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 5: Gabrielle Speaks
By the time we reached Corinth, my young slave and I reached a certain degree of familiarity with one another. Nevertheless, Gabrielle continued to look rather astounded at some of my unorthodox requests. I could tell that she still wasn't comfortable sleeping the night with me after seeing to her duty of my pleasure. I only knew that it felt good to me and so I continued on. Of course, it was acceptable for that to occur while we traveled, since we shared one tent. I knew that once we were settled in the palace, I would have to learn to sleep alone once more. Like a frightened child, I tried not to think of the coming night.
I was the ruler of the entire damned country, though. If I wanted to keep my body slave with me every night, then that should be my right. If I wanted to treat this girl, like a Queen, then who was going to tell me different? I knew how it would look, however, and weakness was not something you want to advertise to those who have dreams of ruling in your place. I would have to be careful not to show outwardly that I cared for Gabrielle too much. To my enemies, it would be a sure sign that I was growing old.
Ah, Hades, take me! I do care for this girl and the country can be damned. I will be the way I want to be! I won't go overboard, but if I want to dote on the girl then I pity the first man to call me weak because of it. He'll get a taste of what an old fool's blade can still do.
A small hand on my forearm pulled me from my thoughts. I looked down into green eyes that held an uncharacteristic concern. I realized my body had grown tense while I was silently warring with my conscience. Gabrielle must have felt the change, and she was still doing things to surprise me.
"My Lord?" She softly questioned.
She was riding sidesaddle in front of me as we passed through the gates to the city and I gave her a weak smile.
"It's nothing." I lied.
I tightened the grip I had around her waist and pulled her closer against me. I felt her weight lean against my chest and we continued on. This was the way we came to communicate in the last fortnight. Neither of us volunteered much verbally, but through small touches and looks, we managed to correspond quite effectively. Well, if not effectively, then at least until one or the other of us could learn to speak our heart.
It was chaos around the palace when we arrived. I don't think Gabrielle was quite prepared for the pandemonium of soldiers returning to their families and my advisors circling me before I even dismounted, to make me aware of this or that problem. I pushed Gabrielle toward Sylla and told her to have my maid show her to my chambers, where I would see her when I was through. I watched the girl move away and I thought by the look in her eye, she surely thought I was dismissing her. Her head hung low and it took everything in me not to scoop the small thing into my arms, never letting her out of my sight. Once I turned to my headman, Demetri, all thoughts of a personal life had to be placed on hold.
It was rather late in the day by the time I was able to make my way to my private rooms. "Sylla? What in Hades name are you doing here?" I asked my maid, who appeared to be waiting for me.
"It's about your slave, Lord Conqueror, the girl, Gabrielle?"
"Yes, where is she?" I asked looking around my study, thinking perhaps Sylla already told Gabrielle to wait in my bedchamber.
"Your man, Demetri, he would not allow me to bring her here, Lord Conqueror. He said she belonged with the other slaves."
If I was a kettle on the fire, you could have watched the transformation from slow boil to steam in only a matter of heartbeats. I refastened my sword to my hip and crossed the room in three strides. I paused before the open door and took a long, deep breath.
"Thank you, Sylla. You may go." I said between clenched teeth.
I quickly covered the distance to the first floor of the palace, where my advisors had their rooms. When I shoved the door open, Demetri was speaking to some officers, Atrius among them. My captain had only to see the look in my eyes, to back away from my intended target.
"Where is she you fool?" I hissed.
"She? Lord Con--"
I grabbed the front of his tunic and pulled him close to me. He wasn't a tall man, but I was a tall woman, and I looked down into his narrow eyes until I could feel him shaking.
"My slave. Since when do you disregard my orders? Who the fuck do you think you are? Didn't my maid tell you who Gabrielle was?" I fumed.
"Well, she·I mean, she's only a maid--"
"From now on, when one of my hired people tell you that I have given them an order, you better damn well pretend it's coming straight from me." I shoved him away from me and he hit the edge of his desk.
"She's in the slave's quarters, Lord Conqueror, I will send for her right away." Demetri scrambled to a young soldier and once he returned to the room, I simply stood there and glared at him for the next half a candlemark until the soldier returned.
"They say there is no such slave there, Lord Conqueror. She was seen in the castle, but·they cannot find her now." The soldier finished, seeming to wait for his head to be severed by my blade.
I was too caught up in the ways I would torture Demetri to care about killing the messenger. Then I wondered where Gabrielle would have gone. Then my brain went into overload as I envisioned the trouble Gabrielle could get into in such a large palace. Finally, my mind's eye conjured up an image of Gabrielle and someone else·anyone else, and my blood ran cold.
"Atrius?" I growled.
"I want her found. If she is in the company of another, I want his head. If she is a runaway, I want hers!" I finished, not even listening to what I was saying.
I was angry to be sure as I stood in that room, men scurrying away all around me to scour the palace. If Gabrielle ran, I didn't want to even think about it. What a complete fool I have been! Showing such kindness to a slave, I must be losing my mind!
I couldn't stand just waiting there so I decided to look myself, making my way to the soldier's barracks first. I crossed paths with Atrius on my way to the kitchens and when my Captain said there was no word yet, I began to feel something other than anger. Knowing that Gabrielle was in a strange place, a slave with a fearful and submissive nature, the oddest sensation filled me. My heart went out to this young woman and once I stopped to reason with myself, I felt it would be highly improbable that Gabrielle would leave the castle intentionally. That's when I felt it. The unexplainable feeling was fear, and I quickened my steps as strange emotions coursed through me, many for the first time.
The kitchens were quiet this time of the evening, so when I heard voices in one of the alcoves off the main kitchen, I gravitated that way. It was Delia's voice and I could feel myself smile as relief flooded through my entire body. The other small voice belonged to my young slave, Gabrielle. I moved closer, using my particular skill in stealth to get close enough to hear every word. I was curious as to what this girl would say to Delia that she felt she could not say to me. At first, Delia did all the talking, and I just assumed that Gabrielle was as silent around others as she was around me. Then, the oddest thing happened. Gabrielle began to talk, but it was more than simply speaking. Her voice carried an assortment of emotions as if she were a bard, telling a story to a tavern full of enrapt patrons. She certainly had my attention as I leaned back and listened to my slave. The funniest thing about this situation was that Delia, an uneducated woman with an attitude to rival my own, started Gabrielle talking in the last possible way I would have thought to try. She asked her.
"So, girl, have you been a good body servant for our Conqueror?" Delia asked and I suspected that Gabrielle had no idea the older woman was teasing her.
"Well, I see·you don't kiss and tell." Delia commented on Gabrielle's silence. "What is your name, child?"
"Well·tell me all about it, and don't skip over anything good. It will be another candlemark before this stew is finished and I've nothing better to do with my time. Tell me a story, Gabrielle. Tell me how you came to be with the Lord Conqueror."
I watched as Gabrielle lifted her head at that request. She had the same light in her eyes as when I told her I would make her dream come true, and again, she came very close to smiling. When she opened her mouth to speak, I was dumbfounded by most of what I overheard. Oh, Hades, I'll admit it. I was dumbfounded by everything I heard!
"I tried to make myself very small, to hide within myself until I was so tiny that perhaps she would not see me. If I could just make myself small enough, the soldiers would make use of me through the night and I would be put on the auction block in the morning. I would have gladly accepted that fate rather than be chosen on this night·by her. I knew of her, of her reputation, and her appetites. I no longer feared pain, but drew closer everyday to my dream, so that now I didn't want to die. I had hope and that is something few slaves ever have. If they are lucky enough to find it, they usually don't keep it long. Hope shows in your eyes. It can get you killed. So, I closed my eyes and bowed my head. It almost worked, too.
I knew that my life was forfeit as soon as her tall shadow engulfed my small frame. I could only pray to any Gods that bothered to listen to the entreaties of a slave, that she would pass me by, see me as unworthy for her bed. When the soldiers laughed, I thought surely she would select another. When she forced me to look into the cobalt fire that flashed from her own eyes, I did something I haven't done in seasons, I cried. I don't know why the soldier's words affected me the way they did, but the thought that I wouldn't even be worthy for this woman's lustful cravings, it saddened me. The Fates caused me to cry, and ironically enough, it was those tears that that brought me to this place. To be owned by the Lord Conqueror.
I knew something was different from the start. Her maid was a hired woman, not too much older than myself. She spoke to me as if I was not a slave and that unnerved me. Usually the masters who owned me in the past kept very few hired people. The ones who did work for wages, never wanted to speak to me. Slaves are not the kind of people you become friends with. We could be sold or killed on a whim, so most of the hired helpers ignore you. It wasn't even worth the trouble it took to learn your name. This was especially true of a body slave. Most of the people in my master's home looked at me, and blamed me much of the time for the master's moods. If he was in a foul mood, it was because I wasn't doing my job well enough. If the master was happy, they stayed away from me, hoping that their good fortune would last throughout the day.
The maid helped me bathe, eat a hot meal, and then she gave me a rather large silk robe to wear. It smelled like·like·baked goods." Gabrielle paused as Delia laughed.
"Cinnamon. You must have been wearing one of her robes. She scrubs her hair with a liquid concoction that has cinnamon in it." Delia continued to chuckle.
Gabrielle closed her eyes for a moment before she spoke again. "It was a very nice smell." She mused.
"So? What happened when the Conqueror arrived?"
"When I was told to await my new master in her chambers, I had no idea the night would turn out as it did. How was I to know that this woman would bear no resemblance to the bloodthirsty killer I read about in so many different scrolls? She was drunk, to be sure, but she had all her wits about her. She seemed almost embarrassed in my presence and she didn't seem at all like the stories they tell."
Well, out with it girl. You've been with her for over a fortnight then·is she as good as they say?" Delia questioned Gabrielle, who simply hung her head.
I could have sworn the girl was blushing, but what reason did a concubine have to blush over what went on in a bedchamber?
"She has been·very nice to me." Gabrielle stated softly, almost in wonder.
So, my actions were getting through to her after all.
"She talks to me, asks me things. She sees to it that I have enough to eat and that I'm comfortable. When she touches me·" she looked up at Delia and I could see the wonder in her green eyes as the flames from the fire danced across her irises, bringing a coppery glow to them. "·it seems almost·gentle. She doesn't hurt me, or beat me. It's very different. She's very different." Gabrielle finished.
"So it would seem." Delia answered knowingly.
I was disturbed by a noise from the outside the kitchens and the sound of boots alerted me to the fact that someone finally decided to look down here. I stepped into Delia's view and she wore a subtle little half smile as she looked back at me.
"I believe someone is here to claim you, child." She said to the girl.
"Gabrielle." I said evenly.
"My Lord," Gabrielle jumped from her stool and rushed to me, dropping to her knees by my side.
I touched the top of her head and stroked the golden hair. So, my slave knows how to speak after all. Just then, Atrius, Demetri, and two of my palace guard entered the kitchen. An audible sigh of relief swept through the men behind me when they saw the slave kneeling at my feet.
"Where have you been, Gabrielle? Did I not give you specific orders when I left you today?" I asked the bowed head.
"Forgive me, My Lord." Gabrielle said no more and it was understood as to why. Because she was a smart slave·a smart woman. She knew that if it came to her word against Demetri's, she would lose. She was in a situation she couldn't possible win and it was probably smarter to be punished, than to make an enemy of Demetri. Lucky for Gabrielle, Delia was around.
"If this poor excuse for a headman of yours listened as well as he spouted off, the girl wouldn't have been brought to the slave quarters in the first place. Sylla told him what your orders were. As usual, he ignored her." Delia's eyes flashed dangerously in Demetri's direction and I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing at his discomfort. This cook of mine was certainly one to contend with.
"Is it a slave you have, Lord Conqueror, or a pet?" Delia asked me.
Gabrielle still knelt at my side and my hand rested on her head. I smirked back at my obstinate cook and looked down at the cowering young woman at my feet.
"Gabrielle, why didn't you tell Demetri yourself that you were my personal slave and that you already had orders from me?"
My anger had long since dissipated, but I honestly wanted to hear Gabrielle's reply.
"I·because, My Lord·I am a slave." She said as succinctly as possible.
She had no need to say more, that simple statement encompassed it all.
"Stand up, Gabrielle." I commanded. She stood and took her place to my right, just slightly behind me, her head slightly bowed, as usual.
"Gabrielle, this obstinate woman is Delia, our cook. Delia, this is Gabrielle." I introduced them as though they'd never met, but Delia looked at me, she knew better. She grinned at me because she knew I'd been there listening, and I grinned right back to tell her that I knew she knew.
"And, Gabrielle, look at this man here." I said as I reached around and grabbed a handful of Demetri's hair, jerking his head up hard. "Take a good look at this man's head, Gabrielle, because if he ever dares do anything remotely similar to this again, you will be seeing this same head as it rolls off the chopping block in the palace courtyard."
I shoved Demetri away from me and he backed up as fast as possible.
"I believe I've had all the excitement I care to for one evening. Gentlemen, you are dismissed. Delia, is my dinner ready yet?"
"Soon, Lord Conqueror. I will send it up directly."
"Double portions, Delia, I'm famished." I replied, leaving the way I came, this time with my small blonde slave in tow.
Delia raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. She knew I never ate much. I wasn't really that hungry, but I wanted to start making sure that this little slave had plenty to eat. For some reason it seemed important to her, and as I was discovering, if something was important to Gabrielle, it soon became important to me.
To be continued in Chapter 6: A Long Night's Journey Into Day