smaller than I, and I thought that if I had her build, I'd be a little worried too.
"Give me your hand, Gabrielle." I commanded and she obediently did as I asked.
I lifted her easily into the saddle in front of me; after all, she weighed no more than a sack of figs. I settled her so she was leaning against my body and the warmth that caused between my legs was a sensation I had long grown accustomed to being without. She peered over the side of the horse's back and leaned back once more.
I gave her a sincere look as we set off. "Don't worry, Gabrielle, Tenorio won't let you fall." That being said, I put my arm around her waist and pulled her back against me. It was a long time before I removed my arm from her waist.
A few candlemarks passed and I began to notice Gabrielle squirming in the saddle. I could have asked her what was wrong, since I already had my suspicions. The girl drank four mugs of water just before we set off and I suspected she was beginning to feel it. I wanted Gabrielle to speak for herself, though, and this was my subtle training technique. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life with a young woman who was afraid of her own shadow, so I decided to be as kind to the girl as my limited temper would allow.
Gods, what was I thinking lately to say things like that? How does one consider spending their lives with a slave, one that I really know nothing about? A master and her slave can carry on many types of relationships, but not as ruler and consort, it's just not done. Is it?
She lasted one more candlemark until my uncanny hearing picked up the small request for attention.
"My Lord?" she whispered.
"I…may I have permission…for a trip to the bushes?" she finished.
I veered Tenorio off the road and Gabrielle looked genuinely surprised that I didn't merely deposit her at the side of the trail. With my soldiers marching along, the last thing I wanted was my personal slave relieving herself in full view of them. We rode up a slight incline, into a forest glade and I dismounted first. Once set down on the ground, Gabrielle seemed unsure if she could continue. Suddenly feeling rather ill at ease, I backed up, the horse's reins in my hands.
"I'll just…um, be over…so you can have some privacy." I muttered awkwardly.
It was the first time I've said the word, um, since I was twelve years old. What was coming over me? Gabrielle looked at me as if I'd suddenly grown another head. Privacy? Slaves don't care about privacy! I turned and walked back the way we came, strolling along, letting Tenorio drink from the small creek that crossed our path. It wasn't long before I heard Gabrielle return to my side.
"Feel better?" I asked with an amused grin.
Again, that surprised expression on the girls' face. Gods, did no one ever to talk to her? I had to keep reminding myself that Gabrielle was a slave. In the last few seasons I surrounded myself with so many hired men and women, that it was taking me a little time to remember what a slave's life was like. Of course, no one spoke to her, least ways to ask her opinion or how she was feeling. She was property and most slave owners thought that asking a slave how they felt would make about as much sense as asking your horse the same question.
I saw Gabrielle nod and I cleared my throat before I spoke.
"Gabrielle," I paused until she looked up at me. "I can only assume that in the past you have either been ignored or abused in some way for revealing your opinion. I think it's important for us to establish some rules to this relationship of ours."
Did I just say relationship? Gods, that's not what I meant…or was it?
"If you are to serve me on a personal level then I will desire more than simply physical pleasure. I have a need for…a need for companionship." I said, looking down to see what effect my words where having on the young slave.
Gabrielle walked along beside me, her face as expressionless as ever. I took a deep breath and wondered whether this whole thing was going to be worth it. Training a slave to be my companion? It seemed as redundant as paying someone to be your friend. This girl was timid and fearful, and spent most of her life developing the submissive skills that would keep her alive as a slave. I couldn't expect her to forget a lifetime of training in one day. I took in another deep breath and could only guess whether or not Gabrielle would even care to be placed in this situation. In the past, what a slave wanted was never my concern. Now, I felt that it was important, but I couldn't say why, only that it felt that way. My patience, or rather the lack of, is legendary. Did I possess the forbearance for such a task as this?
Again, I stopped walking, and when I stopped, Gabrielle halted. We came to another creek, a little larger than the first tiny one we crossed. I could see that Gabrielle would have certainly followed me, walking right through the freezing water, but she wore decorative women's boots and mine were made of thick leather, and meant for the outdoors. I easily lifted her up and placed her back on the ground on the other side of the brook. The amazement on her face was becoming pretty commonplace, but I felt I had to comment this time.
"Sylla would never let me hear the end of it if I let you ride the rest of the day with sopping wet boots." I said, continuing to walk on out of the woods.
We strolled through the grassy field toward the road and I resumed my conversation. "Like I said before, I understand that you may have been punished for your thoughts or your opinions, but if we're to spend time together I don't want to feel like I'm talking to a brick wall. I want to hear from you, Gabrielle. I want you to know that when I ask you a question, if you speak the truth, you will never be punished for the answer. Do you understand what I'm saying…what I'm asking of you?" I asked, pausing to lift her chin up in my direction.
"Yes, My Lord." She answered, and I figured now was as good a time as any for a little test.
"Gabrielle, do you want to walk for a bit, or are you ready to ride again?"
She immediately looked up at Tenorio, walking beside us. The animal's back was past the top of her head and the look on her face told me that mounting the animal again was equated with scaling a tall mountain. I wanted to see if she would answer truly, and as it would always be, the young woman surprised me.
"I would much rather walk, My Lord." She answered tentatively.
"Then walk we shall." I answered and I turned to her so she could see the smile on my face.
She didn't return the smile, but her eyes brightened a bit and I thought that was a start. I didn't use my smile much, at least not this genuine grin. I didn't count the feral sneer I used in battle or pronouncing sentence on a captured enemy. This is the one I reserved for moments when something really pleasured me, and those times were few. It usually felt out of place on my face, a brooding scowl felt so much more natural. However, I smiled for Gabrielle, in part to express my happiness that she understood what I was asking of her, and also because it felt rather right.
We walked for another candlemark and I noticed Atrius sent some members of the palace guard back to watch my back. After all these seasons, I still forgot that because I was the ruler of Greece there would be people who would want to kill me, despite the fact that the country enjoyed a state of economic prosperity because of me. Perhaps I was growing complacent as I grew older, but I was still a fearsome warrior and it rarely occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to handle any foe I should come up against.
If the others were any closer I would never had said the things I did to my young slave. We walked along and I found myself telling things to her that I barely knew I felt. I even got her to answer me on occasion, but getting an opinion from her was nearly impossible. I did learn a little of her past, but even gleaning that information proved not to be without its challenges.
"Gabrielle, how old are you?" I asked.
"Twenty summers, My Lord." She answered.
"How long have you been a slave?"
"Since the season I turned ten, My Lord."
"And, how long since you've been a body slave?" I continued.
"That same season, My Lord." She answered, and I thought I heard a catch in her voice.
Gods, I winced inwardly. She has been serving in a master's bed since she was a young child. Surely even the Fates could not be that cruel.
"The world is not always what we would like it to be." I stated quietly, and I knew the young woman agreed, even though she held her tongue.
"Gabrielle, what is your greatest desire?" I asked, thinking I was phrasing this badly.
"A wish. If you could have anything you wanted, what would it be?"
I expected her answer to be her freedom. Could there be anything a slave would desire more? Again, my small slave gave me the answer I never expected.
"To be able to write my stories. I mean, to be able to have the time and the supplies to put down all the stories I have in my head, on scrolls, for others to read."
"Very interesting. Can you read and write?"
"Oh, yes, My Lord." She answered and I thought I heard a bit of accomplishment in her voice.
"Rather impressive." I added, knowing that few slaves were ever given the opportunity to learn to read and write.
"Do you think a master is going to let a slave spend her days in this fashion?" I questioned. I wanted to see how strong her desire for this was.
"Perhaps…" she began in a small voice, "perhaps if I was very good…and very obedient." She let the sentence trail off; realizing, I am sure, that the dream was completely out of reach for her.
That's when it struck me. Perhaps this is why the small blonde's demeanor was as submissive as any slave I ever saw, why she accepted anything that befell her, and why she performed any task that was commanded of her, without question. Perhaps she was hoping that if she were subservient enough, some master would take pity on her and allow her to write her stories. What an odd desire for a slave to have.
"So, this is what you would choose above all else, eh?"
Gabrielle nodded her head and I don't even know how or why the thought entered my head, but it seemed terribly important for me to be the one to make this young slave's wish become reality.
"I don't think that should be too difficult a task for us to fulfill once we return home."
I said the word home as if it meant something more to me than simply a palace that I ruled from. Certainly, it seemed to feel like more now. Perhaps it was being away for so long, but possibly, it had something to do with the young woman who walked beside me.
Gabrielle bowed her head, but suddenly, her gait seemed lighter, and if it wasn't really a smile on her face, it came awfully close.
"My Lord?" she asked.
"Yes, Gabrielle?" I continued on, without looking down.
"May I have permission to ask a question of you?"
I smiled inside. "You may."
She hesitated for a moment, and then looked as if she decided to throw caution to the wind.
"What do you wish for?"
The question she asked surprised me every bit as much as her reply to my own query. Of course, I could have answered in a multitude of ways, but standing here, with this young woman by my side, I could think of only one thing I truly wished for.
I stopped and looked down on the slave, tilting her chin up to look directly in my eyes. She always seemed unable to do this, but she came very close this time, her eyes shifting nervously under my direct gaze.
"I wish that someday, you will touch me because you want to, Gabrielle, and not because you are commanded to do so."
Turnabout is fair play, and as I released her chin and turned to continue walking, I knew that my answer surprised her for a change.