DISCLAIMER : The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and some others belong in their entirety to Universal/MCA, Renaissance Pictures, and all the other powers that be. No copyright infringement is intended. I wrote this story at the urging of my muse; it should never be used for profit.
This story is a sequel to the stories “Lord Conqueror of the Realm” and "Queen of the Realm." I strongly recommend you read them first because in this story there are references to events that took place in them. Here is where you can find them:
LOVE/SEX WARNING/DISCLAIMER : This story involves both love and sex (at times some rough/raw play with very mild BDSM elements – all consensual - nothing severe) between two adult women. If you're under 18 or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it.
SPECIAL THANKS : My humble most ardent gratitude to the excellent, most brilliant Beta readers Nancyjean and Alexandriaruth whom I can't thank enough.
Comments, thoughts, questions & feedback : MOST WELCOMED – The more you write me, the quicker I post – I mean it!
It was nighttime and a perfect full moon ornamented the clear, spring sky. Nature was in bloom and a light breeze that sauntered low above the ground carried and spread an assortment of odors from the Imperial Gardens throughout the lands surrounding it. One could smell the imminent arrival of summer and the dryness of future heat waves with a soft acridity like sensing the might of the sun before daybreak.
"Pull it out!" the Conqueror's voice was laden with urgency. "Pull it out at once!" she repeated as she sat in her favorite armchair in the candle-lit Imperial bedchamber.
"It is already out, my Lord," the Queen replied, smiling with amusement she simply couldn't curb.
"Are you sure?" the Conqueror asked suspiciously.
"I am, my Lord," the Queen confirmed.
"Give it here for me to see," the Conqueror demanded, trying to master her distress, and opened her hand to her wife.
"Here," the Queen said, placing a single silver hair in the Conqueror's palm.
The Conqueror brought the treacherous hair, which dared defy its Master by changing its color, to her eyes. The Conqueror examined it closely with equal amount of uneasiness and disbelief. "Are there any more of… these…?" she asked with concern and her bare foot tapped impatiently if not nervously against the floorboards. The word 'these' she uttered with a sentiment approaching disgust.
The Queen chuckled as she wove her fingers through her Lord's mane several times and inspected the dark tresses fastidiously under the light. "None," she finally concluded and stepped away from her sitting and robed Lord. She walked over to the balcony and drew the curtains more widely to permit the scent of blossoms to waft inside.
The Queen's laughter irritated the Conqueror to no small extent. "I envy you for maintaining your beautiful shiny gold," she finally said and beheld her wife as the latter went to lie in their spacious bed between the crimson satin linens.
"It is only fair for I am younger than you, my Lord," the Queen smirked and extended her arm, signaling an invitation to her Lord to join her in bed.
The tall Sovereign stood up, mindlessly brushed her fingers through her hair and approached their bed, dragging her feet. When she reached the foot of the bed, the Queen rose to her knees on the bed and threw her arms around the Conqueror's neck.
"Besides," she said and kissed the Conqueror's jaw, "you are the most powerful in the entire world." She pushed away the robe off the Conqueror's shoulders, exposing her perfectly shaped muscular body to her appreciative eyes.
The Conqueror untied the silk laces of the Queen's ivory nightgown with the delight of unwrapping a priceless present.
"And you still swive like a lad in his prime," the Queen whispered hotly into her Lord's ear, her own words causing her nipples to toughen. "There's virile potency in your loins that keeps me at a constant state of readiness to receive you," she said, kissing the Conqueror's smiling lips as her hand rubbed the large bulge over the Conqueror's breeches.
The Conqueror let her hands do the talking for her. She sent them to roam over supple breasts and down to the small swell of the Queen's belly.
"Can you feel it kicking, yet?" the Conqueror asked as her large palm affectionately caressed the precious mound.
"It is too early, my Lord," the Queen replied, though the lion portion of her attention pooled lower, between her thighs with a fire that was rapidly amassing there.
"Are the healers pleased with you?" the Conqueror inquired and nuzzled the hollow between her wife's neck and shoulder.
"They are," the Queen rasped as she lowered herself to sit on her heels. With raw excitement that she could barely control, she toiled to rid her Lord of her breeches, rendering her completely naked. "Now, please lay on your stomach," she asked and pulled off the nightgown that her Lord had unlaced, as well.
The Conqueror pursed her lips but complied without protest, folding her arms upwards and resting her high cheekbone over the back of her hands.
The Queen fetched a vial with perfumed oil, which was sent to her all the way from the Realm's province of Chin. She warmed it over a burning candle and then moved and perched herself in a straddling position on top of the Conqueror's backside.
She applied the oil to her hands and rubbed her palms together before she began kneading the Conqueror's sculpted muscles, blissfully releasing some rigid knots along the steel spine created by the tensions that were the consequence of ruling an Empire. Her hands slid skillfully over taut skin, and the feel of the Conqueror's firmness between her legs aroused her to the point of lubricating it with her natural fluids.
The Conqueror released a low groan under her Queen's touch and she relaxed her body.
"I have a request, my Lord," the Queen said as she leaned down till her nipples connected with the Conqueror's shoulder blades and the swell of her belly with the Conqueror's lower back.
"So your sweet seduction is merely an inducement designed to mollify my resolve?" the Conqueror frowned in good spirit.
"My ' sweet seduction,' as you so eloquently put it, is for both our pleasure, mine as much as yours, or can't you feel me dripping all over you," the Queen asserted and slowly swayed and grounded her womanhood against the Conqueror's slick backside to demonstrate how wet she was. It occurred to her, then, that it was the fact that the Conqueror could rise at any given moment and overpower her that aroused her the most.
"What is it, then?" the Conqueror asked, amused and anxious to hear the Queen's answer.
"This summer, let us travel to the Amazon Lands rather than Thira , for I wish to give birth there," she spoke tenderly and her hands ceased all movement.
"I had half a mind to forgo our trip to Thira altogether this summer. You should not be traveling anywhere in your condition," the Conqueror replied as she reined in a rush of sudden panic. "I worry about you and my concern for your well-being takes precedence over everything else," she further said with all the tenderness she forced herself to muster, and inwardly she hoped that her wife wouldn't be too adamant about it.
"Your concern moves me profoundly and I love you dearly for it," the Queen whispered and touched her lips to her Lord's cheek, "Though, I wish more than anything that you would not, for you trouble yourself and suffer without cause. All will be well."
"The Amazon Lands, you say…" the Conqueror pondered, somewhat jarred and gloomy. Restlessness caused her to lift up her head off her hands.
"Please, my Lord, I beseech you," the Queen whispered and pelted the Conqueror's features with kisses.
"Very well," the Conqueror finally let out and hoped she would not live to regret it. "I will have all necessary arrangements made to guarantee your safety." She turned around beneath her wife to lie prone on her back. Facing her, she looked upwards to meet her Queen's gaze. "Any other requests?" she asked while cupping her wife's hefty breasts and ensnared two perfect nipples between her fingers. She only raised the question as a prelude to lovemaking, but the expression about her wife's countenance indicated to her that the Queen was considering some other issue quite earnestly.
"I was hoping…" the Queen began to say but hesitation prevented her from finishing her sentence.
"What?" the Conqueror encouraged her to continue.
"This child I should like to keep close to me." The Queen's answer was barely audible. Memories of their daughter and heir to the Throne, Princess Athena, being ripped away from her some years ago at the age of four by her Lord for the purpose of attending the Military Academy in Rome thus for the good of the Realm haunted her still and unnerved her.
"It is too early to speak of such matters, is it not? The child hasn't even been born yet," the Conqueror answered and released her wife's breasts from her grasp.
"Perhaps, but it bothers me now," the Queen argued.
The Conqueror looked into her wife's troubled eyes. She knew there was precious little she could deny her wife, especially whilst in her delicate condition. She wondered whether her wife took advantage of that fact and timed her requests accordingly.
"This child will be brought up and educated close to us," the Conqueror pledged.
"Thank you, my gracious Lion," the Queen said, leaning down and leisurely stretching her body over the Conqueror's lengthy form. "I wager this time you wish for a son," she remarked.
"Not at all. All I wish is for you and our child to survive childbirth in good constitution and nothing else."
The Queen rested her head over the Conqueror's chest and listened to the steady heartbeats while gazing pensively at the flames burning atop the candlesticks on the nightstand, feeling very blessed.
The Conqueror's thoughts wandered to Athena. "Athena would probably join us in the Amazon Lands. She has visited with them twice already since our return to Corinth ."
The Queen began to laugh. "Your daughter has lain with half of them by now already and I am persuaded that she is steadfast about having knowledge of the other half."
"Did she tell you that?!" the Conqueror was surprised, not by her daughter's liaisons, of course, but by the fact that she had obviously shared details of her escapades, her conquests, with the Queen instead of her.
"Not in so many words. Besides, I know her. She is very much your daughter, my Lord, and she is a rogue," the Queen smirked.
"Well, I would have thought there were plenty of beautiful women in Corinth and Athens . Why travel all the way to the Amazon Lands for sport?" the Conqueror wondered out loud.
"Perhaps she fancies her women strong-spirited and willful," the Queen suggested with a taunting smile.
The Conqueror sighed in resignation, and in good humor delivered her Queen with a well-honed remark of her own. "Have I taught her nothing?!"
With her laughing Queen in her arms, the Conqueror rolled them both till she was lying on top of her wife, minding the Queen's belly.
Sensing the Conqueror's shaft pressing against her thigh, the Queen instinctively moaned.
"I'll be gentle," the Conqueror promised.
“That is most unfortunate, my Lord," the Queen said with undeniable frustration. "I swear I know how being in Tartarus must be like, for when with child I am always most… concupiscent… Yet I cannot have my desires fully content as they require."
The Conqueror burst into laughter, and then sucked the tender flesh beneath the Queen's breast. She empathized with her wife, for the mere sight of her carrying their child signifying her wife's fertility aggravated her lust for her. "What do you want me to do to you?" she asked with a low hoarse voice.
The Queen needed not a respite to contemplate her particular preference. She bucked and swiveled her drenched need against the Conqueror's loins above her. "I crave for you to cram your cock into me and swive me as though I was your wench, my dark brute Lord." It was evident that she derived great delight from the obscenities that came out of her mouth but soon enough, the reality of her condition perforated her overheated haze and she pouted, "But surely you cannot…"
But the Conqueror interrupted her speech. "You speak as if you have forgotten who I am," the Conqueror playfully scolded her. "Take the vial and pour some of the oil into you palms," the Authoritarian commanded. Her hoarse voice made the Queen's slit contract.
"How much should I pour?" the Queen asked, excited.
"The more the better," the Conqueror suggested then balefully added, "For you."
The Queen did as she was ordered and when her palms were slick and glistening by the oil, the Conqueror lifted up her own body above her wife, suspending it over her strong arms till her member was dangling in the air like a heavy pendulum.
"Now, take it in your hands and grease it properly," came another order.
The Queen closed her fists around the shaft and rubbed the oil into the black leather, back and forth along its length.
"That's it," the Conqueror groaned. "Nice and slow," she further instructed as she felt the base of her shaft being pressed repeatedly against her sex. "So, you wish to be my wench, do you?" the Conqueror asked.
The Queen's eyes widened with surprise and she could hardly wait to see to where the Conqueror would guide them. "I do, my Lord," she confirmed as her heart began to beat a little faster with anticipation of exploring uncharted territories.
"No one refers to me by that honorific other than her Majesty the Queen, my wife," the Conqueror berated the woman beneath her.
It started to become clearer to the Queen what was on the Conqueror's mind and she knew with absolute certainty that she would play her role to perfection. The very idea of her Lord illicitly taking her as a stranger and as a woman of easy virtue nearly made her reach her peak without a single touch to her labia. Catering to her Lord's desires in such fashion reminded her of distant times when she had been her Lord's body slave. Only now things were different. Now she knew that she was loved and cherished.
By the Conqueror's decree slavery was eradicated, yet she was well aware of the differences between a prostitute and a body slave. A body slave wasn't paid for her services, where as a prostitute was free to determine her fee. A body slave was owned, where as a prostitute was her own master and was merely rented. The laws of the Realm were very protective of women of that particular trade. For example, the Conqueror forbade any form of pimping by law. But by far the greatest difference was that a body slave could not refuse her master, where as a prostitute had the discretion to either accept or refuse a customer. In this game that her Lord had purposed, she could act as a body servant but with some power, the power to refuse and to bargain, and she knew her Lord had intended it to be so. Of course, she couldn't even imagine herself refusing her Lord her fleshly graces.
"I beg your Majesty's forgiveness. I did not know that your Majesty was married," she answered and a brief faint smile across the Conqueror's lips indicated that her reply was satisfactory.
"Indeed I am, and I should tell you, my wife is by far the best lay I have ever had and I have sampled plenty," the Conqueror said.
It was at that moment that the Queen truly felt for the first time that she was no longer her Lord's wife and Queen, but a wench to be used by the great Lord Conqueror and to be made prey to her wanton pleasures, and it drove her mad with desire. "I promise to do all that I can to please and satisfy your Majesty to a higher peak than your Majesty's exceptionally accommodating wife and Queen," she answered, her hands still busy on the Conqueror's member.
"Accommodating?" the Conqueror furrowed an eyebrow.
"Well, her Majesty the Queen ought to be accommodating and forbearing to comply with your Majesty's infidelities," the Queen replied and lowered her eyes so not to meet with the Conqueror's, as an act of humility.
The Conqueror's response to that statement was a rolling laughter. She thought her wife's answer was nothing short of brilliant. Keeping with their game, the Conqueror scoffed and said, "My wife would never consent to this."
"Not observation of a duty but love itself is the pledge that assures fidelity ," the Queen commented.
"This has very little to do with love and very much to do with lust," the Conqueror remarked, "Now, state your price," she ordered.
The Queen was baffled, for she had no earthly idea of the customary tariffs for such services, but her quick mind prevailed. "The usual rate, Majesty," she replied.
"And if I wish to use your back ring?" the Conqueror persisted and flicked her tongue over a nipple.
"That would cost extra, your Majesty," the Queen replied and couldn't help but wonder how many times in the past her Lord had engaged in such negotiations before she had entered her Lord's service, but quickly decided it wasn't important anymore and it hadn't been for a very long time.
The Conqueror patently took pleasure in negotiating the terms. "And if I want to take you roughly?"
"It depends on the measure. How rough is your Majesty's pleasure?"
"As rough as you allow," the Conqueror replied with a wicked yet charming smile.
"Let us agree on double the usual rate, for I sense that your Majesty's need is urgent and I do not wish to keep your Majesty waiting any longer," the Queen concluded.
"Any restrictions I should know about beforehand?" the Conqueror inquired as she began to turn the Queen and lift her up to stand on all fours.
"For you?! None, your Majesty. I am your Majesty's, to do as your Majesty pleases," she replied meekly and stood on all fours, arching her back downwards and making her buttocks accessible.
"Rub oil on the orifice I'm about to fill," the Conqueror instructed and leaned backwards to better watch the Queen obeying her bidding.
The Queen spilled oil on her fingertips and reached behind her. She could feel the Conqueror's glare stalking her every move as she smeared the oil over the tight opening. She made quite a show of it, and moaned heavily as her fingers lubricated the hole, nestling between two luscious orbs.
She soon felt slippery hardness pressuring the tight ring of her anus and a slow and cautious invasion into the rear passage by her Lord's titanic phallus. A wrenching groan escaped her as heat lightening sizzled from her core and soared to her nipples.
"Whatever happens, you will always be mine," the Queen heard her Lord crooning from above her and it caused her hips to jut out in uncontrollable lunges. The Conqueror snaked her hand to attend to it, her fingers scrubbing over Gabrielle's vibrating clitoris.
There was no roughness, only deep, raw thrusts that slowly stroked the Queen sensitive sphincter and created delicious friction inside. The Queen wanted more but the Conqueror wouldn't allow it and so she ignored the Queen's fevered clawing against the side of her thigh and the thin line of blood wending from the cut designed to spur her on and take her harder. Her wife's and her unborn child's safety came before everything else. She unburdened her Queen of that responsibility and took it upon herself.
The Conqueror exerted a strong hold on the lean waist beneath her, so to dictate her own pace and control her wife's. The pushes into the Queen were almost like gentle rotating nudges, and nothing like a copulation with a whore, for no punter would be as considerate, the Queen thought, as the firm massage to her swollen tough nub brought her to the zenith.
When they came, the Conqueror moved her hand lower and delved her finger into her wife's sex to prolong and multiply her ecstasy. Weakened by their release, they lay down on their side still as one flesh until the Conqueror detached herself from her wife.
After a short rest, when the sexual act was over, the Conqueror rose off the bed. She opened the middle drawer of her nightstand and retrieved five golden coins. She looked down at her wife, who still lay in bed, basking in the afterglow and the glow of pregnancy, and casually threw the coins at her wife's feet.
The Queen collected the coins one by one, as her final act in this game they played. "Do prostitutes really earn that much?" she asked curiously and looked upwards to meet her Lord's eyes.
The Conqueror grinned, "Only those who service me and who are married to me," she muttered and strutted outside to stand on the balcony to soak her lungs with the nightly, fresh spring air.
After awhile, she stepped back into the bedchamber, careful not to wake her wife. Standing over her, she gently pulled up the quilt and just as she was about to cover her Queen's nakedness, she heard a drowsy voice calling out to her.
"My Lord?" the Queen stretched her body in bed and yawned.
"Why are you not yet asleep?" the Conqueror whispered.
"I waited for you to return to bed," the Queen replied quietly. "I sleep better with you in here with me," she went on to say and tapped the empty spot that was her Lord's side of the bed.
Pinching the flames burning over her nightstand between her thumb and forefinger, the Conqueror snuffed the light out, making the bedchamber bleaker, and lay next to her Queen. She folded her right arm under her head, signaling to her wife that she was not ready to sleep just yet.
"What is on your mind, my Lord?" the Queen asked with a soft voice, knowing the calming effect it had on the Conqueror.
"Do you ever think about what would have happened if there was no Realm, if I wasn't its Ruler, if you were never sold into slavery?" the Conqueror asked and wouldn't spare her wife a glance.
The Queen lifted herself up and leaned on her elbow, as if looking at the Conqueror's features could teach her about the Conqueror's strange frame of mind.
"What is this about, Xena?" she asked and purposefully made no effort to conceal the alarm in her voice.
"There is no cause for you to be frightened. I simply wish to know," the Conqueror's voice trailed off, "Do you ever wonder?"
"I used to," the Queen admitted and when she conjured the recollection in her mind she smiled fondly as if reminiscing about ethereal, no longer attainable childhood dream. "Soon after you married me," she elaborated. "At the time I didn't much consider the Realm, mind you. It was more of a secret fantasy of mine, really, where I am a young lass, down by the creek with my mother washing sheets longer than my own height and batting them against the rocks. Along comes a tall fierce rider wildly galloping, faster than the winds. Her hair is dark and her eyes are two orbs of blue flames… the kind of blue that is nowhere to be found in nature.
“The warrior dismounts her horse and leads it to the water to quench its thirst. She moves her sword on her thigh to the side and squats down next to me to fill her flasks. I watch her strong arms as her muscles strain to keep the flasks under the purling waters and for the first time in my life I know what want is. I become wet in her smoldering presence. My mother takes one look at the dark warrior and she instantly knows that she is trouble for she would be the one who takes me away from her. My mother puts the damp sheets into her basket and returns home without protest, for she knows I'm already lost to her."
The Queen interlaced her fingers with the Conqueror's, who wore a tender smile on her lips as she beheld her wife's magnificent profile. "The warrior picks a flower, a red Anemone Coronaria, and braids it in my hair. Her low smoky voice speaks to me of my beauty and innocence. She holds out her hand to me and I take it, utterly willing to be guided by her. She takes me to a nearby barn and asks my permission and I give it absolutely."
The smile across the Conqueror's lips widened, for she had almost forgotten how gifted a storyteller her Queen was.
"She has her way with me amidst the freshly harvested hay and it is not just passion and pleasure, but a revelation to me." The Queen noticed her Lord's eyes become heavy and she planted a kiss against a calm temple. "She asks me to go with her and in my heart I know I would follow her anywhere. Throughout our lives together, she gives me the world by showing it to me."
The Queen kissed her sleeping Lord one last time before succumbing to a peaceful nocturnal repose.
The very next day, the Conqueror summoned three craftsmen and ordered them to build a large wagon padded with down-filled cushions, thick pallet and furs resembling a mobile-canopied Imperial bed to accommodate and protect the Queen throughout the duration of her journey to the Amazon Lands. Moreover, she ordered the roads leading to their destination cleared of obstacles, leveled and paved to allow safe and steady passage. In later years it would be known as 'The Queen's Road" and would be the best and fasted route to the provinces neighboring the Amazon enclave to be used by all subjects of the Realm.
Three moons had passed and the craftsmen, along with the taskmaster who had been invested with preparing the roads to the Amazon Lands, returned to the Lord Conqueror and informed her of the completion of all assignments.
Closer to noon, the Conqueror took another meeting in the War Hall with several of her generals, a master of geography, intelligence advisers and maps draftsmen.
"I trust my orders where executed," she addressed them.
"Of course, Majesty," replied one of her generals.
The Conqueror pinned her eyes into the master draftsman and wagged her fingers. "Let me see," she instructed.
The master draftsman signaled his colleagues to assist him. They all stood up and stepped away from the long wooden table. They carried several rolled parchments, great in size, and began to hang them one by one on a huge wooden board that covered the better part of the wall to the Conqueror's right. When they were done, a highly detailed comprehensive map of the Realm was spread before the assembly. It was colorful and had many exceptional markings on it that resembled a giant spider's cobweb. It looked more like an elaborate masterful work of art than anything else.
"Each of these signs represents a beacon, I take it?" the Conqueror inquired and waved her forefinger on which she wore her seal ring at the general direction of the map.
"Indeed, Majesty," the master draftsman replied.
The Conqueror paced back and forth and examined the map closely. "On our last march to the Amazon Lands, I realized that since the Realm is so vast, a better system of messaging ought to be installed so that either alarm or any other vital and urgent information could travel efficiently between the many provinces and Corinth ."
"Your Majesty was very wise to devise it," said the Chief Commander of the Imperial Guard.
"Are all the beacons built and manned?" the Conqueror asked another one of her generals.
He stood up as soon as the Conqueror addressed him. "Aye, Majesty. Each post is shielded, well equipped and guarded by three scouts and three guardsmen, a pair to cover each shift of the day," he answered .
"And the fire signals?" the Conqueror turned to her intelligence advisers.
Both men harried to their feet, pulled out their chairs from behind them and approached the Conqueror. They presented her with a scroll.
The Conqueror opened it and ran her eyes through it.
"As your Majesty can see, we have developed a set of fire signals which is uncomplicated enough to understand and operate. All personnel stationed in each post of the beacons were taught and they all mastered it."
"Has this method been tested?"
"It has been, Majesty, several times. The trials were a success and the method proved to be easy enough to master."
Meanwhile, in the Queen's chambers, the Queen was dressed by her ladies in waiting with a lavish silver-turquoise satin dress with white golden threads sewn into the delicate glittering fabric along with dozens of wild pearls. When fully dressed, one of the Queen's ladies in waiting placed an arch encrusted with pearls atop the Queen's head, while the other clasped a pearl necklace around her neck.
"You look marvelous, Majesty," one of the Queen's ladies in waiting commented and clapped her hands in satisfaction.
"Thank you, Lady Astraea," the Queen said and touched the necklace with her fingertips and fiddled with the gold talisman in the shape of a clam holding a single rare blue pearl.
"They complement your great beauty, Majesty," said Lady Astraea, who was the oldest of the Queen's ladies in waiting, in reference to the many pearls decorating the Queen's person and regalia.
"They were a gift from my gracious Lord," the Queen beamed as if she was really telling her servants 'Behold how much my Lord loves me.' A distinct motion in her womb coupled with a tiny swell on the apex of her belly disrupted her thoughts. "That would be all, ladies," she dismissed her servants.
Her ladies in waiting curtsied before her as Queen Gabrielle made her way out of her chambers and down to the War Hall. As she reached the doors with the two crossed spears and the Conqueror's banner in the middle of them above the chamber doors, she met with a servant who stood vigilant at the entrance ready should his Master inside issue an order.
"Majesty," he bowed before his Queen.
The Queen nodded her head in acknowledgment.
"The Lord Conqueror is in council, Majesty," he said.
"I know," she replied and he quickly opened the doors before her.
As soon as the Queen's foot passed over the threshold, the servant announced into the War Hall, "Her Majesty the Queen!"
All present in the War Hall neglected their activities, jumped to their feet and turned immediately to face their Sovereign Queen, who placed a protective touch beneath the lower left side of her grown belly as she walked.
"Majesty," they all murmured with their gazes downcast as they bowed.
The Conqueror stepped away from the map, the scroll and her advisers. She seemed well entertained by the stunning distraction. She covered the distance between herself and her Queen.
"My Lord," the Queen curtsied before the Conqueror as deeply as her condition allowed her.
"My Lady," the Conqueror bowed before her Queen with a gleeful smile that demonstrated just how much she was pleased to see her, and offered her hand to her so that the Queen wouldn't strain herself.
"I hope my presence doesn't inconvenience you, my Lord," the Queen said and the Conqueror waved her other hand, avidly dismissing the Queen's concern.
"What is it, sweetheart?" the Conqueror asked and lead her Queen to the closest chair available.
Still standing, the Queen took the Conqueror's hand in hers and guided it to her swollen belly. "I thought my Lord might wish to feel our child moving inside me."
A jolt of excitement coursed through the Conqueror as her spread palm connected with Queen's belly with anticipation. The first sign of life pushed against the Ruler's palm and pinched her heart.
"The child is strong," the Conqueror said to her wife, very satisfied.
"Any child sired by my Lord would be," the Queen whispered so that the assembly in the War Hall wouldn't be privy to it. However, the Queen's circumspect whisper caused the Conqueror to become aware of the fact that they weren't alone.
"Commanders, gentlemen, I promised her Majesty a light stroll in the Imperial gardens before supper. Leave it for me to study," she commanded and glanced at the scroll and the map.
"You are welcome to join us for supper," the Queen extended a munificent grant.
All eyes turned back to the Conqueror with uncertainty, for at the beginning of the council she had ordered them back to their business once the meeting was over.
"What are you looking at me for?" the Conqueror scolded them, "You heard your Queen!"
"Yes, Majesty," they all replied with genuine joy and gratitude about them for the great privilege of dining with their Sovereigns and the unborn heir, who would be second in line for the succession.
The Conqueror offered the Queen her hand, resting a gentle hand against the small of her back for support, and as they made their way out of the War Hall and into the Imperial gardens, their subjects bowed before them and humbly mumbled "Majesties."
The Conqueror led her Queen out to the Imperial gardens to soak in the sunlight, but chose the longer path near the woods at the south end of the palace. She narrowed her gaits for her Queen's comfort and moderated her pace to a slow saunter. "I have a gift for you, for the one you are about to give me, Gabrielle," she said and looked at the Queen intently.
"You are too generous, my Lion. This child is as much your gift to me as it is my gift to you," the Queen argued but then, from a distance, her gaze caught sight of a peculiar looking structure comprised of countless decorative iron bars like huge roofless cages. "What is this!?" her voice was faint with astonishment.
"I have had a menagerie built for your pleasure," the Conqueror said, anxious to reach the pavilion she commissioned, which stood in the center of the vast iron-fenced arena that was divided by bars into three habitats.
The Queen could barely contain her excitement. "What animals did you acquire to inhabit it?" she asked and fondly pulled at her Lord's arm.
"Guess," was the only word the Conqueror offered as an answer.
"Lions," the Queen gasped. It would be the first time she had ever seen the live animal in the flesh rather than upon a mosaic, a painting or a statue.
Each of the three areas surrounding the pavilion had a few short trees planted in them, an artificial lair built of Egyptian stone and a high level grass and some shrubs. Throughout all three crossed a sluice that channeled water to a watermill to give the appearance of a natural flowing creek with a purling stream.
The Conqueror and the Queen walked together through one of the three paths leading to the pavilion, to each side of them two of the three areas separated by two rows of iron bars for safety.
When crossing the small wooden bridge over the sluice, the Queen saw her first lion.
She halted her advance abruptly. "Look!" she exclaimed with excitement and pointed at the large predator walking with graceful leisure.
The Conqueror cast a glance to where the Queen was pointing and issued a warning, "Do not excite yourself, Gabrielle."
But the Queen was too ecstatic to mind her Lord's words. "How magnificent…" she sighed wide-eyed.
"The menagerie is divided into three areas. In each area there are three different types of lions. To your right, there is a dark-mane lion and a lioness brought in from Persia . To your left, there is a gold-mane lion and a lioness brought in from Egypt, and in the third area, which you'll soon see once we reach the pavilion, there is a white lion and a lioness," the Conqueror explained, not completely sure that her Queen was even listening. She seemed far too engrossed by the carnivore.
"A white lion?" the Queen asked exuberantly.
"Indeed. They are quite rare, you know," the Conqueror stated not without some measure of pride. She wanted to impress her Queen.
"Thank you, my only true Lion," the Queen rose to stand on her tiptoes, anchored her hand at the back of the Conqueror's head and brought it down so to place a kiss on the Conqueror's cheek.
The Conqueror delighted in the Queen's happiness and gathered her tenderly in her arms, both watching the majestic beast. Not before long, the lioness came out of the lair and joined the lion, who was examining its owners and Masters.
"Did you know that lionesses are polyestrous?" the Conqueror asked, "Do you know what polyestrous mean?"
"That lionesses can go into heat several times a year," the Queen replied with a knowing smile.
"Correct. Lions do not mate at any specific time of year," the Conqueror said.
"Just like us," the Queen smirked.
The Conqueror chuckled and went on to say, rather thoughtfully, "And did you know that during a mating bout, which could last several days, the couple copulates twenty to forty times a day?"
"Just like us," the Queen repeated and playfully jabbed the Conqueror's ribs with her elbow. "Oh look… it is feeding time," the Queen said and pointed her finger to the pavilion where the groundskeeper threw large pieces of bloody meat into the cage-like area.
But the majestic animals paid no attention to it. The lioness pranced twice around the dark-mane lion, then lay down, lifted her rear and moved her tail to the side.
"During their mating bout," the Conqueror continued to tell her captivated spouse, "They are likely to forgo eating."
The Queen laughed and pressed her body to her Lord's. "Just like us."
The lion roared then dipped its nose under the lioness' tail. Soon after, the lion mounted the lioness while licking its mate's nape with its large pink tongue and grazing it with its fearsome canines.
"Just like us," the Queen was compelled to say once more and elicited a healthy laughter out of the Conqueror's mouth.
The Royals were riveted by the enticing display of mighty nature taking its course and all too soon the lion detached itself from the lioness.
"Over so soon?" the Queen protested. "We never finish so quickly…" her lips pouted.
The Conqueror's heart overflowed with love for her Queen at that moment. She wrapped her arm around her Queen's waist, sensing some form of tension in the smaller frame, and they made their way to the pavilion to see the white lions as well.
"Would it be wrong for me to say that…I'm in heat, my Lord?" the Queen spoke quietly, realizing they were well within an earshot of the groundskeeper.
The Conqueror didn't manage a reply before the groundskeeper closed the distance between them.
"Majesties," the groundskeeper greeted them and bowed before them.
"They are marvelous, are they not?" the Conqueror sounded exceptionally pleased.
"Very much so, Majesty," he replied and turned his gaze to the Queen. "I hope they meet with your approval, Majesty," he said.
"They are wonderful. Thank you," she answered and hoped she didn't sound too short with the man, only she wanted to be alone with her Lord.
"You may take your leave," the Conqueror said to him as if reading her wife's thoughts.
The groundskeeper bowed again and left their presence. The Conqueror and the Queen entered the pavilion and through the iron bars watched the white lion and lioness together.
"Though they are rare, my Lord, I think I like the dark-mane lion better," she said and beheld her Lord adoringly.
"Of course you do," the Conqueror cupped her wife's beautiful features, "Are you in heat still, my Lady?"
The Queen rubbed the tip of her golden head against the Conqueror's jaw and nuzzled her neck. She then crouched down and grasped the iron bars, bracing herself while her Lord took her from behind."Soon there'll be cubs," the Conqueror growled.
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