Summary: The Conqueror leaves Greece to visit Cleopatra and meets a slave/gladiator named Gabrielle but all is not what it seems.
Disclaimer: See Part 1
Authors Note : All I have to say is, i'm sorry in advance for this chapter. If you want to email me, my address is jacklavigne13@hotmail .com
After leaving Cleopatra, it wasn't long before I found a horse and was making my way to the port in Alexandria as quickly as possible. I glanced over my shoulder, my raven hair flying around my head like a halo, and looked back at the palace that I had stayed in for the last moon. I had been riding for almost a candlemark and I could still see the beautiful building, refusing to hide behind the many houses that attempted to block it from view. The palace held such wonderful and awful memories for me and I was glad to be leaving it behind.
We were almost at the port and I could feel my heart racing in my chest as we got closer. I could already hear the sailors unloading their cargos and I could smell the ocean. I pushed my horse impossibly harder, wanting to get to the ship quickly so that I could leave this Gods forsaken desert behind. At the same time, I wanted to jump from my horse so that I wouldn't have to see the slave that had broken my heart.
I knew we were almost there, because I could feel her. It was as if a invisible force was drawing me to her. And sure enough, moments later I was at the dock, and I could see my banner flying from the mast of a small ship. I hurriedly dismounted from my horse and raced towards the ship, not bothering to check if my royal guard was following me.
I strode up the gangplank and was met at the top by my second in command. I couldn't help but smile brightly when I saw her. Despite the fact that we were returning home only to go to war and the pain of my heart being broken only hours ago, it felt so good to know that Alexandria still had my back. She returned my smile and gripped my forearm tightly when I stepped onto the deck. I felt my throat close up as I looked into her midnight blue eyes, wanting to say so much but unable to form any words.
"I- I," I stuttered, smiling weakly when I felt Alexandria give my arm a gentle squeeze.
"I know," Alexandria said, grinning. There was silence for a few moments between us as we stared at one another, taking no notice of the crew that were racing around us, preparing to set sail. I finally voiced the words we were both waiting for and that I dreaded to speak.
"Where is she?" I asked, trying to keep my voice from cracking.
"In the captain's cabin," Alexandria replied softly, her eyes sympathetic.
I nodded towards my second before walking in the direction of the cabin where the slave was being held. I stood outside the door for a few moments, taking a few deep breaths to calm myself before pushing the door open.
I had to give it to Alexandria for taking precautions. The slave was tied to a chair, her wrists tied behind her back and her ankles tied and then bound to the chair. A long piece of rope had also being wrapped around her body and the chair several times, holding her completely still besides from her neck and head. She looked up with sad and pleading eyes as the door closed behind me, until she realised who had just entered the room.
"A girl can't catch a break around here, can she."
The pain and sadness I had heard in her voice last night was gone, replaced with sarcasm and defeat. I gazed at the cold face of the woman seated before me and realised that this was not the Gabrielle I had come to know and love and I wondered for a moment if that woman even existed. This was the woman that I met when I first entered Cleopatra's castle. A slave that cared about nothing and no one but herself, with an expressionless face and a stare that lacked any warmth and chilled me to the bone. This woman was a complete stranger. With that thought, I hardened my heart and let my eyes grow cold as I returned the slave's gaze but if she noticed, she didn't seem to care.
"Why were you trying to board a ship to Corinth?" I asked her without a hint of emotion in my voice. I noted absently that the slave was wearing a sleeveless, dark green dress and knew that if she wasn't bound so heavily, she would look stunning. It was the first time that I had ever seen her in anything besides from her normal white tunic. "You must have known that I would find you, either here or in Greece. Why not board a ship to Rome instead, back to your precious master?"
"Because he isn't in Rome, is he?" Gabrielle replied cruelly, her eyes narrowing as she looked up at me.
"What was your plan then? Did you intend to go to Greece and make your way to Antony's side? Or did you plan to run?" I asked her, my voice tinged with disgust.
"Run, obviously," the slave replied tonelessly. "When you show up, he'll know that I told you of his plans. I'll be as good as dead and I'll never get my payment."
"Payment?" I feigned boredom as I glanced at my fingernails.
"My freedom, of course."
"Freedom?" I asked incredulously, my eyes wide with disbelief. "He offered you freedom? You do realise he would have never kept up his side of the deal, don't you?"
"We'll never know now, will we," Gabrielle replied bitterly.
"Why did you tell me of his plans?" I asked her curiously. "If you thought that you could have gotten your freedom from all this, then why tell me anything? Why didn't you just keep it to yourself and let everything play out as it would have?"
I watched her as she sat silently, staring at the floor in front of her. I prayed to the Gods that she would tell me what I wanted to hear. I wanted her to tell me that she told me because she loved me. I wanted her to tell me that it wouldn't have been worth it, her freedom for my pain. I wanted her to tell me that she didn't want to betray me. But when she looked up at me with those cold green eyes, I knew my heart was about to shatter.
"You were my last chance," she said with a small, cruel smile. "I knew the moment you came back to your room today that something was wrong. When you told me we were going to leave, I knew that Alexandria had figured out at least part of the plot against you. It was only a matter of time before you figured out the rest and found out about my betrayl. I thought maybe if I told you, you would have taken me with you and I could run when we got to Greece. It turned out even better when you got angry and just let me leave cause then I didn't have to put up with you for such a long journey. Unfortunetly, I didn't know that Alexandria had ditched your sorry ass and she caught me, ruining my chance at freedom."
"Freedom," I whispered the word after several moments of silence. "You have royally fucked up, you know that, Gabrielle?"
"No kidding," was the slave's mumbled reply.
"You have chosen the life of a runaway fucking slave, who will spend the rest of her life being hunted down by Rome and Greece if you were somehow able to escape, when I could have made you a fucking Queen," I whispered fiercly as I stepped closer and leant down to look directly in her eyes. "I would have made you my Queen!"'
"Yeah, right," she said with a sarcastic smile. "Until you got sick of me like you do with everyone else, Conqueror. And even if I was your Queen, I would never have had my freedom, because I would fucking belong to you. I may not be a slave any longer but even worse, I'd be your pet and that is all. I may be hunted now, but at least I'll be my own person. And if I die, at least I will have tried; and I won't belong to the Bitch of Greece."
I felt my body shake with rage as I fought against the overwhelming urge to slap those words from her mind. I wouldn't hit her though but only because it was exactly what she wanted me to do. She wanted me to prove her wrong again, to prove that I was more beast than woman. I wouldn't give her the satisfaction. At least not yet.
"If that is what you believe, then fine," I whispered softly, smiling cruelly at the slave. "I wouldn't want the embaressment of making the Whore of Rome my Queen anyway."
I left her then, the stunned look on her face burned into my mind as I hardened myself further against the pain. I'd had enough of feeling hurt. The beast had had enough. The slave would have what she wanted. She would have the Conqueror.
And then we will both be free at last.
Authors Note: Read the summary of this story and remember what I said? All is not what it seems. It definetely didn't turn out like you or Xena expected, did it? (Don't hate me.)
To Be Continued
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